Monday, May 30, 2011

June Bug


It all started with a Junebug drink recipe I have been wanting to make which then led me to think about a book I had used in the classroom with the same title and then the discovery of a new book title with the same name and lastly, the ultimate find, another Junebug drink recipe.
We have had copious amounts of rainfall this past month which has hatched a huge influx of mosquitoes, ticks and other pesky bugs including Junebugs (a large brown beetle) who make their appearance in late spring to early summer. In the south "cute as a Junebug is considered a term of endearment. It is considered a compliment like calling someone very sweet.
I have been waiting for just the right occasion to serve Junebug. Memorial Day seems like the unofficial start of summer and a good time to share with company this refreshing summer drink. I am just hoping warm weather is not too far behind.
Junebug is also the title of a small chapter book for third and fourth graders. It is about a nine year old boy named Junebug who has a dream one day of escaping the housing project he lives in. He then launches a plan to help make his dream come true.
I did find a new title June Bug which is an adult novel by Chris Fabry. Follow this link to learn more about the book which got very good reviews. http://www.titletrakk.com/book-reviews/june-bug-review-fabry.htm
Who would have thought Junebugs could be so versatile!
______________________________________________
Junebug
recipe from Southern Living June 2010
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of ginger ale
  • 4 TB grenadine
  • 4 TB. orange juice
  • 3 scoops orange sherbet
Directions:
  • Blend all ingredients in a blender
  • Pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses
  • To make alcohol add 1/2 cup rum
Ultimate Junebug
Makes 1
Ingredients:
  • 1 oz. melon liqueur (Midori)
  • 3/4 oz. Malibu coconut rum
  • 3/4 oz banana liqueur
  • 1 oz. sweet and sour mix
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
Directions:
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and mix

Memorial Day and Backyard Recipes


It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle.
It takes a hero to be one of these men who goes into battle.
by Norman Schwarzkopf US. Army officer
who commanded Operation Desert Storm

In the US Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May. It is a day set aside to honor all those who gave up their lives for their country in wars. It originally became a holiday after the Civil War to honor Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in battle but after World War I it was extended to honor all US. soldiers who had died in any war. Korea and Newfoundland also observe Memorial Day. Other countries have set aside different date to remember and honor their veterans of war.
Take time today to thank a veteran for their service to their country .
____________________________________________
Pork Kebabs
Thread,Season and Grill
  • 2 pork tenderloins cut in 3 inch cubes about 2 lbs.
  • 1 large red onion cut in thick half moon rings
  • Thread meat cubes and onions on double skewers for more stability on grill
  • Season with salt and pepper
Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (recipe called for 1/2 cup-I cut back)
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/3 brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 TB. Worcestershire sauce
Directions:
  • Saute onion in butter over medium heat till soft about 3 minutes
  • Stir in ketchup, orange juice,vinegar, bourbon,brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire, salt and pepper
  • Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes
  • Cool slightly and puree in a blender
  • Set half of the mixture aside
  • Baste meat periodically to get the flavors of sweet, sticky sauce when grilling
  • Use rest of sauce when serving meat
Grilled Brie Croutons
makes 4
Ingredients:
  • 4 slices of French bread cut 1-2 inch thick
  • Olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 4 oz.Brie
Directions:
  • Preheat grill to medium-high
  • Brush both sides of bread with oil, salt and pepper
  • Grill one side of bread till toasted
  • Flip toasted bread over divide cheese slices among bread and grill about 4 minutes till cheese is melted
Tomato Potato Salad
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 lb. red potatoes peeled, sliced into 1/2 thick rounds
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 3 TB. mayonnaise
  • 1 -2 TB.honey
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 2 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes halved
Directions:
  • Boil potatoes in salted water until tender about 10 minutes and then drain
  • Whisk vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, honey, oil, thyme. parsley salt and pepper
  • Add potatoes, tomatoes, and chives
  • Toss to coat
  • Can serve at room temperature or refrigerate
Berry Sorbet
Ingredients and Directions
  • Mix strawberries, blueberries, melon cubes, blackberries in a large bowl
  • Sprinkle over the mixture 2-3 TB. Grand Marnier and mix well
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours
  • To serve place in individual glass sherbet dish 1 scoop of Raspberry sherbet or sorbet
  • Place 1 cup of berry mixture to the side of the sherbet or around it








Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Bit of French Cooking Flair


A good cook know that it's
not what is on the table
that matters,
it's whose in
the chairs.
by Leigh


