Monday, September 12, 2011

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip and Walnut Breakfast Cookies, and Southern NY Tier Flood Relief

This past Wednesday I received a text from my brother in New York. It read, "Evacuations all over. 10,000 people in Broome County. Jen will lose her house. I couldn't get back because they evacuated my town."

On Thursday, another text from my brother, "R u watching the weather channel? This is bad."

From Jen, another text, "I was able to get all my animals and a few things. Few clothes. Not much. Dogs swam to the road behind me to the car. Water to my waist carrying the cats in carriers and the bird. I saved the things that mattered, I would die if I wasn't able to get them out."

And today from my brother, "Got 80% of jens stuff to the curb. House is a loss. 14 feet of water was in there. Foundation is cracked in 5 places. Trying to salvage only clothing and kitchen stuff. The deck i helped build is 200 yards down road leaning on someone's house. Basically every one from home depot in jc to dunkin donuts in endicott within 3 blocks of river got same damage."

Jen is my brothers best friend of 3+ years that feels like 20 ;) . In these hard economic times, my brother has been staying with her. They help each other, a lot. Now, because of the flood, he's staying with his dear friends of 27 years, Carla and Arnie. Amazing, loving friends, who are also having to pump water out of their own basement.

I love Jen.

I love Carla and Arnie.

I don't love how little this tragedy has been on the news, and how little people know what is presently going on.

So I am asking all of you to donate to the American Red Cross, Southern Tier Chapter, in an effort to help not only my family and friends, but also the thousands of people that have had to evacuate from the homes that they've loved for generations.

One thing that Jen had text me was that local news stations were stating how they had no loss of life. But there was loss... Over 100 animals perished inside of Petco, as well as family pets throughout the area. Jen is angry, and rightfully so. In her words, "Just because they are animals and don't have jobs, didn't make them less valuable to the people that Cherish them."

I'm sorry, Jen... I wish I was there to give you a hug.

I made these breakfast cookies today because they are hearty, filling, and quick to fix. If you are in a flood relief area, maybe you could make these, and distribute them to those in need of a meal. I plan on selling some and donating the funds to the Red Cross chapter in my family's area.

To Bob, Jen, Carla and Arnie, this cookie is for you...

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip and Walnut Breakfast Cookies

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
3/4 c flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large banana (I keep mine in freezer when they become over ripe,
using for recipes)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a medium bowl combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the banana well with a fork or whisk. Add the
peanut butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, and buttermilk. Mix well.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just
combined. Stir in cinnamon chips and walnuts.

With an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop out 12 equal portions
and place 2" apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or
sprayed with non-stick spray if you do not have parchment paper.

Lightly flatten tops of dough. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, or
until lightly browned.

Makes approximately 12 breakfast cookies.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mango Macadamia Bread, and old friends

"Ribbit... Frogggggy!!" Those were the first words spoken in almost 30 years when my high school "brother" and dear friend Victor, with his sweet wife Vicki, landed on my doorstep a few months back. Through the wonders of facebook, my "bro" and I were able to reconnect, and finally catch up on life again.

Victor and I met in high school, instantly clicking, able to talk about anything and everything. Having had similar, dysfunctional family backgrounds, we knew we had to be brother and sister somehow. He gave me the nick name, "Froggy", and honestly, I can't remember why. Could be that I always drew pictures of frogs :-) A sight we were, too... me at 5' and he 6'. After high school, we simply lost touch. Back in 1981, you had to rely on the written word and a home phone to keep in touch. We both moved around so much, each of us just sort of disappeared.

Victor teaching Kidlet how to play the ukelele

Victor and his wife, Vicki, now live in paradise- Hawaii- and with an amazing green thumb they grow mango's, orchids, love to smoke meats, and make lots of mango bread! They are about the neatest couple on the planet, and I love and miss them to pieces...

So when I was in the grocery store the other day and saw mango's on sale, I knew that I had to make the mango bread that Victor is always talking about. He said that he got the recipe from someone else, who said that it was actually an adapted Sam Choy recipe. All I know is that it is fabulous! My husband took almost an entire loaf to work to share with his co-workers, declaring it the best he has ever eaten!

