Monday, April 30, 2012


With Cinco de Mayo on the horizon, I thought I would devote my postings this week  to Mexican fare.  Today, I am posting a recipe I found on David Lebovitz's blog Horchata.  Horchata is a drink made from rice in Mexico sometimes with vanilla but always with cinnamon.  You start with white rice and grind it fine in a blender.  Cover it with warm water and refrigerate overnight.  The next day add either rice milk or regular milk, sugar and stir.  Serve over ice.   This is a refreshing drink for hot days or just when you need a quick pick-me-up.

From David Lebovitz

2/3 cup white rice
3 cups warm water
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
3/4-1 cup sugar
2 cups rice milk or regular milk
Ground cinnamon. for serving

1. In a blender, grind the rice so it is in fine pieces, roughly the consistency of very coarse polenta. (If your blender won't go that fine, that's okay and just bread up the rice as much as possible.)
Ground Rice
2. Transfer the rice to a bowl then pour warn water over it and add the cinnamon stick.  Cover and refrigerate at least eight hours, but preferably overnight.
3. Pluck out the cinnamon stick then puree the rice and water until it's as smooth as possible.  Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with a few layers of cheesecloth, squeezing it relatively firmly to extract as much of the rice flavor as possible.
4. Stir in the sugar and milk, mixing until the sugar is dissolved.  Taste, and adjust sweetness, if necessary.  Refrigerate until completely chilled.

Serving:Serve over ice with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon on top.

Storage: Store the horchata in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Makes about 6 cups

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dulce de Leche Bars

One of my  favorite treats  to make when I need something fast consists of  cereal and marshmallows.  They are quick, easy, hard to mess up, and there is little clean up.  These cereal bars are made with Dulce de Leche Cheerios.  I didn't even know they made such as flavor.   I can say they are good. In fact, it was a good thing I premeasured my ingredients because when I went to put the box away it was practically empty -  I had "cereal tasters" in the kitchen.  To the cereal you add marshmallows, golden raisins, and butterscotch morsels.  The caramel flavor from the Cheerios and the butterscotch morsels  are a delicious combination in these bars. These treats are not only for kids - adults love them too.

Dulce de Leche Bars
From Family Circle Magazine

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut up
1 bag (10 ounces) marshmallows
6 cups Dulce de Leche (or Original) Cheerios
1 cup golden raisins
1 bag (11 ounces) butterscotch morsels

1. Coat  a 15x10x1-inch or 13x9x2-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Add marshmallows and cook until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove pot from heat and stir in Cheerios and raisins.  Let stand 2 minutes (mixture will stick to pot if you wait too long).
3. Fold in butterscotch morsels until well distributed.  With greased hands, gently press mixture into prepared dish.
4. Let stand at room temperature until cool.  Cut into 24 bars.

Makes 24 servings

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brazilian Strawberry Limeade

As the days are getting hotter,  I like a  glass of something cold to drink.  Today, I made some Brazilian Strawberry Limeade.  I got the idea for this beverage from my earlier post  Brazilian Lemonade from "Our Best Bites".  I  added once cup of sliced fresh strawberries to the original recipe of limes, sugar, water,  and condensed milk.    The mixture is blended, strained, stirred,  then poured over a tall glass of ice.  The result is a  a wonderfully refreshing drink that is not too sweet or too tart.

Brazilian  Strawberry Limeade
Adapted  from "Our Best Bites"

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
4 juicy limes
1 cup sugar
6 cups  water
4-6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk


1. Make a simple syrup consisting of 1 cup hot water and 1 cup of sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the simple syrup and remaining water into a pitcher and chill until ready to use.
 Note:  This step can be done ahead of time.
2. Puree strawberries.  Press the mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into the pitcher you will serve the limeade in using the back of a spoon.  Discard the seeds.
3.  Wash limes thoroughly with soap.  Cut the ends off the limes and then cut each lime into eighths.

4.  Place half of the limes in a blender.
5.  Add half of the sugar water.  Place the top on your blender and  pulse 5 times.

6. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a pitcher (the one you will serve the limeade in) and  pour the blended mixture through the strainer and into the pitcher.  Use a spoon to press the rest of the liquid into the pitcher.

7.  Dump the pulp and stuff in the strainer into the trash.
8.  Repeat with the remaining limes and sugar water.
9.  Add  4 tablespoons  of the sweetened condensed milk. Stir until mixed.
10.  Taste and adjust sweetness if needed - add some more condensed milk.
11.  Serve immediately over lots of ice.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sloppy Joes

Last night, I made Sloppy Joes for dinner.  My husband was going to a business dinner so it was me and the kids.  Sloppy Joes is one of their favorite meals.   I like them because they are quick, easy and require  little clean up ( I had a busy day and was tired).     I start out with browned ground beef then add onions, garlic, green chili, some ketchup and spices.   Serve on a toasted hamburger bun and you have one great tasting sandwich for both kids and adults.

