Archive for December, 2010

December 26, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

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Merry Christmas everyone! Hope everyone had a Christmas shared with great family and friends, and filled with lots of cheer and great food!

My Christmas was awesome – lots of really great food, time with my wonderful family and cooking! My daughter made out this year with a Leapster AND a Wii from Santa– we spent some time “Just Dancing” and working off some of the effects of our holiday binging, which we’ll need after this recipe.

When we were kids, my mom would make us cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Unbeknownst to her, it became a tradition in my brother’s, and my, mind. A year or two back we didn’t have cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast and my brother was hugely disappointed. Considering I had not ever made homemade cinnamon rolls, now was the perfect time to try it out. Since my daughter was born I have hosted Christmas at my house, this usually includes Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast and lunch. This year we had Christmas Eve dinner (Cuban Braised Beef), breakfast, snacks and the usual Prime Rib Roast with scalloped potatoes, green beans with bacon, and homemade brioche rolls.

The credit to the great cinnamon roll recipe goes to Ree Drummond and her book, The Pioneer Woman’s Cookbook, the recipe is also online at her website http://thepioneerwoman.com/ – a really great website…she’s pretty darn creative. (however I cut her recipe in half – her recipe made 50 rolls! Holy moly I did not need that many).

2 c. whole milk (I used 2% it worked fine)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkt of yeast)
4 cups (plus 1/2 cup extra, separated) All-purpose flour
1 t. (heaping) baking powder
1 t. (scant – just less than 1t.) baking soda
1 T. (heaping) salt
Melted butter (to spread over the dough)
1 c. granulated sugar
Cinnamon to sprinkle generously over the dough

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm (I prefer 100-115° for yeast bread), sprinkle in the package of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, mix together the 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture into the dough together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down. Let the mixture sit at room temperature about 30-minutes before you roll it out).

When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour.  Form a rough rectangle with your hands. Then use a rolling pin to roll the dough thin into a rectangle (roughly). Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough and spread to cover all the dough. Sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

Now, starting at the opposite end of the long side, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.

Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans. Using a neat trick I have seen in lots of recipes (and because it cut much easier than a knife) I used dental floss. By sliding the floss under the roll, then crossing the floss over the roll and pulling the floss tight cutting all the way through the cinnamon roll. The cut is fast clean and easy. A knife was much more difficult! Any other thin string would work, but floss is all I had. It worked well and did not leave any minty flavor on the dough.

Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. You can adjust your oven temperature if the rolls brown too fast.

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Choose a Frosting:

CREAM CHEESE ICING (pictured)

(adapted from Peter Reihnhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday)

3/4 block of cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 t. vanilla
1/8 t. lemon extract

 

Mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It will be spreadable. Spread frosting generously all over the cinnamon rolls.

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REGULAR ICING (from Peter Reihnhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday)

16oz. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1/8 c. melted butter
1 t. lemon extract or vanilla
pinch of salt

Mix together all ingredients and stir well. The mixture will be thick, but pourable. Spread all frosting/icing over the cinnamon rolls generously – this makes them better. The longer this icing sits the more gooey the rolls become.

This will be our family’s new holiday tradition…

December 25, 2010

Mexican-style Shrimp Cocktail

Inspired by my recent trip to Monterey, CA and more specifically eating at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto on the Monterey Wharf.

Exploring Monterey means not only visiting the sights at Cannery Row and Carmel not only hearing the sounds and feeling the sea air by the sandy beaches, but you will also notice the smells of food everywhere you go. If I had to sum up what Monterey smells like I really only remember smelling food everywhere, occasionally you get to smell some salty sea air, occasionally…The walk down the Wharf is pretty much window shopping for the perfect restaurant. You have clam chowder samples being thrown at you left and right, fresh seafood in open air delis. I wanted to eat something from each place, but my stomach wasn’t big enough. Clam chowder and fish and chips are all phenomenal. But I tried this mexican style shrimp cocktail and that is what impressed me the most. It’s like salsa, avocado and shrimp with some cocktail sauce…wow! It was so fresh tasting, with a hint of spicy chilies. Very impressive. I knew I had to try making my own version.  I hope you enjoy, please let me know of any suggestions you might have.

