4/29/08

Turkey Burgers - Simple and Delicious

In August of 2006 I gave you a great recipe for turkey burgers using just a couple ingredients to somehow produce the most delicious and simple burger. Well, I had no idea until this morning that it was waaaay back in 2006 that I first posted it. We have them about every 3 months in our household and last night I took a picture while I was making them again - so what a great time to update and repost the recipe for anyone who missed it the first time around.


Turkey Burgers

1 1/4 lb. good quality ground turkey
1/2 c bread crumbs
2 t hot sauce (like Frank's brand)
2 t fresh minced garlic
fresh cracked black pepper
dash of salt


Mix together with your hands and form into patties. Cook over medium heat in 2 T olive oil. Cook approximately 5 minutes, flip and continue cooking another 5 minutes until done.

patties ready to be cooked


Serve on a bun with fresh lettuce, sliced tomatoes and ketchup. My kids love to put homemade Ranch dressing on theirs!
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4/28/08

Corn Chowder

My 17 year old daughter was really hungry during school one day and used one of her study-hall periods to sit and write down a full page listing of foods she wanted me to make in the next few weeks. LOL.

A couple of the items were things I've never made before but that she had elsewhere, like a certain double crust spinach, chicken and mozzarella pizza she wants me to 'copy' based purely on her sketchy description of something she had while on a college visit. A few of the items really surprised me because I had no idea she was interested in them. When I saw Corn Chowder on her list I stopped, I'm sure I looked confused and I asked; "Corn Chowder?" with a laugh. Yep. So... I got online and found a recipe that looked pretty good.

I've added it to my collection. Looks simple enough!


Corn Chowder

1 pkg. smoked link sausage
1 c. water
1 can evaporated milk
1 c. diced potatoes
1 can cream-style corn
1 small onion
1 can whole kernel corn
Brown sausages and onion. Add water and diced potatoes. Cook until potatoes are done, about 10 minutes. Add milk and both cans of corn. Simmer, stirring constantly until heated through. Makes 6 generous servings.
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4/25/08

Incredible Lemon Cream Cake

Yesterday I took three recipes, mish mashed them together and added a couple idea's of my own and ended up with delicious Lemon Cream Cake. In the end there is only one thing I would change, and that is I ended up adding a little more yellow color than anticipated. You see, I have some mango flavoring in the cupboard that I purchased at Target last summer that basically tastes like... well, nothing at all. It smells a little bit like mango but there is little or no flavoring whatsoever but it has a really bright yellow color. Instead of throwing it away I decided to keep it and use it as yellow food color.

When I added the not-actually-mango-flavoring yesterday I poured a little too much to get a much brighter and darker yellow than intended, but other than that? My family tells me it's a keeper!




Lemon Cream Cake
An American Housewife

1 box white cake mix
1 c flour
1 c sugar
3/4 t salt
1 1/3 c water
1/4 c canola oil
1 t vanilla
1 t almond extract
1 c sour cream
4 egg whites

Mix the cake mix, flour, sugar and salt in the mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix on low 30 seconds to blend and then on medium high for 2 minutes. Pour into 2 round pans (or one 10X10X2" square) and bake at 350 until done. This could be 27-32 minutes for the round pans or as much as 45 minutes for the square. Test with a toothpick or cake taster inserted into the center of the cake and comes out clean.

Cool completely.

Frosting and Filling;

1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
2 c powdered sugar (icing sugar)
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t dried lemon rind
1 c heavy whipping cream
*optional - yellow food color

Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon and lemon juice until smooth. Add the 1 cup heavy cream and mix on low until blended and on high for 30 seconds - 1 1/2 minutes until the cream makes the filling thick and spreadable. You can add a few drops of yellow food color if you like.

Make the crumb topping;

1/2 c flour
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c cold butter
1 t vanilla

I like to grate the cold butter into the flour/sugar mixture to help mix. Toss the mixture lightly with your fingers until all the butter is covered, add the vanilla and start to 'pinch' the mixture between your forefinger and thumb. Continue to squish and mash little bits together until you have a crumbly mixture with the butter and flour/sugar incorporated. It should be crumbly, not a paste.

