Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lemon Portabella Risotto

I came across the book ' Cooking for Mr Latte' by Amanda Hesser and I have not been able to put it down. In case you don't know who Amanda is, she has worked as a columnist at the New York Times as a food reporter and is a co founder to the food52 website, which I adore. Her engaging story chronicles the courtship of her then boyfriend now husband, Tad Friend.

I love a story that is told through recipes. I never realized how much I love this type of storytelling until recently when I picked up Amanda's book and yet again I am pulled right into the story.

This recipe for risotto was adapted from her book. Amanda writes a scene about making dinner with a friend and teaching her basic culinary skills. Amanda's culinary genius is rubbing off on the friend as evidenced by this recipe. The two gals thought up this recipe on the spot. I am glad they did. It is wonderfully good and fairly simple to make. If I didn't know better, I would have never known that risotto can be difficult to make. This recipe would never let you in on that secret. I have watched a video of Amanda making risotto, and learned a few tricks to making this recipe turn out delicious. First, saute the rice in butter and oil until the rice has turned translucent. Then begin adding the chicken stock slowly and stirring, stirring, stirring! In no time at all you will have a killer risotto. This goes well with fish, chicken and pork. Or just a bowl by itself.

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice, or medium grain white rice
4 cups or 1 32oz box of good chicken stock
Zest of one lemon, preferably organic
3 oz of creme fraiche
1/4 cup of fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of baby portabellas- chop bite size
Sea salt

In a 4 quart pot, melt the oil and butter. Add the rice and cook until rice has turned translucent, 2 to 4 minutes. Begin adding the stock to the rice slowly and stir. Pour in more broth when the previous liquid has been absorbed.When two cups of stock has been added, stir in half the lemon zest. Add the rest of stock slowly and stir. When liquid is about absorbed, add the rest of the lemon zest, creme fraiche, mushrooms and the cheese. Season with salt. The risotto should be creamy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What's for Dinner? Do you really know?

On December 7 Th, Dr Jeffrey Smith will be on Dr. Oz discussing the dangers of genetically modified foods. Information about the food we eat is critical to making the best choices for our health.

Dr. Jeffrey M. Smith, wrote the bestseller, 'Seeds of Deception'. Dr Smith presents shocking evidence why genetically modified crops may lead to health and environmental catastrophes, and what we can do about it.

Dr Smith states, "The explosive exposé Seeds of Deception reveals how industry manipulation and political collusion-not sound science-allow dangerous genetically engineered food into your daily diet. Company research is rigged, alarming evidence of health dangers is covered up, and intense political pressure applied.

Foodie blogroll has a contest every week of December to give away one copy of this compelling bestseller, ' Seeds of Deception". Or, order your own copy of the Seeds Of Deception book:
Visit http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/SeedsofDeception

When choosing my own beef for dinner, I look for Laura's Lean Beef. No antibiotics, hormones, or other nasty ingredients added. I have bought other ground beef, and when it isn't Laura's I can tell. Dare to compare yourself. The following recipe is adapted from the website food52.

Kefta Meatballs with Grilled Grapes and Yogurt Sauce:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 large egg
1/2 small onion, grated
1/8 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 bunch small red grapes

Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/8 cup mint, chopped
2 tablespoons organic lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, combine first nine ingredients. Mix and roll into balls. Set aside. In a large heavy skillet, grill grapes over moderately high heat until browned on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan, set aside.
Next, brown meatballs in the pan until done. Drain on paper towel. Assemble one grape and one meatball on a tooth pick. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt Sauce:

Combine all ingredients and set aside until meatballs and grapes are ready. Spoon on the side with meatballs and grapes, or serve in a small side bowl for dipping.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's National Cookie Day

I am so glad it is 'National Cookie Day'. But not for the obvious reason. I have been meaning to make 'Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip' cookies for months. I printed a copy of this recipe from 101 cookbooks. I put it aside to make with my children. Then I filed it away because I came across it so often, but had yet to make the time.

Then I came across the recipe again when reading the blog Orangette. Molly had posted a recipe for whole wheat chocolate chip cookies as well. Sometimes things happen in life. Sometimes things keep repeating themselves in life, and that is usually when I take notice.

I had everything to make the cookies accept the whole wheat flour, which my husband picked up for me. Today was the day. No more procrastinating, and now I have a 5 pound bag of whole wheat flour!

