Friday, September 30, 2011

One of the Season's Best




What Do You Stay Awake For was a blog posting on August 29th. Caribou, a local coffee shop in our region, printed this question on their coffee cups. Reading a variety of customer answers scattered around the cup certainly gives one pause to think about what is worth staying awake for. Today when I made one of my repeat trips to the shop they have out another creative idea. It is such a simple concept but effective as a interactive coffee bonding activity. It is Tic Tac Toe game printed on a napkin. Now I realize many people may already have it as a mobile app or a downloaded game but I liked the idea of having it on a napkin. It encourages you to challenge someone to a game while enjoying your cup of coffee.
Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from The Lion a NYC eatery
Ingredients:
  • 5 Tb. butter
  • 6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I cut back to 3/4 cup)
  • 2 granny Smith apple peeled, cored and chopped
  • 5 cups water (an optional suggestion chicken broth-low sodium)
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg for garnish
Directions:
  • Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat
  • Saute squash and brown sugar, stirring occasionally until slightly softened
  • Add apples, water, cider, sage and cloves-bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 30 minutes
  • Working in batches, puree soup in blender
  • Return soup to pan and stir in heavy cream-heat but not to boil
  • Optional: Add dollop of sour cream-dust with nutmeg
Butternut Squash Pasta
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1 small Butternut squash about 1 LB.
  • 1 LB. fettuccine or bow tie pasta
  • 6 TB. butter
  • 7-10 whole sage leaves (depends on individual taste)
  • 1/3 toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Directions:
  • Peel and cube squash
  • Spray PAM on a cookie sheet
  • Mix in a bowl 3 TB. melted butter, 2 tsp. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon-baste squash with this mixture
  • Cook @ 400 for about 15 -20 minutes
  • In a fry pan add rest of butter, sage leaves and onions
  • Caramelize onions till soft
  • Cook and drain pasta-add it to butter/sage mixture with cooked squash and heat through
  • To serve add shaved Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts


Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Spicy Search






My search for more recipes that would use the spice: Roasted Saigon Cinnamon led me to this McCormick spices link. Awhile back I had purchased this spice which has a bit of a punch. It was used as a part of a rub in a roasted salmon recipe. No, I am not a rep for this company but would like to pass along these links because these recipes are easy and require preparation under 30 minutes. One of the best parts of making these recipes is that I can still take advantage of The Farmer's Market in my area for fresh ingredients and two of them use Roasted Saigon Cinnamon.


The following recipe I adapted using the spicy cinnamon and tried Haralson apples over Granny Smith with great results. Haralson apples were first introduced in 1992 by the Minnesota Horticulture center. It is a crisp tart apple for baking and eating.
Apple Pecan Cake
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp. Saigon Roasted Cinnamon (or use regular cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • dash nutmeg
  • 3 large apples diced
  • 1/2 cup pecans
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 and grease well a 9 inch square pan
  • Cream butter, sugar and egg
  • Combine flour, spices, and baking soda
  • Mix well with butter mixture
  • By hand stir in apples and pecans
  • Bake for 45 minutes but check at 40 minutes
Serve cake warm with cooled caramel sauce
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TB corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 TB dark rum
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Directions:
  • Boil sugar, water and corn syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium high
  • Cook till caramel color of iced tea about 10minutes
  • Add cream and rum whisk to blend
  • Off heat whisk in butter and vanilla
  • Transfer to a bowl and cool
My apologies for the double apple picture which I am unable to remove.
Tomorrow will post two recipe using Butternut Squash.








Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fall Harvest



A wise man always
eats well.
Chinese Proverb

The Farmer's Markets offer a cornucopia of the season's best with fruits,vegetables and fall flowers. The following recipes are some suggested ways to use some of the produce being offered at the markets. This week I will be posting several recipes each day.



