Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Honey Lime Peas

I was hesitant to post this recipe today, since it contains chives and I have had a few recipes lately that call for chives. All I can say is...I'm sorry but I'm on a chive kick and this is a great Easter recipe! It's fresh and funky and tangy and sweet. A perfect spring side dish that can be served warm or chilled. It's so simple and straightfoward I can't even think of any tips to offer up. Enjoy!


Honey Lime Peas
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown mustard
2 tablespoons honey
The juice of 1 large lime
2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
2 teaspoons salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2  teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 12oz bags Frozen Peas, cooked according to package

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil and peas, in a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine. Slowly stream in olive oil. Once the mixture is well blended, pour over peas and toss to coat. Serve chilled or warm.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs

An Easter classic that's served throughout the year, deviled eggs lend themselves so easily to culinary experimentation. You can add almost anything and come out with something tasty. From sweet relish to crab meat and salsa to cream cheese, you can be creative when playing with deviled eggs.
 My mother-in-law first turned me on to Ranch flavored deviled eggs and somewhere down the line, I added the crumbled bacon. It's a perfect marriage of flavors and textures. See my tips below for some other things I've done to this recipe to add extra flavor and zing!

Tips:
  • I made these recently using a teaspoon of dry Ranch Dressing mix and 1/2 teaspoon of creamy horseradish. They turned out really well  but I prefer this more subtle approach in general.
  • Try this recipe with grated Cheddar cheese mixed in for a richer flavor.
  • Start out with 1 tablespoon of the Ranch dressing and taste it before adding the second tablespoon. You may not want 2 (or you might want 3!).
  • If want your mixture creamier add more Ranch or mayo.
  • Just a squirt (about an 1/8 of a teaspoon) of prepared mustard adds color and little depth to the eggs, without overpowering it with a mustardy flavor.
  • To hard boil your eggs, put them in the pan and cover with cold water (there should be about an inch of water covering the eggs). Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt to the water. Turn on the burner to medium-high heat and bring to a roiling boil. Cover with a lid and turn off the burner. Let the eggs sit like this for 15 minutes. Then transfer the eggs to a dish of cold water and let sit for another 15 minutes. Hit the bottom (widest part) of the egg on the counter to crack and they should peel easily.

Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs

12 hardboiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons Ranch dressing (according to taste)
4 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
Paprika, chives and/or freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for garnish, optional

Cut the peeled eggs in half length wise and place yolks in a medium mixing bowl.  Set the whites aside. Mash the yolks with a fork and add mayonnaise, Ranch dressing and crumbled bacon. Spoon or pipe the mixture into each egg white half. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika, snipped chives, and/or freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.


With Parmesan Garnish

Monday, March 29, 2010

Maple Monday-Carmalized Apple Pulled Pork

Pulled pork makes an excellent substitute for the traditional Easter dinner of a baked ham. It's also good anytime you just want a really delicious meal! This recipe uses apples, shallots, cider vinegar and maple syrup to create a glorious reduction with the pork. The apples and shallots almost melt away to form a carmelized sauce that is anything but boring. When served with Maple-Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce, this dish gets even better!

Tips:
  • Any type of apple will do here, I use a Jonagold because of it's large size and it's nice blend of sweet and tart flavors.
  • If you've never cooked with shallots...here's your chance! Taste wise they are sort of a blend of a sweet red onion and garlic. They work well when garlic would be too overpowering in a dish but an onion alone doesn't offer enough of the flavor you are looking for. If you don't have or can't find any shallots (though most supermarkets do carry them), 1 small red onion, and 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic will offer similar flavor results.
  • Before I add the shallots, I like to seperate the "petals" for more even cooking.
  • When the pork is done, you will notice the liquid has mostly evaporated and the apples and shallots have carmelized to create a thick brown sauce. If you've never used this method of cooking you think you burned it but don't worry, it's supposed to look that way.
  • Be careful when removing the lid, this dish produces a lot of steam that can burn you. Since there is vingegar in this dish, the steam may also irritate your eyes if you take it face on.
  • You can use a slow cooker to do this dish as well. About 8 hours on the low setting. Pull the pork with 2 forks at the end.

