Tuesday, June 26, 2012

peaches 'n' cream









This fruity "dessert" was scrumptious.  It really didn't need the whipped cream and sugar but my kids sure enjoyed that part!

peaches 'n' cream (Taste of Home, June/July 2012)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 medium peaches, halved and pitted
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 large banana, peeled and sliced 
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (we used much less)

In a small bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken.  Add vanilla; beat until soft peaks form.  Arrange fruit on a platter; top with whipped cream.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.

fortunate cookies









My friend Kiana brought me a Chinese to-go container with a big bow wrapped around it and filled with these chocolate dipped fortune cookies.  The note that was attached to it said, "I'm so fortunate to have you as a friend."  I took a peek at the individually wrapped cookies then carefully put them back inside the box and set the box out to admire so I could feel special for several days before letting our family dive into them.

fortunate cookies
fortune cookies
melted chocolate for dipping
small squares of parchment paper or tissue paper to wrap individually

I'm sure you can figure out how to do it.  For teacher appreciation, Kiana pulled out the fortunes with tweezers, dipped the cookies in chocolate then had her children write fortunes and then put them inside.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

strawberry shortcake









I excitedly told my youngest daughter that our friend Gillian was going to bring over strawberry shortcake for us to eat.  She wondered if she heard me correctly and asked, "We are going to eat Strawberry Shortcake?"  I had to explain that it is actually a dessert, not a real person.  This shortcake was soooo good.  Everyone loved it, especially my oldest who licked her own plate and everyone else's.  We will be making this again for sure!!

strawberry shortcake (my friend Gillian got the recipe from food network
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and quartered
5 tablespoons sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add heavy cream and mix until just combined.  Place mixture in an ungreased 8-inch square pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.  Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly.  Cut into 6 pieces and split horizontally or serve the way Gillian did- pile on the strawberries and finish with whipped cream!

whipped cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chillled
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until soft peaks form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. 

What Gillian did- she increased the sugar to 1/2 cup for the cake, added 1 teaspoon vanilla to the cake and used half whole wheat flour and half white flour in the cake (that's something I would do!).  She used half and half instead of heavy cream for the cake.



homemade strawberry jam












My friend Gillian and her darling girls picked strawberries with us last weekend.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we picked as many as we could before we headed home to turn our strawberries into jam.  What a great way to make summer last an entire year!!  Summer in a jar.

strawberry jam (MCP, the makers of Sure Jell)
5 1/2 cups crushed strawberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
8 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter 
1 (2 ounce) box fruit pectin

Measure exact amount of strawberries and pour into a 6- or 8-quart saucepot.  Stir in lemon juice.
Measure exact amount of sugar and pour into a separate bowl.
Stir in 1 box of pectin into fruit in saucepot.  Add 1/2 teaspoon butter to reduce foaming, if desired.
Bring mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
Stir in sugar quickly.  Return to full rolling boil and boil for exactly 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
Ladle into prepared jars and close with lids.
Process jams 10 minutes.
Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.  Store unopened jams in a cool, dark, dry place up to 1 year.  Refrigerate opened jams and jellies up to 3 weeks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

homemade chocolate ice cream












If you don't have a Cuisinart automatic frozen yogurt-ice cream & sorbet maker I highly suggest you get one.  My grandpa sent one to me and I was overjoyed.  I asked my husband which flavor he would like to try for Father's Day and he requested chocolate.  Plain chocolate.  It was a snap to make (no rock salt, no ice!) and he said it was the very best ice cream he had ever eaten.  It was soft and oh so creamy.  I look forward to trying out every recipe that came with the ice cream maker. (I believe you can get these ice cream makers on sale at Costco with the new coupon book for this month.)

homemade chocolate ice cream (Cuisinart instruction and and recipe booklet)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces (we used chocolate chips)
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat the whole milk until it is just bubbling around the edges.  In a blender fitted with the metal blade, pulse to process the sugar with the chocolate until the chocolate is very finely chopped.  Add the hot milk; process until well blended and smooth.  Transfer to a medium bowl and let the chocolate mixture cool completely.  Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste.  Chill for 30 minutes or longer.
Turn the Cuisinart maker on, pour the chilled mixture into the freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes.

variations:
chocolate almond- Add 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract along with the vanilla.  Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped toasted almonds during the last 5 to 10 minutes of freezing.
chocolate cookie- Add 1/2 to 1 cup chopped cookies during the last 5 minutes of freezing.
chocolate fudge brownie- Add 1/2 to1 cup chopped day-old brownies during the last 5 minutes of freezing.

