Monday, December 31, 2012

homemade blackberry syrup

My visiting teacher Starley dropped by with a box of chocolates and a bottle of homemade blackberry syrup last week.  I knew exactly what I would do with that syrup!  I made my friend Dee-Anna's puff pancakes with fresh whipped cream and poured the syrup on top for breakfast on Christmas morning.  Breakfast was a success!  This syrup is fantastic and Starley was nice to share her recipe with me so I can make it this summer.

homemade blackberry syrup (or any berry) (my friend Starley)
1 cup berry juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Boil one minute.  Put into clean jar.  Seal with caning lid.  Turn upside down for a few minutes to heat lid.  Can double, triple, etc.

What I have to say- this is not the first time a grandmotherly woman has given me a canning recipe only to find out they have not canned the way I know- in a water bath or pressure cooker or steamer.  I have always been apprehensive about the old method but hey- they seem to end up living longer than anyone else I know so it must be safe!  And to not pull out all that canning equipment is GREAT!  There's no excuse now. : )

Monday, December 24, 2012

black forest and havarti melts on sour dough

My kids like to go to Trader Joes with me because they can earn a treat in the treasure chest if they find Benny Beaver somewhere in the store.  Today they were glad they went with me because of the sample- rolls with ham and melted cheese.  My girls loved it so much we went home and made our own version- black forest ham on sour dough draped with melted havarti cheese.  They ate a mighty fine lunch today, that's for sure.

black forest and havarti melts on sour dough
thin slices of sour dough bread
thin slices of black forest ham (we get ours at Costco)
slices of havarti cheese

Toast sour dough slices in a toaster until lightly toasted.  Meanwhile, brown slices of ham over the stove.  Place browned ham slices on sliced toast then top with slices of havarti cheese.  Broil for a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted and oozing over the sides of the sandwich.  Mmmm!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

christmas mouse cookie

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house...  Isn't he cute?  He was innocently sitting on a huge platter full of delicious cookies so my husband brought him home. 

christmas mouse cookie (someone my husband works with)
oreo cookie
chocolate dipped cherry
Hershey's kiss
sliced almonds
melted chocolate for glue
icing for holly decorations
edible pearls

Friday, December 21, 2012

hearty harvest and ham stew

I really enjoyed this soup.  It was super simple to prepare and since yesterday was such a rush-from-one-event-to-another-day I put it in the crock pot on low to keep it warm until dinner time.  We enjoyed it with slices of buttered toasted sourdough bread, something my kids recently can't get enough of.

hearty harvest and ham stew (adapted from
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ham steak, cubed (I used black forest ham from Costco)
2 cups coleslaw mix or 1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
3 cups water
5 fingerling potatoes, sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
black pepper to taste
3 cups firmly packed spinach

Warm olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Stir in onions and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and ham; cook for another 2 minutes.  Stir in the cabbage and water.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Stir in potatoes, carrots, celery seed, paprika and pepper.  Cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium low, stir in the greens, adjust seasonings and cook for 10 minutes.  Serve with bread.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

maple butter blondies

My friend Danielle said these are "nothing but rich, sugary gooeyness" and boy was she right!  I made these for gourmet club and I will declare these Hall of Fame based on the praise they received.  Thanks for making me look good, Danielle!  It felt great.

maple butter blondies (my friend Danielle, PIM cookbook)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cream together butter and brown sugar.  Add baking powder, salt, vanilla and then eggs.  Mix in flour.  Stir in white chocolate chips and nuts.  Put brownie batter into a greased 9x13 pan and smooth mixture with spatula.  Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes.  Top should be shiny and firm when you touch the center with a finger.  Do not over bake.

maple butter sauce
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring

Combine sugar, butter and whipping cream in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and stir in the maple flavoring.
To assemble:  Cut brownies into 12 pieces.  Place a brownie on a plate and top with vanilla ice cream.  Drizzle warm Maple Butter Sauce and sprinkle with more nuts.

chocolate mousse

The other day my husband requested clam chowder for dinner and chocolate mousse for dessert, a couple of his very favorite dishes.  He said this chocolate mousse was terrific and said it was just as good as a friend's of his who was a cook and worked his way through school teaching cooking classes.  I'll take it as a "Hall of Fame".  Thanks allrecipes!

chocolate mousse (
1 cup semisweet chocolate chipes
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup whipped cream

Melt chocolate chips in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat; stir until smooth, about 5 minutes.  Stir a small amount of hot chocolate into egg yolk; return chocolate and egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract.  Cool, stirring several times.
Beat heavy cream in a large bowl until it begins to thicken.  Stir in sugar; beat until soft peaks form.  Fold whipped cream mixture into cooled chocolate mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.  Garnish with whipped cream.

