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, January 31, 2012

Pumped up popcorn - the sweet stuff

Some of the best snacks are those that satisfy multiple sides of our personalities.  Part of me likes the sweet and part of me likes the savory.  I have discovered over the years that I like to mix sweet and savory a lot.

I will admit it....chocolate covered anything is a delight.  This list includes bacon, pretzels, potato chips and popcorn.

This is a "tip of my tiara" to chocolate bark, without so much chocolate.

Chocolate, Cherry and Toasted Almond Popcorn

This is a great treat for Valentine's day.  And gentlemen (ahem) it is so easy to make.
Makes 2 - 3 servings....or possibly only 1 serving, I'm just sayin'

6 cups popcorn, popped - your favorite brand
1 cup of chopped white chocolate - melted
1 cup of chopped dark chocolate - melted
1 cup of dried cherries - chopped
1 cup of sliced almonds - toasted

To melt the chocolate - place the chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 15 second increments, stirring after each.  Heat only until the chocolate is just warm and soft.  Chocolate burns very easily, so be patient and gentle when melting chocolate.

Spread popcorn in an even layer on parchment paper
Scatter the cherries and almonds over the popcorn
Drizzle the dark chocolate over the popcorn then drizzle the white chocolate over the popcorn

Let sit until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes, break into pieces and then simply dig in.

I hope y'all enjoy this simple and delicious treat.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pumped up Popcorn - the sweet stuff

We have a really bad batch of thunderstorms moving through our area, so I will post the sweet versions of the pumped up popcorn either later or tomorrow.  I'm going to practice safe electricity and turn off the computer.

Have a great nite everyone!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pumped up Popcorn

I was reading some friends posts on facebook and they were talking about how wonderful the smell of popcorn is.  And, I have to agree.  There is something so comforting about a hot bowl of popcorn, fresh out of the popper.  I'm not talking about the semi-popcorn-like stuff that comes out of a microwave or the gunk laden stuff from the movie theatre.....I am talking about the kind of popcorn that you cook in some oil in a large pan until the kernels start popping and sound like hail on a tin roof, then melted REAL butter is pour over the popcorn and you sprinkle with a favorite seasoning mix.  When I was a kid, it was simply butter and salt.  But as I grew older, I added black pepper and then began experimenting with other flavors.

A few of the other savory flavor combination that I have made are as follows:

  • 1 - 2 teaspoons Chipotle pepper flakes, drizzle of honey and 1/2 cup pine nuts; drizzle the honey first, sprinkle on the chipotle and the pine nuts and toss before serving.
  • Olive Oil, Chipotle, garlic and cilantro:  drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and freshly chopped cilantro.   Toss and serve.
  • Olive oil, basil and sun dried tomato - drizzle with olive oil, 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil and 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomato, toss gently and serve.
  • Olive oil, oregano, feta cheese:  drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, and toss in 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese.  If you like, you can also add 1/3 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes.
  • Garlic chips, parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper - 1/3 cup garlic chips, 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon black cracked pepper, toss gently and serve
  • Butter, truffled salt and fresh cracked black pepper - melted butter all over the popcorn, sprinkle with truffled salt and freshly cracked pepper.
This is the "adult" version of popcorn.  

Tomorrow nite, I'll post the sweeter side of the popcorn for adults.....see y'all then,

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Slightly new twist on an old favorite

Today was a rainy and cold day here in North Texas and it just felt like a great soup day.  I was in the mood for chicken tortilla soup, but didn't have everything in the house.  So, I improvised a bit and took a very basic chicken soup recipe, added chopped jalapeno and chopped cilantro and ended up with a nice "middle of the road" flavor.  Not too spicy, not to "standard".  Here is what I did:

4 quarts of chicken stock
1 package of your favorite pasta
6 boneless chicken breasts, skinned, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ribs of celery, chopped to approx. 1/4 inch
6 carrots, chopped to approx. 1/4 inch
1 large purple onion, chopped to approx. 1/4 inch
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 large jalapenos, seeded, deveined and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon each of salt & pepper

In a large soup pot, on medium heat, bring the olive oil up to temperature
Add the onion and let saute
Add the diced chicken and let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add the remainder of the diced veggies and the chicken stock and stir
Cover and let cook on low until the chicken is cooked through, approx. 30 minutes
Add the pasta, stir, cover and let the pasta cook gently, approx. 10 - 15 minutes

Check to see if the pasta is cooked and taste for seasoning.