Slice the cakes in half (each). Spread about 1/2 cup filling inbetween each of the round layers or use half the mixture to spread between the layers if you made a 10" square. After all the layers are topped on each other cover the cake with the rest of the frosting.

Top with the crumb mixture and also press the crumb mixture into the sides. Chill for a couple hours to help it set up or freeze for future use.




Crumb mixture - toss to coat and then start to pinch and blend.





Top with the crumb mixture.

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4/24/08

Product Review - John Soules Foods Angus Beef Fajitas

As I mentioned in a post previously, we returned from vacation and on Monday I needed to do some major shopping to fill our empty larders. While at Costco I spied a new product on the end cap in the meat and cheese aisle. John Soules Foods, Angus Beef Fajita meat.

Normally not a purchaser of 'prepared' foods I passed by with barely a glance, but I caught a whiff of the fajita aroma and it stopped me in my tracks. That smelled really, really good. I glanced at the price; $9.99 for 24 oz. or 1.5 lbs. Already cooked and seasoned, it just needed to be warmed up either by skillet, oven or microwave.

I put it back and started to walk away muttering what I always say to myself; "I can make that at home...." when I began to do the math in my head. With the price of beef being what it is where I live, I couldn't buy 1.5 lb. of angus beef for $10 to make it myself for less. Our grocery store charges $8.99 for an 8 oz. strip.

The information on the backside told me the package would serve approximately 8. Eight servings for $9.99 isn't too bad when I only have to add flour tortillas, (very affordable) an onion and a couple peppers to make it a meal with a little cheddar and sour cream on the side. So, I bought a package.

I chose to use a red, yellow and green pepper
as well as one onion - you decide what you want to use


I placed the frozen meat in a casserole dish and microwaved it for a few minutes while I prepared the onions and peppers. When I stopped to break apart the meat and stir it I snitched a piece.

Yum! Wow, that was really good. Not too spicy, but not at all bland, it had great flavor.

I finished cooking the vegetables in a little olive oil in a skillet and then added the meat.

before I added the meat - I think I only had about 6 strips in at this point

I didn't get a picture of the finished fajita because I was too busy eating it to remember to take a picture! But yes, it was good. Another good point is that I agree with the serving size on the package. This does indeed feed at least 8. And if you have a couple of side dishes (Spanish rice and beans, some tortilla chips and salsa) this package could actually feed 10.

This is a great meal not only for the affordability factor, but you can have a delicious and healthy meal on the table in less than 10 minutes. Great for busy Moms and Dads!

Bottom Line? Thumbs Up!
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4/23/08

Sloppy Joes

I've was a subscriber to the Taste of Home Magazine and later their Quick Cooking sister magazine for many years. Although I recently quit my subscriptions they remain a favorite of mine and I have every issue received... dutifully marked with sticky notes and lists on the front of my favorite recipes in each issue. Some have become family favorites. For the most part you can't go wrong with their recipes because they are made by housewives and husbands just like you and me! Family tested and editor approved. This is one of theirs from my collection... and now to yours!

Sloppy Joes

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1-1/4 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
8 sandwich buns, split

In a Dutch oven, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the ketchup, water, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard, chili powder and allspice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes or until heated through.
Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture onto each bun.
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4/22/08

Double Layer Strawberry Pie


I was going to make the Daiquiri Pie I mentioned in a post below, but my husband is out of town for a meeting and won't return home until late tonight so I've decided to wait and make it tomorrow because I know he is looking forward to it! In the meantime, with spring time pies on the mind I decided to post this one again just incase some of you missed it the last go-round. The sun is shining, it's supposed to hit 70 degree's here in the Midwest today and by golly it's time to make a pie!


Double Layer Strawberry Pie

3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract
1 c heavy cream
1 - 9 inch pie shell, baked and cooled
1/3 c white sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/3 c water
1/3 c grenadine syrup
1 T lemon juice
2 c fresh strawberries, hulled

In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar with vanilla and almond flavorings. In a separate bowl whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks, don't over beat. Fold this into the cream cheese mixture. Spread over the cold pie crust.

