Monday, October 25, 2010

The Maiden Voyage....

of my new OVEN!! HOORAY!
MMMM Chocolate Chip cookies! Perfect!
(Just the basic Toll House Recipe...)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Dip

I wanted a Sun Dried Tomato dip and no recipe I saw seemed just right so once again I made my own creation. It turned out DELICIOUS!!!

Great for chips or veggies. I even think it would be a great burger spread!

8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream(Mexican Sour Cream by Darigold is the BEST)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 oz sun dried tomatoes(I prefer the pouch but oil packed is ok, just drain well)
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 small jalapeƱo(optional, keep seeds in if you like a little more spice)
1 clove garlic
small handful baby spinach
1 TB dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in a food processor and blend well making sure everything is chopped fine.
Put into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour to let the flavors mingle.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Review of Stainless 14-Piece Cookware Set

Originally submitted at Cookware Essentials

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By SuperPickle from Sequim WA on 10/22/2010


2out of 5

Pros: Distributes Heat Evenly, Heats Quickly, Retains Heat

Cons: Easily chipped, Made in China, Scratches Easily

Best Uses: Simple Meals, Elaborate Meals

Describe Yourself: Avid Cook

Got to use it ONCE and the pan chipped....I was very disappointed to see a large MADE IN CHINA printed across the box.
With the All-Clad name on it I expected MUCH better quality.
Plus the steamer bonus that was included did not fit in any pots with this set. Largest pot included was a 9 inch diameter. The steamer was 10.

The ONE thing I got to cook turned out fabulous though. No problems with sticking. Heated fast and evenly.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Lasagna

Wonderfully delicious veggie lasagna....or you can add chicken or ground beef(or white beans to keep it veggie) for a protein boost!

12 pumpkin lasagna noodles

2 cups tomato sauce(1-15 oz can)
1 large tomato, diced( or 1 can )
1 TB oregano
1 TB parsley
2 tsp basil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Combine all in a saucepan and simmer for an hour or so.

Cheese Filling:
1 16 oz container cottage cheese
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 TB parsley
1 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all in a food processor and pulse to combine well.

amounts vary to your tastes
Spinach(I prefer baby spinach and used about 1 big handful per layer)
Zucchini(I used 2 medium) shredded
Carrots(I used 2 large) shredded

Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese
I used 12 oz moz and a sprinkling of Parmesan

On the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan spread a small amount of tomato sauce.
Layer 3 noodles into the pan( you DON'T have to cook them first if they are still fresh, dip them in hot water if they are dried)

Place 1/4 of the sauce

1/3 the cheese mix and 1/3 the veggies

and sprinkle with 1/4 of the cheese

Add another layer of pasta and repeat twice.

After the last layer of pasta spread on remaining sauce and mozzarella and a sprinkle of Parmesan and oregano.

Cover with foil and Bake in 350 degree oven  for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.
Allow to set for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Pumpkin Pasta

Mildly flavored pasta, great for pumpkin lasagna or pumpkin raviolis or just about any pasta dish you want to try it out with!

3 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
3/4-1 tsp salt
1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Combine all ingredients in kitchenaid bowl with the flat beater. Allow the dough to come together adding small amounts of extra pumpkin puree if it is too dry, be careful though you dont want the dough to be sticky.

Switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth

Remove from the bowl and knead by hand (with some extra flour if it is too sticky) for a minute.
Divide into 6 portions and allow to rest for 10 minutes

  Attach your pasta roller and roll the dough through on setting one, fold and repeat until you have a smooth elastic sheet(dont be afraid to add a touch of flour if it sticks)

Change Setting to 4 and run it through one last time.
Cut each sheet in half lengthwise and to the width of your pan.
Extras can be made into Mockaroni... Cut 1 inch squares and roll it up.

Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Fresh Pumpkin Puree is SO easy and well worth it. Tastes a million times better than canned stuff for sure!

1 pumpkin....depending on how much puree you want size is up to you.(Mine was about 8lbs)

Cut your pumpkin in half with a large knife and scoop out all the seeds and "guts"

Chop it into several large chunks , remove the entire stem and "core"...You can skin it first but I find doing it after it is steamed is much easier.

Place it in a steamer over medium high heat.

My steamer only held 1/2 the pumpkin at a time.

