Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kickin' Kraut Rolls and Super Samosas

Armed with some egg roll wrappers, I went to town over the past month.  I bought the egg roll wrappers to make my Mother's idea for a Polish quick and easy appetizer.  Sauer kraut rolled up in an egg roll and fried.  I served it with duck sauce.  I have to tell you that when that sour taste hits the sweet taste of the sauce there is quite and explosion in your mouth.  So delicious.  I could have these over and over again.
However, after having fried 3 cans of sauer kraut down and filling egg roll wrappers I still had some leftover wrappers.  I certainly did not feel like frying up more kraut.  So a few days later I had an idea to use them for samosa wrappers.  This is the first time I have made samosas. I know the texture of the wrapper is a bit different but I tell you it was no less delicious than the restaurants version of samosa. In fact the flavoring in this particular recipe of filling was a total winner.

Kickin' Kraut Rolls
Recipe/idea courtesy of Mom

3 cans of sauer kraut
1 package of egg roll wrappers
duck sauce for dipping (next time I think I will concoct some sweet beet dipping sauce to make them even more Polish like)

Fry sauer kraut down until most of the moisture has been released and kraut is golden.  Roll cooled kraut in egg rolls and fry or bake (I have done both).  Serve warm with dip.  Enjoy.

Super Samosas

egg roll wrappers

Samosa filling:
To learn how to roll samosas into handy triangles watch this video.

2 1/2 cups potatoes (boiled until just tender)
2/3 cup peas
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon armchur/ mango powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder

In a large frying pan heat ghee, add cumin seeds and wait until they crack and pop a little.  Add the remainder of the spices and heat one minute.  Add potatoes, cover and cook five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peas.

Cut egg roll wrappers in half and roll according to the instructions in the video linked above.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Tart

I am sitting here trying to think what I can write about these tarts and only one word comes to mind... Yum!  Dark chocolate crust, bittersweet chocolate ganache, creamy caramel on the inside, all topped with a light sprinkling of French gray sea salt ( a great foil). 

We are still adjusting to a dog's life.  See you have to remember that we are first time dog owners.  We both have never really had a dog as children.  We came from families who had cats, but not dogs.  So we are saying things like what does that mean?  Is that normal?  Should we be doing this?  I know some of you out there are probably like, duh, whats so hard about it?  Well we want her to be trained right, have good manners and overall be obedient.  So we are reading things on the internet, books from the library, talking to people, and watching videos on the internet.  We have taught her to sit, lay down, shake.  We are still working on up (after she has laid down) and come.  We want her to learn drop and fetch.  Its a process.  Hopefully soon we will find a class that works into our schedule.

So you want some tart? Follow the recipe below and you will have your very own to eat.

Chocolate Caramel Tart
Adapted from this recipe at Saveur magazine

1 1⁄2 cups flour
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. dutch-process unsweetened
cocoa powder
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

the caramel
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. sour cream

the ganache
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Gray sea salt for garnish

Heat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Transfer dough to 8 mini tart pans.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick the tart shells all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool. (It will seem like it is not going to come together but it will).

The caramel: In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, and sour cream (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours. I had a little extra caramel than I needed for my shells.  I added a bit more heavy cream so that it would stay a softer consistency for going on ice cream or say... scooping up with a spoon.

The ganache: Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bran Muffins made without cereal

I usually make my bran muffins with cereal, the one with the raisins.  I wanted a bran muffin recipe that used wheat bran, no cereal.  Why?  Because I  have some to use up.  In the process I found this recipe.  Its a pretty moist bran muffin but still has way less fat than the one in the stores and restaurants.  As always, muffins are great breakfast when you are on the go.

Bran Muffins
Adapted from this recipe at Allrecipes.

1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes.  In a bowl combine oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Fold in raisins and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal Muffins

I don't know what it is about muffins and January.  I think you can enjoy muffins all year long but for some reason I always end up making a ton of muffins in January and February. 

I cant recommend these muffins enough.  They are lighter than the normal peanut butter and jelly muffin but do not lack in flavor at all.  That's the wonderful thing about peanut butter, when it is warm it spreads and its flavor permeates everything.  These muffins only have a 1/3 of a cup of peanut butter.  Calorie wise, that is pretty darn good.  Taste wise, that works well too.  The oatmeal gives it a wonderful texture.  The original calls for whole wheat flour.  I opted for ap flour as my kids would be more likely to eat them.  Next time I think I will put a tablespoon of flax seed and see how that rolls. 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins with Oatmeal
Adapted from this recipe at the Post Gazette who featured it from this blogger, The Ungourmet.