In a cold saucepan turn the burner to medium heat. Mix the sugar and cornstarch and stir in water until smooth. Add grenadine and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until thick, which should happen within minutes. Allow to cool then stir the strawberries into the gel and spread over the cream cheese layer.
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4/21/08

Zapple Crisp (Zucchini - faux apple!)


Remember when I gave you the recipe for a faux apple pie... tastes and looks like like apple but made with zucchini? Recipe here: Zapple Pie. With the huge amount of zucchini I had that year I made a lot of zapple pie filling and canned it. A couple weeks ago, on a cold, snowy Midwestern day I got the urge for a nice hot Apple Crisp. We only had 1 apple in the house (a Granny Smith) but I had a quart of zapple pie filling all ready to go!

A quick Apple Crisp was soon baking away in the oven.

1 quart zapple pie filling
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
1 c flour
1 c oatmeal

Mix the butter, sugar, flour and oatmeal. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray (your choice of size, smaller pans equal thicker desserts. A larger pan equals a thinner dessert. I like an 8 or 9 inch square pan personally). Fill the baking dish with the zapple pie mixture. Top with the crumb topping.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes.

Great served warm with vanilla ice cream.
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4/20/08

Easy Cinnamon Rolls Using Frozen Bread Dough

I got this one from a friend who got it off the internet someplace. I don't buy frozen bread dough, but sometimes I make extra homemade and freeze loaves of it myself. Because of this, I figured it would be a great recipe to have on hand. I also have a love of sweetened condensed milk... and anything made with it has got to be good!



Easy Cinnamon Rolls

2 loaves frozen bread dough, thawed
2/3 cup Eagle Brand® sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Chopped pecans


On a lightly floured surface roll each of the bread dough loaves to a 12x9-inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup Eagle Brand over dough rectangles. Sprinkle with pecans and cinnamon. Roll up jellyroll style starting from a short side. Cut each into 6 slices.

Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan. Place rolls, cut sides down, in pan. Cover loosely with greased parchment or waxed paper and then with plastic wrap. Let pan of rolls stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Bake in preheated 350°F (180°C) oven 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan 5 minutes; loosen edges and remove rolls from pan.

For frosting, in small bowl, combine powdered sugar, remaining 1/3 cup condensed milk and vanilla. Drizzle frosting over warm rolls. Sprinkle with additional chopped pecans if desired.
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4/16/08

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

As I'm typing from a hotel room in the South I looked over my recipes I have collected and saved in files on my laptop and this one stands out as sounding really, really good right now! LOL. I've got a love of biscuits and about a week ago had some yummy cheddar cheese biscuits with a light garlic butter sauce brushed on top.

This recipe doesn't call for the garlic butter but I'd add it as soon as they came out of the oven from baking. I think I would also add a sprinkling of dried parsley - just a touch - to the ones I brushed with garlic butter.



Cheddar Cheese Bite-Size Biscuits


3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup light cream cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 T butter
1/4 cup milk or half n' half

Place whole wheat and white flour in food processor. Add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and margarine to food processor bowl. Pulse for about 5 seconds to blend well. Drizzle milk over the top of the mixture and pulse until a dough forms (about 3 seconds). Add another tablespoon of milk if necessary. Use about a tablespoon of dough to roll into a ball and place on a cookie sheet coated with canola cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate cookie sheet while preheating oven to 400-degrees.
Bake until set, about 15 minutes.
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4/10/08

Strawberry Rhubarb Layered Torte

This recipe from Betty Crocker is a classic and oh so beautiful! I love strawberry and rhubarb together, they compliment each other so well! Since they sent this one out by mass email and I'm leaving all their brand names and trademarks I can't imagine they would mind if I added it to my online collection. They are the 'experts' in recipes and baking and I bow down to them. Simple but 'real' family foods that everyone can make and enjoy!