So imagine having a bite to eat in a French Bistro with family/friends. Perhaps you might find some of these recipe just the right ones to showcase your cooking skills with a bit of French flair.
Cherry Clafouti (pronounced "kla-foo-tee")
It is a rustic French dessert originally from Limousin in southern France. The region is best known for its sweet black cherries. In this recipe the cherries are left whole and baked in a sweet custard filling. The dessert is easy to make. It can be served warm or at room temperature. To serve dust top with confectioners sugar and adding piece de resistance pistachio ice cream.
adapted from Williams-Sonoma.com/recipes
Ingredients:
  • 4 eggs separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 lb. fresh cherries, pitted or frozen cherries thawed and drained
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
Directions:
  • In a large bowl combine egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar
  • Beat with hand held mixer on medium high or until ribbons form
  • Add flour, vanilla and cream
  • Reduce speed to low and beat till completely blended
  • In another small bowl with clean beaters- beat egg whites and salt about 30 seconds
  • Add whites to batter gently incorporate with mixer on low
  • In another bowl mix cherries with 1/3 cup sugar and lemon zest
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Grease baking dish and heat in oven 4 minutes
  • Layer cherries on bottom of dish (11 x 7 rectangular or a large round Corning ware type) and pour batter/custard on top of cherries
  • Bake about 30 minutes until set in middle
  • Serves 6-8
Boeuf Bouigignon aux Carrottes (Provencale) Beef Stew with Red Wine and Carrots
Ingredients:
  • 1- 3 lb. boneless chuck roast
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 slices of bacon cut in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups of shallots
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 1/2 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 2 cups red wine such as Pinot Noir or Cabernet
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth mixed with 4 TB. flour
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 small package of mushrooms cut up
  • 3 TB orange zest
  • 1-1/2 cups of carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
    Directions:
    • Using your fingers pull the roast apart and carve into 2 inch cubes
    • Dry cubes on a paper towel
    • In a dutch oven pan over medium- heat oil and brown bacon about 5 minutes
    • Remove bacon and arrange cubes in pan to brown- cook on all sides about 10 minutes
    • Remove cubes and discard some of the drippings so only 1 TB. drippings remain
    • Saute shallots, mushroom and garlic cloves for a minute-add brandy and let it boil away
    • Add tomato paste and herbs
    • Add 3 TB. flour to beef broth and whisk
    • Add wine-tomatoes and celery
    • Add zest and cook 3 minutes on low till slightly thickened
    • Add beef cubes, thinly sliced carrots or baby carrots, bacon cover and cook on low about 2 hours








    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Savor Sidewalk Poems and a Fudgy Torte




    Last year I wrote a blog about a city project called St. Paul Sidewalk Poetry in St. Paul, Minnesota. The project began in 2008 with a poetry contest to find original poems by city residents to be etched in sidewalk concrete slabs. The first year they had over 2,000 submissions. This year's winners were recently published. I picked two of the winners to post since they were short poems. The photos I posted are from past years' winners. A project such as this seems like a creative and innovative way to inspire open air reading. I picked two poetic like sentences by one of the first artists in residence Marcus Young that I liked. These words were part of an introduction of a book called Sidewalk Poetry.
    "Sidewalks are the blank pages of our city as a book." and "Beautiful poetry can be as present and plain as our sidewalks, as grass and sky.
    Perhaps there are other cities who have started initiatives such as this project. Let me know if you have heard of any projects such as this one.
    He's fat
    My fault
    No walks
    youth submission Lillian Rupp

    Four feet tall and poised,
    glove on, front row, third baseline
    Yearning for the foul.
    by Michael Russelle
    ___________________________________________________
    Fudgy Cappuccino Torte
    adapted from a past Bake -Off winner
    Ingredients:
    • Betty Crocker Brownie Supreme (with Hershey syrup packet)
    • 1/4 cup coffee
    • 2 TB. Kahlua
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • 1 cup vanilla chips
    Directions:
    • Mix by hand till well blended
    • Bake in a spring form pan for 30 minutes at 350
    • Cool
    Filling:
    • In a saucepan melt 6 oz. chocolate chips with 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
    • Add 2 beaten egg yolks
    • Cook over low heat 3 minutes
    • Add 2 TB Kahlua-mix well
    • Refrigerate 30 minutes in a bowl
    • Place chocolate mixture over cooled brownie mixture
    Topping:
    • Beat 1 small carton of whip cream-make sure beaters and bowl are chilled
    • Beat in 1/3 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
    • Add 2 TB. Kahlua
    • Spread on top of filling and refrigerate till serving
    comment: I have used Amaretto instead of Kahlua for this recipe and works just as well

