Purple Kitchen Treats

Over the past few years, I have been working on a cookbook. During this time, I took time off to finish my Master's Degree. Now that I have accomplished that, I am working again on my cookbook, slowly but surely.

However, over the past few months, something interesting has happened...I have received multiple requests for baked goods, particularly my cookies. I am also receiving multiple requests for granola. So, with all these requests in mind, I have started to make my cookies for sale, along with my granola.

My official web site is available, but will be undergoing a significant redesign. Be sure to visit my "official" web site at: http://www.susanshonk.com and watch for some exciting changes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Sunday, January 30, 2011

365 in 365 - #29 - Cherry, Chocolate and Almond Jam

And, here is yet another reason to visit the Grapevine Olive Oil Company's web site and store.

This jam is completely delicious and so very easy to make.  Some may balk at the number of flavors in this delicious treat, but I can tell you that all who tested this today (me, my friend Sheri and my husband) agreed that this is a definite winner.

1 package (10 - 12 ounces) frozen, dark sweet cherries, unsweetened
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar from the Grapevine Olive Oil Company
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Bring the cherries, water and sugar to s simmer.  Once the cherries are softened and heated through, mash with a fork or potato masher.  Let the liquid reduce by at least half.  Remove from the stove and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Serve either warm or chilled.  Each of the flavors can be tasted and none are overpowering.

I know you will enjoy this recipe.

Have a great evening!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

365 in 365 - #28 - Iced Tea

The Best Iced Tea Ever - Makes One Gallon

In the south, iced tea is available everywhere all the time.  It comes unsweetened and sweetened and seems to be more popular than soda....also known as "tonic" for my friends and family back home.  The most common way to order it is sweet.  Yes, it is sweet...about 1 cup of sugar to 1 gallon of tea.  

12 cups of very hot, but not quite boiling water.  The trick is to not let the water actually boil.  
          Hint - processing a full pot of water through a 12 cup coffee pot works perfectly
1/2 to 2/3 cup of your favorite flavor loose tea
Optional - 3/4 to 1 cup of plain white sugar

In a large bowl with a pouring spout on it, place the tea and the sugar
Pour the hot water over the tea, stir and let it steep for 8 – 10 minutes

Place a wire mesh strainer over a 1 gallon pitcher, line with a paper towel
Pour the tea into the wire mesh strainer slowly
Add enough cold water to fill the gallon pitcher
Stir, let cool and serve over ice

This makes a fantastic gallon of iced tea.

I use Ginger Peach, Mango, Apricot, Black Currant or any other flavor that sounds great.  Plain black tea also works very well brewed in this manner.  

I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

365 in365 - #27 - Special Cheesburger

No story tonite....just a great burger. 

Have a Little Wine With That Cheese Burger

Bread and Cheese
6 Hawaiian sweet rolls, toasted
6 ounces crumbled Maytag Bleu Cheese

For the Burgers
3 pounds of 80% ground sirloin (makes 6 burgers)
1 large yellow onion, chopped and sautéed until golden brown
2 tbsps roasted garlic
2 tbsp Dijon style mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Mix the ground sirloin, sauteed onion, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper together with a wire “S” shaped potato masher, being very careful to not work the meat too much, separate into 6 portions and form burgers.  Using your index finger, poke a hole completely through the center of each burger.

Grill until medium rare, approximately 6 to 8 minutes on each side

For the Wine Sauce
1 bottle of Shiraz
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Sauteed Mushrooms
1 package sliced mushrooms, sautéed in ¼ cup olive oil and 2 tbsp butter until browned, set aside

In a heavy bottom skillet, reduce the wine by one third, add the garlic, salt and pepper and let simmer gently for 3 to 5 minutes until the garlic is softened, stirring constantly.  Add the honey and stir, let simmer very gently for 3 to 5 minutes.  The wine sauce needs to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  If it needs to be thickened, add the cornstarch and water mixture by teaspoonfuls letting the wine come back to a simmer after each addition of cornstarch and water.   

