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,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

365 in 365 - #116 - Fruit Nachos

Sometimes, I come up with recipes in a very "round-about" way.....sort of like taking the long way around.  This recipe is one of those examples.  

One night on our vacation, Jason and I had dinner at a restaurant in Albuquerque on the side of Sandia Peak.  The restaurant served flour tortilla chips instead of the standard corn tortilla chips.  The salsa was quite spicy and I loved that.  But, it also had a sweetness to it, which I also liked.  And, I think everyone knows that I just love a fruit salsa.  Dinner came, and I had the gooiest cheese chile rellenos...they were amazing.  It was then that it hit me....flour tortilla chips, cream cheese spread instead of beans, and some kind of sweet heat to top it all off.  

Many people may know about serving room temp cream cheese with some sort of sauce poured over it with crackers for dipping.  This recipe is kind of like that, but less messy for your guests. 

You can purchase or make your own flour tortilla chips.  If you make them, heat approximately 2 inches of veggie oil to 350 - 375 degrees (F).  Cut the flour tortillas into your desired shape and fry in the oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels.  I generally stick with the 6 inch size of tortilla to make chips from and cut them into 6 wedges.  I use 2 packages with approx. 10 tortillas in the package.  

  • You will need 8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 jar of apricot jam mixed with 1 chipotle in adobo that has been finely minced (these come in cans in the Hispanic food section of the grocery store).  If you like more heat and a stronger chipotle flavor, add 1 more chipotle.  It is also an option to remove the seeds from the chipotle, if you prefer.  
  • You can substitute any jar of jam (with or without heat) and substitute any kind of nut.  My candied jalapenos also make a great topping for the cheese and no nuts are needed.  
  • 1/2 cup minced macadamia nuts, which are optional
Spread each chip with cream cheese and then spread with 2 teaspoons of the jam and sprinkle with the minced nuts.  This recipe makes a pile of chips, but be prepared for them to disappear quickly - especially during the preparation phase of this recipe.  These are addictive!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you.

Enjoy your evening,

365 in 365 - My "official" web site is now live!!!

Hi Everyone,

It's finally here, my official web site....please visit and let me know what y'all think:


I'll be looking for your comments and feed-back.

Have a fabulous weekend!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

365 in 365 - #115 - Green Chile Bread Croutons

Jason and I brought back a loaf of the most amazing bread from the Golden Crown Panaderia in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  This bread can be ordered on line and shipped, which we will be doing.  This is a bread that I will keep handy for all kinds of great meals.  At this point, we have used it for sandwiches, for french toast, for croutons and for a savory bread pudding.  My next plan is to use it as a base for stuffing....and not just for stuffing turkeys or chickens:  you'll see, it will be fun!!!

Tonite for dinner, I made a simple salad and needed croutons.  I didn't have any already made, so I decided to use a couple of slices of this wonderful bread.  I preheated the oven to 325 and cut the bread into 3/4 inch cubes, placed it in a bowl, drizzled it with garlic flavored olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and tossed it to coat all the pieces.  Poured it out onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and baked it in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally so that the bread gets nice and toasty with a great crunch.

I know that this is a very simple recipe, but it is very good.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you!!!

Have a great nite,

Monday, October 17, 2011

365 in 365 - Back from Vacation

Hello Everyone!!!

Jason and I just returned from a wonderful week in Sedona, Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We had an amazing time.  The first thing that I want to share with y'all is about the B&B that we stay at. This is our 2nd stay, and we have already planned the dates for our return trip.  The B&B is called Sedona Cathedral Hideaway (SCH).  The owners are Kathy and Larry and they are two of the most kind, warm and loving individuals that you will ever meet.  SCH is located, literally, just minutes from Cathedral Rock.  There are only 2 suites at this B&B, which creates a very personal experience for each guest.  Breakfast is an experience......the food is tremendous and there is plenty of it.  Jason and I like to eat on the deck facing cathedral Rock and watch the hummingbirds, finches, bluebirds, ravens and any other wild life that happens to come our way in the morning.  At night, you can hear the coyotes howl off and on.  Jason and I were lucky enough to be up late and out on the deck one evening and got to watch approximately 18 to 24 javalina (adults and babies) come through the yard and forage for food.  We were able to watch (from a distance) for about an hour as they ate, drank from the fountain and watched us watch them.

While we were in Sedona, we were able to meet Lisa Dahl of Dahl & Deluca,  a wonderful Italian restaurant.  She spent quite a bit of time at our table and signed her cookbook for us, "The Elixir of Life".  I plan on making Thanksgiving dinner from her book.  She even gave me some wonderful advice on cooking a turkey....this is advice I will definitely take.  The remainder of the dinner will also come from her cookbook.  Her website is:  http://livingdahl.com and is a wonderful resource.  I have to tell you about dinner....this is the most amazing Italian restaurant you will ever eat in.  The food is sensuous and seductive.  The wait staff are excellent...the maitre'd was gracious, pleasant and very helpful.  Chef Dahl was also very visible in the restaurant.  She was serving guests, rounding at tables and signing books for those who asked.  Lisa Dahl is lovely and gentle, but most importantly she is passionate about food and service and it shows.  If you ever get to Sedona, please be sure to visit this restaurant, you will not be disappointed.

