My "back porch" is my kitchen, my favorite room in the house. Come on in, the coffee is fresh, and I just made a pitcher of sweet tea. The cookies will be out in a minute. I have over 40 years of recipes to share with you, along with my opinion on everything. Oh my, you are right, it is cocktail time. What can I get you? Of course I can make you a Mint Julep! Stop by anytime, something is always cooking, and the back door is never locked.

Bon Appetit, Y'all

Monday, February 28, 2011

Pink Grapefruit Margaritas

Maybe we should pretend it's summer and start with a pretty new drink for sipping on the porch. This is prefect. Let's have some guacamole and chips and sit in the swing.

Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
6 drinks
print recipe

1 lime cut in wedges
Kosher salt, optional
1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 cup triple sec orange liqueur
3 cups ice
1 cup good white tequila

If you like a salt rim on the glasses, rub the lime around the edge of each glass and then dip the rim lightly in a plate of kosher salt. Set aside. to dry.

Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, triple sec, and ice in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher and stir in the tequila. If you're not serving the margaritas in salted glasses, stir 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the pitcher of margaritas. It will make a difference.

Serve ice cold garnished with lime wedges

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Edie

Have you ever met someone and right away you just knew they were good people? That's the way Edie is. Everyone loves her. We have only known each other for a little less than a year, but I feel like I've known her all my life.

No, she is not the type to always agree with everything I say or do. Actually she rarely does. She is a fabulous cook, her house is always spotless, I hate that. I guarantee weeds will not have the nerve to try and grow in her garden this year. Yes, she has started all her vegetables and herbs from seed and they are beautiful and ready to plant.

If you call to go shopping or something she can be ready in 20 minutes and look fabulous. Even their dog, Harper is loved by everyone. He is so sweet.

Always has a smile and can cry watching a TV commercial. Holds up the line at the grocery chatting with the cashier.

I'm so glad she is finally getting older, she is 50 today, AARP age. I have no idea why I love her so much, she only makes me look bad.

Wishing you at least 50 more birthdays my friend.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Applesauce-Oatmeal Muffins

These are very good as a regular muffin, but for some reason they are extra special when baked in tiny muffin pans.

These are great for breakfast/brunch or in the bread basket for supper.

Applesauce-Oatmeal Muffins
14 regular size or about 25 small muffins
print recipe

Oven setting 350 degrees

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 cup flour, lightly spooned into cup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1 apple, chopped finely
1 cup rolled oats

Cream butter and gradually add brown sugar. Cream until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Mix in the next 4 ingredients and add applesauce to the creamed mixture, stirring well. Then add raisins, apple and oats, nuts if using. Spoon into well-greased muffin cups or muffin papers. Bake in preheated over 25-30 minutes. 12 to 15 for mini muffins. Check with a toothpick.
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cleaning Poem - Feel Good Friday

Cleaning Poem
I asked the Lord to tell me
Why my house is such a mess.
He asked if I'd been 'computering',
And I had to answer 'yes.'
He told me to get off my fanny,
And tidy up the house.
And so I started cleaning up...
The smudges off my mouse.
I wiped and shined the topside.
That really did the trick.....
I was just admiring my good work.
I didn't mean to 'click.'
But click, I did, and oops - I found
A real absorbing site
That I got SO way into it -
I was into it all night.

Nothing's changed except my mouse.
It's very, very shiny.
I guess my house will stay a mess.....
While I sit here on my hiney.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Smothered Steak

What is on sale this week at the grocery? There is always some type of steak, rump, round or chuck steak. I have used them all. Allow about 1/2 to 3/4 pound per person, this does shrink.

I'm giving stove top instructions but have also cooked in the oven and in the slow cooker. If using the slow cooker don't forget your slow cooker liner. Clean up will be a breeze.

I'm linking this to Miz Helen's Country Cottage - Full Plate Thursdays. Come join us.