While mine didn't rise as much as Victors does (due to testing with a knife too soon while baking, and deflating a tad), it didn't affect the flavor one bit. I could truly, and dangerously so, eat both loaves on my own- they're that good!

Here's to dear friends, and "brothers"...

Mango Macadamia Bread

2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 c sugar
2 cups peeled, diced fresh mango's
1/2 c golden raisins
1/2 c chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 c shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 9 x 5 loaf pans with non stick cooking spray, and flour the bottom only.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.

With a whisk, combine eggs, oil, and sugar. Add dry ingredients and mix. The mixture will be very thick. Fold in the mango, raisins, nuts and coconut.

Bake 45 to 60 minutes until golden brown, and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and leave in pans 15 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks. Makes 2 loaves.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recap: Taste of the Nation 2011 and Food Bloggers Great American Bake Sale

What a whirlwind weekend I had last week! Team LaDue and Crew Food Blogger Bake Sale raised nearly $1200 for Share Our Strength- that's $600 more than last year! That was in 5 hours, with just a few items sold from home the following day.

We are blessed to have an amazing location at 5th and Wine, in Old Town Scottsdale. Scott Yanni, the establishments General Manager, graciously lets us utilize part of the restaurant, as well as promoting the bake sale from within. He is not only a fabulous host, but an accomplished Sommelier as well. Why not visit and let him suggest a pairing while you enjoy unique flavor combination's? His team of employees are a stellar group, willing to help (and partake in sweets!) in any way they can.

I am so very thankful to have had an amazing team of bakers, that created such amazing and sinful treats. My glucose levels have yet to recover!

One of whom I was blessed to meet, and now call a friend, is Camber of Food Snots. Camber is a new food blogger, whose confectionery creations not only look fabulous, but taste far superior to many a restaurant dessert. One of the many she contributed to the bake sale was this Bavarian Apple Torte, pictured below. She stepped into this bake sale with an open kitchen and a larger than life heart, rocking the socks off any recipe in her path. Camber, I can't thank you enough...

My dear friend, Janet Jorgensen, owner of the fabulous Dog Hotel and Obedience Center known as Starbarks, baked over 100 quick breads... blueberry, banana, lemon poppy seed and cinnamon nut. They were simply fabulous, and a much sought after item.

Janet and I met, and go way back, in a unique manner. While I didn't understand the significance of that meeting at the time, she has come to be one of my closest friends whom I just adore. She and her husband even landscaped and donated their fabulous back yard for my little Tuscan themed wedding. Janet has a big heart and it is evident in everything she touches.

My sister in law Lesley, and my niece Lexi, created the most adorable little pies and tarts! Cherry, apple, and blueberry, they were works of art that no one wanted to eat because of how perfect they looked. In addition, they baked the most delicious array of cookies that disappeared off the sale tables quickly.

I've heard from many people that they just don't understand Twitter, a social media site of which I am a confirmed junkie. All I have to say is, "hop on"! Twitter is where I've met one of my bestie foodie friends, Renee, of the rockin' food blog, Flamingo Musings. Renee graciously donated some of her handcrafted micro batch jams, from her fabulous jam company, the Freakin' Flamingo, to our bake sale. Quite a few lucky people left our bake sale with a bit of Miami in their bags!

My friend Sharon is quite the experimental baker, and for this years sale came up with green chili tomato cookies- an unusual combination that intrigued many people. I look forward to her unusual treats every year, knowing that as soon as one sale is over, ideas come pouring into her head for the next! Sharon also worked hard, finding fabulous raffle donations as well.

As we were setting up and getting ready to open, we had a surprise guest and first buyer of the day- April Warneke, Meteorologist, mom, and all around sweet gal from 3TV. I do have to confess that I did stalk her a bit on Twitter, and bribed her with the English Toffee that I had made for the sale. Hey, a food bloggers gotta do whatever it takes for her chosen charity!

I'd also like to thank gals named Marcia, and Yuna, who was referred via Share Our Strength, who baked an incredible array of cookies and cakes- a flavor for every craving, and a blessing to our team.. Thank you ladies!

I had wonderful help in my mom and my son. Mom cashiered while my son re-stocked and recommended treats to our wonderful guests.