Carmalized Apple Pulled Pork

3-4lb pork butt
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple juice or water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1 large apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup maple syrup

Place pork in a stock pot or dutch oven. Pour in vinegar and apple juice (or water). Add cayenne, sage, thyme, paprika, mustard, shallots and apples (add apples last). Drizzle in maple syrup. Cover the pot and bake at 375 degrees for 3 hours and 15 minutes. After 2 hours, use a large carving fork and start to pull apart the pork (you will only be able to do some of it at this point). Replace lid and place back in the oven. After 3 hours (or 1 additional hour since you last took it out), finish pulling the pork completly and stir all ingredients together. Replace lid and return to oven for 15 more minutes. Serve warm, with barbecue sauce if desired.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Quick Chocolate Mint Pie

Chocolate and mint are one of my favorite flavor combinations, and this quick and easy pie exploits them both in a very yummy way!  It tastes a lot like chocolate mint chip ice cream, so you know it will be a crowd pleaser!

Tips:
  • You can use Cool Whip in place of the whipped cream, but I just think fresh whipped cream tastes better.
  • More or less peppermint extract can be used according to your tastes.
  • Grate the chocolate over a microplane grater, held directly over the pie. Alternatively, you can use a box grater over a plate, it can be a little unwieldly when held over a pie.

Quick Chocolate Mint Pie

1 chocolate cookie crust
1 5oz package Instant chocolate pudding
1 pint whipped cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3-4 drops green food coloring
grated chocolate for garnish

Prepare chocolate pudding as directed on box. Spoon into cookie crust. In a large mixing bowl (a cold bowl works best), beat 1 pint whipping cream until thickened, beat in powdered sugar, peppermint extract and green food coloring until peaks form and food coloring is well blended. Spoon over chocolate pudding, spreading to seal edges. Grate some bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate over the top as garnish. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lemon-Chive Butter Chicken

This easy way to roast a whole chicken is so delicious and flavorful, you'll forget all about those grocery store rotisserie chickens!

Tips:
  • You can use bonless chicken breasts if you desire, using the same method of preparing with the lemon-chive butter. Place chicken breasts in a baking pan and bake at 350. Follow THIS LINK for baking times based on weight and amount of chicken.
  • Even if you don't eat the skin, leave it on during cooking. It will keep the chicken from drying out and keep it moist.
  • I seasoned the outside of my chicken with McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning. You can use whatever seasonings you like, just go light with them. You want the delicate lemon and chive flavors to stand out.


Lemon-Chive Butter Chicken

1 whole chicken (3 1/2-5 lbs)   Carved Lemon-Chive Butter Chicken Breast  
1 stick butter, softened
1 large lemon, divided
2 tablespoons chives, snipped or minced
1 medium white or yellow onion, roughly cut
salt and pepper
1 large Oven Bag for roasting

In a medium bowl, combine softened butter, chives and the juice from half of a large lemon. Stir well to combine ingredients. Set aside. Prepare chicken for roasting (removing anything from the cavity of the chicken). Place chicken on cutting board or in roasting pan. Take the lemon-chive butter you just made and rub about 3/4 of it under the skin of chicken, paying close attention to the breasts and thighs. Rub remaining butter over (on top of) skin. Season with salt and pepper.
 Cut remaining half a lemon into thirds and place in the cavity of the chicken along with the cut onion.
Add 1 tablespoon flour to the oven bag and distribute evenly on the inside of the bag. Place chicken in oven bag and roast in oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.  Allow to rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with melted lemon-chive butter if desired.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gooseberry Patch Downloadable Cookbook

The fabulous Gooseberry Patch just posted a free downloadable cookbook! It's full of 25 Mac and Cheese recipes and is only available until the end of the week. Check it out!
Just click below on the download button and save to your computer.

25 Mac & Cheese Recipes by Gooseberry Patch

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quick and Spicy Sloppy Joes

This is one of those super easy, weeknight meals for when you don't have time to do much in the kitchen.

