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Monday, March 31, 2014

EDAMAME SALAD and BLACK BEAN AND QUINOA SALAD and LIMA BEAN AND SPINACH SALAD

Lovely, healthy side salads - perfect for the seasonal transition.

EDAMAME SALAD


1 12 ounce bag of frozen edamame
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the edamame according to package directions. Drain and cool.
Place the cooled edamame in a bowl, add cranberries, feta cheese, basil, olive oil and pepper. Gently stir to combine. Serve chilled.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from About You Magazine, July 2013
www.aymag.com/Recipes/‎

BLACK BEAN AND QUINOA SALAD


1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
1 can (15 ounces) corn, drained
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon pickled jalapeños, diced
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 limes, juiced
2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa in water for 15 to 20 minutes. Mix the quinoa, black beans, corn, red pepper, jalapeño, green onion and cilantro in a large bowl. Mix the olive oil, lime juice, chipotle, cumin, coriander, hot sauce and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss the salad in the dressing.
Enjoy!

LIMA BEAN AND SPINACH SALAD
SALAT IZ FASOLI I SHPINATA


1 cup frozen lima beans
10 ounces fresh spinach
3/4 cup walnut pieces
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch of dried red pepper flakes
fresh lemon juice to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook lima beans in a pot of boiling water, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans, place in a bowl. Cook the spinach in boiling, salted water until cooked through. Cool until manageable, then squeeze the spinach to remove any excess water.
Combine the spinach, walnuts, garlic, vinegar and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.
Gently stir the spinach mixture into the beans along with the parsley, coriander, and dried red pepper flakes. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from "Please to the Table, the Russia Cookbook", Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman

Sunday, March 30, 2014

WARM PEAR BUCKLES WITH CLEMENTINE CREAM and CLEMENTINE POTS DE CREME

Cuties, they're not just for kids. These desserts are a grown up way to use the small, sweet fruit.

WARM PEAR BUCKLES WITH CLEMENTINE CREAM


1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 pounds firm but ripe pears, peeled, quartered, cored and diced
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
zest and juice of one lemon
clementine cream (recipe to follow)

Whisk the flour, powdered sugar and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Using mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients, fold in just to blend. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball. Flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic and chill for 2 hours.
Heat oven to 400F. Mix pears, cornstarch, ginger, 2/3 cup sugar and lemon zest and juice. Divide among ramekins.
Working with 1 dough disk at a time, roll out on lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a plate or cookie cutter 1/2 inch larger than the top of the ramekins as a guide, cut out rounds. Cut a 1-inch long slit in center of each round. Place dough rounds atop pear mixture in ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.
Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes. Serve with a dollop of  clementine cream.

CLEMENTINE CREAM
1 cup chilled cream
2 tablespoons fresh clementine juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated clementine peel

Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until peaks form.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2010
www.bonappetit.com/recipes‎

CLEMENTINE POTS DE CREME


2 3/4 cups cream, divided
zest of 2 clementines, 1 finely grated, 1 cut into thin strips for garnish
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup whole milk

In a large saucepan, heat 2 1/4 cups cream over medium heat until warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Add finely grated clementine zest and chocolate chips. Remove from the heat and let steep 20 minutes, stirring a few times, until smooth.
Heat oven ot 300F. In a large bowl, whisk yolks with 1/3 cup sugar and milk. Set six 6-ounce ramekins in a large baking pan.
Set a strainer over bowl with yolk mixture and pour chocolate mixture through, pressing on the zest. Whisk well to throughly combine.
Pour into ramekins. Add very hot tap water to the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of ramekins. Cover pan loosely with foil and bake until pots de creme are just set around edges and slightly jiggly in centers, about 40 minutes. Transfer ramekins to a rack to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a large bowl, whip remaining 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks. Add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whip lightly to incorporate.
Place a dollop of whipped cream on each pot de creme, garnish with zest strips, and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, February 2013
www.oprah.com/.../Oprah-Magazines-Best-Recipes-Top-...‎

Saturday, March 29, 2014

CHOCOLATE CHEESEPIE

My son orders cheesecake, whenever the opportunity for dessert arises in a restaurant. So I thought I would surprise him with this tasty treat after dinner one night.

CHOCOLATE CHEESEPIE


2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups mini, semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 chocolate graham cracker crust
2 tablespoons cream

Heat oven to 450F.
Beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer, until well blended. Add gas and vanilla, beat well. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips, pour into crust.
Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening oven door, reduce temperature to 250F. Continue baking for 30 minutes or just until set. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Cool completely.
Place remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips and cream in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 to 40 seconds or just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred.
Cool slightly, spread over top of cheese pie.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until topping is set.
Enjoy!

Friday, March 28, 2014

PARMESAN BLUE CHEESE TOASTS WITH GREEN ONIONS and PIMENTO CHEESE AND BACON CROSTINI and PEPPER GLAZED GOAT CHEESE GRATIN

We have friends who built a pizza oven in their back yard - and host the most fun and fabulous pizza baking evenings.
You can never go wrong with a bread base and toppings, including some kind of cheese. So even though these crust and cheese combinations don't come close to the masterpieces turned out during the parties, they are tasty bites all the same.