We had wonderful raffles provided by Harris Dental, 5th and Wine Restaurant, Rock Star Boot Camp, Starbarks Dog Hotel and Obedience Center, Freakin' Flamingo Jams, and Baker Wee. Thank you all for your generosity!

Our weekend would not have been complete without Camber and I attending Share Our Strengths Taste Of The Nation 2011 Event at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. Every year, the nation’s hottest celebrity chefs and mixologists donate their time, talent and passion across the United States and Canada, with one goal in mind: to raise the critical funds needed to end childhood hunger. The event, co-chaired by Julie Zagars and Susie Timm, was an amazing evening filled with people passionate about ending what has become a nationwide epidemic. I was honored to be able to bake and provide cookies that were attached to every guests gift bag this year, and thank Julie Zagars for the opportunity to do so.

But now that the excitement and festivities are over, let us not forget that hunger never takes a break. It isn't seasonal. It's not restricted to Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any holiday. It is a real problem affecting many children 365 days a year, 24/7.

Part of the reason I love to cook and bake is being able to share my creations and to please others. Knowing that I can actually help to feed hungry children here in Arizona (and across America), through my passions, makes the floury cloud of dust in my kitchen worth the while. But I realize not all of you enjoy it as much as I do. There are many ways you can help. Please, go to Share Our Strength and find a way you can become involved today.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

English Toffee and the 2nd Annual Food Bloggers Great American Bake Sale

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a single mom. At that point in time, I had two children (I now have 4). Life. Was. Hard. It was the late 80's, beginning 90's, and while the nation spoke of abundant living, I was trying to figure out how to stretch a $6 an hour full time wage into the next month. Rent was $450 and daycare was $100 per week. Naturally, there were other bills. Yet surprisingly, my income "exceeded the maximum allowable income for assistance."

Yeah. That's what I said.

Life has changed. I have a pantry that seems to go on forever, with the ability and passion to create a meal out of ingredients, others seem confused by. I have a dislike of fast food, and an even greater, intense, dislike of food waste. I love the creation of gourmet tastes that come from simple, wholesome, homemade ingredients. My passion is sharing food from my kitchen with others, who don't have that ability.

The Share Our Strength Organization is dedicated to children who struggle to eat day to day. They provide reliable access to healthy food for families across the nation, in your neighborhoods, via support from everyday people like you and me. They teach low income families how to select and prepare nutritious, low cost, ingredients in ways that will encourage healthy eating habits and stretch their food dollars.

One of the ways I am able to help, is by forming a team of bakers and hosting a Food Bloggers Great American Bake Sale. Food Bloggers are an amazing community of passionate people, who always seem to use their talents in the kitchen, banding together to help those in need. My team is partnering with Taste of The Nation Scottsdale 2011, an extraordinary evening of delicious dining to also benefit Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger, providing baked goods and encouraging guests to visit our bake sale the following day.

English Toffee has always been a favorite, indulgent treat of mine. It reminds me of abundant, happy, and hopeful times. It is a recipe I have made for over 20 years, given to me by a dental lab known as "Sweet Tooth", back when I was in dentistry. This will be only one of the many treats I contribute to my bake sale... will you please, save the date- Saturday, May 14th, and find one in your neighborhood? Let us all end childhood hunger in America by 2015.

English Toffee

2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp good vanilla- I use my own, homemade Bourbon Vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz dark chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Place a large sheet of aluminum foil onto a large cookie sheet. Lightly coat foil with butter. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan add butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a bubbly boil, stirring VIGOROUSLY with a flat bottom whisk. Constantly stir until a hard crack stage is reached, approximately 295F on a candy thermometer (Sugar can burn easily and rapidly, so constant stirring is essential!). Mixture will start out a pale yellow, and will be at the right temperature once a deep, golden caramel color is achieved.

Immediately pour mixture out onto prepared cookie sheet. Carefully tip pan to spread the mixture, keeping about an 1/8" to 1/4" thickness. Let mixture set about 10 minutes, then evenly sprinkle dark chocolate chips over the top. Be careful as mixture is still very hot.

Wait about 10 minutes, and then with an offset spatula, evenly spread chocolate over the top of the toffee. Immediately, evenly sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the chocolate.

