Sunday, December 18, 2016

CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY PECAN TART

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!  It is baking season in so many homes, and a time to spend with friends.  Last night we were invited to a holiday dinner at friends, the Andersons.  I was asked to bring dessert.  What to bring?!?  So many options!  I came across this Taste of Home recipe in my online search of "cranberries" and "dessert," and I'm glad I did!  It was very easy to make, very festive and special for a holiday dessert.  The fresh cranberries give this very sweet tart a nice taste balance.   Serve it with whipped cream.

WHITE CHOCOLATE-CRANBERRY-PECAN TART.  Serves 12-14.
*  Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
*  1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I used frozen)
*  1 cup pecan halves (NOT chopped)
*  1 cup white baking chips (I used a 4-oz. Ghirardelli white chocolate bar, cut into "chips.")
*  3 large eggs
*  3/4 cup packed brown sugar
*  3/4 cup light corn syrup
*  2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
*  1 teaspoon grated orange peel (from 1/2 navel orange)
Preheat oven to 350º.  Roll out pastry to fit an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom;  trim edges.  Sprinkle with the cranberries, pecans and chips.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, flour and orange peel; pour over chips.  Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.



I never got around to taking a photo of the finished tart.  Use your imagination!  xoxoxoxo, A

Sunday, December 11, 2016

QUICHE AS YOU LIKE IT!

It is unusual for me to use a purchased pie crust when I always have everything on hand to make a crust.  That said, I was recently at Aldi and bought frozen pie crust at a ridiculously low price, with two in the package.  I used one for my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, and decided to use the other for a quiche.  

Quiche is one of the easiest things to make, particularly when you can use a frozen pie crust!  The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made to use what you have on hand, to suit your own taste.  Naturally, if you use all ingredients you love, you will love the final result.  

For this quiche, I used fried hot Italian sausage (previously fried up, then frozen), a mix of vegetables consisting of onions, minced garlic, sweet yellow pepper, and a seeded Roma tomato, and about a tablespoon of dried herbes d'Provence.   Here is a pic of Kevin fixing his breakfast.




QUICHE AS YOU LIKE IT.  Serves 6 - 8.
*  1 - 9" unbaked deep-dish pie shell
*  1 cup cooked meat, of your choice
*  1 cup vegetables, of your choice
*  1 cup shredded cheese, of your choice
*  6 eggs
*  1 cup milk or cream
*  1/2 teaspoon salt
*  1/4 teaspoon pepper
*  Fresh/dried herbs, garlic, chive, or other seasonings of your choice
Sprinkle cheese, meat and vegetables evenly on the bottom of the pie shell.  Beat together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and other seasonings until well blended.  Pour into pie shell.  Bake in preheated 375º oven for 35 - 40 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and outside edge comes out clean.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  



Thursday, December 1, 2016

WHAT NOT TO BRING TO THANKSGIVING POTLUCK.

Does this say "Thanksgiving" to you?

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It's pizza casserole.  With all of the great traditional foods, it's hard for me to imagine someone having extra room in their stomach to handle this spicy, cheesy dish but, as you can see, much of it was eaten.  Fortunately, this did not show up at our house.  It was brought to the home of my dentist's administrative assistant (correct title?).  She and I got a bit of a laugh out of this dish that her sister brought to the family Thanksgiving meal!

For those of you who think this sounds good, if you do a Google search for "pizza casserole" you will get just under 1.8 million hits.  Good luck to you!

As for me, I think I'll stick with turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberries, pumpkin pie....



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

CRANBERRY SAUCE.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to a big turkey dinner!  One of the things I most love is cranberry sauce - piled atop my turkey, or mixed into the dressing.  Yep... you can tell I love it!  When Thanksgiving is over, there are always the turkey, mayo sandwiches... with cranberry sauce.  Then a week or so later there are scones... with cranberry sauce.  Or roasted pork... with cranberry sauce.  Cranberry sauce never goes to waste here.

This is the recipe I've been making for years.  I typically have everything on hand except for one navel orange.  Because I love cranberries, I always have a bag in the freezer.  Remind me later, and I'll share my recipes for cranberry cake, bars and torte.  All delicious!

WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE.  Makes about 2 cups, or double recipe for 4 cups!!
*  1/2 pound fresh cranberries (okay to make from frozen, as is)
*  1/4 cup port
*  Juice from 1/2 navel orange (about 1/4 cup)
*  Peel from 1/2 navel orange
*  1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
*  1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
*  1/3 cup granulated sugar
*  1/3 cup toasted pecan halves, lightly chopped
Put all ingredients except the pecans in a saucepan.  Stir and cook over medium heat.  Stir occasionally and continue to cook about 15 to 20 minutes until the cranberries have split and the sauce has thickened.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool in a covered pan.  Stir back into the sauce the water that has accumulated on the cover of the pan, along with the pecans.  Cover and store in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Add all ingredients except the pecans to the saucepan.

Cook until cranberries burst and sauce thickens.



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

SPICED NUTS.

Last night I was asked for my recipe(s) for spiced nuts.  Below you will find recipes for "Spicy Orange Pecans," "Roasted Almonds with Herbes de Provence," and "Tamarind Spiced Cashews."  The last is a recipe I got from my friend, Jeanne.  

These are great recipes for this time of year since they make great hostess gifts or gifts for those "hard to buy for" friends and family on our holiday gift giving list.  The other benefit of these is that they hold up very well in airtight tins or jars.  I don't have pics to share with you, but I can assure you that I have made these - many times!   Eat them as a snack, or add them to a salad.  They are delicious!

SPICY ORANGE PECANS.  Makes about 4 cups.
*  4 cups pecan halves (unsalted)
*  2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh from an orange)
*  1 large egg white
*  2 tablespoons orange zest (fresh from an orange)
*  1/2 cup sugar
*  1-1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
*  1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
*  1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
*  pinch freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 250º.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the pecans, orange juice and egg white and toss to coat.  In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, sugar, salt and spices.  Add to the nuts an mix to coat evenly.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake at 250º, stirring every 15 minutes until the pecans appear dry, about 45 minutes.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.  

ROASTED ALMONDS WITH HERBES DE PROVENCE.  Makes about 2-1/2 cups.
*  1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
*  1 teaspoon salt, divided
*  1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
*  1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*  1 egg white
*  2-1/2 cups whole blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 300º.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, combine herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and garlic powder; process until finely ground.  In a medium bowl, beat egg white with a whisk until foamy, about 1 minute.  Add herb mixture and almonds, stir well.  Spread almond mixture in a single layer on prepared pan.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bake until egg white is dry and almonds are lightly toasted. about 20 to 25 minutes.  Do not stir.  Cool completely on baking sheet.  Break apart to separate almonds.

TAMARIND SPICED CASHEWS.  Makes about 4 cups.
*  4 tablespoons unsalted butter
*  3 tablespoons honey
*  2 tablespoons light brown sugar
*  1 teaspoon tomato paste
*  1-1/2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate or paste
*  1 lb. roasted unsalted cashews
*  1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
*  Large pinch cayenne pepper
*  1 tablespoon ground garam masala
*  1-1/4 teaspoons salt
Preheat oven to 300º.  In medium saucepan melt butter, honey, brown sugar, tomato paste and tamarind.  Add nuts, coconut, cayenne, garam masala and salt, and mix.  Spread evenly on baking sheet.  Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is toasted and sugar caramelized.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Cool.



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

FOODIE COMICS

I didn't read the comics until Kevin came into my life.  He is very much into humor and kept pointing out funny comics to me.  In no time I started reading the comics as well.  They are a wonderful way to start each and every day.  Of course, the comics that appeal to me the most are those that pertain to food.  Here are a few to make sure your day has a bright spot.  Enjoy!!!






TO READ COMICS THAT WERE POSTED PREVIOUSLY, CLICK ON THE "CARTOONS" TAB IN THE COLUMN ON THE RIGHT.

Monday, August 29, 2016

SUMMER HARVEST SALAD

Trips to the farmers' market have been wonderful this summer, after a good growing season.  The veggies are coming in fast and furious!  Tonight for dinner I made a salad out of some of the veggies.
Half eaten....

The beauty of this salad is that any number of veggies or ingredients can be added or substituted.  Throw in what you have on hand, and what you love, and you will love the end result.  The uniting ingredient is the salad dressing which I found on Lynne Rossetto Kasper's "Splendid Table" blog.

