Friday, May 30, 2014

Apricot Red Lentil Soup

Seriously. I had never heard of this before.  Apricots, in my red lentil soup?  Yuh huh.  Loved it. I have seen many recipes on line for this but none of them with the amount of apricots that I am going to tell you to use. Your choice- but it was fruity and homey at the same time.

Apparently this soup is Armenian.  I do know apricots are a large part of certain Middle Eastern cuisines.  So I understand its origins.  I have made stuffed grape leaves with apricots and that was totally delicious as well.

Armenian Red Lentil Soup with Apricots

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 1/2 cups red lentils
5 cups chicken stock
3 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped or a 1/2 cup canned tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Saute onion, garlic and apricots in olive oil.  Add lentils and stock.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and season with cumin salt and pepper.  Simmer for ten minutes more.  Stir in lemon juice and blend 1/2 of soup in blender or use an immersion blender.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tamale Cups

What is it about cute little cups of food or food on a stick?  Cute just makes it that much more tasty, doesnt it?

I love tamales.  I miss the lady in AZ who use to come to the office where I worked and sell us tamales for a dollar.  I would buy half a dozen when she would come in and stick five of them in the freezer.  They were a great dinner item for a single girl- delicious and inexpensive to boot.

These are a quick and miniature version of tamales.  You could stuff them however you want- pork, chicken, beef, beans.. whatever.
Tamale Cups

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup vegetable oil

For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, small dice (about 1 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth with 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed in
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces) OR
1 cup queso blanco
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Mix the masa harina with broth and oil.  If you find it it too dry add more liquid. You want it to form when you press it with your fingers.  If it is not forming then add more liquid.  Make sure you cover the bowl with a damp towel to keep it from drying out too fast.

In a frying pan saute onions in oil until lightly golden.  Add in beef and brown.  Add in garlic and remaining ingredients. Cook until it comes to a boil and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly spray muffin tins with oil.  Press the masa harina mixture into the cups, evenly distributing the dough. Spoon filling into cup.  Place cheese over top.  Bake for about 20 minutes.

Garnish as desired.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Orange Creamsicle Macarons

When I was a kid I used to love to get creamsicles at the penny shop near our house.  I think I may have paid a quarter for them at the time.  They were so good- so orangey- so creamy- so delicious.  The Popsicles I buy these days are not the same.  Not quite the same creaminess as they once were.  Did you ever wonder if things really did change or you yourself had changed and your taste buds grew up?  My Dad, who loves them, will concur on this one.  They are  not the same.

These says since I usually would rather be in my sewing room sewing I tend not to make these as much as I once did. Macarons are fussy.  Very fussy.  If its too humid don't even bother to try and make these. I made one batch yesterday with my tried and true recipe and had a complete bomb.  Don't know exactly what happened.  I decided to try another recipe.  I found one and altered it just a bit.  A much better outcome.  I think this will be my new go to macaron recipe.


85 grams almond flour or finely ground almonds
150 grams powdered sugar
90 grams egg whites (from about 3 large eggs), room temperature
55 grams granulated sugar
pinch of cream of tartar

In a food processor, combine almond flour and powdered sugar; pulse for 20 to 30 seconds until evenly distributed. Sift at least once through a mesh sieve, discarding any larger particles.

Place egg whites in a clean metal mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until frothy, then slowly add superfine sugar, a little bit at a time with the mixer on medium speed, scraping down the side of the bowl periodically. When all the sugar has been added, increase speed to medium high and whip until meringue is firm and glossy and forms medium-stiff peaks.

Pour half of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and stir, folding and scraping a few times until no dry flour remains. Add the remaining flour and mix, folding about 15 to 20 times or just until the meringue and flour are incorporated and the batter falls off the spatula in thick ribbons. Lava like. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip, twisting the end of the bag to prevent the batter from leaking. Pipe small circles onto a parchment or silicone-mat-lined baking sheet, leaving about 1-inch of space between them.

Preheat oven to 330F.  This I totally played with.  Some recipes say 300F and some say 350F and some even say 375F.  I had the best outcome with 330F.  It really depends on whether or not your oven runs hot.  Best to have a thermometer in your oven.

Creamsicle Buttercream

1 tablespoon orange zest
1 stick butter
1+ cup confectioners to start
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat all together until creamy and the consistency you want.  Add confectioners sugar to make it thicker.  More cream to be less thick.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pickled Onions

My new friend, pickled onions.  These pickles add such tangy deliciousness to  salads and sandwiches.  They go great on burgers.  They add so much delicious to nearly anything they accompany.  Make some today and have them for when grilling season starts. You won't regret it.

Pickled Red Onion
If you substitute honey for sugar it will have a completely different taste. I much prefer the sugar.
1 large onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a quart jar mix together vinegar, sugar, olive oil, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Shake vigorously.  Add sliced purple onion.  Let sit at room temp for an hour.  Refrigerate overnight for best taste.  Will keep in fridge for quite some time.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Honey Topped Corn Bread

This is a crazy good update. I have made this more times than I can count but just recently it got a LOT better.  Thanks to my daughters bff.  She was over for dinner and talking about a local restaurant's corn bread that is honey topped.