Let Toffee set for about an hour, or until chocolate has hardened (or if you are desperate, such as myself, stick in the freezer for 5 minutes for an immediate craving). Once hardened, break toffee in to bite sized pieces. What are you waiting for..? Eat it already!!

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thin Mint and Irish Cream Tiramisu

Soooo... how many Girl Scouts have you mowed down just to get your box of Thin Mints? Or did you steal them off your co-workers desk? Yeah, you. You know who you are. I know how it works. I was once a Girl Scout, long ago. I won't give too much detail, but it was way back when gas was under .75 cents a gallon and the Girl Scout cookies cost about the same. I've witnessed Thin Mint induced violence.

These cookies bring back a ton of memories from simpler times. The Baileys- well- memories from more, uh, interesting times. With St. Patrick's day just around the corner, I thought I'd combine two of my favorite things into one of my favorite desserts, Tiramisu. I decided to adapt a recipe for a Chocolate Tiramisu Cake from one of my favorite cookbooks, Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard . What resulted was a rich and silky, yet undeniably "Thin Mint" Tiramisu.

While my adaptations may seem lengthy, they really take not much time at all to prepare. The components can easily be made a day ahead, and assembled just prior to serving. Depending upon your serving glass sizes, your amount of servings may vary.

I've submitted this post to "The Daily Spud" for their Paddy’s Day Food Parade! Go take an Irish peek on March 17th to see all the scrumptious Irish eats that have been rounded up!

Thin Mint and Irish Cream Tiramisu
adapted from Francois Payard

Mascarpone Mousse (recipe below)
Mint Chocolate Mascarpone Ganache (recipe below)
24 Thin Mint Cookies- divided (grated of their chocolate-use half for ganache recipe and half as a sprinkled topping)
1/4 c very strong coffee
1 TBS Irish cream (I used Baileys)
4 parfait glasses

Mix coffee and Irish cream in a small bowl. Set aside. In bottom of parfait glasses place an even layer of mascarpone mousse in each- about an inch or so (depending on glass size). Then for each glass, soak 3 cookies (which have been previously grated of their chocolate coating) in the coffee mixture until cookie is slightly soft, and place on top of the mascarpone mousse. Then place a thin layer of Mint chocolate ganache, 3 more cookies soaked in coffee, and another layer of mascarpone mousse. Top with a small dollop of chocolate ganache. Garnish each parfait with reserved grated mint chocolate. Serves 4 (depending on glass sizes, servings may vary)

Mint Chocolate Mascarpone Ganache

12 of the 24 Thin mint cookies, grated of their chocolate (to equal approximately 1/2 cup) Reserve cookies
1/2 c heavy cream
3 TBS Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 tsp Irish Cream (I used Baileys)

Heat heavy cream In a double boiler (or a bowl placed over simmering water) until hot, about 3 minutes. Add Irish cream and grated chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted. Add mascarpone, stirring till melted and well combined. Remove from heat and set aside until to cool enough to place in refrigerator,chilling until very cold. Once ganache is well chilled, beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, and resembles whipped cream.

Mascarpone Mousse

2 egg yolks (reserve whites)
1/3 c sugar, divided
2 egg whites (from previous reserve)
1 c Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 TBS Irish cream (I used Baileys)
green food coloring (if desired)

In a double boiler (or a bowl placed over simmering water) add egg yolks and half of sugar. Keep whisking until yolks change from dark yellow to a lemon yellow, and become nice and thick- approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk another 5 minutes, until mixture is cool enough to touch bowl. Once cool, blend in mascarpone cheese.

In another bowl, whisk egg whites with remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Whisk in Irish Cream. Then fold egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture until just combine. Place in refrigerator until well chilled. After mixture is well chilled, add green food coloring, if desired.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Crispy Chorizo Bites

If you're like me, you think of all these fantastic little appetizers long before the big celebrated day, Superbowl Sunday, arrives. I know, its all about the game. But if you fail to have a fantastic repertoire of football food on the big day, you may as well kiss your win goodbye.