Smothered Steak
4 to 6 servings
print recipe

1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 small can tomato paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Have the butcher cut a 3-inch thick round steak, or whatever is on sale. In a heavy, deep, cast iron pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brown the roast on both sides. Remove to a platter and set aside. Add the chopped vegetables to the pot and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste. Save the can. Keep stirring, letting the paste cook a bit. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar, if desired. Return steak to the pot. Using the empty tomato paste can, add 2 cans water (or 1 can water and 1 can red wine). Cover the pot and cook 3 to 4 hours, longer if necessary, stirring periodically. Add more water and wine if needed. Serve with long-grain rice and lots of French Bread.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Favorite Gumbo

There are hundreds of gumbo recipes out there, every one claiming to be the best. The best gumbo is the one You like best. Plus, can you believe it is almost Mardi Gras time again. We will be talking about King Cake and Muffaletts before you know it.

A gumbo is only as good as the roux. This one is perfect. File powder or okra is for sissy cooks; a well made gumbo needs no outside thickening agents.

My Favorite Gumbo
enough to fill a 4-quart pot
print recipe

3 onions
3 stalks of celery
1 medium green bell pepper
4 green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced, not chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Get Ready
1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
1 can crabmeat, about 1 pound, checked twice for shells
1 pint fresh oysters, checked for shells

We are now going to get ready to make the roux. Turn off all phones and the TV. Don't answer the door. Find and old copper penny and place it next to the stove. Don't be walking off to find that penny later. Do not leave your roux for a second because if you burn it you have to throw it away and start over.

Make a Roux
Over medium flame, heat 1/2 cup olive oil, then whisk in 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. You have to whisk (some cooks stir) over medium heat and you can't leave it until it's the color of an old copper penny. Check the color from the penny you placed next to the stove. Be sure it's really brown or your gumbo will look gray.

Now saute' your vegetables in olive oil. Add the chopped fresh parsley. Add to the pot 4 quarts boiling water. 1 tablespoon salt, and lots of black pepper. Cook about 4 hours, covered. Now you are ready to add your seafood. Add it and boil vigorously for about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer. While the gumbo cooks, make the rice. Eat to your heart's content. Serve with salad and fresh baked bread.

I will be sharing this at Tuesdays at the Table. come join us.

Better Than Sex Cake

If you are as old as I am, you will remember this cake from the 70's. If not you'll have to take my word for how good it is until you make your own. I don't know that it's better than sex, but it's better than a home permanent. That will curl your hair also.

Better Than Sex Cake
12 servings
print recipe

1 box Duncan Hines butter cake mix
one 8-ounce package chocolate chips
One 8-ounce package pecans, chopped
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 box unsweetened German chocolate, grated
One 8-ounce carton sour cream
1/2 cup Wesson oil
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients with the cake mix. Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake 1 hour. When the cake is cool, make the icing.

To Make The Icing

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 box confections' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chopped nuts
Flaked coconut

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar. Add the vanilla. Ice the cake. Sprinkle with the nuts and coconut.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pork Roast With Cherry Salsa

This roast is to die for! I'm not sure if it's the roast or the salsa or the combination. Pork loins are on sale in my area about every 3 weeks, and I stock up every time. If you want to make this a one pot meal throw in some potatoes and carrots the last hour.

My mother would bake this for two hours or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. That really is not necessary and could overcook the roast. I cook mine to 140 degrees because you will have carry-over cooking and a nice moist roast.

This post is dedicated to Nancy@A Rural Journal, who has lots of pork loins on hand, thanks to her wonderful husband.

Roast Pork With Cherry Salsa
4-6 servings
print recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season a 4-pound loin of pork with lemon pepper, thyme, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan and sear the roast. After browning on all sides, put the meat in a large roasting pan. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup red wine. Then add 1 chopped onion, 3 stalks chopped celery, and 1 clove of garlic, minced. Pour over the roast. Roast to 140 degree internal temperature. Let rest covered for 15 minutes before slicing.

