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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

LEAP DAY CUPCAKES

What better way to celebrate leap day, than with cupcakes made to look like one of the great leapers and jumpers of the animal kingdom.
My son, who was helping me decorate, decided to make some alien cupcakes also, by placing one eye in the middle of the cake, and a gel smile - now theres a leap - from frogs to aliens!

LEAP DAY CUPCAKES





1 package of white cake mix
1 can of prepared vanilla frosting
6 drops of green food coloring, or as needed
12 large marshmallows
mini reeses pieces
decorating gel

Bake cupcakes according to the directions on the package. Allow them to cool completely.
Scoop the frosting into a small bowl and mix with green food coloring. Frost the cupcakes.
Cut the marshmallows in half to make two circles. Place on the cupcakes. Squeeze a little gel on the marshmallows, and secure a mini reeses piece on each for the pupil.
Use gel to make noses and mouths on the top of the cupcakes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from All Recipes
allrecipes.com/

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CHEDDAR BAY BISCUITS LIKE RED LOBSTERS

Today was my sons 9th birthday, and I made this recipe in honor of him. One of his very favorite restaurants to eat, and place of choice for his birthday dinner, was Red Lobster - I'm convinced it's because of their cheddar bay biscuits. It is impossible to stop at just one!! Although mine didn't match completely the light airy and flavorful treats from Red Lobster, our resident expert did give them the thumbs up, and managed to eat one or two.

CHEDDAR BAY BISCUITS LIKE RED LOBSTERS


2 cups bisquick baking mix
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Heat oven to 450F.
Mix baking mix, milk and cheese until soft dough forms, beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Mix butter and garlic powder, brush over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from CDkitchen
http://www.cdkitchen.com/

Monday, February 27, 2012

CREAMY CORN STUDDED POLENTA

This was a side I made to compliment the grilled chicken and vegetables my husband made for dinner one night. In our family, I do most of the weeknight cooking, and my husband has fallen into the role of Sunday night chef, always with delicious results.

CREAMY CORN STUDDED POLENTA


1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups of fresh corn kernels (I used 1 can of corn, because I didn't have fresh)
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Bring broth, cream and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in cornmeal, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add corn, increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cook until cornmeal is soft, thick and creamy, stirring often, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2008
www.bonappetit.com/

Sunday, February 26, 2012

MONEYBALL

Every year when the Oscars are on, it makes me realize how few movies I watch!! However, my husband and I did see Moneyball, and thought it was a fabulous movie - just as this is a fabulous cocktail. Made with ingredients we had on hand, the flavors came together perfectly, like a seasoned actor and a great storyline.

MONEYBALL


1 1/2 ounces of amaretto
1 ounce of vodka
1 1/2 ounces of whiskey
freshly squeezed orange juice

Mix first three ingredients in a glass, top with orange juice, and garnish with orange peel if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the SPIR.IT Inspiring Cocktails
http://www.thespir.it/articles/oscar-night-cocktails/

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ROASTED SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN SALAD

This would have been a very healthy dinner - if I didn't devour two slices of pizza before sitting down to eat. It is full of wonderful, wholesome ingredients and is absolutely delicious. I loved the warm sweet potatoes with the tang of the lime juice, balsamic vinegar and mint. A fabulous winter salad, that will definitely grace our table many more times this season.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN SALAD


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or mint
3 to 4 cups of baby arugula

Heat oven to 375F.
On a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, place potatoes in a single layer, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Bake until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, let cool.
In a bowl, whisk lime juice, vinegar, garlic, remaining salt and pepper. Add potatoes, beans, tomatoes, bell pepper and basil or mint. Toss and serve over arugula.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Self Magazine
www.self.com/