 

1 lb cooked peeled shrimp (41-50ct)

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 bunch cilantro coarsely chopped

1 jalapeno finely diced

4 green onions

1-11.5oz can tomato juice

1 T horseradish

1 tsp sugar

salt and black pepper

1T olive oil

Sprinkle Old Bay seasoning

1 lime, juiced

1 ripe avocado

Dice the tomatoes, chop the cilantro, finely dice the jalapeno and slice the green onions. Toss together with the shrimp in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, mix the tomato sauce, horseradish, sugar, salt and pepper. Add more or less horseradish for more or less heat. Sprinkle the old bay seasoning and mix again.

Pour the cocktail sauce over the shrimp mixture and stir until combined. Leave in the fridge overnight to meld the flavors.

before serving squeeze the lime over the shrimp cocktail and dice the avocado and stir in.

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Serve with tortilla chips.

December 23, 2010

T’was a Christmas Cookie Party

This year Linda Marrone invited me to fill in as a judge for her Christmas Cookie Party. I was super excited and felt honored to have my opinion count so much.  Going into this adventure I thought it would be simple – taste cookies and pick my favorites. However, it was not so easily done. The cookies were amazing and all had their own appeal. I spent at least 45 minutes tasting 13 cookies and deciding which was the best, and changed my mind along the way. Taking into consideration taste, texture, the look of the cookie, and how traditional the cookie. My kind side wanted everyone to win because they all put so much work into these cookies and they all were really really good. But I had a job to do, so I got down to business.

Like I said the task was not an easy one, but it sure was fun and yummy! I enjoyed meeting the ladies, they were all so creative and enthusiastic, and you can tell they loved being part of the Christmas Cookie Party and getting together with one another each year. No wonder this is the 30th year Linda has held this party! What fun!

 

Organizing such a party is no small task in itself, but everyone involved brought an appetizer, a white elephant (or used) gift, and everyone makes 15 dozen cookies and some even hand make containers for their cookies. Really a great time is had, the ladies laugh the entire time and really just enjoy themselves.  Holiday cheer is definitely in the air.

Below are some photos of the winners, cookies, containers and other randomness I enjoyed along the way! Thanks everyone you did a FANTASTIC job – all the cookies were great you are all really winners, I’d eat all the cookies (in fact I did).

Meet everyone involved (Yes the baby helped with cookies too):

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Please excuse the photo quality – I was in low light at night…

FIRST PLACE – SWEDISH SNOWBALL COOKIES by Laura Vance and Laurie Oswald for Laurie’s mom’s recipe.

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SECOND PLACE – PECAN EGGNOG ROUNDS by Breana Coons & Lauren Coons.

2nd Place Cookie

THIRD PLACE – LEMON SUGAR COOKIE SNOWFLAKES by Sandy McCleary & Kristin Stokes.

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FOURTH PLACE TIE – MOLASSIS SUGAR COOKIE by Paula Tlachac & VIENNESE ROUNDS by Sheryl Seaman

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These are all the other cookies that were fabulous as well!

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THE CONTAINERS –

I am sorry I did not get a good shot of the third place winner Debbie Coleman’s Santa Head. She put a lot of work into these containers, but my photo didn’t come out sorry!  The container was a wonderful Santa Head with Santa’s beard filled with little bells.

FIRST PLACE – PHOTO COLLAGES (filled with memories over the years of the individuals who participate in the cookie party). by Linda Marrone & Kim Sayre

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SECOND PLACE (also the second place cookie) – ELF BUTTS by Breana and Lauren Coons

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FOURTH PLACE – SNOWMAN MITTENS by Darlene Cobbey and Carol Smith

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These are some of the other containers – homemade and not.

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We were lucky enough to have Christmas carolers from Carson High School choir stop by. I have never had carolers stop by my house and it was such a treat – a really neat Christmas tradition you always see in books and Christmas shows/movies, but in real life – I have to say I was thoroughly impressed and just topped off the evening.

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Here are some random photos of Linda’s holiday decorations around the house. (I just love her house).

