Weekend Fare: Irish Feast

These Irish recipes are simple, traditional, and great for weekend cooking or for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration!


CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE*
(Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens)
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2- to 2-1/2-lb. corned beef brisket
1  tsp. whole black pepper*
2  bay leaves*
4  med. potatoes, peeled & quartered
5 med. carrots, peeled & quartered
2 med.- lg. onion, cut into 6 wedges
1 sm. cabbage, cut into 6 wedges
Salt and black pepper (optional)

Trim fat from meat. Place in a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven; add juices and spices from package of corned beef. (*Add pepper and bay leaves if your brisket doesn’t come with an additional packet of spices.) Add enough water to cover meat. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 2 hours or until almost tender.

Add potatoes, carrots, and onion to meat. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 min. Add cabbage. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 min. more or until tender. Discard bay leaves. Thinly slice meat across the grain. Transfer meat and vegetables to a serving platter. If desired, season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve with horseradish or mustard. Makes about 6 servings.

*You can use a larger piece of meat and more vegetables, just add the seasonings listed in addition to the packet included in the meat.

This homemade horseradish sauce made the meal! So delicious and so easy!

HORSERADISH SAUCE
(Recipe from Food Network Kitchens)
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3/4 c. mayonnaise
3/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. plus 2 Tb. jarred grated horseradish (with liquid)
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, zest, and 2 teaspoons salt. Season generously with pepper to taste. Refrigerate the horseradish sauce for at least 30 min. before serving.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

This bread is amazing! So moist and flavorful. It does not have a strong beer flavor – simply wonderful. We especially liked it warm with a little butter.
GUINNESS BREAD
(Recipe adapted slightly from allrecipes.com)
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1 c. regular rolled oats, plus 1-2 Tb. additional
2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk
1 (12 oz.) can or bottle Guinness® beer

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.

Mix together the oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, stir together the butter, vanilla, buttermilk, and Guinness® beer. Pour the flour mixture into the beer mixture, and gently stir until well blended. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, and sprinkle with additional oats.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 min., then turn the temperature down to 400 degrees F and bake for an additional 10-15 min. until knife inserted comes out clean and top is a dark golden brown. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

This cake calls for 2 lbs. of raisins and makes a HUGE cake. I didn’t have whisky on hand, so went without – really, it would be better with! It would make it so moist and wonderful! I also think a lemon sauce or creme fraiche or even freshed whipped cream would have been so delicious with it.

IRISH RAISIN CAKE
(Recipe from Food Network – Ann Rafferty)
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2 1/2 c. of buttermilk
2 c. of sugar
5 c. of flour
2 sticks of butter
5 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
2 tsp. baking soda
Dash of salt
1 (16-oz box) of brown raisins
1 (16-oz) box of golden raisins
1/2 c. whiskey, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a Dutch Oven. Cream sugar and butter in large bowl. Add in eggs one at a time. Add seasonings. Mix baking soda into the buttermilk. Alternate adding flour, buttermilk and raisins into mix. Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. in covered Dutch Oven (I baked mine in a greased, covered family size skillet – not cast iron – and it took about 1 1/2 hrs. Cake is finished when knife inserted into middle comes out clean.

Optional- pour 1/2 cup of whiskey over cake immediately after removing from oven. Cake is best when cut after a few days.

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Bread Basket: Irish Soda Bread

There are a few foods that jump immediately to mind when one thinks “St. Patrick’s Day.” Irish Soda Bread is one such recipe. With just four basic ingredients (five if you add currants or raisins), this bread is simple to make and really delicious to eat. The only thing to remember: soda bread goes stale and hard in a matter of hours. It’s best to enjoy this bread warm from the oven, within a few hours of baking.

IRISH SODA BREAD
(Baking with Julia)
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4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk mixed with 2 Tbsp. vinegar)

1 cup raisins, currants, or diced dried fruits (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8-inch glass pie plate or a baking sheet.