Broccoli-Cauliflower Bake

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 TB. butter
  • 1 can of cream of chicken
  • 4-6 oz. Swiss cheese cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • ¼ tsp. dried basil, marjoram and thyme
  • 1-cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • In a large saucepan cook broccoli and cauliflower covered in lightly salted water 6-8 minutes till vegetables are crisp-tender
  • Drain
  • In a skillet cook onion in butter stir in soup and cheese and milk
  • Cook and stir just till cheese melts
  • Stir in cooked vegetables and then transfer to a greased 1-1/2 quart size casserole bowl
  • Toss breadcrumbs with 1 TB parsley flakes and 1 TB. melted butter
  • Sprinkle over vegetable mixture
  • Bake uncovered 20 minutes
  • Another topping idea: 2/3 cup crushed wheat crackers, 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, ¼ cup Parmesan shredded cheese and 2 TB. melted butter

Corn Pudding Casserole

Serves 12-14

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans cream style corn
  • 1 can whole corn liquid packed drained or 5 ears of fresh corn-scrape corn off cob
  • ½ stick of margarine melted
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 box jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients except the Jiffy mix, then stir in the dry mix till just combined
  • Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan
  • Bake 1 hour and a half at 350
  • Cool and cur in squares
  • Can be baked a day ahead and reheated at league
Serve with Jambalaya

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Comfort Food With A Good Book


I asked for a hot dog
with everything on it.
And that was my big mistake,
cause it came with a parrot,
A bee in a bonnet,
A wristwatch, a wrench. and a rake.
It came with a goldfish,
A flag and a fiddle,
A frog, and a front porch swing,
And a mouse in a mask
That's the last time I ask
For a hot dog with everything on it.
by Shel Silverstein

Where The Sidewalk Ends, Light in the Attic and The Giving Tree were staple books in my classroom. My students never tired of hearing and reading Shel Silverstein's poems with his witty, playful words and zany drawings. So I was ecstatic when I heard his family just released a new book with 145 of his poems titled Everything On It. Today is Shel Silverstein's birthday. He was 68 when he died in 1999. He left a huge legacy of over 1,500 poems to his family. This recent book was a culmination of over a year's work as a team of family members whittled down the poems to 145 for publication. They worked hard to stay true to his format used in previously published books. Shel Silverstein also wrote songs. It may surprise you that his most popular one was "A Boy Named Sue". It became famous when Johnny Cash sang it at his famous San Quentin State Prison concert.
Today I enjoyed a bowl of comfort food chili while looking back over some of his books. The following poem has remained one of my favorites
Band-Aids
I have a band-aid on my finger,
One on my knee, and one on my nose,
One on my heel, and two on my shoulder,
Three on my elbow, and nine on my toes.
Two on my wrist, and one on my ankle,
One on my chin, and one on my thigh,
Four on my belly, and five on my bottom,
One on my forehead, and one on my eye.
One on my neck, and in case I might need' em
I have a box full of thirty-five more.
But oh! I do think it's sort of a pity
I don't have a cut or sore!

Chili
Note this recipe is my own that serves 10-12 depending how large the servings portions are. I have found this chili tastes better made a day or two in advance of serving to maximize flavors and then all you need to do is reheat.
Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs. hamburger, cooked, drained and crumbled
  • 1 jar of spicy tomato basil sauce -26 oz, (I used Classico brand but other brands work just as well)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes basil, garlic, oregano (I used Del Monte)
  • 1 cup catsup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 4 TB. lemon juice
  • 2 TB. brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 4 can light red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 3 TB. chili powder
Directions:
  • Brown hamburger with celery and onions and salt/pepper to taste
  • In a large kettle or soup pot add hamburger mixture with rest of ingredients
  • Simmer on low uncovered for several hours stirring occasionally



Friday, September 23, 2011

Thoughts From A Clothesline




Back in the days of wringer washing machines and clotheslines the neighborhood social barometer often was based on how white your sheets were and if you observed laundry day like everyone else. Women paid particular attention on washing days to what was hung on their neighbor's clothesline. Also hanging wash on the line meant you had time to visit with your neighbor. Small children often were kept occupied handing their mothers clothespins. Unfortunately, in many places, clotheslines have become a thing of the past. Many homeowners associations have rules preventing clotheslines. I have read that in North America the clothesline controversy has prompted many government to pass "right to dry laws" allowing their use. As of October 2009, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont actually have passed laws that forbid bans on the use of clotheslines.
Environmental concerns and higher energy prices have created a new generation of clothes-line advocates. Hanging clothes outside does save money and there are zero greenhouse gas emissions per load. One of life's simple pleasures is the smell of fresh clean laundry that has been hung outside to dry. Over time clotheslines have become associated with "home town" character in the neighborhood.
The following is a poem that uses the clothesline as a metaphor and with its unusual structure it caught my attention. It is Clothesline by Marilyn Machiel.
Clothesline

