Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Traditions - Lucky Foods

GRAPES - New Year's Eve in Spain

A traditional custom of celebrating New Year's Eve in Spain - Everyone consumes twelve grapes at midnight - one grape for each stroke of the clock.  Everyone has to finish their grapes and the New Year starts.

Great way to start the New Year - with a mouth full of grapes!  With a few cocktails and a mouthful of grapes..........don't try to whistle!  Happy New Year!

Today's Food Quote

"Happy and successful cooking doesn't rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life." Georges Blanc, 'Ma Cuisine des Saisons'

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cookography

Taking good photos of food is not as easy as it looks.  Especially when you don't have the proper equipment.  After some research, I learned some of the fundamentals; lighting, composition, angles, etc. 
This is my first attempt at capturing texture, color and hopefully an appetizing photo.  The "vanishing" Craisan Oatmeal cookies were made last night.  There were about 7 left for me to choose from before my son finished them off!  Thank you Chef Dennis for the comment on my Apple Pancake.  Everyone needs some inspiration and some positive feedback!

Before..


After... 



Monday, December 27, 2010

The Morning After the Blizzard - Big Apple Pancake

I can't remember a storm like the one we had last night.  The weather report compared it to the equivalent of a Category 3 Hurricane.

 Before we start to venture out to start digging a path, breakfast today is a warm Big Apple Pancake.  Baked in the oven, this pancake reminds me of french toast.

Big Apple Pancake

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tb. unsalted butter
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 lemon wedges
Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  In a large ovenproof skillet, (preferably with curved sides, melt 2 Tb. butter over medium heat.  Add the apple slices and cook, stirring until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add 2 Tb. of the brown sugar and stir to combine.




In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, milk and flour.  Pour this batter over the apples in the skillet.  Transfer to the oven and bake until puffy, about 10 minutes.  In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and remaining 2 Tb. brown sugar.  Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into pieces.  When the pancake puffs,
remove from the oven, dot with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.


Return to the oven to bake until browned, about 8-10 minutes more.  As the pancake comes out of the oven, squeeze lemon wedges over the top.  Serve in wedges out of the pan.



Servings: 4
Prep Time:  15 min.
Cook Time: 40 min.
~Gale Gand, "Butter Sugar Flour Eggs"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

This Day in Food History - 1960

Dr. Irving Cooper received a wine bottle opener for Christmas. It injected carbon dioxide gas into the bottle to force the cork out. He noticed the gas was extremely cold coming out from the needle like device. This gave him the idea to develop a brain surgery technique using liquid nitrogen to freeze tiny areas of brain cells or tumors.

Maybe I'll come up with something?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Pasta Machine for Cookies?

Chrusciki - known as angels' wings or bow-ties, these sugar dusted sweets are associated with Poland.  Since the dough has to be rolled out extremely thin, I decided to use my pasta machine.  They came out perfectly!

Divide dough into four equal portions.


Using your pasta machine, start at setting #2 and end with #5.  This is the perfect thickness for the cookies.







Cut into strips as shown.  Make a small slit in each strip and pass through to make a bow-tie.


Fry until light golden brown.



When cool, dust generously with powdered sugar.



Please bear with me on the photography.  I'm working on it :o)
Recipe available on 12/6/10 post.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I am a huge fan of salty/sweet combinations.  These pretzels are a quick easy treat to add to your tray of Christmas goodies!  Simply melt the chocolate of your choice, dip, roll in holiday sprinkles, colored sugar, nuts or coconut...Use your imagination!  After dipping refrigerate pretzels for 20 minutes to set chocolate.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sprinkles of Parsley: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Sprinkles of Parsley: Homemade Vanilla Extract: "I can't believe Christmas is almost here... this year just flew by! I remember when I saw homemade vanilla extract on The Italian Dis..."

Christmas Popcorn Tins

Every year I buy one of those popcorn tins filled with 3 different compartments of flavored popcorn.  This year was no different.  Mainly because the tins are so appealing...but last year's batch was about the equivalent of cardboard.  So my mission is now to make my own caramel corn (including more than 5 peanuts).