Thursday, February 23, 2012

PERFECT POUND CAKE and CARDAMOM COFFEE CAKE

When I came across a recipe for the "perfect" pound cake, I couldn't resist trying it! The cardamom coffee cake was described as "one of the richest cakes in the world" - again, I was irresistibly drawn to try it!!
I made both of these for play dates, and although tasty, I did find them a little dry.
One tip I wanted to learn more about, recommended in the pound cake recipe, was to ensure the butter and eggs were at room temperature before using them. "Baking is a science" Cathy says on her Noble Pig blog, and when butter and eggs are at room temperature, they will produce a tender cake that will rise to its fullest potential, as opposed to making a cake similar in appearance to a pancake!
http://noblepig.com/2011/01/03/the-temperature-of-ingredientshow-important-is-it.aspx

PERFECT POUND CAKE


1 cup of butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Heat oven to 350F.
Lightly butter and flour a 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until very light and fluffy, 7 minutes. Scrape down bowl and beat 1 minute more. Add vanilla, then gradually add eggs, beating well and scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add salt, then gradually add flour, beating well to combine and scraping down bowl as needed.
Transfer batter to pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 65 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 1 hour (we couldn't wait that long, and removed it after 10 minutes, sliced it and ate it warm). Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack before slicing.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, Everyday Food
www.everydayfoodmag.com/

CARDAMOM COFFEE CAKE


2 cups of butter, softened
2 cups of brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of sour cream
4 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons of powdered cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of salt
NUT MIXTURE
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350F.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat well. Add sour cream and flour mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in each addition just enough to blend. Don't beat or otherwise over mix.
Spoon one third of the batter into a (well buttered) bundt pan, then half of the nut mixture then one third of the batter, then remaining nuts, then remaining batter.
Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until brown on top and dry when you insert a prober all the way down.
Turno onto a plate after 10 minutes of cooling.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook
www.moosewoodcooks.com/

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

THAI-GINGER RUBBED SALMON WITH GREEN CURRY SAUCE and THAI GREEN CURRY

The Thai-ginger rubbed salmon was an incredible dish - perfect for a special occasion. I made it for my husband for date night at home, and although it took some time to put together, it was worth every minute. We especially enjoyed the green curry sauce, and I was excited that there was enough left over  for lunch the next day - when mixed with rice noodles.
On the other hand, the Thai green curry was perfect for a quick weeknight family dinner - it barely took any time at all to throw together, and was very yummy.
 I had my very first green curry in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was many, many, many years ago, while at lunch with a friend, sitting at an outdoor restaurant - I still remember the beautiful setting, wonderful conversation, delicious food, and how exotic the green curry seemed. I have loved green curries ever since, and was thrilled to introduce my family to a delightful experience - although we conceded to the winter weather and ate inside.

THAI-GINGER RUBBED SALMON WITH GREEN CURRY SAUCE


THAI-GINGER RUB
1 - 2 pounds of boneless salmon fillet
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 475F.
In a small bowl, mix together ginger, basil, paprika, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and cayenne pepper. Place salmon fillets on a foil lined tray, skin side down. Squeeze lime juice over salmon and rub the ginger spice blend into the fillet. Bake 10 - 15 minutes, or until done.

GREEN CURRY SAUCE
1 1/2 tablespoons green curry paste
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups of coconut milk (I used one can, which was just a little less than two cups)
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon basil leaves
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Stir together green curry paste, curry powder, coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, sugar and basil leaves in a sauce pan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Spoon atop grilled rubbed salmon fillets and then top with fresh squeezed lime juice and fresh basil.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from a McCormick spice advertisement
www.mccormick.com


THAI GREEN CURRY


1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons of thai green curry paste, or to taste
1 (14 ounce) can of chicken broth
2 cups of cooked chicken, diced
1 (16 ounce) can of coconut milk (I used half of a can, but the full can would have been good too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded basil leaves
lime wedges

Heat oil in a large pot over high heat, add shallots and ginger. Stir fry until fragrant, 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium, stir in curry paste. Stir in chicken broth, cook until broth is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
Stir in chicken, coconut milk and salt, heat to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Stir in basil.
Serve in bowls with jasmine rice, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

MARDI GRAS BARS

Happy Mardi Gras!