Tips:
  • You can make this without the hot sauce for a milder version.
  • Obviously, you can add onions, garlic or green peppers to this dish but the V8 adds a great flavor and some of those vitamins without having to do the extra work. It's a nice alternative when you're short on time or energy.

Quick and Spicy Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground beef
1 8oz canV8 Spicy Hot  (or 1 cup)
1 10oz can tomato soup
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Brown and drain the ground beef in a deep, medium skillet. Pour in the V8, tomato soup and hot sauce. Simmer over medium heat until sauce reduces by half and thickens (about 10 minutes). Serve warm.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Maple Monday-Easy Maple Danish

Yesterday morning, while staring into the vast depths of my refrigerator I had an epiphany. My eyes had landed on a roll of of Pilsbury Crescent Rounds (they're basically crescent rolls, just in the shape of a round dinner roll). I quickly realized that they would make the perfect base for a quick and easy breakfast Danish. I pulled them out and got to work concocting a filling that would satisfy my perpetual maple cravings. The recipe below is the delicious end result of my mad experiment.
These would also work well if filled with your favorite jam/jelly, perserves or pie filling. Even a basic cheesecake recipe (cut in half) would be great!


Tips:
  • If you can't find Crescent Rounds, a flaky refrigerated dinner roll would work in it's place.
  • Brush the tops with melted butter for better browning and nice crisp exterior.
  • Instead of the homemade glaze, I drizzled the top with about 3 tablespoons of prepared vanilla frosting that I "melted" in the microwave for about 10 seconds. It was super easy and worked great!
  • I liked these better after they had cooled completly. I had one at breakfast and thought it was good, I had another as a snack about 6 hours later and loved it. I think these might be best if made the night before and allowed to cool overnight.


Easy Maple Danish

3 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1 tablespoon Butter, softened
3/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1 Egg
2 rolls Crescent Rounds
Powdered Sugar Glaze, recipe below (optional)

Pre-bake Crescent Rounds in a lightly greased, glass baking dish, at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until they just begin to brown (don't over-bake). Press down on the center of each crescent round to create a well or indentation in the middle. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, brown sugar and maple syrup. Beat in the egg.  Spoon mixture into center of each round. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and drizzle with glaze.  Let cool completely before serving, filling will be HOT.


Powdered Sugar Glaze

1 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl combine powdered sugar with vanilla and milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Blend until smooth.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies

This is a recipe that used to be on the back of Heath bits packages. It seems like a basic cookie recipe but boy, are those cookies good!

Toffee Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup creamy Peanut Butter
1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) Heath Bits

Beat shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add egg; beat just until blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup bits; reserve remainder for topping if desired.
Drop by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet; top each with reserved bits.
Bake at 375 for 7 to 8 minutes or until set. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely. About 3 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

I've had soda bread 4 times in my life and each time the taste and texture were different. The first time it tasted heavily of baking soda and reminded me of a banana bread sans the bananas. The next time I had soda bread it was full of dried fruit and most closely resembled an Italian panatone. After that I tasted one that I'm pretty sure was a French Brioche that somebody tried to pass as a soda bread. This recipe constitutes the fourth and most recent version of soda bread I've had. The recipe has been in my recipe box since the late nineties but I've never bothered to make it. I think this version reminds me in taste, not texture of a large biscuit. It has a wonderful golden brown crust and a nice clean flavor. I've been slathering pieces of it with honey butter all week and it's absolutely divine! As for authenticity, who knows? Four versions, four different outcomes. I guess it's like the "American" apple pie. Everyone does it different and every version is authentic to someone.


Irish Soda Bread

4 cups bread flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened (plus more for basting)
1 cup buttermilk 
1 egg


Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat in buttermilk and the egg until dough forms.
On a floured surface, shape dough into a round and cut an X into the top, using a sharp knife. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Baste lightly with melted butter.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. During baking baste once or twice more to improve crust color and texture.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner

 This is my take on the traditional St. Patty's Day feast, authentic or not. The beer compliments the corned beef without taking away any of it's unique flavor. I was surprised at how delicious my little concoction turned out, but man was it good!