Cake
1 box Betty Crocker® white angel food cake mix
1 1/4 cups cold water
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
Filling
2 cups sliced rhubarb
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
Red food color, if desired
Frosting
1 1/2 cups whipping (heavy) cream
3 tablespoons granulated or powdered sugar
1 container (15 oz) ricotta cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Garnish
1/2 cup sliced strawberries

1. Move oven rack to lowest position (remove other racks). Heat oven to 350°F. In extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat cake mix, water and orange peel with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour into ungreased 10-inch angel food (tube) cake pan. (Do not use fluted tube cake pan or 9-inch angel food pan or batter will overflow.)
2. Bake 37 to 47 minutes or until top is dark golden brown and cracks feel very dry and not sticky. Do not underbake. Immediately turn pan upside down onto glass bottle until cake is completely cool, about 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, mix rhubarb, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the orange juice. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool 15 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups strawberries. Stir in 4 drops food color if deeper red color is desired. Refrigerate about 1 hour.
4. In chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream and 3 tablespoons sugar on high speed until soft peaks form. In large bowl, beat ricotta cheese and 1/4 cup powdered sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Fold in whipped cream.
5. Run knife around edges of cake; remove from pan. Cut cake horizontally to make 3 layers. Fill layers with filling. Frost side and top of cake with frosting. Arrange 1/2 cup strawberries over top of cake. Store covered in refrigerator.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Follow High Altitude cake mix directions for angel food pan, adding orange peel to batter.
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Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings


Since we leave for vacation in a couple days I'm trying to 'use' up what foods we have on hand and certainly do no grocery shopping! This coupled with the fact that its a cold, rainy day with a chance of it turning to snow... it's perfect weather for a comfort food that simmers and cooks all day long, filling the house with the aroma of delicious food and the promise of a hot meal in our stomachs tonight at dinner.

Tonights dinner is a tweak of my own based on about three different recipes I have. But, if you are a regular reader you already know I never follow a recipe. LOL. Use up what you have... enjoy cooking, enjoy making a recipe your own.



Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings


1 - bag or box frozen mixed vegetables - You decide what size based on how many vegetables you want in your finished product. I used about half a 12 oz. bag.
4-5 potatoes, diced
1 small/medium onion, chopped or diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced or chopped
2 c chicken broth or 2 c water with 3-4 bouillon cubes
1 10-3/4-ounce cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)(had to omit because of DH)
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons melted butter or canola oil


For stew, in a large crock pot, combine the vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, sage, salt, and pepper. Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables. In a medium bowl gradually whisk broth into soup. Pour broth mixture over the chicken. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

About 40 minutes before serving, turn slow cooker to high-heat if it isn't already. With a wooden spoon, stir stew. Remove bay leaves; discard. In a small bowl combine water and cornstarch; stir into stew until combined.

For dumplings, in a medium mixing bowl combine flour, cheese, cornmeal, baking powder, and the 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a small bowl combine egg, milk, and melted butter. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir with a fork until moistened. Use 2 spoons to drop dough directly on top of stew. Cover; cook for 30 minutes more or until a toothpick inserted into a dumpling comes out clean. (Do not lift cover during cooking.)
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The Tomb is Empty! Or... The Pastry Is Empty!


This week my parents were visiting from out of town and we stopped by the local coffee shop Tuesday evening. When we left we had a couple pastries for breakfast the next morning. Imagine my laughter when I cut one of the pastries in half and found... absolutely nothing!

The photo might not show it well but the entire inside of the pastry is completely empty. Pure air. LOL. Immediately the phrase "the tomb is empty" went through my head. The bottom of the pastry was colored red but apparently it all must have leaked out during the baking process or they just don't use very much filling at all. In the end, no one ate it anyway and it went into the trash, but it gave us a good laugh.

This, my friends, is why homemade baked goodies are often superior to mass-merchandised commercially baked goods. Quality my friends ! Quality.
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4/9/08

Homemade Pop Tarts

While I've never been to the Flour Bakery in Boston (Ok, I've never even been to Boston!) the chef from that bakery came up with this recipe and I got it in an email from the King Arthur Flour company. I just smiled because just a week ago I was surfing the internet to find recipes for homemade Pop Tarts. I personally love the cherry and my son loves anything with chocolate in it, but I really don't like buying them. Full of sugar and preservatives and offering nothing but fat and sweet I wanted something better.