Put the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Add the buttermilk and stir vigorously until the dough comes together. Add dried fruit if using.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for a minute. The dough will be soft and malleable, but, tantalizing as it is, it should not be overworked. Pat the dough into a disk about 6 inches across, slash an X across the top, cutting it about 1/2-inch deep, and place the dough in the greased pan or on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the slash has widened and the bread is golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then slice or wrap in a moist towel until ready to serve. Allow the bread to cool completely before serving.

The bread can be kept for a few hours, wrapped and at room temperature, but by the end of the day, with just the wee bit of fat that’s in the buttermilk, it will turn hard as the Blarney Stone.

Makes 1 loaf.

Weekend Fare: Grilled Sandwiches

It’s impossible to describe just how much I love grilled sandwiches and paninis. Let’s just say, I can get pretty excited about a good sandwich. I don’t have a panini press so I order them out sometimes. And for us, the sky is the limit when we are grilling sandwiches. So today, I’m going to give you some ideas that hopefully you can take off with to make your own perfect sandwich. Grilled sandwiches are great for on-the-go weekends or for enjoying with a bowl of soup and company.

All sandwiches start the same – two pieces of bread buttered (or drizzled with oil) on the outside. The kind of bread is totally up to you.

Some Favorites:
Sourdough
Rye or Pumpernickel
Farm
Whole wheat
White
Raisin Cinnamon

Then add some kind of spread to the inside of the bread.

Some Ideas:
Mustard – brown, spicy, dijon, yellow, champagne – there are so many varieties!
Mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip if you are so inclined – we are not :))
Peanut Butter
Honey Mustard (I make my own by combining dijon, mayo, and honey)
BBQ Sauce
Honey
Cranberry Sauce or a Chutney
Olive oil
Flavored Mayonnaise (I like to add Balsamic Vinegar)
Marinara

Next, choose a protein (or two or three).

A Few Ideas:
Cheese
Turkey
Ham
Beef
Pastrami
Peanut Butter (yes, I’m listing it twice – my kids love it!)

Then add toppings. You can add however many you want, in whatever order you want, and at any time (before or after grilling).

Some Many Ideas:
Cheese
Avacado
Cucumber
Pear (thinly sliced)
Apple (thinly sliced)
Orange
Bananas
Tomato
Bacon
Pancetta
Carmalized Onions (or raw – I like red onions)
Peppers (any color – grilled or raw)
Olives
Sauerkraut
Fresh Herbs
Lettuce
Arugula
Spring Mix
Sprouts

I must note that I think most (though definitely not all!) good sandwiches include cheese. So I will list a few that I think are especially excellent on grilled sandwiches but again – choose your favorite!

Cheese (probably my favorite food ever):
Swiss
Provolone (smoked or otherwise)
Fresh Mozzarella
Brie
Havarti
Sharp (or even extra sharp!) Cheddar
Gouda

Choose the ingredients, build your sandwich, and grill it over medium heat (turning once) until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden on each side. Cut in half (or not – I like mine cut diagonally) and enjoy. My kids really like grilled pb & j or pb & honey with bananas. I like pretty much any kind as long as it has cheese.

Yum. Now I want a sandwich!

Baker’s Delight: Blueberry Muffins

We really enjoy having muffins around! They are wonderful as a side dish, for breakfast or brunch, or even for an afternoon snack. My husband loves blueberries, so these are a favorite. I pick and freeze the blueberries in the summer and we eat them all year round. Delicious! I often make a double batch so we can have them for several days.

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
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1 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen

In a med. bowl combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in center of dry mixture; set aside. In another mixing bowl combine egg, milk, vanilla and oil. Add mixture all at once to the dry mixture – stir just until moistened. Fold in blueberries – do not overmix. Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin pan filling 2/3 full (I use an icecream scoop). Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 min. or until golden. Makes 10-12 muffins.

Bread Basket: Chocolate Breads

Where chocolate is concerned, it is hard to use moderation. Thus, we have today three recipes for using chocolate in various forms of bread. It was too hard for me to narrow it down any further!