Tips:
  • If your brisket has a layer of fat on the bottom, you can sear it lightly or render it off before adding any of the liquids.
  • Save the leftover broth and strain it for an excellent soup base. Add any leftover meat and veggies and you have an easy lunch tomorrow.
  • If you don't like cabbage, add up to 3 extra potatoes to the pot.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner

2-3 lb Corned Beef Brisket with spice packet
1 12oz (or 11.2 oz) bottle Guinness Draught Beer
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4-6 large red potatoes
1/2 lb baby carrots
1 head cabbage

In a large stockpot, place corned beef and pour in Guinness Beer. Add enough water to just cover brisket completely. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and add in spice packet, brown sugar and minced garlic.  Cover with lid and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Peel potatoes if desired and cut into quarter sections. Cut cabbage into 8-10 wedged sections. Add potatoes, carrots and cabbage to pot. Return to a boil if necessary. Replace lid and continue to simmer for another hour and a half. Slice corned beef against the grain and serve with vegetables.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maple Monday-Overnight Irish Maple Oatmeal

In honor of St. Patrick's Day on Wednesday, I thought I would offer you this recipe for an Overnight Irish Oatmeal. Sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar, it's the perfect way to kickstart your morning!

Overnight Irish Maple Oatmeal

1 cup Irish steel-cut oats
4 cups water
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half and half

Grease the inside of a crock pot with cooking spray. Add all ingredients, and stir well.
Cover and set crock pot to low. Cook for 8-9 hours.
Stir before serving. Spoon into bowls and top with maple syrup, brown sugar or cream.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mocha-Filled Cream Puffs

This recipe comes from the Hershey Chocolate website and is unbelievably delicious! I was amazed at how easy it was to make cream puffs from scratch. They take about 30 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to bake, so you don't need to set aside a whole day to spend in the kitchen. All you need is a couple of hours.




Mocha-Filled Cream Puffs

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
MOCHA CREAM FILLING (recipe follows)
Powdered sugar for dusting

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Grease cookie sheet.
2. Heat water and butter in medium saucepan to rolling boil. Add flour all at once; stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture leaves side of pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with spoon after each addition until smooth. Drop batter by scant 1/4 cupfuls about 3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet.
3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Horizontally slice small portion from top of puffs; set tops aside. Remove any soft dough from inside of puffs. Remove puffs from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool completely. Prepare MOCHA CREAM FILLING; fill puffs. Replace tops; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Refrigerate until cold. Cover; refrigerate leftover puffs. 6 cream puffs.


MOCHA CREAM FILLING

2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 cups milk
2 to 3 teaspoons powdered instant coffee
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Stir together sugar, cocoa and cornstarch in medium saucepan; gradually add milk and instant coffee. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils; boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat.
2. Gradually stir small amount of hot mixture into egg yolk, blending well; return mixture to pan. Heat just to boiling, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into bowl; press plastic wrap onto surface. Refrigerate until cold.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein

This traditional Autstrian dish is the pork version of the classic Wiener Schnitzel, which is made with veal. Most Americans do know it better as Weiner Schnitzel though.  In the Midwest it is often just called a breaded pork cutlet and served on a bun with mayo and pickles.
 In Austria and Germany schnitzel is usually served with lemon wedges or ligonberry jam. Since ligonberry jam is hard to find in many parts of this country (though Ikea does offer it in their gourmet food center at the front of most stores), I usually serve them with lemon wedges and love it that way. It's amazing what a little spritz of lemon can do for a dish!
In my picture below you will notice that the schnitzel is a little smaller than typical, I was in a hurry that night and used very thin pork chops so I didn't bother pounding them out. Taste wise it doesn't make a big difference (as long as the chops are < 1/4" thick). If you don't want to pound them out yourself and can't find any thin chops, you can ask your butcher to tenderize thicker ones for you (they don't charge for that service).