i
you
us
them
those people
wouldn't it be lovely
if one could
live
on a constant state
of we?
some of the most
commonplace
words
can be some of the biggest
dividers
they
what if there was only
us?
if words could be seen
as they floated out
of our mouths
would we feel no
shame
as they passed beyond
our lips?
if we were to string
our words
on a communal clothesline
would we feel proud
as our thoughts
flapped in the breeze?

Perhaps after neighbors hung up their wash on a clothesline they would find time for a cup of tea or coffee and a tasty apple treat to celebrate the first day of Fall.
Apple Crisp
Ingredients:
  • 7 cups of diced apples about 6 large apples-choose Granny or another tart apple for best flavor and baking
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 TB. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not quick)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts
Directions:
  • Lightly grease 13 x 9 pan
  • In a large bowl mix apples with lemon juice, sugar and 2 TB cinnamon and 1/3 cup flour-set aside
  • In food processor mix butter, brown sugar, rolled oats, 1 cup flour, 2 tsp cinnamon add nuts by hand
  • In pan first layer apples and then sprinkle topping on
  • Bake about 45 minutes @ 350 uncovered
  • Serve warm-splurge with ice cream


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Bountiful Harvest



If life deals you lemons, make lemonade,
if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Marys.
Anonymous

A recent predicted cold snap sent me scurrying to salvage my tomato crop and my neighbors tomatoes who were out of town. Several bags later I knew I needed to get creative to make the best use of them. No, I did not try Bloody Marys as suggested by the quote above but I have given you a link to recipes solely devoted to variations of this drink recipe you might enjoy trying. http://www.drinksmix.net/
Instead I tested a Corn and Basil Tart recipe. I found the lighter fare for dinner with a salad just perfect and it would be a good addition for a brunch. The recipe called for a cornmeal crust but I choose a pie crust for this go around-another time. Fried green tomatoes are next on my agenda since two very full bags left of green tomatoes are ripening ever so slowly.
Corn and Basil Tart
adapted from a BHG recipe August 2008
use a large tart pan or a 9 inch pie pan
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups chopped and diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cheddar or Gruyere or Swiss cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh basil or 1-1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh corn about 3 cobs or can use frozen corn as a substitute
  • 1 cup half and half or whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup diced onions
  • Pappy's Pie Crust
Directions:
  • I roasted the chopped tomatoes (spread out on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with PAM, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with dried basil over it and cook at 375 for 25 minutes. Drain on a paper towel. Variation: Instead of olive oil and basil I used some Balsamic Herb Dipping Oil and Marinade.
Crust
  • Use two Pappy pie crust dough mounds-roll out on floured wax paper and flip on to a tart pan trimming edges-press evenly onto bottom and sides using a small glass
  • Line pastry with double thickness of foil pressing on firmly up to edges and bake 10 minutes @375-remove foil and bake 4 minutes longer-set aside to cool slightly
  • In a blender add eggs, cream, mustard, parsley flakes and blend for a few seconds
  • Sprinkle on crust onions, tomatoes, cheese, corn and basil
  • Take long strips of foil and crimp around edges of tart pan to prevent browning
  • Slowly by a cupful pour cream mixture over crust
  • Bake 35 minutes @375 or until set
  • Let stand 10 minutes before removing sides
  • Top each slice with a dollop of salsa
Variations:
green chilies
black olives
zucchini
Note: I thought the tart tasted even better the next day. I found reheating a piece on a cookie sheet at 375 for 8 minutes was better than the microwave which seemed to make the crust soggy.




Saturday, September 17, 2011

Signs of Fall




Let your life
lightly dance
on the edges of time
like the dew on the
tip of a leaf
by Rabindranath Tagore

Just to make sure our resident bats do not even think about making an encore appearance I decided to bring in some star power a large scarecrow. Hopefully its sheer size will do the trick!

