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,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

365 in 365 - Confessions from a home cook

I was at an all day meeting today and lunch was provided.  It was grilled chicken (tender and moist) with caesar salad (very good salad), veggie lasagna (OK), tortellini (BLECK!!) and tiramisu (very good).  

The only opportunity for improvement was the tortellini.  It had this yucky red tomato-like sauce stuff on it that was pretty darn flat and kind of pasty......except for the scallions.  I know what you are thinking....tomato sauce with scallions...who had that brilliant idea???   Well, the scallions were not a good idea AT ALL!!!!  Texturally speaking, it was just plain weird, taste wise...it simply didn't work.......where was that chef when this was being made?  Did anyone taste it before they served it?  Double BLECK!!!!

All I could think was, "Hey, knuckle head.....you forgot to run the tortellini recipe by me BEFORE you made it......next time, add garlic, minced yellow onion, salt, pepper, a little chopped fresh basil and some red pepper flakes."  I guess I told that chef...!!

Now for the confession - during each break today and at lunch, I wrote several new recipes to try and also wrote down several new ideas to work through and develop.    I should probably have been networking and socializing, but no....Susan had to go and sit off in a corner and write about food.  All I can say is.....I am what I affectionally refer to as "a short round redhead" and there is a good, solid (or should I say soft?) reason why I am round....

So, my dear readers, I have come to the conclusion that there is simply no cure for this affliction......my poor husband, family, friends and blog visitors will have to live with the consequences.  ::cheshire cat grin::

So with all that being said about today's adventures, I'll post the new recipes as soon as I have tested them.  Even if the results are awful, I will "confess" that too.

Have a wonderful evening!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

365 in 365 - #61 & #62 - Roasted Pork Tenderloin and Jalapeno Cream Gravy

First and foremost - Happy Easter to everyone.  I hope y'all had a wonderful day with your family and friends.

For our Easter meal today, we had pork tenderloin as the main dish.  Pork tenderloin is a fairly frequent meat at our table because it is so tender and mild in flavor.  It is easy to prepare and if you buy it at Sam's Club, it is very affordable.  

I cook the tenderloin very simply, but like to add various sauces or gravy to go with it because the taste of the meat is so mild that most sauces work very well with it.  

Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Preheat your oven to 350` F.   
To prep the pork tenderloin, trim the tenderloin by cutting the ends off so that you have a rather uniformly shaped piece of meat.  Then, remove any visible fat and silver skin.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.  Preheat a heavy bottom skillet on medium, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and brown the tenderloin on each side.  Remove the tenderloin to a baking sheet and place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.  Remove the tenderloin after 25 minutes and let it rest.

Clean the left-over pieces of tenderloin of fat and silver skin and freeze.  These pieces make a great start for my recipe for Mexican "Good Luck" soup.  

Jalapeno Cream Gravy
In the same pan that you cooked the meat, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and heat.  
     Tip - using the same pan that you cook the meat in gives the gravy an extra depth of flavor.
Add 4 tablespoons of flour and stir to make a roux.  
     Note:  I use olive oil for this because butter does not yield the same flavor that the olive oil does...and the olive oil is healthier.  Especially since we will be adding 1 cup of heavy cream to the pan.
Add 2 to 3 thinly sliced jalapenos and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.  
     Note: if you like your gravy a bit spicier, use 1 - 2 serrano peppers.  And, for the truly adventurous, use 1 - 2 habaneros in the gravy.   And, for safety's sake, please use gloves and do not touch your face, eyes, ears, nose or (ahem) other sensitive body parts if you cook with these peppers.  
Add 1 teaspoon of cumin and 2 teaspoons of "365 Southwestern Seasoning" (Whole Foods brand); 
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Let this cook in the roux for approx. 2 - 3 minutes.
Slowly add 3 cups of milk mixed with 1 cup of cream and stir constantly.
This will thicken to a very silken consistency after several minutes.  Taste for seasoning.

This gravy is wonderful served with chicken, steak, turkey or pork.  If you use the gravy with chicken fried chicken or chicken fried steak, start the gravy in a clean pan. 


