Thursday, December 30, 2010

In Search of Turkish Delight

The family just went and saw the latest Narnia movie.  It was  fantastic.   My mind started to wander and I thought of the first Narnia movie and Turkish delight popped into my mind.  I had an urge for Turkish Delight, but had no idea how to make it.  Thus begins my search for a Turkish Delight recipe.

I  have searched the Web and found several recipes that I want to try.   I will keep you posted on my experiments with Turkish Delight.

PS If any of you have a recipe for Turkish Delight or tips on making Turkish Delight, please feel free to comment.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

"'8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'"


Geri

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Cooking With The Kids: Holly Cookies

The kids and I just got done making Holly Cookies.  Holly cookies are like Rice Krispie treats only you use corn flakes or frosted flakes.  They are super simple to make  and the kids have a blast making and decorating them.

Holly cookies have become a family tradition.  We make these cookies every year for Christmas and they are loved by both kids and adults.

Holly Cookies

Ingredients:
1/3 cup butter
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons green food coloring
6 cups corn flakes or frosted flakes
Cinnamon red hot candies
Vanilla frosting

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan melt the butter over low heat.  Do not burn the butter.
2. Add the marshmallows to the melted butter.  Stir until the marshmallows have melted.
3.  To the melted marshmallows add the vanilla extract and green food coloring.  Stir until combined.
4.  Add the cornflakes to the marshmallow mixture and stir  until the flakes are well coated.
5. Drop the cereal mixture by tablespoonfuls on wax paper.  Decorate the cookies with the cinnamon red hot candies using the frosting to hold the candies in place.  Let cool.
6.  Store cookies (single layer) in an airtight container.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Cooking: Peppermint Bark Pretzels

Today, my daughter Becky and I made some Peppermint Bark Pretzels.  Becky came up with the idea after having some peppermint bark.  They are easy and fun to make.  This is a recipe the kids can make pretty much by themselves with a little supervision on your part.

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

Ingredients:
4 cups of pretzels
1 pound chocolate candy coating
1/2 pound of vanilla candy coating
1 regular size candy cane  crushed -you want to have fairly small pieces not large

 
Directions:
1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt the chocolate candy coating according to package directions for the microwave.
3. Dip the pretzels one at a time in the chocolate coating and set on the parchment paper to dry.
4. Melt the white candy coating according to package directions for the microwave.
5. With a spoon, drizzle the white candy coating over the pretzels on the parchment paper.
6.  Sprinkle the crushed candy cane over the pretzels.
7.  Let the pretzels set and store in an airtight container.

Have fun with this and enjoy.

Geri

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Baking: Blondies

I love to eat blondies with ice cream.  The blondies in this recipe are not made from scratch but from a cake mix as the batter.  In my opinion, they turn out just as chewy and gooey as the ones I make from scratch.

Mix up a batch and enjoy.




                                      Blondies

Ingredients:

1 box of French or Golden Vanilla cake mix
½ cup butter melted
2 eggs beaten
½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup shredded coconut


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking dish.
3.  In a large mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, butter and beaten eggs together with a spoon.
4.  Stir into the batter the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts and coconut.
5.  Spread the batter evenly into the baking dish.  Bake for 20 -22 minutes or until edges are a golden brown.
6.  Cool blondies completely.  Cut bars into 4 rows by 6 rows.

Makes 24 bars.





Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Cooking: Pistachio Tart

Tonight I made a light dessert loaded with flavor.  It starts out with a nutty crust followed by a cream cheese layer, pistachio pudding, Cool Whip and finally a sprinkling of nuts.   It is MMMM   Good.

The funny thing is I usually make this dessert around the holiday time.  But it is so yummy, versatile, and easy to make you can make it anytime.  If you are not a fan of pistachio pudding, use your favorite pudding.  Same goes for the nuts, use your favorite.