Cherry Salsa
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1/3 cup chopped green chiles
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped, I have also used dried cranberries
1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Mix. Let rest for 30 minutes and spoon over roast.

I'm linking to Hunk of Meat Monday. Come join us.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

Everybody, and I mean everybody in New Orleans eats Red Beans and Rice on Mondays. Five Star to diners, you will find it on the menu, plus in all the homes. I don't know the reason, it just is. Please don't try making this dish with canned beans. It will not be the same.

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
6 to 8 servings
print recipe

Wash 2 cups of dried red beans. Soak in water overnight. Next morning, rinse the beans in a colander.

Bacon or country ham
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
4 to 5 green onions, tops and bottoms, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded or not, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine

In a Dutch oven or heavy pan, fry bacon or country ham in the olive oil. Saute the chopped vegetables, stirring until the onions are clear. Add the flour and stir, making a sort of roux. Let it brown - do not burn!. A ham bone is a nice complement, giving depth and smoke to your beans. Add the beans, 1 quart of water, and the wine; put on a lid and cook the beans over a low flame for 4 to 5 hours. Stir occasionally. Serve over long grain white rice, with French bread.

I will be linking this to Tuesdays at the Table. Come and join us.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Basic Beef Noodle Bake

This is one of those dishes that you can leave as is, or get your creative juices flowing. I have given this a Southwestern flair by adding a can of corn, chili powder and a can of green chilies or jalapenos. Use any kind of noodles you like from wide egg noodles to curly noodles. Change the cheese to what you like, replace a half pound of the ground beef with spicy Italian sausage. You get the idea.

Basic Beef Noodle Bake
6 servings
print recipe

1 1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans (8-ounces) tomato sauce
1 cup sour cream
3 ounces cream cheese-cubed
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups cooked noodles - more of less, if you like
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, or cheese of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish

In a skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Remove from heat; stir in tomato sauce, sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, garlic powder, and salt and pepper; mix until blended.

Place half of the noodles in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish; top with half of the beef mixture. Repeat layers.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Saint and Scriptures Sunday-Stay On Course

Psalm 119: 1-8 From The Message

You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You're blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him.
That's right-you don't go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set;
Then I'd never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I'm going to do what you tell me to do; don't ever walk off and leave me.

Dianna will have more Saint and Scriptures Sunday at The Kennedy Adventures each Sunday. Please visit.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Cure For A Gloomy Spirit

Do you have a heavy heart or the winter blahs? I get that sometimes around this time of the year, and especially after having a few beautiful days and then the cold weather returns.

A melancholy soul requires substance-finger food that's profound, both in calories and comfort. It has been my experience that the best cure is a mayonnaise, bacon, avocado and sprout sandwich, preferably accompanied by a large glass of sweet tea.

You're right, this sandwich is composed of fat. It's not good for you, and I would never recommend eating it every day, unless your cholesterol count is about eighty. But one little sandwich is not going to kill you.

If you have a gloomy spirit today, I'll meet you in the kitchen in 30 minutes and we will set the world right.

P.S. If you don't have sprouts, don't worry it works without them.

Easy Cranberry & Apple Cake

A cake baked in a pie plate. You know this is going to be good and easy. This cake should just be called delicious. One of the reasons I hoard cranberries in my freezer is to have a supply for desserts like this. Quick and easy for family dinners, and fancy enough for company. No frosting to bother with. All you need is a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Easy Cranberry & Apple Cake
Serves 8
print recipe

12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baked Apple French Toast

This is the perfect recipe for a brunch or large family. Normally I cut it in half and bake it in a 8 or 9-inch square pan. Use the left over pie filling for little tarts.

I have also used peach pie filling and a couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen blueberries.

Baked Apple French Toast
10 servings
print recipe

20 slices French Bread (1-inch thick)
1 can (21 ounces) apple pie filling
8 eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Arrange 10 slices of bread in a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Spread with pie filling; top with remaining bread. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Meanwhile, place brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cinnamon, pecans and corn syrup. Sprinkle over French toast. Bake uncovered, at 350degrees F for 35-40minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shrimp Alfredo - Quick and Easy

There is a real possibility of the temperture reaching 65-70 degrees here today and tomorrow. Do you really think I'm going to spend the day in the kitchen after the winter we have had? Not!