Saturday, April 23, 2011

365 in 365 - #58 - #59 - #60 - Celebration Dinner

During the holidays, I have made various meals from traditional roasted turkey with all the fixins to turkey tamales with all the traditional Mexican inspired fixins.  A favorite meal that we have had for Christmas Eve is a very simple one.  It is baked ham, green beans with toasted almonds and mashed sweet potatoes with apple pie for dessert.  A very  "American" meal.  As you read through my blog and the recipes,  you can see that this kind of a menu is a bit unusual for me because it is simple and straightforward and what I would call "American traditional"

I tend to like deep, rich flavors, a bit of heat and to be somewhat adventurous in my meal planning and cooking.  But sometimes, simple is wonderful.  I used to work in a hospital in which we could order the entire contents of our holiday meals for a fee and take it home.  Everything was cooked....all we had to do was heat it up.  The year that I did this, I ordered a ham and did the rest of it myself.  the only thing that I had to do with the ham was glaze it and bake it to get that beautiful crust on the meat.

So, this simple dinner was born - baked glazed ham, mashed sweet potatoes, green beans with almonds and shallots, and apple pie for dessert.

The apple pie recipe will have to follow later....I need to make it and have someone write down how much of everything I put into it.  Many of my recipes are "feel and taste as you go", so exact amounts can be a bit elusive for many things until someone watches me make something and plays the role of "kitchen scribe".

# 58 - Baked Ham 
Go to the specialty Baked Ham store or grocery that has ready made glazed hams, wait patiently, step up to the counter, place your order and pay an arm and a leg.  Or...you can go to the regular grocery or your local butcher for a fresh ham (now, you would REALLY be cooking an amazing thing), purchase a nice ham for a fraction of the cost and glaze it with the mixture noted below.

First, begin by placing the ham on a rack inside your baking pan and adding a couple of cups of water to the pan so the juices from the ham, and eventually the glaze, don't burn.  You may need to add water as the ham cooks, so keep an eye on the level of liquid in the bottom of the pan.  Then, heat the ham using the package directions.  Or, for the fresh ham, you can bake it at 350` F until it has an internal temperature of 165 ` F.  If you want to glaze the ham, remove it from the oven at about 140 degrees, drizzle the glaze on it and return it to the oven.  You can also do the classic diamond cut through the rind and stud the ham with whole cloves before you bake it.

For the ham that is being heated only, when it is about 3/4 of the way heated through, cover the ham in the following mixture and finish the baking process:

2 cups of honey
1 cup of brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cloves

Let this get crusty and crunchy.  It may take approx. 30 minutes.  If you would like, you can turn up the oven to speed up this part, but you will have to watch it very closely.  Once sugar "burns", the ham will not taste the same.

Disaster lesson number one - use the lower rack and do not use the broiler for this portion of the cooking process.

For a great smooth sauce, you can take the pan drippings and strain them via a wire strainer and set aside.  In a separate pan, make a roux with 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour and cook until combined.  Add the strained pan drippings and slowly add 2 - 3 cups of warmed milk, whisking the entire time.  You can add a little spiced rum and some raisins and you will have a wonderful sauce for the ham.  You can also adjust the butter and flour ratio along with the amount of milk, depending upon how thin or thick you like the sauce.

#59 - Green Beans Almondine with Sweet Shallots
For this recipe, I like the slender, tender baby green beans, also known as haricot vert. I use 1 pound for this recipe, which is a good amount and gives you left-overs.  I will warn you now, this recipe has butter....and a little olive oil in it.

I start by blanching the green beans for only a minute in simmering water, then take them out and plunge them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking.  Then drain off the ice water and set the green beans on paper towels to dry.  You will want to be sure that most of the water is drained off of the beans.

1 cup of sliced almonds toasted to a wonderful golden brown.  Use a baking sheet in a 350` oven but keep and eye on the nuts and turn them frequently.  When they are toasted to your liking, remove them from the oven and then remove them from the pan.  Spread them out a bit on paper towels.  If you leave them in the pan, they will continue to cook and may get burned, which is never tasty.

6 shallots, sliced thin and sauteed in a large non-stick pan with 1 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, until caramelized and very sweet.

Remove the shallots from the saute pan and place on paper towels,
Add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and let the butter melt.

Add the green beans to the pan and toss int he butter and olive oil to heat through
Add the shallots and the toasted almonds along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper.  Toss to combine and taste for seasoning.

