Saturday, October 29, 2016

Blood Curdling Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have made red velvet cake plenty of times before but this cake is now my favorite recipe.  I wish it did not have so much sugar though.  It is equal sugar to flour.  I usually will discard a cake recipe immediately if it has that much sugar.  But I had to try it because I wanted the affect for Halloween treats for a party!

Blood Curdling Red Velvet Cupcakes
Recipe from Donal Skehan, found here. This recipe will make 12 normal size cupcakes.  I have converted his recipe into cup measurements.  But I will tell you weighing is such a better way of making a recipe.

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 cup red food coloring
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

"blood" drizzle
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 teaspoons red food coloring
1 or more teaspoons of water (maybe)

marshmallow frosting
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (you dont have to have this but it will help it a lot)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Beat sugar with butter.  Add in eggs one at a time, then vanilla.  In a separate bowl, mix buttermilk and red food coloring.  In another bowl mix cocoa and flour.  Mix alternately into butter mixture, ending with the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl mix baking soda with vinegar.  As it is fizzing add it in to the batter.  Pour into muffin tins, filling 2/3's full.

For the frosting, in a double boiler or bain marie*, combine cream of tartar, sugar and then egg whites, whisking the whole time.  You want the sugar to melt.  Once it is melted and beginning to thicken a little, remove from heat and keep beating with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Frost cooled cupcakes.

For the blood drizzle, combine confectioners and food coloring.  If the mixture is too thick to drizzle add in the water, one teaspoon at a time until you have the right consistency.

Drizzle over cupcakes.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tomato Soup

We love tomato soup.  I have to say that even though my kids have only had Campbell's Tomato soup once, it is the expectation they want my tomato soup to live up to.  Sigh.  All that sugar!  Forget it! Don't eat it!  I just throw my hands up in the air.  Of course I really want them to eat all that tomatoey goodness I make from scratch.

I saw a recipe on Serious Eats for tomato soup with carrots and the secret ingredient... baking soda. Yup!  My Mom knew straight away what it was used for because she used to use it all the time in her tomato soup but she had forgot about it.  What other secrets is my Mom keeping from me?  Mom?

Tomato Soup
Creamy and delicious.  I based it off the one from Serious Eats, link above.

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter
2 onions
4 large carrots
4 cups chicken broth
8 cups fresh tomatoes from the garden/market
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
pepper to taste
cream (optional)

Saute onions and carrots in butter. until the onions are translucent.  Add in the remainder of ingredients (except cream) and cook until the tomatoes are falling apart and then cook 15 minutes more.  Blend and strain if desired. Serve with cream stirred in if desired.  Its totally not necessary though, its creamy without it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chicken Korma

I read a lot of blogs out there. Some people have a knack for writing personal thoughts on things. I have wanted to write personal or deep thoughts so many times but have failed each time.  Sometimes I write it al out and then immediately delete it all out.  Does it go with my blog?  Will people not care for what I write?  How do I even start to write something personal or deep? Does it have anything to do with food?

I prepared this dish when my brother was in town.  He was here for my Dad who was just recently diagnosed with cancer in the beginning of September.  He died last week, on Thursday and we buried him Monday.  My Dad was 87, had a good long life with lots of wonderful memories. He was a very social guy, he never met a stranger.  People naturally liked my Dad.  He was a talker, sometimes a little too much talk, ahem.  He liked to goof around, mainly with the younger set.  Anything to get them to laugh.  He would put silly hats on and roll his eyes in some goofy way.  I can see it right now in my minds eye.

My Dad was quite the looker in his younger day.  He dressed well, he just loved clothes. He was meticulous with how he dressed.  He was meticulous with a lot of things, such as woodworking.  My Dad took a long time to make something but when he did, it was perfection.  He was an all around handyman, could always think up ways to make things work if they broke down.

He was a hard working, entrepreneur who started his own business and supported our family for quite a while on that income.  He was able to save for his retirement to live a nice, simple life.

Farewell Dad, until we meet again.  I will remember you with love in my heart.

Chicken Korma
This is a delicious meal that comes together pretty easily.  The hardest part is sweating the onions.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinned chicken breasts
1 ounce yogurt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 large onions
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon freshly ground ginger
12 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tab;espoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
small pinch saffron
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
fresh cilantro for garnish

1.  Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, season with salt and pepper and then stir in yogurt.  Set aside.

2.  Saute onions in oil until translucent.  Add in garlic and finger, cook one minute more.  Cover, cook for 15 minutes.  Stir frequently.

3. When onions are softened add in cardamom, cumin, coriander, turmeric chili powder and bay leaf.
4.  Pinch of ends of cloves and add to the mix.  Discard stalks.  Cook for five minutes more stirring constantly.

5.  Stir in flour, saffron, sugar and salt.  Add 1 cup water.

6.  Bring to a simmer cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.  Blend mixture.

7.  Add chicken to the pot.  Heat until chicken is cooked through.

8.  Serve with a sprinkling of cilantro (I didnt have any, bummer), on a bed of rice.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mr. Hedgehog's Stew

I found this recipe years ago in a magazine put out by Tops Supermarket.  I made it in my new house (about 18 years ago), insert pride here, for my parents.  We all loved it.  I have made it many times since.  I am pretty sure I like it best because of the name.  Who is Mr. Hedgehog anyway?  Does he live in the forest?

Just a little tip about wine.  When we have had wine around here and there is some leftover, it always seems to be in 1/4 cup increments, I freeze it. Red wine, white wine whatever.  I always end up using it.  I throw red wine in sauce often and I throw white wine in risotto when I make it.  It's so handy!

