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,

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

365 in 365 - #71 - Updated - Lavender and Mint Shortbread Cookies with Royal Icing

I updated the recipe to include the new amounts for the herbs.  I will be spending some time on various flavors of shortbread cookies, as these seem to be pretty popular.

New flavor combinations will be arriving to a blog near you!!!!

Have a great evening,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

365 in 365 - # 71 Update to Recipe

The cookies were amazing last evening, but with the addition of Royal Icing, the flavors were much milder than I expected.  Taste testers agreed, so, tonite I will make another batch and ramp-up the flavor profile.  I'll let y'all know how they turn out...

Have a great evening!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

365 in 365 - #71 - Updated - Lavender and Mint Shortbread Cookies with Royal Icing

Updated the amounts of herbs and the recipe for royal icing on 5/30/2011

I was at the salon today for a mani and pedi.  When it came time for the massage, the lotion that Kim used was so completely fragrant and relaxing.  When I asked her what the scent was, she told me lavender and mint.  It was incredible....the smell actually made me want cookies.  So, I decided to try and add these herbs to a basic shortbread cookie and top them off with some royal icing.  The mint is the first thing that hits your nose when you bite into the cookie, then the subtle and slightly floral note from the lavender follows the mint and then the vanilla rounds out the lavender and mint very nicely.

These cookies came out COMPLETELY INCREDIBLE!!!!

This recipe makes 30 cookies

For the cookies
1 cup of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons of chopped fresh spearmint leaves
2 tablespoon of chopped fresh lavender
Beat until completely mixed

Then, add 2 1/4 cups flour, a pinch of salt and beat until mixed

Preheat oven to 400' F.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and flatten into discs, about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick
Place 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown

I frosted my cookies with royal icing, but you can frost them with any plain icing that you like.

Royal Icing - These amounts have been adjusted for the recipe so that not very much is left over
1 teaspoon meringue powder
1 - 1/4 cups of confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Mix the meringue powder into the powdered sugar, add 1/8 of the water and vanilla mixture to start with and beat on medium with a hand held mixer until mixed and thickened a bit fluffy.  You may or may not need the little bit of water that remains. 

Spread about 1 teaspoon of icing on each cookie and let the icing dry.  This icing will dry to a firm consistency, but will not be so hard that it will crack or crumble.  You can use a bit more if you like.  Also, using a pastry bag with a very small tip works well too.

I really do hope that y'all try these....they really are quite good.

From my purple kitchen to you!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

365 in 365 - #70 - Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

For most people that I know, this is a simple task and easily accomplished.  But for me, I have got to confess.....until a couple of years ago, I couldn't make a "pretty" or tender hard boiled egg to save my life.  They always came out rubbery with that greenish tinge around the yolk and I couldn't get the peel off without taking at east half of the egg white with the shell.  I was at the point where I was purchasing hard boiled eggs already cooked and claiming them for my own....now I ask you, how pitiful is that?

It is shameful......unless you are in a really big hurry and simply don't have time to make deviled eggs for 150 guests.  Now, with that said, there are times when convenience outweighs the need to "do it from scratch".  And...speaking of making something from "scratch".  What does that mean anyway?  Does it mean that we plowed the field, planted the seed and harvested the wheat?  Does it mean that we introduced the cows that mated, produced a calf so we can get the milk, the meat and the gelatin?  This question, and others like it, are what go through my little punkin' head every once in a while.  I know......it's rather silly.

I digress......anywho....back to the eggs......

Place your eggs gently in a pan that is about 4 inches deep.  Cover them with cold water, place the pan on the stove and turn on the burner to the lowest heat setting and cover the pan.  This will take several minutes to come up to temperature.  Please don't let the water boil......hard "boiled" eggs should be a figure of speech and not an instructional step on how to cook the darn things!!!  Once the water has come to a very light simmer - not boiling - turn the burner off and let the eggs set in the hot water for 10 minutes.  Remove from the stove and place the eggs in ice water, until you are able to handle them comfortably.

To peel them, start breaking the shells at the more rounded end cuz that is where the air pocket is.  Tap the eggs on the counter to crack the shell completely and then begin peeling from the rounded end.  If you run the cold water and peel the egg under running water, the shell will come off without a problem and you will have gorgeously smooth eggs that are perfectly cooked.