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Pucker up-its a lemon


    The Lemon
    Oblong, bright and a fragrance with a bite
    Unexpected chaos within
    Sever it slowly, and the fragrance intensifies
    Its pulp glistens, and a drop of juice trickles out
    Seems innocent enough
    But as you pick up one half
    And bite it with a slurp
    Your lips are drawn in like a string on a sack
    Your cheeks cave in
    Your eyes begin to water
    Your nostrils are tickled and overwhelmed
    As you remove the piece from your mouth
    You wonder how anyone could enjoy such a creation
    Then suddenly you realize that this acidic wonder has
    potential
    You decide to rein in that flavor
    With a glass of pure liquid life
    You squeeze its contents into the glass
    And take another chance and taste it
    It's calmer, but the concoction needs a companion
    Sweet crystals are added and gently blended in
    Then when you taste it this time
    The sour and sweet mingle together
    In a way that is pleasantly refreshing
    Suddenly it comes to you
    Life can bear a bushel of sour fruit
    But when you tame those little beasts
    With purity and sweet expectation
    You end up with a product
    That soothes your weary soul
    So take a sip
    Savor its goodness
    And know that all is well.
    by Latasha A. Willis
    _______________________________
    LEMON YELLOW-brighten your day with these lemon treats
    Glazed Lemon Bread
    recipe adapted from bigoven.com
    Ingredients:
    • 1-1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 cup sugar
    • peel of one lemon grated
    • 1 TB. baking powder
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 2 large eggs beaten
    • 1/2 cup melted butter
    • juice of a large lemon
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup poppy seeds
    Directions:
    • Whisk flour, salt, sugar, lemon peel and baking powder set aside
    • In a bowl beat eggs with milk, butter, lemon juice and vanilla
    • Add eggs to the dry ingredients
    • Stir in poppy seeds only till combined
    • If want more lemony taste could add another 1 TB. lemon zest
    • Grease a loaf pan and bake @ 350 for about 45 minutes-check at 35 minutes
    Lemon Glaze
    • While bread is baking combine juice of another large lemon and 1/4-1/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan depending how much juice there is
    • Stir over medium heat till sugar is dissolved
    • After removing bread from oven but while bread still in pan use a long wooden skewer to poke numerous holes in hot bread-be sure to pierce all the way to the bottom.
    • Slowly drizzle glaze and baste top several times
    • Let bread pan cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes- invert and cool completely on rack
    Sweet Tea Icebox Tart
    Comment: recipe adapted from Southern Living May 2011
    I was drawn to this recipe with its unusual mix of ingredients-what a refreshing Spring treat!
    Ingredients:
    • 2 TB. unsweetened instant ice tea mix
    • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
    • 1 tsp. orange zest
    • 1 tsp. lime zest
    • 1/3 cup orange juice
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
    Directions
    • Stir together ice tea mixture and 2 TB. water
    • Whisk in condensed milk and rest of ingredients till well blended
    • Place 9 inch tart pan with the slightly cooled gingersnap crust on a baking sheet
    • Pour in milk mixture
    • Bake 20-25 minutes just till filling is set
    • Cool completely on on a wire rack about 1 hour
    • Cover and chill 4-24 hours-Remove tart from pan and serve with whipped cream and lemon slices, mint sprigs
    • Whip small container of whipped cream with 3 TB. confectioners sugar for topping

    Gingersnap Crust
    • 2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
    • 5 TB. melted butter
    • 2 TB. light brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup crushed nuts I used almonds
    • Add all to Cuisinart and process
    Note: a graham cracker crust can work but not quite the same flavor
    Press crumb mixture into a tart pan with a removable bottom bake 4-5 minutes @ 350
    Cool a few minutes before adding filling and then continue baking





    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Black Bottom Pie



    Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.
    by Ernestine Ulmer

    This southern classic pie is said to have taken its name from the Black Bottom Dance popular in the early 1920's. There are a variety of recipes available for this pie but I thought this one was the easiest and it certainly was yummy. I was first drawn to the recipe because it called for using Nabisco Chocolate Wafers. I have fond memories of my mother making this icebox dessert with yummy whip cream when I was growing up. It seemed interesting to use chocolate wafers for the crust. But the reality is today it can be a challenge to find these chocolate wafers so I went with ease using Oreo cookies for the crust. Some recipes called for removing the filling from the chocolate cookies and then crumbling them. But I consider myself a purist who sees no point to remove the cookie filling which left in is quite tasty for the crust. But I do suggest using regular Oreo cookies not Double Stuff.
    FYI You can go to e BAY and buy a box of Nabisco Wafers
    Black Bottom Pie
    recipe from CuisineAt HomeSpecials.com
    Crust:
    • 1 package chocolate wafers
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 stick of butter melted
    • 1/2 cup pecans
    • pinch of salt
    • optional use 3/4 package of Oreo cookies (regular size) 3/4 stick of melted butter, 1/2 cup pecans and pinch of salt
    Process cookies in Cuisinart and pat into a glass pie pan
    Bake @ 375 for 12 minutes
    Cool crust completely before adding filling