                                        Pistachio Tart


Ingredients:

1-cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup finely chopped pistachios
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese – cut into 1 - inch chunks
2/3 cup powdered sugar sifted
1 (8-ounce) carton Cool Whip - divided
2- (3.4-ounce) boxes pistachio instant pudding and pie filling
2-1/2 cups cold milk
¼ cup coarsely chopped pistachios


Directions:

1.Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Lightly butter the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking dish.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and pistachios.  
4.  Grate the butter into the flour mixture.  With fingertips work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornflakes.   This makes the crust.
5. Spoon the flour mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan and press into the pan.
6.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until edges start turning a light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let it cool.
7.  In a large mixing bowl add the cream cheese.  Beat the cream cheese and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar.  Beat until the sugar and the cream cheese are incorporated.  Add half of the carton of   Cool Whip and beat for another minute or until the Cool Whip is blended into the  cream cheese mixture.   
8.  Spread the mixture over the crust.
9. In a medium-mixing bowl add the pistachio pudding and cold milk.  Beat for two minutes with a whisk.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
10. Spread the pudding mixture over the cream cheese layer.
11. Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the pudding layer and sprinkle pistachios over the Cool Whip.
12.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 or more hours.  Serve chilled.




Makes 12 servings 


Grating Butter Into Flour Mixture

Butter Incorporated Into Flour Mixture

Baked Crust

Cubed Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese and Powdered Sugar Incorporated

Cream Cheese Mixture Spread Over the Crust

Pistachio Pudding Layer

Cool Whip Layer

Ready for Fridge









Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Cookbook Christmas List: Two Known Authors - One Unknown

Every year I put out my Christmas cookbook  wish list.  In past years, my list has included:
    
                                           Julia Child:  Baking With Julia
                                           Sheila Lukins: USA Cookbook
                                           James Beard:  Beard on Bread and Beard on Pasta

just to name a few.

This year I have three must haves on my list.  They are:



Alton Brown:  Good Eats 2:  The Middle Years.  
I love Alton Brown.  His show is fantastic and educational.   I have his other cookbooks and they are a  culinary class.   You learn about different techniques, the hardware you need, why you need to cook or bake foods in certain ways.  His cooking books are my reference books for cooking and baking.
Alton's books also have  some recipes.   Some of my favorite recipes of his are Beef Jerky, Cheese Soup, Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel cookies, Corn Dogs, Green Bean Casserole, Biscuits, Scones, Chicken and Dumplings.  The list goes on and on.


              



Dorie Greenspan:  I was introduced to Dorie Greenspan's  cookbooks a little over a year ago.  I was looking for a book devoted to pancakes.  Yes, pancakes.  I found a book at the library by Dorie Greenspan   "Pancakes: From Morning to Midnight."  One of the tastiest books I ever checked out.  This started my following of Dorie Greenspan.  Last year,  I received her Baking book - "Baking: From My Home to Yours."  My favorites are her Blondies, Creamy Scones, and Harvest Cake.  Absolutely delicious.

Sarabeth Levine:  This cookbook is my journey into the unknown.  I have read great reviews of her products and I made her  Creamy Tomato Soup that was featured on her blog.  It was delicious.  I also read several of her blog posts and  decided I kneeded her cookbook.    I will let you know in  future blogs about my cooking adventures with her cookbook.

Well, this sums up my cookbook wish list for 2010.    I believe I made good choices.

Geri

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies
My holiday baking is in full swing.  A few days ago, I made some Ginger Cookies and today I made some Chewy Oatmeal cookies.  These are the best oatmeal cookies ever.  They are a staple in my cookie exchanges.

I make both a regular batch and a batch using pistachios and dried cherries.  They both are indescribably delicious!!

Enjoy!!


Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

1-cup butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1-teaspoon vanilla
1-½ cups flour
1-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups quick oats
1-cup sunflower seeds
1-cup coconut


Directions:
1.    In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
       Set aside.
2.    Cream together the butter and sugars.
3.    Add the eggs and vanilla.  Beat well.
4.    With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar
       mixture and mix well.
5.    Slowly add the oats, sunflowers seeds and coconut.  Mix well.
6.    Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least one hour.
7.    Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
8.    Measure one tablespoon of cookie dough and roll into a ball.  Place on a
       cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
9.    Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges start turning a golden color.
10.Cool for two minutes; remove to a wire rack for cooling.
     When completely cooled, store in an airtight container

 Makes 3-dozen cookies.


Variation:  Substitute ½ cup pistachios and ½ cup chopped dried cherries
                   for the sunflower seeds. 