MARDI GRAS BARS


2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/2 sticks of butter, cut in cubes
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup reeses pieces
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup coconut
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk

Heat oven to 350F.
In a standing mixer, mix together flour, confectioners sugar, salt and butter. Place mixture into a 13 by 9 pan and press down firmly to form a crust. Bake for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together dark chocolate chips and the next 5 ingredients. Remove pan from the oven. Immediately pour chip mixture over crust. Drizzle both milks evenly over the top. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely in pan, then cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from People magazine, October 2011
www.people.com

Monday, February 20, 2012

FROST BITE COOKIES and CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH WHITE FROSTING

In honor of our sprinkling of snow last Monday, the kids and I made "frost bite" cookies. A delicious mix of orange, oats and raisins, with a hint of white chocolate sweetness - a perfectly balanced bite.
I have made the chocolate cupcakes several times, most recently to celebrate the birthday of my daughters friend. They are one of my absolute favorite treats - a double dose of chocolate, topped off with delicious, creamy frosting - reminiscent of a dusting of snow - or a snow drift - depending on the thickness of the frosting.

FROST BITE COOKIES


3/4 cup raisins
3 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
8 ounces of white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil

Heat oven to 350F.
In a small bowl, combine orange juice and raisins. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute. Let cool.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and orange peel.
In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Stir into butter mixture. Add raisins, any soaking liquid and oats and mix well.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart, and flatten slightly. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely.
Microwave chocolate and vegetable oil in a small deep bowl, for 2 minutes, or until melted, stirring as necessary. Let stand 2 minutes, stir until smooth.
Dip one-third of the cookie in the chocolate and set on waxed paper until chocolate is firm.
Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH WHITE FROSTING


3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups chocolate morsels

Heat oven to 350F.
Sift together cocoa, and next three ingredients in a medium bowl, set aside.
Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Add cocoa mixture to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with cocoa mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in morsels.
Place 12 paper baking cups in a muffin pan, spoon batter evenly into cups, filling completely full.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes, transfer to a wire rack, and cool 30 minutes or until completely cool. Spread cupcakes evenly with white frosting.

WHITE FROSTING

1/2 cup butter
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons of milk

Beat butter with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla and 2 tablespoons of milk, adding additional milk, if necessary, for desired consistency.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, February 2007

Saturday, February 18, 2012

LEEK GRATIN WITH BACON AND BREAD CRUMBS

I have made this leek gratin twice for friends, and both times it has received rave reviews.
The leeks are almost melted in the pan, and added to cream and cheese, they become something very special. I exchanged the bacon for canadian bacon, as it saved an extra cooking step, saved calories and added wonderful flavor.

LEEK GRATIN WITH BACON AND BREAD CRUMBS


3 to 4 leeks
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of butter
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
4 slices of canadian bacon, cut into small dice
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
3 garlic cloves

Trim the roots and dark upper leaves from the leeks. Halve leeks lengthwise, then cut crosswise into thin slices. Rinse well to remove grit, drain well.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in cream, cheese, dill, parsley and canadian bacon. Turn the leek mixture into a 9-inch pie plate or similar size pan.
Heat oven to 450F. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Toss remaining oil and butter with the bread crumbs, garlic and a dash of salt and pepper. Add to skillet and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle over leeks. Bake until bubbly and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from USA Weekend, November 2011
www.usaweekend.com/

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO WITH SHRIMP

I invited a friend to lunch, and we caught up over this wonderful winter dish.
However, I was too busy chatting and accidentally over cooked the risotto - it would have looked and tasted better if not so gummy!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO WITH SHRIMP


3 ounces of proscuitto, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 cup of arborio rice
4 cups chicken broth, heated in microwave
1 pound butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 pound of large uncooked deveined peeled shrimp
1/4 cup whipping cream