Over the weekend, I'll post a few recipes that are a little "left of center" for these eggs.  If y'all have any family favorite recipes, I would love to hear about them.  Have a wonderful weekend!!!

From my purple kitchen to you!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

365 in 365 - #69 - Omelet Quesadilla

Last nite, I came home from work in time to make dinner for my husband, and we actually ate together.  I wanted to keep dinner simple because my brain was complete mush.  The refrigerator was pretty empty, but I did manage to find a few things.

This will yield 4 to 6 servings.

10 eggs, beaten
1 medium onion, diced
2 jalapenos, minced
1/4 cup Mojo de Ajo
1 tablespoon of dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch each of salt and pepper
2 - 3 cups of shredded cheese (combination of mozzarella, cheddar and jack)

2 burrito size flour tortillas
2 tablespoons olive oil from the mojo de ajo

Preheat the oven to 400'
In an oven proof omelet pan on medium heat, place the Mojo de Ajo, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are translucent

Pour in the eggs and mix to combine.  Let the eggs "set" and then place the pan in the oven.  Cook for approx. 15 minutes and check to see if the eggs are done.  This will look a bit "puffy and will be golden brown on the top.

Brush one of the tortillas with olive oil and place oiled side down on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese and slide the omelet onto the cheese, sprinkle with with the remaining cheese, place the other tortilla on the top and brush with olive oil.  Place back into the oven for approx. 5 to 10 minutes and carefully turn over halfway through the cooking time.  Remove from the oven when golden and crispy.

Slice into wedges and serve with your choice of veggie or salad, chips and salsa or other favorite side dish.

This is also a vegetarian friendly meal and is very economical.  For all the carnivores out there, you could add chorizo, diced ham, shredded pork, fajita style beef or chicken or other favorite meats.

From my purple kitchen to you!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

365 in 365 - #68 Ruthie's Bran Muffins

OK folks......this recipe is better than any yogurt with balancing bacteria, will work within hours, and tastes very good.  They are low in fat, low in sugar and a very nice change from the bakery variety of bran muffins.  

My mom used this recipe for years and changed it to her tastes and I have modified it even further to suit my taste.  

Ruthie’s Bran Muffins

Makes 1 dozen Texas size muffins or 2 dozen regular size muffins.

6 cups of a high fiber, bran cereal 
1 quart of buttermilk
3 cups flour
3 cups grated apple sprinkled with lemon juice
1 cup of dried currants
9 tsp baking powder
3 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups sugar
6 large eggs, beaten - you can easily use egg substitute here
12 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together, except for the cereal and set aside
Mix all the wet ingredients together and pour over the cereal, stir to moisten the cereal and let sit for 15 minutes

Mix the wet and dry ingredients by folding together, add the grated apples and the dried currants and fold in.

Preheat oven to 350’
Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

These bran muffins are very moist, very filling and…ahem….very effective.

From my purple kitchen to you...

Thank you!!!!!!

I just heard from a reader who made the candied jalapenos and just loved them.

JH - THANK YOU so much for trying the recipe and sending feed-back.

Have a great evening everyone!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

365 in 365 - #67 - Mashed Potatoes with Mojo de Ajo and Hatch Green Chiles

Here is a little something special for you......simple, yet very decadent, sweet, spicy and oh so very creamy.  This recipe is a contest winner.

5 - 7 lbs red bliss potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch pieces
Cook in a pot of salted water until tender, drain and place back in the pan
Add 1 stick of real butter and 1/2 cup to 1 cup of heavy cream, depends how you like your potatoes
Using a hand held blender, beat on low until blended
Add 1 can of Hatch chopped green chiles
1/2 cup of Mojo de Ajo - mainly the garlic with only a little oil (Recipe #43 on March 14)
Salt & peper to taste

These are guaranteed to please.  Don't worry about the garlic....if everyone eats these potatoes, no one will notice your breath...!!!  ::wink, wink::


Sunday, May 8, 2011

365 in 365 - #65 & #66 - White Chocolate Pudding with Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coulis

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!!!!

To celebrate Mother's Day, I had my in-laws and my dad over for a late lunch.  And, a very Happy Mother's Day to my mom.  I know you are watching from heaven......I love you and I miss you.  

My mom would have loved this lunch.  I served tortilla crusted fried chicken with chipotle cream gravy, green chile and garlic mashed potatoes, black bean and corn salsa and the pudding for dessert.  The meal itself was delicious and I will post the chicken, gravy and mashed potato recipes later this week. 