Friday, December 10, 2010

Chipotle Ranch Pretzels

Do you like to have munchies around?   I do.   I confess,  I am a snacker.  Whether it be reading a book, riding in the car, waiting for someone, I like to snack.   And whenever I go to a store offering free samples, I am there waiting in line.

At home, I have nuts, pretzels, carrots, celery, apples, cookies, etc. to snack on.

One of my family's favorites is Chipotle Ranch Pretzels.   I have bowl set out on the kitchen table so my kids can eat them as they are doing their studies or just passing by.  My husband also likes them just as much.



                        Chipotle Ranch Pretzels


Ingredients:

7-1/2 cups pretzels
1 envelope of Ranch Salad dressing mix
¾ cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2. Put pretzels in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.
3. In a medium-mixing bowl put the Ranch salad dressing mix, vegetable oil, and garlic powder and chipotle chili powder.  Whisk together until well combined.
4.  Pour the Ranch dressing mixture over the pretzels.  Toss the pretzels until well coated.
5. Pour pretzels into an ungreased 15x10 inch-baking dish.
6. Bake pretzels for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.

Makes 7-1/2 cups

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Baking: Ginger Cookies

The scent of the holidays is in my kitchen.  I love the smell of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

I am baking some ginger cookies.  These ginger cookies are drop cookies that have a slightly crisp texture and a wonderful flavor.  I've added black pepper to the recipe to enhance the ginger flavor.

Try baking some of these cookies.  Who knows, they may become part of your holiday baking tradition.



                                                        Ginger Cookies

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-teaspoon baking soda
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup butter melted
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
¼ cup sugar

Directions:

1. In a medium-mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ground black pepper.  Set aside.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat brown sugar and butter together until well blended.  Add the egg and beat until incorporated.  Add molasses and beat until well mixed. 
3.  By heaping spoonfuls, add the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture beating slowly.
4. Add the lemon zest to the batter beating slowly.  Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours.
5. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
7.Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in sugar and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart.
8. Bake cookies on the center rack in oven for 9-11 minutes or until cookies are just set. 
9. Remove cookies from oven and cool 1 minute before transferring to wire cooling racks. 
10.  Store the cookies in an airtight container once the cookies have cooled completely.

Makes 2-1/2 dozen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cookie Therapy

In previous blogs, I wrote about my kids study groups.  For  last night's study group, I had them do cookie therapy.

What is cookie therapy you ask?  You bake or buy unfrosted sugar cookies and have lots of icing (different colors), sprinkles, decorations, and candies.   The kids then decorate their  cookies and  best of all, eat their creations.

They have lots of fun and it releases a lot of study tension.  

Another tension reliever  I do is have them construct their own gingerbread houses out of graham crackers.

I get graham crackers, frosting, Christmas candies - candy canes, red hots, etc. plus M&M's , Necco Wafers, pretzel sticks, torn apart  shredded wheat, and anything else I think will be good.

The kids have fun doing both of these activities and I have found any age group loves doing it.

Have fun with it and be creative.

Geri

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Icing Tips.

Yesterdays blog listed some cookie tips.  I thought it would also be helpful to list a few icing tips.

1. Add coloring slowly to your icing to be sure you get the shade you want.

2.  Toothpicks are great for mixing colors in your icing.

3.  Be sure to cover your icing with plastic wrap when you are not using it.  This will prevent your icing from drying out.

4.  If you do not use all your icing you can refrigerate it up to 2 weeks.

5.  Keep you icing thin if you are coating your cookies with a brush.  Keep your icing thick if you are piping you icing.

6.  You can decorate your cookies with sugar crystals, silver balls, or nonpareils before baking your cookies.  DO NOT ice your cookies until they have cooled.



Have fun and share the fun with family and friends.


Geri

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cookie Tips

It is that time of year when we start our Christmas baking.  Most of us will bake cookies.

As I was looking through  some cookbooks, I found some helpful holiday baking tips I would like to share with you.


1.  Be sure to have plenty of cookie trays, parchment paper, rolling pins, cookie cutters, flour, sugar, eggs, and cookie decorations.

