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Sunday, April 29, 2012

SLOW COOKER GLAZED CARROTS

When trying to pull a meal together with multiple dishes, it is a wonderful help to be able to pop something in the slow cooker and not have to think about it until it is done.
This was a yummy recipe, the carrots were cooked perfectly, and came out of the slow cooker with a delicious glaze, giving them a hint of sweetness.

SLOW COOKER GLAZED CARROTS


3/4 cup orange marmalade
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 to 4 cups sliced carrots
2 tablespoons honey
juice of half a lemon

In the cooking vessel of a 3 quart slow cooker, combine marmalade, water, ginger, cinnamon  and butter and mix well. Add carrots and honey and toss to coat, Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Drizzle with lemon juice just before serving.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2011
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

Friday, April 27, 2012

VEGGIE POTATO SALAD

I loved the idea of a potato salad with lots of vegetables mixed in, but when I made this recipe, I had reduced the amount of potatoes without reducing the amount of dressing. Next time I would definitely proportion it better. Also, in an attempt at healthier eating, I used light sour cream and mayonnaise, which may have altered the taste.
I like my potato salad warm, so I put the potatoes and green beans into the salad right away, without cooling them, and served it immediately.

VEGGIE POTATO SALAD


1 1/2 pounds of baby red potatoes, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 carrots, finely sliced or julienned
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1/2 cup steamed, french green beans
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring potatoes and salted water to a boil in a large saucepan, reduce heat and simmer 7 to 10 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl, sprinkle with vinegar and oil, and toss gently. Cool completely (I like my potato salad warm, so I skipped that step).
Whisk together buttermilk and next 3 ingredients. Stir in carrots and next 6 ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon buttermilk mixture over potato mixture, toss gently to coat. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours before serving (also skipped this step).
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, June 2011
www.southernliving.com/

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ROSE MARGARITA

I was so excited to make these cocktails for a dear friends bridal shower - I thought the rose water was wonderfully girly! Thankfully I tried one the night before, because I found the mixture to be quite awful, and would have been disappointed to serve it to a roomful of guests! I thought it was too strong, and would have been greatly improved with added sugar.

ROSE MARGARITA


6 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons grand marnier, or other orange liqueur
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon rose water

Fill cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add tequila, grand marnier, lime juice, and rose water. Shake well. Strain into martini glasses. Garnish drinks with lime slices.
Makes 2.
Enjoy!

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

Monday, April 23, 2012

ONION PARMESAN DROP BISCUITS

I thought this recipe sounded very yummy, but when it came down to the taste test, they received a failing grade from our entire family. It appeared the cheese and onion would combine for a tasty treat in these baked goods, but I found the biscuits to be a bit bland, and rather dry.

ONION PARMESAN DROP BISCUITS


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 shallots, minced
3 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes, chilled
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup milk, chilled

Heat oven to 400F.
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a shallow dish and chill for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Add the chilled onions and 1 cup of the parmesan cheese and pulse to distribute. Add the cold milk and pulse just until the dough comes together.
Drop dough by 1/2 cup mounds onto the prepared baking sheet, then sprinkle each mound with a bit of the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
Biscuits can be baked immediately or refrigerated for a few hours until ready to bake.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2011
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

Thursday, April 12, 2012

BAKED HALIBUT

This was a fun and fabulous week day family meal. I was first introduced to this cooking method by a friend - and have loved the healthy, quick, fuss-free method of cooking ever since.
The kids thought it was wonderful to have their dinner delivered, essentially in a paper bag - which encouraged them to eat more vegetables than they might have otherwise. I would recommend lightly cooking the sweet potatoes before including them in this recipe.

BAKED HALIBUT


Heat oven to 350F.
In a large pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute one small onion and one small orange bell pepper, thinly sliced, until light gold, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, remove from heat.
Tear off 4, 14 inch pieces of parchment paper. Spray one side with vegetable oil cooking spray. Place 1/2 thinly sliced sweet potato evenly on the parchment paper. Season 4 boneless, skinless halibut filets with salt and freshly ground black pepper, place atop sweet potatoes. Top fish with bell pepper mixture, 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of white wine, zest of a lemon, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fold paper over and fold edges to seal.
Cook packets on a baking sheet, 25 to 30 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Self, February 2012
www.self.com/

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

CRESCENT HOTEL'S BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

My husband and I had a wonderful night away at the Crescent Hotel, a beautiful place about an hour away from us.
I came across this recipe for blueberry muffins, on returning from the hotel. It was published in the newspaper, but was originally from the Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes From Famous Eating Places. The book, a guide to popular restaurants nationwide, was one of a series published in the 1940's and 1950's.
There was a lot of baking powder, and it did have rather a strong over powering taste.
I didnt see the note until after I had mixed, baked, and given away most of the bitter tasting muffins - "this recipe contains no sugar but you should be able to add up to 1/4 cup without altering the texture" - I would definitely recommend it!!
I love the idea and the history of recreating a recipe from long ago, but I didn't so much love the taste.