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December 19, 2010

Gingerbread House 2010

This is our very first attempt at a homemade Gingerbread house. My daughter wanted to make people, but I wasn’t that ambitious this year – it being my first year and all. So while this house is NOT perfect with crooked windows, bent sides, and short pieces, I’d say this was a relatively successful house.  I definitely have some experience to apply for next year. My mistake was that I forgot to photo copy the template that was given to me, so I freehanded some of the cut outs (that is why we had some crooked and short parts…oops).

Mix the dough and roll it out (according to the recipe below).

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Lay out your templates and cut then pieces out of the dough. The recipe said to roll the dough out on cookie sheets, but I have a tapered rolling pin and it didn’t work well. So I rolled it out and transferred the pices to the sheet – not a great idea!  

Once you roll out your dough use a sharp knife to cut out the templates. We cut out windows and put some crushed life savers in the middle to make “stained glass” windows. It worked very well.

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Bake and cool completely.

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Stained glass windows…cute huh? (check out my uneven bottom – that is what serrated knives are for!)

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Now it’s time to decorate. Advice from my friend Linda (who is a seasoned gingerbread house maker, and the one who provided this recipe) says decorate all panels of your house including the roof and allow the decorations to dry completely so things do not start to slide off when you assemble the house. I think only an hour or so is necessary, the icing (if you use the recipe I will post below) dries pretty fast. We waited overnight, only because by the time we were done decorating it was dinner and bath time…

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After you decorate your house and let it set, comes the tough part. It is time to assemble your house. More advice from Linda – put up the 4 walls and allow those to dry overnight before assembling the roof. This way your structure is solid before adding the weight of the roof and all it’s decorations. You don’t want your house collapsing at this point because you’ve worked very hard up to this point to ruin anything…

 

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For your base I suggest using a piece of cardboard covered in foil. Then you can move your house around if you need. 

Just a note before I explain assembly, I put icing on the bottom of the house while I was assembling to add extra stability. So as you set up your house, add a little icing ot the bottom of each of the walls on the base.

Start assembling with the front or back panel, and one of the side panels. Add icing to the “inside” part of the front or back panel and press the side wall into the icing. Use containers to help hold up your panels as you work and as the icing dries. (see my photos above for holding up the roof…).

Once your 4 walls are up allow the icing to harden over night.

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Once your walls and the roof are assembled you can start creating your scenery…We used ice cream sugar cones for trees and put some icing on them to look like snow.

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At the end I added some powder sugar for “snow” effect. I also saw some fake (non-edible) snow at Pier One that would have been really cute, too.

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Now our happy little crooked Gingerbread house is complete for this year! I am happy with our first homemade house…

 

GINGERBREAD:

These recipes below came from Linda Marrone
6c. all purpose flour
2/3c. shortening
1 ¾c. sugar
1t. vanilla
1 8-oz container sour cream
2 eggs
1T cinnamon
1T ginger
2t. baking powder
1 ¼ t. salt
1t. baking soda

In a large bowl mix shortening sugar, sour cream, vanilla, eggs. With mixer at low speed, beat until well mixed. Whisk together 3 ½ cups flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Mix into wet ingredients. With hands, knead in remaining 2 ½ cups of flour to make a soft dough. Divide dough and shape into a disk, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or until dough is not sticky and is of easy kneading consistency.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Roll dough on greased and floured cookie sheet. Cut out patterns.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 – 18 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

ORNAMENTAL ICING:

1 16oz. package confectioner’s sugar
½t. cream of tartar
3 egg whites at room temperature
½t. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. With mixer, blend until smooth, then beat at high speed until very stiff.

Keep the icing covered as it dries quickly. (3 cups).

 

DECORATIONS (ideas create your own)

You can use a variety of items for decorating the house.

For the roof you can use vanilla wafers, necco wafers. Life savers for wreaths. Ice cream sugar cones for trees. Cinnamon candies, peppermint candies, candy canes, gum drops, M&Ms, rock candy, runts, and any other creative ideas you come up with. You can also opt to get the gingerbread house candy assortment from Wilton or King Arthur Flour or from a craft store.