1 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups reduced-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 teaspoons blueberry jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or use cupcake papers to line the muffin pan.

In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugars. In a smaller bowl combine the egg, oil, peanut butter, buttermilk and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Fill each muffin cup 1/2 full and place 1 teaspoon of jam on top of batter. Place another scoop of batter over the top of jam. Fill muffin cups to nearly full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Place muffins on a baking rack to cool. Makes 12 muffins.

Friday, January 21, 2011

French Breakfast Puffs

When I was 16 my mother gave me Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step by Step Cook Book.  I couldn't wait to try one of the recipes.  This was the thing I chose first, French Breakfast Puffs.  Oh, the cinnamon just tastes so good in the morning on these muffins.

I have a few muffins to share with you.  This is the first of three.

French Breakfast Puffs

1/3 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon  cinnamon

6 tablespoon butter, melted

Cream shortening and sugar together.  Add in egg.  Mix dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  Measure out milk.  Mix the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture alternately with milk.  End with the flour.  Place in muffin cups filling 2/3 of the way.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes.  While they are baking combine cinnamon and sugar.  In another bowl that is wide melt butter. When you remove the muffins from the oven dip them in butter and then the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Yield: 12 muffins.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cornflake Kisses

Okay so maybe I am not a good photographer or maybe these are not photogenic or maybe it is a combination of both.  But I am a good cook and baker.  At least I'd like to think so  These are light, chewy and delicious.  Remember I said I was going to start using my cookbooks more?  Well these are the product of that.  They are from a very old cookbook.

Our new dog Caina has been settling into our routine and I have been adjusting to her presence.  She so favors my husband.  She gets excited to see any of us but my husband is her main squeeze.  When she awakes she heads right to his feet.  When he comes in the door after being away for the day she jumps up and down and spits purple jelly beans.  Well not really but nearly.

Cornflake Kisses
Adapted from The Modern Family Cook Book, by Meta Given; J G  Ferguson Publishing Company, 1958

1/2 cup peanuts
1 1/2 cups cornflakes
2 egg whties
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 salt

Preheat oven to 300F.

In a clean bowl whip egg whites and salt just until moist peaks form. Add sugar gradually beating as you go.  Gently fold in peanuts and cornflakes.  Drop onto a silpat or parchment paper by the teaspoon.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Remove from sheets immediately.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

And speaking of broccoli.  Oh yeah baby, this is creamy, delicious and down to the bone satisfying.  The recipe is a copy cat recipe from Panera Bread Company.  I can not tell you if it tastes like their soup as I have never had it.  What I can tell you is that it is really delicious and had been a hit at our house.  

I have been very busy with the dog trying to get use to her and making sure she does not chew on things in the house.  I have also been busy doing Kat's Iron Craft challenges.  I have been busily quilting and crafting and in general trying to stay out of the kitchen.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar

Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half. Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree or use an immersion blender. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Broccoli Crunch Salad

I found this recipe over at Everybody Likes a Sandwich.  It's funny because I have had this type of recipe before with bacon etc. A classic salad that people bring to potlucks.  I love it.  I never made it though because I hate frying bacon.  I fry bacon maybe three times a year.  I hate the whole frying thing, house smells and there is grease all over. I do fry two strips in soup usually but that is about the extent of it. 

When I saw this salad I thought yeah, no bacon.  Then I thought why is it that I get stuck thinking a recipe has to be a certain way.  I think I need to think outside the box just a little more.

Broccoli Crunch Salad

1/4 cup mayonnaise
juice of half lemon
1/4 cup red onion
1/4 cup almonds roasted and chopped
1/4 cup Craisins
6 cups broccoli, chopped into small pieces

s and p to taste

Stir broccoli, onion, almonds and Craisins together.  Combine mayonnaise and lemon and stir into salad.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reaching a Decision and Raising Caina


The subject of a dog has long been on our minds.  We have talked about a dog for several years now.  For one reason or another, we did not until now, adopt a dog.  It really was our youngest daughter that pushed us closer to our decision to get a dog.  Seeing her and all her joy around dogs was intoxicating. We wanted to keep that going.  She has high energy and we felt a dog could keep her entertained and also give her a stronger sense of responsibility.

