Food, Faith, and Other Fabulous Finds

Recipes, devotional thoughts, and other cool things I come across.

Curry in a Hurry September 30, 2014

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Well, fall has started, and unfortunately so has flu season.  I’ve not felt up to par the past couple of days, so I’m going to keep today’s post short so I can maximize my rest/recuperation.  Before I give you today’s recipe, I wanted to share the good news.  Orange Leaf (my favorite froyo place) has released a new flavor: cinnamon roll.  I adore a good cinnamon roll, so I can’t wait to try this flavor.  (Hmm, maybe I need something cold and smooth for my sore throat.  Honey?)

Though this isn’t necessarily a food that I crave when I’m sick, it would be good to make because it doesn’t take almost any time at all.  This means you can have dinner on the table without too much work, which is handy when you don’t really feel like cooking but have to anyway.  Originally, this only called for onions and peppers, but we made it with some zucchini, and it was incredible.  I also love it because it just smells SOOO good; something about curry powder and coconut milk together is irresistible.  Sadly, I’m not sure where I got this recipe.  Please let me know if you recognize it, because I’d love to be able to properly credit it.

Coconut Curry Chicken (I)

3 tsp. veggie oil

12 oz. cubed boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 thinly sliced onion

1 thinly sliced red bell pepper (I felt this was too much, so I would just use half of one next time.)

1 1/2 tsp. minced jalapeno

2 tsp. grated ginger

2 cloves crushed garlic  (I’m fairly certain I minced mine.)

1/2 tsp. curry powder

3/4 c. light coconut milk

2 tbsp. chopped cilantro

1. In a 10 in. skillet, heat 2 tsp. oil on medium-high heat.  Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt; add it to the skillet and cook 3-4 minutes or til golden, stirring occasionally.  Transfer to a plate.

2. To the same skillet, add the last 1 tsp. of oil and turn the heat down to medium.  Add the onion to the pan and cook 3 min. or til softened, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the bell pepper, jalapeno, ginger, and garlic and cook 1 minute or til fragrant, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the curry powder and cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in the coconut milk and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

3. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook 3-5 minutes or til the chicken’s just cooked through.  Remove the skillet from the heat and top with the cilantro and 1/4 tsp. salt.

Coconut Curry Chicken ICoconut Curry Chicken I 3

And just so you know I’ve been thinking of you, I wanted to share a recipe from the September issue of Cooking Light that really caught my eye.  It may not surprise you to know that it’s another broccoli salad.  I know what you’re thinking (What’s with this girl and broccoli salad?), but I promise you that this one’s different.  It’s got bacon, apples, and a creamy dressing!  Doesn’t that sound delicious?  Until next week, stay healthy.

 

Three Cheers for Fall!! September 23, 2014

Today is officially the first day of fall.  YAY!!!!  I’m waiting for our weather to catch on to the change of seasons, but I’m still excited that it’s official.  To celebrate, I wanted to share 3 delicious recipes that use what are typically considered fall spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.).

Let’s start with a favorite with a twist: carrot cake… cookies.  This was a birthday treat for one of the hubby’s grandmothers.  She loves carrot cake every year for her  birthday, and this year I gave it to her with a little twist.  These cookies (unsurprisingly) taste just like a carrot cake (complete with the fall spice – cinnamon), but there’s something dangerously easy about having it in a handheld form.  I loved how moist these were, and, of course, they’re a great vehicle for some tangy cream cheese icing.  I used a 1 1/2 tbsp. cookie scoop to make these and got about 2 1/2 dozen.  So the next time you’re craving the flavor of a carrot cake, but don’t feel like all the work, give these beauties a try.

Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing (from the May 2010 issue of Bon Appetit)

For the cookies:

1/2 c. raisins

1/4 c. old-fashioned oats

1/2 c. softened butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

1 c. grated carrot

1 1/2 c. self-rising flour

1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

For the icing:

1 c. confectioner’s sugar

6 oz. softened cream cheese

1/4 c. softened butter

2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream

2 tsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.  Place the raisins and oats in a small bowl.  Add in 1/4 c. water and let soak til the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars til fluffy.  Beat in the egg, then the carrots.  Add the flour and cinnamon and beat to blend.  Stir in raisin-oat mix and the nuts.  Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls 1 1/2-2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

3. Bake 1 sheet at a time, til the cookies are lightly golden, about 20 minutes.  (The cookies will still be soft.)  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4. In a medium bowl, beat together the icing ingredients until smooth.  Spread on the cooled cookies.