My  mother-n-law's favorite dessert flavors are white chocolate and raspberry.  I have made white chocolate pots du creme before and they are wonderful, but a HUGE amount of work.  I wanted something that was just as wonderful, but much simpler to make.  

The pudding was complete YUMNESS....slightly sweet with the sweet/tart flavor of the raspberry coulis...such a great balance between the two flavors.   

#65 - White Chocolate Pudding
6 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 tablespoons of cold water
3 cups of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of chopped white chocolate (or white chocolate chips)
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Place the milk, cream and cornstarch in a sauce pan and heat very gently
When just warm, add the white chocolate and stir until melted
Cook on low, stirring constantly until thickened
Add the vanilla and taste for sweetness
If you like, add the sugar for a little more sweetness.

Remove from the stove and pour into a heat proof dish.  Place a piece of clear plastic wrap directly on the  pudding making sure to cover the pudding completely.  Let cool to room temperature. 

When cooled, remove the plastic wrap and serve.

This recipe makes eight, 1/2 cup servings. 

#66 - Dark Chocolate Raspberry Coulis
You can order the Dark Chocolate balsamic Vinegar from the Grapevine Olive Oil Company and can easily find them on the web.

4 ounces of seedless raspberry preserves
1 small bag frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark chocolate balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water

Place the raspberry preserves, frozen raspberries and the water in a medium saucepan.  Cover and let cook on low until heated through.  Strain through a wire mesh strainer to remove the seeds and return the liquid to the pan.
Add the sugar and cornstarch, let simmer, stirring frequently until thickened
Add the dark chocolate balsamic vinegar and stir, let simmer for 5 more minutes stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and stir.

Drizzle some of this over the white chocolate pudding and you will have heaven in a bowl.

I would love to hear from anyone who gives this a try.

Have a great evening,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

365 in 365 - Candied jalapenos

I am sitting here looking at a pile of jalapenos and know that they are destined for a long swim in a vat of simple syrup with a variety of spices.  But all I can think of is....what should I do with them next??

Add them to cornbread?  Nope, done that!!
Make a really spicy jam / jelly?  Nope, done that!!
What other flavors can I add to them?  Thinking about this one......
New twist on traditional queso fundito?  Maybe, maybe not......

Do y'all have any ideas or challenges?

What is a spicy red-head to do????  

Have a great nite,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

365 in 365 - #63 & #64 - Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

In celebration of this wonderful holiday, I made sour cream chicken enchiladas today for the first time.  They are gorgeous, even if I must say so myself.

I have been researching sour cream enchilada recipes and none of them were as flavorful as I would have liked.  So, I decided to come up with one of my own.

This recipe makes 28, six inch enchiladas

#63 - For the enchiladas:
2 rotisserie chickens, meat taken off the bone and shredded
1 large onion sauteed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, pepper, cumin and dried oregano.
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 can of Hatch green chili sauce
1 can of diced Hatch green chiles
3/4 cup each of shredded Monterrey Jack and shredded Mozzarella cheese mixed together
Mix all ingredients together and set aside

#64 - For the sour cream sauce:
Cook the sauce in the same pan that you cooked the onions in to pick up the flavors left in the pan
1 stick of butter melted with 1/2 cup of flour to make a roux...don't let this get brown.
Slowly add 3 cans of chicken stock and simmer until thickened, stirring constantly
Add 1 can of hatch diced green chiles, stir
Let cool, then add 1 quart of sour cream and whisk to combine

Assembling the enchiladas:
You will need another 1 1/2 cups each of shredded Monterrey Jack and shredded Mozzarella cheese mixed together
Warm the tortillas in batches of 6 to 8 in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds and be sure to cover them with a damp paper towel while warming.

Using a glass baking dish (13 x 9), place enough of the sour cream sauce in the baking dish to cover the bottom.  Each pan will hold 8 to 10 enchiladas.
Place 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture in the tortilla, roll like a cigar and place seam side down in the baking vessel.  Make only one layer of enchiladas.
Once the pan is filled, cover the enchiladas with sour cream sauce, sprinkle on the cheese and add sliced black olives, if you like.

Bake at 370` on the middle rack of the oven until golden and bubbly.

From my purple Mexican inspired kitchen to you.