2.  If your cookie dough becomes too soft to  work with, put it in some waxed paper and refrigerate it for thirty minutes.

3. If you do not use all your cookie dough, you can refrigerate it or freeze it.

4.  If your cookies are going to be decorations, use a plastic drinking straw  to make a hole in the cookies where you want to run a ribbon through.

5. If you are rolling your dough between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper, sprinkle a little water on your work surface to keep the  paper from sliding.

6. Cool your cookie sheets between  batches of cookie baking.

7.  Do not put your cookies away until they have cooled completely.

Happy Baking.

Geri

Friday, December 3, 2010

Posole: A New Mexico Tradition

Posole is a traditional New Mexican  spicy corn stew eaten during the Christmas Holidays.  You can make posole with pork, chicken,  beef, or a vegetable protein.   In Northern New Mexico the posole usually is made with green chili and in Southern New Mexico it is made with red chili.

You can garnish your bowl of Posole with:
          
                            - thinly sliced radishes
                            - thinly sliced lettuce
                            - diced onions
                            -shredded Monterey Jack cheese

I have even heard of people sprinkling some corn nuts on top of their  bowl of posole.


I like to make my posole with chicken and I use whatever chili I have on hand.  Usually, I make a large pot of posole and keep any leftovers in the refrigerator.  It gets better with age.  Below is a Crock pot recipe for Posole.  You put everything in one pot and let it cook.  The aroma is wonderful and very inviting.

As for garnishing my bowl of posole, I just eat it with a warm flour tortilla.


Posole


1-pound fresh posole rinsed*
3 cups cooked chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1 cup finely chopped onion
1-teaspoon cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons Mexican Oregano
1 bay leaf
2-teaspoons salt
1-teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 cups red chili puree*
Salt & Pepper


.
1.   Put all ingredients into a 3-½-quart crock-pot.
2.   Cook on low for 10 hours or until posole “pops or blooms" (it resembles pop corn)
3.   Adjust seasoning if necessary.
4.   Serve in bowls. 




Makes 8 servings.

*Can be found in the frozen foods section of most grocery stores.

Feliz Navidad:)

Geri

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Twenty Five Days of Christmas Baking and Cooking

Today is the first day of December which means I start my holiday cooking and baking.  This is my favorite time of year because I can indulge myself and not feel too guilty.  I bake cookies, cakes, bread, pies, etc.  I make candies, traditional New Mexican  dishes like Posole, Enchiladas, Tamales, etc just to name a few.

Today's recipe is an easy cookie recipe.  The cookies are bar cookies and they are delicious.  This recipe uses vanilla wafers but you can substitute graham cracker crumbs.

Chocolate Layered Toffee Bars


Ingredients

    * ¼ lb butter
    * 1¼ cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 50 wafers)
    * 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    * 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
    * 1 cup Heath toffee bits
    * 1 -14 oz can condensed milk
    * 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
    

Directions

    * Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    * 1. Melt the butter. Put the vanilla wafer crumbs in a medium bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well.
    * 2. Press the crumb mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking pan.
    * 3. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the vanilla wafer crust.
    * 4. Sprinkle the coconut over the chocolate chips.
    * 5. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the coconut.
    * 6. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the cookie layers.
    * 7. Sprinkle the nuts over the layers.
    * 8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
    * 9. Cool completely before cutting into bars. 

Yield: Makes  24 bars



Happy Hanukkah 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Taco Tuesday

Tuesday is Taco day at our house.  I am so busy on Tuesdays and my kids usually bring their friends over to eat.   I  finally decided I  needed to feed them something else besides pizza.    I decided tacos were the answer.  I usually have two different types of meat and/or fish, and  a boat load of toppings - that way there is something for everyone.

Today's taco bar will include:
- ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning (I follow the package directions)
- chicken - I add sauteed onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper
- taco shells
- salsa
- shredded cheese
- sour cream
- chopped black olives
- shredded iceberg lettuce
- diced tomatoes
- guacamole


Some Tuesday's I have fish.  I  usually use the Trident  Spicy Fish you can find at Costco.    It is great for tacos.

Happy Eating,

Geri

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Best Thanksgiving Kitchen Appliance Was????????