First we have chocolate muffins. I found it almost impossible to find a good chocolate muffin recipe. Oh, chocolate muffin recipes do abound, but they look and sound more like the identical twin of chocolate cupcakes, rather than the kind of muffin you might choose to enjoy for breakfast. So, I had to make my own. And they came out just how I wanted them: moist, full of chocolate flavor, and not so sweet as to negate the use of butter.

CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
(Heather)
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1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

1 egg
3/4 c. milk to which you add 2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 c. oil

Optional — one or more of the following:
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped nuts (think hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans)
1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin tin with muffin papers. Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, “soured” milk, and oil. Stir together the dry and wet ingredients and mix only until combined. Add any optional ingredients. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes or until done.

Makes 12.

I thought it would be good to suggest a yeast bread that goes outside the box a bit — using chocolate to add depth of flavor and color, rather than taking main stage. Russian Black Bread is a hearty, full-flavor bread that incorporates chocolate. Being made partially with rye flour, you will find this bread denser than most, and you will notice it does not rise as high as regular yeasted bread. This is normal and is connected with the fact that rye flour does not allow for the formation of much gluten, as opposed to wheat flour.

RUSSIAN BLACK BREAD
(from Cooks.com)
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1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. boiling water
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut in 6 pieces
3 (1/4 oz.) pkgs. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 c. warm water
3 c. medium or dark rye flour
1 c. whole bran cereal
1/2 c. wheat germ
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp. onion powder
4 to 4 1/2 c. all purpose or bread flour
1 tsp. dark molasses blended with a pinch of salt and one tablespoon water for glaze (I just dusted the bread with flour)

In a large, heavy saucepan, stir granulated sugar over medium high heat until melted. Continue to stir until sugar smokes and is almost black. Slowly and carefully stir in 2 cups boiling water. This will cause mixture to smoke and sugar to lump and harden. Continue cooking and stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.

Stir in vinegar, butter and chocolate. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to dissolve chocolate.

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and brown sugar  in 1/2 cup water. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the cooled sugar mixture, 1 cup rye flour, bran cereal, wheat germ, coffee granules, salt, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, onion powder and 2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour. Beat with electric mixture for 2 minutes or by hand for 200 vigorous strokes. Stir in remaining rye flour and enough remaining all purpose or bread flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Clean and grease bowl; set aside.

Knead dough 10-12 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with a slightly damp towel. Let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Grease 2 medium baking sheets or 2 round cake pans; set aside.

Punch down risen dough; knead 2 minutes. Divide dough in half; cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape into 2 round loaves. Place on prepared baking sheets. Cover with a dry towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Slash tops of loaves as desired; brush with molasses glaze or flour. Bake 30-35 minutes, brush again with glaze if using. Bake 10 minutes longer or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Remove from pans and cool on rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

I couldn’t help but think of those who cannot eat chocolate — either by choice or by dictate of dietary restrictions. So, I decided to include a Carob Date Loaf which is a lovely way to have something that hints of chocolate, while still remaining health-conscious.

CAROB DATE LOAF
(adapted from Natural Lifestyle Magazine, Jan. 2004)
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1 cup pitted dates, cut up
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. carob powder
6 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. boiling water
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3/4 c. honey (I used 1/2 c. agave nectar)
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 eggs

Place the dates, baking soda, salt, and carob powder in a mixing bowl. Toss lightly with a fork. Add the butter and boiling water, but do not stir. Let stand 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the eggs and vanilla. Add the honey and flour, stirring until well blended. Add the date mixture, stirring just to blend. Pour into a well-greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan.

Makes 1 loaf.

Bread Basket: Bagels & Giveaway!

*This Giveaway is Now Closed – Comment #19 was the final entry!*

I’ve been wanting to make bagels for quite some time but the task seemed a bit daunting and the unknown too challenging. But I finally mustered up the courage and dove right in and I wish I had done it sooner! It was so much fun and they turned out great!

I made a basic dough and then divided it into four piles so I could make different kinds of bagels. The recipe said it made 12 however, I made it into 16 bagels and while they weren’t huge, they were the perfect size for us.