I found two recipes I put into my collection to try in two weeks since this week I'm busy preparing for vacation and next week we will be on that vacation. But now I have a third to add to my collection and as always, since I never follow a recipe directly, I'll find a happy medium between all three and let you know the results.




Homemade Pop Tarts


Pastry
2 cups (8 ½ ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 quarter-pound sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

Cinnamon Filling
1/2 cup (3 ¾ ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible. Mix the egg and milk, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.

Divide the dough in half; each half will weigh about 10 ounces (about 280g). Shape each half into a rough 3" x 5" rectangle, smoothing the edges. Roll out immediately; or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Make the filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8" thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9" x 12". Laying a 9" x 13" pan atop the dough will give you an idea if you’ve rolled it large enough. Trim off the edges; place the scraps on a baking sheet, and set them aside, along with the 9" x 12" rectangle of dough.

Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first. Press the edge of a ruler into the dough you’ve just rolled, to gently score it in thirds lengthwise and widthwise; you’ll see nine 3" x 4" rectangles.

Beat the egg, and brush it over the entire surface of the dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each marked rectangle. Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of jam, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Cut the dough evenly in between the filling mounds to make nine tarts. Press the cut edges with your fingers to seal, then press with a fork, to seal again.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 to 15 minutes, till they’re golden brown.

Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 25 to 35 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.
Yield: 9 tarts.

Variation: Instead of brown sugar and cinnamon, fill the tarts with a tablespoonful of chocolate chips.

Or with jam filling: 3/4 cup (8 ounces) raspberry jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

To make the filling, mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.

©2007 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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4/8/08

A Different Kind of BBQ Sauce

I grew up in the Midwest where BBQ sauces are almost always tomato based, red and thick. After living in the South for 5 years I came to love the southern style bbq with the vinegar based goodness and tang. To this day it's my favorite! However, while surfing for sauces one day about 1 1/2 years ago I came across this one. What an interesting blend of flavors!


BBQ Ribs Sauce

¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup salad oil
1 teaspoon chill powder
½ cup Worcestershire sauce

Blend all ingredients thoroughly and pour over cooked ribs.
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4/7/08

Easy Seasoned Butter for Fish or Steak

We eat salmon fairly regularly, whether it's burgers or fillet, and my family loves when I include a seasoned butter. To place a pat of seasoned butter over the hot salmon and watch it melt, imparting it's flavor into the fish is just beautiful presentation as well as tasty!

I don't follow recipes when it comes to making the seasoned butter and I also don't make it the same each time. I implore you to do the same.

Start with 1 stick butter
Add; lemon juice
dried lemon peel
marjoram
dill
lemon pepper
garlic


just to give you a few ideas. Sprinkle in the soft butter and mash with a fork to blend.




Place the butter 'dough' onto saran wrap in a basic long line and carefully roll up the saran to form the butter into a 1 inch roll. Twist the ends and turn under. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before using but up to a couple weeks. To use, unwrap the saran wrap and with a sharp knife, cut into 'pretty' 1/4 inch rounds by slicing the 'log' of butter. Place one or two pats onto the fish or steak and as it melts it imparts the flavor and looks beautiful.


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Homemade Ciabatta Recipe

Ciabatta


1/8 t active dry yeast
2 T warm water
1/3 c warm water
1 c bread flour


1/2 t active dry yeast
2 T warm milk
2/3 c warm water
1 T olive oil
2 c bread flour
1 1/2 t salt


First make the sponge 1 day ahead of time. In a small bowl stir together 1/8 teaspoon of the yeast and the warm water and let stand 5 minutes, or until foamy. In a bowl stir together yeast mixture, 1/3 cup of the water, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Stir 4 minutes, then over bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

To make your bread, in a small bowl stir together yeast and milk and let stand 5 minutes, or until foamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened; add salt and mix until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles.) Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form into an irregular oval about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

At least 45 minutes before baking ciabatta, put a baking stone on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 425 F (220 degrees C).

