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,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

365 in 365 - #97 - Sandwich Pockets

As I was thinking about how I might crimp the edges of pie dough for a new pie recipe, I realized that I may never have to purchase those ready-made sandwich pockets again.  

I know....thinking about what to do with pie crust may be a little too focused on the details for some...alright - for most...but I have gotten pretty creative with the edges for pie crust in the past.  As we approach the holiday season, I'll share tips, tricks and pictures for several simply stunning pie crust variations that I have used over the years.  Some of the level of detail may require a little bit of the "left of center" attitude, but then again, what are spicy & bold redheads for?

So, off I went to the kitchen to give this little idea a try.  Take 2 slices of your favorite fresh bread, at room temperature, and trim off the crust.  You can cut the bread diagonally, which will give you nice little triangles or you can use a biscuit cutter or your favorite glass (thanks to generations before us for that idea) and make rounds.

Place enough filling in the center of one piece of the bread and leave about 1/2 inch bare all the way around the edge.  Cover  the filling with the other piece of bread and use a fork to press the edges together, just like you would a traditional pie crust.  You can eat it just as it is, or depending upon the filling, bake it in the oven or brown it in a pan with a little butter or oil.

This might be a great way to let kids be creative in the kitchen.  I'm thinking different kinds of breads for top and bottom, making "sweetwhiches" with peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and M&Ms or strawberry jam with Nutella (which I just LOVE!!!!).

A slightly modified version of smores.....Nutella, crushed graham cracker pieces and marshmallow fluff for the filling.

OH MY GOODNESS.....just think of the fun for Halloween.......dark pumpernickel bread, peanut butter & jelly with gummy worms sticking out of the seams........this just brings a huge smile to my face thinking about the gooey and ghoulish possibilities.

From my purple kitchen to you!!!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

365 in 365 - #92 - Pozole

I learned about Pozole from the woman who owns my favorite jewelry store (Castle Gap Jewelry in Dallas).  Maxine is one of the most spunky "little old ladies" that I know.   She has a heart that is 100 time her size.  She is sweet, funny and kind...but she is also full of the dickens and I love to spend time visiting her and her family.  

One year, I brought her a few of my turkey, cranberry and chipotle tamales for Thanksgiving and we got to talking about cooking, spicy foods and traveling.  She asked me about pozole, which I was familiar with, but had not really played with any recipes.  Maxine asked if I would make some, but instead of using chicken, she asked if I would use pork instead.....I did, and the following is the result of that adventure.

Sweet Sue's Pozole

4 quarts chicken stock
3 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed and roasted for 25 minutes at 350', then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
2 large cans hominy, drained and rinsed
1 – 15 ounce jar of "medium" or "hot" salsa verde
1 large onion, diced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Mexican Crema – this is a softer and smoother version of sour cream

Heat 4 tbsp olive oil in a large pan
Add the onion and sauté until translucent
Add the chicken stock, salsa verde and cumin and bring to a slow simmer, being very careful to not boil
Add the pork and hominy and stir 
Cook for an additional 15 minutes until heated through.

Garnish with a drizzle of crema Mexicana and enjoy.

Ladies and gents......this is VERY good!!!


365 in 365 - #91 - Vintage Pumpkin Bread

This bread was a staple in my home growing up.  My mother baked this beginning every fall right through the winter.  Since we lived in New England, just north of Boston, fall always came in September.  The beginning of school marked the official fall season.  Indian Summer also brought warm days, cool nights and the promise of wonderful smells and tastes.

This is a very thick batter and is best mixed with a large spoon and strong arm or with a heavy duty mixer.  

If you make this as a single recipe, it makes 1 ½ loaves of bread in a regular size loaf pan or 6 Texas size muffins.  Please don’t try to fit all the batter into one regular loaf pan, the center will come out gooey and uncooked and the top and edges will be burned.  

If you double this recipe, it makes 3 regular size loaves.  This freezes wonderfully and is delicious served with cream cheese.  It also makes a great gift for friends, teachers, co-workers and for that wonderful holiday open house.

Begin by lining the bottom of your baking pans / tins with waxed paper or parchment paper cut to fit.  Spray the baking vessels with cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 350` and use the center rack.