#60 - Mashed Sweet Potatoes
When making mashed sweet potatoes, the best method for this potato is to bake them.  If you boil them, they get watery and lose much of their flavor.

Once baked, and cool enough to handle, peel them and then put them through a potato ricer or a food mill with the plate that has the smallest holes.

For this recipe, I use 3 large sweet potatoes, especially if you want a few left overs.
Add 1 stick of melted butter
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Stir and serve......this makes about six 1/2 cup servings.

Please let me know if y'all enjoy this dinner....I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

365 in 365 - #57 - Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Since we are on the subject of sweet potatoes, I thought I might throw in another recipe for a salad that is simply tremendous, with a sweet and savory side.  This recipe uses the basic ingredients from the sweet potato cakes, but in another form.  I am always looking for new ways to use cilantro......I simply love the fresh smell and taste.  If "they" made cilantro scented perfume, I would probably wear it.  I know, I know......but think of it this way....we use cucumber, pear, peach, orange, cherry almond, cinnamon and various other scents in skin care products, why not cilantro???

I just had a thought......the color of traditional sweet potatoes almost matches the color of my hair...  ;-)

Preheat oven to 375

2 large raw sweet potatoes, diced into about 1/2 inch pieces, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast, turning every 5 or so minutes until browned to your liking.  The potatoes will be soft, but will keep their shape once done.  Let cool to room temperature.

4 scallions, diced
1/2 pound of maple bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl

Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
Pinch each of salt and freshly cracked pepper

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and pour over salad and toss to combine.

For a more dramatic looking salad, use a combination of traditional sweet potatoes and deep, dark garnet sweet potatoes.

This potato salad works well for picnics and buffets because there is no egg or mayonnaise in the recipe.

Tip - adding mustard to a dressing that is oil based helps the salad dressing emulsify.  You can vary the amount of mustard by how much flavor you would like the mustard to have in the dressing.

I hope y'all enjoy!!

Have a great evening,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

365 in 365 - #56 - Sweet Potato Cakes

Let's face it, sweet potatoes are the bomb!!  They make any meal wonderful and can be a great snack.  I tried this version of a potato pancake and simply LOVED it.  It has several of my favorite ingredients in it......cilantro, maple bacon and shallots.

2 large sweet potatoes, baked and slightly mashed
1/2 pound of maple bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled.
Regarding the bacon - If you are vegan or don't eat bacon, you can leave it out and the recipe will still be very good.
4 diced shallots
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes - optional

Other optional ingredients - raisins, dried cranberries, walnuts, pecans or other combinations of dried fruits and nuts.

Mix all the ingredients together and form into 2 ounce patties.  I usually mix this with a fork because I like the potato a bit on the chunky side.  Another tip - you may need to put a little oil on your hands so the cakes don't stick to you.

Heat a cast iron or heavy bottom skillet on medium.
Add about 4 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the sweet potato cakes until golden brown on each side.
Serve plain, with cranberry chipotle spread or another condiment that you like.

This recipe makes 8 to 10 cakes / patties, depending upon the size of the potatoes and how big you make them.

These are a wonderful side dish for any occasion and will also work well for a buffet or open house.  

Have a great evening,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

365 in 365 - #55 - Cranberry Chipotle Spread

I just love the taste of cranberry and chipotle.  The sweet, tart and heat combination is a wonderful thing.  I use a variation of this spread on the tamales I make every year for Thanksgiving and / or Christmas.  This is also a very nice gift in a decorative jar.  It lasts about 1 week to 10 days in the fridge and works well on turkey, chicken, burgers, ham and pork and even on biscuits.

To start, get a bag of cranberries (fresh or frozen) and make whole berry cranberry sauce according to the package directions.  While that is cooking, dice up a purple onion (does anyone know why they call them red onions?) and saute in a little vegetable oil until translucent.  

Take 1 - 3 chipotles in Adobo sauce, mince them up and add them to the cranberries, sauce and all.  You can find these in your Hispanic Foods section at the grocery.  These are pretty spicy, so start with 1 if you like something very mild.  You may also add a little more of the adobo sauce from the can.  Stir in the sauteed onion and taste for seasoning.  Let this reduce over low heat until it is thick and spreadable.  I sometimes add a little orange juice to thin it out if it gets too thick.  The flavor of orange goes so well with cranberry.  Wait until the spread has thickened and cooled a bit before adding any salt and pepper, and start with 1/4 teaspoon of each and taste.