Carrot Cake CookiesCarrot Cake Cookies 3

Speaking of carrots, I recently got to try making a delicious carrot salad that I’d been thinking about for a long time.  Why was I so excited about this salad?  Well, to start with it’s from one of my favorite chefs, Aarti Sequeira.  I love her accent, her personality, and so many of her beautiful recipes.  (Coincidentally, I just learned today that she published a cookbook.  I can’t wait to read it!)  It also sounded like a delicious salad, and she helps you fake the taste of preserved lemons, which is an ingredient I really want to try.  (Ever since I started delving into Middle Eastern foods, I’ve been adding a lot of foods/ingredients to my must-try list.  One of those ingredients is preserved lemons.  From what I know, they cut or slice lemons and pack them in salt and oil.  Then they let them sit for a month or so.  This mellows the tartness and makes them a great flavor component in a recipe.)  This is a colorful salad that’s packed with lots of textures and flavor (like cinnamon and ginger).

Moroccan Carrot Salad (from Food Network)

1 large lemon sliced in thin rounds and quartered

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ginger

2 pinches cayenne

1/2 tsp. orange zest

1/4 c. orange juice

8 peeled, grated carrots (about 4 c.)  (To make this super easy, you could use shredded carrots from the grocery store.)

1/4 c. chopped parsley

2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts

1. Place the lemons in a cold skillet.  Add a generous amount of oil (Not the 1/4 c., that’s for the dressing.) to cover the bottom of the pan.  Cook over low heat til the rinds soften and begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the spices, orange zest, and orange juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  While whisking, pour in the 1/4 c. oil in a thin stream til you reach your dressing’s desired consistency.  Add in the carrots, parsley, and nuts.  Remove the caramelized lemons from the oil and add them to the salad.  Toss and taste to check the seasoning.  Drizzle in some of the lemon oil for taste (you can save the rest to use in other dish).

Moroccan Carrot SaladMoroccan Carrot Salad 3

This last recipe is the one I’m most excited about.  I got to try out an idea that I’d been thinking about for some time, and it yielded incredibly delicious results.  We recently had an international themed potluck dinner at church.  This next recipe and the carrot salad were my contributions.  It was easy to decide that I wanted to make the salad, but I didn’t have a lot of complementary dessert ideas.  My best friend and I were collaborating on our dishes, so I decided to go off one of the flavors in her dish.  (She made a coconut curry chicken recipe that uses curry powder and Chinese 5-spice.)  For several years now, I’ve thought that it would be interesting to try changing a cookie that already has a warm spice (cinnamon), by subbing the Chinese 5-spice for whatever the recipe called for.  Once again the hubby was skeptical of my culinary brilliance (*dripping with sarcasm*), but he was eventually won over by the fabulous flavors.  Even if you don’t try my spice swap, these snickerdoodles are just perfect.  I’ve never had them turn out anything but delicious with a crisp outer and a chewy middle.  You get about 3 dozen from the recipe, so there will be plenty to share.  By the way, the Chinese 5-spice gave them a very exotic flavor that was warm and sweet with just a hint of spice.

Snickerdoodles (My mom’s recipe!)

1 c. softened butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs

2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon  (All I did was use Chinese 5 spice instead of the cinnamon.)

1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, 1 1/2 c, sugar, and eggs.  Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and mix in with the butter mix.

2. In a shallow dish, mix together the cinnamon and 3 tbsp. sugar.  Roll the cookies into walnut sized balls and roll each one in the cinnamon sugar mix.  (I’m bad at judging sizes, so I just used my 1 1/2 tbsp. scoop.  It’s the only scoop I have, but feel free to use a smaller size if you have one.)

3. Bake the cookies at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

SnickerdoodlesSnickerdoodles 2

Don’t those sound good?  I would love to know what your favorite “fall” spice is and what you use it in.  I also wanted to share a couple of fall-ish recipes that recently caught my eye.