I made the usual sizzle cornbread recipe from Crescent Dragonwagon's book - The Corn bread Gospels.  Immediately after taking it out of the oven I slathered some honey mixed with butter over top.

Seriously. Not a speck left.  It's just that good.

Sizzlin' Honey Topped Corn Bread

aka DAIRY HOLLOW HOUSE SKILLET SIZZLED CORNBREAD but with a little adjustment.

The Cornbread Gospels, by Crescent Dragonwagon; Workman Publishing, NY

1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup stone ground corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter or mild vegetable oil

honey topping:
Stir together 1/4 cup honey and a 1/4 cup butter room temp.

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 10 inch cast iron skillet with oil and set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, cornmeal and baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.

3. In a smaller bowl, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk. Whisk in the sugar, egg, and the 1/4 cup of oil.

4. Put the prepared skillet over medium heat, add the butter, and heat until the butter melts and is just starting to sizzle. Tilt the pan to coat the sides and the bottom.

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine them quickly, using as few strokes as possible. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cornbread until it is golden, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and gently slather the honey butter mixture over top of corn bread. Let cool for a few moments and slice into wedges and serve.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Jamaican Coat of Arms

These flavors dance together so nicely. Jamaican Coat of Arms is super quick, delicious and nutritious. Yes, I know you see chick peas in mine.  I had some frozen beans, a mix of kidney beans and chick peas so that is what I used this time.  I have made this before without the chick peas as well.

Last time I made it I used some hot peppers.  The dish is on the sweet side because of the coconut milk. I like hot- sweet- salty.

Jamaican Coat of Arms

a can of kidney beans
a can of coconut milk
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon pepper
some add allspice- totally up to you 1/4 teaspoon would do yah

In a sauce pan combine all the ingredients except green onion and heat over a medium high flame.  Torn down so that it simmers for about 20 minutes..  Serve over rice.  Garnish with green onion.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

M and M Cookies

Since I am not eating gluten these cookies were unavailable to me- that was a good thing.   Yes, I had a bite to taste and yes, they are good.  The kids loved them.  I would much rather they have these than any store bought cookies.

I know this may sound silly but I like to bake when the weather is still a little cool- just before summer and stash away the cookies in the freezer for summer.  I also stash away some quick breads.  When it is time to go on a picnic its all done and no baking in hot weather.

M and M Cookies

2½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup salted butter, softened just to room temp
1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
2 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups M&M candies

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.

In bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and brown sugar on medium high, until light and fluffy. This should take about five minutes.  Add package of pudding mix, and beat until incorporated. Add eggs and vanilla, blending well. Sop mixer and add in the flour mixture. Turn on low so that your flour doesnt go flying all over.

Add in chocolate chips and M&M’s, mixing into the dough. At this point you can chill it or bake right away.  If you chill it your cookies will have more height.  If you dont they wont be flat but they wont be tall either.  Mine were baked without chilling.

Form 1 inch balls of dough and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake about 8 minutes or just until edges look golden brown. Cookies may seem slightly underdone, but they will firm up upon cooling. Don’t over bake. Let site a minute on cookie sheet.  Move to wire rack to finish cooling.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Multi Grain Loaf


What a fabulous Mothers Day I had yesterday. The weather, the dinner, the love.  My bucket is full.  My husband made me a card about how I was a Superhero Mom, my oldest wrote me a letter with reasons why I am special to her and what I do as a Mom, my youngest daughter drew me pictures and wrote about my love. It doesn't get much better than that.  I also had another Mothers Day with my Mom.

This is fabulous bread.  It has a nice chew and lots of flavor.  And some nutrition to boot.


1 1/4 cup (6 1/4 ounces) seven-grain hot cereal mix
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour (not bread flour)
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 oz) whole wheat flour
1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled*
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) oat bran, wheat bran or old fashioned oats

Place cereal mix in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook and pour boiling water over it; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees and resembles thick porridge, about 1 hour. Add in flours. Add honey, butter, and yeast and mix on low speed until combined.  Knead dough for 5 more minutes on counter or in a mixer.

Add seeds and knead for another minute or so.  Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, round ball.  Place dough in large, lightly greased bowl; cover tightly with plastic and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.  Or make one large bread on parchment paper. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and divide in half.  Press 1 piece of dough into 9×6 inch rectangle, with short side facing you.  Roll dough toward you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go.  Turn loaf seam side up and pinch it closed.  Repeat with second piece of dough.

Cover loaves loosely with greased plastic and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size 30-40 minutes.

Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375F.  Bake until loaves register 200F, 35-40 minutes.  Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Remove loaves from pans, return to rack, and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before slicing and serving.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all the Mothers out there!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Layered Jello Dessert With Sour Cream

With summer fast approaching I wanted to share this delicious recipe that is very refreshing.  While I made it, I thought I would like to try it again with fruit juice and gelatin for a more natural approach.  I will put that on the docket.