 

 

December 16, 2010

Think Pink Potluck

Each year at the law firm I work at, we get together and have an annual Think Pink fundraiser. The fundraiser is held to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.  This cause is near and dear to me. Breast cancer runs in my family genetics. My grandmother, aunt, and my grandmother’s niece have all been diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives. Luckily, and thanks to all the research and attention breast cancer has received, all three survived breast cancer. Now my grandmother is no longer with us, but she was diagnosed in the 70’s with breast cancer and even back then, with less resources than we have now she survived!  Susan G. Komen is a fantastic foundation and I am very proud that my employer supports such a terrific cause.

Now I know I am a few months late, but I still wanted to get this posted on the blog because being healthy and teaching people healthier eating habits is very important. Everyone in the office came up with very creative and yummy dishes incorporating “superfoods.” On our potluck sign up sheet we listed “superfood” items with a breif explanation of what is “super” about the particular ingredient. The ingredients each have a property that helps our bodies fight against cancer – from breast cancer to prostate cancer – and many harmful diseases and environmental pollutants.  These foods are just plain good for you (although some of these recipes below may not be ALL good for you, but they do contain some foods that are very good for you).  Below are some photos and descriptions of the items that were served at our Think Pink Fundraiser. My recipes are included below.

Coconut Cupcakes

COCONUT – high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s oil is has been described as one of the “healthiest oils on the earth.”

 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 package of instant vanilla pudding (only the powder)
1- 13oz can unsweetened coconut milk
¼ c. shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 c. room temperature butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs 
½ – 14oz bag of sweetened shredded coconut.Preheat oven to 350°Toast the shredded coconut until browned about 8-10 minutes. Spread out on a sheet of wax paper to cool.Whisk together flour, baking powder, pudding powder and salt. With an electric mixer in a large bowl combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time allowing each to incorporate well before moving on to the next ingredient. Incorporate the dry ingredients and coconut milk by alternating – half of the dry ingredients and half of the coconut milk. Use a small ice cream scoop for the cupcake batter. It makes the perfect size cupcakes. Bake for 18 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. 

 

 

 

Frosting Recipe   1/2 cup shortening (used the Crisco stick because it’s easier to measure)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) – room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
2-4 T. coconut milk (just the creamy top portion of the canned coconut milk)
1 T. vanilla extract

In a stand mixer, beat the shortening and butter together, add the vanilla extract.  Incorporate the sugar gradually – 1c. at a time. Once sugar is incorporated (it will look dry) add the coconut milk 1 T. at a time until you get the consistency you like. It will be about 3T for a medium consistency.Cover with a wet cloth while not in use, or place in the fridge if you plan on using it much later.

 

Deviled Eggs

EGGS – one study showed that women who consumed at least 6 eggs per week lowered their risk of breast cancer by 44%

Shrimp with Spicy Chili Sauce

 SHRIMP – contain selenium , an antioxidant which some studies link to the prevention of cancer.

Bacon Wrapped dates and almonds with balsamic reduction (aka “bacon balls”)

ALMONDS –  also contain selenium ,  and they help heart health.

Caprese Salad

TOMATOES – contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant

1lb roma tomatoes

1 pkg fresh mozzerella

1 bunch of basil

Olive Oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper

Thinly slice the mozzerella, slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Lay mozzerella on a plate, top with basil leaf and a tomato. Drizzle balsamic dressing over the salad. Serve!

Walnut Torte

WALNUTS – some studies indicate that walnuts positively impact heart health, bone health, diabetes and weight management.

Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

KALE – contains sulforaphane, which some studies have shown to have anti-cancer properties. Also Indole-3-carbinol which some studies have show to help repair damaged cells.

This recipe came from Food and Wine magazine, the Thanksgiving issue. I wasn’t unsure about Kale, as I had never tried it and was under the impression it was a green that should be cooked. But after trying some in the store it reminded me a lot of broccoli. The strong flavor of Kale with the sweet apple, salty pancetta and the tangy dressing mix so well with one another! This salad went over very well even with the threat of KALE.