Steam it until very tender(about 15 minutes)

Remove and allow to cool until you can comfortably handle it to remove the skin.

Chop into smaller pieces and place in a food processor

Turn it on high and Puree it up. Keep going until all the chunks are gone.

Cool completely and freeze.... 15 oz can = approx 1 3/4 cups so I like to divided it up and freeze it in "can" size.
My pumpkin yielded 10 cups. So about 5 3/4 "cans"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Homemade V8 Juice

My husband LOVES V8 but hates that it is so full of Sodium. Even the reduced sodium variety tastes too salty to him, plus if you look at the ingredients it is alot from concentrate... not as healthful as it could I made him some fresh stuff. Very tasty!!

4 Large Tomatoes
1 small size Beet(edit 10/19-Troy said the beet was too overpowering so next time I will try a smaller one or even less)
3 large carrots
4 stalks of celery(with leaves if possible)
a few good sized handfuls of baby spinach
1-2 jalapeƱos (can be omitted if you dont like  the heat)
1 small white onion
2 cloves of garlic
small handful of fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

juice all ingredients according to your juicers instructions....

Pour juice into a large sauce pan.

For those who have juicers that cant juice herbs or you prefer/have to used dried you can make a small satchel of herbs from cheese cloth and tie it shut tightly. I used basil, oregano, whole peppercorns and some dried garlic flakes (because I only had one clove)

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, simmer for 20 minutes with the satchel of herbs. Salt and pepper to taste.
(Cooking it will take away from the nutrients but I find it lasts longer this way, of course you can always omit this step and slow steep the herbs in juice in the fridge)

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature(you can leave the herb satchel in or remove it at this point)

Put into a container and refrigerate.For best nutrition use ASAP.
It can also be frozen in ice cube trays for future use.

Makes an excellent soup base!!

Whats missing?? From the original V8 I have omitted Lettuce and Watercress simply because I did not have them on hand...

Lavender Jelly

I needed to use up some dried lavender I had so I decided to make a quick lavender jelly. Very tasty for a basic pb and j or a great topping on ice cream but so versatile that it can be used with meats like lamb or chicken.

Different types of lavender will yield different flavors and colors... this was made with Jean Davis(pink english) lavender

3/4 cup dried culinary grade lavender
3.5 cups water
1-1.75 ounce box powdered pectin or 3 oz liquid pectin
4 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

In a large pot bring water to a boil, add in lavender. Remove from heat and allow the lavender to steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the lavender out and bring the "tea" to a boil again, add in lemon juice and pectin, stir until completely dissolved. Slowly add in the sugar. Stir and boil rapidly for 5-6 minutes.

Pour into hot sterilized pint jars to 1/4 inch from top and seal. Makes about 2 and 3/4 pint jars. (or you can use 1/2 pint jars)

NOTE: Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers. These flowers have usually been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops. Make sure they come from certified organic producers or grow them yourself.

Make sure to pick a lavender that it suited to your flavor preference

English Lavender- (l. angustifolia ) is favored for its mild taste and citrusy flavor; used in both meat, drink and dessert recipes
Munstead Lavender – (l. angustifolia ) slightly stronger lavender flavor than English Lavender; used in meat, drink and dessert recipes
Jean Davis Lavender – (l. angustifolia ) has a mild, slightly fruity flavor; used in fish dishes, drinks and desserts
Melissa Lavender – (l. angustifolia ) has a slight peppery flavor; used in savory recipes
Provence Lavender – (x. intermedia ) a favorite of chefs due to its mild scent and flavor; used in meat and dessert recipes

Sequim Lavender Lemon Snickerdoodles

Ok I am finally going to share my secret cookie recipe....I love these cookies, a light lavender flavor with delicious lemon... made with my own lavender from my summer garden. I have been experimenting with which variety makes the best sugar. So far my favorite is "Munstead" Lavender but pretty much any variety will do. In my experiments Spanish Lavender does NOT do well.

See* note for making lavender sugar. Also if you want a more pronounced lavender flavor use 1 cup lavender sugar and 1/2 cup regular...or less 1/2 cup lavender and 1 cup regular ...whatever suits your taste but BE CAREFUL , remember lavender, like any other herb, can become overpowering to the point of inedible quite quickly. If you want a more lemony flavor add up to 1 tsp extra lemon extract with the butter and sugar mixture....again be careful when making adjustments!