SUMMER HARVEST SALAD.  Serves 8 - 10.
The Dressing.
*  4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*  2 tablespoons cider vinegar
*  2 teaspoons sugar
*  1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
*  10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*  Salt to taste
In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, vinegar, sugar and ground coriander.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil until well-blended.  Season to taste with salt.

The Salad.
*  2-3 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
*  1 large cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded using a spoon, and sliced
*  5 scallions/green onions, chopped
*  a small bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
*  grilled corn from 1 large cob
*  1 cup cooked orzo (small Greek pasta)
*  Top with crumbled Feta cheese, just before serving
Put all salad ingredients in a large serving bowl, mix with salad dressing to taste (the recipe makes more than you will use for this salad).  Just before serving, crumble feta cheese on top.

ENJOY THIS HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS SALAD!!!




Friday, August 26, 2016

CAFE LATTE TURTLE CAKE... Sooooo Goooood!

Most everyone in this area has been to Cafe Latte on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul.  Without exception, their food is delicious, especially their desserts!  Many years ago their recipe for Turtle Cake was posted in the newspaper, and I immediately tore it out.  I've made the recipe a few times over the years, always to great reviews, so I recently made it for a potluck picnic.  Here is the recipe for your future enjoyment!



CAFE LATTE TURTLE CAKE - Makes 12 (big) servings.
*  1 egg
*  2/3 c. vegetable oil
*  1 c. buttermilk
*  2 c. flour
*  1-3/4 c. sugar
*  1/2 c. cocoa
*  1 tsp. salt
*  1 tbsp. baking soda
*  1 c. hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease a 9"x12" pan.
Combine egg, oil and buttermilk.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda.  Combine the egg mixture and the flour mixture, mixing well.  Slowly mix in hot coffee.  Turn into prepared pan and bake 40 to 45 minutes.  Frost when cooled.

Frosting
*  1 c. sugar
*  1/2 c. milk
*  5 tbsp. butter
*  1-1/2 c. chocolate chips
*  1/2 c. caramel topping [I used Hershey's brand this time, but I don't recommend it.]
*  1 c. toasted pecans
Mix sugar and milk in a saucepan, add butter and bring to a boil.  Put chocolate chips in a bowl, pour hot mixture over them and mix until smooth.  Spread over cooled cake.  Drizzle caramel topping over the frosting, and crunch toasted pecans over caramel with your hand.

Coffee adds a nice boost to chocolate cake.

Always use the best ingredients for the best result.

Making this cake requires no electric mixer; just mix with a spoon or whisk.
The result is more dense - a good thing in a chocolate cake!

The cake is quite rich; so cut smaller portions.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

ENGLISH COUNTRY GARDEN - IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR!

Awhile ago I posted a different version of this video but it's time to get excited about Spring and the coming of our beautiful flowers.

Enjoy!


Friday, March 4, 2016

RHUBARB BUNDT CAKE

In no time at all my rhubarb plants will throw off the snow, shoot out of the ground, and be ready for harvesting.  That means it is time for me to pull the remaining batch from last season out of the freezer and use it.  With that in mind, I decided to make a rhubarb bundt cake.  Unfortunately, I had no recipe and was unable to find a recipe on-line that I thought would yield what I was looking for.  Did that stop me?  NO!  In fact, I feel very good about the cake that resulted!  





RHUBARB POPPY SEED BUNDT CAKE.  Serves 10 to 12.
*  1-2/3 cups sugar
*  5 eggs
*  1-1/4 cups butter at room temperature
*  2 tablespoons Creme de Cassis (a sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants)
*  2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*  1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*  3 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2" pieces
*  3 tablespoons poppy seeds
*  Powdered Sugar sprinkled on top
Preheat oven to 325º.   Use shortening to grease, and then flour, bundt pan.
Add sugar and eggs to electric mixer bowl and blend well.  Add the butter and Creme de Cassis and beat mixture until it is light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.  Slowly add flour to the mixture, continuing to beat until the batter is smooth and the flour is incorporated.  Fold in the rhubarb and poppy seeds.  The batter will be quite thick.  Add cake batter to the prepared bundt pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, let rest 15 minutes, then remove from pan onto a wire rack to finish cooling.  Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

This makes a delicious breakfast!