A real "go to" recipe in my house. Keep a bag of Key West shrimp in the freezer for emergency meals, be it company or family. This is faster than a Tuna Noddle Casserole.

Shrimp Alfredo
4 to 6 servings
print recipe

1 stick butter
3/4 cup chopped green onions
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 envelope Knorr Alfredo mix
1 small can evaporated milk
1 to 1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and split along the tail

In a large pan, melt the butter. Saute the onions and bell pepper. Add the Alfredo mix and evaporated milk. Stir. Add the shrimp. Cook about 5 minutes. Don't over cook the shrimp. Serve over fettucini.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Norwegian Sauerkraut

The hardest part of this wonderful dish is letting it set for a day or so to add character. There are times when I just have to jump right in and eat. Marvelous with pork roasts or chops. Why not with brats! Serve this hot or cold.

Norwegian Sauerkraut
6 servings
print recipe

1 large red cabbage
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1/2 cup vinegar

Slice the cabbage a little more coarsely than you would for cole slaw. barely cover the bottom of a good-sized pot with cold water; put the cabbage in layers. Between each layer of cabbage sprinkle the sugar and the caraway seeds. Let this cook very slowly until the cabbage is tender, stirring from time to time.

Add salt and pepper to taste and the bacon fat. Just before serving, add half a cup of vinegar and stir. May be served hot or cold.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunshine Fruit and Honey Bread

Such an easy and delicious bread, it could become your favorite. Someone gave me this recipe a few years ago, but like most things I get out of the habit of making it until I run across the recipe again.

Sunshine Fruit and Honey Bread
1 loaf
print recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup dark honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 eggs
1 cup raspberries, whole
1/3 cup slivered toasted almonds

Juice of 1 orange, mixed with enough powdered sugar to make a thin glaze

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cream butter, raw sugar, honey, extracts, and zest. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in the dry ingredients until just moist, then very gently fold in the raspberries and toasted almonds. Bake for 55-60-minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool for 20 minutes, then tip bread out onto a wire rack and cool thoroughly. Drizzle the top lightly with glaze.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day - Plus Crabmeat Stuffed Potatoes

What are you doing for Valentine Day? Are you cooking for your honey? Maybe cooking together. Don't have a special Valentine this year. It really doesn't matter, it's a day of love. We all have someone we love, and nothing says I love you better than something from your kitchen.

Maybe you have a neighbor or friend that's alone today. Don't let them feel like they are forgotten. A few cookies in a bag tied with a pink or red ribbon. Red Velvet Cupcakes always make a nice gift.

Dinner doesn't have to be Prime Rib of Beef Tenderloin, it can be meatloaf or a baked chicken. The only requirement is that it's prepared with love, maybe a few candles on the table.

You could make your vegetable extra special. Men love these potatoes!

Crabmeat Stuffed Potatoes
4 servings
print recipe

4 medium baking potatoes
salad oil
6-ounces crabmeat, fresh or frozen, I have used chopped shrimp
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup Half-and-half
salt and pepper to taste
1 heaping tablespoons graded onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees then 350 degrees.

Wash potatoes and rub skins with oil. Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes or until done. Allow potatoes to stand until cool to touch. Slice skin away from top of each potato. Carefully scoop out pulp, leaving shells intact; mash pulp. Combine potato pulp and remaining ingredients except paprika, stirring well. Stuff shells with potato mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in foil for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until thoroughly heated.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saint and Scriptures Sunday - Salt and Light

For some reason I think I have posted this scripture before. It doesn't matter, it bares repeating many times.

Matthew 5: 3-16 Salt and Light

Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you on a hilltop, on a light stand - shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Don't forget to stop by The Kennedy Adventures for more Saint and Scriptures Sunday. Have a blessed week.