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving dinner, as I was working on loading the dishwasher, I thought which kitchen appliance I am  most thankful for.

Without the oven, I could not roast a delicious juicy turkey, make pies, cake, cookies or breads.  Without the stove I could not make my side dishes, stuffing, or gravy.  Without the mixer it would be hard to make the cake, cookies and breads.   The food processor was necessary to chop my cranberries, apples, and nuts just  right, not to mention the slicing of the mushrooms for the stuffing.

Without my dishwasher, I would spend days washing and drying all the dishes used to prepare and eat Thanksgiving dinner.

Soo what is the best kitchen appliance?  I don't know if I can pick just one - but if I had to it would be the dishwasher.   Why -  I would still be doing the dishes and I would much rather be cooking than washing and drying dishes.

What is your favorite??

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


 I hope you have a blessed and safe  holiday with family and friends.


 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Incredible Cranberry

Cranberry Fluff, Cranberry Salad, Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Bread, and Pumpkin Cranberry Scones are just a few of the"cranberry" foods we eat during the holidays.  I knew cranberries had health benefits, but I did not know how many.  Here are just a few of them I found while surfing the web.

1.  Cranberries treat and prevent urinary tract infections.

2. Cranberries contain quinic acid.  This means cranberries are beneficial against the formation of kidney stones.

3. Cranberries lower harmful cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol.

4.  The antioxidants present in cranberries improve the function of blood vessels.  This means a reduction in the risk of heart  diseases and heart attacks.

The list goes on and on. Wow!!     I am going cook with cranberries all year long -  not just at holiday time.   You can buy dried cranberries or just buy bags of fresh cranberries and freeze them (they last up to nine months).  If you are going to cook with frozen cranberries do not thaw them.  They are easier to chop or grind when they are frozen.

Be adventurous  and creative when adding cranberries to your diet.

Happy Eating!!

Geri

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cooking+Friends=Great Time

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  That expression describes my son David.  Ever since he was a small fry, he liked helping me in the kitchen.

Today, he is in college and  still likes to cook.  Last night, he invited some friends over and they had a cooking night.  They decided what they wanted to cook, went shopping for the ingredients, and set to work cooking.

They started out with chips and salsa,  then grilled  burgers on a charcoal grill ( in cold weather), portabella mushrooms and salmon.  They also baked some blueberry muffins.
According to their Facebook comments, they had a great time.

Best of all for me, they cleaned up the kitchen.  Thanks guys and gals, you can cook at my house anytime.

Friday, November 19, 2010

From Ranch to Sweet Chipotle

I have been working on different snacks to have on Thanksgiving.   I pretty much have the ones done before "Turkey Time." It was after "Turkey Time"  I needed to work on.

I looked at different recipes from Chex Mix to Popcorn.  Finally, I found a recipe for Ranch Pretzels.
The recipe sounded good,  easy to make, and not a lot of clean up.   I made a test batch and decided it needed a little southwest zing.  My original thought was to make a Chipotle Ranch pretzel recipe.  But like most of my recipes, it evolved.

The recipe now has nothing to do with Ranch.  However, the Chipotle is still there and so are the pretzels.


                        Sweet Chipotle Pretzels



2-1/2 cups mini pretzels
1 egg white
1-tablespoon water
½ cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
1/8-teaspoon chipotle chili powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg white and water together until frothy.

2.  Place pretzels in a large mixing bowl.  Pour the egg white mixture over the pretzels.  Toss the pretzels until well coated.  Strain the pretzels and set aside.

3.  Place the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and chili powder in a large zip lock bag.  Close the bag and shake well to thoroughly mix the ingredients.

4.  Add the pretzels to the sugar and spice mixture.  Shake well so the pretzels are coated with the sugar and spice mixture.

5.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread pretzels on the parchment paper - single layer. 

6.  Bake pretzels for 10 minutes, rotating the pretzels halfway thru the baking time.

7.  Remove the pretzels from the oven and let them cool completely before serving.  Store in an airtight container.


Yields 2-1/2 cups


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Tasty Field Trip

I just got back from a Cub Scout field trip.  We took the boys to Whole Foods so they could earn their nutrition - Food Pyramid requirement.  It was the best field trip we have taken as a Den.  Our guide, Nick, gave the boys a great education on food.