Tips:
  • To test the temperature of your oil, toss a little flour or a few breadcrumbs in the pan. If it sizzles and begins to brown, it's warm enough. If it begins to burn, it's too hot. If it just sinks or does nothing, the oil's not ready.
  • I like to pour a little onion powder in the palm of my hand and sprinkle the top of each cutlet with it for a bit of extra flavor. Traditional? No, but delicious...yes!
  •  Spritz the lemon juice over each cutlet just before eating or the breading will get soggy.
Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein

4 boneless pork chops, pounded thin (about 1/4 inch)

1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 teaspoon onion powder, divided
Vegetable oil for frying
lemon wedges (1 large lemon, quartered)


In a large heavy skillet, heat a half an inch of oil over med-high heat.
Place flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs into 3 separate containers (pie plates, cake tins, serving platters, and baking dishes will all work well). Mix half of the seasoning salt, pepper and onion powder into the flour and half with the breadcrumbs, stirring to combine evenly. Beat the egg with a tablespoon of water. Dip each pork cutlet into flour first, then egg mixture and followed by breadcrumbs. Place coated pork into hot oil. Cook each side for about 2 minutes, or until well browned. Drain on paper towels and serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Creamed Corn 2 Ways

I can never decide which version of creamed corn I like the best so I'm sharing both recipes with you. One is a sweet and simple recipe and the other is more savory and lively.

Sweet Creamed Corn

1 16oz package frozen corn in butter sauce
3 oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon sugar (plus more if desired)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan add cream cheese and let soften over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes. Add frozen corn and stir to combine. Slowly add sugar and season with salt and/or pepper to taste. Bring to a low and slow boil and turn down heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 20 minutes.


Creamed Corn with Green Chilis

1 16oz package frozen corn in butter sauce
3 oz cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped green chilies (canned is fine)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan add cream cheese and let soften over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes. Add frozen corn and green chilies, stirring to combine. Sprinkle in garlic powder and salt and pepper as desired. Bring to a low and slow boil and turn down heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Maple Monday-Maple Apple Butter

Using the recipe from last week's post on Maple Applesauce, I offer you this simple recipe for Maple Apple Butter. Easy and delicious on biscuits, toast, excellent swirled in some oatmeal and fantastic as a glaze on pork chops, apple butter is as versatile as it is tasty.

Tips:
  • If you want to go the simple route, you can make this using store bought applesauce. Just add a teaspoon of cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup to the recipe.
  • Add more allspice or cloves to fit your taste. Some people like spice than others, so this recipe has a scant less than what I would normally add.
  • You could make this in a slow cooker or crock-pot, just combine all ingredients and cook on the low setting for about 6 hours. Stir occasionaly if possible.

Maple Apple Butter
 
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

 
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan or stockpot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours or until browned and thickened. Stir periodically throughout cooking to prevent burning.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Background Work

I'm testing out new layouts and backgrounds this weekend. At various points of the day you may find backgrounds with headers that don't match, missing gadgets, and other wacky occurrences.

On the other hand leave me a comment below if you see you anything that really catches your eye or you love. I apologize for any content delays you may experience during this process.

Thanks!
-Andrea

Friday, March 5, 2010

Homemade Thin Mints and Tagalongs

My favorite memories of being in Girls Scouts are of selling and subsequently eating those famous Girl Scout Cookies! These copy-cat recipes let us, enjoy 2 of the most popular flavors of Girl Scout cookies out there, Thin Mints and Tagalongs. Both use Ritz Crackers and Almond Bark (or some type of melting chocolate that firms when it cools). It's amazing how closely these mock cookies actually taste like the real thing. If you serve these to friends and family, don't be surprised if they order a few boxes!


Homemade Thin Mints


8 oz Almond Bark Chocolate Coating (or any semi-sweet chocolate)
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
25-30 Ritz crackers

Melt Almond Bark/Chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave safe bowl (for microwave: heat for 45 seconds, stir and continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth). Add peppermint extract to melted chocolate and stir to combine.
Dip each cracker individually into chocolate, turning to coat, let any excess drip off and set on wax paper or cold cookie sheet. The "cookies" should be firmly set in about 20 minutes, quicker if refrigerated. Store in an airtight container.


