Tag Archives: Food

World Autism Awareness Day!

It’s that time of year again!  World Autism Awareness Day is today.  And, yes, while I am traditionally a recipe maker, photo taker, accidental mess maker and avid cupcake eater, this is one annual mainstay that I won’t deter from, here at Kate from Scratch. We’re shining a light on autism all month long.

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About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.

It’s a cause near and dear and never to be overlooked and I hope you will join me in spreading awareness not just today, but all throughout April.

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Because, while today is the official day, it is just the kickoff point of a month long initiative to increase the awareness of autism.

So, if you’re a little late to the awareness train, no need to fret, you have time to spread the word and do some good for the cause.

Light It Up Blue is observed in our home, from our blue light bulbs, to volunteering in our own community, to lighting up somebody’s day.  Even the act of a simple donation can be enough.  There’s even an entire online store dedicated to Light It Up Blue gear!  You know, if you want to support a good cause and also get a memento that continues to spread autism awareness throughout the year.

Find countless ways here: How To Light It Up Blue.  Spread the word and show your support. Start by visiting liub.autismspeaks.org.  Autism speaks, it’s time to listen.

 

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Ten Tips for Perfect Blanching (and a recipe for Garlic Infused, Perfectly Blanched Asparagus with Orange Ginger Glaze)

 

perfectly blanched asparagus with garlic, ginger-8

We’re getting another ten inches of snow this weekend, however, it is technically almost spring.  And if you have even the slightest bit of luck, you might start to feel the weather warm up in the next couple of weeks (or months. But I’m optimistic, so just roll with it).

The markets will become flooded with sweet baby peas, green beans, baby broccoli florets, and of course, the Easter favorite and spring go-to of all households, asparagus spears.

Many people pride themselves on their marinades and dry rubs, their rich or perfectly balanced sauces, and they are, of course, all wonderful, I’m sure.  However there is one common cooking method that is sadly overlooked, often underestimated and unfortunately executed with little attention to detail and lackluster flare.  You’ve probably blanched and shocked vegetables in the past and not given it much thought, but it’s almost spring and we need to talk technique.  These vegetables should be given the respect they deserve.

Nobody puts spring green vegetables in the corner and I’m here to help.

Blanching and shocking is a simple, effective and delicious way to prepare these spring favorites.  However, it must be done properly or not at all, in my opinion.  If it’s not done properly you will be left with a quaggy, gray, disgusting, mush-like dish that someone said was once a vegetable and probably would benefit from a can of condensed soup poured on top of it.  Oh, yes, I did just say that.

This is not ok, people!

No main dish can make up for the fact that your vegetables are terrible (says the vegetarian).

Yes, I might be biased, but I feel it’s time we pay more attention to our vegetable dishes especially when they’ve just come back from the dead of the frozen winter ground for our consumption.  Fresh green beans and asparagus spears have a deliciously bitter-sweet and earthy flavor that should be enhanced, not smothered.  Smothering is so November through January.  Macaroni and cheese and sweet potato chili are now nearly a thing of our past.

It’s time to think about sweet pea soups that barely need cooking and lemon scented crispy green beans or grilled broccoli spears dusted with parmesan and sea salt.  These vegetables don’t need much help, they’re pretty much perfect the way they are with just a little help.

So here are some tips on how to perfectly blanch spring green vegetables.

1.  Salt the water!  If the water tastes like nothing, then your vegetables will taste (yup, you guessed it) like nothing.  The water should be as salty as the ocean.  The salt will be washed away in the ice bath so don’t under season your boiling water.  It is important.

2.  Add some flavor.  I add garlic cloves or some lemon slices and allow them to soften up in the simmering water before I add the vegetables. This infuses a gentle hint of flavor into the green vegetables without overpowering their natural and authentic flavor.

3.  Bring your water to a rapid rolling boil before adding the vegetables.  Adding the vegetables at any point in time before this, will not suffice.

4.  Stay there!   This particular category of vegetables can cook in less than thirty seconds, depending on the size and thickness of them.  Stay there and watch them turn bright spring green.  Remove them from the water with a large spider or colander and drop them directly into the ice bath.