                                            Sloppy Joes

1-tablespoon olive oil
1-pound Ground Beef
1/3 cup diced onion
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-cup ketchup
½ cup beef broth or water
¼ cup chili sauce
1-teaspoon chili powder
1-teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
 6 Hamburger Buns


1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the ground beef and brown.  Drain fat.
2. Add the onion to the ground beef and cook until the onion is soft.
3. Add the garlic and green chili to the beef mixture.  Cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add ketchup, beef broth or water, chili sauce, chili powder, salt, cumin, pepper flakes, and ground black pepper to the meat mixture.  Stir and combine well. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
5.  Spread butter on the hamburger buns and brown on a skillet.
6. Spoon Sloppy Joe mixture on the hamburger buns and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Piece of Trivia:   The original Sloppy Joe sandwich was made by a cook named Joe at a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coconut Friands

This week for "French Fridays With Dorie" we made Coconut Friands.  I thoroughly enjoyed making this recipe.  It is simple, quick and delicious.   Best of all, you do not need to be a pastry person to make these delicious little cakes.   The ingredients used were coconut,  egg whites, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and of course butter.  You  whisk by  hand, then pour the batter into mini-muffin tins, bake, cool, and enjoy.  The cakes were simply delicious:)  They were moist and had a nice chewy texture to them from the coconut.  In some of my friands I put a fresh raspberry then spooned the batter over it.  MMMM, they were fantastic.  I am definitely making this recipe again.  You can find this recipe on page 456 in "Around My French Table."

Coconut Friands Batter

Batter in Mini Muffin Pan

Coconut Friands

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Strawberry Curd

The April 2012 issue of "Southern Living Magazine" magazine had delicious strawberry recipes.  My blogger friend, Lizzy, from  That Skinny Chick Can Bake    made the Fresh Strawberry Meringue Cake.  I'm sure you will agree it looked luscious.   I decided to make the Strawberry Curd.  The recipe sounded delicious.  It is  made with fresh strawberries, fresh lime juice, sugar, mmmm.   It makes the perfect spread for biscuits, toast, muffins, scones, or as the recipe stated filling for tart shells. You can also use it as a flavoring for yogurt.   This recipe was well written and very easy to follow.  The time consuming  part was pressing  the strawberries  through a strainer to remove the seeds.  The result was a great tasting berry spread with a hint of lime.

Strawberry Curd
From Southern Living Magazine

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter


1. Process the fresh sliced strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
2. Press strawberries through a large wire-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, using back of a spoon to squeeze out juice; discard pulp and seeds.
3. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a 3-quart saucepan.
4. Gradually whisk in strawberry puree and the fresh lime juice.
5. Whisk in the eggs and eggs yolks.
6. Bring mixture to a boil over  medium heat, whisking constantly, and cook, whisking constantly 1 minute.
7. Remove from heat, and whisk in the butter.
8. Place plastic wrap directly on warm curd (to prevent a film from forming).
9. Chill 8 hours.  Serve with hot biscuits, muffins, scones, toast, or use as a filling for tart shells.

Makes about 7 cups

Strawberry Curd

Monday, April 16, 2012

Buttered Peas

I enjoy all the fresh veggies when spring comes.  Fresh peas have always been a favorite. They are peas are a good source of protein and Vitamins A, C, K.  Green peas are also an excellent source of manganese.   I will eat them raw in salads, or cooked in butter.  In the following recipe, I cooked the peas in both butter and vegetable broth.  I added just a pinch of sugar to enhance the sweetness of the peas.  Fresh ground pepper seasons the peas to perfection.  This is  a quick , easy, and healthy side dish for any meal.

                                               Buttered Peas

1 (12 ounce) bag fresh peas washed
3 tablespoons butter - divided
1/3-cup vegetable broth
Pinch of Sugar
Freshly Ground Pepper


1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan.
2. Add vegetable broth and sugar to the butter. Bring to a boil.
3. Add peas to the broth, reduce heat and cook until tender.  The broth will be reduced by about half.
4. Remove peas from the saucepan and and serve with the remaining butter and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sardine Rillettes

It has been decades since I have eaten sardines.  They were not high on my food list.  So this week I got reintroduced to sardines.   Our cooking project for "French Fridays With Dorie" was Sardine Rillettes.  Sardines are combined with cream cheese, onions, lemon juice, parsley, cayenne, salt, and pepper.   The result is  a  spread which you can spread on crackers or use as a filling.  I spread the rillettes or multi grain rice crackers.  This recipe was very quick and easy to make.  However,  I must admit, I am still not a sardine fan.  They were alright but not a favorite.    You can find this recipe on page 25 in "Around My French Table."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Poppy Seed Dressing

With spring here, I eat a lot of salads and fresh fruits.  One of my favorite dressings is Poppy Seed.  I love the taste of sweetness from the sugar, the tartness from the vinegar, and the nutty flavor of the poppy seeds.  I was doing some research on poppy seeds and I found they have some great health benefits.  The oleic acid in poppy seeds helps lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol.  Poppy seeds are an excellent source of B complex vitamins. They also contain minerals -  iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium. All this in a tiny little seed.
Back to the recipe.  The recipe below is very easy and quick to make.  Most of the time, I make it with cider vinegar, but white wine vinegar works well too.  The dressing has a nice thickness to it which lends itself to be a great tasting fruit/veggie dip.   I drizzle the dressing on salads, fresh berries, and as I said earlier,  I use it as a dip for apple wedges, pears, strawberries, bananas, carrots - it goes with just about anything.