Transfer 1 loaf on its parchment to a rimless baking sheet with a long side of loaf parallel to far edge of baking sheet. Line up far edge of baking sheet with far edge of stone or tiles, and tilt baking sheet to slide loaf with parchment onto back half of stone or tiles. Transfer remaining loaf to front half of stone in a similar manner. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool loaves on a wire rack.
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4/6/08

Bellini's and Blue Horizons - Drinks!

Although I've been to a few places in Florida, the only time I've been to Miami is on our honeymoon when we flew into Miami to board a ship for a cruise to Mexico and the Bahamas. Apparently there is a restaurant named "Touch" and a hotel/restaurant named "The Tides" that each have a pretty good drink called the Blue Horizon and the Bellini.

For some reason the color 'blue' always make a summer drink look inviting... LOL. For that reason, when I saw this drink I apparently copied it down into one of my notebooks as I found it there this weekend. And the other? Well, anything that has sparkling wine and peach in it sounds light and crisp and perfect to serve on a warm summer day or evening!

Blue Horizon
From Touch, Miami Beach

2 oz (1/4 c) lemon- or lime flavored rum
1 oz (2 T) blue curaco liqueur
1/2 oz (1 T) EACH lemon or lime juice and pineapple juice
Lime slice (optional garnish)

Combine all ingredients, except garnish, in shaker with ice. Shake vigorously; strain into chilled cocktail glass, with or without ice. Garnish.

Bellini
From 1220 at The Tides, in The Tides Hotel, Miami Beach

1 oz (2 T) EACH peach schnapps and peach nectar
1/4 oz (3/4 t) Simple Syrup
3 oz chilled Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) or Champagne
Peach slice (optional garnish)

Combine schnapps, nectar and syrup in chilled Champagne flute; stir. Top with Prosecco. Garnish.


*random internet image for the drink
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4/5/08

Ciabatta

About 8 years ago I had my first taste of Ciabatta (bread) at a restaurant when my husband ordered an Italian sandwich and this is the bread used to make it. It was a chewy, delicious bread - rustic and warm and just wonderful. I fell in love.

Since then I've always purchased our ciabatta although I kept my eyes open for good sounding recipes for it. I found this one about a year and a half ago but I have never made it. I'm not sure why, other than the fact that I'm just positive I could never reproduce the awesome ciabatta I buy? I don't know. That is silly since I've had no qualms about making my own pizza crust (which is the ONLY WAY I EAT PIZZA NOW) and my own bagels too! But it's on my list to 'do' and here is one of the recipes I've collected to do do.



Sponge:

1 tsp. dry yeast

250ml/1 cup warm water

350g/1½ cup sifted flour


Dough:

1½ tsp. dry yeast

5 tbs. warm milk

1 tbs. olive oil

250ml/1 cup warm water

600g/3 cups flour

2-3 tsp. salt

(2-3 tbs. warm water additional if needed)

Sponge: In a mixer bowl, add the yeast to the water, allow to stand for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently. Sift the flour and add to the yeast. Combine ingredients well, cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours.

Dough: Add the yeast to the milk, stir and let it stand 3-4 minutes to be sure the yeast is working.

Add the yeast mixture, water and oil to the sponge and mix with a dough hook.

Add 2 cups of flour and the salt and knead for 2 minutes at low speed, 3 minutes at middle speed, adding the remaining flour slowly, or more water, until the dough begins to pull from the sides of the bowl.

The dough should be quite soft; firm enough to handle without sticking to the hands, but still very soft. Add the last of the flour slowly. Or, add water if necessary.

Cover or place in a large, oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until tripled in size and bubbly.

Place the dough on floured baking paper or other surface and divide into 4 pieces, but do not punch down. Form in rectangles about 10” x 4”/25 x 10 cm in size and press down lightly with the fingers. Cover the dough and let rise for 90 minutes. The dough will rise only slightly.

The flour on the surface where the bread makes its final rise is what remains on the top of the loaf after baking. With practice you can adjust the amount to get a pleasing appearance. You can also form them into about 6 to 8 rolls.