Mr. Hedgehog's Stew
Slightly adapted from Lifestyle magazine, 2001, Volume 4 Issue 11.  Just so you know, I make this with beer sometimes.  It is different but equally delicious.

½ pound bacon
1 large onion
2 ribs celery
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 pounds boneless beef, trimmed and cut into cubes 
½ cup flour 
2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon black pepper 
4 cups beef stock or broth 
2 bay leaves 
tablespoon sugar 
½ C red wine 
1 teaspoon dried powdered thyme 
1/4 cup fresh parsley 
1 teaspoon dried dill 
½ teaspoon dry mustard powder 
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
cups carrots, peeled and cut into small cubes (or baby carrots) 
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed 
cups frozen peas 

Saute bacon in large frying pan until very crisp. Remove from pan, and set aside. Place 3 tablespoons of bacon grease into a 6 quart soup pot. Add chopped onion, celery and garlic. Saute until well cooked, but not browned. Add fried bacon pieces, and remove from heat. Place beef cubes, flour, salt and pepper in a paper or plastic bag, and shake well to coat the meat. Brown the beef cubes in batches in the frying pan with the bacon grease. If there is not enough drippings then add more oil. When the meat is browned well on all sides, add it to the soup pot. Add the remaining ingredients (except the vegetables) to the soup pot and stir often over medium heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and stir well. Simmer 15 minutes. Add potatoes and stir well cooking for another 15 minutes. Add peas, stir well and cook for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

If the soup does not have the thickness you desire you can either add instant potato flakes or make a slurry of flour (about 1/4 cup) and water.

Tip:  Making it the day before you want to serve it gives the flavors a chance to marry.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

I saw these and knew I had to make them.  Matter of fact I am making them again today.  Why? Because they were so good, so tender, so cute!  This time I am going to change some of them up a little.  I will let you know how that goes.

By the way, these are obviously not just for dinner.  I only called them that because I did not want them to be confused with cake like pumpkin roll.  My daughter did have hers with some butter and maple syrup.
Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
The idea for these rolls came from this recipe at Handle The Heat but I changed it up a bit.

1 cup milk scalded
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons or 1 package Instant Yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice

1. Heat the milk until it just begins to bubble, like its going to boil.
2. Mix hot milk with butter, letting it melt.  Add in pumpkin puree until combined and finally the egg. 3. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. When adding them to the bowl, don't let the yeast and salt touch.  When it is all combined, no worries.
4  Mix the wet into the dry, thoroughly.  If you have a mixer, great, if not, your hands will work just fine.
5.  If the dough is super sticky add a tablespoon more of flour. You want it a little sticky though.  You don't want to add too much flour.
6.  If you are using your hands, clean your hands and your work surface and spread a little oil out.  Stretch the dough onto itself from the bottom up, making a ball.  This will make it easier to handle.
7. If you are using a mixer, turn the dough onto an oiled surface and do the same thing. Once it is in an more smooth ball, place in oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
8.  Rise or proof in a warm spot.  I place mine in the microwave with a warm glass of water by its side.  One hour.
9.  Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces.  I weighed mine and they were about 2.5 ounces each.
10.  Shape into a ball and smush down a little.  Smush is a very technical word, don' t yah know.
11. Cut sides in five equal places.  Put and indent in the center.
12.  Rise for 30 minutes.
13.  Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes.  If you have an instant read thermometer, you are looking for an internal temp of 190 to 200F.
14.  Remove from over and put a little half pecan in for a stem.
15.  Sit back and admire the product of your hard work. Or gratefully start scarfing warm bread into your mouth like the grateful baker you are.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Piri Piri Chicken

I researched this sauce and adapted flavors to meet my own taste and the kind of peppers I had available to me.  I really like what I came up with.  I will eventually try it with Thai peppers but for now, I am totally loving this creation.  Piri piri sauce is my new go to hot sauce.  LOVE it!

The one thing that really makes piri piri stand out is the smoked paprika.  You definitely should buy a real good brand.  I am going to be honest here I have used it before and I wasn't all that jazzed about smoked paprika.  I thought it added bitterness and I wasn't exactly sold on its qualities.  But here, in this sauce, it is TOTALLY what makes it.  It is so awesome! I slather it on everything.  

I made some piri piri chicken, which from what I read, is wildly popular all over Mozambique. THe sauce hails from Spain originally.  I honestly think that this sauce will really catch on here and be all over soon enough.  You will hear it everywhere.  

Piri Piri Sauce

12 cherry peppers (any variety will work but the heat will be changed up)
6 cloves of garlic
1 onion
juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of Kosher or non-iodine salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 cup of white vinegar

Blend everything together.
Cook one hour with lid on.
Store in glass jars in refrigerator.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


We actually call this dish Garalaya.  Why?  Well, my brother made this for us when we were visiting him.  Its kind of like Jambalaya but tweaked a little. Since then I have made it several times and so has my Mother.  It's really nice as you can pretty much put anything you want in it. Add in some zucchini if you like. Its one of those "use things up" kind of things.


2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color)
1 1/2 pounds Kielbasa or Andouille  (any kind of sausage works as long as it has some great flavor)
4 to 6 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 can beans with liquid
Creole Seasoning to taste (its salty and spicy- if you dont have it see below for an idea on how to make your own) I used Konriko here.
4 green onions, sliced thinly

Saute onions and pepper in oil, cooking until golden.  Add garlic, cook one minute more.  Add in fresh tomatoes. chopped kielbasa, beans and Creole seasoning. Cook until the tomatoes are just starting to fall apart.  Garnish with green onion sprinkled over top and the Creole seasoning or hot sauce in case someone wants a little more heat.  We like it with rice too.

Creole Seasoning Mix

2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt

Mix together thoroughly.