Friday, February 26, 2016

LEAP YEAR - LEAP DAY - FEBRUARY 29, 2016

Remember as a child learning the verse:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31,
Except for February.

What about February?  Well, in three out of four February’s there are 28 days, but in a Leap Year there are 29 days.  This year is a Leap Year and, accordingly, this February 29 is Leap Day.  Why is this necessary?

At the decree of Julius Caesar in 46 B.C., one day was added to the calendar in order to synchronize our calendar with the Earth’s orbit around the sun.  To simplify, the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to orbit the sun every year.  It’s that .25 of a day that creates the need for a leap year every four years.

Like many astrological events, Leap Day has a tradition.  In Ireland and England tradition allows women to propose marriage to a man on that day.  It is questionable how this tradition came to be.  One belief is that in 5th century Ireland St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long to be asked to marry, and St. Patrick decided that on Leap Day it should be allowed.  Another belief is that the five-year-old Queen Margaret of Scotland enacted a law setting fines for men who turned down marriage proposals from women during leap year.  Regardless of when or how this tradition came to be, it appears from a quick review of YouTube videos that this tradition continues throughout the world.  Fortunately, in our modern age, it is now okay for women to propose marriage on any day of the year.

Of course, the tradition was captured on postcards during the Postcard Era in the early 1900’s.  Here are two examples from my collection.  The first card is quite serious, a direct request for marriage.  This postcard was sent to Mr. Chas. P. Arthur, Hampton, Iowa.  The sender wrote:  "Wish I was with you or you were with me... either one would be all right.  Don't you think?  Lovingly, Alethie".



"My dear and much respected sir, I send you this your love to stir; I ask your heart not in a jest, and hope you'll grant my fond request.  I'll be your wife until you die.  And now await your prompt reply."



The postcard above was postmarked April 8, 1909, and mailed to Miss Etta Tohd (?!?), Maiden Rock, Wisconsin.

Celebrate this Leap Day by watching the delightful rom-com, "Leap Year."  Spoiler Alert:  If you haven't seen the movie, don't watch this film clip!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

COOKBOOK TITLES - A CARTOON

I just had to share this with you.  Have a laugh-out-loud day!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

GORDON RAMSEY: ROASTING IN HELL'S KITCHEN



Gordon Ramsey has been a Michelin rated restaurateur and TV personality for years.  Perhaps you've seen him on Kitchen Nightmares berating restaurant owners, chefs and staff.  If so, you know that he could not be more outspoken, or use more profanity if he tried!  To me it's all very fascinating and I was excited to pick up his 2006 book, "Roasting In Hell's Kitchen."   Granted, the book is dated, but it was written by Ramsey, about Ramsey, and from what I can tell, things haven't changed much for him.  Yes, new restaurants have opened and other restaurants have closed; TV programs have changed; and in many ways his life has changed.  However, none of that changes the fundamental essence of who Gordon Ramsey is and where he came from.  To get that, you will want to read this book.

It is clear that Ramsey's childhood significantly shaped him.  The family moved continuously as Ramsey's musician, alcoholic father pursued pipe dreams, frequently, taking out his failures and frustrations on the family by physically abusing them.  He taught Ramsey how to swim by holding his head under water for minutes.  Cruel!  It seemed to Ramsey that the only way that he could please his father was by playing soccer.  He was good at it and he pursued it with a passion, achieving a commendable level of success.  After a serious injury, however, his hopes of becoming a soccer pro were dashed.  By the time Ramsey was sixteen, he had had enough of his father's abuse and moved out of the house.  By then he was already pursuing a career as a chef.

Gordon Ramsey is not a person who has ever cut corners.  It is clear that from the time he was a small child, to present day, he is all in on everything he does (even the swearing!).  In the book, Ramsey walks us through the steps that brought him to his career successes, which are undeniable.  To his credit, he has also managed to do the necessary work to build a strong family with his wife of nearly twenty years.

This is an interesting story, and not a big time commitment to read.  The challenges Ramsey has overcome are intense and most people would not have made it.  His pursuit of perfection seems to have saved him, and now we can enjoy his accomplishments.

I absolutely recommend this book.

Friday, January 1, 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR GREETING on Vintage Postcard

This charming old postcard brings you best wishes for a cheerful and healthy new year, close to those you love, and filled with peace and happiness.