I also wanted to share a story from a few years back. Oh, so scary, and in looking back afterwards, had other scary points that I had not realized.  Many summers ago, when my daughter was about 4 1/2 we were visiting my brother in Tennessee.  We were at his in-laws, hanging out by the Tennessee River.  We were all standing at the dock when my Dad, who is a great swimmer, and daughter decided to go into the river.  We watched my daughter go in and about five minutes later, after entering the water, my daughter began to panic.  Mainly because she could not feel the bottom- she did not expect that.  She started to climb on my Dad. A classic for a person who is drowning.  Yes, I said my father was a great swimmer but he was older- at the time he was about 78 years old.  He was trying to get her to settle down for a few but then he was looking up at us.  Things started to seem strange.  Time slowed, there was about five of us on deck watching this scene unfold.  No one moved.  I guess we all had it in our heads that my Dad would correct the situation. But the scene was not changing.

I just want to stop right here and add in that I actually had taken life guarding classes in high school. I am not a freeze in the face of emergencies type person.  I am a reactor who jumps in and does whatever, ie, saving choking children.

Fortunately, for my Dad and quite possibly my daughter, my brother took off his socks, shoes and shirt and jumped in.  He had the foresight to know that things did not look right and needed some intervention.

Incidentally, my Dad who has a hard time asking for help was very grateful and very shaken up at that time.  Honestly, it brings tears to my eyes to think how horrific it was watching my little girl nearly drown my Dad.

I found this article today called Drowning Doesnt Look Like Drowning on a site called gCaptain.  I highly recommend that you read it.  Please take a moment now and do that.  It may save someones life this summer.

Now, back to some deliciousness after that scary scene I painted for you.
Layered Jello Dessert

4 to 6 (3 ounce) packages of Jello - different colors
1- 16 ounce container of sour cream

I have a dish that is slightly smaller than a 9 x 13.  I use that when I make this.  If you only have a 9 x 13- that totally will work but you might want to use 6 instead of four packages of Jello- just to get the dessert a little bit higher in the dish.

Boil water.  Mix one package of Jello with 1 cup of water.  Stir to dissolve.  Pour 1/2 of a cup into another bowl and stir in 1/3 cup of sour cream.  Pour the sour cream one into the dish and place in the refrigerator.  Note: I started with the clear Jello but like the clear Jello to be on top.  Eh, up to you.

Once that sets, which will be pretty quick, spoon the clear one over top of that and refrigerate again.  If you pour it on it will create a hole wherever you are pouring.  I highly recommend you spoon it.

Keep going, repeating this process until you have done all the layers you want.  Yes, it is a slightly exhaustive process but you don't have to bake and that is a bonus in the summer.  Really, it is a great dessert to do while you are cleaning.  Stop do a layer, clean. Stop do a layer, clean.  Before you know it- its done.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Creamy Sausage Kale Soup

We are in the last of our chillier days here.  Mostly the in fifties (F) but starting to warm up more and more.  It's actually a great time of year to clean out garden beds and get ready for planting.  We generally plant mid May.

After a day cleaning out the garden it was nice to come in for some of this delicious soup.  It is a delicious soup that is actually quite quick to make and definitely satisfies.  I did it all in the same soup pot so not too much messing around.

Zuppa Tuscana

1 lb Italian sausage 
2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup crisped bacon 
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kale 
2 cups chicken broth
1 quart water
1 bay leaf

Chop or slice uncooked sausage and raw bacon into small pieces. Brown sausage and bacon in a soup pot.  Drain on paper towels and return to pot. Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir, scraping hte bottom of the pot. Add onions, potatoes, bay leaf and garlic. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for another 20 minutes. Add kale- cook five minutes more.
I add a tablespoon of cream to each bowl as not all of us can have dairy.  You can add the cream directly to the pot if you like.  Honestly it tastes great without the cream as well.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Pineapple Preserves

I am making pineapple preserves again today.  I have made them before and you can see that post here.  I wanted to let you know a few things should you decide to make this slammin' jam.  One if it doesn't set (as mine previously did not), dont worry, you can still make all kinds of things with it.  Check out my black bean salad. Or you can try Asian Style Noodles with Pineapple Dressing.

Two, if you do not have a scale- a pound is about 2 cups heaping of chopped pineapple.  Though I do recommend a scale in the kitchen.  It is very useful.

Three, you want this to simmer about 20 minutes.  I added the juice of half of a lemon as well.  It still never really thickened.  I added 1/3 of a Dutch Jell (I get that at the Mennonite store but you could use Ball pectin- I am hoping for a better set this time.  But like I said if it doesnt happen I am okay with that as I really love those dressing mentioned above.

Finally, this recipe will make 11 pints.  Since I have to have tastes periodically and I usually spill a little, I end up with 1101 1/2.  The 1/2 goes into my fridge and disappears fairly frequently. 

Pineapple Preserves
Makes about 11 pints.

4 pounds pineapple, skinned, cored, and chopped
6 cups sugar
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1/3 of a cup of Dutch Jell (or the pectin of your choice)

Combine the sugar and pineapple in a large stock pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens. This will take quite some time. See below for how to test it. Once completed pour into sterilized jars, seal and cold pack for about fifteen minutes.

You can use canned pineapple for this recipe as well. Use the juice as well.