Heat two baking sheets in the oven for about 15 minutes. Pick up the loaves, turn them over and lay them upside down on the sheets, being careful not to press out the air. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes until bread just begins to turn golden. During the first 10 minutes, paint or spray the bread with water 3 times.
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4/4/08

Pressed Glass Sugar Cookies

For years I struggled to find the perfect sugar cookie. I think what I was basing it on was a cookie I used to get at our local bakery in my hometown when I was about 10 years old. Considering the bakery only stayed in business about a year or two, I didn't get to have them very long but they've always remained in my memory.

In my quest for the perfect cookie I've tried many recipes and I'm always, consistently on the look out for more. When I talked to my Grandma about what I was looking for in a cookie about 10 years ago she told me to look for one made with oil. This recipe uses both butter and oil and a mixture of the two white sugars as well. I couldn't wait to add it to my collection. I hope you do too!


Pressed Glass Sugar Cookies

1 c powdered sugar
1 c sugar
1 c butter, softened
1 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar

Cream sugars with butter, vegetable oil, and eggs. Add vanilla. Blend dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture; mix well. Chill dough 2 hours. Roll cookie dough into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Grease the bottom of a glass, dip in sugar, and flatten each cookie. Bake at 350 degree oven for 10 minutes until the edges just start to turn golden.
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Artichoke Cakes

Next to seafood, I'd have to say that artichokes are one of my favorite foods. It's interesting to me that they are because I never had an artichoke until I was about 30 years old! My family didn't grow up eating them in the 70's and 80's - partly I'm sure because we were in a tiny little town in the heartland of America where we were more likely to have roast and potatoes or steak or fries at every meal. Our little hometown grocers didn't even carry artichokes! But they are so much easier to find these days (even in itty bitty hometowns in the Midwest!) and I fell in love.


Here is a different recipe; artichoke cakes. This one was sent to me in an email of recipes that had been forwarded to a thousand before me so maybe you've already got it in your files. If not? Add it! Yum!




Artichoke Cakes


3-14-oz cans of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 Tbs chopped green onions

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1 cup of soft bread crumbs, lightly packed ( used panko)

3/4 cup mayonnaise ( used low fat)

1/4 cup whipping cream ( used low fat milk) Can't say that it did anything to help the recipe?

2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp salt ( did not use) used garlic powder

1 tsp worcestershire sauce

Place artichokes, eggs and the next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Combine the mayonnaise and the next 5 ingredients in another bowl and mix well. Add to the artichoke mixture and mix well again. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Lightly oil a non stick frying pan and pat the mixture into 1-1/2" balls place in the skillet and flatten slightly. Fry for 2 to 2 -1/2 minutes per side to brown and crisp, then bake the oven at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.

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Lemon Chiffon Cake

I don't know if it's because it's Spring or if it's just me but all I can think about lately is lemon! Lemon cookies, lemon pie, lemonade, lemon frosting, lemon cake, lemon chicken... I even went crazy for 2 days going through all my recipes and recipe books to find one particular lemon cake recipe I want to make this week - but it had to be that particular one! LOL. In the meantime I found this one and it sounds so good I plan to make it in a couple weeks (when we get back from vacation). I love the amount of eggs in it and that it's baked in tube pans so it will be more like a lemon angel food. Bake it into cupcakes though if you prefer. Lite and 'chiffony'. Mmmm.
Enjoy!

Lemon Chiffon Cake

7 room temperature eggs, separated
2 c all-purpose flour
1-1/2 c sugar
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 c water
1/2 c vegetable oil
4 t grated lemon peel
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t cream of tartar

Icing;
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
4-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
Dash salt
1/4 cup lemon juice


In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, water, oil, lemon peel and vanilla; add to dry ingredients. Beat until well blended.

In another large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form; fold into batter. Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife and tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles.

Bake on the lowest oven rack at 325° for 50-55 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert the pan; cool completely, about 1 hour.

Run a knife around side and center tube of pan. Remove cake to a serving plate. In a small mixing bowl, combine frosting ingredients; beat until smooth. Spread over top of cake.
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4/2/08

Our favorite marinade for everything from tofu to shrimp to chicken

I have posted the recipe for our favorite marinade a couple times already when I showed you how yummy it was on shrimp and tofu that I love to use in fried rice... but originally we started to use it on chicken. For about 8 years now no matter what new marinades I try I always go back to my families all time favorite and our old standby.