5.  How to tell when they’re done?

a) For small vegetables like peas and green beans:  They will turn a very vivid shade of green.  At this point, remove one and taste it.  Are they too crunchy? Probably not, because they take about thirty seconds to cook.  So, unless it’s only been ten seconds, remove and shock.

b) If the vegetables are larger like asparagus or broccoli spears, stick a knife into the center of the vegetables when they change to bright green.  If the knife clings to the vegetable without budging, wait another minute.  If the knife slides easily through the vegetables,  then get them out of that water as soon as possible because they’re almost overcooked.

6. The vegetables will continue to cook until you shock them.  This is why I prefer to get them out of the boiling water when they’re still bright and crisp.  I can drain them and wait a minute and then shock them and they’re still perfect.  Overdone is not reversible, so it’s better to err on the side of caution with this method.

7.  Keep the vegetables in the ice water bath long enough for them to cool completely.  If they’re not cooled completely, they’re still cooking and will therefore become mushy soon after.

8.  The ice water shock bath should be equal parts ice and water and leave enough room in the bowl for the vegetables.  You don’t want things overflowing.

9.  If you plan to cook them with a sauce after blanching and shocking ( either in a baking dish or a stir fry, etc. ), then reduce the cooking time a bit.  They will finish cooking once combined with the sauce of your choosing.

10.  Taste.  This tip goes for every recipe and method in cooking.  Taste the water, taste the product at every stage of cooking so you know what direction you’re headed in with the dish.   An untasted dish of any kind, is most likely going to need a lot of help once you finally take that first bite.  You don’t want that bite to be had by everyone at the table.   That’s when people start grabbing the ketchup.  It’s not because they love ketchup. It’s because you didn’t taste.

If these tips are followed you will be enjoying brightly colored, tender but crisp earthy fresh spring greens. You’ll taste a nuance of the ocean and the brightness of lemons.  It should taste like spring.

perfectly blanched asparagus with garlic, ginger-2

Garlic Infused, Perfectly Blanched Asparagus with Orange Ginger Glaze

Serves 4 (with rice or noodles) as an entree.  Serves 6 as an appetizer or side dish.

NOTE: Please taste the salted water to make sure it is thoroughly flavored.  This recipe is for standard 1/2 inch asparagus spears.  If using baby asparagus, reduce cooking time by half (about one and a half minutes into the boiling water).  This recipe works with any green vegetable if you’re not a fan of asparagus.

Garlic-Infused and Perfectly-Blanched Asparagus

  • 5 cloves of garlic, whole and peeled
  • salt
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
  1. Fill a large metal bowl half way with equal parts ice and water. Set aside, near the stovetop.
  2. In a large saucepan with a fitted lid, fill three quarters of the way with salted water.  Cover and place over high heat until it starts to simmer.  Taste the blanching water to make sure it is thoroughly salted and add more if needed.
  3. Add garlic to the pot and allow to cook for about three minutes, or until garlic is fragrant and soft.
  4. When water boils rapidly, add asparagus to the water and allow to cook for three or four minutes, or until tender but crisp.
  5. Using a large spider, strainer or colander, remove asparagus and garlic from the boiling water and transfer to the ice water bath.  Stir until the asparagus is warm and the ice melts slightly.

Orange Ginger Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (+ more for garnish/color, optional)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about the amount of juice from one large naval orange)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  •  a dash or two of sriracha (optional)
  • 2 pounds prepared vegetables*

*1  recipe for prepared “Garlic Infused, Perfectly Blanched Asparagus” (above)

In a large nonstick saucepan over high heat, add all ingredients.  Toss until hot and covered evenly.  Note: you may add a bit of water if needed to help coat the asparagus evenly.  You may double the ingredients if you prefer a more saucy dish. Remove whole garlic cloves before serving.