PARMESAN BLUE CHEESE TOASTS WITH GREEN ONIONS


1 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
baguette slices
olive oil
3/4 cup sliced green onions

Combine mayonnaise, garlic, ground pepper and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Mix in cheeses, season with salt.
Heat oven to 400F. Brush bread with olive oil and bake until golden brown on both sides. Spread each toast with cheese mixture. Bake until cheese topping starts to bubble, about 8 minutes.
Transfer toasts to platter, sprinkle with green onions and serve warm.
Enjoy!

PIMENTO CHEESE AND BACON CROSTINI


In a mixer fitted with the paddle, combine 2 1/2 cups each of shredded extra-sharp white and monterey jack cheeses. Add two 4-ounce jars of pimentos, drained and finely chopped, along with 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, blend at low speed.
Season with cayenne. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Spread the pimento cheese on toasts, top with chopped bacon and bake in a 400F oven for 2 minutes.
Enjoy!

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

PEPPER GLAZED GOAT CHEESE GRATIN


1 pound goat cheese, softened
6 tablespoons apricot preserves
4 peppadew peppers, finely chopped
1 pickled jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced cocktail onions
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dry sherry
toasted baguette slices for serving

Heat oven to 400F.
Spread the goat cheese in a 5 by 8 inch dish. In a small bowl, whisk the preserves with the peppadews, jalapeño, onions, mustard and sherry. Spread the mixture over the goat cheese and bake on the top rack of the oven for about 5 minutes, until warm. Turn on the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, until the topping is bubbling and lightly browned at the edges. Serve hot, with toasted baguette slices.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, April 2012
www.foodandwine.com/monthly/recipes/april-2012

Thursday, March 27, 2014

PAN SEARED PORK WITH MAPLE GRAVY AND APPLE BACON HASH and COFFEE CHILE RUBBED PORK TENDERLOIN and PORK POSOLE

Pork is a dish I know my whole family will enjoy, and I enjoy cooking it because of the limited amount of complaints that will come my way.

PAN SEARED PORK WITH MAPLE GRAVY AND APPLE BACON HASH


APPLE BACON HASH
4 slices bacon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled until cooked through
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
3/4 teaspoon maple seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
PORK AND MAPLE GRAVY
1 pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch thick pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons flour
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons cream
3 tablespoons maple syrup

APPLE BACON HASH
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp and browned, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Heat butter and 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add potato, garlic and apple and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the maple seasoning and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
PORK
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Season pork with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cover. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown and and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate and cover to keep warm.
MAPLE GRAVY
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the pan drippings from the skillet. Whisk flour into pan drippings and let butte over medium heat for 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, maple syrup and cream and bring to a boil. Cook, whisking often, until mixture reduces and thickens, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
SERVE
Chop bacon and mix into hash. Serve pork hot with the hash and gravy.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Easy Entertaining with Pork
www.porkbeinspired.com/‎

COFFEE CHILE RUBBED PORK TENDERLOIN


2 teaspoons freshly ground coffee
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins

Heat oven to 400F.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
In a small bowl, combine coffee, garlic powder, paprika, chile pepper, cumin, salt and pepper. Place pork on the baking sheet and sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both tenderloins.
Place baking sheet in the oven and roast until pork reaches an internal temperature of 150F about 45 minutes. Let pork stand 5 minutes before slicing.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, October 2013
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/‎

PORK POSOLE


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 pound pork loin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
16 ounces of diced green chiles
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 to 3 cups of chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can of hominy, drained

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat Add onions, and pork, sauté until onions are soft and pork is browned, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add ancho chile powder, oregano, diced chiles, garlic and cumin, stir 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and hominy, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover with lid and simmer for 30 minutes, adding more broth to thin, if desired.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

OATMEAL CARMELITAS

I was making these to deliver to a friend. Unfortunately I completely forgot they were in the oven - so I'm not sure how long they baked for - I was probably distracted by our huge laundry pile. The edges were a little crispy, but the rest of the bars were edible, and my friend was very gracious.

OATMEAL CARMELITAS


2 cups flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, melted
1 (12 ounce) package of semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 (14 ounce) package of caramels
1/3 cup half and half

Heat oven to 350F.
Stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add butter, stirring until mixture is crumbly. Reserve half of mixture (about 2 3/4 cups). Press remaining half of mixture into bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9 inch pan. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate morsels.
Microwave caramels and half and half in a microwave safe bowl, for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave for 1 to 3 more minutes or until mixture is smooth. Pour evenly over chocolate morsels. Sprinkle evenly with reserved crumb mixture.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, November 2006
www.southernliving.com/food/‎

Monday, March 24, 2014

SPICY PORK PO'BOYS and CURRY TURKEY PATTIES and GRILLED CHEESE AND BACON SANDWICHES WITH CHEESE CURDS and SWISS AND CHEDDAR GRILLED SANDWICH

The number one food consumed in America, at home and away from the home, is the sandwich (USA WEEKEND, December 2013).
At our house, we enjoy them for lunch or dinner, and usually with an interesting twist on a classic.