Herbed Roasted Turkey Breast

Well, it's been long enough since Thanksgiving to bake a turkey breast. I probably will not be having stuffing, gravy and 8 different vegetables, but love turkey. Plus you have left over turkey for casseroles, sandwiches, soup, etc. And did I mention they were on sale for .99 cents. I stocked up.

Roasting the turkey at 325 degrees and allowing it to rest for 15 minutes ensures it will be very moist. Please don't over cook. Use your thermometer, 165 degrees is perfect.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
6-8 servings
print recipe

1 whole bone-in turkey breast (6 1/2 to 7 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan, skin side up.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, rosemary, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture evenly all over the skin of the turkey breast. (You can also loosen the skin and smear half of the paste underneath, directly on the meat.) Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest and meatiest are of the breast. Check the breast after an hour or so; if the skin is over browning, cover it loosely with foil.

When the turkey is done, remove from oven, cover the pan with foil, and allow the turkey to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve warm with pan juices.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine Linzer Cookies

These are my favorite Valentine cookies. It is a variation of Eli Zabar's wonderful shortbread cookies. Actually I make this cookie dough for all ocassions.

I use different size heart shape cookie cutters or you can use a 3-inch cutter for all of them and a smaller one to cut out the center.

Valentine Linzer Cookies
36 smaller cookies, less if bigger
print recipe

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extact
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup good raspberry preserves
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour. I have left it overnight.

Roll the dough 1/4-inch thick and cut 3-inch rounds or hearts with a plain or fluted cutter. With 1/2 of the rounds/hearts, cut a hole from the middle of each with a round or heart sharped cutter. Make sure you have an equal number of plain and cut out cookies. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners sugar and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the confections' sugar on top.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feel Good Friday - Spring Is On It's Way

It doesn't matter that it is 8 degrees this morning because I know spring is coming. Next week we are scheduled for 60 degree days. Plus, I was visiting my friend Edie yesterday and she and my brother have little trays of plant sprouts everywhere. They have, tomatoes, corn, a variety of peppers, sweet and hot, herbs, and I can't remember what else.

You all know it doesn't take a lot to entertain me, a new receipe or a trip to the consignment/thrift store will do it. Yesterday was consignment store shopping and a trip to Peddler's Mall, which is an indoor flea market. Such deals!

The find of the day was a pair of Victoria Secret RED longjohns. Now I can be sexy (ha ha) and warm. Well it works for me.

Visit The Girl Next Door Grows Up - Feel Good Friday to see what makes others feel good today. Have a wonderful week.

Homemade Ricotta

This is what I do when it's 8 degrees outside. Maybe it will help entertain you also.

I have made homemade ricotta in the past that was a lot more complicated than this and not even as good. This recipe is from Barefoot Contessa - How Easy is That?, and I love it I use ricotta in a lot of recipes and it's nice to know I can have it nice and fresh. Now make a nice big pan of Lasagna.

Homemade Ricotta
about 2 cups
print recipe

4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. (I like mine on the ticker side, but some prefer it moister.) Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discard the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Red Velvet Frosting

What could be more welcome than Red Velvet Cupcakes for Valentine Day. Rich chocolate cake with creamy frosting - perfect.

These are wonderful for sharing with friends and neighbors.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Red Velvet Frosting
15 cupcakes
print recipe

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
Red Velvet Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour cocoa powder, baking, powder, baking soda, and alt. In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar o medium speed for 1 minute, until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mix until combined. Stir with a rubber spatula to be sure batter is mixed.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups with a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop or large spoon. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers come out clean. Cool completely in the pans and frost with Red Velvet Frosting.

Red Velvet Frosting
for 15 cupcakes

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (3/4 pound)

Place cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed just until combined. DON'T WHIP. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Easy Pain Au Chocolat

No, this is not the way Julia would make these. She would use the long version. These are sooo good and easy, no one will know the difference, unless you are having a French pastry chef over for dinner.