Serve with rice or noodles, garnish with zest

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Wicked Famous Apple Cinnamon Muffins

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It is the most beloved, the most requested, the most downloaded and the most adored recipe on Kate from Scratch.  This recipe exploded all over the internet when it was first published; shared and linked and highlighted and commented upon regularly for over a year.  I got emails saying how “wicked good” and “totally amazing” and even (dare I repeat it, for fear of sounding like a blogger)  …

“amazeballs” they are.  Yes, seriously.

I just figured it was luck and never gave it much thought after that.    So, after nearly two years of people referring to these as, “you know those really good apple cinnamon muffins with that stuff on top you made that one time?”

I figured I’d make them again.  And as you can tell from that mess of a pan.  I made a LOT of them.

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Yes, people…

I, the one who never ever makes the same thing twice (seriously never) have followed my own recipe and perfected it upon picking over fifty pounds of apples with the family over the weekend.  If you thought these muffins were “wicked awesome” before… brace yourselves.

You asked for it and you got it.

My “Wicked Famous Apple Muffins” are here once again and now that I sit here and eat one, I get it.  I understand.  They really are pretty good if I do say so myself.

The secret?

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They don’t hold back.

There’s lots of real butter, lots of fresh ripe and crisp New York apples with an entire container of sour cream in the batter to keep the crumb of the muffin moist and tender.  Not to mention tons of honey graham cracker cinnamon sugar streusel on top.

Hey, if you’re going to do something, do it right.

Wicked Famous Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Makes three dozen muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups diced, peeled tart fresh and ripe quality apples
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 16-ounce container of sour cream
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
Graham Cracker Streusel:
  • 10 sheets of graham crackers (40 individual graham crackers), crushed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks of butter cut into pea sized pieces
      1. Move oven rack to top third of oven and preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line or generously grease 36 muffin cups
      2. In a large bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt and whisk to evenly distribute dry ingredients.  Add apples to dry ingredients.  Toss to coat.   Add eggs, sour cream and butter and mix to combine.
      3. In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients (you can use your hands for this) for the streusel topping until crumbly.
      4. Using an ice cream scoop or a one quarter cup dry measure, add batter to each prepared pan.  Place one handful of streusel (about two rounded teaspoons) on top of each muffin and press gently to make sure the streusel sticks.  Place pan(s) in preheated oven on top rack and bake until muffin springs back when gently pressed, or for about ten minutes.
      5. Remove pan(s) from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.  Remove muffins from pan and enjoy.
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Brunch: Potatoes, Peppers and Perfect Poached Eggs

potatoes peppers and eggs

Apparently my little rant has gotten quite a bit of attention on twitter from the food blog community who generally feels the same way (or has at one point) about things.

I like you too.

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Thanks for dropping by!

Let’s eat brunch.  You can bring the bacon if you’d like.

This is my version of potatoes peppers and eggs.   Sweet red bell peppers and roasted golden potatoes topped with a perfect poached egg using a fairly fool-proof method (for them to keep their shape).  I use an egg shaped cookie cutter that I have from Easter, but you could use a ring or whatever you have on hand for the bottom of the pot.

It’s simple and one of my favorites.

Enjoy and Have a Happy Memorial Day!

 

Brunch: Potatoes, Peppers and Perfect Poached Eggs

  • 4 potatoes, diced
  • 1  large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • your favorite (high heat friendly) oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs (as fresh as possible)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • parsley and chives, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 ° F.
  2. Place potatoes, peppers, and onions into a roasting pan and drizzle with two tablespoons of oil (eyeball it, it’s fine) and lightly dust with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Roast until fork tender, or about thirty to forty minutes. Top the roasted potatoes and peppers with thyme and oregano.

While potatoes and peppers are roasting:

  1. Place a large heavy bottomed saucepan with a well-fitting lid over high heat with about four inches of water in the bottom. Drop a round or oval cookie cutter in the bottom of the pot with the water (a mason jar ring will work just as well) to hold the perfect shape of the egg.  Crack one egg into a small glass bowl or cup.  Bring the water to a full boil and then turn off heat.
  2. Watch carefully now: The second the water stops boiling, roll the egg into the ring  in the water and cover the saucepan.  Wait three minutes for the egg whites to fully cook.  Remove lid and using tongs, gently remove the ring.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the egg, gently.  Season with salt and pepper.  Continue the same procedure with other eggs.  Using the same ring you used for the eggs, place on plate.  Scoop roasted potatoes and peppers into the ring, lightly packing them in.  Remove ring and top with a poached egg.  Garnish with parsley and chives, if desired.