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups chocolate chips- like Ghirardelli

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine sugars, butter, vanilla and egg until well blended. Next, stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Dough will be stiff. Add chocolate chips.

On ungreased cookie sheet, drop spoonful of cookie dough two inches apart.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies will look light brown in color and the centers will be soft.
Place on a rack to cool.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gluten Free

I have been learning so much lately. Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition. It never ceases to amaze me how much more there is to know. One thing I do not know much about is baking gluten free.

Foodie Blogroll is presenting a contest , courtesy of Sharon A. Kane (a Foodie Blogroll member who blogs at Glutenfreesourdough.blogspot.com). She will be giving away 4 copies of her book "The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking" book.

This is exciting! My goal is to present some delicious gluten free recipes at the start of the year. Even if you are not gluten sensitive, it is fun to try something new. Stay tuned, and I 'll keep you posted....

Update: I was notified I will be receiving a copy of the book, "The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking". Santa came early to my house!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And it flew by....

Thanksgiving snuck up on me. In fact, so did December. This is the first Thanksgiving that i haven't been working in... well, I can't exactly remember. So I really have no excuse for being so surprised that it will be here tomorrow. If you are starting to stress for me, no fear, I will be spending the holiday at my in law's with many Aunt's, Uncle's and cousins. They always travel with food, luckily it's good.
Off the subject, I spent the weekend in East Lansing, home of Michigan State, my Alma Mater. My dear friend and I watched the State game ( barely pulled it off, but hey, they did!)ate lots of incredible food and enjoyed each other's company. When you live four hours apart, you have to enjoy every moment. We were college roommates, and I am the proud godmother to her youngest son.
Back to the incredible food... The restaurant we took my 11 year old son to was a place that has been there for years.Beggar's Banquet on Abbott. However, I never went there when I lived in East Lansing. How could this be? I remember the reputation bestowed upon them as a place to drink wine. I love wine now, not so much then, maybe that is why. This past Friday was my first time at Beggar's for dinner, and I was surprised to see they had chicken salad that was featured in Bon Appetit. Okay, you have my attention. The sandwich consisted of roasted chicken breast blended with walnuts, dried cherries, scallions, celery, and mayo. I immediately thought how perfect this would be for leftover turkey the day after Thanksgiving.
Substitute turkey for chicken, cranberries for the dried cherries. Celery left over, check and if not scallions then whatever other onion type item you have on hand.
Now the day after Thanksgiving meal is planned as well. Hope this helps considering I have blown past Thanksgiving and already landed at the day after!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Crazy Easy Falafel - Meat Free Monday

I first tried falafel in Royal Oak, MI many years ago. I was immediately hooked. The flavors are rich and strong, so you never miss the meat. This is one dish that you will wonder how it can taste so good and be good for you too.

2 cans of garbanzo beans (chick peas)- mash beans lightly with a fork
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon curry
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 fresh lemon- squeeze for juice

serve with flat bread or stuff in pita's

Combine garbanzo beans, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, curry, coriander and cayenne in a oven safe dish. Mix until all ingredients are combined evenly. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, mix. Place in oven at 350 for 20 minutes.
Squeeze juice over mixture,serve warm with stuffed in pita pockets a side salad and hummus. Could also serve with flat bread.

Cook's note: Traditionally falafel is fried, but I baked the mixture in this recipe. Also, many recipes call for putting the beans in a food processor which I eliminated as well. You may place the entire mixture in a food processor and blend until grainy if you prefer.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meat Free Monday- Quinoa

I am bringing you a recipe that is packed full of deliciousness and is really good for you too. This recipe was highlighted on 'The Next Food Network Star'. A competition that involved incorporating cereal into a dish, this was the outcome. An adaption of Aarti's recipe, I substituted a few of the ingredients and combined the last step. This is so darn delicious that I just know you are going to love it!
Quinoa is the base of this dish, pronounced 'KEEN WA', this is the most nutritious of all grains. High in fiber, good source of iron, contains 8 of the essential amino acids and is naturally gluten free. Can you believe I am still talking about one food? The ancient Incas ate quinoa as their primary staple in South America. You will love the delicate nutty flavor and you will be amazed at the ease with which it takes to prepare.
1 cup quinoa, cooked ( To cook quinoa use 2 cups water, bring to a boil, add 1 cup quinoa, bring to boil again, cover and cook over medium heat for 12 minutes. Take off heat, fluff and let stand.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, sliced thin
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup fresh cranberries (or thawed frozen)
Sea salt and black pepper
1/2 All bran cereal
1 1/2 cup fresh spinach chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cook quinoa, refer to directions at the top.
In a large saute pan, warm olive oil. Add shallots, garlic, curry powder and cinnamon. Stir and cook until shallots are browning. Stir in cranberries. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, add in chopped spinach. Turn off heat, stir ingredients. Add in All bran cereal, stir again. Spinach will wilt.
Whisk together lemon juice, brown sugar and olive oil. Pour over quinoa. Stir well.
Serve warm pilaf in pita pockets.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Meat Free Monday

