Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring Colored Candy Mints

Spring time means flowers, warmer weather, Spring showers, and Color! I came across a recipe for these cute little candy mints; so easy to put together and the flavor reminds me of the filling I used to make for my Mom's chocolate, mint fudge when I was growing up. I have not tasted this filling since then, and I do not even want to remember how long ago that was!
My photo-taking is a little off because the color did not come out crisp for me. The top photo is color true.
The little mint recipe is called Cream Cheese Mints and I actually found the recipe in one of Paula Deen's magazines so I thought I would share:
Cream Cheese Mints
(adapted from Paula Deen)
1 (3-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup all-vegetable shortening
1/2 t. peppermint oil - or flavor of choice
4 cups confectioners' sugar
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, shortening and peppermint (or flavor of choice) with a mixer until smooth. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until well combined. (Dough will be soft and elastic.) Roll dough into small balls, and place each ball on prepared baking sheet. Press fork into each ball to flatten. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and chill mints overnight.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who Makes the Best Fried Chicken?

We are on a plane flying down to my parents last August. The carry-on bags are packed full of reading material . . . okay cooking magazines to share with Mom and 1 Newsweek. Reading recipes seems Ho-hum (I know, shocking!!!!) so I open up the Newsweek and a Revelation happened. My Nemesis appeared in BOLD letters: The perfect fried chicken debate! The perfect fried chicken has eluded my kitchen and I have almost given up . . . until Newsweek . . . offering a brilliant solution for those of us still searching!
The article in question:

Heaven, Fried
Who makes the best fried chicken: a Michelin-rated chef or a Southern master?

By Julia Reed NEWSWEEK
Published Jul 9, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Jul 20, 2009

Click on the recipe title and you will be taken directly to the article that opened my eyes to a whole new definition of Southern Fried Chicken.

The debate, put in a nutshell, comes down to a battle between two cooking giants: The late Edna Lewis and the all-amazing chef Thomas Keller. Chef Thomas Keller " . . . is the only American-born chef with two restaurants (The French Laundry and Per Se) awarded Michelin's highest rating (three stars)." (Newsweek, 2009)

Edna Lewis is a well-published southern author out of Virginia who is known for her award-winning recipes.

The debate is between chef Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Kit (for the perfect fried chicken)- SOLD AT WILLIAM SONOMA STORE or ONLINE for only 14.95 (if bought online, you will pay slightly more for shipping) and has been proclaimed by "New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni . . . as nothing short of "phenomenal" (Newsweek, 2009) The kit contains:
Two packets of brine and two packets of flour coating.
Each packet brines or batters 8–10 pieces of chicken; all four packets can be used to create a party-sized batch of 16–20 pieces.
2lb. 2 oz. total.

AND Edna Lewis's true southern chicken recipe found here:

The revelation: Both chef Keller and Edna Lewis BRINE their chicken! I have never done this but what a great way to not only create tender poultry but inject layers of seasonings.
After brining overnight (using the Ad Hoc kit), the chicken is rinsed, dried, dipped in dry batter, dipped in buttermilk and re-dipped in the dry batter mix and fried at 320 degrees for 13 minutes. Creating multi-layers of season packed flavor and moisture with a crispy crust. A person could easily just nibble on the crispy crust and be happy. Edna Lewis is next on my list to try but chef Keller gave me a new way of approaching fried chicken. The seasoning mixtures in the brine opens a whole new thought process for infusing flavor and now I am obsessed with fried chicken once again. Thank you Newsweek for printing an article that helped re-direct and inspire my mind in the world of cooking.