My hubby loves having a spicy Sunday breakfast of fresh tortilla's, chorizo & eggs, so I always try to have a stash in the freezer. It's a Southwestern staple here, and it seems to keep us satisfied all the way until dinner. Many know it in it's Spanish, sausage like form, however, you can find it in its ground, Mexican form at your local grocers. If it's not available in your corner of the country, you can always by ground meat and add chorizo seasoning from the ethnic foods section of your local market yourself.

I was trying to think of something different that I could make for Superbowl Sunday, with ingredients I already had on hand, when I came up with this spicy little appetizer. I'm one of "those people", that always has cream cheese, fresh garlic, and puff pastry lying around. Seems as long as you have those, drop in guests and a 4 ingredient appy are only minutes away.

Crispy Chorizo Bites

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator
1- 8 oz package room temperature cream cheese
1 head fresh garlic, roasted , cooled
1 lb ground chorizo, mild, medium, or hot (your choice), fully pre- cooked and drained

Remove thawed puff pastry from refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll out each with rolling pin to enlarge about an inch, and remove folded seams.

Squeeze cooled garlic out of skins into softened cream cheese. Blend well, but don't worry about completely smashing chunks of garlic. Divide and spread evenly between the 2 sheets of puff pastry.

Divide and spread cooked chorizo over the garlic- cream cheese mixture. From the widest end, roll up each of the sheets of puff pastry into a long log. Slice into 1/2" pinwheels.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (easier clean up, but not necessary), and bake in a pre-heated 400F oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and flaky.

Approximately 40 Chorizo bites.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hearty Half Time Chili

In September of 1999, my dear friend, Cindy, emailed me a chili recipe that sat in my inbox forever before I finally tried it. I absolutely love chili- the chunkier, the better, in my opinion. But this one was, uh, weird.

It had Keilbasa in it.

I live in Arizona.

That is wrong.

Well, I finally got around to making it about New Years day 2000, and I have to say, much like in her email, it is my favorite ALL TIME recipe for chili. I did add some spices that weren't in her original recipe- cinnamon, dark cocoa powder, and Pasilla Ancho Chili powder- they gave it the unique depth of flavor I love.

The seasonings are approximate for my tastes, but you can always add or subtract according to yours. And the Keilbasa- I couldn't imagine it without it- it's fabulous!

Hearty Half Time Chili

recipe adapted from Cindy Geery

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork (or Italian sausage with casings removed)
1 lb Keilbasa cut into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs Pasilla Ancho Chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs dark cocoa powder
Cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
2- 28oz cans cut tomatoes (do not drain)
1- 14.5oz can plain tomato sauce
1- 28oz can kidney beans (drained)
1- 28 oz can black beans

Optional toppings:

Grated Cheddar
Chopped green onions
Sour Cream

In a large dutch oven, brown ground beef with sausage, onion, Pasilla Ancho chili, cumin and garlic.

Then add keilbasa, remaining seasonings, and tomatoes. Simmer about 10 minutes and then add beans.

Evaluate and adjust seasonings to your taste, let simmer and allow flavors to meld for about 30 minutes.

Serve topped with grated cheddar, green onion, and sour cream.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Apricot-Peach Cobbler

There's a lot of excitement going on over here- any day now will be the birth of my first granddaughter! Yup, we know it's a girl. She will be my oldest daughters first baby, and my first grandchild... I still haven't gotten used to it! As you know, cravings abound during pregnancy, and my daughter has had her share. One of these was for my apricot-peach cobbler. A long time since I've made it, I had forgotten just how incredible the house smells while it's baking!

I had come across the recipe about 20 years ago, in one of those solicitations sent in the mail to get you to purchase recipe cards. Well, I never ordered the cards, but I did save the little freebie they sent, which happened to be for this cobbler.

My sister sent me a desperate email about 10 years ago, asking for the recipe. So I emailed her back right away, sending her my adaptation of the recipe. Well, over the last 10 years or so, my written recipe card with all of it's handwritten changes, has disappeared. So I ended up having to email my sister one desperate day for her to email it back to me... I'm so glad she saved it! However, now I haven't any idea where the recipe originated from. In any case, it's one cobbler recipe you'll be sure to hang on to. Warm, sweet, bubbly, and over the top pregnancy craving delicious!

