Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

323.  Just a peek at my Christmas baking and a few decor highlights this Holiday.  Have a merry one!






“My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.” 
― Louisa May AlcottLittle Women

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rösti Shredded Potato Casserole


322.  Christmas morning brunch featured a delicious potato & egg casserole called Rösti.  The recipe is from Switzerland and you can find the recipe here: http://www.panningtheglobe.com/2014/06/10/shredded-potato-casserole-ham-eggs/
I 've made the recipe several times and found that shredding the potato raw and baking everything accept the egg is easier for me.  Once the potatoes are tender I made an indentation with a large spoon and dropped an egg in each indent placing it back into the oven for a few minutes till eggs are as desired.  The eggs will continue to cook once removed from the oven so keep that in mind if you want them softer.  I paired this dish with fresh fruit, cinnamon rolls and bacon.
 Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Enjoy your family and friends and don't forget to hug the ones you love.

"Christmas, my child, is love in action.
Every time we love, every time we give,
it's Christmas."
-Dale Evans

Friday, December 9, 2016

Squash Soup

321.  Have you tried Panera's Squash Soup available each fall?  This soup is always a favorite of mine, on the same level as "psl's" for others. (That's "pumpkin spiced latte's"😉)
Though, once December came, this yummy soup disappeared off the menu.  So I thought to myself, "How hard could this soup be to make?"  So I decided to try it.  I did a bit of research and discovered the ingredients on the Panera website of menu items.  Then I set out to recreate the magic.
I used a fresh pumpkin, cleaned and then baked at 275 F till tender to the touch.
Puree pumpkin in processor and set aside.

I then peeled, and chopped 
1 medium onion
4 carrots peeled and chopped
2 apples peeled & chopped
3 cups cooked pureed pumpkin
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
I brought to a boil and cooked till tender.  Transfer the veggies to a processor or blender and blend on high/puree or use an immersion blender.
Return puree to the pot.  Add 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
Taste and add more salt, pepper, curry or cream as needed.  Bring back to boil then serve in warm bowls adding toasted pumpkin seeds on top for texture. This soup was so simplistic using basic products.  You could use frozen squash or canned pumpkin but the flavor will vary and may not be as bright as fresh butternut squash and pumpkin.

"When the Lord starts out to make an oak tree, He takes 100 years to do it, but He can make pumpkin in 90 days.  More or less life is like that. We must choose whether we desire to become an oak tree or a pumpkin."
-Sterling W. Sill

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pumpkin Floral Centerpiece

320.  This is a beautiful and easy centerpiece for fall.  It's fresh flowers, live pumpkin and a few additives that will be a stunning conversation piece. 
Start with a pumpkin, any size you would like, fresh flowers from your garden or the florist and a few floral pics or floral filler and an oasis block.
Cut a square in the top of the pumpkin then scoop out the seeds and discard.  Cut oasis block to fit the opening and soak the block in warm water till completely saturated.  Place wet block in the opening of the pumpkin.
 
I picked marigolds from my garden to use as filler and completely cover the oasis block.  Then begin to add flowers in three levels:  tall, medium and short.  Accent with floral picks such as berries, corn stalks or fall leaves.
 There is no need to add a bow or ribbon.  The arrangement will stun and delight as the focal point of your table, centerpiece or coffee table.

"Creativity is intelligence having fun."
-Albert Einstein

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fish Tacos

319.  Today was a "craving day" for Fish Tacos.  I just had to have them!!!
Bobby Flay had a great recipe he shared on his Boy Meets Grill episode of Fish taco.  You can see the episode here:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/fish-tacos-recipe.html

Here is my process and I must say, this recipe was flavorful, memorable and one to come back to time after time.




I also made sides of refried beans and Spanish rice to accompany the tacos.
 Condiments were chopped cabbage and radishes,  my homemade salsa, scallion, red onion and limes and sour cream.  Delicious!!


"Take risks and you'll get the payoffs.  Learn from your mistakes until you succeed."