SPICY PORK PO'BOYS


1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 teaspons paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 dill pickles, finely chopped
baguettes, split
shredded lettuce
tomatoes, thinly sliced
Hot sauce, for serving

In a large bowl, mix the ground pork with the paprika, thyme, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder, and season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 1/2 inch thick patties. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and swirl in a tablespoon of olive oil, or spray with cooking spray. Cook the patties, turning once, until they are cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise with the Dijon mustard and pickles and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the baguette.
Place pork patties on the bottom each baguette and top with the lettuce, tomato and a few splashes of hot sauce. Close the sandwich and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
www.foodandwine.com/‎

CURRY TURKEY PATTIES


1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
salt and pepper
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped nuts,
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
handful of cilantro, finely chopped
4 pieces of grilled naan bread
Toppings: hot giardiniera, cucumber slices, lettuce leaves, tomato slices

In a large bowl, crumble the ground turkey and season with salt and pepper. Add the chutney, yogurt, egg, green onions, ginger, garlic, nuts, curry powder, cumin and cilantro. Mix and form into patties.
Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle in olive oil, add the patties and fry, turning once, until cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Fill the naan breads with a patty and toppings of your choice.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine, January/February 2013
www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/‎

GRILLED CHEESE AND BACON SANDWICHES WITH CHEESE CURDS


1 teaspoon beef bouillon
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons siracha
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
12 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices of white sandwich bread
4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
3 ounces cheddar cheese curds

In a small bowl, mix the beef bouillon into 2 teaspoons of hot water until dissolved.
Whisk in the mayonnaise and siracha and season with salt and pepper.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels.
Set a skillet on moderate heat, butter the bread slices on 1 side. Spread the other side of 4 bread slices with the spicy mayonnaise and top with the onion cheddar cheese curds and bacon.
Close the sandwiches buttered side out and placce in the skillet, cook until crisp, about 4 minutes per side. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, October 2011
www.foodandwine.com/recipes‎

SWISS AND CHEDDAR GRILLED SANDWICH


2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
pinch salt
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 ounces swiss cheese
2 ounces cheddar cheese
4 slices of sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Whisk eggs in a bowl for 1 minute. Add milk, salt and herbs and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Cut cheese into slices, then each slice in half to make 8 pieces.
Cut each slice of bread in half to make 8 pieces.
Lay 4 slices of the bread on a flat surface and distribute the cheese evenly over bread. Cover remaining bread. Using your fingers, pinch edges of bread together to seal.
Heat oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Dip sandwiches in egg mixure and coat on both sides as well as the edges. Place egg coated sandwiches in skillet and cook on one side until golden brown, then flip and cook remaining side until golden brown.
Serve hot.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2010
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/‎

Sunday, March 23, 2014

VIETNAMESE NOODLE SOUP and SPICY SHRIMP NOODLE SOUP

I have eaten Pho at Vietnamese restaurants around town, but after talking with a Vietnamese friend who has made it, I was a little intimidated. However, these recipes removed the mystery, and simplified the process, making a quick and easy soup with no sacrifice to depth of flavor.

VIETNAMESE NOODLE SOUP


8 ounces rice noodles
12 ounces thinly sliced beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, halved
1 4-inch piece ginger, unpeeled, halved
3 cups beef broth
5 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
4 green onions
2 jalapeño peppers
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 to 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 cup fresh bean sprouts

Prepare the rice noodles, as the label directs.
Season beef with salt and pepper. In a large pot over heat, sear beef until charred, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add the onion and ginger to the pot, cook about 4 minutes. Add the broth, 2 to 3 cups of water, the star anise and cinnamon, reduce the heat and simmer about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the green onions and jalapeños and tear the cilantro.
Add the fish sauce to the broth and boil for 5 minutes. Discard the ginger, star anise and cinnamon stick. Remove and slice the onion.
Drain the noodles and divide among 4 bowls. Top with the broth, beef, green onions, cilantro, bean sprouts, jalapeños and onion.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food Network
www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network...‎

SPICY SHRIMP NOODLE SOUP


3 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sambal oelek
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cinnamon sticks
1 (8-ounce) bottle of clam juice
1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
1 star anise
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces uncooked rice noodles
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
12 small fresh basil leaves
4 lime wedges

Combine beef broth, water, garlic, sambal oelek, fish sauce, soy sauce, cinnamon sticks, clam juice and ginger in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced to 3 1/2 cups (about 12 minutes). Add shrimp, cook for 4 minutes or until done. Remove cinnamon, anise and ginger, discard. Cook rice noodles according to package directions, drain. Place 1/2 cup of noodles into each of 4 bowls, and top each serving with 1 cup stock mixture and about 5 shrimp. Sprinkle evenly with bean sprouts, cilantro and basil. Serve with lime wedges.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, January/February 2013
www.cookinglight.com/‎

Saturday, March 22, 2014

EXTRA FUDGY RASPBERRY SWIRL BARS

A friend made raspberry preserves from the wild raspberries her and her family had picked at their lake property. After spreading the delicious jam on toast and biscuits, I had enough left over to bake these delectable bars.