BAGELS
(Base recipe adapted from allrecipes.com)

3 1/2 – 4 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tb. yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water (about 110 degrees F)
3 Tb. white sugar
1 Tb. salt
1 Tb. white sugar

Egg Wash (for after boiling)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tb. water

In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour and yeast. Mix water, 3 tablespoons sugar and salt together, and add to the dry ingredients. Beat with a mixer for half a minute at a low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl clean. Beat at a higher speed for 3 minutes. Then slowly add in enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). (I let my mixer do this part.)

Divide dough into desired number of flavors. Knead in any additional flavors to the dough (ideas will follow).

Cover, let rest for 15 minutes.

Divide into 16 portions (I made 4 bagels of each flavor), shape into smooth balls. Poke a hole in the center with your finger, and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape. Cover, let rise 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, start a gallon of water boiling. Put 1 tablespoon of sugar in it, mix it around a bit. Reduce to simmering.

When the bagels are ready, put 4 or 5 bagels into the water, and cook 7 minutes, turning once.

Drain them. Place on a greased baking sheet, brush with egg wash, and top with desired toppings.

Bake at 375 degrees F  for 30 to 35 minutes (if using both oven racks, rotate once). Remove from oven, eat hot or cold.

These were absolutely delicious toasted with some butter or cream cheese!

I made Cranberry-Cinnamon, Everything, Parmesan-Italian, and Chocolate Chip.

Cranberry-Cinnamon
3 Tb. dried cranberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. orange zest (opt.)

Knead into the dough.

After boiling, combine 1 Tb. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle on top of bagels after the egg wash.

Everything
1 Tb. poppy seeds
1 Tb. dried minced onion
1 Tb. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. coarse salt

Combine. After boiling, apply egg wash and dip bagel into the seed mix.

Parmesan-Italian
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
5 Tb. Parmesan cheese, divided

Knead Italian seasoning and 3 Tb. Parmesan into the dough. After boiling, apply egg wash and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and egg wash again and top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Chocolate Chip
3 – 4 Tb. mini chocolate chips

Knead chips into the dough. After boiling, egg wash and bake.

There so much fun to make and the sky is the limit on flavor combinations so be creative!

And now for a GIVEAWAY! In honor of the new year, we are giving away a 2010 Lang American Kitchen Calendar. It includes recipes and beautiful illustrations created from hand painted original artwork to inspire your creativity in the kitchen!

To Enter:
– Leave one comment telling us one culinary goal or wish for your kitchen this year.
– One entry per person.
– Make sure we have a way to contact you.
– This giveaway will stay open through Thursday, January 7.

Market Fresh: Basil

Basil is a beautiful, tasty green herb. You can grew it year-round indoors or you can find it in the herb section of the grocery store. I like using it in sauces as well as  on pizza or pasta and it’s even good tossed into your salad or on your roasted vegetables. It’s most often featured in Italian cooking.

Today I’ll share a wonderfully easy recipe that is suitable as an appetizer or snack or even as a delicious side to a salad or soup. Though tomatoes are not in season here in Indiana, you can find some nice ones in the store – especially campari tomatoes which is what I used. It is a spin on the traditional caprese salad of tomato, basil, and mozzarella.

CAPRESE on BREAD

Crusty French or Italian bread, sliced 1/2-1 inch
Tomatoes, thinly sliced
Fresh Mozzarella, thinly sliced
Fresh basil (you can use the whole leaf or chiffonade it)
Olive oil
Balsmic vinegar
Salt
Fresh ground Pepper

Arrange slice of bread on a broiler-safe baking sheet. Drizzle or brush lightly with olive oil. Top top with a slice or two of tomato, salt & pepper, fresh basil, and sliced  mozzarella.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar over top. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and lightly browned – it will only take a few minutes so watch it. Serve immediately – although they are still good when they have cooled.

Holiday Feast: Christmas Breakfast

Who doesn’t love breakfast food?! Especially on Christmas! Here’s what our families do for breakfast on Christmas morning:

HeatherChristmas breakfast is eaten around the tree as the children open their presents. The first year we were married I discovered the recipe for Swedish Tea Rings and have made one for Christmas breakfast ever since. The rest of the menu may vary some, but it always includes fruit. In recent years we’ve enjoyed bacon-wrapped sausages sprinkled with brown sugar and then baked and I often buy some thick, Greek yogurt to serve alongside the fruit. Drinks consist of juice and plenty of hot tea.