Not only were the boys told about food, we also got to sample a bunch of food.  Nick gave us raspberries, shrimp, smoked salmon, almond butter, yogurt, cheese,  chicken, cookies, and last but not least, pizza.

The boys and parents said we needed more field trips like this one.  So, if you need to take Cub Scouts,Girl Scouts, school groups, or any youth groups to a fun and tasty field trip, I recommend Whole Foods.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harry Potter and Pumpkin Juice

My kids and I are excited about the release of the latest Harry Potter movie.  To get us in the "mood" for the new movie we watched old Harry Potter movies and drank Pumpkin Juice.  As one of my kids said, "Pumpkin juice is surprisingly delicious."  I was thinking of serving pumpkin juice on Thanksgiving as we are playing games or watching a movie with some popcorn.



                                    Pumpkin Juice


1- 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1/3 cup apricot fruit spread
1-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1-quart apple juice.


Directions
1. In a blender place the pumpkin, apricot fruit spread, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar. Blend on high for one minute.

2.  In a 2-quart pitcher add the apple juice and the pumpkin mixture.  Stir well.

3.  You can serve the juice hot or cold.  It taste great either way.


Makes six 8 ounce servings.




Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eleven Days and Counting

It's  hard to believe  Thanksgiving is  11 days away.  At our house, we have family and friends over around 1:00.  We eat, watch TV, eat, play games , and eat some more.

I usually try at least one new recipe during the Thanksgiving holidays.  Last year, I got an idea from Dorie Greenspan on baking a stuffed pumpkin.  This year, I thought I would expand on the idea and try a bread pudding baked in a pumpkin- stay tuned .

Our Thanksgiving dinner also includes family favorites from the past like  Cranberry Fluff, Olde English Stuffing,  pumpkin and pecan pies - just to name a few.

I will have Thanksgiving recipes from my home posted on the blog during the next eleven days -  so check back for some tasty recipes.

Happy Eating,

Geri

Friday, November 12, 2010

If It's Friday, It's Pasta

Friday's is pasta day at my house.  I am usually recovering from a busy week and want something easy to prepare to start the week-end.

Pasta is quick, easy, inexpensive,  and  something you can make ahead of time, freeze, and enjoy later.

Today, I am making macaroni and cheese.  I have loved macaroni and cheese ever since I was a kid.  It is one of my kids  favorites, too. I experimented around with different cheeses and pastas to come up with our family favorite.  This recipe has been a favorite at pot lucks, youth group functions, and my kids study groups.



    

Four Cheese Macaroni



Ingredients

    * 12 ounces dry large elbow macaroni
    * 3 tablespoons butter
    * 3 tablespoons flour
    * 2 cups milk
    * 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
    * 1-teaspoon salt
    * ½ teaspoon pepper
    * 1 cup shredded Dubliner cheese
    * 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
    * 1 cup grated Velveeta cheese
    * Topping:
    * ¼ cup cheese bread breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs
    * 1-tablespoon butter melted
    * ¼ cup shredded Mexican Cheese
   
   
Directions

    * Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    * 1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain in colander and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
    * 2. In a medium saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add flour to melted butter and whisk together until combined. Cook for 2 minutes. Add onion powder, salt, pepper and incorporate well.
    * 3. Stir milk into the butter and flour mixture. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil stirring frequently.
    * 4. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
    * 5. Stir in the Dubliner cheese a little at a time being sure all has melted before adding more.
    * 6. Stir in the mild cheddar cheese a little at a time being sure all has melted before adding more. Repeat with the Velveeta cheese.
    * 7. Add macaroni to the cheese mixture and stir until well coated
    * 8. Grease a 1-½ qt round baking dish.
    * 9. Pour macaroni and cheese into the baking dish.
    * 10. In a small bowl combine the melted butter and the breadcrumbs. Mix until well coated.
    * 11. Top the macaroni with the breadcrumbs, then top with the Mexican cheese.
    * 11. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
    * 12. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes longer or until bubbly.