A note to Chef Dahl - thank you so much for your kindness and generosity during our visit.  It was such a pleasure to meet you.  We will cherish the time that you spent with us.  We wish you continued success and happiness in all that you do.  

And, a note about turkey prep that Chef Dahl gave me - I would share this with you, but this is her method, not mine.  She mentioned that she might do a DVD on the subject, so I don't think that it would be appropriate for me to share this without her permission.  When she does publish her method for turkey preparation, I will post the link to the information for y'all.

Christmas Eve dinner will come from a cookbook by Jeff Smedstad, the chef who opened a restaurant called Elote in Sedona.  The book is titled "The ELOTE Cafe Cookbook" and contains some amazing southwest inspired recipes.  Jason and I didn't get to eat there during this trip, but we will definitely visit there the next time we are in Sedona.  I can tell you that all the reviews that we heard about Elote were stellar.  The web site for the restaurant is www.elotecafe.com and has some great information on it, including how to order the cookbook.

The next holiday New Years Eve and New Years Day.  I plan on using Jane Butel's, "Real Women Eat Chiles" cookbook for those meals.  Jane is an authority on southwestern cuisine and she offers cooking classes at her home.  My next trip to Albuquerque will most likely be planned around a cooking class.  Her website is: www.janebutel.com and is chock full of great information and resources as well.  I have subscribed to her newsletters for some time and find her recipes and products outstanding.

While we were in Albuquerque, we visited the Golden Crown Panaderia.  Their web site is: www.goldencrown.biz  The owner is Chris  Morales and he is a very warm, open man who greeted us with a huge smile and a very friendly hello.  When you drive down the street, you will need to be on the lookout for the bakery.  It is not flashy and there are no big signs with arrows pointing to it's whereabouts.  His bakery is is nestled in an old adobe and is completely charming.  When you walk up to the door, you will walk under a pergola with a few tables and chairs.  When you enter the bakery, the first thing that you notice is it's size.  It is very small with only 2 tables and a few chairs.  But...the smells are amazing when you walk thru the door.  My husband and I each had pastry and coffee for breakfast and purchased a loaf of bread.  The coffee itself was quite good, rich without any bitterness, but the pastries that we tried were de-licious!!!  Chris also gave us each a "biscochito" to sample, which melted in our mouths.   We were too early for pizza or for a sandwich, but this is one place that we will visit again.  Please visit the website and check out the "turkey bread" and be sure to give the cookies and pastries a try.
A note to Chris - thank you so much for sharing great information and resources during our visit.  It was great to meet you and we wish you continued success and happiness in all that you do.  We also wish we could be there to see you tango......"break a leg"!!!

During this trip, Jason and I visited several markets and enjoyed lots of really great food.  The long rides between Dallas, Texas and Sedona, Arizona gave me much needed time to think about ingredients, inspiration and ideas for new recipes.  As I test and perfect these new recipes, I will post them.  I can tell you that a few of them involve Native American "fry bread", black beans, blue corn and lots of spicy peppers.

In the meantime, if you have not had the opportunity to visit the desert southwest, please take a virtual tour of Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Sedona via the internet.  You might be very surprised at what you find.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, please enjoy your evening!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

365 in 365 - #114 Pumpkin Pudding

Since it is autumn (though you probably couldn't tell it here in Texas), it is pumpkin season.   I just returned from visiting my family in New Hampshire and fall is in full swing up in the North East.  I am originally from the coast of northern Massachusetts (pahkin my kah in the yahd) where the annual Topsfield Fair is held on old Route 1.  This is a scenic and lovely drive on a densely forested road.

So, in honor of this wonderful season, this is a recipe that I actually just came up with and I think you will love it.

3 cups of whole milk
1 cup of pumpkin
1/2 cup of sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoons of cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all the wet ingredients together...except for the cornstarch and water...and pour into a saucepan and heat on medium low, stirring constantly.  Mix all the dry ingredients together and add to the pan, using a wire whisk, mix well to incorporate and continue stirring constantly.  When the mixture gets hot, stir the cornstarch and water and then slowly add it to the pudding while stirring.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly until thickened.  Pour into a heat-proof bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and let it cool.

The cook gets the spoon and the pan, just to be sure that it is safe for everyone else to eat...

Serve with cinnamon whipped cream and if you are feeling particularly decadent, add some chocolate shavings over the top.

Happy autumn everyone!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,