Now, for the best Pumpkin Bread you will ever taste……

2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour          1 – 15 oz can of pumpkin
2 cups of sugar 1 /2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients together.  

Mix the pumpkin & oil together

Place the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients and fold in the dry ingredients.  Divide evenly among the baking vessels.  

Bake the muffins at 350 for approx. 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Bake the breads for approx 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This recipe is always a favorite.

365 in 365 - #90 - Turtle Rolls

Prior to January 1st, when I decided to do this challenge (where was my medication?), I posted a number of family favorite and original recipes that did not get posted as part of the challenge.  So, right or wrong, I decided to include them.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so to Ree Drummond at www.PioneerWoman.com....thank you for the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had.  

I will warn you now...these rolls are very rich and oh so decadent.

What I did to make the Turtle Rolls:

The most important thing is to plan ahead.  Make the dough and the caramel the day before you want to serve the rolls. 

First things first.....get 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, take the labels off, place them in a heavy bottom pan that is deep enough to be able to cover the cans with approx. 3 - 4 inches of water, place on the stove on low to very low with the cover slightly ajar so that steam will escape.  Let the water come to a light simmer...PLEASE  DO NOT LET THE WATER BOIL...and cook on a low to very low heat for 3 hours.  Please be sure that the cans stay covered with water the entire time that they are simmering.  Yes folks, cook the unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk in this manner.  No, I am not nuts....this is a trick that I learned from a little old Mexican woman.  After the allotted 3 hours, take the cans out of the water and let them cool down to room temperature.  Once they have cooled, you may open them by taking the lid all the way off.  What you will have is the best caramel on the planet. 

Make 1/2 of the cinnamon bun dough recipe from Ree Drummond and put it in the fridge after you add the last cup of flour with the baking powder and baking soda.

About 90 minutes before serving the rolls, chop 4 - 6 cups of cashews and toast them lightly.   The amount of cashews used depends upon how many you happen to like in a pastry. 

Preheat the oven to 350' and roll the dough out as instructed in the Pioneer Woman's recipe.
Spread the dough with a nice layer of caramel (you will use all the caramel except for what you sample), sprinkle the chopped nuts over the caramel and press lightly into the caramel, roll the dough like you would for the cinnamon buns, slice into 12 pieces and place in a greased 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan.  Bake approx. 30 to 45 minutes until the tops are browned nicely and the caramel is bubbly.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the chocolate sauce:
1 cup of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup chopped dark (or milk) chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup strong coffee
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Gently heat the milk, cream, butter, sugar and coffee in a sauce pan.
Add the cocoa powder and stir until dissolved.
Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate and vanilla, stir until the chocolate is melted.  If you like a thicker chocolate sauce, add chopped chocolate by the 1/4 cup until you get to the consistency that you like.  This sauce should be the consistency of a nice ganache at room temperature.  Drizzle the chocolate over the rolls and serve.

I know that you will enjoy these rolls....everyone who has tried them simply loves them.

And another HUGE thank you to Ree Drummond...I can hardly wait for your show on Food Network!!

From my purple kitchen to you!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

365 in 365 - #89 - Easy Egg Cups

Every once in a while, I like to use custard cups to cook eggs in.  The size is perfect for english muffins and, as a stand-alone egg,  they make a great presentation on a plate.  I also make a mini version of "omelets" using this method.  This also works very well if you are trying to cook for a crowd or want to cook ahead for the week.

If you cook these ahead and warm them in the microwave, when reheating, dampen a paper towel with water and heat only on the defrost setting or on half power checking every 30 seconds to see if the eggs are warm.  This gentle heating method keeps the eggs from becoming rubbery.

For use with English Muffins, I cook 1 egg per custard cup.  For serving as a stand alone egg, I typically use 2 - 3 eggs per person.  You can leave them whole or scramble them.

Heat a kettle of water, but not to boiling.
Spray your custard cups well with your favorite cooking spray and place in a large skillet that has a cover.
Add the eggs to the custard cups and fill the pan with the hot water until the water comes about half-way up the sides of the custard cups.
Cover the pan with the lid slightly ajar and cook on the lowest heat setting on your burner.
Cooking the eggs will be very slow and the eggs will come out tender and luscious.
Please don't let the water boil, the eggs will come out tough and rubbery.  The eggs are done when the center becomes a soft solid.