Hello Everyone,
It is Monday already and time to plan for another meat free Monday. This recipe combines the simplicity of sauteed shrimp with a couscous pilaf that is equally as good and quick.
Shrimp is a good source of Vitamins D and B12, and an excellent source of selenium. Add in the couscous, which is actually a small pasta( resembles rice a bit), and the addition of protein, fiber, niacin, selenium and B vitamins, you are ending the day in one healthy way!

Sauteed Shrimp

1 pound shrimp- peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons dry white wine
1 1/2 Tablespoons minced garlic
pinch of salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 Tablespoons fresh parsley

Melt butter in a large skillet, add garlic and wine. Add shrimp, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until pink about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour lemon juice over shrimp and garnish with fresh parsley.

Lemon-Saffron Couscous- This was adapted from Whole Living, a Martha Stewart publication

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, washed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 cup water
1 box of plain couscous, cooked according to package directions, when ready set aside, will mix with other ingredients
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots, garlic,carrots,celery,salt and pepper and cook until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.Add the saffron, water and lemon juice. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add this hot mixture to the cooked couscous. Combine parsley and mix in with a fork.
Plate the shrimp over the couscous.

Serves 4 to 6

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spanish lesson and an unwelcome guest

This recipe was inspired by my mother's friend who made this recipe often. She was a Spanish/French teacher and a wonderful cook. I was always so in awe of her because the way she cooked seem so exotic to me as a child. She also helped me with an assignment for Girls Scouts. I needed to memorize lines in Spanish, so she made a recorded demonstration of what I needed to learn.
She brought the recording over one Saturday morning. It was wintertime, and my mother invited her into the kitchen for coffee. I eagerly sat with the recording at the fireplace in the family room. Now it didn't cross my mind, nor my mother's about the few unwanted guests we had running around our house. It was winter, we lived with an apple orchard and an open field behind our house, not to mention but very important, was the fact that my mother was a meticulous cleaner. She took enormous pride in her home. As I sat rewinding and repeating my Spanish lines, a scream rang out within our house. The scream came from me, as a mouse dashed by on the stoop of the fireplace, right where I sat practicing my Spanish. My dad came to the rescue, and I can only imagine the horror my mother felt that the 'guest' decided to make an appearance at that moment. To this day, my mother finds little humor in that story.

I made a few adaptions with the ingredients, but find the flavors of this dish take me right back to the feelings of awe I had as a child watching my mother's worldly friend create dishes so new to me.

Serves 8
8 chicken legs
1 pound extra large shrimp - deveined and shells removed
1 pound chorizo sausage
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
3 medium tomatoes - chopped
8 cloves garlic- minced
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads- crumble threads and add to a few ounces of hot water to release flavor and color
6 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
approx. 1/2 cups Olive oil for stir frying ingredients
1 red bell pepper- cut into 1 inch strips
1 green bell pepper- cut into 1 inch strips
2 1/2 cups Spanish short grain rice, or Arborio rice
1 bay leaf
2 scallions- chopped
1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
chopped parsley for garnish
Accompaniment: fresh lemon wedges
1.Once shrimp are deveined and shells removed, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Set aside.
2.Roast chicken legs in 450 degree oven until legs reach at internal temp of 160 degrees. Once done, set aside.
3.In a small bowl, sprinkle paprika over chopped tomatoes.
4.In a separate small bowl, mix minced garlic with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Make paste consistency.
5.Bring stock to a simmer in a 3 quart sauce pan, cover and keep at a bare simmer.
6.In a separate small bowl, mix together wine, saffron ( and liquid), and lemon juice.
7.Add olive oil to paella pan over moderately high heat and stir fry chorizo sausage for 8 minutes or until done. Transfer to platter.
8.Add shrimp, stir frying in pan for 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter with sausage.
9.Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan and stir fry peppers for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic paste and stir fry for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and stir fry for 1 minute.
10.Add rice and stir to evenly coat ingredients.
11.Measure hot stock to ensure it measures 6 cups, add water if necessary.
12.Stir stock, wine mixture, and bay leaf into rice.
13.Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly but gently. Look for rice to appear more on surface, and when the spoon would leave a path exposing the bottom of the pan when pulled through the mixture. ( About 5 to 7 minutes)
14.Remove pan from heat and stir in shrimp, chorizo sausage, scallions, peas, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Lay chicken legs decoratively around on top.
15.Bake, uncovered at 450 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes.
16.Look for edges to form a golden crust and almost all liquid to be absorbed.
17.Take pan from oven and cover with tin foil. Let stand for 10 minutes. The rice continues to cook and will be perfectly cooked.
18.Sprinkle top of dish with chopped parsley. Garnish with lemon wedges.
19.Place in middle of your table. Enjoy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meat Free Mondays'