CRESCENT HOTEL'S BLUEBERRY MUFFINS


1 cup of blueberries
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten

Wash and drain blueberries, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the flour.
Sift remaining flour and baking powder together and cut in shortening. Add milk and egg and mix just until combined. Stir floured berries into batter quickly, don't mash them. Bake in hot greased muffin tins in moderate heat oven (350F), for 20 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2003
www.arkansasonline.com/

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SPRING SALAD SUPREME

This salad is a great way to use up left over ham from Easter. It is a wonderful, fresh and tasty combination of ingredients, with a light dressing - perfect for lunch or dinner.

SPRING SALAD SUPREME


4 to 6 cups mixed salad greens
2 cups julienned cooked ham
16 asparagus spears, trimmed and cooked
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup fresh tarragon
1/8 to a 1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Arrange greens over four large plates. Arrange ham, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and eggs over greens. Sprinkle tarragon over salads. Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, mix well. Drizzle dressing over salad.
Makes four servings.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Morning News, April 2004

Monday, April 9, 2012

HOT CROSS BUNS

I know that Easter is over, but I made these buns for breakfast on Sunday, and I had to share the recipe.
I am intimidated every time I cook with yeast - it seems my efforts always end up resembling a rock - I had a little more success with these, and was reminded somewhat of my childhood days eating Hot Cross Buns this time of year.

HOT CROSS BUNS


FOR THE DOUGH
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
3 cups of flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried currants
FOR THE EGG WASH
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
FOR THE ICING
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons milk

In a glass 2-cup measuring cup or a small bowl, combine the milk, butter and sugar and microwave on high until the butter has melted and the milk is just bubbling, about 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk in the water and set the mixture aside until it's lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg until well blended and set the mixture aside.
In a large bowl, mix the yeast, flour, salt, cinnamon and currants. Add the milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, you can add more flour as you go. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch down the dough in the bowl, then transfer it to a floured surface. Cover the dough and let it rest 10 minutes more.
Line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper. To form rolls, divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on the pan. Cover the rolls with a tea towel and let them rise at room temperature until they have doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Twenty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 375F.
Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg and water in a small bowl. Brush the top of each roll with the wash.
Bake the rolls until brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
In a small bowl, make the icing by whisking together the confectioners sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth. Spoon the icing into a ziplock bag. Snip a corner from the bag and squeeze an icing cross onto each bun.
Makes 12 buns.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Family Fun, April 2010
familyfun.go.com/recipes/

Saturday, April 7, 2012

EASTER HUNT PIE

This is a wonderful way to end an Easter dinner - light and refreshing, with sweet bursts from the chocolate eggs. It was very quick to make, which is always appreciated when there are many courses to prepare.

EASTER HUNT PIE


1 6 ounce graham cracker pie crust
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 14 ounce can of condensed milk
1/2 cup milk
1 package of instant vanilla pudding (4 serving size)
1 1/2 cups whipped topping, thawed
20 - 25 miniature chocolate eggs

Beat cream cheese until fluffy, gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. Add milk and pudding mix. Beat on low speed until smooth. Stir in whipped topping.
Spoon half of filling into pie crust, top with chocolate eggs, then top with remaining filling.
Chill for 3 hours.
Garnish as desired.
Enjoy!

MINT FIG SAUCE FOR LAMB and HAM WITH SPICY APRICOT GLAZE

We had friends for a spring dinner, and while my husband smoked the lamb, I made the yummy mint fig sauce to accompany it.
A family dinner consisted of the ham with spicy apricot glaze, asparagus, slow cooker glazed carrots and onion parmesan drop biscuits. Don't let the long ingredient list for the ham put you off, it came together quickly, and was wonderfully flavorful.

MINT FIG SAUCE FOR LAMB


2 tablespoons fig preserves
2 tablespoons beef broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
4 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

Combine preserves, broth, juice and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat until warm, stir in the mint.
Serve with lamb.
Makes 4 servings.
Enjoy!

HAM WITH SPICY APRICOT GLAZE


1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon rubbed sage
generous pinch of ground cloves
1 8 pound spiral sliced bone-in cured ham

Heat oven to 300F.
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except ham and mix well.
Place ham in a baking dish, pour 1/2 cup of the glaze mix on top of the ham and spread it evenly over the entire ham. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil.
Place ham in oven, bake for 2 hours.
Remove from the oven, unwrap the ham and pour the remaining glaze over the top of the ham and spread it evenly. Place the ham back in the oven, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the glaze firms.
Remove the ham from the oven and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2011
www.arkansas.com/dining/recipes/

Thursday, April 5, 2012

GLAZED CARROT BARS

These carrot bars will definitely become an Easter family favorite - they were delicious, and very fun and easy to prepare and bake. However, I would make my own icing next time - the convenience of the can was lovely, but didn't taste as good as homemade cream cheese icing.
I thought the decoration would be difficult, but it was actually extremely easy, although my white icing could have looked a little better!!