Monday, December 10, 2012

cranberry honey butter

This Christmas I've been making various treats when the mood strikes so if friends compare what I whipped up for them chances are they've all gotten something different.  Tomorrow when I host gourmet club, my gourmet club friends are each getting a container of cranberry honey butter.  When I saw this recipe it looked delicious so I had to give it a whirl.  I will drizzle a little more honey over the top of each container of butter.  It will be delicious over warm buttermilk biscuits or pancakes.

cranberry honey butter (Taste of Home, November 2012)
1 cup softened butter
1/3 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Beat all ingredients.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Makes 24 servings.

roasted broccoli

This broccoli deserved a better photograph.  This is seriously the best broccoli I have ever eaten.  My friend Kiana shared it at our last gourmet club.  It's one of those recipes that you ought to go out of your way to get a head of broccoli so you can try it tonight with whatever you've got planned.  She said to make this broccoli you have to sacrifice one of your baking sheets because you end up warping your pans.  She has a pan reserved for this recipe.

roasted broccoli (my friend Kiana)
1 large bunch broccoli (trim away the outer peel from the stalks otherwise they will turn tough when cooked)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
ground black pepper to taste
lemon wedges for serving

Adjust oven rack to the lowest position, place a large rimmed baking sheet on rack and heat oven to 500 degrees.  Cut the broccoli at the juncture of the florets and stems; remove the outer peel from the stalk.  Cut the stalk into 2 to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.  Cut the crowns into four to six wedges, depending on size.  Place the broccoli in a large bowl; drizzle with the oil and toss well until evenly coated.  Season with the salt, sugar and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven.  Working quickly, transfer the broccoli to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer, placing the flat sides down.  Return sheet to the oven and roast until the stalks are well browned and tender and the florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes.  Transfer to a dish and serve with lemon wedges.


Friday, December 7, 2012

pizza soup

It smelled like pizza soup and it tasted like pizza soup!  I enjoyed it for dinner but I enjoyed it even more the next day for lunch- it's a great "lunch soup".  Whatever you do, don't forget to sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.  It's what makes it.

pizza soup (simply kierste
1 jar (14 ounces) pizza sauce
3 empty jars full of water
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained (I used petite diced tomatoes)
1 ring turkey sausage, sliced and cut into quarters
1 cup sliced pepperoni
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped or 1/2 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 cup dried pasta (I used whole wheat skinny penne)
shredded mozzarella cheese or fresh parmesan for topping

Wash and prepare veggies and add them to the crockpot.  Cut up the sausage and pepperoni and add to the veggies.  Add basil and oregano.  Pour in the pizza sauce and follow with three empty jars of water.
Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.  Since everything is already cooked, it's basically heating through and letting the flavors culminate.
Thirty minutes before serving, add the dry pasta and turn to high.
Garnish with cheese.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

tandoori chicken

Excellent chicken.  Full of flavor and perfect with steamed jasmine rice.  My friend Danielle from Hershey came to visit when her husband interviewed in my town.  When she came she brought me a recipe book compiled by Parnters In Medicine.  Cookbooks full of favorite recipes are my favorite (!) although the best part was flipping the pages and seeing familiar names.  Now if only I could see all the faces...
P.S.  Danielle's husband got the job and he'll be working with my husband.  Hooray!  My kids are counting down the days until her cute baby comes back. : )

tandoori chicken (my friend Wendy P., PIM cookbook)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
dash of ground nutmeg
4 (4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
cooking spray

Place first 3 ingredients in a food processor; process until finely chopped.  Add yogurt and the next 8 ingredients; pulse 4 times or until blended.
Make 3 diagonal cuts 1/4-inch deep across the top of each chicken breast half.  Combine chicken and yogurt mixture in a large zip-loc plastic bag.  Seal and marinate in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.  Prepare grill.  Remove chicken breast from bag; discard marinade.  Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray.  Cook 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

creamy green chile soup

This is a great soup!  I love green chiles and I love when I get to put "extras" on top of my soup like tortilla chips, cheddar cheese and cilantro.  YUM!  I shared some with a friend and she said it was her new favorite soup.  Did you hear that?  Her new favorite!  After she visits New Morning Bakery I like to ask her what soup she tried because she enjoys the soups there.  I recommend this one any day but especially on a rainy, rainy day like today.

creamy green chili soup (Lauren's Latest)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large ribs celery, diced
1 (7 ounce) can fire roasted green chiles, drained and diced
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 cup frozen sweet corn
2 cups diced, roasted chicken
3/4 cup heavy cream (I used half and half)
1/4 cup flour (you can omit for gluten-free)
toppings: grated cheddar, chopped cilantro, crushed tortilla chips

Heat large pot over medium heat.  Melt butter and saute onions and celery until onions are translucent, 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and green chiles and saute 3 minutes.  Pour in chicken broth, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to boil.  Cover pot with well fitting lid and reduce to simmer. 
Simmer soup 10-15 minutes and then remove from heat.  Using an immersion blender, puree soup and return to heat.  Stir in carrots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in corn and chicken.
Place flour into small bowl and slowly whisk in cream to prevent lumps.  If there seems to be lumps you can always pour it through a strainer like I did.  Pour this mixture into the hot soup and cook until it thickens slightly.  Taste and readjust seasonings if needed.  Serve with toppings.

Monday, December 3, 2012

nauvoo gingerbread cookies

I just experienced "Christmas" at Disneyland for the first time.  It was splendid.  Now I'm ready for more and more and more Christmas. There really can't ever be too much Christmas.  I made these little men for Activity Days this week where they will be adorned with more icing than there is least that's my prediction.  These are the best gingerbread cookies I've  made yet.

nauvoo gingerbread men (
1 cup white sugar
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup lard
1/2 cup hot water
2 eggs
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, molasses, lard and hot water until smooth.  Stir in eggs.  Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger; stir into the batter to make a soft dough.  Add more flour if needed.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface.  Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters.  Place cookies onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies appear dry in the center.
okies appear dry in the center.