I know you will enjoy this spread.

Have a great evening,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

365 in 365 - #54 - Individual Gingerbread Trifles

So....last nite I posted my mom's gingerbread cake recipe, which is very "kid friendly", slightly sweet and evokes memories of cool / cold weather fun.  Mmmmmm, a warm piece of cake and a cold glass of milk...total yumness!!!!!

Now, lets turn this into something a bit more elegant and "adult friendly".  A little spiced rum (Captain Morgan would be proud), whipped cream and cake....what could be wrong with that??  Think of it this way, you get the benefits of several food groups....fruit, carbohydrate, dairy, protein and vegetable (possibly the ginger, if we stretch the imagination).

Gingerbread Trifles

Gently heat 2/3 cup of spiced rum and add 1/3 cup white raisins and 1/3 cup dark raisins and bring to a very gentle simmer, cover, let simmer for 2 minutes and then turn the heat off and let the raisins sit in the rum until soft and at room temperature.  

Whip 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and slowly add 2 - 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until soft peaks form.

Cut four, 3 inch by 3 inch squares from the cake and break up the pieces into bite size chunks.  Using a parfait glass, martini glass or other favorite dessert dish, begin by placing a few pieces of gingerbread in the bottom of the glass, add about 2 tablespoons of whipped cream and sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of raisins, add more gingerbread, whipped cream and raisins in layers until the serving vessels are full.  Top with a final bit of whipped cream and sprinkle of raisins.  Serve, wearing a grand smile and a twinkle in your eye.

Oh...I almost forgot....this cake is simply splendid served warm with a little butter......butter is good served with just about everything.

I hope y'all enjoy.

From my purple kitchen to you,

Monday, April 18, 2011

365 in 365 - #53 - Gingerbread Cake

Some of the best memories I have are when my mom would bake, cuz we got to lick the spoon and mixing bowl.  I remember, as a small child, I would have a "batter smile" on my face.  My mom could bake almost anything.  She always had chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies or Russian teacakes in the house.  But, one favorite was her gingerbread.  We never had frosting or icing on it, we liked it plain with a cold glass of milk or served beside some vanilla bean ice cream......what a treat!

Mom's Gingerbread Cake

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
 ¾ cup molasses
2 ¾ cup sifted flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk 
          To sour milk, add 1 tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk and let sit for 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 350’
Combine all the dry ingredients, except for the sugar

Blend sugar, shortening and eggs, then stir in molasses.
Add the buttermilk, alternating with the dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, beat well.

Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 pan and spread the batter into the pan.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.  

I hope you enjoy!

Have a great evening,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

365 in 365 - #50, #51 & #52- Oricchietti with Truffled Salt, the Perfect Filet Mignon and Roasted Asparagus

I am on a roll this weekend.....and it feels great to be back in the kitchen.  Yesterday, I went shopping, but I didn't mention that I bought Oricchietti and salt with black truffles in it.......OH MY FLIPPIN STARS.....I just LOVE black truffles.  The very first time I experienced black truffles was when my hairdresser (Joy - her name describes her perfectly) gave me a taste of truffle scented almonds......I was hooked.

Anywho....I bought the black truffle salt to put on the pasta (Oricchietti).  I cooked a bag of the oricchietti according to the package directions.  While that was cooking, I melted 1/2 stick of butter with 1/4 cup olive oil very gently.  I drained the pasta, placed it in a large bowl, drizzled on the butter and oil, added about 1/2 teaspoon of the truffled salt and 1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper, stirred it very well and as the truffles hit the warm pasta....my kitchen was filled with an amazing aroma.  I ended up adding a touch more of the salt and it was perfection.

For the filet mignon, I simply sprinkled it with salt and pepper on all sides and placed into a heated cast iron pan with 1/3 cup of olive oil.  I seared it on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes on each side.  The filet came out beautifully browned and rare to medium rare on the inside.  These were very thick pieces of filet.

I also made roasted asparagus.  I used pencil asparagus, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and placed under the broiler for 5 - 7 minutes.

This was dinner tonite.  I hope y'all try the truffled salt, which you can get at the Grapevine Olive Oil Company, so please visit their store if you are in the vicinity or please visit web site to see all the amazing goodies that they have.