2c. pecans

1/2c. confectioners’ sugar

1/2tsp cayenne pepper

Kosher salt

1/4c extra-virgin olive oil

6 oz thickly sliced pancetta, finely diced

1/4c. white wine

2Tbsp caper brine (from a jar of capers)

3Tbsp maple syrup

Freshly ground black pepper

2 granny Smith Apples, cut into matchsticks

1 large head radicchio, shredded

one 8-oz bunch of kale, finely shredded

3Tbsp snipped chives

1Tbsp chopped tarragon

2 oz. shaved pecorino

1.     Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, cayenne pepper and 1 1/2 tsp salt. In a sieve rinsk the pecans in water and strain completely.  Add the pecans to the sugar mixture and toss. In a sieve shake off the excess coating.  Arrange pecans on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the sugar is lightly caramelized and the pcans are golden.

2.     In a skillet, heat the oil with th pancetta and cook until the pancetta is browned, about 6 minutes.  Strain the pan drippings into a large bowl; whisk in te vinegar, caper brine and maple syrup. Season the dressig with salt and pepper.

3.     Toss the apples, radicchio, kale, chives, tarragon and dressing. Top with pecorino.

NOTE: I did not use radicchio, I couldn’t find anything in my local grocery stores that looked good.

December 14, 2010

Classic Bread Stuffing

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While Thanksgiving has come and gone, I still wanted to share this recipe, but I didn’t get the chance until now. This recipe is the one my mom always used, and she either got it from that 1960’s edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook, which is falling apart, or it’s the same recipe my grandma used to make (maybe both).

I am not sure about you, but when Thanksgiving comes around and I think Stuffing, I do not think about all those versions out there with nuts and meats and fruits. I think of plain ol’ classic bread stuffing with onions, carrots, celery and poultry seasonings. Plain and simple, but it is what my family and I like the best. Don’t get me wrong I like the other stuffing out there, but when it comes to Thanksgiving this is the only recipe I use.

1-2 loaves of bread (sourdough or French – I use a mix, the sourdough alone gets too tangy for me)
3T. poultry seasoning
1 large white onion
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1/2 stick of butter
salt and pepper
6 cups of chicken broth

  1. Cube or tear the bread, sprinkle 1T of poultry seasoning over the bread and allow the bread to dry out a day or two – tossing occasionally (so all pieces dry out).
  2. Dice the onion, celery and carrots (mirepoix).
  3. Melt butter in a large pan. Over medium heat, saute the veggies until the carrots are soft and the onion is translucent. Add salt and pepper and 1T poultry seasoning.
  4. Toss the mirepoix with the bread in a large bowl.
  5. Add remaining 1T of poultry seasoning to the broth.  Add 1/2 cup of the broth at a time to the stuffing (stirring between each addition). Continue doing this until the bread is sticky.
  6. Place in a large baking dish and bake 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Notes:

Bread – I use the loaves from the bakery, if the loaves of bread are large I use about 1 1/2 loaves.

Store bought “Poultry Seasoning” is a mixture of sage, thyme, marjoram, black pepper, and nutmeg (I do not know the ratios – McCormick’s doesn’t give that  secret out.

December 12, 2010

Waldorf Salad

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With the holiday season in full force, many of us start to see an increase of the scales! OH NO! To counteract all the season treats I like to eat, I try to make my daily meals on the lighter side. It’s the holiday season after all and I want to enjoy all the goodies that you only get once a year. Most of my meals include fruits and veggies and low fat meats (chicken and pork) and then I get to have fun at parties and family dinners.  Here is a very simple recipe and it helped me use up the rest of the rotisserie chicken I bought to make chicken noodle soup.  Instead of mayonnaise I used 2% plain greek yogurt and I was surprised that I liked it because I don’t usually like the yogurt substitution. (Maybe I will start trying it more often). Enjoy!

2 cups cooked chicken, diced

1/2 apple (I used Fuji for the sweet/tartness with a crispy texture)

1/2 cup red grapes, halved

1 celery, sliced thin

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup slivered almonds (pecans or walnuts work too)

2T blue cheese

1/2 cup 2% plain greek style yogurt (you can use mayonnaise as well)

1T red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)

1tsp kosher salt

  1. Dice the chicken and apples. Slice the grapes in half. Slice the celery and green onion. Toss it all in a bowl with slivered almonds and blue cheese.
  2. Mix together the yogurt, vinegar and salt. Pour over the chicken mixture and toss.
  3. Serve with whole lettuce leaves. Spread chicken mixture over a lettuce leaf, roll up and eat!