Easy Pain Au Chocolat
24 pieces
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2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed, like Pepperidge Farm
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chips work fine)
sugar for dusting

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment or oiling it lightly. Cut each sheet of pastry into 12 squares and brush each with egg glaze. Then sprinkle 1/2-oz.
of chocolate (a few chips) on each square and roll up tightly around the chocolate. Place on the baking sheet, seam down. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Refrigerate remaining egg glaze.

Remove pastries from fridge; preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush the tops of the pastries with remaining egg glaze, and then dust lightly with sugar and bake for about 15 minutes. Better to cool them at least a bit, or the butter taste is a little overwhelming.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Multigrain Cranberry Walnut Bread

What in heavens name am I doing posting a recipe about making a yeast bread with a sourdough starter. I've only being making breads like this for a month of so. And that's only because Joyce at October Farm has taught me everything I know about making bread, plus she sent me the starter (Isaac).

Anyway, I'm reading this really sweet book How To Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal, and this recipe was in the book. I made it, all by myself. Amazing!

It is a wonderful, chewy and very flavorful bread. Plan to begin a day before you want to serve it. It uses a sourdough sponge. Any starter will work just fine, I used Isaac, but the book says if you have a hearty rye starter, it will be especially lovely. Since I have 10 jars of Isaac, I thought I would use what I had.

Multigrain Cranberry Walnut Bread
1 loaf
print recipe

To Begin:
1 cup cranberries, soaked for an hour in hot water

Prepare The Sponge:
1 cup of sourdough starter at room temperature
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1 cup cranberry water, pour off the cranberries (add a little plain water to make a full cup if necessary)
2 tablespoons molasses
1 scant teaspoon yeast

Mix all the ingredients and knead for a few minutes, then wrap tightly in plastic and allow to rise at room temperature for 2-4 hours. It should be very foamy.

To Mix The Dough:

Sponge, from above
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 cups walnuts, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4-1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup soaked cranberries

A stand Mixer or bread machine is highly desirable for kneading, because this begins as a very sticky dough.

If using a mixer, put in the sponge and sprinkle with the oil, walnuts, and salt; knead on low for a couple of minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes, then knead again for 10 minutes, or until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. If it continues to be sticky after the first few minutes, add flour a little at a time, no more than 1/4 cup at this stage. Turn out onto a floured counter and gentlty knead in cranberries. Let rest again for a half hour.

If mixing by hand, turn the sponge onto a floured surface. Oil your hands and knead the oil, walnuts, and salt into the mix until a rough dough forms, then let stand for 30 minutes. Sprinkle dough with flour, oil your hands again, and begin to turn and fold, turn and fold the dough, adding flour a little at a time until it is less sticky. Gently knead knead in the cranberries and let rest for half and hour.

Dust with a little white flour if needed and form the dough into a rectangle. Put this in an oiled 2-quart container (a 4 cups glass measuring cup works well) and mark when the cough will be when doubled. Roll the dough to coat it on all sides. Cover and let rise until doubled.

Deflate the dough, cover tightly, and let stand overnight in the fridge.

In the morning, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle that is about 8 inches long. Roll it into a loaf and tuck the ends under. Put the loaf, seam down, on a bkaing sheet lined with silicon or parchment and cover with oiled plastic. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

A half hour before baking, prreheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill a large cast-iron skillet with water and put it on the bottom rack of the oven.

Uncover the load and let stand for 5 mintues, then slash the top of the loaf diagonally three times and put it in the oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 375 degrees and bake for 45-55 minutes, until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped from beneath. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Oyster Chowder

I always think of Oyster Stew when thinking about a soup with oysters. But why not something a little heartier. Perfect for a cold winter night in front of the fire. Lets face it spring will be here soon and we will be tired of making soup. I hope, for spring that is.