EXTRA FUDGY RASPBERRY SWIRL BARS


1 (12 ounce) package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup raspberry preserves

Heat oven to 350F.
Melt chocolate chips and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes or until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in flour and salt, mix just until flour is moistened. Stir in white chocolate chips.
Spread batter into greased 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Drop spoonfuls of preserves on batter and gently pull a knife through batter and preserves to create a swirled effect.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bars just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely. Cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Land O'Lakes
www.landolakes.com/.../extra-fudgy-raspberr...‎

Friday, March 21, 2014

BACON WRAPPED BOURBON FIGS and BACON BOURBON APPLE PIE

Bacon and Bourbon is always a winning combination, sweet or savory!

BACON WRAPPED BOURBON FIGS


16 fresh figs
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup water
1 wedge of Gorgonzola cheese, cut into pieces
24 pecan halves, toasted
8 bacon slices, cooked and cut in half

Combine figs, bourbon and water in a medium saucepan. Cook, covered, over low heat about 8 minutes, or until figs are softened. Remove from heat, cool slightly. Drain figs, gently pat dry with paper towels.
Heat oven to 350F.
Cut figs in half lengthwise. Place 1 cheese piece and 1 pecan half on cut side of each fig half. Wrap one bacon piece around each fig and secure with a wooden pick. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until bacon is crisp and browned.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, December 2012
www.southernliving.com/food/‎

BACON BOURBON APPLE PIE


1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter, divided
5 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 pie crust
6 cups sliced, peeled apples
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 400F.
Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 cup flour in medium bowl. Cut in 4 tablespoons of butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in bacon.
Place crust in a 9-inch pie plate. Place apples in large bowl. Add sugar, remaining flour, bourbon and vanilla, mix lightly. Spoon into crust. Cut remaining butter into small pieces, place evenly over apples. Cover with crumb topping. Place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes or until apples are tender.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Family, Fall 2013
www.kraftrecipes.com/foodfamilyarchive/foodandfamilyarchivelanding....‎

Thursday, March 20, 2014

EGYPTIAN RED LENTIL SOUP

The Vernal Equinox, established when Julius Caesar designed the calendar, heralds the first day of spring, and an equal amount of day and night.
The Egyptians built the sphinx so it points toward the rising sun on this day, it is the beginning of the Persian New Year and significant in Christianity.

EGYPTIAN RED LENTIL SOUP


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
3/4 pound tomatoes, diced
1 1/4 cups red lentils
salt
plain yogurt, lemon wedges and warm pita for serving

In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes.
Add the cumin, coriander and chile powder and cook until fragrant, 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook just until softened, 2 minutes. Add the lentils and 4 cups of water and season with salt. Simmer over moderately low heat until the lentils are very soft, 30 minutes.
Puree the soup with an immersion blender. Season with salt and serve with yogurt, lemon wedges and warm pita.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, February 2012
www.foodandwine.com/recipes‎

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PEAR AND CRANBERRY STUFFED FRENCH TOAST

When I made this Pear and Cranberry French Toast for a weekday breakfast - my entire family was horrified when I removed the crusts. I only made that mistake once, after that the crusts were left intact.
Crusts or not, this French Toast was a delicious way to enjoy a last taste of winter inspired fruits.

PEAR AND CRANBERRY STUFFED FRENCH TOAST


SPICED PEAR FILLING
1 pear, thinly sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
FRENCH TOAST
2 eggs
1/3 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus more to top if desired
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
8 slices bread
1 1/2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
powdered sugar

Combine pear slices, dried cranberries, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. Toss to coat and let sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile in another bowl, combine eggs, almond milk, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk until well combined.
Coat 4 slices of bread with a layer of mascarpone. Dip each into the egg mixture, coating both sides, and top each with 1/4 of the pear-cranberry filling. Dip the remaining bread into the egg mixture, coating both sides, and top each prepared base to make a sandwich (or you could make it like I did - dipped each piece of bread, cooked them, then spread with mascarpone and topped with the filling and another slice of bread).
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add butter. Once melted, place sandwiches in pan, cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden, flip and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more until other side is golden and sandwich is cooked through. Remove from pan and slice each diagonally.
Serve with powdered sugar and additional maple syrup if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine, November 2013
www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes‎

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GUINNESS STOUT BROWNIES and CHOCOLATE STOUT SHORTBREAD COOKIES

If you have any Guinness left after your quick flirt with Ireland for St Patricks day - here are a couple of desserts that will give the fabulous beer a whole new lease on life. The sweet chocolate with sea salt sprinkled on top is a wonderful combination, made only better by the addition of the slightly bitter beer

GUINNESS STOUT BROWNIES


1 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup stout (Guinness)
coarse sea salt, to garnish