In addition to the fried chicken, the time has come to use another baking concept. Pre-made peach pie fillings. Last summer, 30 pound boxes of peaches were purchased off farms in Eastern Washington for canning purposes. Some of the over-ripe peaches were not fit for canning. These peaches were trimmed up and mixed with ingredients for pies. I froze the peach pie fillings in pie plates and once frozen, popped them out of the plates and inserted the fillings into Ziploc bags for future use. Now, all that was needed was to make a pie crust, pop the frozen filling in the crust, add a streusel and bake. Easy!The pie was pretty juicy but the flavors were wonderful!My daughter, Ashley, was going on her first real job interview today so I decided to also bake her favorite sheet brownies with a milk chocolaty frosting. Whether the interview went good or bad, she would have brownies. Ashley was offered the job so the brownies were part of her celebration!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday with Dorie ~ Chockablock Cookies

Another Tuesday with Dorie has appeared and to show off the day, we are presenting a delicious cookie stuffed full of everything sweet and wonderful.
Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet decided on this week's Chockablock Cookies found in Dorie Greenspan's Baking, from my home to yours cookbook, on page 86. I wasn't sure about the molasses being a part of this recipe but now I am glad to have followed the directions and added it in. There is only 1/2 cup and barely enough cookie dough to adhere all the ingredients together ~ This is a good thing~.I may have gotten a little carried away with larger measurements but people, we are talking about white and bittersweet chocolate chunks . . . don't you just love that word? Chocolate "chunks"? Then the dried blueberries ended up being so plump and moist with a deep blueberry flavor (I was nibbling out of the bag after filling a small bowl), then the pecans. Large chopped pieces to go with the old-fashioned oats and sweet, shredded coconut!
I was also a little tired by the time the cookie baking session started because earlier in the day I was doing sourdough bread experiments. 10 of them to be exact. 7 hours later, I took a break. Note to self, 2 sourdough starters at a time for experiments. (I went through 25 pounds of different types of flour. The amount of flour needed was for two purposes: to replenish each sourdough and making the bread dough.) 10 was definitely too many . . . I am exhausted and my notes are lacking everything towards the end. Dinner and cookies interfered plus, at 10:30 p.m. the first 3 loaves went into the oven. Proofing dough takes up to 12 hours. Today, there are 6 more loaves to finish baking.A close up of ALL the added goodies for the cookies~! One cookie is very filling; the filling part might have something to do with how large the cookie is, especially since I used an ice cream scoop for making cookie dough balls. The rest of the cookie dough was frozen into balls as Dorie suggested, to be baked at a later date.
Thank you Mary for a wonderful baking adventure this week! Go see the rest of the TWD baker's cookies because I know it will be hard to find any two cookies alike. Also, to get the recipe go to Mary's site or buy Dorie's cookbook. Either way, you win, Happy Baking everyone!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

SMS - Strawberry Rhubarb (Mixed Berries) Cobbler Pie with Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream.

Sweet Melissa Sunday for this week was chosen by Tracey's Culinary Adventures. Tracy chose a Spring time colorful and fun strawberry rhubarb cobbler pie that looked perfect for a little homemade Sweet Melissa brown sugar vanilla ice cream. I did change the recipe for the cobbler pie to a mixture of berries since we are not rhubarb people. Blueberries and blackberries with the strawberries! Fun, pretty and just what I needed for a little baking pick-me-up.Sweet Melissa's pie crust recipe does not have me jumping for joy when I roll it out. I am not sure why but I seem to fight it every time. Out of pure stubbornness, I tried the recipe again, freezing EVERYTHING like Melissa states in her pie dough section and the crust rolls out fine but transporting to the pie dish and crimping are not picture perfect. I do not think the pie crust recipe and me are compatible!
This was a LONG recipe when you think about the chilling times for the pie crust, making the dough for the cobbler and finishing assembly of the dessert. I did add making Melissa's ice cream, which includes making the ice cream mixture, chilling for 4 hours, making the ice cream in a machine or KA bowl and freezing for 4 hours to overnight. We did not wait till overnight because the ice cream was silky and delicious!I absolutely adore my Kitchen Aide ice cream bowl. I keep it in the freezer at all times so when I feel like throwing together ice cream, the bowl is already chilled and ready to go. I have made ice cream in an electric mixer for years where the machine takes at least 30 minutes and a LOT of noise is emitted from a tiny motor along with the mess of rock salt, ice water and a mess of ice.
This little bowl has None of that. Simple, quick, easy, efficient.For the recipe to this wonderful strawberry rhubarb cobbler pie, please head over to Tracey's site and get the recipe or buy Sweet Melissa's Baking Book.
I loved the flavors and the biscuits on top were a fun addition. When I was done assembling all 3 parts, I sat back and just looked at the dessert before putting the cobbler pie in the oven. You get this feeling of pride that you finished it and the dessert really looks pretty.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spicy Taco Salad with Lime Tortilla Chips and Dressing