    Filling:
    Combine in a saucepan
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup cocoa powder
    1/4 cup cornstarch
    1 tsp.espresso powder
    1/4 tsp. salt
    Gradually whisk in 2 cups of 2 % milk
    Cook over medium heat whisking constantly till thick about 6 minutes
    Add 2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
    Stir until smooth
    Whisk together 4 egg yolks and 1 cup of milk then stir into chocolate mixture
    Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes
    Take pan off heat and stir in 2 TB. butter, 1 TB. vanilla, 2 TB. rum or 2TB .Kahlua
    Pour filling into cooled crust, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight

    Pie Topping:
    1-1/2 cups heavy cream
    1/4 cup powdered sugar
    Beat together and spread over top of pie filling
    Garnish with chocolate curls or a drizzle of chocolate syrup

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    How to Bake a Perfect Life


    As I passed by the book area at Target I was drawn to the shelf labeled: Emerging and Notable Authors. It won't surprise you that I picked the book How To Bake A Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal. The title certainly was intriguing. It is a novel about the bonds of mothers and daughters and grandmothers celebrating food and family. The author skillfully tells the story from multiple perspectives:Ramona, a professional baker who owns a bakery that is barely surviving an economic crisis, her daughter Sophia who is pregnant and finds out her husband is wounded in Afghanistan and Katie, their 13 year step daughter who comes to live with Ramona. They all face multiple challenges as it seems their lives are turned upside down by a chain of events. The author was clever interspersing the storyline with Ramona's love of bread making, and sharing bread recipes to capture the attention of foodies.
    The following is a quote from the author in the introduction I liked...
    Most of us are trying our best to bake a life worth devouring-with love as the flour, laughter the water, forgiveness the yeast, and tears, of course as salt.
    ________________________________________
    Continuing al fresco dining the best part...D for dessert
    The following recipe was adapted from Cuisine At Home Specials.com
    I really was quite pleased with the results and even liked it better than Key Lime Pie. If you followed my blog in February at that time I posted a Key Lime Pie recipe. I noted that it was a stretch to make this pie when not in my own kitchen but a rental in Florida. "Real"key limes are small (looks like Brussel sprouts) and I was quite challenged to get the juice extracted not having the right tool. So when I saw this recipe I vowed not to have the same problem again. I posted a picture of my new juicer tool and the bars. By the way don't stress yourself out looking for real key limes regular fresh limes work just fine. Just do not use bottled lime juice!
    Key Lime Bars
    Crust ingredients:
    • 1 jar macadamia nut, ground(3 oz.)
    • 2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (I tested with Old Fashioned Gingersnaps Murray brand found in cookie aisle-used about 3/4 of the bag-best result using Cuisinart for crumbling) graham crackers could be substituted for cookies
    • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 2 TB. brown sugar
    • 5 TB. melted butter
    Directions for crust
    • Mix all ingredients and pat into a 13 x 9 pan
    • Bake @ 350 for 10 minutes and set aside
    Filling ingredients:
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, each can 14 oz.
    • 1 cup fresh lime juice about 8 limes
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    Filling Directions:
    • In Cuisinart add eggs, condensed milk, juice and vanilla
    • Might have to let filling mixture set a few minutes so there are no air bubbles before pouring into crust
    • Pour filling into crust and bake 20-25 minutes @ 350-make sure filling is set
    • Cool to room temperature then chill
    • Bars will cut better if cold
    Topping options:
    • white chocolate shavings
    • whipped cream served with berries on the side
    • lime wedges
    • chopped macadamia nuts
    Tomorrow post will be Black Bottom Pie which originated in the American South. When looking at some history of the recipe I found out that some people feel the pie's components illustrate the rural south at the start of the 20th century. The dark cookie crumb crust signifies dirt roads while the custard filling represents the swampy lowlands of the Mighty Mississippi. Anyway you look at it this pie is a chocoholic's dream!

