Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 Neighbor Holiday Gift - Peppermint Bark, Again

Do you have a favorite treat you expect a certain neighbor to deliver during the holidays? Sherry always makes me caramel popcorn and Amy makes delicious Chex Mix.

I wanted to be the owner of Peppermint Bark and have friends near and far clamoring for a bag. Until.. I got bored of making it. So for 2010, I tried switching to fudge.

Guess what...I broke down and bought the chocolate and candy canes as too many requests for Peppermint Bark have been denied.

Here's my recipe:

15 oz Merken's milk chocolate disks (called Cocoa Lite)
15 oz Merken's white chocolate disks
14 drops peppermint oil
1 box (12) Bob's crushed candy canes

In a microwave-proof bowl, melt the milk chocolate in 30-second increments until smooth. Add 7 drops of peppermint oil (approx 1 tsp.). Spread in a jelly roll pan, banging the sides of the pan to even the layer.

While this layer cools slightly, melt white chocolate in 30-second increments until smooth. Add 7 drops of peppermint oil (approx 1 tsp.).

Check milk chocolate layer. When it starts to cloud over, but is not completely set, gently drizzle the white chocolate across entire pan. Using a spatula, smooth out the white chocolate, covering the milk chocolate. Do not mix too aggressively or you will end up with marbled bark.

Sprinkle candy cane pieces onto the white chocolate and press. Allow the chocolate to set. Using a butter knife or dough knife, break chocolate away from sides of the pan and into bite-sized pieces.

1 pan = 11-4 oz bags

Favorite Holiday Appetizer-Baked Havarti with Dill

Have you tried this? so easy and so tasty

1 block of Havarti cheese (you can buy Havarti with Dill too, saves 1 step)
1 package Cresent rolls

Unwrap cheese, sprinkle with dill, wrap with rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until roll dough is cooked.

Serve with crackers and try and share, please.

If you buy the cheese with dill in it, no need to sprinkle with dill, in case you didn't get that part.

Happy Appetizer-ing!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Simple Things

Some of my favorite things have just 1 or 2 ingredients

Baked Potato & Cottage Cheese

Honeydew Melon & Lime

Barbacoa Chips with Lime

Scoop of Ice Cream in A Cone

A Morning Hug & A Kiss

A Sweet Amen

A Giggle & A Smile

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kitchen Gadgets: Ultra-Long Spatula

We buy our peanut butter at a warehouse store since pb&j is a staple in our house. Once the first few scoops are used, the tall jar becomes a challenge for my every day butter knife.

Enter: the Ultra-Long Spatula

I love this spatula! It can reach places even better than the smallest child's hand! Check out how well it scrapes the last bit of yumminess from the bottom of the jar!

You can find one here

Not a bad price either! Enjoy!

Restaurant Remake: Bang Bang Chicken & Shrimp from CCF

One of my favorite dishes to eat at The Cheesecake Factory is Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp. It's a curry-flavored dish with coconut and peanuts on top, plenty of veggies (zuchinni and peas) and your choice of chicken or shrimp or both. Give this a try and see what you think!

Bang Bang Chicken & Shrimp
Curry Sauce
2 teaspoons chili oil 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup onion
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace

2 teaspoons ginger
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup chicken broth
3 cups coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium carrots, julienned

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small zucchini, julienned

1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup frozen peas
Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon chili oil
2 tablespoons water

4 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
2 tablespoons peanuts

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, crumbled 2 green onions, julienned

2 chicken breast fillets
1/4 cup cornstarch

16 large raw shrimp, shelled
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 cups cooked white rice

1. Start with preparing 4 cups of rice in your rice cooker. Toast your coconut in a 300-degree oven while you prepare the rest. Stir every 5 minutes, up to 20 minutes for golden coconut, depending on the heat of your oven. Let cool.
2. Cut chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Coat the chicken and shrimp with corn starch. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the coated chicken to the pan and sauté it for a couple minutes, turning as it cooks. Add the shrimp to the pan. Cook the shrimp and chicken for a couple minutes, until it's done, then remove everything to a rack or towel to drain.
3. Curry sauce: Heat the chili oil in the same large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for about 30 seconds then add the chicken broth. Add the spices (cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, black pepper, and turmeric) and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes before adding the coconut milk. Bring mixture back up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Add the julienned carrots and zucchini, and the frozen peas. Simmer mixture for 10 minutes or until carrots become tender.
4. Peanut sauce: Combine peanut butter, water, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and chili oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until mixture begins to bubble, then cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
5. Serve with rice and curry, garnish with peanut sauce, peanuts, parsley, green onions and toasted coconut
Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Birthday Cake Favorite- A Princess Cake from Glaus Bakery

In high school, my friend, Missy, had a birthday just 1 day before mine. Our Junior year, she kindly invited me to have a joint party at her house. It was then I was introduced to her favorite birthday cake.. a white cake with raspberry filling, a cream frosting, covered with a layer of marzipan. Only a few bakeries in town even bother making this type of cake, sometimes called a "Princess Cake". The almond flavor of the marzipan and the raspberry filling combine to make magic in my mouth.

Schmidt's Bakery and Glaus Bakery

Since then, if I'm feeling extra special, I request this cake for my celebration. Hope you all enjoy the virtual piece I'm sharing with you. I'm picking one up this afternoon, so maybe you'll get a picture by tomorrow!

Happy Birthday!

Finding the right Brownie recipe

I've been testing out brownie recipes to help a couple of cute friends who are getting married in the next few weeks. One wanted a cake-like brownie that would go well with a scoop of ice cream. The other thought a rich, elegant brownie that could stand on its own would be the best. The winners? Stick with a box mix for the first kind and here's the recipe for the second- from A Pinch of Salt Lake, with a slight modification on the glaze, making a ganache instead. I also cook them in a jelly roll pan as they tend to be very rich and smaller bites are better.

Mint Brownies

2 cups sugar
2 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup butter, softened
¼ tsp salt
4 eggs
¼ tsp baking powder
4-1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons vanilla

4 Tbs butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs evaporated milk (half and half or cream work too)
½ tsp peppermint extract
Few drops of pink or green food coloring, if desired

3 Tbs butter
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs until well blended; then add melted chocolate. Sift flour, measure out 2 1/2 cups and sift again with dry ingredients then add to creamed mixture along with vanilla. Spread in greased and floured jelly roll pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Do not over bake. Set aside and let cool.

Mix all frosting ingredients until creamy and spread on brownies. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Combine butter and chocolate chips in top of double boiler; add cream, vanilla and blend thoroughly. Pour gently over frosting and spread by tipping pan until all of the brownie mixture is covered with glaze. Refrigerate until set.