Assembling the Burgers
Toast the buns
Place a burger on the bun
Sprinkle the burger with 1 ounce of Bleu cheese
Cover with sautéed mushrooms
Cover all with 2 – 4 tbsp of the wine sauce, cover with the top of the bun

The balance of sweet and savory flavors in this recipe is amazing……

Please enjoy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

365 in 365 - #26 - American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey is a recipe that I grew up with and was a favorite in our house.  I did not grow up in what anyone could call an 'advantaged" home.  We had love, and lots of it, but we had very little money.  We didn't qualify for food stamps, however, we did qualify for government issued food (that classic yellow cheese, peanut butter, powdered milk, canned meat and a few other items).  

My parents had to make every dollar stretch as far as it would go, and then some.  When it came to feeding our little family of 4, this was one of those meals that my mom could feed us on using the classic canned meat from Uncle Sam or when the budget permitted, she used ground beef.  We always had have left-overs and we truly enjoyed this meal.  I have very fond memories of the 4 of us sitting round the table and catching up on the events of our day.  We still enjoy this every once in a while and I reminisce with my dad about our family and especially about my mom.  

Served with a salad and dessert, it is a very basic, satisfying and good meal.  

American Chop Suey

1 lb of elbow macaroni
1 lb ground beef
1 jar of spaghetti sauce
1 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
In a Dutch Oven, saute the onion and green pepper in the olive oil, add the salt and pepper, add the ground beef and brown. While this is cooking, boil the elbow macaroni in salted water until al dente and drain.  Once the beef, onion and green pepper are cooked, add the macaroni and tomato sauce and stir to mix.  Cook on low until heated through.  

I am certain that you will enjoy this entree.  It may even evoke warm memories of a more gentle time, like it does with my family.

Have a great and memory filled evening,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

365 in 365 - #25 - Sweet-n-Savory Pork Chops

Have you eve looked at a piece of meat and said...."what do I do with you now?"  This seems to happen frequently for chicken, and sometimes in my kitchen.  Most of the time, I am able to come up with something.  Well, several weeks ago, my husband asked for pork chops so that he didn't have to have another piece of chicken that week.  I'm not sure why, but this is a cut of meat that I don't use that often and probably should.  I really prefer pork tenderloin.  Now, with that being said, I have always (until now) served pork chops breaded and fried...boring, I know.  So there it was....that package of pork chops sitting on the counter....staring at me, taunting me, so pale and perfectly pink, just daring me to do something different.  It was an odd moment...having a "stare-down" with pork, but I did it and, after a long, hard battle, I prevailed.   

I find pork chops a bit dry, unless breaded and fried.  While I was contemplating asking my husband if he wanted to treat me to dinner, a thought occurred to me...I had just bought a bag of dried apricots for a really great appetizer that I make (coming soon, I promise) and I had an open bottle of wine in the fridge.  So, I got to thinking...savory and sweet.  I started gathering common ingredients (olive oil, onion, garlic) and then raided the pantry for the sweet elements.  The following recipe is what began to take shape in the pan and ended up being a great dinner.   

This recipe changed my mind about serving pork chops more frequently.

Sensational Sweet-n-Savoy Pork Chops

4 center cut pork chops (thin or thick)
¼ cup olive oil

1 ½ cups semi-sweet white wine, such as a Pino Grigio or a Peisporter
½ cup diced dried apricots
½ medium onion, diced
2 tbsps honey
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp garlic
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Pinch of salt and pepper

Saute pork chops in the olive oil until cooked and browned, remove from the pan and set aside

Add the butter and onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, 
Add the garlic and cook for 1 - 2 minutes more
Add the white wine, the apricots, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, pinch of salt and pepper and cook until slightly reduced
Add the honey and cook on low for 5 minutes

Add the pork chops back to the pan and warm through in the sauce

This makes 2 servings.  