CARAMEL CRUNCH POPCORN

  • 2 bag(s) (2.9 to 3 ounces each) microwave light popcorn, popped, or 20 cups popped corn
  • 1 jar(s) (12 ounces) salted dry-roasted peanuts (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup(s) (2 sticks) butter (no substitutions)
  • 1 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup(s) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly grease two 15 1/2" by 10 1/2" jelly-roll pans or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place popped corn in very large bowl; discard any unpopped kernels. Add peanuts; toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. In 3-quart saucepan, heat butter, sugars, and corn syrup on medium until butter melts and sugars dissolve, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently with metal spoon or heat-safe spatula. Increase heat to medium-high and heat to boiling, about 3 minutes; boil 3 minutes longer. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in baking soda (mixture will bubble vigorously), and pour over popcorn mixture in bowl. Stir immediately; continue stirring until all popcorn is evenly coated.
Divide popcorn mixture between prepared jelly-roll pans; spread evenly. Place pans on 2 oven racks. Bake popcorn mixture 45 minutes, rotating pans between upper and lower racks halfway through baking and stirring occasionally.
    Cool popcorn mixture completely in pans on wire racks, about 1 hour. Break apart any large clusters of popcorn when cool. Store in tightly sealed containers at room temperature up to 2 weeks.


    Pack in Candy Cane Cello Bags and Santa Cookie Tins.
    This is going to be my new tradition - This popcorn is addicting!
    ~Good Housekeeping

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    The American Table - A Taste of Home

    A frugal, tasty dish, Swiss steak was popular on the home front during World War II.  Bob Dole, then a young soldier, later a U.S. Senator, longed for it and much more.  In his letter home: "Send candy, gum, cookies, cheese, grape jelly, popcorn, nuts, peanut clusters.  Vick's vapor rub, wool socks, wool scarf, fudge cookies, ice cream, liver and onions, chicken, banana cake, milk, fruit cocktail, Swiss steak, crackers, more candy.  Life Savers, peanuts, piano, radio, living room suite, record player and Frank Sinatra.  I guess you might as well send the whole house if you can get it in a five-pound box." ~Cook's Country

    I wonder what my dad would have asked for?  I have about 50 letters he sent from the Army..I'll have to look through them.

    Food for Thought

    Non-cooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet. ~Julia Child

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    The Sensations of Christmas

    What do you think of when someone mentions Christmas?  Opening gifts? Jingle Bells? Baking Cookies?
    New warm winter gloves, snowflakes on your tongue.....

                              CHRISTMAS IS A FEAST FOR THE SENSES

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Comfort Food Trends - 1980's

    It's all coming back to me now...

    Banana Pudding Pops                    Wax Lips
    Butoni's Toaster Pizza                    Wax Bottles
    Candy Cigarettes                           Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Drink
    Chuckles                                        Zingers
    Fresca
    Micro Magic Food
    Necco Wafers
    Razzles
    Tid Bits Crackers
    Wagon Wheels Pasta

    Don't forget that slang!
    Airhead (noun) unaware person, moron
    Bite me!
    Can you relate?
    Damn Skippy - Strong affirmation or agreement
    Eat my Shorts! - If someone was to put you down in anyway, you can reply with this phrase
    Get Bent! - Get lost or leave me alone
    Kicks - Pair of shoes
    Space Cadet - Disoriented  See Also: Airhead, Ditz

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Need a gift for the seasoned cook in your life?

    If you think cookware would not make a great Christmas gift - think again?  Regular viewers of the Food Network and avid cooks know that you need good cookware to properly prepare meals.  Even newbies could use a good start.  Visit http://www.foodnetworkstore.com/ to find great deals on Calphalon Skillet Sets -
    http://www.foodnetworkstore.com/s-89-Cookware.aspx. This cookware is the best you can buy and lasts a lifetime when properly cared for.  They can go from stovetop to oven and clean-up is a breeze.  I am intending to get this set for my son who just moved into a new apartment and needs to build up his cooking skills! (which he got from me by the way).

    Comfort Food Trends - 1970's

    Now THIS is more my speed.

    CrockPots                                              Kool-Aid
    Fondue Pots                                            Bugles
    Chicken Pot Pie                                       Tang                                                                                                              
    Shake & Bake                                         Shake-a-Pudding
    Hamburger Helper                                   Fizzlers (I used to love those)
    Jiffy-Pop                                                  Pop-Rocks
    Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill                  Meatballs in Grape Jelly
    Anything in a mold                                   Avocado - Most kitchen appliances

    We can't forget those Magic 8-balls, mood rings anything with a smiley face on it.  Sadly I lost my plastic purple peace sign that I won at Seaside..grrr

    Everything was just Groovy!

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Comfort Food Trends - 1950's - 60's

    Since I was just a wee thing...

    The First Pillsbury Bake-off Began
    Tuna Noodle Casserole
    Oven Fried Chicken with cereal crumb topping
    TV Dinners
    Root Beer Floats (Stewart's)

    and the unforgettable............SPAM - Sorry I don't have any recipes.

    Homemade Food Gifts

    Gifts from the kitchen (and your heart) will be even sweeter because they were made by you!