Apricot-Peach Cobbler


1 can sliced Apricots, 28 oz, in lite syrup- reserve syrup
1 can sliced Peaches, 28 oz, in lite syrup- reserve syrup
4 Tbs cornstarch
1 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 c of reserved syrup
2 Tbs butter, melted

Cobbler Crust

1 c flour
1-1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbs melted butter
2 eggs, beaten

Spray a 13x9 baking pan with non-stick spray. Add Apricots and peaches. Set aside.

In a 2 qt saucepan blend together all of the dry ingredients for the filling- cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Then add the reserved syrup and butter, then blend well with a small whisk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce to a simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes thickened and somewhat clear, about 15 minutes. Pour thickened mixture over fruit.

In a medium bowl blend together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add beaten egg and melted butter. Mix until just combined.

With a spoon, drop or drizzle the thick batter over the top of the fruit. Don't worry about how it looks because it will spread out evenly on its own.

Bake at 350 for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is completely cooked through and not runny underneath. Serve while warm and bubbly with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves approximately 8-10 people.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chickpea Salad

Well Happy New Year Y'all! It just occurred to me that I haven't hung out over here since November. I've made lots of fattening things since then. I'm also fairly certain that during this time, I've gone through 50 lbs of flour, an equal amount of sugar, and at least 30 lbs of butter. It was a tasty month or so.

I love butter.

But for those who are starting afresh and new in 2011, here's a tasty little salad I adapted from one over at . It called for canned garbanzo beans, red onion, and just a tablespoon of lemon juice. I only had green onions, dried chickpeas (I soaked overnight), and used the juice of a whole lemon instead.

In any case, it was a pretty tasty & healthy salad. A nice directional shift after climbing my slippery mountain of butter.

Chickpea Salad
adapted from

1 c dried chickpeas (soaked overnight in 2 c water)
2 green onions, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 c flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1-3 Tbs olive oil, or to taste
Juice of 1 medium lemon
kosher salt- to taste
fresh cracked pepper- to taste

After soaking the chickpeas overnight, place in a 2 qt saucepan with soaking water, and add enough additional water to cover about an inch more. Bring to a boil and then let simmer about 45 minutes, but don't allow to get mushy. Drain when done and let cool. Add remaining ingredients, and stir. Let chill before serving. Serves about 4.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Marshmallow Pops

I love this time of year. The scents are amazing. The treats that have been hiding all year long have finally come out to play!

I think just everyone loves marshmallows and chocolate. I mean, who doesn't love a s'more? But this time of year it's time for a little twist- a peppermint twist! These creamy marshmallows are dipped in dark chocolate, then topped in crunchy peppermint. They are crazy good on their own, but when you dunk them in a hot cup of coffee, amazing things happen... They are so easy, you gotta give them a try!

Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Marshmallow Pops

6 marshmallows
1 c dark chocolate candy melts
1/2 c crushed peppermints or candy canes
6 candy sticks (wood or paper)
6 red gummy candies for garnish
Foam platform, to hold pops

Place peppermint candies in a small bag. Crush with a rolling pin or a mallet until pieces are small. Set aside.

Melt candy melts in microwave. Place sticks into marshmallows, and one at a time, dip into chocolate coating evenly. Lightly tap stick on edge of bowl to remove excess chocolate. This may take a few seconds- you do not want the chocolate to drip down sides while cooling. Once excess is removed, place the sticks standing up in the foam board. You can then place in the fridge or the freezer to set quicker.

After chocolate is set, dip just the top end and edges once again into the melted chocolate, and then immediately into the crushed peppermints. Place onto the foam board once again. On the very top center of the marshmallow/ peppermint, place a small dot of chocolate. Then place a gummy candy on top.

No need to refrigerate... Just enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Creamy Appletini

Ahhh, the holidays are upon us... just a few short days and all of your favorite people will be at your door, dishes in hand, ready to share in the abundance that will grace your table. Your house is immaculate, all of the Autumn decor perfectly appointed; praises, love, and adoration of your culinary abilities is on it's way...