Ironically the cat, the visiting cat, that came to our house is the one that made us realize that I probably do not have allergies to a dog.  After our last visit with a prospective dog, over a year ago, I sneezed all the way home.  I think it may have been all the cats that this dog was around.  Our dog does not make me sneeze.  And poor Shag, the cat.  He reared up and almost clawed the dog several times.  He charged her when we were outside one day.  It happened twice.  The second time I was armed with a water bottle which did not phase him in the least.  My husband took the dog to another part of the yard and I pet the cat for a long time.  I don't think he will be coming around anymore.  I really miss him. 

Our dog... It sounds funny because I never thought it would happen. 

The fourteen month, mutt girl who is very intelligent.  She learned to shake in five minutes. She is always ready to shake as long as you have a treat.  If you don't she can not be bothered with my silly commands.  What she doesn't know is that I can read and I plan to learn a lot about how to train this little smarty pants.  I want a well trained dog!
Peanut Butter Dog Treats
In a pinch they are great treats for humans too

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk

Combine all ingredients.  Roll out and cut into desired shapes.  I used penguins here.  Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for about ten minutes depending on the size of your cut out.  After you are done baking them, place them in a pile and back in the oven while it cools off.  They will dry out and get more crispy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tea anyone?

Tea... I mean, lemonade, really.  We had a nice time.  The girls were great at my daughters tea birthday party.  They played so nice together.  We decorated hats, they played house with the doll house and then we had cake, opened presents and had tea (lemonade). 
 I told my parents that the party had came up so quickly that I really did not have time to decorate and prepare like I wanted to.  My younger daughters birthday always sneaks up on me because it is so soon after the Holidays.  My Father said to me, "when all is said and done, it will be about the people at the party, not the decorations."  I think my soul smiled at that moment because he is right.  Its funny how I can become so wrapped up in getting things perfect or even just done and lose sight of the things that are really important.
They all did a huddle around my daughter as she opened presents.  They were all so excited and their little smiles were truly a joy.  It was the best time!

If you are wondering about the cake.  I used two Wilton oval cake pans.  I put them together using frosting and straws.  The polka dots, spout, top and handle are made with fondant.  I made those a week beforehand so that they had time to harden.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Orange Cashew Biscotti

A few cookies are left over from Christmas.  Too many cookies, not enough time.  Thankfully biscotti last for a while.  These are a favorite in our house.  They are typically made with pistachios.  Due to the rising costs of pistachios I used cashews this year.  They were good but honestly the pistachios are better.  The nice thing about this recipe is the texture of the biscotti.  It has a nice texture to absorb whatever you are dipping into.  It's porous and light.

I think I may pull out a few of these for the tea party I am having for my daughter.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  I have a few four and five year olds coming over today.  We will decorate hats, play a little and have tea (more like lemonade) and cake.  I will be surrounded by cuteness.  I did a similar party for my older daughter.  You can see some of those pics here.

Orange Cashew Biscotti
Adapted from this recipe at Williams Sonoma

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. grated orange zest
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews, chopped
In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar, orange zest and vanilla. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low, add the cashews and mix in. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Place a silpat or parchment paper down on a baking sheet.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, using lightly floured hands, roll each half into a log 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Arrange the logs on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 5 inches apart.

Bake until light brown and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes (the logs will spread during baking). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet. Leave the oven set at 350ºF.

Using a spatula, carefully transfer the logs to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut on the diagonal into slices 3/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 36 cookies, depending on how big your cookies are.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Zuppa Tuscana and Kickin' Kale

You probably have seen it a million times or maybe even eaten it a million times.  It's Zuppa Tuscana.  Many moons ago, when we ate at chain restaurants I use to really like this soup.  I have missed it.  I wanted to make it and finally did so.  This is the second time I made it.  Yes, its quite good.  This time I used some chicken sausage that is made here locally.  I buy it at Palmer's if you are local.   I used kale from my garden, kicked off the snow and picked me some.  You should have seen the smile on my face.  This is why I grew kale- just so I could do what my Mom used to do with her kale.  She never picked it before a frost, claiming it is much sweeter after.  And you know what.  It was so sweet.  I had boiled it seperately just in case it was bitter.  It wasnt so I added the broth of the kale to the soup.

I also used some Hunter's Bacon that I found at Polska Chatta.  I finally found this small Polish deli and cafe.  I am not disappointed.  Hunter's Bacon is a smoked bacon.  It is ready to eat, no frying needed but you certainly can fry it as well.