    Just a few food gift packaging ideas:

    Paper Bags - Line the bag with tissue paper.  Poke holes or make slits in the bag.  Lace ribbon, string, greenery or jingle bells through the bags.

    Bottle or Jar - Tie raffia or twine around the neck of each bottle.  Attach a small ornament.

    Gift Tags - Start with scrapbook paper, cookie cutters, felt and add your own touch with glitter, ribbon or markers. 

    Gifts in a jar:  Apple Crisp
                         Mexican Hot Cocoa
                         Golden Honey Granola

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Food for Thought

    "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." -- J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    Giving wine as a gift this year? A great way to wrap it!

    This year, instead of giving your neighbors or friends a bottle of wine in a gift bag, buy a pair of funky Christmas socks.  Insert bottle into one of the socks and use the other sock to tie around the neck bottle.
    Two gifts in one!

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Barnes & Noble last minute gift ideas.

    Free shipping and 45% discount on most items!

    Culinary Shoebox

    Ok...I'm tired of looking through my shoebox of recipes I have collected over the years.  Starting today, my mission is to post and share three recipes per day until I make a dent.  Carpel Tunnel!  Join me in http://www.mixingbowl.com/

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Tomato Potatoes?

    Yes...that's what we call them...take your favorite meatloaf recipe.  Cut peeled potatoes into thick wedges and place around meatloaf in your baking pan.  Mix two cans of tomato soup as directed and pour over meatloaf and potatoes..Bake at 375 degrees until potatoes are tender.  These potatoes are addicting!

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    THINK CHAI!!

    Substitute your coffee with some Healthy Alternatives - think Chai!

    Switching to Chai Tea will cut your caffeine intake in half.  The black tea is rich in antioxidants and the spices have been used for thousands of years to promote health and treat ailments.

    This is great on cold days, or when your feeling under the weather.

    EASY CHAI TEA LATTE
    • 2 tea bags (preferably Darjeeling)
    • l tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. ginger
    • 1/4 tsp. allspice
    • 1-1/2 cups water
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 c. brown sugar
    Boil water and add tea bags and spices.  Steep for 2-3 minutes.  Heat milk and brown sugar and to tea mixture.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Share your most treasured Holiday Tradition!

    Since my boys were little, every year when we put up the Christmas Tree - before any decorations could be put on it....i gave each of my boys a snowflake ornament (a sticky ball really) and they had to fling it on the tree..wherever it landed, that's where it stayed.  Kind of like the first pitch! - and that's how they would throw it as they got older!  Some things kids will just never forget.  Start a new tradition this year if you don't already have one.!  Please Share!

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Holiday Simmering Potpourri

    This makes the house smell like apple pie baking..
    • 5 cinnamon sticks, broken
    • 1 apple, sliced
    • 1 lemon, sliced
    • 1 orange, sliced
    • 1/2 cup whole cloves
    • 1 Tb nutmeg
    • 1 Tb bay leaf pieces

    Combine ingredients and add water to simmer on stovetop.  This can also be done in a slow-cooker on low setting.

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Polish Kolaczki Cookies

    These cookies were always made each year by Grandma "B".

    Ingredients:

    • 1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
    • 12 ounces (3 sticks) butter, softened
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 (14-ounce) cans fillings of choice (apricot, prune, raspberry, etc.)
    • Confectioners' sugar

    Preparation:

    1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add flour 1 cup at a time and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
    2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough 1/4-inch on a surface that has been dusted with equal parts confectioners' and granulated sugars (not flour). Cut into 2-inch squares. Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon filling on center of each square. Overlap opposite corners of dough to the center over filling.
    3. Bake for 15 minutes or when corners start to brown. Cool and dust with confectioners’ sugar. These tend to become soggy if held for several days, so store them tightly covered (or freeze) without the confectioners' sugar. Dust with confectioners' sugar just prior to service.
    Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Host a Cookie Swap Party!

    Enjoy the treats of the holiday season without the trouble of baking them all.  Invite family and friends to a Cookie Swap Party - it's easy and fun and everyone takes home some delicious cookies with very little effort.
    • Make a list - Give guests plenty of notice (say, like now).
    • Have your guests let you know what they will be bringing to prevent bringing the same cookie
    • Ask them to print copies of their recipes to share
    • Alert people of any allergens like nuts - with cookie name cards
    • Provide plastic wrap or foil so folks can re-use their own containers
    • Keep coffee tins, small gift bags or boxes for re-gifting swapped cookies.  Wrap in holiday paper.
    • Keep fresh veggies & dip or cheese and crackers on hand to prevent a sugar OD
    • Serve plenty of coffee, water, tea, wine or ice cold milk
     
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