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Whispers of the Moon and dining al fresco-entree









    Whispers of Moon
    The moon looks down and collects the tales of the earth.
    Poets and storytellers overhear her
    as she whispers them as secrets to the stars.
    by Kathleen M. Krueger
    A few months ago I entered a few of my poems in a poetry event called Poetry On and Off The Wall sponsored by the Five Wings Arts Council (Counties of Morrison, Todd, Wadena, Cass and Crow Wing in MN) I was quite taken with one of the participant's poem about the moon. Even though it is only three lines long the metaphors and visual imagery are quite captivating. The poet, Kathleen Krueger is a crafter of words. Follow the link above to Kathleen's blog to view more of her work.
    Tonight I was able to capture the moon rising over the lake. The stunning view from the dock reminded me of her poem.
    ___________________________________________
    Continuing food conversation for al fresco dining follows
    Moving from sides to main entree
    Margarita Flank Steak
    adapted from special issue of Cuisine At Home 2008
    Note: Flank steak is best grilled to medium. After resting it, thinly slice across the grain to keep it tender
    Ingredients:
    • 1 flank steak 1-1/2 lb.
    • 1/4 cup each fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, tequila, and brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    Directions:
    • Combine all citrus juices, tequila, sugar and salt into a large resealable plastic bag
    • Add steak and marinate 10-15 minutes
    • Remove from marinade and grill
    • Transfer to cutting board rest 5 minutes and cut- slicing against grain
    Serve with Bean Enchilada and Guacamole
    Ingredients:
    • 1 cup red onion sliced
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic
    • 2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup Monterey cheese
    • 1/2 cup goat cheese
    • 8 flour tortillas
    Directions:
    • Saute onion in oil till onions are soft
    • Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer
    • Stir in beans that have been crushed with a potato masher till chunky and then add chicken broth
    • Bring to a simmer and reduce till liquid is nearly evaporated
    • Stir in 1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled till melted about 2 minutes
    • Fill each tortilla with 1/3 cup bean mixture
    • Place all filled tortillas in a greased baking pan
    • Sprinkle with Monterey cheese
    • Bake 400 for 20 minutes
    Pineapple Grilled Pork Tenderloin
    adapted from Southern Living May 2011
    Ingredients:
    • 1 (1-lb) pork tenderloins
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • Fresh pineapple slices if possible the extra cost is worth it)
    • 2 limes
    • 1/3 cup pineapple juice or the juice from the can if using canned pineapple-could substitute orange juice
    • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
    • 3 TB hoisin sauce
    • 3 TB. soy sauce (low salt)
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic
    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
    Directions:
    • Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper
    • Grate zest from limes to equal 2 TB. and squeeze lime for juice to equal 1/3 cup
    • In saucepan add pineapple juice, lime juice, zest, marmalade, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic, mustard and ginger
    • Bring to boil 3-4 minutes
    • Reserve half of mixture in pan
    • Grill pork till 155 degrees basting with the pineapple mixture
    • Remove from grill-cover with foil and let stand 10 minutes
    • Grill pineapple slices
    • Serve meat on top of grilled pineapple slice top with a dollop of pineapple-marmalade mixture





    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Dining al fresco (recipes)


    There is one thing more exasperating than a wife
    who can cook and won't,
    and that's a wife who can't cook and will.
    Robert Frost (poet)
    If more of us valued food and cheer
    above hoarded gold,
    it would be a merrier world.
    Mark Twain
    It is heartwarming to know that famous writers and poets also contemplate the art of food through the delicacies of words.
    Dining al fresco
    Spanish for outside, open air
    These recipes were chosen because they require little preparation and are easy which gives you more time to visit with friends and family. Today will cover sides that go well for grilling and dining al fresco. Check back during the week for main entrees and desserts suitable for outside dining.
    Sides:
    Watermelon Salad
    Makes about 6 cups
    Whisk together for Lime Dressing
    • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    • 2 TB. honey
    • 2 TB. fresh mint
    • 1 TB. vegetable oil
    Combine the following ingredients and toss with
    lime dressing
    4 cups cubed watermelon
    1 cup honeydew melon cubed
    1 cup cantaloupe cubed
    1/4 cup sweet onion slivered like Vidalia onion
    Garnish with coarse sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
    Tomato Dressing
    makes about 8 cups
    Ingredients:
    • 1-3/4 cup chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. dry mustard
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
    • 5 cups baguette cubes, stale and cut in 1 inch pieces
    • 3 cups cherry tomatoes halved
    • 10. fresh mozzarella diced
    • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
    Directions:
    • Preheat oven to 400
    • Grease a 8 inch baking dish
    • In blender add broth, cream, eggs, spices and blend well
    • In a bowl add bread cubes and pour cream over cubes
    • Let stand 10 minutes or until bread is saturated
    • Stir in tomatoes, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper and mozzarella cheese
    • Spoon mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle with rest of Parmesan cheese
    • Bake until dressing is bubbly about 30 minutes
    • Let stand 10 minutes before serving
    Bourbon Beans
    Makes about 4 cups
    Ingredients:
    • 4 strips of bacon
    • 1 cup of onion
    • 1/4 cup bourbon
    • 2 cans red beans (rinsed and drained) but can also use baked beans
    • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup ketchup
    • 1/3 cup chili sauce
    • 2 TB. Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 TB. brown sugar
    • 1 TB. molasses
    • 1 TB. prepared yellow mustard
    • 1 tsp. Tabasco red and/or green yellow peppers
    Directions:
    • Saute bacon and add onions cooking till crisp about 3 minutes
    • Off heat deglaze onions and bacon with bourbon
    • Return pan to stove and simmer till bourbon is nearly evaporated
    • Stir in remaining ingredients except peppers
    • Bring to boil reduce heat to medium low and cook 5 minutes
    • Garnish with peppers
    Note: All recipes have been adapted from a special issue of Cuisine At Home Specials 2008