Heat oven to 375F.
Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside. Melt butter and chocolate chips in a saucepan, stirring constantly until completely melted and smooth.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the melted chocolate mixture, beating on medium until combined. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in the Guinness by hand.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE STOUT SHORTBREAD COOKIES


FOR THE SHORTBREAD
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER
3 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons stout (Guinness)
1 teaspoon sea salt

Heat oven to 325F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the butter, sugar, almond extract and vanilla extract. Beat until well combined, light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the salt, flour and cornstarch, mix until just combined.
Line a 9 by 13 baking pan with parchment paper. Press the shortbread dough into the bottom of the baking dish in an even layer.
Prick all over with a fork. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges have just started to turn golden.
In a saucepan, add the chocolate, cream and stout. Stir until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Pour over the shortbread in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt. Chill until set, about 3 hours and up to overnight. Cut into squares, chill until ready to serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Beeroness
http://thebeeroness.com/2013/12/23/chocolate-stout-shortbread-cookies/

Monday, March 17, 2014

BANANA INFUSED JAMESON

Happy St Patricks Day!

BANANA INFUSED JAMESON


3 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 750ml bottle Jameson Irish Whiskey

Place bananas and Jameson into a sealed container for 3 to 4 days. Strain out the banana slices, and discard. The infusion should be slightly viscous and cloudy - this gives the drink its unique texture, body and flavor. Pour infused Jameson back into container or bottle. Serve in a rocks glass with ice.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, March 2012
topics.wsj.com/subject/R/recipes/3697‎ T

Sunday, March 16, 2014

BEEF STEW

For a recent dinner party, my husband was super excited to take his sous vide machine for its inaugural run in the kitchen, cooking the beef bourginon for 72 hours before it was placed in front of our guests to enjoy.
My humble beef stew, however, simmered in the crock pot for about 4 hours, and in my opinion, was every bit as tasty as my husbands more fancy dish cooked in the more fancy machine.

BEEF STEW


1 1/2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup red wine
1 beef bouillon cube
1 cup hot water
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 dashes worcestershire sauce
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup baby carrots

Place cubed beef and flour in a resealable plastic bag. Seal and shake to evenly coat beef with flour. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and brown beef on all sides. Transfer to a slow cooker.
Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat, and cook onion until tender. Transfer to the slow cooker with the beef. Pour the wine into the skillet to deglaze, scrape up any brown bits, then pour the wine into the slow cooker.
Dissolve the beef bouillon cube in 1 cup of hot water, and pour into slow cooker, season with rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, pepper and worcestershire sauce.
Cook on high for 2 hours, then incorporate the sweet potato and carrots, adding enough water to cover all ingredients.
Cover and cook on high for a further 2 hours. My beef and potatoes were tender by this time, so I turned the slow cooker to the "warm" setting until we were ready to eat.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes
allrecipes.com/recipe/diegos-special-beef-stew/‎

Saturday, March 15, 2014

CARROT COCONUT SOUP and TOMATO SOUP and SPLIT PEA AND GREEN PEA SOUP WITH FRESH DILL

This has been a particularly long, ferocious winter, with the kids missing many days of school due to the inclement weather and hazardous road conditions. There were lots of days spent inside our warm, cozy house. Icy, snowy days when I made pots of wonderful, steaming hot soup.
Even though there is no more awful weather in the forecast, it is still one of my favorite comfort foods.

CARROT COCONUT SOUP


1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons Thai-style chili sauce
fresh cilantro leaves (for serving)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until carrots are softened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in broth, coconut milk and the chili sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft and liquid is slightly reduced, 40 to 45 minutes.
Let soup cool slightly, puree with an immersion blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide soup among bowls, garnish with cilantro.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/carrot-coconut-soup

TOMATO SOUP


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth
1 can (28 ounces) crushed San Marzano tomatoes

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter into the oil, then add the onions, garlic, thyme and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Partially cover the pot and cook until the onions and garlic are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, continue stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes, reduce heat and simmer until cooked through.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray, December 2013
www.rachaelray.com/‎

SPLIT PEA AND GREEN PEA SOUP WITH FRESH DILL


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 cup green split peas, rinsed
4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
5 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided

Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add leek and bay leaf. Saute until leek wilts, about 3 minutes. Add split peas and stir to coat. Add 3 1/2 cups chicken broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until split peas are just tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add petite peas and 4 tablespoons dill. Puree until smooth, using an immersion blender, adding more broth, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with remaining dill.
Enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2014

ELDERFLOWER MARTINI and PORK TENDERLOIN BRAISED WITH ELDERFLOWER AND FENNEL

Although St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur was launched in 2007, I tried it for the first time just a couple of years ago. I was out for lunch with Mum at a local restaurant, and we were served it mixed with champagne as an aperitif. I immediately fell in love.

ELDERFLOWER MARTINI


2 ounces of vodka
1 ounce of lime juice (I have also tried this with lemon juice, but preferred the lime)
1 ounce of elderflower cordial (St. Germain)
dash of agave nectar
lime zest

Add first five ingredients to a shaker and shake over ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with lime zest.
Enjoy!