We’re always looking for easy or make-ahead breakfast foods, and Geoffrey Zakarian’s mini frittatas look like a great way to clean out your veggie drawer and get a healthy breakfast in return.

With the advent of fall and cooler weather, I’m definitely looking forward to soups and stews.  Better Homes & Gardens’ Red Bean, Chicken, and Sweet Potato Stew looks delicious and healthy, and I can’t wait to make it.

Happy fall, y’all!!

 

The End of Summer September 18, 2014

Well, folks, it’s finally here; fall is just a few days away.  As usual, stores have been stocking fall, Halloween, and (!) Thanksgiving decorations for weeks as well as advertising pumpkin-flavored everything.  We had a glorious day of fall weather last weekend (during which I convinced the hubby to let me put up my fall decorations, yay!), but this week it’s been back to hot weather (though admittedly not quite as hot as before).  Still, I’m looking forward to the air slowly getting crisper and cooler.  In honor of the end of summer, I’m posting two very summery recipes for you to say goodbye with.

But first…let’s talk about some upcoming deals!  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, tomorrow (9/19) is National Talk Like a Pirate Day.  As usual, Krispy Kreme is offering some free donuts for dressing or talking like a pirate.  (Get more details at their website.)

From now through Sunday (9/21) between 2 and 6 PM, Starbucks is offering a buy one, get one free fall drink special.  This is good for hot or cold fall flavored drinks, so you can get a nice treat no matter what the weather in your area is like.

Lastly, September 22 is National Ice Cream Cone Day.  Because of that, Sonic is offering 1/2 price vanilla cones all day long.  That seems like a pretty good way to let go of the summer.

My first summery dish is a twist on falafel using summer’s ever-present vegetable, zucchini.  We had these sandwiches a couple of months ago, but their delicious flavor is still in my mind.  I’ve recently changed my strategy for dealing with potential recipes.  I’ve always been a fan of writing my recipes out on 3×5 cards.  I like having a consistent format, plus I prefer to keep all of my recipes in a central location.  Lately though, I’ve been pickier about committing to writing down a recipe.  Thank goodness for Pinterest!  For iffier recipes (As in, I think it looks good, but I’m not 100% sure if the hubby and I will really like it.), I’ve been pinning the recipe to a hidden Pinterest board.  (I use a hidden board because I’m pinning for content and not worrying if the picture is as drool-inspiring as what I keep on my regular boards.)  This lets me keep a recipe handy, but not expend time writing it down until I’m sure we like it.  I was a little surprised at how much both of us enjoyed this, but after just one bite, I knew that I would be writing this one down and keeping it for a long time. Besides being incredibly easy to make, this dish goes a long way (8 servings) and is very inexpensive.  I especially love that you’re eating a bunch of vegetables but they have so much flavor, you won’t miss the meat.  Enough talk, here’s the recipe.

Zucchini Patty Sandwiches (from Whole Living)

1 15 1/2 oz. can rinsed, drained chickpeas

1 c. bread crumbs

1 grated zucchini

1 small grated red onion

1 lightly beaten egg

1 tsp. salt

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

4 toasted whole wheat pitas

1 c. low-fat Greek yogurt

8 leaves lettuce

1 c. mint leaves

1. In a bowl, mash the chickpeas til smooth.  Stir in the bread crumbs, zucchini, onion, egg, and salt.  Form into eight 4 x 1/2 in. patties.

2. Saute the patties in the oil til they’re golden and crisp, 2-3 minutes per side.

3. Halve the pitas and stuff them each with 1 patty, 1 lettuce leaf, some yogurt, and some mint.  (We served ours with yogurt, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Yum!)

Zucchini Patty Sandwiches 3Zucchini Patty Sandwiches 2

And of course, my last summer recipe is for ice cream.  While we were on vacation, my mom and I made a delicious ice cream featuring two of my favorite summer flavors: coconut and pineapple!  Though the ice cream was a little too rich for us, we still really enjoyed the flavor, and I’ll definitely make it again.  The mixture is very easy to make and yields a small batch of this delicious, sweet treat.

Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream (from Scoop by Ellen Brown)

1 c. heavy whipping cream (Next time, I’ll use half & half so it’s not quite as rich.)

