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 12, 2014

Flour and sugar and spice, OH MY!!!!!

Good Morning Everyone,

It has been a very busy month at my house.  Preparing for my church's Christmas Pagent, Thanksgiving celebration, dinner with friends, making cuccidati for the first time with another friend (wine definitely helped), fulfilling orders for 40 dozen cookies, a butterscotch cake, 2 pumpkin cakes, 3 pumpkin breads and a dozen muffins and then getting hit with a nasty viral infection.  I would say it has been mostly productive.

Cookies that were delivered included:

  • Chocolate, cherry and chipotle
  • Creamsicle
  • Sun dried tomato, basil and pine nut
  • Maple, vanilla and pecan
  • Cranberry, orange and walnut
  • Apricot, macadamia and white chocolate
  • Chocolate, caramel and cashew

I now have orders for specialty cookies for a wedding, turtle rolls, a tropical version of cuccidati and I think I'm going to be making tamales for Christmas.

Looking forward into 2015, I think I may have convinced my husband, who is an amazing artist, to take a cake decorating class wtih me.  I can make the cakes and get them covered in fondant, and he can hand paint them.  I am also going to try my hand at "cookie art" in 2015.  I'll probably end up wtih royal icing on the ceiling, in the cat's fur and in my husband's ears.

I'll be back later today with pictures of all the cookies that I made

Saturday, November 8, 2014

One grill & 2 girls

Hi Everyone,

Today, a friend is coming over with her 2 kids and we are spending the afternoon grilling out.  Here is what we will be making:

  • Pork tenderloin, which will be used in a lovely pot of Posole`
  • Tuscan chicken
  • Southwestern turkey burgers
  • Pork chops, that will be brined in my spicy adobo mix
  • Asparagus
  • Portobello mushrooms (be sure to remove the gills)
  • Red, yellow and orange peppers
  • Poblano peppers
  • Corn on the cob
  • Purple onions, sliced thickly
And - garlic mashed potatoes made with roasted garlic and maybe a little grated Asiago cheese thrown in, just for good measure!

Then, the baking will commence......home-made blueberry muffins, pumpkin bread and gingerbread cookies with icing, ricotta pie with citron, a lovely smoked salmon tarte......and baking eggs and cooking up some bacon.  

Yes, I am preparing food for 2 weeks, for 2 people for lunches and dinner.  Once all of this is cooked, it will be packaged and some of it frozen for the following week.

I find this way of prepping food much easier with my full-time job.  I tend to work between 50 and 60 hours per week, so this saves me so much time and gives me more time with my husband on week nights.  

I hope y'all enjoy your weekend.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Holiday Cookie and Cake orders

Cookies, and cakes and breads, OH MY!!!!

I received an order for Thanksgiving from someone local for 10 dozen cookies and 2 pumpkin chiffon cakes a few days ago.  The cookies that were ordered include:
  • Chocolate, cherry and chipotle
  • Apricot, macadamia and white chocolate
  • Orange cream
  • Chocolate, caramel and cashew
  • Spicy peanut butter
The pumpkin chiffon cakes are being baked in 2 different and very fancy cake molds. 

I also received another order for 3 pumpkin breads using a bread mold that I purchased from William Sonoma that is in the shape of a pumpkin patch, which is very cool!  

I will also be doing some specialty cookies for a wedding after the first of the year.  These are dove shaped cookies, flavored with almond extract and decorated with royal icing with sliced almonds as feathers on the wings and tail.  The bride is coming over for a tasting the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  

I'll post pictures of every thing as I prepare them.

I'm so excited!!!!

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


A new twist on white bread

Hi Everyone,

It has been some time since my last post.  Lots has happened between March and now.  It will suffice to say that it has been a long road that is now well travelled and that journey has come to an end.  I am now able to refocus on my passion for cooking.

I have several new recipes to post and will begin with a simple white bread with a new flavor profile. This one includes the flavors of maple and vanilla bean.  I brought some to work for my staff and they gobbled up the entire loaf.

This bread is moist and delicious, buttery and slightly sweet.  It is great as French toast, toasted or for sandwiches.  Speaking of sandwiches, I see thinly sliced pork tenderloin wrapped in maple bacon and glazed with maple and chipotle.  Add a little swiss cheese and some cranberry chipotle spread, lightly butter the bread and grill until the cheese gets nice and melty and the bread is golden brown.....complete YUMNESS!!!!!

This makes two 5 x 7 inch loaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

For the bread:

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup maple syrup - the real stuff
1 stick of butter (not margarine), plus 4 tablespoons at room temperature for prepping the bowl that the dough will rise in and the two (5 x 7 inch) loaf pans
2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon of pure maple extract

1 slightly heaping tablespoon dry yeast
6 - 9 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Heat the water, cream, syrup and the stick of butter on low, until the butter melts and the temperature of the liquid is no more than 110 degrees F.  Add the yeast and stir, cover, set aside to proof for at least 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix 6 cups of the flour with the salt.