Monday, January 24, 2011

365 in 365 - #24 - Greek Style Orzo Salad

One evening, I was in the mood for a Greek style salad, with all the classic ingredients and flavors but with a bit more body to it.  I didn't want rice but did want something like it, so I decided on orzo.  I made this to accompany what I call a Greek Island burger (coming soon).  

This salad has all the great textures and flavors in it...crunchy, cool, sweet, tart, salty and smooth.  

Greek Style Orzo Salad

1 medium Red Onion, diced and rinsed under cold water
1 package grape tomatoes, sliced
1 English Cucumber, chopped
12 ounces diced or crumbled Feta Cheese
6 cups of cooked Orzo
1/2 cup of Greek olives, sliced 
1 1/2 cups Greek style dressing, or amount to taste
Kosher salt and peper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, toss and serve over mixed greens. 

This is great as a light meal of its own or with meat as a side dish.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

365 in 365 - #23 - Sausage Soup

This is a soup that I discovered while on vacation in New England one fall.  My father and I were looking for something to warm us up because it was so cold.  Being from Texas, we knew that we wouldn’t find the greatest Chili in Massachusetts, so we looked for something else.  We went to a restaurant that was a favorite when we lived in Massachusetts.  The waiter suggested that we try this soup.  I ordered a cup to give it a try and then ordered a bowl of it.  It was so good, that we ended up back at this restaurant on 2 more occasions just for the soup.  

This is my version of this soup.  I was not able to wrangle the recipe out of the chef, so I made up my own.  My father says that this is better than the restaurant’s version……hmmm?

Sausage Soup

The Sausage
   2 lbs of ground turkey
3 tsp rubbed sage
1 ½ tsp thyme
1 ½ tsp anise seed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, if desired.
Mix all the above ingredients together and refrigerate at least 4 hours.  If you have the time, refrigerate over night.    This also makes a great addition to breakfast as a sausage substitute and can be used in any recipe calling for sweet or hot Italian sausage.

The Soup
4 quarts of chicken stock
2 large onions, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
   2 cans of peeled, chopped tomatoes
½ lb baby spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups of long grain white rice (not the quick cooking kind)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

In a large stock pot, cook the onions in the olive oil until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook gently for a few moments.  Watch the garlic to be certain that it doesn’t burn.  Add the chicken stock and the tomatoes, cover and bring to a simmer.

While the base is coming to a simmer, lightly brown the sausage in a large skillet with olive oil.  The texture should be fine and not too chunky.  I use a wire “s” shaped wire potato masher to mash and cook the sausage meat.  Once it is cooked through, add this and the rice to the base and continue simmering, covered, for 30 minutes.  Add the spinach last, cover and simmer gently until the spinach is wilted.

Serve in your favorite bowl, garnish with shredded parmesan cheese or parmesan crisps* and serve with toasted Italian bread spread with oven roasted garlic.  What a treat!

This soup freezes very well and will be a welcome addition to any table.  

It also works well as a “pot luck” item.

*Parmesan Crisps – for each crisp, place 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese in a 4 inch round on a cookie sheet and baked at 350` until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  This will crisp up nicely and can be used as a garnish for multiple meals, including a Caesar Salad.


365 in 365 - Visit to Grapevine Olive Oil Company

There is a place in Texas that can be best described as the keepers of heaven in a bottle.....and it is the Grapevine Olive Oil Company.  Jason and I went yesterday.  It is in the heart of Old Downtown Grapevine Texas on Main Street and is in one of the very quaint old stores.  It's very location evokes feelings of comfort and nostalgia.  The moment you walk in, you are greeted by one of the staff members/owners.  They are warm, friendly and ready to help.

The selection of olive oils will make your taste buds sing a very sweet melody while the selection of vinegars will get your taste buds dancing happily.  The possibilities are endless and my imagination was running wild.  I tasted almost everything, including all the flavored salts.  My favorite salt was the Truffled Fleur du Sel.  