Oyster Chowder
4-6 servings
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2 medium potatoes, diced
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 quart milk, some of this can be half and half
1 tablespoon chopped onion
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons butter
1 pint shucked oysters, undrained
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes, carrot and celery in a small amount of boiling salted water until tender. Drain. Add the milk, onion, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

2. Cream the flour with two tablespoons of the butter and gradually add to the boiling mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickened.

3. Cook the oysters with their liquid in the remaining butter until the edges curl. Add to the soup and serve immediately sprinkled with parsley.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Salami and Cheese in Puff Pastry

I know I should be posting Saint and Scriptures Sunday but I had to slide one more Super Bowl recipe in here. I'll have to pray for no major injuries on either team tonight. I don't think it would be right to pray for my team to win.

There is nothing like puff pastry to make something look really special. This recipe calls for two sheets of puff pastry brushed with Dijon mustard, then layered with a spicy Italian salami and Gruyere cheese. Please, do not restrict yourself to these ingredients. Virginia baked ham or country ham with your cheese of choice are also excellent.

I thought this would be a great way for The Jammie Girl to use some of her beautiful country ham. Use these for an appetizers, or serve with soup and salad. This would be really good for Super Bowl.

It's so easy and yet when it comes out of the oven puffed and golden, you will not be able to believe you made it!

Salami and Cheese in Puff Pastry
6 servings or 8 for appetizers
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1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, like Pepperidge Farm, defrosted
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
12 thin (not paper thin) slices salami (3 1/2-inches in diameter)
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.

Lay one sheet of puff pastry on a floured board and lightly roll into a 10-inch square. Place it on the sheet pan and brush the pastry with all the mustard, leaving 1-inch border. Arrange the salami in overlapping payers on the mustard and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly on the salami, also avoiding the border. Brush the border with the egg wash.

Lightly roll the second piece of puff pastry into a 10-inch square. Lay the pastry directly on top of the first square, lining up the edges. Brush the top with the egg wash, cut three large slits for steam to escape, and chill for 15 minutes.

When pastry is cold, trim the edges with a very sharp knife to make a clean edge. Bake the pastry in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once while baking, until puffed and brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes, cut into squares, and serve hot or warm.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kentucky Beer Cheese or "Snappy Cheese"

This is from the archives, but well worth a second look because it's SUPER BOWL again.

There are no words to describe how wonderful this stuff is. I love digging through old boxes and books of recipes. You find a recipe you haven't seen in years and it's like running into an old friend on the street. The first time I enjoyed this was in the early 70's at Hall's Restaurant on the Kentucky River. From my understanding it is a lot older than that, and definitely an old bar food.

This weekend I'm going to whoop (Why doesn't spellcheck recognize that word.) up a generous batch of one of my favorite guilty pleasures. There are few things in life better to eat than this.

Kentucky Beer Cheese or "Snappy Cheese"
Yield: Plenty
print recipe

2 pounds good quality Sharp Cheddar Cheese (don't buy that already grated stuff)
2 cloves garlic, minced (roasted or regular)
1 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce (more if you like)
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like)
1-12 ounce bottle lager beer, room temperature (regular beer works fine, not lite)

Grind together the cheese and garlic in a blender or food processor. Mix in all other ingredients, except beer. Add in beer starting with only half the bottle, add more a little at a time until the mixture is at a good spreading consistence. You may not need all the beer.

Put the Beer Cheese into small crocks or glass containers and refrigerate, tightly covered, until ready to serve.

Some folks like this on crackers or party rye bread. Everyone I know swears by celery, radish or carrot sticks, with an appropriate beverage of course.

COOK'S NOTE: I like using 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese and 1 pound extra sharp. Adjust your seasoning to your taste. Use a little of this on your next cheese or chicken quesadillas before browning.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Beef With Sour Cream

Can you tell I'm digging back through old recipes. Well, what else are you going to do when you're snowed in, you can only cook and blog so much.

I'm giving stove top directions, but you can easily throw this in the slow cooker after you have browned the meat and mixed everything together except the peas, sour cream and horseradish.

