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,

Friday, December 30, 2011

Simple Sauteed Mushrooms

Sauteed mushrooms, if done well, are a marvel.  Particularly button mushrooms when nicely browned.  I know that Julia Child always said, "don't crowd the mushrooms", but I have found that it doesn't matter for me.

I take a whole carton of button or crimini mushrooms that are at least 1.5 inches in diameter, slice them into 4 pieces, heat up my large non-stick skillet, add olive oil and butter, just under medium heat, let that come to a sizzle and throw in all the mushrooms, and disperse them evenly in the pan and give them a good toss to get the oil and butter on as many of them as you can.  Do not add salt yet.  Salt makes the mushrooms sweat and they won't brown as nicely.  Once you do that, the trick is to not touch them for several minutes......let them stay put, but keep an eye on them.  Then after several minutes, and ever so carefully, check one spot in the pan to see if the bottom ones have become golden brown.  If they have, then take a thin plastic spatula and flip them over, and let them sit again for several minutes.  Turning only as the need arises.  Once they are all cooked and nicely browned, then add salt and pepper to taste.  These will work wonderfully as a side dish, on burgers, in a brown gravy or on a salad.  I use these on steaks with my shiraz wine sauce and crumbled bleu cheese......complete YUMNESS!!!!!

I have found that these mushrooms come out gorgeous and golden brown.  I think that part of the reason they come out so well is because they are sliced pretty thick.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Creamsicle Cookies

As a child, my favorite treat in the world was a creamsicle.....orange sherbert wrapped around vanilla ice cream.  The thought of it still makes me giddy with delight. Unfortunately, I have not been able to eat ice cream for years, so I have to find alternative ways to enjoy my favorite flavor of summer.

3 variations on a theme:

#1 - Use my shortbread cookie recipe and bake it with only vanilla as the flavoring.  But instead of pure vanilla extract, I used vanilla bean paste.  Then, I used orange juice in the royal icing recipe along with a touch of orange food coloring to give it that "sunshine" look.  For serving the cookies the same day, I took a slice of mandarine orange and placed it in the royal icing as a juicy surprise.

#2 - Dice up candied orange rind and incorporate that into the cookie dough along with a few drops of orange extract and then make a vanilla royal icing with a piece of orange rind in the center for decoration.

#3 - Use the vanilla shortbread cookie base with candied orange rind and use a little orange food coloring in the dough to give it an more orange appearance, form it into 1 inch balls and bake.  Decorate with white royal icing and a green fondant or marzipan leaf.

These cookies are just too cute and work amazingly well for a ladies afternoon tea or a summer party.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

White Chocolate and Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

A short time ago, I blogged about the cookies that my work makes.  They are a traditional Toll House cookie with white chocolate and dried cranberries.  I decided to not make them, but rather use my shortbread recipe to my advantage.  One of the things that I noticed with my original shortbread recipe was that the texture changed depending upon which flavors I added to the dough.  For example, when I use cocoa powder, the cookies were a little too dry, so I will now only use 2 cups of flour and 1/3 cup cocoa powder.

So, I took my recipe and changed it to accommodate the white chocolate and the cranberries.  Here is what I did:

You will need:
1/3 cup dried cranberries and 1/3 cup chopped white chocolate - pulse in a food processor until broken down into very small pieces - set aside.

Then take...
2 sticks of butter at room temperature (1 cup)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.  Vanilla bean paste also works well.
1/2 teaspoon salt
...and beat these ingredients on medium until well incorporated.

Then add...
2 cups of flour and the cranberry & white chocolate to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 350' F
Form pieces of dough into one inch balls and place on an un-greased cookie sheet
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes and remove from the oven and let cool.

At this point, you can use melted white chocolate and dried cranberries as a garnish, royal icing, powdered sugar or simply leave plain.

These came out fabulous!!!

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

365 in 365 - time to 'fess up......

As y'all know, I began a challenge at the beginning of this year to post 365 recipes in 365 days.  I began the year with a great start.  As time went on, my full time job commitments increased,  I was promoted and had some staffing changes at work so I was unable to keep up the pace that I had so eagerly begun.

It is December 21st and I am too far from my original goal to reach the finish line by the 31st.  But......this does not mean that I won't keep developing recipes and writing.  I fully intend to keep plugging away at completing 365 recipes....but, with an extended deadline.

I am not disappointed that I did not reach my goal.  I am actually very happy that I have been able to accomplish as much as I have during 2011.   My accomplishments in 2011 are:

  • I created a bunch of new and original recipes 
  • I was the featured cook in the November 2011 issue of Plano Profile
  • I was able to launch a web site 
  • I received some great advice from Sara Moulton, who is a very warm, sweet and generous person
  • I continue to have lots of visitors to my blog from all over the world
Things left to do:
  • Reach the goal of 365 recipes
  • Raise enough money to publish my cook book
  • Get to baking my cookies so I can offer them for sale in 2012
  • Spend more time on my blog connecting with my followers and visitors
But, most importantly - Thank y'all so much for your visits to my blog, your patience and for following my kitchen adventures.  I appreciate each and every one of you.

I wish you many blessings this year and in the coming years.

Happy Holidays!!!
Merry Christmas!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you, 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

365 in 365 - #129 - Cilantro Lime Rice

For years, I have eaten what restaurants have called cilantro lime rice without really tasting the cilantro or the lime.  So, I decided to come up with an updated version of this recipe that allows the flavor of the lime and the cilantro to shine.

The lime is not shy in this dish and the cilantro is refreshing  Both are stars with the rice as a great base for delivery.

You will need:
6 cups of cooked rice
the zest of 1 lime
the juice of 2 limes
1/2 bunch of chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon each of salt & pepper

While the rice is still warm, stir in the ingredients.  Let sit for 15 minutes and then serve.  This also works well with brown rice, which gives a heartier feel and nutty taste.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

365 in 365 - # 128 - Maple Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

De-Vine frosting for any pumpkin cake, pumpkin bread, cupcake or cookie.  Or you can do what one of my staff members did today......she took 1/2 slice of pumpkin bread and about 1/2 cup of the frosting and sat quietly in her corner gorging on the dessert with her eyes glossed over and transported to another dimension.

For the frosting, you will need:
2 packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature.
1/2 cup real maple syrup, plus a little more...just in case
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Using a hand held mixer, blend until smooth and creamy.

Just lovely......

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,