glazed carrots with cinnamon









These carrots were on the list of recipes my oldest daughter wanted to make for our family.  Glazed carrots?  Really?  Oh now I get it- the recipe came from her Harry Potter cookbook.  There must be some magic involved.  I think we should call them Thanksgiving or Christmas Carrots because they would be perfect for the holidays.  When my second oldest didn't care to eat hers my youngest daughter and husband had to arm wrestle for them.  The following evening my youngest daughter requested them again.  Magic I tell you.

glazed carrots with cinnamon (The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook)
6 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices on the bias
1/2 cup sater
2 tablespoons golden syrup or maple syrup or corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine the carrots, water, golden syrup, salt and cinnamon in a skillet and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.  Reduce the heat and simmer the carrots, uncovered for about 5 minutes, until the carrots are somewhat softened but not yet tender.
Raise the heat and boil until all the liquid evaporates.  As the liquid starts to reduce, begin stirring more frequently.  Keep cooking until the glaze starts to turn brown, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan.  Turn off the heat and serve immediately.

Friday, June 15, 2012

apple cranberry cake









I had apples to use up and some cranberries in the freezer.  A quick ingredient search and we had a winner- apple cranberry cake!

apple cranberry cake (allrecipes.com)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired 
powdered sugar for dusting


In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and oil.  Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; add to egg mixture until combined (batter will be very thick).  Stir in the apples, cranberries and nuts.
Transfer to an 8x4x2 loaf pan (I doubled the recipe and poured it into a 9x13 pan) coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes (40 minutes for a 9x13).  Let cool then dust with powdered sugar

Thursday, June 14, 2012

dutch oven bread









This is the bread that Angeli brought to Gourmet Club yesterday.  It looked rustic and beautiful (Angeli thought it was ugly) and was delicious!  Very crusty on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside.

dutch oven bread (Angeli found the recipe at The Pioneer Woman)
20 ounces bread flour or all-purpose flour, about 4 cups
1 cup water
4 ounces melted butter
chopped herbs of choice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon active or instant yeast

Combine ingredients in a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the dough hook or it can be done by hand.  Mix together for about 10 minutues or until you can successfully achieve a windowpane with the dough (Pull of a small chunk of dough and stretch it gently to see if it is somewhat translucent.  if you can do it without it tearing, it's ready).
Once this elasticity has been achieved, the dough can sit out with plastic wrap over it for 1-4 hours to double in size.  After it is bigger, knead for a minute or two so the yeast can redistribute.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Cut a large "X" into the surface of the bread so it can bloom.  Bake inside a covered cast iron pan after coating the rounded dough with olive oil and sprinkling with kosher salt.  Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on then remove the lid to finish it off for another 15 to 30 minutes.
If you want to use a thermometer, you should look for an internal temperature of around 200-210 degrees.




candy bucket









The last day of school is quickly approaching so I got together with a friend of mine and with our girls we put this candy bucket together for a wonderful teacher.  It is simple to make and I love how festive and bright it is.  It will be given to her with a gift certificate so she can have a trip to the spa.  Raise your hand if you need a spa day.  Pick me, pick me!  My kids and I are working on another candy bucket for my husband for Father's Day.

candy bucket
your favorite candy bars, boxes or bags of treats
bucket
styrofoam
few rocks
wooden skewers
packaging tape
colored tissue paper
cut-out stars

Place the styrofoam surrounded by the rocks in a pail, bucket or basket.    Tape the skewers to the back of the candy with the pointy part at the bottom.  If you choose, you can tape stars with cute sayings on them.  Poke the candy into the styrofoam.  Add colored tissue paper as a filler.

Teacher, you Rock!- Pop Rocks
We had a Ball with you this year! - Gumballs (the class is decorated with gumballs- they're everywhere!)
We'll be back next year for S'more! -S'mores (our kids will loop with this teacher)
We had Mounds of fun! -Mounds
You are such a Joy! -Almond Joy
Thank you for turning us into Smarties this year! -Smarties
We'd be Nerds if we didn't thank you! -Nerds
You get the idea!!

gourmet club june 2012- soups

Amy hosted our gourmet club for this month and chose two of her favorite soups as her theme.  The soups were delicious and we enjoyed a variety of breads and biscuits on the side.
Menu: pesto vegetable soup, ham and bean soup, homemade french bread, dutch oven bread, pumpkin biscuits and Marie Calendar's cornbread.
The new pesto vegetable soup and pumpkin biscuit recipes will be replacing those already on this blog!  









