Recently I came across this interesting blog written by Audrey Kletscher Helbling at Minnesota Prairie Roots.
Audrey lives in southern Minnesota and writes with a passion about life in rural small towns. Her blog features first hand experiences and captures the hearts of people living there by sharing their stories. She posts pictures that are informative and often entertaining. I was impressed with her list of credits in her writing career which include: published poetry, currently a correspondent for Minnesota Moments magazine and winner of spring 2011 Roadside Poetry Project. Check out :

I am posting another idea using the waffle cone bowl. A few blogs back I gave some cupcake decorating ideas so I took one of these decorations and added it to the ice cream bowl.
Ingredients:
  • one waffle bowl
  • scoop vanilla ice cream
  • 1 Oreo cookie
  • crushed cookie crumbs
  • drizzle chocolate syrup
Directions:
  • Place scoop ice cream in bowl
  • Separate one cookie and scrape white frosting off-place each cookie piece on opposite sides of ice cream scoop
  • Drizzle chocolate sauce
  • Sprinkle crushed cookies crumbs over that

Friday, September 16, 2011

Curious George and an ambitious cooking effort



No, this is not the title of a new Curious George book. But rather a short tribute to the man and his wife who wrote the endearing series many of us read in our earlier years and books children still enjoy today. The cooking effort is reference to a new recipe that caught my attention.

Today is the birthday of H.A. Rey (1898). He was born Hans Augusto Reyersbach in Hamburg, Germany. He and his wife, Margret, both German Jews, were living in Paris in 1939 when World War II began. They were at work on a new book featuring the most endearing of Hans' animal drawings, a mischievous monkey named Fifi. "It seems ridiculous to be thinking about children's books," Rey wrote to a friend. "[But] life goes on, the editors edit, the artists draw, even during wartime." By June 1940, it became apparent that Paris was in imminent danger from the Nazis, so Hans built two bicycles out of spare parts, and the Reys gathered their most precious and portable belongings, including the collection of monkey sketches for the book manuscript. They left Paris two days before the Nazis invaded, and rode 75 miles in three days. By bicycle, train, and boat, they fled on a four-month journey that took them to Lisbon, then Rio de Janeiro, and finally New York.

The drawings of the little monkey were proof of the Reys' occupation and helped them get visas. The first book, Curious George, as the monkey was now called, was published in the United States in 1941. (In Britain, the monkey was called Zozo, to avoid offending King George VI.) Their first book was an instant success about the adventures of a mischievous monkey and his friend with the yellow hat. The Reys went on to write eight more adventures tales of Curious George.

Hans Rey was also an astronomy enthusiast, and in addition to the beloved Curious George books, he wrote The Stars: A New Way to See Them in 1952. The book includes constellation diagrams with cartoon outlines to make them easier to remember and recognize. His new diagrams were widely adopted by other astronomical texts, and the book is regularly reissued as we learn more accurate information about our galaxy. Both Hans and his wife were prolific writers and wrote many other books besides the Curious George books.

The Reys relocated to Cambridge Mass in the late 60’s. Hans died in 1979 and his wife Margret died in 1996. There is a bookstore called Curious George and Friends located in Harvard Square.

How much can you remember about these books?

In the first adventure Curious George ends up flying through the air by what means?

  • a bunch of balloons
  • a glider
  • a magic carpet
  • wings

Where does the man in the yellow hat find Curious George?

  • at the zoo
  • at a pet store
  • in a jungle
  • in a restaurant
In the book Curious George Rides A Bike what does ho do with the newspaper he is suppose to deliver?

  • make paper airplanes
  • make paper boats
  • drop them in a puddle
  • read them

answers: bunch of balloons, jungle, paper boats...so how did you do?

Today I woke up to a very chilly 28 degrees. Sure seems too early in the year for this when last week it was hot in the 90's! I knew this would be just the perfect day to try some comfort food. The recipe for lasagna made in a spring form pan and served on a cake stand intrigued me. The recipe is from a BHG publication called Best Comfort Food. I needed to make several modifications and will pass those ideas along.