Saute proscuitto in large saucepan over medium-high heat until fat renders and proscuitto is browned and almost crisp.
Add oil to pan, then onion and garlic, cook until onion is translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add rice, stir 1 minute. Add hot broth, increase heat and bring to boil. Add squash and sage, reduce heat to medium and simmer until rice is tender but still firm to bite and mixture is creamy, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Stir in shrimp and cream, cook a further 5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2009
www.bonappetit.com/

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

PEAR AND GOUDA SOUP and ENDIVE AND BLUE CHEESE SPIRALS WITH CREAMY WALNUT VINAIGRETTE and ARUGULA BEET SALAD WITH GINGER VINAIGRETTE and ORANGE CHAMPAGNE CAKES

Happy Valentines Day!!
We had very dear friends for dinner - the couple responsible for introducing my husband and myself. We were very excited for our evening and to cook something special.
I dotingly made the appetizers and salad, my husband grilled salmon and added broccolini and carrots and a leek gratin (that was eaten before I could snap a picture), and we finished off the meal with orange champagne cakes.
I decided to make "shots" out of the pear and gouda soup - a friend gave me a set of adorable tasting glasses for Christmas, and it gave me the idea to serve small sips of the silky, flavorful soup. The arugula salad was delicious, and I thought interesting in that the recipe didn't call for any cheese. I do think goat cheese would be a perfect compliment to the beets and ginger, and would definitely add it the next time I made this salad. However, our appetizers were cheese heavy, so I followed the recipe and omitted it this time.

PEAR AND GOUDA SOUP


2 pears, cored, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock (more if you like a thinner soup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
4 ounces of gouda cheese, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup white wine or apple juice
salt and white pepper to taste

Combine the pears, chicken stock, ginger and nutmeg in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over a high flame. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the pears are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a small saucepan melt the butter over a low flame. Add the flour, and stir until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, bring to a simmer over a medium flame, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat to low, cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.
Add the cheese to the milk mixture and stir until melted, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Use a blender, food processor or immersion blender to puree the pear and chicken stock mixture, until smooth. Combine with the cheese mixture in large saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until heated through.
Gradually stir in the wine, and cook until heated through. Do not boil.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, March 2004

ENDIVE AND BLUE CHEESE SPIRALS WITH CREAMY WALNUT VINAIGRETTE


FOR THE SALAD:
3/4 cup blue cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large belgian endive
FOR THE DRESSING:
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 small shallot, minced

Combine the blue cheese, butter and cream cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Cut a 1/4 inch from the bottom of the endives and peel away the outer leaves. Spread each leaf with a 1/4 inch thick layer of blue cheese mixture and press the leaves back together around the core, to reconstruct the shape of the whole endive. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 1/2 hours.
To prepare the dressing, whisk the mustard with the vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the walnut oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until thick and emulsified. Stir in the shallots. (If dressing is too thick, you may add up to a 1/4 cup of olive oil to reach your desired consistency).
Cut the endive into 1/2 inch thick slices, arrange on a plate and spoon the dressing over the top.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Sara Moulton
saramoulton.com/

ARUGULA BEET SALAD WITH GINGER VINAIGRETTE


12 small red beets, rinsed, with stems trimmed
3 inch piece of peeled ginger root
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt
3 tablespoons mild olive oil
4 ounces of arugula leaves

Heat oven to 350F.
Wrap the beets in heavy-duty aluminum foil, creating a loose but tightly sealed packet. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the beets are tender.
Carefully open the packet and let the beets sit until cool enough to handle. Trim off the stem and root ends, and peel off the skins. Cut the beets in half.
Grate the ginger to yield about 2 teaspoons. Whisk together the grated ginger, vinegar, sugar and salt to taste in a small bowl. Slowly add the oil, whisking to combine. Taste and add salt, sugar or more ginger as needed.
Divide the arugula among individual plates. Scatter the beets over the arugula. Drizzle the vinaigrette over each portion, serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2008

ORANGE CHAMPAGNE CAKES


1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup orange juice
1 to 1 1/2 cups finely ground almonds
1/2 to 1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
1 1/2 cups champagne
1/4 cup sugar