3/4 cup Butter
3/4 cup white Sugar
3/4 cup lavender sugar*
2 eggs

2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup homemade lemon pudding mix (or 1-3.4 oz package)
1/4 t salt

Lavender Sugar to roll *

Preheat oven to 350*F (205*C).

Combine flour, baking soda, pudding and cream of tartar in a medium bowl; set aside.

With electric mixer, cream butter with the sugars, beating until creamy. Add eggs, beat well.

Stir in flour mixture, mixing well. Place in the fridge for about an hour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls . Roll in lavender sugar. Place 2-inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets and flatten slightly.

Bake for 5 minutes turn sheet 1/4 turn bake 4 minutes more or until lightly browned.

Let cool on pan for about 1 minute. Remove to wire racks to cool.

* To make lavender sugar place 1/4 cup dried culinary lavender in the bottom of a wide mouth jar, add in 3
cups sugar and close tightly, allow to sit for 2-3 weeks shaking the jar every few days. The longer you let it sit the more flavorful it will be. When it is done you can sift out the lavender buds, use the sugar and reuse the buds to make more, replacing them every 3rd time or so. Alternately you can bind the lavender in muslin cloth to make a sachet. Place it with the sugar, this way you dont have to strain it out. I do it directly because some recipes I use I prefer to leave the buds in the sugar.

You can also purchase lavender sugar in many specialty stores or online.

IF you don't want to wait you can place 3/4 cup regular sugar in a small bowl food processor and process it with 3 tsp dried lavender buds for 60 seconds or so. The flavor is not a pronounced so dont strain out the buds. It works well enough. Do the same for the rolling sugar with 1 tsp and 1/4 cup

NOTE: Do not eat flowers from florists, nurseries or garden centers. These flowers have usually been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops. Make sure they come from certified organic producers or grow them yourself.

English Lavender- (l. angustifolia ) is favored for its mild taste and citrusy flavor; used in both meat, drink and dessert recipes

Munstead Lavender – (l. angustifolia ) slightly stronger lavender flavor than English Lavender; used in meat, drink and dessert recipes

Jean Davis Lavender – (l. angustifolia ) has a mild, slightly fruity flavor; used in fish dishes, drinks and desserts

Melissa Lavender – (l. angustifolia ) has a slight peppery flavor; used in savory recipes

Provence Lavender – (x. intermedia ) a favorite of chefs due to its mild scent and flavor; used in meat and dessert recipes

Friday, October 8, 2010

Homemade "Frootsie" Rolls(Fruit Flavored Tootsie Rolls)

I love the Frootsie Rolls that come out around Halloween. Some areas have them year round but here it is only Oct. So I decided to make my own!!!
I took Paula Deen's Recipe for Homemade Tootsie Rolls and adapted it for fruit ones.
Try for flavoring oils Typical flavors are Vanilla, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime but you can expand out to any flavors you like, check out the many flavorings here!!

This first batch turned out a little soft, but I think adding Oils instead of extract will remedy that issue. I will update when I receive my baking oils and try a new batch! But they do TASTE just like the Tootsie Rolls!

Edit 10/20  Flavor Oils are DEFINITELY a better choice!! Cherry was a HUGE success!!

12 oz package white morsels
1/2 cup light corn syrup(use a little less if you are using extract over baking oil, 4-5 TB)
vanilla or fruit extract or oil
Food coloring as needed
my first batch I used 2 TB orange extract, with oils you will need less, just start small, mix and sample until you reach your preferred taste
Edit 10/20- I used 1 tsp of the cherry baking oil and the taste was pretty strong! I will try with less next time

Line a 9x9 square baking pan with plastic wrap

In a double boiler over simmering water(medium heat) melt white chips.

When they are all melted add in other ingredients and mix well.

Scrape the mixture into baking pan and press to even thickness in the pan.

Cover with another piece of plastic and let it set overnight at room temperature.

 Peel off plastic wrap and cut into strips about 1/2-3/4 inch wide. Roll each strip into log shapes about 1/2 inch wide and cut into desired lengths.

Wrap individually in colored foil or wax paper  squares. Store in the fridge to keep them a little firmer, room temp and they stay pretty soft.