You can beat the eggs and add any ingredients and cook them in this manner as well.  I love to use home-made turkey sausage, bacon, sauteed onions, peppers, jalapenos, cheese, or any other favorite omelet fillings and mix them right into the egg and cook.

Another favorite is to take the Canadian Pancake recipe and cook in this manner......but only fill the custard cups 2/3 full.

I would love to hear from you if you give this method a try.

From my purple kitchen to you!!!


365 in 365 - #88 - Rice Pudding

As a kid, rice pudding and tapioca pudding were among my favorites.  I still love them both.  Pudding brings back such warm, wonderful memories for me.  It was one of those comfort foods that we always got when we were sick.  Growing up, mom made everything from "scratch".  Out house was always filed with cookies, fudge, pumpkin cake or pumpkin bread, banana nut bread, date bread or whoopie pies....now there is a recipe that I have got to share with y'all.

The rice pudding that I make is based upon my mom's recipe, but I added a little more of this and a little more of that and don't add raisins.  I'm not a huge fan of raisins in pudding, even in rice pudding.  I know, they are a "classic" ingredient, but they are so big.....I might consider adding currants plumped up in warm spiced rum or warm brandy....now there is a thought...spiced rum.....hmmmmm!!!!!

1 & 1/2 cups cooked long grain white rice
3 cups whole milk and 1 cup of heavy cream
4 large eggs, beaten
8 teaspoons corn starch
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

In a large pot, combine the milk, cream, corn starch, salt and sugar and heat gently until steam starts to rise, stirring constantly.  Add some of the milk mixture 9about 1/2 cup to the eggs and stir to bring them up to temperature.  While stirring, very slowly add the eggs to the milk and cream mixture.  Once all are incorporated, add the rice and stir.  Sprinkle on the spices and stir to incorporate.  Cook until thickened and remove from heat source.  The last ingredient to add is the vanilla bean paste or vanilla and stir to incorporate.

You can substitute skim milk and liquid egg substitute in this recipe and it works very well.

I hope y'all enjoy!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

365 in 365 - #87 - Ruthie's 50 Cent Fudge

This is another recipe that is still in my mother's original handwriting.  My mom had a very old recipe for fudge that used butterscotch pudding mix.  When I was growing up, she made this constantly because she could not keep the container full.  This was my dad's and brother's favorite candy.

This recipe calls for margarine.  Do not substitute butter, for some reason, butter does not work in this recipe.

2 packages of butterscotch pudding mix, the kind that has to be cooked.
1/2 cup milk
1 stick margarine, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pound of confectioners sugar
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan

Mix the butter, milk and salt together and heat until the butter melts.
Whisk in the pudding mix and cook for 1- 3 minutes stirring constantly
Add the vanilla and the confectioners sugar and stir until combined.
Pour into the prepared pan, even out the mixture and chill

Cut into 1" squares and enjoy!!

Have a great evening!!!

365 in 365 - #86 - White & Sweet Potato Salad

When I first started this blog, I spoke about my mom and her shoebox full of recipes.  After my mom passed away from a long battle with cancer, I brought home her shoebox full of recipes.   Over the years, the recipes have been well used....stained and smeared from multiple uses.  Many of the handwritten recipes had to be typed before they became unreadable, but several of the originals remain.  The cardboard shoebox finally fell apart after many years.

One of the recipes that I still have in my mom's handwriting is this potato salad recipe.  I think you will find it easy and very tasty.

1 1/2 pounds of red potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cooked, but still firm and cubed
1 cup chopped purple cabbage
1/2 teaspoon each Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

Toss together the potatoes, cabbage, salt & pepper
Mix the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and relish together and add to the potatoes and cabbage
Toss gently, and place in the fridge to chill.

This is a great side dish for a hot summer day.  Please remember to keep the salad cold or refrigerated due to the mayonnaise in the dressing.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Have a great evening!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

365 in 365 - #85 - Spinach with Mushrooms, Sweet Onion and Swiss Cheese

Years ago, I came up with a recipe for a low-cal vegetarian sandwich that became a huge hit with friends and family.  My friend Mary and I used to eat this, warmed, in pita pockets for lunch.  I think we lived on this meal for an entire summer one year.