The focus is the experience of tasting something new and different.  They have recipes and suggestions for combinations of oils and vinegars that are as tasteful as they are exciting.      

I left with 4 bottles of vinegar and will be going back for some of the oils within the next week or 2 (chipotle; sweet onion; herbs de provence...just to name 3 that are at the top of my list).

This is a store that inspires my culinary imagination and I hope that you will check them out on line or better yet, in person if you are in the vicinity.  

Have a great Sunday,

Friday, January 21, 2011

365 in 365 - #22 - Decadent Applesauce

Decadent Applesauce

This is by far the very best applesauce that you will ever experience.  Yes, eating this is an experience.  It is sweet, full of warm spices and creamy.  The key to this particular recipe is that it must be served warm because of the butter.  The best apples for this recipe are MacIntosh.  These apples are available mainly in New England but can be found throughout the rest of the US in the fall.

This recipe is labor intensive and you might want to enlist the help of a family member or a friend to take turns straining the cooked apples.  I make a ton of this applesauce each fall and either can it or freeze it.  I give it as gifts and use it in my mother’s recipe for Applesauce Cake, which I will post very soon.  

I serve this with pork as an accompaniment or warm it and put it on toast for breakfast.  I also use this as a topping for ice cream and I serve it as a snack or a desert on its own.  


2 stock pots - One for cooking the apples and one for straining the apples into.
1 large bowl - I use a bowl to transfer the applesauce into when the stock pot gets full enough to reach the bottom of the strainer.

1 large wire mesh strainer.  A food mill will not yield the same results as the wire mesh strainer.  The apple sauce will have a wonderfully smooth texture from the wire mesh strainer and the strainer will catch the “strings” from the apples.

1 large metal spoon and a couple of strong arms and hands with a firm grip.


15 lbs of apples, washed and quartered.  I do not peel or seed the apples.
1 cup of water
Sugar to taste – begin with 1 ½ cups
1 - 2 sticks of butter
Cinnamon to taste –begin with 2 tsps. If more is needed, add only ½ tsp at a time
Nutmeg to taste – begin with 1tsp. If more is needed, add only ¼ tsp at a time
Cloves to taste – begin with 1tsp. If more is needed, add only ¼ tsp at a time
** This recipe does not have exact measurements for the sugar and spices because of how sweet or tart the apples might be.  
**It does not need lemon to keep the apples from oxidizing, the spices will give the applesauce a gorgeous color.  


Place the cup of water in one of the pots and add the apples, cover and simmer on low until the apples collapse.  Stir occasionally so that the apples on the top of the pot get to the bottom of the pot.  All the apples may not fit into the pot at once, so as the apples collapse, add more until they have all been cooked. 

Place the butter in the bottom of the other pot.  This is the pot that the apples will be strained into.  

Strain the hot apples by hand through the wire strainer using a metal spoon in small batches.  A wooden spoon will become somewhat shredded by the wire strainer.  This is the hardest part of this recipe.

Once all the apples are strained and the butter is melted, add the remaining ingredients to taste, beginning with the sugar.   Stir well and serve warm.  

I can't wait to hear how y'all like this version of applesauce.  


Thursday, January 20, 2011

365 in 365 - #21 - Biscuits, Scones, Flavored Butters

For years I struggled with making biscuits.  I finally gave up and bought frozen or from the bakery.  I was intimidated by them (yes, me....unbelievable isn't it??).  Until one day, I was watching a show about bread.  The chef talked about developing the gluten by kneading the bread and that when making biscuits, we did not want to develop the gluten.  So, I went to the other extreme....and did not knead the dough at all.  I simply used a large wooden spoon to bring the dough together enough to get it out onto the board and bring the rest of it together very gently.  This approach produced the most tender and light biscuits that I have ever had.  

Wonderful Biscuits and Scones 

The most challenging thing with biscuits is to make them without making them tough.  It took me a very long time to figure out how to make great biscuits.  There are several tips that will make your biscuits come out perfect every time.  