Note: I find this to be the easiest way to explain how to poach an egg.  Technically speaking, you’re supposed to poach an egg in very lightly -barely- simmering water.  This temperature, however is often missed and is difficult to maintain resulting in separated egg soupiness.  Bringing the water to a full boil and then allowing it to cool is a means of avoiding egg drop soup.  Hope it helps!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Foodgawker: A Rant and Some Easy Rice Pudding.

Note: It’s raining and cold here this Memorial Day weekend but I hear it should be nice by Monday (woohoo!).  Save the grilling for then and try this simple and easy recipe for rice pudding tonight.  It’s the only one I’ve ever used because there’s no sense in messing with perfection, obviously.

The following is just a little rant about some food blogger type things that I know a lot of people can identify with.  Enjoy.

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Dear Foodgawker:

I had a streak of luck awhile back with a slew of acceptances which renewed my self efficacy in terms of blogging and food photography.  I can only surmise that somebody outside of the norm was behind the approval process during that time.  Whomever that person was, actually enjoyed my submissions and they were accepted!  The photos were the same quality they always are (ranging from not bad to pretty decent), and there was definitely nothing special about them.  Then it was over.  Not a single photo has been accepted for a fairly tragic amount of time, and so I am relenting to your food photo snobbery.  As annoying as it might be, you have every right to be kind of a jerk an elitist.  That’s your thing.  It’s cool. You’re Ludo, I’m Nigella. It’s all good.  You like to set the bar so high that not even you can reach it (I’d be interested to see that, honestly).  You like to set standards that only superhuman professionals buy at the store and snap a photo of can dream of.  Neat.  It’s cool but it’s not for me.  I have no clue what you’re looking for and so there’s no sense in continuing.  Trying to figure it out is abysmally pointless, at least for a little while.

Why not?

Well the deal breaker is in the rejection letters.  First of all, I can’t opt out of them. “Don’t call us we’ll call you” would make me despise the process less.  I’d notice a steady flow of traffic from your site if ever my photo was accepted and it would be a pleasant surprise which is better than the bitter cold rejection you always offer.  Second, the emails are automated and have a tone that sounds polite at first, but then just seems robotic and condescending; especially after the sixty third arrives.

“Thanks so much for submitting..Unfortunately…reason: ____ please continue to submit”

I find them completely irritating and unhelpful, honestly (“food/photo styling” is not a helpful directive for future reference, if you care) and generally, these emails are just a huge bummer to the end of a seemingly great day.  The worst is when I bravely submit a whole bunch at once, thinking, “if I get just one accepted, it will vanquish the agony of all the other rejection”.   Wrong! Instead, I get a barrage of  rejection letters and corresponding feelings of inadequacy sent directly to my inbox all at once from some automated terribleness that I like to call  …well, I’ll spare you the profanity, but it sounds like foodgawker and has an extra F.

It’s my way of saying, “that was not nice”.

What happened to the good old days when we as lowly bloggers could submit some terrible casserole (with flash!) and get over 2k hits flooding in from your site within a few short hours?  I’ve heard the tales from those that have been around long before me.  I can scroll back and see it for myself.  Really terrible photos used to pass as “amazing” and even be featured! Was that before you became the cool kid on the block?  Now you’re only “secret friends” with the amateurs?  Well, either way, those days are long gone and I’m finding the process to be not quite worth it, anymore.  Who knows, though, maybe I’ll change my mind and try again (this has happened several times over the years).  And then I will briskly be reminded, via robotic email, to just stop bothering with it. It’s one site that I can’t peg down out of about fifty that either are just as popular, or will be within 2013. Perhaps it’s time to just let it go.