Heat oven to 325F.
Grease and flour muffin pans.
In a bowl, combine yellow cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 2 cups of sugar, beat until well combined. Add eggs, beat until combined. Beat in orange juice, then cornmeal mixture until just combined. Fold in ground almonds and orange peel.
Spoon batter into pans. Bake for for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine champagne and the 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 1 cup.
Remove cakes from pans. Transfer cakes to a large platter, placing cakes bottom up. Prick all over with wooden toothpick. Carefully spoon or brush champagne syrup over cakes. Immediately cover cakes with plastic wrap, cool completely. Serve cakes at room temperature - I whisked a little grand marnier into mascarpone and spooned it alongside the cakes - whipped cream would be good too.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, January 2003
www.bhg.com/

Monday, February 13, 2012

BIG HEARTED BUTTER SHORTBREAD

I made these wonderful shortbread cookies to take to a play date - perfect with a glass of milk or a cup of tea - and there were definitely enough to share.
I added another stick of butter to the recipe, because the dough was extremely crumbly, and wasn't coming together in a way that would have allowed me to roll it out. The result was a delicious, light and fabulously buttery cookie, that both kids and adults enjoyed.

BIG HEARTED BUTTER SHORTBREAD


2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl, and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing until it is incorporated and the dough holds together in large clumps and comes away from the side of the bowl.
Form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly flour the rolling surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness. Using a heart shaped cutter, cut out the hearts. Use a thin metal spatula to transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, placing them about 1 inch apart. Gather together the dough scraps, roll them and cut out additional hearts.
Bake one sheet at a time until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned - about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
GLAZE
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 to 6 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream
In a small bowl, stir the powdered sugar and vanilla together with enough cream to form a thick, spreadable glaze. Use a thin metal spatula to spread each cookie heart with the glaze. Let the cookies sit until the glaze is firm.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, February 2005

Sunday, February 12, 2012

BREAD PUDDING WITH A KISS

I thought this was an adorable idea! and liked that I could make it in advance. I made them into small bites, but you could definitely cut the pieces bigger.

BREAD PUDDING WITH A KISS


1 1-pound loaf of banana bread (purchased or homemade)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups of half-and-half
1/4 cup of sugar
milk chocolate kisses

Heat oven to 350F.
Cut banana bread into 1 inch cubes, place in an 8X8 inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, half-and-half and sugar. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture.
Bake uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes, or until puffed and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cut into 25 squares, or cut with a cookie cutter. Place a chocolate kiss on top of each bread pudding piece.
NOTE - this recipe can be placed in the refrigerator overnight prior to baking.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, February 2004
www.bhg.com/

Thursday, February 9, 2012

RASPBERRY CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS

I recently made these for a fun girls night - a group of us met at a friends yoga studio for cocktails and a class and appetizers.

RASPBERRY CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS


1/4 cup sugar to rim glasses
1 pint of raspberry sorbet
2 shots grand marnier
champagne
raspberries (optional garnish)

Place a shallow bowl of water alongside another shallow bowl with 1/4 cup sugar in it. Dip 4 cocktail glasses in water, then sugar to rim glass.
Place pint of raspberry sorbet in blender. Add two shots of orange liqueur. Fill blender with champagne to maximum fill line or up to one inch from top of blending pitcher. Place cover on blender tightly. Blend until smooth and pour into cocktail glasses. Garnish with a few raspberries and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Citiscapes Metro Monthly, February 2007
www.citiscapes.com/

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

KUMARA AND GINGER SOUP WITH MELBA HEARTS

As I have mentioned previously, I was so excited to find kumara here in the United States. I discovered them at Ozark Natural Foods, under the alias Japanese sweet potatoes. They made a silky, rich and yummy soup, that was quick and healthy - and paired perfectly with the cheesy toasts.