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December 9, 2010

Pancakes

 

Cinnamon Chocolate w/Powdered Sugar

My 4 year old daughter loves pancakes on Saturday mornings. It’s a ritual in our house. She likes to help mix the ingredients and then patiently waits while the first hot pancakes come off the griddle so she can add butter and syrup all by herself. She’s Ms. Independent these days, you know. Since we make pancakes so often I have tried many different recipes. So many pancakes come out super cakey and I like mine a little thinner. When I was younger and lived with my friend Kim she would make the best pancakes. She and her kids would butter up the pancakes sprinkle some powdered sugar over them then roll them up and eat them. That has been my favorite way to eat pancakes ever since. So the cakier the pancake, the more difficult it is to roll it up! So for this recipe I have noted some adjustments to make those cakey thick pancakes, if you like. This recipe is an adaptation of a Food Network kitchen recipe that was in a pull out booklet in a Food Network magazine.

My Basic Pancake Recipe

1 1/2 c. flour

1T. sugar (my regular recipe has 3T but we are adding so much sugar already)

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 c. milk

2 tsp. vanilla

3T. melted butter

Mix first 4 ingredients. Then mix milk, eggs, and vanilla together. Then mix the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix about 10 strokes. Then add butter and mix briefly just to combine. (over mixing the pancake batter will result in flat tough pancakes).

Cinnamon Chocolate Batter

1.            Heat a griddle or large pan over medium high heat.

2.                  Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside

3.                  In another bowl whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla

4.                  Stir the milk mixture and melted butter into the flour mixture. Do not over mix you will end up with flat tough pancakes there will be lumps resist the urge to get    them out.    

5.                  Using a ladle pour pancake batter onto the griddle and allow to cook until the pancake is bubbly and drying around the edges. Flip and cook another minute or two.

6.                  Serve with butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, whipped cream, preserves, jam, fresh fruit, or any of your favorite toppings.

 Creativity!

Now to show off your own creative side and add combinations you like such as raspberry and chocolate, fresh fruit chunks, mashed banana and blueberries or any of my tested recipes below. Like cupcakes, pancakes are fairly easy to alter with your favorite flavors. Think oatmeal too! (that is another flexible breakfast item you can add flavor to with pretty healthy ingredients.

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes: Add ¼ cup of pumpkin puree, 1tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. Decrease the milk to 1 1/4 cup. 

 Cinnamon Chocolate Pancakes: add 3T of your favorite unsweetened coco powder and a 1tsp of cinnamon to the flour. (****these are my favorite****)

 Maple, Cinnamon and Pecan: 3T real maple syrup to the wet mixture and 1 tsp cinnamon to the flour, toss in some finely chopped pecans.

Lemon – Add lemon extract instead of vanilla and a 1tsp of lemon zest (the peel finely grated)

December 6, 2010

Skiba Kolachi

Kolachi w/Nut Filling

 

When I think about food this time of year my mind immediately thinks of baked goods. Thanksgiving it’s about the savory foods, but this time of year is about treats and baking. Which if you know me, you would know I am fairly new to baking, but I’m beginning to really like it more than I ever thought I would.  My favorite is baking homemade breads. Breads can be challenging, but there is nothing like the warm fuzzy feeling you get when eating warm fresh bread right out of the oven, that you worked on with your own two hands.  Baking with yeast can be intimidating and can be somewhat of a process, waiting around for dough to rise, then rest, then sequences of folding or kneading, and then another rise and finally baking. Then hopefully it turns out! Right?