Mile High Meatless Lasagna Pie

Ingredients:

  • 14 dried lasagna noodles
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped carrots
  • 2 cups finely chopped zucchini
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 3 large tomatoes chopped and drained
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced or 1 tsp, prepared garlic from a jar
  • 1 box of white mushrooms washed and diced
  • 1 small package (9-oz.) of baby spinach with stems removed
  • 1 tsp. dried basil or 2 tsp. minced fresh basil
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 -15 oz. container part skim Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 26 0z. prepared Marina sauce
  • 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella or Fontina cheese
  • Rosemary sprigs for top garnish
Directions: Note the veggie mixture can be made the day before for easier prep
  • Cook noodles till al dente rinse and drain and lay out on paper towels on counter
  • In skillet add 2 TB. olive oil and saute covered on medium heat garlic, carrots,zucchini, onion for about 5-8 minutes till veggies are softened
  • Drain and add back to skillet with 1 TB. olive oil, mushrooms, basil, tomatoes and spinach, salt and pepper
  • Cook till spinach is wilted,drain juices and set aside
  • In a bowl beat egg , add ricotta cheese, and Parmesan cheese
To assemble there will be three layers of noodles when using a 9 inch spring form pan or 2 layers if use 10 inch pan
  • Lightly PAM spray bottom of pan
  • Add noodles to fit bottom some trimming will be necessary
  • Add 1/3 part of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of noddles
  • Cover ricotta mixture with some of the veggies
  • On top of this add some of the pasta sauce
  • Grate mozzarella or Fontina cheese over the pasta sauce
  • Repeat layers with noddles, ricotta cheese, veggies, pasta, grated cheese two more times ending with cheese on top
  • Place spring form pan on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 for one hour and 15 minutes
If lasagna has been refrigerated before cooking let set out about 1/2 hour before baking and please note if preparing dish ahead of time to refrigerate then cover the bottom of pan with foil and place it on a larger dish with sides that are rounded to prevent leakage in the refrigerator
After cooking let lasagna set about 15 minutes on a wire rack then remove sides carefully

Voila!!-hopefully it will look just like the picture posted-its a great menu item that just might dazzle your company



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bat Man Returns



After several sightings at dusk and in the wee hours of the morning we knew it was time to get Bat Man back. No, I am not referring to the caped crusader from the 1989 movie but the real bat man who drives a bat mobile. His job is to eradicate bats from homes. Bat Man had visited us seven years ago and true to his word: my work is guaranteed, our call for help was answered promptly. We knew of at least three bats who had taken up residence in the soffits near the roof line.
Bats often are a misunderstood species. They are an important part of ecology since they do eat pesky insects such as beetles, mosquitoes and moths. In fact bats can eat around some 600 mosquitoes an hour which is good but on the other hand taking up residence on our property is another matter. In Minnesota there are seven species of bats and there are a total of 1,000 species that live on every continent of the world except Antarctica. Bats are mammals and the only mammals that can fly. Note there is a public health concern since bats can carry rabies.
Bat Man arrived early in the evening and got right to work. We were impressed with his strength as he nimbly moved a 32 foot ladder around the yard and it was windy. His plan: put The Excluder into place. First Bat Man covers the place where the bats are going in and out of with a small screen. Then he installs a one way device called The Excluder which is a long pipe that fits into the screen. Bats can get out but can not crawl back up the tube. Bat Man went around the house looking for other sites to seal up to prevent them from finding a new way in.
Did you know that Austin, Texas has the distinction holding the official International Bat Night called Batfest? It hosts over 150 booths with crafts and food, several bands, awards for bat costumes and yes spectator bat watching.
Well my husband checked this evening at dusk and so far so good... no bats flying around the yard. But will keep you posted with any new developments. For me I felt safer inside looking at recipes. The following looked like a great possibility to try with kids. It looks quite easy.

Bat Cupcakes from The Daily Southern

Bat Cupcakes from The Daily Southern

Bat Cupcakes make a great Halloween dessert. They are so quick and easy to make, but the kids seem to really love them.

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 package of chocolate cake mix (or your own favorite recipe - I like to add a packet of chocolate pudding into the mix to make it extra tasty and moist)

  • 1 container of chocolate frosting

  • 1 package of fudge striped cookies

  • 1 package of Hershey's kisses

  • 1 tube of red gel decorator icing


  1. Prepare the cake mix according to directions on the package (throw in the pudding if you like). Pour into muffin tins and bake. For added fun, use Halloween paper liners.