There are at least five other sites that feature my posts (and photos) regularly and you,  dear foodgawker, are just a spiral of self doubt and quite frankly, suckiness (yes, I said suckiness).  It’s not a fun relationship so I’m taking a break.

Yes.  Again.

(Shut up)

Whenever I remember to post on pinterest, bloghertastespottingdailybuzz, babble and the others, my photos are accepted, shared and even occasionally featured!  So, it’s hard not to take it personally.  I know it’s not personal because it’s a cold heartless robot I’m dealing with, but it’s no fun, regardless.  What could I possibly be doing so wrong?  Bah…I suppose that’s the ever alluring mystery, though, isn’t it?  More rejected means more elite and elite = “youfancy” success.

Anyway, I’m having a great week despite your annoying rejection letters being the worst thing ever : Traffic is up and people are sharing.  Tastespotting appears to like me just fine and accepts my photos regularly (I won’t forget to submit anymore). Also, today is national wine and tap dancing day.  That’s fun.  So, yeah…to put it nicely – I’m breaking up with you.

Again.

 

 

Rice Pudding

  • 5 cups organic whole milk
  • 7 ounces short grain rice
  • 2-3 tablespoons vanilla sugar (to taste)
  • garnish: cinnamon and brown sugar (optional)

Place the milk, rice and vanilla sugar in a deep saucepan. Bring to a medium simmer and put on the lid. Cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the rice pudding is thickened. If you accidentally cook it for too long or (for whatever reason) becomes too thick, you can thin it down by adding a little more milk.  Place in dessert bowls and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, if desired.

Adapted from : Jamie Oliver’s Recipe

 

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Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers

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“Mommy, can we please make dinosaur cookies now and not tomorrow?” he asked with a big grin.

Looking at the grey sky and realizing I was out of distractions, I obliged.

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This is Max; our little ball of perpetual exuberance and wonder who turned three a few weeks ago and loves dinosaurs almost as much as he loves chocolate cookies.  He helped mix the dough, roll it out as well as shape the dinosaurs.  But the most fun part was “excavating” the dinosaurs from the powdered sugar; a wildly jovial experience for anyone, obviously.  dinosaur-breakfast-dunker-cookies

 

I dunked them into my coffee this morning, and with irresponsible genius it passed as my breakfast.  They are delicious.  A light cocoa taste, not too sweet and not too heavy.  They’re soft and almost biscuit like as they soak up your extra hot morning coffee or tea; resembling a cocoa version of a Stella D’oro breakfast treat.

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Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling dough
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix with an electric mixer on medium-high speed butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture in three additions; mixing after each for about ten seconds, or until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill an hour or more.
  4. Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top, if desired. Bake on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the time will vary depending on the thickness of your preferred cookie – I like thicker cookies).
  5. The cookies will puff slightly when they’re done baking.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar or decorate as desired.
Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers
Recipe Type: Dessert, sweet, cookie
Cuisine: dessert, sweet, cookies,
Ingredients
  • Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling dough
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix with an electric mixer on medium-high speed butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture in three additions; mixing after each for about ten seconds, or until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill an hour or more.
  4. Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top, if desired. Bake on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the time will vary depending on the thickness of your preferred cookie – I like thicker cookies).
  5. The cookies will puff slightly when they’re done baking.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioner’s sugar or decorate as desired.

 

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

 

 

 

 

Posted in Basics, Breakfast, Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Basics V: Country Bread and Butter

 

‘Tis the season to be jolly, right?  So, why then is everyone always stressed out about money and scheduling and wrapping and everything else that goes into seasonal bliss?  Or, is it just me?  I’ve been gone for the last week, unpacking decorations, budgeting, planning and pretty much anxiously awaiting the arrival of some much needed cash.  I, normally, am done with my shopping by now.  But, I haven’t bought one single present.  Nope, not a single item.   This terrifies me and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it until I have money, which I don’t right now due to some changes made a few months back on my employer’s end.