1 pound of baby spinach leaves
8 ounces of sliced mushrooms, sauteed until browned
1 small onion, chopped and sauteed until caramelized
4 thick slices of Swiss cheese, cut into cubes
1/3 cup low calorie Italian salad dressing

Mix all the cooked veggies, cheese and salad dressing together
Place 1/2 cup or more, if you like, in a small pita bread and warm gently in a pan or sandwich grill.

This recipe will make about 4-6 servings, depending upon how much you like in your sandwich.

Variations with the filling:

  • Use phyllo dough to make little packages stuffed with this mixture.  Very reminiscent of Spanikopita.
  • Make a vegetable pie with this filling (traditional pie dough on the top and bottom)
  • Use puff pastry dough and make your own version of "hot pockets"
  • Use mini-tartlet shells for a one bite appetizer
  • Grease a standard glass pie plate, mix together 2 cups of milk, 3 eggs and 1/2 cup of biscuit mix and pour over the filling and bake until set for a "crustless" quiche.  

Other items that you can add / change:
  • Change the dressing
  • Roasted jalapenos
  • Diced bacon, ham, chicken or turkey
Use your imagination and add flavors and textures that you enjoy.  There are no limits on what you can do with this.  

From my purple kitchen to you.

Enjoy your evening!!!

365 in 365 - #84-Roasted Veggie Pita Pockets

One of the food items that I have rediscovered is the Pita Pocket.  When these are slightly warm, they are delicious.  Over the weekend, I grilled several vegetables (portobello mushrooms, scallions, onions, asparagus) and I oven roasted carrots and Roma tomatoes.  Each of the veggies was drizzled with olive oil and then sprinkled with salt & pepper.

As I was looking at the veggies, it seemed that chopping them up and making a salad out of them might be a really good idea.  I used 1/2 cup of the chopped mixed veggies, a tablespoon of Italian salad dressing and 1 tablespoon of shredded parmesan cheese, mixed it all up, placed it in the pita and heated in a grill pan, heating on both sides until the veggies were warmed through and the cheese was slightly melted.

This turned out to be very tasty and a great way to serve up the veggies.  The sandwich was light, yet filling.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Culinary adventures on a Sunday - Tomato is the veggie of the day

Today is a great day for cooking.  Jason is working on a painting and I am in the kitchen cooking up a storm.  Right now, there are roma tomatoes in the oven roasting for roasted tomato basil soup.  This soup is one that Ina Garten demonstrated on her show several years back.  I just love it.  There is no cream or milk in the soup but it is very rich and satisfying.  It is purely vegetables with a little chicken stock in it.  For those who don't eat meat, a roasted vegetable stock works very nicely as the base.

I serve this with grilled cheese sandwiches.  For the grilled cheese, I use a combination of pepperjack, cheddar and asiago.  This combination of cheese is incredible....sharp, smooth, nutty and spicy...all in one bite.

I am also making Giada DeLaurentis' sun dried tomato jam.  Instead of the water, I use a nice Pino Grigio and use half of the red vinegar that the recipe calls for.  I also add extra diced sun dried tomatoes that are not packed in olive oil.  I make crostini from ciabatta bread, rub it with a garlic clove, spread goat cheese on the top and then put the jam on top of that......complete YUMNESS.

Tomorrow, it is grilled veggies, roasted carrots, beef burgers, frankfurters, ice cold honey beer, Margaritas, lime shortbread cookies, apple pie and vanilla ice cream.  Jason will be eating like a king for the rest of the week.

I just remembered......I froze left over polenta that I made last week.....I bet the veggies will be amazing served with the polenta.

Let me know what y'all are cooking in the kitchen this weekend.

Have a wonderful evening!!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day activities

It looks like this weekend is shaping up to be a rather nice one.  Sunny and hot in Texas.

I have already filled the larder with food, will get the grill going and will also be baking this weekend.  Jason has been asking for the lime shortbread cookies, so I will be making a double batch just for him.

We are also going out to dinner with my in-laws tomorrow evening and I am looking forward to spending some time with them and enjoying some Chicago style deep dish pizza.

And then, there are the fireworks.....I just love fireworks.....pop, pop, pop, BANG......oooooo, ahhhh!!!!!

Enjoy your weekend everyone and please be safe!!