Wednesday, June 13, 2012

grilled corn salad









This corn salad tasted so fresh and delicious!  This was the second time I'd bought ears of corn from Costco and I have to say their corn is top-notch.  It is so sweet and crisp as though I'd walked out to my own garden and picked it.  This would make a perfect salad to take to a potluck when you don't have other dishes to worry about at the same time unless of course you're grilling your main dish.  Delish!  It was a nice addition at gourmet club this month.

grilled corn salad (Taste of Home June/July 2012)
8 medium ears sweet corn, husks removed
2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into four wedges
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch rings
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

basil vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/3)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Fill a soup kettle 2/3 full with water; bring to a boil.  Add corn.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Remove corn; cool slightly.
Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack.  Grill the corn, squash, red pepper and onion, covered over medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally.
Cut corn from cobs; cut the squash, red pepper and onion into bite-sized pieces.  Place vegetables in a large bowl; add tomato.
In a small bowl, whisk the vinaigrette ingredients.  Pour over vegetables; toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.  Serve with a slotted spoon.
 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

spring salad mix with tomatoes, pepper and goat cheese









This salad was fantastic.

spring salad mix with tomatoes, pepper and goat cheese (adapted from Real Simple, June 2012)
6 cups (5 ounces) spring salad mix
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
4 tablespoons lemon-garlic dressing

lemon garlic dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk dressing ingredients and pour over salad.  Toss to combine. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

meatballs with onion sauce









My family is enjoying my daughter's new Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook because she is cooking up some great meals for us!  These meatballs (we used turkey) were moist and delicious as was the sauce.  Mmmm!

meatballs with onion sauce (adapted from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Dinah Bucholz)
1 pound extra lean ground beef (we used ground turkey)
1/2 cup fresh or dry breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

onion sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth 

For the meatballs, combine the meat, bread crumbs, egg, onion, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and set on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or so.
For the onion sauce, add 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet and heat.  Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Add the flour and stir to combine.  Pour in the chicken broth and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbling.  Return the meatballs to the skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.

boiled potatoes with herb vinaigrette









Mr. Collins:  And what excellent boiled potatoes.  It's been many years since I had such an exemplary vegetable.  To which of my fair cousins should I compliment the cooking?

That line comes from my favorite movie and is one of my favorite lines as part of one of the most comical scenes.  We used this line on our daughter, who made dinner for us last night.  An excellent dinner, at that.  These potatoes are wonderful.  My daughter said next time she will cut the potatoes in half before tossing them in the vinaigrette so as to enjoy more of the vinaigrette.

boiled potatoes with herb vinaigrette (The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Dinah Bucholz)
3 pounds small new potatoes (we used Dutch Yellow Baby Potatoes)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Scrub the potatoes and place in a pot.  Fill the pot with water to cover the potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, about 25 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Add the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and dill, and toss to combine.  Serve warm.  Serves 6 very hungry eaters.


copycat recipe: yumm sauce

When my friend Therese hosted our gourmet club meeting last month she made a copycat recipe for yumm sauce for our yumm bowls.  While this sauce is a little different than the original, it was very good and a great substitution if you don't have a cafe yumm in town or a grocer that carries it.  The best thing about yumm bowls is that they are hard to get tired of.  You can mix up the ingredients and have a bowl that tastes different just about every time.
Note:  as you can see I was so excited to sit down to eat my yumm bowl at Therese's house that I completely forgot to take a photo which is so unlike me.  That only means one thing- I will have to make this recipe again very soon!

copycat recipe: yumm sauce (my friend Therese)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup raw almonds or almond meal
1 tablespoon brewer's yeast
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
1/4 cup tofu
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Process above ingredients in food processor until smooth. 


What Therese says- yumm sauce can be prepared without tofu or brewer's yeast.  The first time I made it, I did not have either one on hand and it was still good, although I think it's best with all of the above ingredients.  Brewer's yeast can be expensive and hard to find.  It might be in the nutritional supplement section of your grocery store.

Friday, June 8, 2012

potato chip cookies









I received a text yesterday from my friend Janet, "Can I stop by with some cookies?"  Of course I said YES!  Five minutes later she appeared with potato chip cookies and I was super excited to try them- I'd never heard of such a thing!  She said she waits until she gets to the bottom of a bag of potato chips and uses the crumbs.  What a great idea!  They reminded me a lot of a shortbread and I loved the quirky nature of the potato chips inside!  Here's the recipe along with the way she prepared the cookies the way I tried them- with less butter and sugar.  I thought they were perfect because I like less sweet and of course less butter is always a good thing for me.  : )

potato chip cookies (my friend Janet)
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 cup salted butter at room temperature (Janet used 11 tablespoons, unsalted)
1 cup confectioners' sugar (Janet used 3/4 cup granulated)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup crushed potato chips
1/2 cup crushed pecans, toasted
1 egg yolk at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, use middle rack.
Cream together butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and egg yolk.  Add flour.  Stir in chips and nuts.
Place 1 teaspoon of dough at a time on ungreased, nonstick cookie sheet.  Bake for 14 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
Remove cookies from pan and while still warm dust cookies with confectioners' sugar.