1 well-stirred 15 oz. can cream of coconut

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 c. whole milk

2 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1/2 .c drained, crushed pineapple

1/4 c. coconut

1. In a saucepan, combine the cream (or half & half), cream of coconut, and salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, til the mix begins to steam.  Do not let it come to a boil.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, cornstarch, milk powder, and vanilla.  Stir til smooth and both powders are dissolved.

3. Add the cornstarch mix to the saucepan and bring the mix to a boil over low heat.  Whisk til smooth and simmer 2 minutes or til thickened.  If the mix is lumpy, strain through a sieve.  Stir in the pineapple and coconut.

4. Transfer the mixture to a storage container or bowl and press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mix.  Refrigerate til completely chilled.

5. Once chilled, freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.  You can serve it immediately or freeze it til it’s hard.

Coconut Pineapple Ice CreamCoconut Pineapple Ice Cream 2

Lastly, I found a great summer song to close this post and this season with.  It’s by Ariana Grande and is called Daydreamin’.  Though the lyrics say she’s daydreaming about her date that evening, I’d rather daydream about the upcoming fall season and the food that goes with it.  (Chili anyone?)  Either way, I really enjoy the song’s easygoing, retro feel.  What are you daydreaming about this week?

 

Bananas For You! September 9, 2014

I know everybody’s going crazy for fall right now, but since our temps are still in the 90’s I’m trying to hold off my fall obsession for a couple more weeks at least.  That means that I’m studiously avoiding things like apples and pumpkins.  On the other hand, the stone fruits are slowly falling out of season.  What does that leave me to bake with?  Well, one fruit that doesn’t seem to be tied to a particular season is bananas, so that’s what I’m sharing with you today.  I buy bananas several times a month because they’re a great snack for my hubby.  (If you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of bananas.)  But he never seems to finish the whole bunch, and I’m left with 1 or 2 bananas to find something to do with.  Honestly, 2 is not so bad, but what do you with just 1 banana?  Well, that’s what these recipes are here to help you with.

This first one is a recipe that I’ve had my eye on for a while, but I waited to make it with my mom when we were on vacation.  After I posted my interest in it, she said that we should try making a g-free version together; so we did.  We made a half batch each of regular and gluten/egg free and baked them side by side.  (We just swapped gluten-free all-purpose baking mix for the flour and used vinegar to replace the egg.)  Although the g-free version didn’t bake up as tall and fluffy, they both shared the same great banana bread taste.  And I can’t encourage you enough to make these and top them with the amazing nutella glaze (which MADE the donuts).  These are a really great way to start off your morning.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I think you could easily make these into muffins if you didn’t have a donut pan.  (You’d just have to adjust the baking time and possibly the temperature to make sure they cook through without overbrowning.)

Baked Banana Donuts with Nutella Glaze (from I Am A Food Blog)

1 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar

1 egg

1/2 c. mashed banana (about 1)

1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. Nutella

2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees; lightly grease a 6 count donut pan.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, banana, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix and stir til just combined.

2. Fill each well 3/4 full.  Bake 11-12 minutes or til golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.  Cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack.

3. In a small bowl, stir the cream into the nutella.  If it’s too thick, you can add more cream 1 tsp. at a time.  After the donuts have cooled for 20 minutes, dip them into the glaze.

Baked Banana Doughnuts with Nutella Glaze 2Baked Banana Doughnuts with Nutella Glaze 3Baked Banana Doughnuts with Nutella Glaze 5

Now, if it’s possible, this next recipe is even better.  These cookies are a mash-up of banana nut bread and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  I don’t actually like chocolate chip banana bread and was a bit skeptical, but these cookies are incredible.  Using common household ingredients and 1 overripe banana, you get 2 dozen cookies that can satisfy a craving for sweets without overloading you on sugar.  While I love the donut recipe, I’m not always in the mood for baked donuts for breakfast.  But my hubby is always in the mood for cookies.  We will definitely be making these frequently with our leftover bananas.  :D

Banana-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Cooking Classy)

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. + 2 tbsp. quick cook oats

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 + 1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 c. mashed banana (about 1)

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 c. softened butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. sugar

1 egg

1/4 tsp. vanilla

3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

2. In a shallow bowl, mash the banana with the lemon juice.  In a large bowl, beat together the banana mixture, butter, and sugars til smooth.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  On low, add in the dry ingredients and mix til combined.  Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.

3. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet spacing them 2 inches apart.  Bake them 11-12 minutes (they’ll still be a bit soft).  Cool the cookies several minutes on the pans, then finish cooling them on a wire rack.

Banana-Oat Chocolate Chip CookiesBanana-Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

And that’s how we get rid of leftover bananas at my house.  What’s your go-to way to use them up?

 

Back in the Swing of Things September 4, 2014

Are you ready for a full post, because I sure am ready to deliver one.  This week’s been busy too, but I’m definitely catching up little by little.  There’s a lot going on lately, so let’s catch up with that first.

For a limited time, Starbucks is having a Sweet Receipt program.  (Similar to, but not to be confused with their treat receipt program.)  If you buy something in the morning, you can bring in your receipt after 2 PM and receive a bakery treat for $1.  I know everybody’s excited about the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but it’s still plenty hot in TX.  I might just have to get myself a cool and frosty frappe.  :)

Also coming up is National Talk Like a Pirate Day.  As usual, Krispy Kreme is offering a free donut for those who come in talking like a pirate or wearing an eye patch OR a free dozen glazed donuts if you come in decked out like a pirate.

For recipes today, I wanted to share what I made to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law’s birthdays.  Their birthdays are less than a week apart, so we decided to have them over for dinner and desserts (1 for each).  We actually had it on my SIL’s birthday, so I let her choose the theme.  She went with Italian which was a delicious choice.  We started with bruschetta which is just toasted bread that’s been drizzled with olive oil and topped with an incredible mixture of tomatoes, garlic, and parmesan.  We just made it at the table and devoured all that we could hold.  Then we moved on to the main dish: a decadent pasta topped with pancetta, corn, egg yolks, and grated cheese.  This take on pasta carbonara was rich and insanely delicious.  It’s also pretty easy to make, which is always a bonus when you’re having people over.

Pasta Carbonara with Corn and Chiles (from the June 2011 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray)

1 lb. egg tagliatelle (I couldn’t find any, so I just used regular fettuccine.)

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/4-1/3 lb. finely diced pancetta  (This time, I just used a few slices of bacon.)

1 1/2-2 c. thawed frozen corn

2 seeded, finely chopped fresno peppers  (Let’s pause for a small rant.  Rachael Ray uses these peppers all the time.  I’ve only ever seen them in our Walmart, which is strange since HEB’s produce section is better.  The one time I needed to buy them for a recipe – Walmart didn’t have them!!!  :P  So I used 1/2 of a finely diced jalapeno instead.  Rant over.)

6 cloves finely chopped garlic

2 tbsp. chopped thyme

1/2 c. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 c. chicken broth

3 egg yolks (P.S.  This is where I got the egg whites for last week’s meringues.)

1/2 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/2 c. grated Pecorino-Romano

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta til al dente.  Reserve 1 c. of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pancetta and brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the corn and let cook, stirring, til the edges are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the peppers, garlic, and thyme; stir and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the parsley and broth and simmer on low.

3. In a small bowl, beat the pasta water into the egg yolks to temper them.  (When I made this, it seemed like –between the broth and the cup of pasta water– there was way too much liquid to simmer off.  Next time, I’ll temper the eggs with 1/2 c. of the pasta water, then save the other 1/2 c. in case you need to loosen up the sauce.)

4. Add the pasta and yolk sauce to the pan with the corn mix and toss.  Remove the pan from the heat, add a handful of each cheese, and toss vigorously to form a sauce, 1-2 minutes.  Serve in shallow bowls and top with the remaining cheese and some chives.