KUMARA AND GINGER SOUP WITH MELBA HEARTS


2 to 3 kumara, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
400 ml can of light coconut milk

Boil kumara until tender. Drain.
Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic and ginger in a little olive oil until tender. Add curry powder and continue cooking until onions are translucent, add kumara. Transfer to a food processor or use an immersion blender and process until smooth. Mix in coconut milk, return to pot and heat through. Serve with melba hearts and a sprinkle of parsley if desired.
MELBA HEARTS
Cut heart shapes from slices of bread. Mix together 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley with enough olive oil to make a spreading consistency. Spread quite thickly on hearts, bake at 350F until golden, about 12 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from New Zealand House and Garden
www.nzhouseandgarden.co.nz

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MOCHA MERINGUE KISSES and CHOCOLATE HEART TURNOVERS and BROWNIE RASPBERRY HEARTS

Here are a few recipes for chocolate lovers.
These were all fun to make, and although I served the turnovers for breakfast, they would also be delicious for a sweet snack or dessert (especially with ice cream or whipped cream). For the meringue kisses, I would recommend eliminating the minichips, or sprinkling them on top - if you plan to use a piping bag. It gives more of a "kiss" appearance, but the chocolate clogged up the nozzle, and made it very difficult to squeeze the batter out.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MOCHA MERINGUE KISSES


3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
3 tablespoons chocolate minichips

Heat oven to 300F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sift cocoa and espresso powder over egg white mixture, fold in. Fold in mini chips.
Drop batter by level tablespoons onto prepared pan, alternately fill a pastry bag with batter and pipe a small amount onto pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until crisp.
Cool on pan on wire rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish, February 2011
www.relish.com/

CHOCOLATE HEART TURNOVERS


2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 package of puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons shortening

Heat oven to 400F.
Combine 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips and cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside.
Unfold one pastry sheet, roll on lightly floured surface to form a 12 inch square. Cut out shapes with a heart shaped cookie cutter.
Place 1 tablespoon of chocolate mixture onto the center of each of half of the hearts. Lightly brush egg mixture onto edges of each heart, top with a second heart and seal edges.
Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining puff pastry sheet and remaining chocolate mixture. Lightly brush tops of turnovers with egg mixture. Bake 15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to wire rack. Place remaining 1/2 cup chips and shortening in small microwave safe bowl. Microwave 1 minute, stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred. Drizzle melted chocolate over each turnover.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, 2002

BROWNIE RASPBERRY HEARTS


1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
2 cups baking mix
1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup red raspberry preserves

Heat oven to 350F.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt chips with butter.
In a large mixer bowl, combine melted chips, baking mix, condensed milk, egg and vanilla, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Turn into a well-greased 13 by 9 baking pan.
Bake 30 minutes, or until center is set. Cool thoroughly. In a small mixer bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and preserves. Spread over brownies. Chill, cut into heart shapes with a cookie cutter.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Splurge For Her, February/March 2004

Monday, February 6, 2012

HEART GLAZED CORNMEAL COOKIES

I made these to celebrate a sweet girls birthday, and I thought they would also be fun for Valentines day. The cookies were very pretty and yummy, just a hint of sweetness.

HEART GLAZED CORNMEAL COOKIES


2 cups flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 to 2 drops of red food coloring

Heat oven to 400F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium-high, until creamy, 3 minutes. Add egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until combined. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine.
Place 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl, roll dough into 1-inch balls and coat with sugar. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheets. With the bottom of a glass, flatten balls to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Press a 1-inch heart shaped cookie cutter into each (do not cut through). Bake until cookies are golden at edges, 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on wire racks.
In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 3/4 teaspoons cold water. Whisk in food coloring. With a small spoon, spread glaze inside heart. Let set 15 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food magazine
www.everydayfoodmag.com

Saturday, February 4, 2012

HOT CRAB DIP and POTATO ARTICHOKE DIP

Both of these dips are delicious, simple to prepare, easily transportable and great for a crowd.
I have made the crab dip a couple of times - the second time I added more crab meat, which made it even  tastier. I made the potato artichoke dip to have with cocktails, and a friend and myself thought it would also be very good as a side dish.