Now, before you get all buddhist-hippy on me and tell me that it’s not about things and possessions, it’s about the love we share and yadda yadda, just let me tell you that I’m well aware of all of it.  I had a hippy phase in college and I remember it well; you’re right, it’s more enjoyable to not care about things and ownership.  We do that part too, and I stress giving more that receiving with my kids, but in a reverse (sort of) way, that puts me on the responsible end for giving.  I don’t have much to give other than cookies, kisses and love at the moment, which isn’t all that impressive to a six year old who deserves and expects some decent toys, if you catch my drift.

I’ve done without before and I could easily do it again.  But, then again, I’m going to have tiny little bright-eyed wonders staring at me Christmas morning and they deserve a good Christmas.  They’re selfless (mostly and usually), lovely little people that I love and want to make happy.  Granted, surely Santa will come through as he always does.  But, it’s nice to have a few extra presents from mom (aka me), just to be safe.

So, I’m going to distract myself from holiday budget anxiety by baking, running, and telling you fine and wonderful people all about it.   You’re welcome?  Err…maybe.   Anyway, I’ve done what I can so far, and made hypothetical lists, game plans for shopping, diagrams of where and how we plan to get everything we need and backup plans in case of emergency.  But, nothing will make me feel better than just being done with all of it and being able to enjoy the season like every other year.  That won’t happen for another two weeks, so let’s make bread and butter which makes sense, sort of…kind of…maybe.

Something I know for certain is that bread is delicious and butter is delicious on bread. It’s one thing I know for a fact and that will never ever change.  This super easy country bread recipe is a basic not to be missed that I found in an old copy of southern living magazine.  Follow the directions and you’re bound to have a perfect country rich sandwich bread every time.  People are surprisingly impressed by bread made at home without a machine too. And butter is just a matter of whipping cream way passed the point of whipped cream into the land of butter, (sounds like a wonderful and magical place, doesn’t it?) which is hit once the cream separates.  You’ll have buttermilk and butter just by whipping.   Squeeze the solid butter in a cheesecloth to squeeze out all the buttermilk, and store in the fridge.  Way easier than stressing about money and Christmas shopping, for sure.  I enjoy things that will work every single time, no matter what.  This is one of those things.

Basics V: Country Bread, Butter and Buttermilk

Recipe Type: Basic, Bread
Cuisine: American
Bread: From Southern Living SEPTEMBER 2010 The addition of butter from yours truly, Kate from Scratch
Ingredients
  • 2 (1/4-oz.) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Combine yeast, warm water, and 2 teaspoons sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in eggs, next 3 ingredients, 3 cups flour, and remaining sugar. Beat dough at medium speed, using paddle attachment, until smooth. Gradually beat in remaining 3 to 3 1/2 cups flour until a soft dough forms.
  2. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 to 10 minutes), sprinkling surface with flour as needed. Place dough in a lightly greased large bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
  3. Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half.
  4. Roll each dough half into an 18- x 9-inch rectangle. Starting at 1 short end, tightly roll up each rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, pressing to seal edges as you roll. Pinch ends of dough to seal, and tuck ends under dough. Place each dough roll, seam side down, in a lightly greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan. Brush tops with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
  5. Preheat oven to 375º. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to a wire rack, and brush loaves with melted butter. Let cool completely (about 1 hour).
  6. Whip cream for several minutes on high speed with an electric mixer, past the point of stiff peaks until it forms into solid (butter) and liquid (buttermilk).
  7. Gather solid butter into a cheesecloth and squeeze tightly over bowl to strain all of the buttermilk. Store buttermilk and butter, separately in air tight containers.
  8. Try These Twists!
  9. Country Crust Wheat Bread: Substitute 3 cups wheat flour for 3 cups bread flour.
  10. Country Crust Cheese Bread: Sprinkle 1 cup (4 oz.) freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese onto each dough rectangle before rolling up.

Enjoy!