What Janet says- next time she will try 12 tablespoons of butter and the entire cup of sugar.  She prefers the taste of the granulated sugar to the confectioners' sugar.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

chocolate peanut butter bonbons for kids









My oldest made these peanut butter crunch bonbons for our Family Home Evening treat last night.  If you're in the mood for a homemade Reese's then this is the treat for you.  They are delicious!

chocolate peanut butter bonbons for kids (adapted from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Dinah Bucholz)
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted for coating

Combine the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla in the large bowl of an electric mixer.  Mix on low speed until the mixture begins to come together.  Beat on high speed until it reaches a dough-like consistency, with no crumbs.  If it's too sticky, add a bit more sugar; if it's too dry, add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. (It's better to avoid adding the milk, as the rice cereal will begin to lose its crunch after several hours due to the added moisture.)  Add the rice cereal and mix until combined.
For the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and line them up on parchment paper.  Using two forks, dip the balls one at a time into the melted chocolate, turn to coat, then lift out, allowing the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  Place the coated candies back on the parchment paper.  Try to wait until the chocolate has set before you eat them.  To speed things up, you can put the bonbons in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, but no longer than that.  The condensation can ruin the chocolate.  Makes about 30.

cheesy, chivy scrambled eggs









My oldest is a huge Harry Potter fan.  Yesterday while I was at a fabric and craft store I happened upon an Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook and just had to get it for her.  By bedtime she had already cooked up two recipes and they were delicious.  My oldest loves to make eggs and it's a good thing because everyone in the family loves to eat her scrambled eggs.  This was a great recipe.  Very moist and flavorful.
My youngest pretended to fall asleep while she ate her eggs.  We think our oldest may have cast a spell on these eggs.

cheesy, chivy scrambled eggs (The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, Dinah Bucholz)
1 tablespoon butter
6 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream (we used half and half)
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (we used scallions because this recipe was spontaneously prepared!)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
buttered toast, for serving (our new favorite is toasted raisin bread)
tomatoes for serving (but only if you don't do the raisin bread; raisin bread and tomatoes just don't mix)

Heat the butter in a large skillet.  Whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, salt, pepper and chives.  Whisk in the shredded cheese.  Pour the mixture into the skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and gently with a wooden spoon until set.
To serve, sprinkle more chopped chives on top.  Serve with buttered toast and tomatoes.

spicy teriyaki salmon









This was a quick dish I threw together and my husband declared it Hall of Fame!  I figured I really couldn't go wrong with the ingredients I used.  It was delicious!  Definitely serve it over rice with wasabi sauce.

spicy teriyaki salmon
3 boneless, skinless salmon steaks, thawed (from Costco) 
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
garlic powder
pepper
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
wasabi sauce (I used Kikkoman's)

Heat a large grill pan with olive oil.  Add salmon and cook one one side until half-way done.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper then flip over.  Combine teriyaki sauce and garlic chili sauce then pour over salmon.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper.  When the salmon is done, sprinkle with sesame seeds then serve over rice with wasabi sauce.

P.S.  I just realized recently that you can buy toasted sesame seeds!  Makes throwing them on top of things and into things really easy.

Friday, June 1, 2012

strawberry trifle












This is how my strawberry trifle looked before I took it to a barbeque on Memorial Day.  I wish I had the "after" photo.  The bowl was empty and as my husband carried the bowl to the car he said, "I think someone even licked the inside!".   This dessert is Hall of Fame.

strawberry trifle (The Benders)
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (a must!)
1/2 pint whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 angel food cake, cubed (I used two 10 ounce angel food cake loaves)
4 quarts strawberries, sliced
blueberries for garnish

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar.  Add sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and almond extract.  Set aside.
Blend whipping cream with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Fold into cream cheese mixture and add angel food cake pieces.  Sprinkle remaining sugar  over strawberries.  Layer berries and cake mixture ending with berries.

watermelon frosty












Everyone in our family loves watermelon so why not enjoy it as a frosty?  Besides, every drink is a bit more special when you get to drink it with a straw!

watermelon frosty (adapted from blog: Healthy Happy Life )
2 1/4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
1/2 cup (plus more if you need it) water
1 large lemon, squeezed
1 1/2  fresh bananas

Place the bananas, lemon juice and water into the blender.  Add the watermelon and blend until done.