The picture may not be food porn gorgeous but the flavors are jumpin!

This is an easy recipe, great for Spring/Summer, bright and cheerful with kick. The cucumber slices add a nice coolness to the heat. Take a bite and you will see what I mean!
Taco Salad with Lime Tortilla Chips and Spicy Dressing Recipe
8 ounces taco sauce, medium to hot
12 ounces salsa, medium to hot
3 T. sour cream
1/2 pkg. hot taco seasoning (you will use the rest further down)
1 head lettuce, chopped up
4 diced tomatoes (If using Roma tomatoes - Use 6)
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds lean hamburger, browned, drained and mixed with remaining taco seasoning
12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 medium can sliced olives, drained
hot peppers, sliced (your choice)
Diced cucumber
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Mix together, add all of dressing mixture to salad, toss salad thoroughly and top with a bag of crushed lime tortilla chips or Frito chips and serve.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

German Apple Cake

Don't you love a moist, comforting dessert that tastes better the second and third day? Especially when the dessert makes enough for 12 people? A dessert that comes from years and years of tried and true baking with love in a Mother's kitchen?
I adore my German apple cake with a light cream cheese frosting recipe just for all those reasons. Stuffed with apple slices, the cake tastes amazing. Cinnamon floats throughout as a mild but definitely present flavor and the cream cheese is not thick; just a thin coating, adding a delicious end touch.The recipe came from my baking friend Janeen's 90 year old mother and ever since the recipe has reached my kitchen (I have no idea how long ago that has been now), has continued in the tradition of being baked with love.
German Apple Cake
2 large eggs
1 cup veg oil (beat with eggs until foamy), add
1-3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla (mix together), then add:
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda (mix all together) add:
4 cups thinly peeled and sliced apples (about 4 – I use Granny Smith)
1 - 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3 TBL melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Add vegetable oil to eggs in mixer and beat until foamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix. Now, add the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Mix together. Add thinly sliced apples by folding in with a spatula. The batter will be very thick but this is normal and there will seem to be more apple then batter. Again, this is what you want.
Bake for 50-60 minutes.
Mix ingredients til smooth. Add a little milk if too thick.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TWD - Sweet Cream Biscuits with Turkey and Chardonnay & Herb Gravy

Tuesday with Dorie was a treat because we baked biscuits. Light, flaky, sweet biscuits that could go either way, with gravy and dinner or butter and jam. I choose dinner biscuits with roasted turkey breast in a Chardonnay and herb bath; used later for gravy.

The recipe was chosen by Melissa of Love at First Bite so click on over to her blog and check out the recipe and how she used her biscuits (somehow that does not sound right). They look delicious!