Enjoy your week and THANK YOU to everyone who visits my blog.

You are appreciated!!

365 in 365 - Recipes for Grilled Chicken, Artichokes with White Wine Tomato Sauce

Last nite I posted pics of dinner along with what I served.  My husband is till talking about dinner.  Tonite was another hit, which I will post separately.

So...the grilled chicken recipe.  I was roaming around Whole Foods and deciding what I wanted to serve for dinner.  It had been several days since I had been cooking, so I went to the meat counter first.  They had just gotten in some fresh chicken that had only been in the case for about 2 hours.  What I saw was a chicken that did not look like it was bleached.  You know how commercially raised chicken has that very white skin in the package?  Well, this ground pecking, dirt scratching, free roaming chicken had some color to it.  The skin was almost yellow and the flesh itself was a bit darker than commercially raised birds.  I immediately bought 2 of them.  I had the butcher take the back bone out and the "keel" bone that holds the breast together.  When I got home, I flattened them out on a sheet pan and separated the skin from the meat, including all the way down into the thighs and legs.  I took my left-over Mojo de Ajo (recipe # 43) and added about 4 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary from the garden, about 1 tablespoon of minced lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and mixed it up.  I took the majority of the marinade and spread it all under the skin of both chickens and let it sit covered in the fridge for about 2 hours to marinate.

In the mean time, I fired up the grill with real wood charcoal from Whole Foods.  I don't use those pressed, charcoal brickettes....they do not lend themselves to a natural flavor in your meats and veggies.  I find that there is always a chemical under taste when I use them.  I let the coals get to the stage where they are all gray and ashen looking and the heat is well developed in the grill.

I spread the remaining Mojo de Ajo with the rosemary and lemon zest all over the chicken and placed the chickens, skin side down on the grill.  I took the sheet pan, placed it over the chickens to keep them flat and then weighted the sheet pan down with a large corning ware baking dish.  I closed the grill cover and let them cook.  After about 15 minutes, I checked them to see how brown the skin was and let them cook for another 5 - 10 minutes with the skin side down.  then, I added some extra olive oil to the "bone" side of the chicken with salt and pepper, turned them over and let them cook for another 20 minutes with the grill cover closed.  When the chickens were done, I placed lemon halves on the grill and grilled them to go with the chickens.  Holey Moley - this was amazing!!!!  Th grilled lemons were simply wonderful spritzed on the chicken.  The chicken skin was cooked to perfection......dark golden brown and crispy....it actually crunched when you cut it or bit into it.

For the Artichokes, I placed 3 cups of water and 1/2 cup of olive oil in a Dutch oven and brought that to a simmer.  While I was waiting for the water and oil to come to temperature, I trimmed and snipped the leaves of the artichoke, then removed the "choke" and placed them in lemon water.  I peeled the stems and placed them in the lemon water as well.  I took some fresh ciabatta bread (about 4 slices), chunked it up and placed it in the food processor and let 'er rip to make fresh breadcrumbs (I will never purchased a can of breadcrumbs again).  I placed the breadcrumbs into a bowl and added 1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, about 1/3 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, diced the artichoke stems and added them to the bread crumbs along with 1/4 cup of olive oil and mixed.  I stuffed the cavity of the artichokes with the breadcrumb mix and place them gently into the simmering water, covered and let them cook for about 45 minutes.  I basted them occasionally with the water and as they were nearing completion, I added a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes.  Once the artichokes were done, I removed them from the pan and placed them in the serving dish covered with tin foil.  I turned up the heat on the pan with the cooking liquid and tomatoes in it and added 2 cups of a nice Pino Grigio and the remainder of the breadcrumb filling.  I know this sounds a bit odd, but it worked.  I reduced the liquid by about 1/3 and added 4 tablespoons of tomato paste and let the sauce thicken.  I served this over the artichokes......it was incredibly delicious.

The tomato salad with toasted bread is very simple.....1 package each of red and yellow grape tomatoes, sliced.  1container of pearl mozzarella, drained and dried in a few paper towels.  1/3 cup chopped fresh basil. 1/4 cup good olive oil, 2 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.  Stire it up and let it sit for about 30 minutes.  Saute` rustic Italian bread in olive oil until golden brown and serve the tomato salad on the bread.