HOT CRAB DIP


1 6 1/2 ounce can of crab meat, drained and flaked (I like it best with double this amount)
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of sherry or white wine
2 tablespoons onion, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
4 dashes of tabasco sauce
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup slivered almonds
paprika to taste

Combine crab, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, sherry, onion, mustard, garlic, tabasco and parsley. Stir well and taste for seasoning. Top with slivered almonds and a dusting of paprika.
Cover with foil and heat in 325 degree oven for 20 minutes. When it is heated through and bubbly, broil to brown the almonds slightly, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately with crackers and/or bread.

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, January 2003

POTATO ARTICHOKE DIP


8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of cooked, mashed potatoes
1/2 to 1 tablespoon pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped

Heat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, whip cream cheese until smooth. Add cooked potatoes and whip just until incorporated. Slowly fold in jalapeno, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, egg yolks, parmesan cheese, half-and-half and artichokes. Transfer to a baking dish and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top (I finished mine off under the broiler for a couple of minutes).
Serve with pita chips or crusty bread.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2010

Friday, February 3, 2012

SAUSAGE STUFFED PEPPADEWS

I made these sausage stuffed peppadews for a Christmas gathering, but they would also be perfect for a Superbowl party, or a Valentine treat. They are also delicious simply stuffed with goat cheese.
This sweet piquante pepper is the first new fruit to be discovered since the kiwi in the 1970's! Grown in South Africa, it can be hard to find here in Northwest Arkansas - but definitely worth the hunt.

SAUSAGE STUFFED PEPPADEWS


1 pound of hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1/2 cup cooked white rice
2 tablespoons of olive tapenade
60 peppadew peppers, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 450F.
In a medium bowl, knead the sausage meat with the cooked rice and olive tapenade. Fill the peppadew peppers with the meat mixture, pressing to compact it. Arrange the peppadews meat side up on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle the peppers with olive oil and sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese.
Bake the peppadews in the upper third of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the sausage meat is cooked through. Transfer the peppadews to a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, December 2009
www.foodandwine.com/

Thursday, February 2, 2012

CHEWY CHOCOLATE COOKIES

These yummy cookies dont have any flour in them - or butter! and egg whites are used as the binding agent.
Max and I made them after school one afternoon, and substituted chocolate chips for nuts - effectively negating the healthy ingredients!

CHEWY CHOCOLATE COOKIES


1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (or chocolate chips)

Heat oven to 300F.
Mix together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add egg whites, stirring with a spoon until mixture forms a dough (mixture should be thick enough to form into balls, if not add more powdered sugar and cocoa - I ended up adding another egg because it wasn't coming together, and then had to add extra powdered sugar - maybe if I had of used a stand mixer it might have helped it come together a little more)
Add nuts or chocolate chips, mix well.
Form dough into 15 balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 16 to 18 minutes, until glossy and crackled. Cool completely.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

CRAWFISH STUFFED PISTOLETTES

When I first moved to America, I lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and worked at a hospital there - where some wonderful cooks were to be found.
This is one of Debbies recipes, unfortunately it didn't taste as good as I remember - maybe because it was missing the cheese whiz!
According to Wikipedia a pistolette is a type of stuffed, fried bread roll native to Louisiana - I wasn't able to find pistolettes here in Arkansas, so I used a brown and serve roll.

CRAWFISH STUFFED PISTOLETTES


1 pound of crawfish tails
2 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of chopped onion
16 ounces of jalapeno cheese whiz (I used velveeta, as the store didn't have this particular cheese whiz in stock)
2 tablespoons flour
12 pistolette rolls (I used sunbeam brown and serve flake rolls)

Saute onions in butter. Add flour to thicken.
Mix in crawfish tails and cook 7 minutes. Add cheese and stir well, until the cheese is melted. Make a hole in each pistolette, spoon in mixture and bake until roll is cooked.
Enjoy!