Beef With Sour Cream
6 servings
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1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup salad oil or bacon dripping (I go for the bacon drippings)
1 cup water or tomato juice
3 tablespoons grated onion
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 small bay leaf
1 package baby green peas, frozen
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon horseradish

1. Mix the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the meat with the seasoned flour. In a Dutch oven heat the oil, add the meat and brown quickly on all sides. Add the water, onion, thyme and bay leaf. Cover tightly and simmer gently about two and one-fourth hours or until meat is tender. Or place in slow cooker on low for several hours.

2. Add the peas and simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and horseradish and heat but DO NOT Boil.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Baked Parmesan Risotto

Not technically a classic Italian risotto, this sure is easy and good. I have made this with frozen peas, or lightly steamed asparagus or broccoli, cut in small pieces. For a one dish meal with a little more character add a half pound or so of roasted shrimp when you stir in the vegetable. Risotto in the oven? You have to make this to believe it!

It sure beats standing and stirring and dipping broth for 35 to 45 minutes.

Baked Parmesan Risotto
4 to 6 servings
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1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, homemade or store bought
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more if you like
1 cup frozen peas, or asparagus or broccoli

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the rice and 4 cups of the simmering chicken stock in a Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Remove from the over, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 or 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Add the peas and stir until until heated through. Serve hot.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Ground Hog Day!

Don't forget to make your Rice and Ground Hog Casserole today!

Savory Coeur A La Creme

Coeur a la creme is usually a sweet cream and cream cheese dessert served with raspberry sauce or strawberries. And is served in many fancy restaurants for Valentine dessert. But they make one that's savory with chutney poured over it. Perfect for cocktails or better yet for something different for Super Bowl.

This recipe is adapted from a lovely cookbook called The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook. I made this using my homemade Curried Apple Chutney and served it with Stilton and Walnut Crackers. But that's another post entirely. The point I'm trying to make is how versatile it can be.

Savory Coeur a la Creme
Serves 8 to 10
print recipe

12-ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (9-ounce) jar Crosse & Blackwell Major's chutney, or your favorite chutney
Crackers for Serving, such as Carr's whole wheat crackers

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until smooth. With the mixer on low, slowly add the cream and then the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk until firm.

Line a 6-inch a la creme mold or a 6-inch sieve (I use the sieve) with a few layers of cheesecloth, allowing the excess to drape over the sides. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cheesecloth and smooth the top. Fold the excess cheesecloth over the top of the creme. Suspend the sieve over a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, discard the liquid that has collected in the bowl and invert the creme onto a plate. Pour the chutney over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides. Service with crackers and a small knife.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

White Chocolate Bark

I love white chocolate, actually better than dark chocolate, my second favorite. I have not found one place that says you have to give dark chocolate, or milk chocolate for Valentine Day. Plus I see no reason this would not be perfect for your dessert table for Super Bowl. Very versatile this little item.

White Chocolate Bark
about 16 pieces
print recipe

1/2 cup whole shelled salted pistachios
16 ounces good white chocolate, finely chopped, don't use chips
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup medium-diced dried apricots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a pencil, draw an 8 x 10-inch rectangle on a piece of parchment paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the pencil mark doesn't get into the chocolate and place it on a sheet pan.

Place the pistachios in one layer on another sheet pan and bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place three quarters of the white chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl and put it in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. (Time it for accuracy.) Stir the chocolate with a rubber spatula, return it to the microwave for another 30 seconds, then stir again. Continue to heat and stir in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. Immediately stir in the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. (If you need to heat it a little more, place it in the microwave for another 15 seconds.)

Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it lightly to fill the drawn rectangle. Sprinkle the top evenly with the cooled pistachios, the cranberries, and apricots. Press the nuts and fruit lightly so they will set in the chocolate. Set aside for at least 2 hours until firm or refrigerate for 20 minutes. Cut or break the bark in 16 pieces and serve at room temperature.

Linking to Tuesdays at the Table today.