  2. Allow cupcakes to completely cool. They can even be prepared ahead of time and then decorated when you are ready.

  3. Ice the cupcakes with the chocolate frosting.

  4. Break the fudge striped cookies in half and place them on the cupcake with the stripe sides down. If you want the bats to be 'in flight' you can poke the wings into the cupcake with the striped side facing the back.

  5. Place an unwrapped chocolate kiss on each cupcake laying on it's side with the point facing forward to form the body of the bat.

  6. Use the red gel icing to make two beady eyes on the pointy end of the kiss.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering



See how nature-trees, flowers and grass grow in silence,
see the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move in silence,
we need silence to be able to touch souls.
by Mother Teresa

Slowly, silently, now the moon
walks the night in her silver shoon.
by Walter de La Mare

Tuesday September 13th will be the official Harvest Moon, but today on September 11th the moon will be virtually full.
The events of September 11th a decade ago are commemorated today. Add a moment of silence in your life to remember all those who lost their lives and to those who helped after the tragic event on 9/11.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Sweet Treat




A recent trip to the grocery store put my imagination into overdrive. I discovered waffle bowls! They are an upgrade from the traditional waffle cone. I did some GOOGLE sleuthing and found out they have been around since 2007. But to me it was a brand new product. The possibilities seem limitless filling the waffle bowl with some dessert item.
For my first try I decided to modify a previous posted dessert item from August 17th Ultimate Summertime Dessert.
First I made the Best Ever Chocolate Cake recipe below but baked cake in a large muffin tin. After the individual cakes cooled on a wire rack I placed one in the waffle bowl. Then topped the cake with a small scoop of chocolate mint ice cream. And lastly for the piece de resistance (French term for highlight) drizzled bittersweet ganache.
As I think of other dessert ideas using waffle bowls will pass along.
______________________________________________
Best Ever Chocolate Cake
This recipe makes a dense, moist cake
Ingredients:
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened ccoca
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong hot coffee
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 TB. Kahula
Directions:
  • Beat all ingredients for 2 minutes-if batter has air bubbles gently bang bowl on counter
  • PAM spray muffin tin and fill 1/2 full
  • Bake @ 350 for 15-20 minutes
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes and then place on wire rack
  • Place cake muffin in waffle bowl, add small scoop of ice-cream-drizzle with ganache
Ganache
  • Melt 4 squares of baking bittersweet chocolate
  • Add 4 TB whip cream to chocolate and microwave 40 sec, stir and then 30 sec.more till smooth add more whip cream if needed
  • Optional adding 2 TB Kahlua