This, my dear readers, was dinner last nite.  I know it looks like a ton of work, but I started cooking at 3:30pm and served dinner at 6:30pm.   And, I have tons of left-overs for my hubby for the week.

I would love to hear if y'all try any of these and how well you like them.

Have a great week!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

365 in 365 - # 48 & # 49- Grilled Chicken, Stuffed Artichokes and Caprese Salad

Dinner tonite was grape tomato Caprese salad on toasted rustic Italian bread, grilled whole chicken with lemon, rosemary and garlic marinade, grilled lemons and stuffed artichokes with a white wine tomato sauce.

I'll post the recipes tomorrow......until then, please feel free to feast your eyes on these photos.

Have a great night!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

365 in 365 - Catching up this weekend

Hello everyone!!!

I am trying to balance work life, home life and cooking life and am struggling a little.  But, balance will prevail.  I just came in from San Antonio this week with new recipes for publishing over the weekend, do please keep a looK out for them.  A new twist on guacamole, roasted and stuffed poblano peppers, fried rice and beans.

I think you will like the new additions....I know that I did.

Take care and I love y'all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

365 in 365 - # 47 - Chocolate Cherry Bark

One day at a previous job, a co-worker came in with some candy that she had made.  It was pretty darn good, but I had to do my thing and change it to what I thought would be outstanding.  So, I muttered and I sputtered and I mused and it came to me....change the chocolate to be darker and richer, add a bit of tartful sweetness and the slight crunch and buttery finish of pistachios....and voila!!!  This bark was born.

Susan’s Bark Without the Bite - AKA - Nutty Barking Cherry candy

1 lb extra dark chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cup pistachios, chopped

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper

Melt the chocolate and the cream in a bowl over slightly simmering water
Once melted, add the cherries and the pistachios and stir to mix

Pour the mixture out onto the parchment paper and spread evenly, the mixture should be about 1/3 inch thick.  Let cool, break into chunks and enjoy

Garnish – if desired, melt 1 cup of white chocolate with 2 tbsp cream and drizzle over the bark.  This makes a great gift at Christmas or for Valentine's Day, as a house warming gift or just because. 

And GUYS.....take note on how to impress the ladies...make this candy, put it in an elegant glass jar and you just might hit a home rune one day......such a rascal....I didn't mean THAT kind of home run!!!  

From my purple kitchen to you!!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

365 in 365 - #46 - Banana Bread

I think I have mentioned my mom's shoebox before.  This is where she kept all of her recipes and this is where I found this one.  It was tucked away in another recipe that was folded up.  I had been searching high and low for this one and am so very grateful that I was able to come across it.  

One hint about bananas - let them get really brown and freeze them in their skins.  They will keep for about 2-3 months in the freezer.  When thawing them, I let them thaw in a colander in the sink so that the liquid drips away from the bananas.

This particular recipe does not come out as a dark bread....this is light and golden in color, moist and not heavy like a brick.  Y'all know what I'm talking about....banana bread dark enough that it could be mistaken for date nut bread and so heavy, you could pave the courtyard with it.  I had some of that kind of bread recently, it tasted good, but....next time, I'll bring my banana bread and we will see how the "baker of the brick" reacts to this recipe.

Banana Bread

This banana bread was a regular treat in my house growing up.  We always had over-ripe bananas on hand.  I think my mom bought extra bananas just so that she would have enough bananas to make this wonderful bread.

My favorite way to eat this is with peanut butter……this is so good, it should be legally required as a kitchen staple in all 50 states.

1 ¾ cups sifted flour 2 eggs, well beaten
2 tsp baking powder 1/3 cup vegetable oil
¼ tsp baking soda 1 ½ cup very ripe, mashed banana
½ tsp salt Optional:  1 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup sugar                                      1 cup chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350`
Lightly grease a 9 x 5 x 4 inch loaf pan.
Sift all the dry ingredients together.
Combine the eggs, the oil and banana together.  
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.  
Stir in the walnuts and/or dates, if desired.

Pour into loaf pan and bake on middle rack for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

This loaf must be cooled completely before slicing.  If you have any left-overs, wrap and refrigerate. 

This recipe also makes 6 Texas sized muffins.  If making muffins, cut the cooking time in half, but test the muffins with a toothpick before removing from the oven.