I watched the movie, 'Food, Inc' over the weekend. If you haven't tuned in to see this yet, you should. This movie was intense, at times horrifying, yet in the end a valuable education about food in America. While I am not a vegetarian, nor am I against consuming meat, finding ' unfactorized' meat is important to me.
Many people including my dad for example, remember their grandmother's chasing down dinner in the back yard, and finding that dinner running without a head moments later. The chicken of yesterday is not what it is today. Think free range baby. This brought about much inspiration to me, and every Monday on my site I will feature a meat free recipe.
This recipe has few ingredients, but don't let the simplicity of ingredients and steps fool you. This is nothing short of elegant.
I adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson, from her book, Forever Summer(Hyperion). Summer is hardly the only season to enjoy this tasty recipe.

Serves 4
1 clove garlic- minced
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 large red chile pepper- chopped ( remove seeds for less heat)
2 6oz. cans of lump style crab meat
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Juice and lemon zest from one lemon
1 package (16 oz) of thin spaghetti
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh chopped kale

Prepare pasta according to package directions. In a bowl, mix together garlic and salt. Add chile and crush til mixture is slightly red. Add crabmeat. In a saute pan, add all these ingredients over medium heat with 2 tablespoons oil. Add kale, cover pan until kale wilts- about 3 minutes. Add pasta and crab mixture together, mix in oil, lemon juice and zest. Toss all ingredients together well. Top with chopped parsley. Serve.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day and a Simple Dinner

Some October quirkiness coming your way on today, Columbus day, which is reported to be the least observed national holiday.
Anyway, if you have today off for the least observed holiday, then take advantage of making this delicious and easy meal. Perfect from now until the buds are blooming in the Spring.

Roasted chicken breasts with fresh herbs. This is a lovely meal that you can pull together in no time, and impress your guests. Fresh green beans broiled in minutes.

Go ahead, celebrate Columbus, apparently no one else is today.

Roasted Chicken

4 bone in chicken breasts with skin

1 stick butter- softened to room temperature

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Olive Oil for top of chicken

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

In a small bowl, stir together the butter, tarragon, chives , salt and pepper to taste. Separate the skin of the chicken from the breast but not pulling off, make a little pocket. Spoon the butter mixture on the skin of the breast and smooth out with your fingers. Repeat with other chicken breasts. Drizzle olive oil over top of chicken.

Roast until the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. When chicken is ready, transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Green Beans:
1 pound of fresh green beans- washed
6 white pearl onions- sliced thinly
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons capers
Olive Oil

Lay green beans out on baking sheet. Cover with sliced onions, capers, soy sauce and olive oil on top. Place in 500 degree oven and broil for 10 to 15 minutes.

Simple and ready in minutes. You will have a beautiful dinner that is elegant enough for guests, and fast enough for a weekday meal.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rival Football, 11 year old knows best, and spaghetti tacos

This is funny, in a weird, I can't think of another word sort of way. All the rage this week has been spaghetti tacos! It was on Twitter, Yahoo, and in print media like the New York Times, Detroit Free Press and other newspapers around the country. Articles were talking about this phenomenon as the new tween trend. Grandmothers are making this as a special treat for their grandchildren, and clever mothers are stacking up spaghetti tacos for themed birthday parties. How did this all get started?