 Yield: serves 6



Sunday, November 7, 2010

On The Beaten Path

Just got back from a long fall walk.  The kids, Sally the dog, and I walked about five miles.  The day was just perfect, not too cold, not too hot, and not too windy. The trees had golden, red, and purple leaves.  Our mountains looked so majestic against a clear blue sky.

I always make sure we have "provisions" for our walks.  I always have water and a surprise snack for us - freeze dried fruit, nuts, popcorn, Power Bars, etc.  Today I packed some home-made trail mix.  It had a salty sweet mixture to it.  It is one of my family's favorite.

Salty and Sweet Trail Mix


1-cup salted peanuts
1 cup salted cashews
½ cup whole almonds
1-cup butter toffee cashews
1-cup peanut brittle broken into bite size pieces



1. Put all of the above ingredients in a medium mixing bowl
2. Mix well.
3. Store ingredients in an airtight container or in a large zip loc bag.



Makes approximately 5 cups

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Soup's On

With the crisp weather, I get in the mood for soup.  Soup is a great meal.  It is filling, tasty, a great comfort food, and easy to make.

I make your standard soups most of the time -Chicken Noodle, Split Pea and Ham,  Beef and Barley soup, and Potato Soup just to mention a few.

I thought I would be adventurous and experiment with a new soup.  My experiment choice wasPasta e Fagioli  soup.  Try it and let me know what you think.



                                Pasta e Fagioli Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped carrots
1 rib of celery finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic minced
1-teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
11/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
11/2 quarts chicken broth
1-15 ounce can tomato sauce
1-15 ounce can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1-cup ditalini
Salt and pepper
Grated Pecorino Romano

1. In a large pot heat the oil and add the pancetta
2. Brown the pancetta, and then add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper , Italian seasoning and bay leaf.
3.Cook for 10 minutes.  Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, kidney beans and red pepper flakes to the vegetables.    Bring to a boil. 
4. Reduce heat, cover and cook soup for 10 minutes.  Add the ditalini.  Cover and cook until the pasta is cooked al dente.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.
5. Remove soup from the heat.  Let the soup rest and cool for 5 minutes.
6. Remove the bay leaf,  ladle soup into bowls and top with grated cheese.

Serves 8



                                    

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Time for the Great Pumpkin

I love watching "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown."  It is a"fall thing" in our family like  pumpkin pies, cranberries, apples, green chili, and pecans.

I usually have a lot of pumpkins after visiting the pumpkin patches in our city and going to pumpkin carving events.

Roasted pumpkin seeds are one of my  favorites.  They are a healthy, tasty, snack and easy to make.





Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


1-cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-teaspoon lime juice
1-teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Rinse the pumpkin seeds well and pat dry.
2. Melt the butter.
3. Add the lime juice, garlic salt, chili powder, cumin and salt to the butter.  Mix well.
4.  In a gallon size zip lock bag pour in butter mixture.  Add the raw pumpkin seeds.  Seal the bag and shake well until all the seeds are well coated.
5. Grease a baking pan and spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer in the pan.
6.  Bake pumpkin seeds for approximately 30 minutes turning the seeds every 10 minutes. Roast until a nice light golden brown.

Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Experiment Day

Today was experiment day at our house.  We were on a cruise in June and had a delicious Cream of Broccoli Soup with  Bleu Cheese.   About two months later, I found some time to experiment and try to  duplicate this wonderful soup.  I am almost there but not quit according to my taste testers.


I hope to have a recipe to post soon.


Geri

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peach Pops

I love peaches.  I remember as a little girl helping my parents pick peaches from our peach trees.  My mother would make delicious pies, jams, and cobblers using fresh peaches.  Of  course, we would also eat lots of fresh peaches.

Today, my kids love peaches as much as I did.  I make the traditional peach dishes for my family and experiment with new ideas.  One of my better experiments is Peach Pops.  They are truly a cool and refreshing treat for a summer day.



                                                 Peach Pops



4 peaches
1-cup vanilla yogurt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/3-cup honey
Popsicle molds

1.Peel and slice the peaches.  Puree the peaches (you may have to do it in batches) in a blender.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the peach puree. Blend on high until mixture is thoroughly blended. 
3. Pour the mixture into Popsicle molds and freeze.


Makes 12 popsicles


Make and enjoy with your family.

Geri