CITRUS FRUIT SALAD WITH LIME
(Heather)

1 pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small cans mandarin oranges or 3 large navel oranges peeled and sectioned
1 can apricots
zest and juice of 2 limes

Cut pineapple into pieces and place in a serving bowl. Add the mandarin or navel oranges and the can of apricots. Sprinkle over the zest of lime and stir in the lime juice. Best made the same day as eaten.

For variety I sometimes add dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds. For those who like ginger, one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger adds a wonderful zing or try a few tablespoons of finely sliced candied ginger.

Serves 8.

SWEDISH TEA RING
(originally from Fleishmann’s New Treasury of Yeast Baking)

3 ½ — 4 ½ c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 c. milk
¼ c. water
½ c. butter
1 egg (at room temp.)
½ c. flour
½ c. nuts
½ c. brown sugar
1-2 c. fruit (canned cherries, apricot, etc. well-drained)

Mix 1 ¼ c. flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a bowl.

Combine milk, water and butter in saucepan. Heat to warm liquids and melt butter. Cool until warm. Add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes. Add egg and ¾ c. flour, to make a thick batter. Beat 2 more minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff batter (but not as thick as bread dough). Cover and refrigerate dough at least 2 hours. (Can be kept in fridge 3 days.)

Combine nuts, ½ c. flour, and brown sugar. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and divide in half. Roll ½ of the dough into a 14×7-inch rectangle.

Spread with ½ of the fruit. Sprinkle with ½ the brown sugar mixture. Roll up from long side as for jelly roll. Seal edges. Place sealed edge down in a circle on a greased cookie sheet. Seal ends firmly.

Cut slits 2/3 through ring at 1-inch intervals; turn each section outward, on its side.

(Note: This picture shows only one-half of the ring slices turned out — be sure to turn out every ring)

Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled – about 1 hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack. Frost while warm with confectioners’ sugar glaze.

Often I don’t have the canned filling I want so I make an apple filling by chopping about 3 large, peeled apples and mixing them with 1/4 c. flour, 1/2 c. brown sugar, juice of one lemon and a few dried cranberries. Bring this mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.

Glaze: mix 3 tablespoons soft butter into about 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar. Add enough milk to make a drizzling consistency. Add more sugar if needed to thicken.

Makes 2 rings.

Alaina – We traditionally enjoy an egg casserole, fruit, some kind of bread or coffee cake, and a few special drinks. The coffee pot is kept going for those of us who were awakened early by eager children. We have breakfast after stockings and gifts are opened or in between the stockings and gifts depending on the time. It’s a leisurely affair and one that I find makes me incredibly content and reflective.

I use the same base recipe for my egg casserole and just switch out the meats and cheese and sometimes add vegetables to make it different. We love it and I’ve been making it year-round for years. One of my favorite combinations is bacon, spinach, and swiss and we also love the traditional classic of sausage and sharp cheddar (onions & peppers add great color and flavor). You could easily make this vegetarian by omitting the meat. This egg casserole also re-heats very well if you have leftovers. I’m sharing one of my favorite versions.

SPINACH-MUSHROOM-BACON-SWISS EGG CASSEROLE

6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb. bacon, cooked and finely cut up (I often use less than a pound)
3 c. milk
8 oz. swiss cheese
1 1/3 c. crushed crackers (I use a butter cracker like ritz)

1 tsp. dry mustard
1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 lb. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed w/liquid thoroughly squeezed out
pepper & salt*

Combine all ingredients. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hour until golden brown.

*May not need much salt.
**May be made the night before and refrigerated.

These muffins are delicious! You could make them even more special by drizzling a little glaze over them.

LEMON-CRANBERRY ALMOND MUFFINS
(adapted from Taste of Home)

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
zest of 1 lemon
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk, oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zest and cranberries.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full; sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Makes 1 1/2 – 3 dozen muffins.