 

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Chocolate Orange Pie (Basics IV: Orange Curd + Graham Cracker Crust)

Aside from the word “curd” grating my senses on every level, I find the topic one of importance for my basics series. Yes, that’s right I said curd.  Curd is the word that sounds gross, but is not.  It’s actually quite awesome and tasty when you think about it, and though it might need a new name, it is in fact delicious on many levels:  It’s creamy, it is perfectly sweet, it’s tart, and it is rich yet light in taste and decadent in texture which is what makes it worth knowing and tasting.

A basic curd in a graham cracker crust is one of the easiest yet more impressive things you can learn to make as far as desserts go, in my opinion.  It’s a simple means of creating something delicious that occasionally confounds even the most experienced home cooks (they all use jello, usually, instead for whatever reason).  It works as a filling for pastry shells, cakes, cookies and so many other things. Curd is generally seen as lemon, but, since lemons are more of a spring flavor, I wanted to use orange.  Once I decided on orange, I remembered that a good part of my family has a mild obsession with all things chocolate-orange.  This pie is what I brought to Thanksgiving dinner, along with some other desserts, as well.  It’s just a chocolate graham cracker crust with an orange curd poured into it, topped with mini chocolate chips around the edges and left to chill just enough, so it sets well.  Sounds easy because it is easy.

Today, I am very thankful I am home, spending time with my family, decorating for the holidays.  Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone.  Enjoy the leftovers and enjoy what’s left of the long weekend.

Chocolate Orange Pie

  • Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust (recipe below)
  • Orange Curd (recipe below)
  • Mini Chocolate Chips

Pour orange curd into graham cracker crust.  Top edges with mini chocolate chips.  Cover and chill to set before eating.

Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust

  • 9 whole chocolate graham crackers, crumbled
  • 1  stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to three hundred fifty degrees F.

Combine all ingredients in a large food processor.  Pulse until uniform in texture.

Pour into nine inch baking dish and push down onto the bottom of the dish and work onto sides of the dish, creating a one inch tall layer about a quarter of an inch thick all around the sides of the dish.  Bake in preheated oven for eight to ten minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.

 

Orange Curd

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, room temperature

In a medium metal bowl, whisk together: sugar, orange juice, lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks, and orange peel.  Add butter; set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until curd thickens and instant-read thermometer inserted into curd registers 175°F, about 12 minutes (Don’t boil it).  Remove bowl from over water. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd; chill at least 1 day and up to 3 days.

 

Orange curd adapted from Bon Appetit, 2002

 

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Portobello Kebabs with Garlic Mash and Mo’shrooms (and a book review)

I was sent a book to share with you, aptly titled, “Must Have Been Something I Ate,” by Peggy Kotsopoulos, a registered holistic nutritionist.  You know the quote by Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” this book illucidates that message on every one of its pages.  The health guide portion at the beginning of the book will make you want to try new ingredients, listed in the recipe portion of the book. From chia seeds, to hemp granules (stay with me here, fellow butter lovers) these nutritionally dense powerhouses aren’t necessarily added for flavor but rather a means of curing and preventing ailments and improving your overall health.  Many of the recipes are simple and quick to make and can be revamped for a little more glamour or ease (whatever your goal).   I tried this mushroom dish  and found the mushrooms were hearty and satisfying, the flavors were vivid and fresh and the colors popped off the plate.  It was also quite easy to prepare, which is an added bonus.  You can find that recipe below and check out her book for more.   I might skip the red onion next time and go with something else, since I’m not much of a raw or warmed onion lover.  But, honestly anything smothered in mushroom gravy is pretty good to me, so I made extra as I always do.

Moisturize your skin by eating guacamole, improve your immune system with mushroom kebabs,  improve your digestive health while lowering your cholesterol and boost a rapid fire of your happy neurotransmitters with her grandma’s lentil soup.   Sounds good to me.  Whatever the ailment or improvement you’re looking for, it’s probably covered in this information-packed book, which is just less than two hundred pages.  That’s pretty impressive.

 

Portobello Kebabs with Garlic Mash and Mo’shrooms

Peggy Kotsopoulis, “Must Have Been Something I Ate”.