Poppy Seed Dressing
Adapted from Simply Simpatico Cookbook

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons onion juice
2 cups vegetable oil
3 tablespoons poppy seeds


1. In a medium bowl mix sugar, mustard, salt, and vinegar until well combined.
2. Add the onion juice and stir thoroughly.
3. Whisk in the vegetable oil slowly and continue to whisk until thick.
4. Stir in poppy seeds and whisk.
5. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Note:  You can find onion juice in the spice section.

Makes 3 1/2 cups of salad dressing

Poppy Seed Dressing Over Fresh Berries

Monday, April 9, 2012

Strawberry Nutella Sandwich

Do you need something quick, easy and delicious for a snack or lunch?  Try a Strawberry Nutella sandwich.  I was reading my latest issue of Southern Living magazine and they had a section on kid-friendly snacks. One snack was a hazelnut-strawberry sandwich.  Instead of using strawberry jam for my sandwiches, I used sliced fresh strawberries.    The result was a great tasting combination of chocolate and strawberry between two slices of bread. MMM delicious! These sandwiches are not only for kids - adults love 'em too:)

Strawberry Nutella Sandwich


2 slices of bread
1-2  fresh strawberries, sliced


1. Spread Nutella on one slice of bread.
2. Arrange the strawberries on the Nutella.
3. Place the other slice of bread on top of the first.      
4. Slice  diagonally and serve.

Makes 1 sandwich

Nutella Spread on Slice of Bread

Strawberries Arranged Over Nutella

Strawberry Nutella Sandwich

Friday, April 6, 2012

Asparagus and Bits of Bacon

Fresh asparagus to me  means spring is here. I love the crispness and flavor of fresh asparagus.    I was excited  our assignment this week  for "French Fridays With Dorie" was an asparagus recipe. Fresh asparagus are cooked until just tender in boiling salt water.  They are drained and tossed in a dressing made of walnut oil and fresh lemon juice.  You then season them with salt and pepper.  Finally, you add bacon bits and onions ( I left out the onions and added more bacon) to the asparagus.  The result was  a quick, healthy and delicious veggie.  This recipe was excellent - I am going make it as a  side dish  for our Easter dinner.  This recipe can be found on page 330 in "Around My French Table."

Cooking in Boiling Salt Water

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday.  They are  a sweet spiced bun marked with a cross on top. This year, I decided instead of buying, yes buying Hot Cross Buns, I would make them.  I am not one who particularly likes to make yeast breads.  However, I am slowly gaining confidence and pleasure in making yeast breads.

I  have tried various recipes for Hot Cross Buns, but by far my favorite is the recipe from the "Simply Recipes" Website.  The buns were tender, not mushy or tough, flavorful, and just  plain delicious.  I love the spices used in this recipe - cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamon, all complimented by grated orange zest.  As I was whisking together they dry ingredients the aroma of the spices was breathtaking.

The dough came together very nicely and was very easy to work with.  I used all currants in my dough but you can use half currants with chopped candied citrus peel.    Either way, you will have one delicious bun.

Below is the link for this recipe.

Simply Recipes: Hot Cross Buns


Yeast, Milk and Sugar
Dry Ingredients With Yeast, Eggs Butter and Milk


First Rolling of the Dough

Log Divided

One Half of Log Cut Into Eighths
Egg Wash on Dough

Out of the Oven
Hot Cross Buns

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hard-Cooked Eggs 101

With Easter fast approaching, I thought I would write a post about how to hard- cook eggs. My kids were amazed I was going to write a post on this.  As my son said, "It isn't that hard to cook an egg. All you do is take an egg boil it till it is hard and eat it."  I  quickly explained you want the egg white to be tender and the yolk to be creamy in texture.   In the past, I have had hard-cooked eggs that were rubbery and chalky.  Not to mention, the green ring around the yolk.

I have read in cookbooks and cooking magazines on foolproof ways to hard-cook an egg.  The method I am going to write about is  a combination of two techniques.  My sources are  Cook's Illustrated Cook Book and Taste of Home magazine.

Hard-Cooked Eggs
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Cook Book and Taste of Home magazine


4 large eggs
Ice Cubes

1. Remove eggs from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
2. In a medium saucepan place the eggs.  Add enough cold water and cover the eggs  by 1 inch.
3. Bring water to a boil over high heat.
4. Remove eggs from heat and cover the saucepan.  Let the eggs sit in the hot water as follows:
15 minutes for extra-large, 12 minutes for large, 9 minutes for medium.
5. Place cold water in a large bowl with ice.
6. Drain eggs once they are cooked and submerge in the ice water.
NOTE:   If you are going to use the eggs right away, after draining the water gently shake the pan to crack the eggshells all over.  Set aside to cool about 10 minutes.
7. Peel the eggs from the large rounded end.

Note: Unpeeled, hard-cooked eggs will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.  Peeled eggs will last 3-4 days.  Store the peeled eggs covered in cool water.

Creamy Yolk Texture and Tender White

No Ring Around The Yolk