Pasta Carbonara with Corn and ChilesPasta Carbonara with Corn and Chiles 2

And of course it wouldn’t be a birthday without dessert.  I made him his favorite: Boston Cream Pie.  As usual, my SIL gave me free reign as long as it was red velvet.  This year, I decided to make a red velvet ice cream.  This one was a cinch to make (no ice cream maker necessary) but you’d never know that from the flavor.  It was rich, creamy, and super decadent!!  There’s really nothing else to say except go make this right now.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Ice Cream (from the Something Swanky blog)

1 15 1/4 oz. box red velvet cake mix (plus whatever ingredients it calls for to make the cake)

1 14 1/2 oz. can sweetened, condensed milk

8 oz. softened cool whip

8 oz. softened cream cheese

1/4 c. softened butter

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1. Mix and bake the cake according to the package directions.  Let cool completely.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the sweetened, condensed milk, cool whip, cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, and vanilla til smooth.

3. Crumble 1/2 of the cake into the ice cream mixture, leaving it in decent sized chunks.  (You can use the rest of the cake however you like.)  Gently fold the cake into the ice cream mixture.

4. Pour the ice cream mix into a freezer-safe container.  Seal and freeze overnight.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Ice CreamRed Velvet Cheesecake Ice Cream 2  (Yes, my cake turned out pink, and, no, I don’t want to talk about it.)

So, what kind of meal and dessert would you choose for your birthday?  I’ll share mine soon.

 

Back to Normal August 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — foodfaithandfinds @ 10:44 PM
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Whew!  The past 2 weeks (and even this one) have been utterly crazy.  A little more than 2 weeks ago, my husband took an intense training course that had him at work for 10-12 hours each day.  He would come home, eat dinner, and just crash.  At the same time, I was trying to get my house in order for our vacation.  (Surprise!  I was on vacation in FL last week, hence the abbreviated post.)  Last week, we went to go visit my parents in FL.  It was a very relaxing week with lots of good food and plenty of down time catching up with my family.    I talk to my mom every week, but there’s just nothing like being in the same kitchen cooking together or sitting around the table for a family dinner.  We got home last Saturday, and I’ve been playing catch-up ever since.  I’m still not completely caught up, but I’m getting there.  I’ll share some of the recipes we tried soon.  For today, I’m just going to share two super easy recipes (great for a lazy labor day) and some pictures of the wildlife in my parents’ yard.

This first recipe is another version of meringues.  I fell in love with them from this picture, but mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty.  The original recipe calls for raspberry jelly, and that might be a better route to go.  I used strawberry, but the flavor didn’t really come through.  I wasn’t worried about looks (though I apparently should have been), so I omitted the food coloring step.  My biggest problem with this recipe was actually the cooking method.  They want you to preheat the oven to 300 degrees, put in the meringues, turn the oven off, then let them sit for an hour or so.  I did this, but my meringues were FAR from dry and crisp when I checked on them.  I ended up turning the oven on low (200) and cooking them for another 2-2 1/2 hours.  They got cooked through, but they also turned a light golden color (the picture shows them a lovely white with red swirls).  I’m not sure if I’ll use this recipe again, but I love the idea of it.  If you do plan to use a lighter flavored jam, you could amp up the flavor by folding in crushed, freeze-dried fruit.  I think I’ll try that next time, and maybe let them sit in the oven for 2 hours before I check on them.  I’ll let you know how it turns out when I do.

Raspberry Meringues (from Better Homes & Gardens)

2 egg whites

1 tbsp. room temperature seedless raspberry jam

6 drops red food coloring

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

1/3 c. superfine sugar

1/3 c. confectioner’s sugar

1. Let the egg whites stand for 30 minutes at room temperature in a large bowl.  Cover 2 large baking sheets with parchment.

2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together the jam and food coloring; set aside.

3. In another small bowl, combine the sugars and set aside.  Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat on medium til soft peaks form.  At medium speed, add the sugar mix 1 tbsp. at a time.  Beat 5-7 minutes or til stiff glossy peaks form and the sugar is dissolved.

4. Use a spatula to gently fold 1/2 c. of the meringue mix into the jam, then gently fold the jam mix into the remaining egg whites.

5. Pipe or spoon the meringues onto the baking sheets.  Place the baking sheets in the oven and turn it off.  Let them sit in the closed oven for 1 hour or til dry and crisp but still light in color.  Let cool.

Raspberry MeringuesRaspberry Meringues 2

The other recipe I wanted to share is another quick, flavorful, and easy shrimp dish.  I served my shrimp on top of a simply cooked pasta (topped with just a little butter and Parm.  The recipe calls for these to be sauteed, but you could easily (and quickly!) grill them.