Garlic Mash Ingredients:

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Make Garlic Mash:  Steam cauliflower and parsnip until tender, approximately ten minutes.  Add to blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth Make

Mushroom Gravy Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup maitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground chia seed
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • sea salt to taste

Mushroom Gravy:   Heat coconut oil on medium heat. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms have browned.   Add half the mushroom mixture to the blender and blend until smooth.   Add ground chia and continue to blend until well combined. Pour into bowl and stir in remaining mushrooms.

Kebabs Ingredients:

  •  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, cut into 1″ pieces (I used halved baby portobellos)
  • 2 red peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1″ pieces

Make Kebabs:  Preheat grill or barbecue and soak eight large wooden skewers in water for twenty minutes.   In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic and sea salt;set aside. Thread a piece of the portobello mushrooms followed by a piece of red pepper and a chunk of red onion.  Repeat until the skewer is full.   Repeat threading the remaining vegetables onto the rest of the skewers.   Brush skewers with olive oil and garlic marinade and grill, turning occasionally, until warmed through. Serve immediately with Garlic Mash and Mushroom Gravy.  Serves four.

 

Portobello Kebabs with Garlic Mash and Mo’shrooms

Recipe Type: Main, Vegan
Cuisine: American
Author: Peggy Kotsopoulis
Serves: 4
From “Must Have Been Something I Ate” byPeggy Kotsopoulis
Ingredients
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 parsnip,peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup maitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chia seed
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, cut into 1″ pieces (I used halved baby portobellos)
  • 2 red peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1″ pieces
Instructions
  1. Make Garlic Mash: Steam cauliflower and parsnip until tender, approximately ten minutes. Add to blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth
  2. Make Mushroom Gravy: Heat cocnut oil on medium heat. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms have browned. Add half the mushroom mixture to the belnder and blend until smooth. Add ground chia and continue to blend until well combined. Pour into bowl and stir in remaining mushrooms.
  3. Make Kebabs: Preheat grill or barbecue and soak eight large wooden skewers in water for twenty minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic and sea salt;set aside. Thread a piece of the portobello mushroomsfollowed by a piece of red pepper and a chunk of red onion. Repeat until the skewer is full. Repeat threading the remaining vegetables onto the rest of the skewers. Brush skewers with olive oil and garlic marinade and grill, turning occasionally, until warmed through. Serve immediately with Garlic MAsh and Mushroom Gravy. Serves four.

 

 

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Peach Granita

Sorry I’m a little late this week.   I got distracted by gardening.

Trey has taken an interest in these plants too which is nice since it means he’s willing to help water.

No carnival peppers or sweet 100 tomatoes to speak of yet, but they are on their way.    So, while we water and wait…and watch the plants grow multiple inches each night, we slather up the sunblock, blow up our floaties, and head to the pool.

Where they go completely wild.  

Once they’re sufficiently exhausted and manageable, I pull them out of the pool with the promise of something delicious.  It could be anything, really.  But, today, I had a massive amount of awesomely ripe, sweet and juicy peaches.    I don’t have an ice cream maker yet, so ice cream isn’t really an option…yet.

However, making a peach granita only requires a blending apparatus and a freezer, which is ideal for a simple summer treat.

When the peaches are ripe enough, you don’t even have to cook them, as so many recipes call for.    According to Martha, you can go ahead and pop them into a blender or food processor with a little citrus water and sugar…and that is it for the mix.

Nice, right?    I know.   That’s why I made it.

  Peaches are perfect as they are. I find it difficult to do much to them without missing that special something, which is why I love this recipe.   It saves all that ambrosial raw peach lusciousness and simply beautifies it further.

 A purely delicious cup of frosty peach heaven.

Peach Granita

From: Martha Stewart Living, July 2010

  • Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, halved, pitted, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil (optional)

 

Puree peaches, water, sugar, lemon juice and coarse salt in food processor or blender. Add sugar to taste, if needed.  Pour into an 8 x8 inch baking dish and freeze for two hours, raking with a fork every twenty minutes to evenly break up ice crystals.   Top with fresh basil if desired.

 

 

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