    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    An Ugly Encounter


    "So I Shall Tell You A Story..." this is the title of a book I am currently reading by Judy Taylor. It is an interesting mix of personal recollections and encounters a variety of people had with Beatrix Potter during her life time. The book also includes some notable articles regarding her writings and illustrations of Peter Rabbit and his friends. Beatrix Potter moved to the Lake District in England in her forties. She began raising sheep and promoting conservation of the land. Over the years she bought up many parcels of land near her Hill Top Farm. When she died in 1943 she left a great fortune. Much of it was in land. At the time of her death she was considered the largest single landowner in the Lake District. Most of her fortune was left to a National Trust to maintain preservation of the land.
    My story begins today...May 14th. I sailed through Friday the 13th with nothing too bad happening. I left the hustle and bustle of the city today to drive north for four hours to join my husband and Bella. The ride was great, not too much traffic, despite the fact it was opening fishing weekend. I had not been at my destination for more than a few hours when things began to unravel. I could hear Bella barking off in the distance in the woods. The barking continued for quite some time when I decided there must be some problem. Perhaps she is in the brush or swamp and is stuck thinking to myself. So off I went to see what was going on. I found Bella distraught and practically paralyzed in fear over a recent ugly encounter with a porcupine. She had at least a dozen quills stuck all over her nose. I dragged her back home and with my husband's help we pinned her down to remove the quills one by one with a pliers. I do not think even two doggie treats could make up for the pain she felt after this experience.
    After we settled down it was time to launch the boat just in time for spring/summer season. My husband did a stellar job getting the boat off the trailer and into the water. But just as I was ready to wave him off I noticed him struggling to get the motor to turn over. After many unsuccessful attempts we had to take the boat out of the water-return home and he had to make some repairs. By this time dusk was almost setting so we had to move quickly to take the boat back to the launch. VOILA! this time the motor worked. But as we were getting the boat ready to launch since the motor was now humming nicely we noticed Bella's predicament. My husband had left the van's window down on the driver's side. Bella who was impatient for her first boat ride of the season jumped from the back seat to the driver's seat and then made an attempt to jump out the window. Unfortunately due to her large size she found herself hanging half out the van window in need of a rescue. Remember last week when I posted the Best Ever Margaritas? Well.. I was counting the minutes to when I could have one hoping to see May 15th with fewer problems. What a day!

    Check out blog tomorrow for a few recipes perfect for grilling.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Revisiting a recipe and notable birthdays



    May 12th 1812 is the birth date of Edward Lear, an English poet and of Florence Nightingale in 1820. She was the English founder of modern nursing. Both of these individuals were talented and dedicated people to their craft.
    Edward Lear is famous for his nonsense poems and limericks. Limericks, a form of poetry has been popular with children for their nonsense verse.
    There was an old man with a beard
    Who said, "It is just as I feared!
    Two owls and a hen
    Four larks and a wren
    Have all built their
    nests in my beard."
    Florence Nightingale was dubbed "The lady with the lamp" after the habit of making rounds at night in her work at civilian and military hospitals in Britain. She also is responsible for laying the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment in 1860 of her nursing school at St. Thomas Hospital in London
    ___________________________________________
    I recently participated in a Cinco de Mayo celebration where we served food to residents at a care facility. One of the recipes we prepared was Bean and Beef Enchilada (recipe posted on May 3) We made some revisions to improve the recipe. So I am posting the newly revised recipe. We also served Buttermilk Mexican Pound Cake recipe posted May 3. There were no revisions for this recipe.