It all started with iCarly. A tween TV sitcom, that I personally find quite clever. I remember this episode, starring a then infamous spaghetti taco made by the star of ICarly's brother for dinner. At the time I thought ' What clever writing', my son thought, 'That's a great idea for dinner.' Until now I never gave it a second thought, not even when I made spaghetti for dinner and my son hauled out the hard tacos to stuff his spaghetti into. 'Really?', I said.

With my face contorted into a look of disgust.

' You have to be creative mom.' said Sam.

I agree. Sometimes 11 year old's actually know a thing or two.

Spaghetti tacos could not have surfaced in our home at a more opportune moment. Today is the Michigan State vs. Michigan game. The biggest game of the year for these two rivals. As I pulled on my very cute Michigan State shirt this morning, I knew if nothing else, I had on a really cute game shirt. A cursive, gem covered 'Michigan State' across the front of my shirt and my husband dressed in blue. As the parents sat at the football fields this morning, cheering on their children, the sides had already been decided. You were either green and white or maize and blue. Jackets, sweatshirts, T shirts, you name it, people were wearing their hearts out in the open. This game today is being played by both teams coming in undefeated. This hasn't happened in 11 years!

My husband grew up going to University of Michigan games. I grew up loving Michigan State, and of course, I actually graduated from this University. So however this game ends today, at least we have spaghetti tacos, so we will have something else to talk about. And I still have the cutest game shirt on! As for everyone else, I can only hope they catch the tween trend.

Recipe for Spaghetti Tacos:

1 14.5 oz. box of thin spaghetti noodles- cooked according to box directions

1 pound ground beef- cooked

1 jar of favorite spaghetti sauce ***

12 corn taco shells

shredded lettuce

1 jalapeno- sliced thin

1 8 0z container of Mascarpone cheese

The *** were a note regarding the sauce. You can use your homemade sauce, but any good jar of sauce will do nicely. Once you have cooked the noodles and browned the meat, it is time to put together the Spaghetti Taco.

For children, you can keep it simple.

1. Take taco shell

2. Noodles on bottom

3. Ground beef, then sauce over top.

You could sprinkle traditional taco toppings over the assembled taco, or eat after sauce has been added. Enjoy.

For adults:

1. Take taco shell

2. Spread layer of Mascarpone cheese on bottom of shell

3. Sprinkle slices of jalapeno on top of cheese

4. Layer noodles next.

5. Ground beef, then sauce over top.

6. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of assembled taco.

Wow, your first Spaghetti Taco. Let me know your thoughts on this one,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rustic Cauliflower Bake

This recipe was inspired by French Women Don't Get Fat cookbook. This book had a recipe using cauliflower over pasta with bread crumbs baked on top. My husband was in disbelief I would serve such a dinner. I reworked the recipe without the pasta and added a whole lot of other great ingredients. Fall is at its peak of freshness, so take advantage of fresh cauliflower and tomatoes. This cauliflower recipe is sure to please even the fussiest of eaters.

Serves 4 to 6

1 bunch cauliflower- white

1 1/2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 Tablespoon powered onion

1 Tablespoons ground mustard

ground black pepper

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese- finely grated

1 tomato - sliced

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs ( I used Fishtown crumbs made in Leeland,MI- http://www.stonehousebread.com/)

2 Tablespoons butter


Cook cauliflower in chicken broth until just tender. About 20 minutes. Use 1/2 cup broth and 1/2 cup water.

Mix together Worcestershire sauce, powered onion, ground mustard, black pepper, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Fold this mixture gently with cooked cauliflower until well coated. Place in a 2.5 quart baking dish. ( Spray baking dish with cooking spray before pouring in mixture.)

Slice tomatoes thinly and place over top of cauliflower mixture.

Mix bread crumbs with melted butter.

Sprinkle bread crumbs and paprika on top of tomatoes and cauliflower mixture.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 35 minutes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Child's Play

I love that my children enjoy cooking as much as I do. My 11 year old son has earned certain kitchen privilidges through my supervision over many years. So, when he made this tasty concoction himself as a family treat, I was so very proud.

Sam used chocolate bars we keep in the refrigerator. He cut them up to melt in the microwave, not using a sharp knife of course!