First, make them from "scratch".  Try several recipes to see which one you like best.  I have a favorite that I use from Cooking.com.  

Second, add in fresh herbs for a savory biscuit, but add them into the flour and mix through before adding the butter.  
  • Freeze the butter so you can grate it into the flour.  This saves you the time of ‘cutting” it into the dough or having to use a pastry blender.  
  • Another option is to cut the butter into ½ inch chunks add it to the dry ingredients in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer and mix on medium until the butter is approximately pea sized.  
  • Or…you can add the dry ingredients and butter to a food processor and pulse until the butter is approx. pea sized.
The most important thing to remember when working with any biscuit or scone recipe, or even (dare I say it) a boxed mix, is to not knead the dough once the liquid is added.  Even if your biscuit recipe calls for kneading, DO NOT do it.  Mix the ingredients very gently with a very large wooden spoon or your hands until it just comes together.

Once mixed, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and simply press the dough together, pat out to 1” thick and use your favorite biscuit cutter and bake according to the directions for your recipe.  Remember, the more you handle the dough, the tougher the biscuits (or scones) will be.

Flavored Butters

Flavored butters can be sweet or savory.  These are a selection of some sweet treats for your biscuits.  I am working on a few kinds of savory butters and will post them soon.  

Honey Butter
1 stick of butter at room temperature
2 tbsp honey
Blend well

Strawberry Butter
1 stick of butter at room temperature
3 - 4 frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed and finely chopped
1 tbsp sugar

Add the sugar to the chopped strawberries and set for about 30 minutes making sure that the strawberries are at room temperature.  Then, mix the fruit and the butter well.

Cherry Pecan Butter
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 tbsp Cherry preserves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped or minced pecans
2 tbsp fine sugar
Blend the ingredients well

Maple Walnut Butter
1 stick of butter at room temperature
2 tbsps real maple syrup
1 tbsp finely chopped or minced walnuts
Blend the ingredients well


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

365 in 365 - #20 - Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

OK...keeping this simple, fast and easy.  Sometimes something as simple as a jar of pesto, a jar of sun dried tomatoes, pasta and a chicken sitting next to each other on the counter after shopping can turn on that lightbulb that floats over my head.  One day, this is what happened.  The thing that really caught my eye was the color of the tomatoes next to the color of the pesto....and presto, a salad was born.

I LOVE pesto, pesto of almost any kind.  Basil, rosemary, sun dried tomato, cilantro (this is at the top of my herb food chain)....you get the point.  Pesto's can be made out of almost any herb, nut, salt, pepper and olive oil combination.  Add cream and heat, and you have a great pesto cream sauce for pasta, chicken or any other meat that suites your taste buds.

I think you will find this recipe very quick, easy and it will serve several people for not too much money.

Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad

1 rotisserie chicken, meat taken off the bones and shredded 
1 lb of cooked pasta (penne, shells, bow ties or any shape that you like)
1 cup of pesto
1 small jar of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
½ can large black olives, sliced
2 cans of artichoke hearts or bottoms, drained and chopped
1 cup of pignoli nuts, toasted
1 cup of Shredded parmesan cheese

Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir

This can be served warm or at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

365 in 365 - #19 - Breakfast Burrito

A little background on my Mexican / Southwestern culinary adventures - this all started when I was living in Massachusetts and I thought I knew what good Mexican / Southwestern food was.....that is, until I went to Albuquerque for the first time.  I learned more about spicy and very tasty food from all my trips there over the course of 2 1/2 years than I would ever learn in Massachusetts.  I was fortunate to be able to be a consultant for that time period and travelled around the US teaching and auditing Medicare compliance....sounds exciting, huh?  Well, I had a blast with this job.  I was on a plane twice a week, sometimes more and couldn't have been happier at the time.  I spent one week every month in Albuquerque and still love that city to this day, the mountains, Taos, Santa Fe, Old Town and a bunch of other places and scenic trips that Jason and I visit at least every year or 2 on our way to Sedona.  My southwestern cooking skills have expanded greatly since then, but some things remain simple pleasures, and this is one of them.  