This icy drink always reminds me of my childhood. My mom used to surprise us with it and now I love to share it with my children.


ORANGE JULIUS

6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
6 oz. water
1 c. milk
1/8-1/4 c. sugar (opt.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 ice cubes

Chill glasses in freezer.

Combine all ingredients in blender or smoothie machine and blend until ingredients are mixed and ice is pulverized. Makes 4 servings.

Off The Shelf: December Food Magazines

December has come and with that all of the new food magazines. Ours arrived remarkably late this year and we have yet to see a few of them. But here our reviews of three magazines.

Everyday Food (Heather) — I was kind of hoping that December’s issue of Everyday Food would be just a little bit more festive. Granted, it does have 20 pages devoted just to holiday food, but somehow I wanted a whole issue with almost nothing but holiday food.

You will find a number of good dinner recipes for “everyday” cooking as well as a whole section on soups. Holiday recipes include: Brandied Ham, Spinach and Gruyere Souffle, Crispy Potato Roast, Leek Gratin, Fudge, Truffles and Mini Fruitcakes.

I chose to try the Crostini with Kale and Parmesan, since the thought of using Kale as an appetizer had never occurred to me before. Despite enjoying Kale as a side-dish, I was slightly apprehensive about this recipe. However, one bite was all it took to impress me! This recipe is GOOD! The tangy greens on top of the crisp, salty bread, with just a bit of bite from the parmesan yields a really delightful appetizer that’s also not that bad for your health!


CROSTINI WITH KALE AND PARMESAN
(Everyday Food Magazine, December 2009)

1 baguette, sliced 1/3-inch thick on the diagonal
3+ Tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds kale, washed, stems removed, leaves sliced into 1/4-inch strips
2 tsp. lemon juice (I substituted 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar)
1 small wedge Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Bake until light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. (I needed mine to finish in a hurry, so I eventually turned on the broiler).

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat until garlic is fragrant. Add kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper and add 1 cup water; cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated, 12 minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Toss with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.

Top crostini with kale. With a vegetable peeler, shave Parmesan on top.

Serves 8.

Everyday with Rachael Ray (Alaina) — While this issue is a double issue and claims to have many ideas, I found it rather disappointing. Appetizers, drinks,  snacks, desserts, and cookies are the main types of recipes I look for in December/Holiday issues of magazines. This issue has a few of these things but nothing that really makes me want to get in the kitchen and cook or bake. The magazine does feature a few pages of holiday menu.

Lest I sound too harsh, there were some great sounding recipes. Some of the recipes that sound especially good are Nougat Hot Chocolate w/Whipped Cream, Caramelized Banana Loaf Cake, French Onion Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and Smoked Mozzarella and Chicken Sandwiches with Italian Barbecue Sauce.

I did make the Chived Yorkshire Puddings and they were delicious. The whole family enjoyed them and I would make them again. Mine  rose beautifully and then deflated a bit – perhaps if I had left them in a couple more minutes they would have faired a little better. They were very tasty nonetheless! The oniony flavor of the chives was a great addition.

CHIVED YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS
(Everyday with Rachael Ray, Dec./Jan. 2009-2010)

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs and milk; stir in the flour, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 pinch of pepper. Gently stir in the chives; then let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Brush two jumbo muffin pans with oil or use 12 8-oz. ramekins set on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and let stand until hot, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the muffin pans to a heatproof work surface. Working quickly, add 1/4 c. batter to each cup, then bake until puffed and golden-brown, 15-17 minutes. Run a knife around each cup to loosen and serve immediately.

Makes 12

Cooking Light (Alaina) — This is truly a double issue. It has a lot of recipes and is 292 pages! This issue was less disappointing. It has 13 cookie recipes, 20 dessert recipes, and 7 beverage recipes. For a magazine that generally seems to focus on savory dishes, I am impressed. The recipes look delicious – Pecan-Date Bars, Raspberry-Cream Cheese Brownies, Lemon-Almond Tarts, Roasted Pear Creme Brulee, and many more! They had even have a recipe for Toasted Coconut Marshmallows. I’ve mentioned this feature before but I like that they list serving information – serving size, calories, fat etc.