Bull. Don't lie. Aunt Gertrude has already pissed you off, insulting your turkey brining technique. Your brother can't seem to make an executive decision about whether he's coming or not. Your uncle wants to bring 10 of his buddies that can't even boil water, and the batteries just went out on your smoke detectors. All 8 of them. 12 feet up. Your ladder is only 4 feet tall.

It's time for your trusty one fingered wave to the world. It's time for a Creamy Appletini.

Creamy Appletini

1/4 oz chopped Hersheys cinnamon chips
1/4 oz graham cracker crumbs
1 Tbs Karo syrup, for rimming glass
1 oz spiced rum
1/4 oz whiskey
4 oz Martinelli's sparkling cider
2 oz heavy cream
crushed ice

Combine chopped cinnamon chips and graham cracker crumbs. Dip rim of a 4 oz glass into Karo syrup, coating completely. Set aside.

In an 8 oz glass, combine the rum, whiskey, sparkling cider, and heavy cream. Add some crushed ice. Stir until blended and frothy. Pour into your prepared glass. Makes 2, 4oz servings.

Ignore everybody.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Whole Wheat Pizza

I adore pizza. Not just your run of the mill, "Five for $5" deals, but rather, "real" pizza. Fresh, quality ingredients, that adorn a fabulous crust, are a must. Oh, and not the crust that you can find in the cardboard tubes at the market... I'm talking fresh, flavorful, crispy rounds of goodness that can only be had by using a tried and true recipe.

The best recipe I've ever found comes from my friend Peter, who writes the Greek Food Blog, Kalofagas. I've been a fan of Peter's blog for a few years now, and consider him the authority on all things Greek. I look no further. Every recipe I've ever tried from his repertoire has been stellar. People who know me well know that I always adapt recipes from the get go. Well, not with Peters. I know they are tried. They are true. I respect his dishes and know that no changes are necessary.

When I got the hankering for a pizza last week, and went to prepare Peters recipe for pizza dough, I found myself completely out of all purpose flour. Shock. I know... Me without flour is unheard of. It's wrong. It just doesn't happen. Hot diggity lizards though, it did! All of my recipe components already prepped, with 2 little ones I was babysitting and my own Kidlet underfoot, I was unable to jet to the store and went into a pizza panic!

It was then that I remembered my frozen stash of King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour. While it is quite pricey, I refuse to use any other brand, knowing it produces consistent, quality results every time (no, I was not paid to say that).

For the first time, I was going to adapt a recipe of Peters... Shhhhh... don't say anything...

So, with additional ingredients inspired by my own runaway imagination, and a desperate craving for a unique, taste of Fall inspired pizza, I created this whole wheat pizza, uncertain of the end result.

All I can say is, I'm glad I ran out of all purpose flour! I loved the flavor and chew that the whole wheat gave to this crust. It married perfectly with the pumpkin, and complimented the taste and aroma of the fresh sage. When drizzled generously just before serving with the best olive oil you can find, and served with a smoky glass of Chardonnay, you'll have a distinctive pizza perfect for a meal, or wonderful as an appetizer.

Roasted Pumpkin Whole Wheat Pizza
with adapted Pizza dough recipe from Peter of Kalofagas

1 recipe Pizza Dough- Use this recipe & substitute King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
1 small Sugar Pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and sliced
2 cups Ricotta Cheese
1 whole head of Garlic, roasted
2 fresh Sage Leaves, minced, and additional for topping
1/4 tsp fresh ground Nutmeg
Salt & fresh ground Pepper, to taste
12 slices of Smoked Provolone Cheese
Olive Oil, for brushing and drizzling

Preheat oven to 450F. Sprinkle pizza stone with cornmeal and place in oven.

Combine ricotta cheese, roasted garlic, minced sage, fresh nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Divide whole wheat pizza dough in half. Spread out each half, and carefully transfer to a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush dough well with olive oil. Spread 1/2 ricotta mixture onto dough. Cover with 6 slices of smoked provolone. Top with as many slices of pumpkin as you like. Lightly drizzle again with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. If desired, sprinkle with a chiffonade of fresh sage leaves. Transfer pizza from the pizza peel to your well heated pizza stone, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven.

Just before serving, drizzle again with olive oil. Makes 2 medium size pizza's.

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