One of my husband's favorite meals is a burrito.  He likes things spicy (like me) and he likes a meal that is filling.  He has a very physical job and can burn TONS of calories in a day (I am soooo jealous), so he needs food that can keep up with the physical demands of his job.  I like to have him start his day with a very good breakfast, and this is one of the things that he loves.  

Breakfast Burrito

6 burrito sized flour tortillas
6 large eggs
1 can diced green chiles, drained
1 large onion, diced
1 finely chopped jalapeno
8 ounces chorizo or other Mexican or Spanish sausage, preferably cured
2 garlic cloves, minced
Shredded Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the eggs and the green chiles and set aside.

Saute` the sausage, onion, garlic and jalapeno until cooked.  Add the eggs and scramble until cooked.  Lay out the flour tortillas and sprinkle generously with the cheese.  Divide the egg mixture among the tortillas.  Sprinkle with additional cheese.  Roll like a burrito and serve with sliced avocado, salsa and a drizzle of crema.

Please enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

365 in 365 - #18 - Omelets

The best omelet you will ever eat is just a mixer away.  Omelets should not be browned very much on the outside.  This makes a tough omelet and forms a crust that needs to be pierced with a knife and can feel "rough" on the tongue.  This is also what will make an omelet "split" when it is folded over.  Once you try this omelet, I think you will be converted.

I discovered this when I was having difficulty with my carpal tunnel.  I couldn't hold a whisk was not able to use a fork to beat the eggs, so I took out the hand mixer and gave this a try.  I started to blend the eggs then stopped right after the eggs were beaten.  As I thought about how the eggs look when I make our family pumpkin cake (odd thought at this point), in which they look very light and fluffy, though still liquid.  So, I decided to see what would happen if I kept the hand mixer going until the eggs got to the "light and fluffy" point.   Then I preheated  the skillet as usual.  At this point, I also thought about how I could get some really even heat on the omelet so that it wouldn't get all brown and a little crusty on the bottom and split when I fold it over and that is when I decided to place the omelet in the oven.  Popovers also came to mind and how they are cooked.  They start with a very hot pan and then are placed in the oven in a bath of melted butter.  So I thought, why not....and this recipe is the result.

I'll be interested to see if you give this method a try.

2 - 3 eggs per person.
A dash each of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of butter

Heat your oven to 400 degrees
In an oven proof, non stick skillet, let the pan get nice and hot and just before the eggs are finished being beaten, melt the butter on medium heat, being careful not to brown the butter.

Put the eggs, salt and pepper into a deep mixing bowl and Blend.  Blend for about 4 minutes until the eggs are light yellow and have some air in them.  They will increase in volume, then pour into the hot pan.

Let the omelet cook on low until the edges and sides are set.   If the pan is hot enough, the omelet will set up nicely in a minute or 2.  Once the sides are set, place the pan in the oven on the middle rack.  Cook for anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes, or until the center is set.  Try not to let the eggs brown too much.

Use any kind of filling that you like, cheese, sauteed mushrooms, onions, peppers, sausage, etc.  Make sure that the filling is hot and add it to the top of 1/2 of the omelet.  Then slip the omelet out of the pan on to a plate and fold over.

Sprinkle some additional filling over the top with a little extra cheese and enjoy.  This omelet is light, fluffy, soft and simply heavenly.

This method also works very well as scrambled eggs.  Just don't put the pan in the oven and cook the eggs on medium low, let them set, scrape the pan gently with a rubber spatula to keep the air in the eggs, let the eggs set and repeat until cooked.

Have a great evening!!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

365 in 365 - #17 - Healthy Pancake

OK...a few days ago, I promised you the heart healthy version of the Walker Family Canadian Pancake.  This has all the great flavor of the original, but is so much better for you.