Friday, September 9, 2011

Armed and Frazzled




I was on a mission driving into a nearby small town on a recent sunny afternoon. I was armed with quarters, bills, reading material and plenty of soap. As I entered the building I stopped dead in my tracks. The $7.50 sign glared above the huge oversize washer that I need to use for my quilts.
Quickly calculating just how many quarters that would be I knew it would be close for my cash cache to cover three washers. I cringed changing a $10.00 bill into quarters. Do the math: two large washers @$7.50=30 quarters and a smaller washer @ $3.50=14 coins. My head was getting dizzy at how quickly these machines ate up my quarters and the worst is I still had to dry.
I poured soap into each dispenser but because it was so high up on top of machine which was sitting on a concrete block my short size hampered a good view for pouring. Finally I had all three machines humming along when I heard this WHOOSH of water like Niagara Falls! As each machine moved to the next cycle the water was draining from the machine into a trough behind all the washers. I began to panic when I saw a huge mound of soap bubbling and getting higher and higher in the trough. Seems I guessed wrong and had added too much soap into each machine. Looking in the window of the washer I could see it was still full of soap and the cycle almost done.
I was in trouble! Now I am out of quarters and all three quilts needed to go through a whole cycle again just to get the soap off. So leaving all this mess ran off to a nearby coffee shop begging for quarters using all my miscellaneous change. Then I ran the washers again but in smaller ones to save some money yet now I am still short on quarters for drying. The sign DRY $.25 is so misleading!! It takes many quarters to keep that machine going. At this point I am totally out of money with just a checkbook so went to another store and begged a clerk to cash a check. She was most accommodating giving me a roll of quarters. YEAH! I was back in business.
Needless to say when I had finished the quilts washing and drying I hadn't even touched the reading material I had brought in. I had wanted to finish this article The New Laundromat. It was interesting to note that the coin operated laundry industry has undergone a revolution these past years. Gone are dingy, unsafe, boring places but now places where there are snack bars, dry cleaning services and even video games. But the best part some don't even use coins, you swipe a card just like at a coffee shop. I wonder how long it will be before this town's laundromat catches on to this new revolution!
Since losing so many quarters in one afternoon sapped my energy I was happy dinner had been made earlier in the day. It was a new recipe with some of my own adaptions from a BHG publication called Best Comfort Food.
Baked Ravioli with Meat Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 1 bag frozen ravioli 25 oz.
  • 1 can chunky Italian tomatoes with garlic and oregano
  • 1/2 can (1/3 cup) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato juice
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • grated Parmesan cheese 1 cup mozzarella cheese
Directions:
  • Cook pasta according to package directions but al dente about 4-5 minutes
  • Drain
  • Spray a casserole dish with PAM
  • Place drained ravioli in bottom of casserole dish and grate Parmesan cheese over the top
  • In a food processor add tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, juice, spices and puree
  • Brown beef with onion salt and pepper, crumble and drain
  • In same fry pan add cooked drained beef and puree sauce cook on low heat about 15 minutes-uncovered
  • Pour sauce with beef over ravioli and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top
  • Bake covered 350 about 20 minutes



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Walking the World for Diabetes and a taco recipe


Recently on one of my frequent trips between the cities and Up North I couldn't believe what I saw. My first thought I was just tired from the drive and beginning to imagine things but as I got closer sure enough I was correct in my observation. A man wearing a backpack was holding a dog on a leash and rolling a huge 6 foot inflatable world globe on a rope in his other hand down the side of the road. He was heading north in my direction. When I told my husband about this unusual sight he recalled seeing this man some 100 miles back the previous week.
Well the mystery has been solved after reading about Erik Bendl's journey in the local newspaper. He is a 49 year old retired Kentucky carpenter who is rolling a large canvas inflated globe to promote diabetes. The globe is a symbol that diabetes has a world wide impact with some 350,000 people affected by the illness. He has covered some 26 states thousands of miles in 5 different trips over the years during the summer. This recent trek began in Sheboygan,Wisconsin, moved across Minnesota to Lake Itasca and onward toward the Dakotas. On his last blog he had reached the State Park of Lake Itasca on Sunday. Erik's mission certainly is challenging in terms of the pace walking each day with his only companion Nice, his dog. But his goal is simple to promote diabetes awareness.
Check out his daily blog at this linkhttp://www.worldguy.org/
I think his efforts are quite noteworthy.
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If all this talk about walking has made you think about how good exercise is for you what about a healthy recipe too?
Generally, I am do not eat much seafood but I do enjoy mahi-mahi. Once having had it in Hawaii I have never been able to find a recipe that comes close to what I had except for this one.
This recipe has been adapted from a BHG recipe. Other fish like swordfish or halibut steaks can be used in place of mahi-mahi fillets. Note shrimp or chicken can be substituted for fish in the taco.
Fish Tacos with Tropical Fruit Salsa
4 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen swordfish, halibut or mahi mahi steaks cut 1 inch thick
  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small cucumber seeded and chopped
  • 2 TB. green onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • flour or corn tortillas
  • 2 cups fresh spinach or leaf lettuce chopped
  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 2-4 TB. snipped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup margarita drink mix (no alcohol)
  • 1 tsp. Jamaican jerk seasoning (found in spice aisle grocery store)
  • 1 TB. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder or regular chili powder
Directions:
Thaw fish and pat dry with a paper towel and cut fish into 3/4 inch strips
Marinade
In a shallow bowl stir margarita mix and jerk seasoning, add fish strips and coat in juice, cover and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes, turn once or twice
Salsa
In a large bowl stir together beans, mango, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, onion, pepper, lime juice, ancho powder and salt set aside.
Cooking
Drain fish and discard marinade
On a large piece of foil spray with PAM and grill fish strips till flaky about 8 -10 minutes
To serve:Warm tortillas and place 2 TB mango salsa inside with chopped lettuce/spinach and fish strips
Serve with Spanish rice pilaf