Sam knows to go slow using the microwave for melting/heating projects. We always go in 20 second intervals. That way you remain in control of the process.
Sam used pretels and bananas. He dipped the end of the pretels in the melted chocolate, which makes for easy pick up on the other end. He then sliced several banans, and used a fork to coat the opposite side of the banana with chocolate.
This is such a wonderful way to say you love your family. And a healthy one too. Use dark chocolate for the highest antioxidant advantage. Also stick with healthy items for dipping, such as fruit or pretels.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall has fallen....

As last week ushered in the official start to the fall season, here in Traverse City the weather heard the news loud and clear. It went from 80 degree weather to mid 60's. It's okay though, these fall days bring many great things.

As the sun shines brightly, the leaves on the trees seem to sparkle. The air is crisp and fresh. An abundance of fall harvests are here for our taking.

This time of year my children think of caramel apples. Cider mills and farmer's markets have them for sale. Or you could buy fresh apples at the market and make homemade caramel sauce at home with your children. This would be a great recipe for a Halloween party or other fall theme event. This is easy and fun. What a great way to enjoy those fresh apples.

Recipe for homemade caramel sauce:

Equipment needed: candy thermometer


8 medium to large apples or 12 small tart apples

1 cup chopped nuts ( cashews, peanuts, walnuts- optional)

1 cup butter

1 16 ounce package ( 2 1/4 cups) packed brown sugar

1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup light colored corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a baking sheet with foil. Spray cooking spray over the foil. Wash and dry apples. Remove stems, and insert a wooden skewer at the end of each apple. Place chopped nuts in a separate bowl.

In a heavy 3 quart saucepan melt butter over low heat. Next add brown sugar, condensed milk, and corn syrup. Mix well. Increase heat to medium high, stir until mixture boils. Clip candy thermometer to side of saucepan. Reduce heat to medium. continue stirring. Mixture will boil at a moderate steady state. Look for thermometer to register at 248 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Quickly dip each apple into the hot caramel sauce, turn to coat. If desired, dip in nut mixture. Place on baking sheet. Chill if desired.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jalapeno's on the windowsill

The excitement of seeing my first homegrown Thai peppers was a high point during the scorching summer heat. I felt no intimadation as I looked upon the tiny, dark green peppers. My husband loves Thai food, so what could be better than adding Thai peppers to an endless array of meals I would cook for him.

Only one other pepper has more heat then Thai peppers, that would be the Habanero. An important point when deciding what peppers to grow in your garden. Take a bell pepper for comparison, which clocks in at a zero rating for heat threshold. A jalapeno can go as high aas 8,000, and to my surprise, the Thai pepper can rate up to 100,000. Sweet banana are the mildest of the spicy peppers, then Pablano. Depending on the amount of spice you want, you may wish to start with the mild variety.

A hot, delicious way to try these spicy peppers and do a taste test yourself, is to simply serve as an appetizer. Start with any pepper you wish, or try a few different types, and stuff with cream cheese. Wrap uncooked bacon aroung the stuffed uncooked pepper, and place in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Just don't forget to label which pepper is which. Have fun working your way up the heat index.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bon Appetit

The October issue of Bon Appetit has named Traverse City in the' Top 5 Foodie Towns in America'. Reasons cited were everything from Mario Batali to a local winery, Black Star Farms. For a town to make the cut, the criteria was simple. Great farmers' markets, superb restaurants, a faithful foodie following to name a few. Traverse City has all this in more.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Drunken Raisin Cookies

I found this recipe in my grandma's index card notebook. This is where she kept many recipes, all written in her hand writing. When I found this, I immediately begged my mom to keep her recipes.What a treasure!
In my grandma's stylish southern accent, I can still hear her say, ' Would you like a drunken raisin cookie'? She loved these cookies, as do I. I thought it would make a perfect first entry.


1 Box Butter Pecan cake mix
2 Eggs   Beat well
2/3 C. Cooking oil
1 T. Karo syrup

Mix 1 t. soda with cake mix, then mix all the above throughly.
Add 2 cups old fashioned oats, 1 C. raisins soaked in apricot brandy, 3 or 4 hours ( overnight is better). Go grandma!! Drain.

Mix all ingrediants and chill at least one hour. ( Longer is better)
Make 1" balls and dip in a sugar/ cinnamon mixture.
Place 1/2 a pecan on top of ball, press down a little.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes on a ungreased cookie sheet.