    Bean and Beef Enchilada Casserole

    Adapted from BHG Best Comfort Foods

    Ingredients:

    • 1-1/2 lb. lean ground beef
    • 1 medium onion chopped
    • 1 tsp. chili powder
    • ½ tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 -15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
    • 1-4 oz. can diced green chile peppers-omit if using enchilada sauce that has green chilies in it
    • 16 oz. carton sour cream-light
    • 2 TB. flour
    • ¼ tsp. garlic power
    • 1 package 12- 6 inch corn tortillas (I used Carlita brand)
    • 1- 19 oz. can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce (I used Palmas brand)
    • 1- 16 oz. package prepared shredded Mexican blend 4 cheeses
    • 1- 16 oz jar of chunky salsa (mild)
    • 1 small can of corn-drained
    • 3 finely chopped tomatoes

    Directions:

    • In skillet brown beef with onion, chili powder and cumin
    • Drain fat return meat to pan adding beans, drained corn and Chile peppers
    • Omit Chile peppers if using Green Chile Enchilada Sauce-set aside
    • In a small bowl stir together sour cream, flour, and garlic powder
    • Preheat oven to 350
    • Place 6-9 tortillas in bottom of a greased glass to cover and overlap and go up sides of a 9x13 rectangular baking dish
    • Mix enchilada sauce with 2 cups chunky salsa
    • On first layer (like lasagna) place ½ meat/bean/corn mixture, ½ sour cream mixture, ½ enchilada/salsa sauce, ½ cheese
    • Repeat with tortillas on top and then layer just like the first layer
    • Top with chopped tomatoes and cheese
    • To make ahead cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate
    • To bake cover with foil bake 30-35 minutes or until bubbly
    • Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving-sprinkle cilantro on top. Letting it set for 10 minutes will make it easier to cut

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Comments on the Coconut Cake


    Today I decided to make my own Mother's Day cake. The coconut cake posted earlier in the day seemed the perfect choice. It was a very easy recipe to make but I do have some comments. If you make it in a 13 x 9 pan it will need 30 minutes cooking time. For the frosting I sprinkled toasted coconut and crushed macadamia nuts which were a great addition. Next time I make this cake I thought making it as a two layer cake with a lemon filling would taste wonderful. My husband, who is my primary food critic, loved the cake as it was and ... ate the whole piece as shown in the photo!

    Honoring Motherhood and Womanhood


    No song or poem will bear my mother's name.
    Yet so many of the stories I write,
    that we all write, are my mother's stories.
    by Alice Walker

    Listen carefully to what country people
    call motherhood. In these homely sayings
    are couched the collective wisdom of generations.
    by Maya Angelou

    Celebrations of motherhood can be traced back to ancient times. Both the Greeks and the Romans each had a day set aside to celebrate their mother goddess. Many countries celebrate International Woman's Day rather than Mother's Day. It falls in the springtime either in March, April or May. In America Julia Ward Howe (well known during Civil War time for writing the words to the song The Battle Hymn of the Republic) in 1870 began promoting the idea of Mother's Day for Peace honoring peace, motherhood, and womanhood. In 1873 18 cities held celebrations. But after a few years the celebrations became less when she could not underwrite the costs. Anna Reeves Jarvis in 1890 was the power behind the official establishment of Mother's Day. In 1914 the US Congress passed a joint resolution and Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation that the second Sunday in May would be the official holiday celebrating mothers and motherhood in the United States.
    Serving the following recipe would be a great way to honor that special woman in your life
    ___________________________________________
    adapted from Taste of Home April/May 2011 recipe by Lynne Bassler
    Coconut Cake
    Ingredients:
    • 5 eggs separated
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter softened
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 1 tsp. coconut extract
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
    • 2-1/4 cup cake flour
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 2 cups flaked coconut-chopped
    • 1/4 tsp. creme of tartar
    Directions:
    • Separate eggs and place egg whites in a bowl use at room temperature
    • Beat sugar, butter, oil till fluffy
    • Add yolks one at a time
    • Beat in extracts
    • In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
    • Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk-beat well
    • Stir in coconut
    • Add creme of tartar to egg whites and beat till stiff with peaks
    • Fold into batter
    • Divide batter into two greased cake pans
    • Bake 25-30 minutes @ 350 but check at 25
    • If using a 13 x 9 pan bake 30 minutes
    Cream Cheese Frosting
    • 1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
    • 5 TB. butter
    • 4- 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 1-1/4 tsp. coconut extract
    • 2 cups flaked coconut toasted
    • milk 2% or higher
    • Beat cream cheese, extract and butter till fluffy
    • Add confectioner's sugar and milk by tablespoon till right consistency for spreading
    • Frost cake and sprinkle sides and top with toasted coconut
    • Option: if making cake layers could use lemon filling