I make this for my dad at least once a month.  He loves this with, of all things, mustard or Worcestershire Sauce....WOW, I even spelled it right!

The Healthy Walker Family Canadian Pancake

1 quart of Egg Beaters or egg substitute of your choice
1 ½ cups of nonfat half and half
1 loaf of reduced calorie white bread or multigrain bread
1 package of turkey bacon, diced and cooked until crisp

Mix the egg substitute and fat free half-n-half in a large bowl.  Break up the loaf of bread into approx. 1 inch pieces and add to the egg mixture.  Mix in the cooked diced turkey bacon.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and pour the pancake mixture into the pan and cover.  Cook over low heat until browned on the bottom and the center is “set”.  Flip and cook the other side until browned.  

Place pancake on a cutting board and cut into wedges and serve with your choice of condiments.  

Tomorrow...the best omelet...EVER...!

Have a great evening!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

365 in 365 - #16 - Strawberry Jam

I will first and foremost acknowledge that I owe y'all the omelet recipe and the heart healthy version of the Walker Family Canadian Pancake.  But first....I have to share this brand new wonderful recipe that was a very "spur of the moment" idea this very afternoon.

My sweet friend Sheri stopped by today and brought me 2 bottles of flavored balsamic vinegar from The Grapevine Olive Oil Company in Grapevine, Texas.  One of them is Blackberry Ginger and the other is Dark Chocolate.  Both are completely amazing alone with a bit of bread for dipping.  Sheri also had Black Currant, which was simply scrumptious.

The minute I tasted the Dark Chocolate balsamic vinegar, all I could think about was strawberries.  Strawberries and chocolate are such a classic flavor combination.  And, I have seen fruit served with a balsamic reduction, but I had not encountered a jam made with the vinegar.  So, before Sheri left, I started a small batch of jam.  What resulted from this simple flavor inspiration was PERFECTION in a pan.

Ladies and gentlemen....hold on to your taste buds...'cause mine ran screaming into the street dancing "nekked" and jumping for joy when I tasted the jam.  WIthout further adieu, may I present:

Strawberry Jam with Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar

1 bag of frozen strawberries, unsweetened (approx. 12 ounces)
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons dark chocolate balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the strawberries, water and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a slow simmer.  Once the strawberries are soft, mash them with a potato masher being careful not to break them up too much.  Let them simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.  The liquid should be reduced by about half.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and the vinegar and stir to incorporate.  Let cool and it will thicken a bit more.

This will be one of the gifts that I make next Christmas to include in my gift baskets.  I still have to call the Olive Oil Company and tell them about this.  Hmmm....I think I will bring them some next weekend because by then, I am certainly gonna need more vinegar and will have to try some new olive oil flavors.  I'll let y'all know what happens after I visit.

Have a great evening!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

365 in 365 - OOPS!!!!!

I am so sorry....I forgot to post my recipe for making an omelet.  Since it is so late and I have class tomorrow morning, I'll post the recipe tomorrow and the lighter version of the Pancake on Sunday.

Have a great nite!!!

365 in 365 - #15 - Canadian Pancake

The Walker Family Canadian Pancake

This is a breakfast that came to my home with my father.  His parents were both from Canada.  These were hearty people who worked hard and lived through some very difficult times.  

This pancake is not traditional in any way.  There is no flour, no sugar and no baking powder in this recipe.  There are lots of eggs, cream, bread and bacon.  This is meant to fill you up and to keep you going for several hours.  During the time when this pancake was made, people physically worked harder and needed the protein, fat and calories that this hearty breakfast provided. 

Once a year, I make the traditional version for my father’s birthday.  Any other time, I use a heart-healthy version.  The original version is completely decadent and laden with bacon grease.  However, the updated and heart healthy version has all the wonderful flavor of the original with the vast majority of the fat and calories removed.