Here is a picture of my dinner from the night before last. Yum! The chicken was marinated and then grilled and sliced for our salads. I've also used the same marinade on steaks. See? Very versatile!
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Coconut Pound Cake with Almond Sauce

Although I'm not a lover of chocolate or sweets in general, there is one candy bar I like once in a while and that is an Almond Joy. That's interesting to me because I wasn't raised in a family that bought or ate coconut but I grew up with a love of it anyway! (Unless it's mixed with pineapple... I really don't like anything with pineapple and people do tend to pair the two together an awful lot, don't they?) LOL.

This recipe is from a much-forwarded recipe email and it sounded really good so I copied this one to my files. I haven't made it yet and here is the reason; I never, ever have margarine on hand. I don't buy it. I tend to envision eating margarine as eating melted Barbie doll legs. Margarine isn't healthy and it's horrible for baking with as the water content is so high. I'm not sure why this recipe uses both butter and margarine since pound cakes are traditionally made with butter and only butter. So, when I do make this one it will be with all butter... no melted Barbie Doll legs. :)





Coconut Pound Cake with Almond Sauce

1 c butter
1/2 c margarine
3 c sugar
6 eggs
3 c flour
1/4 t soda
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
1 c coconut
1/2 t coconut flavoring
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c water
1 t almond flavoring

Cream butter, margarine and sugar for 5 minutes. Continue to beat, adding eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour and soda together and add this alternately with sour cream. Fold in the coconut and coconut flavoring. Pour into large tube pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1-1/2 hours. Cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto a serving platter.

ALMOND SAUCE:

Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon almond flavoring in small saucepan. Boil 5 minutes. Pour over warm cake.
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4/1/08

Are You Hungry? April Fools!!!

Are you hungry? Would you like sandwi.... I mean a PIECE OF CAKE!? Yes, it's true, the 'sandwich' you see in the photo isn't a sandwich at all, but a slice of pound cake, complete with frosting! I found this 'recipe' about 7 (?) years ago at the Family Fun site and made them for April Fools Day for my family along with the meatloaf and pastel colored mashed potatoes 'cup cakes'. It was quick and simple and oh-so-fun to see their faces when they realized they weren't having grilled cheese and cupcakes for dinner! Of course, I admit they were a little disheartened to find out the cupcakes weren't real... LOL.

If you missed this mornings post on a plethora of April Fools Day foods you can find them here; April Fools Day Foods. Now - I better get busy and get this years 'dinner' ready myself!
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Fresh Homemade Salsa (and a winter shortcut!)

Last night I was preparing a Santa Fe Salad for dinner, complete with homemade guacamole, a special Santa Fe Sauce and of course salsa and sour cream.

My oldest daughter came into the kitchen after school to ask what we would have that night and when I told her the salad she grinned and said, "And guacamole?" "Yes." "And salsa?" "Yeah." "No," she continued, "I mean REAL salsa?"

LOL.

She meant not store bought! Which is what my family prefers. Now, we would probably have to debate for a few minutes on what the first choice would be - my homemade canned salsa (recipe is on this blog under 'canning' label!) or my 'fresh' salsa. I think fresh would win out in the end because really, how can you ever truly beat the taste of 'fresh' homemade salsa!?

Use tomatoes if you have them... fresh from the garden if you can! But in the winter time, in the heartland of America when tomatoes might be hard to find or mealy and under ripe, it's better to use a good quality canned, diced tomato. Yep! There you go... a shortcut and hint to 'fresh' salsa in the middle of winter!


Homemade Salsa


1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or 2 - 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained)
1 small onion or half a 'sweet' onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 2 inch jalapeno pepper, chopped fine or for a mild salsa use 4 oz. chopped green chilies
Juice of one lime, squeezed
1 T oil
1 t salt
1/2 c fresh chopped cilantro or use 1-2 T dried

Mix all and run through the blender briefly (!!!) if you prefer no chunks. Chill until you use it and best if you can do so at least 1-2 hours before serving.
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