    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Celebrating Public Gardens





    The greatest gift of the garden
    is the restoration of the senses.
    by Hanna Rion
    Today is National Public Gardens Day. It is an effort to raise awareness of the importance of wide open green spaces in the US. This day encourages us to seek out quiet beautiful getaways that give us a place to decompress from our daily living and spark ideas for garden planting. Many public gardens have advertised free vouchers or reduced admission fares that can be found in the newspaper or on the Internet. Since I am spending some time in northern Minnesota the search is rather bleak to spot a blooming garden due to the late arrival of Spring. So I went on a 5 mile walk in search of Spring as well as by car. This is what I can report
    1. no visible snow
    2. ice is off the lake and several loons safely returned from the South
    3. teeny and I mean tiny buds are starting to appear on the trees
    4. the deer have NOT discovered my rhubarb coming up (at least not yet)
    5. the local bank in honor of this day were giving away a free flower to plant in your garden
    6. the sun has been out for 3 and I mean 3 days in a row

    I am posting a few photos taken the last 4 days. The ones with daffodils blooming were taken before I drove up north.
    Hope you can take some time to explore your region in the next few looking for signs of Spring.

    In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.
    My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.
    The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers
    and the dreams are as beautiful.
    by Abram L. Urban
    to view a larger image click on the photo

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Think Outside The Glass-Mexican Recipes


    Today in the Star Tribune newspaper (May 5th) there was an article creatively titled: Margaritas Think Outside The Glass. Of course it caught my interest pairing Margarita ingredients with a variety of other foods and then served in a Margarita glass with rim either dipped in salt or sugar depending on the recipe.
    I thought you might enjoy adding these recipes to your Cinco de Mayo collection. Both looked quite easy to prepare.
    Margarita Salad


    Ingredients:
    • 1-honeydew melon
    • 1 quart strawberries
    • 1 pint raspberries
    • 1 pint blueberries
    • 1- cantaloupe
    • 2 oranges
    Tequila Orange-Lime Dressing:
    • 3 TB. tequila
    • 3 TB. Grand Marnier or Cointreau
    • 3 TB. orange marmalade
    • Juice of 1 lime about 2 TB.
    • lime zest
    Directions:
    • Cut up melon, cantaloupe, strawberries,fruit and peel oranges, section and cut up, add blueberries and raspberries
    • In blender mix dressing
    • Toss fruit with dressing and refrigerate several hours- serve in Margarita sugar rimmed glasses
    Grilled Margarita Shrimp
    Ingredients:
    • 2 lbs. shrimp peeled, deveined
    • 2 TB. lime juice
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 TB. Cointreau
    • 1 jalapeno
    • 2 cloves of minced garlic
    • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
    • 1/4 cup tequila
    Directions:
    • Mix all ingredients
    • Marinate shrimp in a bag with liquid ingredients for 30 minutes
    • Drain and thread shrimp on skewers
    • Grill 5-6 minutes
    • Serve as an appetizer in salt rimmed Margarita glasses
    following adapted recipe is from the Internet
    Tammy's Authentic Spanish Rice with Beans
    can omit meat for a veggie option
    Ingredients:
    • 1 TB. butter
    • 3/4 Basmati rice (do not substitute)
    • 1 onion chopped
    • 1-1/4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
    • 3/4 tsp. turmeric
    • 1 lb. ground beef cooked, drained and crumbled
    • 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
    • 1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
    • 1-2 tsp. crushed fresh cumin or 1 tsp. ground
    • 1/2 cup green pepper diced
    • 2 large tomatoes chopped
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • 1/2 cup frozen corn
    • 1/2 cup frozen peas
    • 1 cup cooked black beans or pinto or use kidney beans drained
    • 1 TB. fresh cilantro
    • 6 oz. cheddar cheese
    • Optional green chiles
    Directions;
    • Saute onions in butter
    • Add rice stir well till mixed
    • Add chicken/vegetable broth and turmeric
    • Cover and bring to a boil-once boiling stir and re-cover
    • Cook on low 20 minutes
    • In skillet brown meat with pepper, chili powder, cumin, bell pepper, tomatoes sugar, corn. and peas
    • Stir till simmering, drain any grease
    • Spray with PAM a 13 x 9 pan
    • In a bowl mix cooked rice/onion, meat mixture, beans and cilantro
    • Toss salt and pepper to taste
    • Pour into pan top with shredded cheese
    • Bake uncovered @ 350 for 30 minutes