Zuppa Tuscana

1½ lbs ground Italian sausage
1 teaspoon crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
¼ cup bacon, crumbled
2 cloves garlic minced
10 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb diced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
4 cup kale, chopped

Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, set aside.
In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic over low-medium heat for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft. Add chicken broth to the pot and heat until it starts to boil.  Add the diced potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour. Add the heavy cream and just cook until thoroughly heated. Do not bring to a boil after you add the cream. Stir in the sausage and the kale, let all heat through and serve. Delicious!

Monday, January 3, 2011

So you think you want an ebelskiver

Oh man, have I got bakeware and cookware.  I have everything I need.  These days when I see something I think, I can not get that because I simply do not need another thing.  And really I have been good.  This ebleskiver has been talking to me for a couple years now.  Then Williams Sonoma sends me this email advertisement saying it was on sale for a day. I teetered, I fell and bought it.   Here's why.  (Justification time.) 
#1  my kids are young and how cool is it to have these tasty little pancakes for breakfast.
#2 I can stuff things inside them that maybe they will eat because it is wrapped in a pancake.  And so far that is pretty true.  (Although it has never been difficult for me to get my children to eat apples, raw or cooked or jam and bacon).  I mean really!
#3 Oh yeah, and cheese.  Melted cheese stuffed in a pancake.  It went down real easy and my daughter was so excited she asked me to take this pic.
#4 and really this is the thing that sold me on the product, I sold it to myself you know.  I justified it by saying that there is more than one culture that uses this type of pan and I will be making anything from other cultures just so I can make it in this pan.

Certainly Williams Sonoma does not give me anything to say all these nice things about the ebelskiver but really it is a nice pan.  And bonus it is American made.  Cha ching.  SOLD.

You know my lovely brother and his wife gave me this book of things to make in an ebelskiver and they couldnt have thrilled this foodie more.  I went to work the next morning and made fig jam and Hunter's bacon filled ebelskivers.  A hit.  Not one left.

Fig and Hunter's Bacon Ebelskivers
adapted from Ebelskivers, by Kevin Crafts

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, seperated
1 cup 2% milk
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly
1/4 cup fig jam
1/4 cup crushed Hunter's bacon

In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients.  In a seperate bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks, adding in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.  It will be lumpy.

In another bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (don't complain about the dishes you can wash them all while you are cooking the ebelskivers.) Fold the whites into the yolk flour mixture.

Brush the heated ebelskiver with remaining melted butter. Spoon in a tablespoon of batter to the well.  Place a teaspoon of the filling in the center.  Top the ebelkiver with anohter round of the batter.  Wait about four minutes.  Way easy to turn if you wait.  I use chopsticks to turn mine. Cook for two to three minutes on the other side.  I take them out of the pan with a wooden spoon.  These babies just slide right out.

Makes about 21 pancakes.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Scalloped Butternut Squash

Today I am feeling a bit tired (probably like most of the world).  We had our annual family sleep out in the living room.  Complete with lots of junk food that they rarely get.  The kids got their sleeping bags, blankets and stuffed animals.  We had the fire going.  They had hot cocoa with marshmallows.  Simply a must by our four years old's standards. We played games and watched the ball drop.  They had more energy than our husband and I.  Now, New Years Day, we are all completely exhausted.

This is one of those so, so photos.  I just had to tell you about this recipe.  It's a great dish that you can put in the oven for when guests arrived.  Its already and you have most of the dishes done and put away.  I love that.  It is really flavorful.  I hope you like it as much as we did. Thanks "M" for the shout out on a great recipe.

adapted from this recipe at Epicurious

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 5 1/2 to 6 pound butternut squash, sliced thinly, a mandolin comes in handy here

  • 5 ounces mild Cheddar, coarsely grated on large holes of a box grater (1 1/3 cups)

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs

  • Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish (3-quart capacity).

    Stir together salt and pepper in a small bowl. Cut off necks of squash, reserving bottoms for another use (you will have about 3 pounds necks). Peel squash and very thinly slice crosswise with slicer.Layer one third of squash slices, overlapping, in baking dish and sprinkle with some of salt and pepper mixture. Sprinkle with half of cheese, then layer half of remaining squash slices on top and sprinkle with some of salt and pepper mixture. Top with remaining cheese and remaining squash slices, then sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper.
    Bring cream and thyme sprigs to a simmer in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Discard thyme and pour cream evenly over squash. Put a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit on the surface of the squash and poke a few holes in parchment with a knife. Bake squash until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.

    Discard parchment and let squash stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, cut rounds from squash with cookie cutter and transfer to plates with a spatula. 

    Happy New Year!