I know that this is really simple, but the cilantro and jalapeno made a big difference in the flavor profile.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Friday, January 6, 2012

Amazing Black Beans, Black Beans & Rice and Chile Rellenos

My mom used to make the most amazing black beans in a crock pot.  She would make them about every 3 weeks and my dad, brother and I just loved them.  I still have the recipe in her original hand-writing and I have very fond memories of cooking with my mom.  I even have her old milk-glass bowl, her favorite wooden spoon, "my" Piggie cookie jar and a few other cherished items that were such a part of my childhood.  Come to think of it, I have a cast aluminum Dutch oven and several kitchen utensils that were my grandmothers, from the 1930's and 1940's.....oh my goodness!!!

Thinking about the wooden spoon.....should I admit that this spoon is about 35 years old and I still use it?

My mom passed away in 2002, but using her recipes and kitchen tools somehow makes me feel like she is somewhere close by, watching and smiling while I make her favorite recipes.

For these beans, you will need:
1 pound of black (turtle) beans
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2/3 cup of tomato paste
2 cups of tomato sauce
1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, diced

Start the crock pot on high for about 1 hour, then turn to low.  Cook for approx. 4 hours or until they are done.

If you are pressed for time, you can use canned black beans, just rinse them, add all the ingredients to a pan on the stove, and heat on low until hot.  You may need to simmer them a bit to let some of the liquid reduce, just keep an eye on them and stir occasionally.

1.  Use this version in "black beans and rice".
2.  Mix the beans with with rice, add cheese and stuff poblano peppers with the mixture and make chile rellenos.

To make the rellenos:
Heat enough oil to comfortably fry peppers in, about 350' F.
Preheat the oven to 350' F, place 8 poblanos on a cookie sheet and cook the poblano peppers in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, just enough to soften them.  Then, let them cool a bit, cut a slit down the side of the pepper, trim out some of the seed pod inside, but leave the stem intact.  Stuff with the rice, bean and cheese mixture with enough room to close the pepper and overlap the edges slightly.  Gently press the pepper around the filling and mold back into the conical shape of the pepper.  Set the peppers aside.  In a large bowl, beat 6 egg whites until soft peaks form, then add 2 yolks, one at a time and beat until incorporated.   Dip the peppers in the egg whites, coating all the way up to the stem and gently place them in the oil to fry.  Take them out when they are golden brown, serve with your choice of salsa, spicy ranchero sauce and a drizzle of  crema Mexicana.  I also serve with a nice salad with avocado, seeded diced tomato, purple onion on shredded lettuce and tortilla strips along with a spicy chipotle ranch dressing.

Your taste buds will definitely stand up and SING!!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Texas Caviar - my version

Texas caviar is simply a black eyed pea salad.  I ate it for the very first time yesterday and liked it, but y'all know me - I can't leave a recipe alone.

It just needed more......  Here is what I did:

3 cans black eyed peas, rinsed
1 can sweet corn
1 small jicama, diced to be the same size as the peas and corn
1 diced red pepper, 1 diced yellow pepper
4 scallions sliced thinly
1 small purple onion, diced and rinsed under cold water
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 poblano peppers that have been roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
Juice of 2 - 3 limes
1/2 cup really good olive oil
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and taste for seasoning.

Also, be sure to dice up an avocado and add it as a creamy and cool surprise in this salad.  I promise you that no one will be disappointed.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Decadent Dark Chocolate Pudding with Whipped Cream and Amaretto Syrup

This is the richest, darkest and most decadent chocolate pudding you will ever have, lightly topped with snow-white whipped cream and drizzled with amaretto syrup.....a little will go a very long way.

This recipe will make 6 servings

3 rounded tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces dark (70%) chocolate
1 1/2 cups each heavy cream and milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mix it all together in a sauce pan on the stove and cook on medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted and the pudding is hot and has thickened.  Cover the pudding with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to avoid forming a thick, tough skin.  Set aside.

Amaretto Syrup
While the pudding is cooking, in a separate sauce pan with high sides, pour in 1 cup of amaretto then put the pan over the heat source. Simmer until reduced to a thick syrup.  Keep an eye on this as it will tend to bubble up.  If it should bubble up, remove the pan from the heat source and let the bubble subside.  Set aside and let cool

Whipped Cream
1 cup of cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form

To Serve
Place 1/2 cup of pudding in a martini glass, top with a nice dollop of whipped cream and then drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of amaretto syrup, garnish with toasted, sliced almonds and a mint leaf.

I just served this today and it was a hit.....all I could hear at the table as everyone took their first taste was...."mmmmm"......SUCCESS!!!!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,