So, let’s begin with the way that I learned how to make this pancake with all the real eggs, heavy cream and bacon grease that you could possibly stand (or not) in one place at any time.

The Original Recipe

1 dozen extra large eggs
1 ½ cups of heavy cream
1 loaf of white bread
1 pound of thick cut bacon, diced and cooked until crisp

Begin by cooking the bacon in a very large cast iron skillet or a heavy bottom pan until it is crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towels.  Do not remove any of the bacon grease from the pan.  Yes, that is right……leave all the bacon grease.  I'll bet you are thinking....she MUST be crazy!!  Please understand that this recipe was concocted during the 1800s and early 1900s, well before we knew anything about the effects of that much animal fat on the human body.  

Now, with that said, please feel free to use a nonstick skillet and keep just a little of the bacon grease in the pan just for flavor.  If you do this, you only need a very small amount of the bacon grease (just a couple of tablespoons) for flavor.

While the bacon is cooking, beat the eggs and cream in a very large bowl until well mixed.  Break up the entire loaf of bread by hand into approx. 1 inch pieces and add to the eggs and cream and mix in.  After the bacon has drained a bit, add it to the egg mixture and stir to incorporate.

If necessary, reheat the bacon grease on a low flame in the cast iron skillet until hot.  Pour the pancake mixture into the skillet on top of all the bacon grease.  Yup…we can already feel our arteries hardening as we speak.  Place a cover on the pan and cook on low until set.  Once “set” in the center, the pancake needs to be turned over in the skillet.  I am not brave, nor do I have the strength to “flip” this big of a pancake in the air in any kind of a skillet.  So, I take a large wooden cutting board and slip the pancake out of the pan onto the cutting board, browned side down.  I then spray the pan generously with cooking spray and invert the pan over the pancake, place my hand under the cutting board, hold on tight and flip.  Place the pan back on the stove on low and put the cover back on the pan.  Cook this until it is browned.

I have also been known to use 2 smaller pans because of the size and weight of the finished product.  It comes out just as well.

Remove the pancake(s) from the pan(s) onto a cutting board and cut into wedges.  My favorite way to eat this is with real Maple Syrup.

Tomorrow, I will post the heart healthy version, which is the one that I make at least once a month for my dad.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

365 in 365 - #14 - Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup

My mom had a 15 year battle with cancer.  Over the course of those 15 years, there were some very good years when the cancer seemed to have been beaten / was dormant and years where she went through surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.   During one of her courses of chemotherapy after a particularly difficult surgery, she was unable to cook because of the smells, but she did want one thing...and that was chicken soup.  At that time, because my mom was so sick and my dad could not leave her alone, I was doing a lot of cooking for my parents, doing their laundry and most of their errands.  I was looking for a flavorful soup that she might be able to tolerate.  Everything that I looked at had lots of "stuff" in it, but not as much protein as she would need and it needed to have flavor, but still be mild and tolerable on a sensitive tummy.  

I miss my mom and every time I make this soup, I think of her.  She lost her battle with cancer on a chilly October day 9 years ago in Lynn, Massachusetts.  She passed away quietly at home in my father's arms.  My parents were married a little over 51 years.  

My dad now lives in Texas in a senior independent living community literally, right around the corner from our home.  He is 83 and his health is starting to deteriorate a bit, so I make an extra effort to reach out to him.  I call him every day, I see him at least twice a week and I treasure every moment that I have with him.  

Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup 

4 quarts of chicken stock
1 large onion chopped
2 small ribs of celery, including the leaves (from the heart), diced very small
1 small bag of shredded carrots
1 package of sliced mushrooms
1 bag of egg noodles
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 rotisserie chickens, meat taken off the bones and shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the chicken stock in a large pot, chop the onion and celery and add to the pot
Add the mushrooms and the egg noodles
In the mean-time, take the meat off the chickens and shred it
Add the carrots and the chicken to the stock and heat through.

This is wonderful served in a bread boule on a chilly day.