Monday, September 5, 2011

Bundt Pan Revival




In 1966 the bundt pan surpassed the popular Jello mold to become the most sold pan in the US. In the 70's and 80's its popularity peaked but in the last few years there seems to be a resurgence of cake baking and decorating using the new Nordic ware bundt pans. Shopping kitchen ware speciality shops can be fun looking at what is new in the field of cake making pans.
I have posted a photo of yesterday's chocolate bundt cake recipe, an apple bundt cake recipe and a decorating idea.



Apple Bundt Cake

Note: moist and easy to prepare
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples
  • 2 TB. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 TB. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Directions:
  • Mix diced apples with cinnamon and 2 TB. sugar-set aside
  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt
  • In large bowl combine sugar, oil, juice, vanilla and eggs
  • Beat till fluffy
  • Stir in flour and blend
  • Add apples and walnuts
  • Bake in a greased bundt pan @ 350 for 55 minutes
Praline Frosting
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 TB. milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter and 3 TB. milk to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, boil l minute
Remove from heat, add vanilla and whisk in powdered sugar till smooth
Chocolate Cherry Bundt Cake
Ingredients:
  • 1 TB. sugar
  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix with pudding
  • 1 cup cherry pie filling
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2-3 TB. cherry brandy or 1 tsp. almond extract
Directions:
  • Add all ingredients and beat till smooth
  • Grease bundt pan and sprinkle with 1 TB sugar shake well to coat
  • Bake at 350 for 50 minutes check at that time to see if done
Frosting:
  • 1- 3 oz. package of softened cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp milk
  • 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 TB. softened butter






Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Versatile Pan




Just like the thrift shop you never know what treasures you might find at an art crawl. My friend and I spent almost 8 hours on an up north art crawl that covered some 34 miles with 13 stops on outside yards. There was a huge variety of art medium ranging from pottery, photography, fibers, jewelry, wood carving and many more types. Local artists were selling their wares. I was drawn to the whimsical lawn ornaments and wanted to capture a few snapshots but knew that it would be a " no, no" and frowned upon by the artists. One metal lawn ornament was quite unique. It was 6 feet high petal like flower with a bundt pan turned upside down as the center. And it looked just like the bundt pan I own. It was quite a creative design!
Looking online I also discovered that my bundt pan now comes under the category of vintage. Bundt pans have been around since the 50's but in the late 60's they really came into popularity when recipes using these pans won the Pillsbury Bake-Off contests. The founder of Nordic Ware in St. Louis Park, MN was responsible for designing this bundt pan fashioned after a German version of a bund pan. Bund means gathering in German. David Dalquist added the t to the word bund and his creation has taken off. Nordic Ware estimates more than 40 million original pans are in use. Today manufactures have taken bundt pans to new heights with various patterns in the pan and different sizes.
I decided to post my all time favorite bundt cake recipe that I took off the back of Pillsbury flour wrapper many years ago. I also posted another unique way to use a bundt cake if into cake decorating.

Please note on previous blog 2 photos are only available when you click on the symbol. I am not sure how to fix this and have tried a variety of things. These are my own photos and I would take suggestions from anyone who has used blogger site on how to remedy the situation.

Ring Of Coconut Fudge Cake
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • optional: 2-3 TB. Kahlua
Filling
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-8oz softened cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Grease well a bundt pan
  • In a large bowl beat oil, sugar and eggs
  • Add rest of ingredients BUT not the filling ingredients
  • In separate bowl add filling ingredients and beat well
  • Pour one half of batter in pan
  • By spoonfuls drop cream cheese mixture over batter
  • Add remaining batter
  • Bake 350 for 60-65 minutes use a long toothpick/skewer to check for doneness
  • Cool in pan 15 minutes take butter knife and go around edges for easier removal
  • Invert onto a wire rack to cool
Frosting
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 TB. cocoa
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla and 1-3 TB. hot coffee
  • Beat and drizzle over cake

Check back tomorrow for two more tried and true bundt recipes