Homemade Tagalongs

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
25-30 Ritz crackers
8 oz Almond Bark Chocolate Coating (or any semi-sweet chocolate)

Melt Almond Bark/Chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave safe bowl (for microwave: heat for 45 seconds, stir and continue to microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth).
Spread a layer of peanut butter over each cracker and dip in the chocolate. Let any excess chocolate drip off and set on wax paper or cold cookie sheet. The "cookies" should be firmly set in about 20 minutes, quicker if refrigerated. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Old Fashioned Cake Frosting

This recipe isn't for the health concious! It's a (slight) variation on a recipe that came from the grandmother of one my best friends in high school. I recently found it scribbled in an old notebook we kept in the kitchen when we were roommates once upon a time.  I decided to try it out a few days ago, not expecting much and lo and behold it was good! I used immitation rum instead of vanilla and used it to frost a Butter Pecan cake (from a mix). It's not as sweet as the 2 pounds of powdered sugar would lead you to believe either! Next time I make it I think I will try using immitation banana flavoring and frost a yellow or pound cake for a Banana Flip type of thing! I'll try it out and post back later, when my arteries recover from this batch!

Old Fashioned Cake Frosting

2 pounds powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups shortening
1/2 cup water or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (or any other flavor extract/immitation flavoring)
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add more water if needed for spreading consistency.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Potato Latkes

Since I posted an applesauce recipe yesterday I thought I would post a basic recipe for latkes today to be served with the applesauce. They make a great side dish, appetizer or lunch as I often have them.
This is an easy and basic recipe that tastes wonderful when served with sour cream and applesauce.

Potato Latkes

2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons flour or matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup oil for frying

Place the shredded potatoes in a cheesecloth or tea towel and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible out of the potatoes. In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, beaten eggs, flour garlic powder and salt together.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat until hot (sprinkle some flour in to test, if it sizzles it's ready). Add the potato mixture, 2 tablespoons at a time to the oil.  Using a spoon or spatula spread out and press down to create 1/2 inch round patties. Brown both sides of latkes, remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve warm with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maple Monday-Maple Applesauce

If you've never had homemade applesauce, warm off the stove before then you've been missing out! It's amazing the difference between an overly sweet but bland jar of applesauce you buy at the store and spicey, flavorful made from scratch applesauce. It tastes and smells like...home or at least somewhere warm, familiar and comforting. Sure it's a little bit of work peeling, coring, slicing and blending but every once in a while when you want a real treat, it's worth it!


Tips:
  • Use a variety of apples for applesauce, I usually use 3. Pick a tart apple (like Granny Smith), a sweet apple (like Fuji) and a crisp "in between" apple (like Gala) and use a combination to create a unique and flavorfull applesauce. Stay away from Red Delicious though, it's a hand apple, not a baking/cooking apple.  I usually use the three varieties I mentioned above (2 Granny Smiths, 4 Fujis and 3 Galas).
  • You can add more or less cinnamon depending on your tastes. I don't like too much cinnamon in my applesauce so I tend to add a little less than a teaspoon. I do think some cinnamon compliments and helps blend the apple and maple flavors though.
  • To make this without maple syrup, you can leave it out entirely and add an additional 1/4 cup of apple juice or substitute it for 3 tablespoons of brown or white sugar.
  • I use an immersion blender to puree the apples. I find it's the easiest and most effective way to achieve the consistency I want, and I never have to transfer the applesauce out of the pan that I cooked it in. You can easily use a food processor (you may have to do it in small batches), a blender, or a food mill (I've used this method before and it works well).
  • This recipe is the basis for my homemade apple butter which I will share in a future blog entry, so file this away and stay tuned!


Maple Applesauce

8-10 apples, peeled and cored (3 varieties of apples)
1 1/4 cup apple juice/cider (can substitute water)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional


Bring apple juice, maple syrup and lemon juice to a low boil. Peel, core and slice apples into wedges. Add apples to boiling mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon. Let the liquid return to a boil and turn down heat.
Simmer apples over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, apples should be soft and liquid should have reduced by almost half.  Using an immersion blender (or food processor, blender or food mill) puree apples until desired applesauce texture is achieved. Serve warm or chilled, any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. This recipe makes about 4-6 cups of finished applesauce.
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