Add 2 cups of the flour to the liquid, along with the extracts.  Mix to combine.  Then, add the liquid into the remaining 4 cups of flour and combine.  The dough will most likely be sticky.  Add flour in 1/2 cup increments and mix well after each addition until the dough doesn't stick to the spoon.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding a sprinkling of flour as needed to keep the dough from being sticky.  Once the dough is smooth, elastic and dry to the touch, let it rest.  Prepare the bowl by buttering it, and place the dough in the bowl.  Brush the bread dough with 1 tablespoon of the butter, cover with a clean dish towel and set aside in a warm, draft free location.

Butter the loaf pans liberally.  Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a dry surface and punch it down.  Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces and form it to fit into the loaf pans and place it into the pans.  Cover with the dish towel and set aside to rise.  Once the dough has doubled in size, place on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  It will also be a beautiful golden brown.  Check the bread for doneness by tapping the bread firmly with your finger.  If it sounds hollow, it is done.

Remove the loaves from the pans and place on a towel to absorb any moisture.  Brush the top of the loaves with butter.  Let them cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing off a piece to enjoy.  Be sure to use a serrated knife to slice the bread.  Wrap the cooled loaves snugly in tin foil or clear wrap and refrigerate to keep them fresh.  These should last about a week in the fridge.  This bread also freezes well.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Monday, March 3, 2014

Someone Else's Blackberry Cobbler

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to share a picture of a cobbler that I made using someone else's recipe.  This is a blackberry cobbler made a much different way than the usual.  The biscuit dough was rolled out to approx. 1/2 inch, covered with blackberries, rolled up like a jelly roll, cut into 2 inch slices and placed in a buttered pan and baked.

First of all, I have to say right off the bat, that I added chopped crystalized ginger to the biscuit dough and sprinkled the top of the biscuits with sugar crystals.  I also added twice as many blackberries as the recipe called for, so the biscuits were "juicier".

They came out incredibly well.  So well that I am going to make them again with my original modifications.

 One of the challenges that I face is that I can't leave any recipe alone.  My husband and I tend to like bold flavors and a bit of spice in our food. so I'm always taking recipes and adding more of something to them.  Whether that is an existing ingredient or not, depends upon what I'm making.

For example, while I was making this cobbler, I decided to make a fruited butter.  I took room temperature butter, added some honey and strained blackberries (I'm not a fan of the seeds) and mixed until everything was incorporated.  I have done this with mashed strawberries, peaches and raspberries.  Each fruit butter requires adjustments to the amount of honey that is added.  I have even done this with minced candied lemon peel and lemon zest.  For a different twist, use room temperature cream cheese and honey and add your fruit to that.  Making your own is much cheaper than buying it and you can control how much fruit and sweetness that is added.  These fruited butters and cream cheese make wonderful gifts for a housewarming party or as a take home gift following a party.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,


Sunday, February 23, 2014

If I have business cards & brochures, does it really mean I am in business?

Well everyone......I finally took the plunge and ordered business cards and brochures.  My friends have been nagging me to start selling my cookies.  So, I took the first step of officially being in business and sold my first order of cookies, which consisted of 5 varieties:

  1. Spicy Peanut Butter
  2. Chocolate, Cherry & Chipotle
  3. Chocolate, Cashew & Caramel
  4. Maple, Walnut & Vanilla
  5. Creamsicle
For fun, I added a small bag of Cherry Almond Granola and my spicy Adobo seasoning blend.  As I sat in the location of my first sale, the gentleman who made the purchase dug into one of the bags of cookies and took his first bite.  I watched him intently as a smile spread across his face.  Then, he dug into another bag, and another and another until he had tried them all.  He eventually came over to where I was located and began raving about the cookies.  He was especially taken with the maple, walnut & vanilla cookies.  

He has asked me to please bring him samples for his shop so that all of his customers can try them.  He already has a bunch of my business cards, so this week, I'll be working hard at making several varieties of cookies that I will package individually and bring to his shop.

A few days after this request, I received word that my hairdresser is moving and will be having an open house.  She has asked me to please bring some treats for the "grand opening" of her new location and to please bring a bunch of business cards and brochures, which is also this weekend.

I definitely have my work cut out for me this week.  I am going to be very busy, but very happy.

The variety of cookies that I have available, in addition to the ones listed above, are:
  • Sun Dried Tomato, Basil & Pine Nut
  • White Chocolate, Apricot & Macadamia Nut
  • Dark Chocolate, Cherry & Pistachio
  • Coconut & Pineapple 
  • Cherry Pecan
  • Cherry Almond
  • Cranberry Walnut
  • Ginger & Molasses
  • Basil & Ginger
  • Cilantro & Lime
Granola flavors include:
  • Cherry Almond
  • Apricot, ginger & Macadamia Nut
  • Pineapple, Coconut & Pecan
  • Kitchen Sink (cherry, apricot, currant, almonds, pecans, cashews)
  • Maple, Blueberry & Walnut
  • Cranberry, Orange & Walnut
My next step is to figure out how to ship these goodies for out of town orders, which I already have requests for.  

I'll be posting updates much more frequently than I have been over the past several months and will keep y'all informed about how my business is going.

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