Very simple to make and only a hand-full of ingredients. The secret to truly tender, flaky biscuits is not over mixing or over handling the dough. Keep the process quick and simple. The sweet, creamy biscuits are unique because the recipe calls for heavy cream and a couple teaspoons of sugar. How could someone "not" like these?My camera and I are not cooperating together so some of our photos are dark. When a person carries a camera around as much as we foodies do, the camera and human clicker pretty much become CLOSE friends. I think my friend is getting slightly peeved over the food clinging to her outer parts. I wipe her off every evening, use special cleansers and cloth for the lens but the camera is still not amused!
See, when she wants to get along, the photo turns out nice and bright. The flash was on both shots and one was dark, and this one is great. Grumble, snort!Dinner was Turkey with Chardonnay and Herbs (for gravy later); smashed red potatoes, steam cauliflower and TWD sweet creamy biscuits. I am including the recipe for the Turkey with Chardonnay and Herbs because the meal with easy, practically roasted itself and the gravy was delicious!
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried sage
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
1 6 to 9 pound turkey breast, boned or bone in (mine was bone in)
3 cups Chardonnay or other dry white wine
3 cups (about) canned low-salt chicken broth
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
6 tablespoons all purpose flour


Combine first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Let stand 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350. Place carrots, celery and onions in bottom of large roasting pan. Rub herb-oil mixture over turkey breast. Season turkey with salt and pepper. Place turkey breast atop vegetables. Pour wine and 1 cup broth around turkey in pan. Bake until turkey breast registers 170°F on thermometer, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 2 hour 30 to 45 minutes. Tent turkey in oven when the breast starts to get medium brown. Transfer turkey to platter.

Tent with foil to keep warm.

Strain pan juices into large glass measuring cup. Spoon fat from pan juices. Add enough remaining broth to measure 6 cups liquid. Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in pan juices and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened to sauce consistency, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sunday - Sweet Potato Bread (Pumpkin) with Cinnamon-Rum-Orange Glaze

Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon-Rum-Orange Glaze was chosen by Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets for Sweet Melissa Sunday. The only change I made to this delicious recipe is change out the sweet potato for pumpkin. I am "still" using up pumpkin puree.

The cinnamon-rum-orange glaze added a wonderful sheen to the bundt cake. I would also like to add that I am writing this late Saturday evening because in the morning I will be at my VERY FIRST biking event: The Daffodil 35th Annual Biking Classic, sponsored by the Tacoma Wheelman Bicycle Club. I am volunteering from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. then riding the 60 mile loop and hoping to bike it in one piece. This will be my longest bike ride yet, in my 2 weeks of bike riding. The SMS baking treat will be shared among my new friends in the bicycling world and I know they will enjoy this bread as much as I did. Very moist and flavorful. I did add a little extra cinnamon and nutmeg but not by much and the spices definitely showed their presence in the sweet bread. Please check out our other Sweet Melissa Sunday bakers to see how each baker added a little different artistic edge to this delicious recipe! Thank you Lorelei for a wonderful choice! Happy Baking Everyone!

Sleepless in Seattle Hot Chocolate and a Knitting Social in Port Orchard

Sleepless in Seattle Hot Chocolate
1 ounce Maraschino cherry juice
1 ounce Chocolate syrup
1 shot (1 ounce) Espresso
6 ounces Light cream or milk
Garnish Whipped cream
1 ounce Coffee flavor liqueur
1 Maraschino cherry with stem, drained
Combine cherry juice, chocolate syrup and espresso. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, stir in cream and heat to scalding. Serve in mug topped with dollop of whipped cream liqueur and a Maraschino cherry.Absolutely delicious single serving of a Seattle hot mocha with a whipped cream kick!
If I had thought about this early enough, I would have made a batch to take with me to the entertaining and light-hearted knitting gathering at Debbie Macomber's - A Good Yarn Shop in Port Orchard, WA. Every third Friday of the month, this cute little store filled with talented ladies and to die for yarns and projects of all shapes and sizes holds an open knitting and crocheting social open to all between 4 and 9 p.m. Laughter can be heard from the parking lot and artistic people of all ages share thoughts, pointers, projects, recipes and good humor.
There is a show-n-tell mid way through the evening and plenty of ideas to get anyone wanting to join in on the fun! My two new friends, Sandy (the adorable and brilliant young lady in the above picture closest with the blue sweater) and Joyce (a hilarious fellow foodie) are sweet, funny and down to knitting business. What a wonderful place to meet new friends!