PORK TENDERLOIN BRAISED WITH ELDERFLOWER AND FENNEL


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pork tenderloin, sliced crosswise 1 1/2 inches thick and lightly pounded
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup white wine
1/4 to 1/2 elderflower cordial
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle the pork with fennel seeds and pepper and season to taste with salt.
Add the pork to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 5 minutes.
Transfer the pork to a plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet, add the sliced fennel and onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 7 minutes. Add the wine, cordial, thyme and bay leaf and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 5 minutes.
Return the pork and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is cooked through, 10 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, January 2011
www.foodandwine.com/recipes‎

Thursday, March 13, 2014

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING

I was intrigued with the combination of ingredients in this recipe, and was inspired, interested and excited to try the flavors. The pudding had a wonderful, thick, silky, rich texture, and I really enjoyed the taste, different from regular chocolate pudding, but delicious.

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING


1 ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed
1/2 cup almond milk
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 dates, pitted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Puree all ingredients in a blender, adding a little more milk if needed. Spoon into bowls, add whipped topping and berries if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine, January/February 2014
www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-recipes‎

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ROASTED ONIONS AND BUTTERED BEETS WITH BLUE CHEESE

I was putting together a basket for a fundraiser, and on a whim, contacted a local liquor store for a wine to complement the pizza theme. I was given several to choose from, and unable to choose just one, I decided to take them all home to try.
We had pizza delivered for dinner that very night, and I roasted onions and buttered beets to accompany the pies, and one of the exciting red wines.


ROASTED ONIONS AND BUTTERED BEETS WITH BLUE CHEESE


1 onion, unpeeled, root and top trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1 beet
2 ounces of blue cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
balsamic glaze

Heat oven to 400F.
Coat the onion with 1 teaspoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet.
Wrap the beet in foil. Place on the baking sheet with the onion and roast until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Let the beet cool in the foil. Let the onion cool slightly, then halve lengthwise and discard the dried outer layers. Peel the beet and chop into 1/4 inch pieces.
Heat the broiler. Spread open the onion layers slightly and return to the baking sheet. Drizzle each onion half with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, season and broil until the edges darken, about 3 minutes. Divide between 2 plates. Sprinkle with the blue cheese.
In a saucepan, bring the beet and 1/4 cup water to a simmer, season with salt and pepper. Add the butter, cook, swirling, until the sauce is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Spoon the beet over the onion. Top with the walnuts, green onions and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine, January/February 2013
www.rachaelraymag.com/recipes/‎

Monday, March 10, 2014

ROASTED BANANA PUDDING CAKE WITH HONEY CREAM AND MACADAMIA NUTS

After being out of town for the week, my husband arrived home around 4pm, just in time for my oldest Sons birthday party. It was one of the easiest, most laid back parties ever! Pizza and a cookie cake and a few friends to spend the night.
I took full advantage of the relaxed atmosphere, and having my husband back in town to supervise the 8 boys, and briefly popped out to meet friends for Magazine Club.
However, as undemanding as my child was, I couldn't NOT cook for my Sons birthday, so our family birthday dinner concluded with this masterpiece of deliciousness (plain whipped cream for the kids).

ROASTED BANANA PUDDING CAKE WITH HONEY CREAM AND MACADAMIA NUTS


CAKE
2 large ripe bananas, unpeeled
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 cup roasted macadamia nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

HONEY CREAM
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoons Kahlua
2/3 cup cream

MAKE THE CAKE
Heat oven to 350F.
Butter a 7 by 11 inch baking dish. Put the bananas on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, until dark and soft. Let the bananas cool, then open the peel and scoop the roasted banana pulp into a large bowl.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat the roasted bananas with the sugar until a puree forms. Then beat in the eggs. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and baking soda, then add to the banana mixture. At low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture. Gently beat in the melted butter, cream and orange zest.
Spread the batter in the prepared dish and bake for 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool.

PREPARE THE HONEY CREAM
In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt with the honey, finely grated lime zest, finely grated orange zest and the liqueur. In a large bowl, beat the cream until softly whipped. Gently fold in the honey yogurt mixture.
Serve pieces of cake with dollops and honey cream and a sprinkle of macadamia nuts.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, November 2010
www.foodandwine.com/recipes‎

Sunday, March 9, 2014

GRILLED CORN AND BLACK BEAN SALAD

It gives me great pleasure to dream about the fresh produce that will soon be readily available. Trips to the grocery store and Farmers Market are always so wonderful and even more delicious when there is a large variety of fruits and vegetables in season.
With Daylight Savings in effect today, beautiful, bright summery salads like this Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad are closer to being freshly procurable.

GRILLED CORN AND BLACK BEAN SALAD


4 ears fresh corn, shucked
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chili powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (optional)
1 avocado, cut into cubes

Heat grill to medium. Add the corn and grill until charred in spots, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using a large, sharp knife, carefully cut the corn kernels from the cobs and transfer to the bowl.
Add the beans, radishes, green onions and cilantro, toss well. Divide the salad among plates, top with queso and avocado.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray
www.rachaelray.com/‎

Saturday, March 8, 2014

ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARITA and ONE FLEW OVER THE COSMOS NEST

I found this delightful book "Tequila Mockingbird" at a local book store, and fell in love - I couldn't resist the fun spin on book titles and the literary themed cocktails!
It is absolutely perfect for a foodie, bookophile, or theme loving friends and family - with Gulps for Guys, Drinks for Dames and Bevvies for Book clubs, Refreshments for Recovering Readers and even recipes for food - Bar Bites for Book Hounds.

ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARITA


1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce triple sec

Dump all your feelings - er, ingredients - into a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
Enjoy!

ONE FLEW OVER THE COSMOS NEST


1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce cranberry juice
1/2 ounce triple sec
juice of one lime

Combine the ingredients with ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Enjoy!

Friday, March 7, 2014

CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

After taking time in the morning to exercise, shower, and meet a friend for lunch, I had 20 minutes until an appointment. I ran home, threw a load of laundry in the washing machine and mixed the filling for the Chicken Enchiladas. Later, while enjoying a glass of wine and a chatting with a friend who had stopped by for a quick visit, I rolled the filling into the tortillas and popped the dish in the oven - just in time to put dinner on the table for my husband and kids, before I ran out to a committee meeting.
Perfect dinner for a busy, busy day!

CHICKEN ENCHILADAS


2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans green chilies
1 to 2 pounds of cooked chicken breast, diced
20 flour tortillas
1 can enchilada verde sauce
2 cups fiesta blend shredded cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
Mix cream cheese, cream of chicken soup and green chilies with diced chicken in a large bowl. Divide mixture among the tortillas and roll. Place rolled tortillas in a baking dish.
Pour the enchilada verde sauce over the rolled tortillas. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the centers of the enchiladas are hot.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Living, May 2012
www.aecc.com/arkansas-living-magazine/recipes/‎

Thursday, March 6, 2014

WILD HIBISCUS COCKTAIL and CUMIN AND CURRY SPICED LOTUS CHIPS and BRAISED BEEF TENDON and RABBIT STEW WITH OLIVES AND ROSEMARY and DUCK EGG POTS DE CREME

We welcomed our fellow food lovers from Supper Club into our home, and were excited and inspired to take our guests on a culinary adventure. We had many, many ideas of weird and wonderful foods to try and dishes to cook, but narrowed it down to seven courses and a "muse from the chef" - a sip of tomato soup and bite of grilled cheese sandwich - comfort food among all the strange dishes.
My husband was away in Fort Smith at a conference all day, but made it home in time to grill marrow bone and octopus to perfection.

WILD HIBISCUS COCKTAIL


5 ounces St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
5 ounces pink grapefruit juice
2 1/2 ounces wild hibiscus syrup
1 bottle of champagne
wild hibiscus flower

Pour Elderflower Liqueur, grapefruit juice, and wild hibiscus syrup evenly into champagne flutes. Top with champagne and garnish with a hibiscus flower.
Enjoy!

CUMIN AND CURRY SPICED LOTUS CHIPS


1/2 pound of lotus root
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F.
Soak lotus root in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain and dry with paper towels.
Place lotus root, olive oil and sesame oil in a bowl and toss until well combined.
Add the cumin, curry powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon and toss until fully combined.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
http://www.spoonforkbacon.com/2012/04/cumin-spiced-lotus-chips/

BRAISED BEEF TENDON


2 pounds of beef tendon
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
6 cloves garlic
2 star anise
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 stick of cinnamon

Place the beef tendon in a pot, fill the pot with water, cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes. Pour off liquid until there is just enough to cover the tendon, add the wine, soy sauce and spices to the pot. Braise on low heat, checking hourly to see if its at the level of softness you like (I cooked mine all day!!).
Remove beef tendon from pot and cut into chunks. Serve with sauce over prepared udon noodles.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Instructables
http://www.instructables.com/id/Collagen-thickened-oxtail-stew-or-how-to-wash-you/?ALLSTEPS

RABBIT STEW WITH OLIVES AND ROSEMARY


1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
8 rabbit hind quarters
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup red wine
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 rosemary sprigs
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup of Nicoise olives

In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, brown the rabbit over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until crispy all over, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the rabbit to a large plate.
Add the wine to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the wine into a cup, wipe out the skillet.
Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil to the skillet. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and and rosemary and cook, stirring, until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the rabbit and any accumulated juices along with the reserved wine to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until sizzling, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the olives and the remaining 2 cups of stock and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and the rabbit is tender, about 20 minutes longer. Discard the rosemary.
Enjoy!