Four Minute Spicy Garlic Shrimp (from Food Network)

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves crushed garlic

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 1/2 lb. peeled, deveined, tail on jumbo shrimp  (I just used a medium-sized shrimp without the tail since that’s what I had on hand.)

2 tsp. grill/steak seasoning

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil, garlic, pepper, and shrimp.

2. Season the shrimp with the grill seasoning and cook 3 minutes or til just pink.  Top with the lemon zest and juice and the parsley.

Four Minute Spicy Garlic ShrimpFour Minute Spicy Garlic Shrimp 2

And lastly, here are the pictures I promised of my parent’s wildlife.

Bird A catbird enjoying some bird seed.

Birds A lovely cardinal.  (We saw his mate too, but she was hard to see in the photos I took.)

Caterpillars 2Caterpillars 3 Some very fat monarch (I think) caterpillars that devoured my mom’s parsley.

I hope that you’ve had a less hectic couple of weeks and that you’ve got some great, relaxing plans for labor day.  Talk to you again soon.

 

Despicable Cookies August 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — foodfaithandfinds @ 9:26 PM
Tags: ,

Well, I didn’t mean to miss last week’s post; it just sort of happened.  We were having an extremely busy week, but I still meant to post.  I guess the time just got away from me.  There’s tons going on this week too, so I’m going to keep this post on the short and sweet side.  Rest assured, I’m still cooking up plenty of treats, and I don’t think you’ll be sorry for waiting.  :)

This short post is going to be a continuation of our movie/recipe series.  This time it was one of my absolute favorite kid’s movies: Despicable Me.  This movie is about an evil villain, Gru, who adopts 3 orphan girls to help further his plan of stealing the moon.  Through his association with them, he starts to realize that there’s more to life than stealing and that he might not be the villain after all.  (It’s sounds dry when I say it, but if you watch the trailer, you’ll see how funny it is.)

There’s just so much to love about this movie.  Agnes is my favorite character (It’s so fluffy!!), but I also love pretty much any scene the minions are in.  (If you just watched the trailer for the first time, the minions are the yellow characters.)  I also really enjoy Gru’s mom (voiced by the fab Julie Andrews).  Here are a few of my very favorite lines from the movie: “Light bulb”, “You have a face ‘como un burro’.”, “Why are you so old?”, “Whaaa?”, “He’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!”, “Knocked over!”, “It’s so fluffy!!”, “The physical appearance of the ‘please’ makes no difference.”, “Sorry, that book was accidentally destroyed maliciously.”  Hilarious, right?  (And if you don’t believe me, watch the movie.)

The movie does have a few food scenes, but what I latched on to was the cookies the girls were selling.  Instead of making a homemade girl scout cookie, I decided to just make an awesome cookie.  I had a few contenders, but these s’mores cookies won the day.  They’re not the cheapest cookie to make, but they are certainly delicious.  They made nearly 3 dozen cookies, so I gave about half of them away.  The folks I shared with said they were amazing, and I would have to agree.  The ones I kept at our house certainly didn’t last long; hubby and I were constantly sneaking bites of them.  These are also a great summery treat; what goes better with grilling, then s’mores?  These cookies are so sweet and delicious, though next time I’ll add even more marshmallows for extra s’more flavor.

S’mores Cookies (from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

11 tbsp. softened butter

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 1/2 c. flour

1/2 c. chocolate chips

1 c. mini marshmallows (I’d do 2 c. next time.)

3 Hershey’s bars in pieces

1-2 sleeves graham crackers in squares

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and flour; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars til light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat til combined.  Add the dry mix to the creamed mix and beat on low til combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows.  Chill the dough at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.  (She recommends a 9×13 and an 11×17, and that was perfect for me.)  Lay the graham crackers out on the pans as closely as possible.  Place the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the graham squares.  Flatten the dough slightly.  (I like to make sure that some marshmallows are near the top on each square so that they can get toasted.)

3. Bake 5 minutes then remove from the oven.  Press a piece of the Hershey’s bars on top of each square.  Put back in the oven and bake 5-7 minutes more or til the edges are golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

S'mores CookiesS'mores Cookies 2

 

 
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