GLAZED CARROT BARS


1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup freshly shredded carrots
1 can cream cheese frosting
green and orange food colorings

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease and flour a 13 by 9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium, beat sugar, oil and eggs until light. Stir in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt until well combined.
Gently stir carrots into batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of bars comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack, cool completely.
Spread uncut bars with prepared cream cheese frosting. Drag a fork through the frosting on a diagonal to decorate.
Cut into 2 inch squares, remove from pan. Divide remaining frosting among 2 small bowls, tint green and orange.
Fill 2 small plastic baggies with the frosting, snip the ends off, pipe carrot tops on top of each square with the green frosting, and small carrot shapes below each green top, with the orange frosting.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Great American Home Baking cookie collection
www.mygreatrecipes.com/home-baking

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW FRIANDS

I made these for a Sunday morning treat. But the combination of marshmallows and chocolate, make them perfect for an Easter morning, as part of an Easter brunch, or as an elegant snack after an Easter egg hunt.
They were absolutely delicious, and well worth the little extra time they took to make.

CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW FRIANDS


180 grams (13 tablespoons) butter
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups icing (powdered) sugar
70 grams ground almonds
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chunks
20 marshmallows, halved
5 egg whites

Heat oven to 180C (350F).
Lightly grease 12 friand molds (I only have 4, so I used regular muffin tins for the rest).
Melt butter and cool. Sift flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in almonds, coconut, chocolate chunks and marshmallows. Beat egg whites until foamy. Fold into dry ingredients with butter. Spoon mixture into molds (do not over fill) and bake 20 minutes or until golden and set in the center. Serve dusted with icing sugar.
Makes 12
Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

CHOCOLATE CHIP HOT CROSS SCONES

Hot cross buns at Easter time were a tradition growing up. I found this great recipe for an interesting twist on a classic, and they were a huge hit with the kids.

CHOCOLATE CHIP HOT CROSS SCONES


2 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cream, plus extra 2 tablespoons for brushing
1/2 cup sprite
60 grams of milk chocolate melted

Heat oven to 400F.
Line an oven tray with baking paper.
In a large bowl, combine flour, chocolate chips, sugar and salt.
Make a well in the center and stir through cream and sprite with a butter knife until just combined.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead lightly to combine. Gently flatten dough until about 1 1/2 inch thick.
Use a 2 inch round cutter to cut out scones. Arrange close together on the prepared tray. Brush with extra cream.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until scones are lightly browned.
Allow to cool.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a writing tube with the melted chocolate (or a plastic baggie with the end snipped off). Pipe chocolate crosses over cooled scones.
Enjoy!

Monday, April 2, 2012

CREME BRULEE FRENCH TOAST and POPPY SEED FRUIT SALAD and SPICED BACON and MOCHA CAFE LATTE

If you are planning an early get together for Easter, this would be a perfect menu. I had friends over for brunch, and was pleasantly surprised at how easily it came together. I made the french toast the night before, and popped it in the oven to cook about 30 minutes before the girls arrived. The fruit salad, bacon and mocha cafe latte also came together with minimal preparation and fuss. A wonderful, fun and stress free way to entertain.

CREME BRULEE FRENCH TOAST


1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 slices of french bread (1 inch thick)
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups of half-and-half
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar and corn syrup and stir until dissolved. Pour into 9 by 13 baking dish.
Arrange bread in baking dish in single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, orange liqueur and salt. Pour over bread and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours).
The next morning, preheat oven to 350F. Remove dish from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes until puffed and slightly browned.
Enjoy!

POPPY SEED FRUIT SALAD


1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 cup strawberries, halved
1 cup cubed pineapple
1 cup fresh blueberries

Mix honey, limeade and poppy seeds in a large bowl. Gently toss fruit with honey mixture.
Enjoy!

SPICED BACON


1 pound of bacon, room temperature
1 1/4 cups of brown sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in large ziploc bag. Add bacon slice by slice, and shake bag to coat. Place bacon on a cookie sheet. Bake until the bacon is crisp and the sugar is bubbly.
Enjoy!

MOCHA CAFE LATTE


1 1/2 cups of half-and-half
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 cups of brewed coffee
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Heat half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil. Remove from heat, stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients. Combine well. Serve warm or over ice.
Enjoy!

Recipes adapted from The Morning News, May 2008

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"FRIED EGGS"

My daughter and I had a lot of fun creating these April Fools treats - she wanted to have breakfast for dinner and serve our special eggs.

"FRIED EGGS"


1 (3.5 ounce) white chocolate
1 package of M&M's

Break white chocolate, and place in a small saucepan, over low heat. Stir occasionally, remove from heat when melted, let stand at room temperature for a few minutes to thicken slightly.
Remove all yellow M&M's from package, and set aside.
Drop spoonfuls of chocolate onto a waxed paper lined cookie sheet, making a slight oval shape.
Place a yellow M&M  (turned over, so the logo is on the underside) on each dollop of chocolate to make the egg yolks.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, March 2004