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

DUCK EGG POTS DE CREME


3 duck egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups cream

Heat oven to 275F.
Set 4 ramekins into a large oven-safe baking dish.
Whisk the duck egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl, until yolks are slightly thickened and pale yellow in color.  Add cream to egg yolk mixture and stir to combine.
Pour custard mixture into prepared ramekins. Add enough hot water to the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Carefully place dish in the oven, bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until custards are just set.
Remove baking dish from oven and let the custards cool to room temperature. Then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator until fully chilled.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Erica Strauss
www.pccnaturalmarkets.com › Cook › Recipes‎

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES

Pancakes are traditional on Fat Tuesday - a way to use up rich ingredients before the restrictions of Lent commence - also a fun, convenient and tasty dinner for any busy night of the week.
The kids enjoyed a bout of television while I finished up my Continuing Education Units to renew my Occupational Therapy license. I had left my study to the very last minute, so needed to complete all 10 hours in one day, which left little time to prepare a meal. These Chocolate Chip Pancakes were a sweet and yummy reward after my rewarding work.

CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES


1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, add the milk, egg and butter, and whisk until well blended. In another medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt, mix well.
Add milk mixture to dry mixture, whisking until the ingredients are moistened. Add chocolate chips.
Heat a skillet to medium-low heat and coat with cooking spray.
Pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake into the pan. Flip once the batter is set around the edges, then cook until baked through.
Sprinkle the pancakes with powdered sugar.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Northwest Arkansas Times, March 2011

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TRAVEL TUESDAY - NEW ORLEANS - KING CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE CINNAMON FILLING and KING CAKE WITH BOURBON AND PECANS

Happy Mardi Gras!
I have always loved New Orleans - from the minute I stepped off the plane to take my licensing exam, into the hot and humid summer. Quite a surprise, having just come from the middle of a New Zealand winter.
One of my favorite trips there in recent times, was for the Rotary International Convention - I had a glimpse into parts of the city I had never seen before. There was incredible home cooking, as people from different Rotary clubs fed us, we were able to stroll through the Aquarium after hours, sipping a glass of wine, and we were with friends who introduced us to restaurants and bars we hadn't known about.

One of the fun bars our friends took us to
Jazz band we saw while walking back to our hotel one evening
Although it wasn't Mardi Gras at that time - we have experienced many in New Orleans as my husband rode in a parade for numerous years.
A King Cake is a tasty treat, most plentiful around Mardi Gras time, and one I remember fondly from my days in Louisiana. Although you can buy them up here in Arkansas, they tend to be a little more elusive than down South, so I thought I would attempt to make one for the very first time.
The King Cake with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling is a simplified version, using crescent rolls for the dough, perfect to put together for a quick breakfast, snack or dessert.
However the King Cake with Bourbon and Pecans takes a little more preparation.
I planned to start it the day before Mardi Gras, but despite having been to the supermarket twice in three days, I still hadn't picked up the bread flour required in the recipe. My daughter was in a musical at school, and once we were home from that, I finally remembered the essential missing ingredient.
A final trip to the supermarket and I was ready to begin. Unfortunately, I was feeling a little weary by this time, I didn't read the recipe through thoroughly, thoughtlessly used the blender instead of the food processor and hadn't taken into account the hour and a half initial time to let the dough rise, and then the final three hours before I could put it in the refrigerator and call it a night - at 1 AM!
Although this project seemed to be doomed from the start - my cake actually turned out light and flaky and really delicious, with a perfect ratio of filling to crust.

KING CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE CINNAMON FILLING


2 (8 ounce) cans crescent rolls (I used one, but really did need the second can)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F.
Coat a 10 inch round pizza pan or dish with cooking spray.
Separate crescent rolls at perforations, place slices around prepared pan with points in the center. About half way down from points, press the seams together.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners sugar and vanilla until creamy. Spread on dough in the center where the seams have been pressed together.
In another small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork, until crumbly.
Sprinkle over cream cheese. Fold dough points over filling, then fold bottom of triangle over points forming a circular king cake shape.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and drizzle with icing.

ICING
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, drizzle over baked cake.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, February 2009

KING CAKE WITH BOURBON AND PECANS


FOR THE CAKE
1/3 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
2 large egg yolks, plus 2 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the bowl
FOR THE FILLING AND GLAZE
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

MAKE THE CAKE
Heat the milk in a saucepan until scalding, transfer to a food processor, add the yeast and pulse to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour and the egg yolks, process to combine. Pour the remaining 2 cups flour evenly over the yeast mixture, do not process. Put the lid on, set aside for 90 minutes.
Add the 2 whole eggs, sugar, lemon zest, salt and nutmeg to the food processor. Process to make a slightly textured dough, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly add the butter to make a smooth, sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 3 hours. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead briefly. Form into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
MAKE THE FILLING
Plump the raisins in the bourbon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the brown sugar, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest and salt, mix until combined and set aside.
On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 20 by 7 inch rectangle, with the long edge facing you. Spoon the filling in an even layer over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border along the top and bottom. Fold the bottom and then the top edge over the filling to make a tight roll, pinch to seal.
Transfer the roll seam side down to a parchment lined baking sheet, tuck one end into the other to form a ring. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the roll doubles in size, about 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 350F. Bake the cake until firm and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack.
MAKE THE GLAZE
Mix 3 tablespoons water with the confectioners sugar, brush 3 tablespoons of glaze over the cake, then drizzle with the remaining glaze.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food Network Kitchens
www.foodnetwork.com › Recipes › Baking › Cakes