Last year I was on a mission to learn how to make homemade bread. My dad knew this so for Christmas he gave me a really cool oven bread stone and several bread books he uses (my Dad likes to cook and bake as much as myself). One of the books was by Peter Reinhart, called Artisan Breads Every Day. That January, Peter Reinhart ended up in Reno teaching a bread class. Failing horribly at his Babka recipe, I decided to jump on the opportunity to attend his class to learn a little more. Before taking this class the whole concept of baking and having to abide by the rules was intimidating, see I cook to my own rules and make up and alter recipes comfortably – except when it comes to baking! So a few things I learned from that class were 1) baking is not as strict as I once believed it to be, and 2) even Peter Reinhart deviates from his own recipe directions. As for the Babka Peter ended up having to lower the oven temperature to cook the bread through without burning the outside (my Aha! moment, this is where I went wrong). There was a lot I learned from this class I could share with you, but this article would run on for days so for now I give you this recipe for Kolachi. It is one of the simplest yeast doughs I have made.  Whether you are new to baking or a seasoned baker you will enjoy how simple it is to make Kolachi dough.  I even made this recipe all by hand – no stand mixer (which is rare for me). 

Kolachi is of Slovak origin and this particular recipe has been passed down through my family (from Croatia). Two of my fondest holiday treat memories are ones that my Grandma Skiba made, Kolachi and clothespin cookies.  These two treats are tastes that remind me of Christmas and have become staples to my holidays just like the Christmas tree.  Grandma Skiba was a seamstress so in addition to Kolachi and clothespin cookies I remember all the hand made gifts she made for me. My favorite is a stocking that is completely hand embroidered from top to bottom with my name on it. I hang it up each year to remember her by. Several years ago my Aunt in Kansas began making Kolachi and clothespin cookies and sends a package to me, which I selfishly hide away and eat when my daughter is not looking. The first time my Aunt sent me the package I had not tasted either of these treats in years, but once I tasted them you know how some things just trigger wonderful memories from your childhood – yea, a nostalgic experience! Since Kolachi is not a very well known recipe and because I enjoy it so much I wanted to share this with you.  I hope you enjoy – from my family to yours!

SKIBA KOLACHI

Dough
1 cup milk
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large cake yeast (fresh!), soften in warm milk (or 3 pkgs of dry yeast)
3 eggs, beaten
5 cups flour

  1. Heat the milk to a near boil stirring constantly, remove the milk from the heat and stir in the butter, sugar and salt stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted. Cool to warm (80-90°F). (Remember anything over 140°F will kill the active yeast).
  2. Whisk in the yeast, then let sit while you get the flour ready and beat the eggs.

 3.   Add eggs and flour, mix well with a wooden spoon.

 

4.   Knead the dough lightly and form into a ball.

5.   Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and let it rise until it doubled in size (about an hour). 

6.   Punch down (isn’t yeast dough therapeutic) and divide in 7 or 8 balls about 6oz each.

7.   Roll into rectangles.

8.   Spread nut filling or date nut mixture and roll up jelly roll style crimping the ends and slightly tucking them under to keep the filling from oozing out.  (3 rolls to a pan).  Your rolls will be about 3 inches wide and 7-10 inches long

9.   Prick with fork 2” apart.  Let rise for 30min – 1 hour.  Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until brown. 

  Recipe Notes: If dough is too soft, knead in a little flour. 
You can use this dough to make dinner rolls, cinnamon buns or bread. (I have not yet tried either of these uses).

FILLINGS

Nut mixture (Pictured)
2 lbs shelled nuts ground. (nuts to be ground finely or they will poke through the dough).
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups milk (add a little at a time)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla.

  1. Grind nuts until coarsely ground, add the sugar and grind until the mixture is finely ground.
  2. Add egg, vanilla, and milk, adding the milk a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  3. Cook on low heat to combine, then cool before spreading on dough.

Date & Nut Mixture
Small package of dates
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup hot water
2tsp. vanilla
1 lb. ground nuts

  1. Mix dates, sugar, flour, and water and simmer 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla
  3. Mash the dates with a potato masher.
  4. Add 1 pound ground nuts, cool before spreading on dough.

Notes: If mixture is too thick, add a little water.

Slice into 1” pieces and serve. You can wrap the loaves in press ‘n seal or plastic wrap to keep. Keep stored at room temperature.

Makes 7-8 loaves.