I made the Hot Buttered Vanilla Rum. I’ll be honest, it was way to strong for us. However, if you really, really enjoy rum, this drink is for you. I was hoping for more of a buttery flavor and stronger vanilla (next time, I would cut the vanilla bean completely in half and scrape the seeds into the mixture at the beginning).


HOT BUTTERED VANILLA RUM
(Cooking Light, December 2009)

1 1/2  cups  water
2  tablespoons  sugar
1  vanilla bean
1  (2-inch) piece lemon rind
1  cup  dark rum
1  tablespoon  butter

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 15 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids. Return water mixture to pan. Add rum and butter to pan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Serve immediately.

I (Alaina) haven’t had a chance to check out Bon Appetit yet. And while I’m not generally a fan of Taste of Home, I’m usually impressed with the holiday issue though I haven’t seen this year’s magazine. They seem to know how to do holidays right! So you might check out those two publications!

Bread Basket

November is the perfect time of year to get into the kitchen and bake some bread — either quick or yeast. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, the warmth of the oven and the tempting aroma of freshly baked bread will lift everyone’s spirits.

Pumpkin muffins are an ideal treat for breakfast, afternoon snack, or as an accompaniment to soup and salad. This recipe is so versatile — you can make it sweet for dessert (and even bake it in cake pans and top with icing), or you can make it healthy by substituting whole wheat flour and honey. I’m also thinking of trying a gluten-free version by substituting rice flour and masa meal for the flour.

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PUMPKIN MUFFINS

3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. pumpkin
1/2 c. brown sugar (use 1 c. if you want a sweet cake or 1/2 c. honey if you want it without sugar)
1/2 c. oil

1 c. flour (here’s where you can substitute whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 c. raisins (optional)
1 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)

Beat eggs. Add vanilla, pumpkin, sugar, and oil. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and nutmeg. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Add raisins and walnuts. Pour into lined muffin tins. I like to sprinkle the muffin tops with rolled oats at this point — just to make them look more inviting. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until done.  Makes 12. (You can also bake this as a loaf — it will take 50-55 minutes to bake.)

Dinner rolls are another type of bread in high demand during the months of cold weather. I have made this recipe countless times, relying on my bread machine to do the hard work for me.

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BREAD MACHINE DINNER ROLLS

1 1/3 c. water
8 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2  c. all-purpose flour (can use some whole wheat)
4 Tbsp. dry milk powder (if you have it)
2 tsp. dry yeast

Measure ingredients into bread machine in order given. Use the “dough” setting (mine takes about 2 hours). Once ready, divide dough into two halves. Roll each half into a circle about 14 inches or so in diameter.

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Cut the circle into twelve “pie” pieces. Roll each piece from the large end to the point to form crescent rolls.

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Place rolls on greased cookies sheets and brush with egg glaze (1 egg mixed with 2 Tbsp. water). Let stand 10-15 minutes and then bake at 375F for 25-35 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

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A favorite yeast bread of mine is Pumpkin Raisin Bread. It combines my love of pumpkin with my love of yeast bread, along with hints of another kind of bread I love so much — Cinnamon Bread. If you enjoy making yeast breads, you need to give this one a try!

PUMPKIN RAISIN BREAD
(original recipe from Laura T.)

2 pkg. yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
1/3 c. honey
2/3 c. warm water
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1/4 c. oil
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
6 1/4-7 1/4 c. flour (can be all white, all whole-wheat, or a combination of both)
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. raisins

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water; stir until dissolved. Add pumpkin, oil, salt, spices, and 1 1/2 c. flour. Beat with wire whisk at low speed until well blended. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Add eggs and 1 c. flour; beat 2 minutes more.

With a wooden spoon, stir in raisins and enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 5-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

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Punch dough down. Divide in half or thirds (for round loaves). Shape dough into loaves and place in greased loaf pans or on greased cookie sheets. Let rise for 45 minutes.

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Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes. Makes 2 loaves (or 3 small loaves).