-Bobby Flay

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

318.  Thanksgiving is near and I'm trying a new recipe for Pumpkin Pie Biscotti.
I experimented with a few recipes and found that if you add to a plain recipe; 1/2 cup purée pumpkin, canned or fresh along with pumpkin pie spices: 1/2 tsp clove, tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger and 1/4 cup flour with the dry ingredients,  1/2 cup chopped Ghirardelli white chocolate and 1/2 cup chopped pecans...you will have a great variation to your biscotti recipe.
 The texture of your batter should be moist but not dry or sticky and should be able to hold the shape of a log once formed.  Bake as your recipe states but make sure you do not over bake.  It should be browned and firm.
 I use Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bars because they melt smoother and will not become hard inside your biscotti. The white chocolate chips always seem to burn or become very hard when baked.
Once the biscotti are finished I make a drizzle of white chocolate and a teaspoon or more of crisco to bring the chocolate to a runny consistency for drizzling.
Experiment with your recipe and see how easy it is to change and adapt a recipe to new flavors.
Here is a great link to a variety of biscotti recipes:  http://italianchef.com/biscotti/

"Like most things in life, rushing the process only leads to disappointment."
- Mary Berry, Britains Great Bake Off

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies w Browned Butter Nutella Cream Filling

317.  Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies with Browned Butter Nutella filling!!!  Now this cookie is a keeper.

Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies w Browned Butter/Nutella Cream Filling

cookie:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup milk

filling:
1/4 cup butter, browned
1/2 cup nutella spread
1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
milk 

directions:
Preheat oven to 400F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Beat the sugars and butter till creamy light.  Add baking powder, salt and extract, beat till incorporated.  Add eggs one at a time and blend well.  Add flour and milk alternately beginning with flour.  Batter will be thick but fluffy.
Scoop the batter onto parchment with Tablespoon cookie scoop for consistency.  Bake for 6 to 8 minutes looking for spring in the top and light brown around edge.  Set aside to cool completely.  

To make the filling place 1/4 cup butter in a small stainless pot on medium high heat.  Melt the butter and continue to simmer.  The butter will sizzle and foam and once the foam has completely subsided and the butter is clear, remove from the heat. Cool.  There will be brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
Pour the melted butter and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan into a mixing bowl.  Add the Nutella, sugar and vanilla.  Blend together till creamy and spreadable, adding milk if needed or more confectioner's sugar.

Spread the filling onto bottom of a cookie and then top with another cookie.  They will be slightly sticky to the touch and should not be stacked on top of each other.  Great to eat immediately.
Freeze well.
These cookies will disappear before your eyes!

"Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy Nutella, and that is the same thing."
- Urban Quote

Friday, November 4, 2016

Garden Canning

316.  Canning tomatoes is a must each autumn.  My tomato plants were great producers with constant tomatoes on the vine from May through November.  I purchased the plants in March at a plant distributor in Brooklyn, NY.  It was very early but I brought them home and kept them warm and watered till May.  These plants were significantly hardy and healthy as opposed to plants that I would buy locally in town.   Along with tomato plants I purchased flowers and herbs, which were also good quality and productive.

Each week would produce a basket full of tomatoes and cucumbers.  There are only so many tomatoes you can eat fresh.  The rest were destined to be sauce, salsa and marinara.  Towards the end of the growing season, when the temperature stayed below 70degrees, the tomatoes that were green were very useful for green salsa.  And can I say, the green salsa turned out "magnificent"!
 I still use some of the old canning jars my mom gave to me and others purchased at flee markets and yard sales.  My funnel was purchased in my first year of marriage when we lived in Seattle, Washington.  We loved to go to Remlinger Farms, pick apples and enjoy the beautiful scenery in Carnation, Washington.  Here is the link:  https://remlingerfarms.com/wholesale.htm
I was able to put up 3 batches of tomato sauce and marinara as well as 2 batches of salsa in pint jars.  This was the best tomato growth I can remember in many, many years.  Not to mention the great fresh basil, parsley and oregano growth as well.  Ahhhh, homemade sauce, nothing like it!

"There ain't nothin' better in life than true love and a home grown tomato."
-Old Saying 

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