Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Greetings

For the last two weeks I have been on an incredible trip cruising down the Rhine River.  I will have some fun posts about a little of everything coming up. 

While I was gone, I was happy to be able to schedule some posts for you.  I wasn't, however, able to visit all of your blogs to see what exciting recipes you have created and are sharing.  Sometimes one must/is forced to take a break!  I have so many of you to visit once I recover from jet lag!

Since Halloween is around the corner, and I haven't made anything new and exciting, I thought I would revisit some recipes from last year. 


I was motivated by a recipe that was shared by Queen Bee when I made this one.  Witch's Wands were a hit last year and I have just enough time to make them again.  I am thinking I should hurry and recover from jet lag so that I can have a mini Halloween get together!


I must have had a lot of time last year because somehow, I even tried to make pumpkin cookies.  These were definitely Great Pumpkin Cookies! (Great in the sense that they flattened and spread into large cookies!)  I used the Libby Pumpkin Cookie recipe.


My daughter decided to make Creepy Deviled Eyeballs for a Halloween get together.  They were a hit and even though they were green, they really did taste great! 

Cheesecake Pops have become a favorite at our house.  We had made some for Father's Day and some for our Fourth of July celebration.  So naturally, we had to try them out for Halloween. 


They are great for any special occasion!

I hope you have some time to make some exciting dishes for Halloween.  A friend of mine just won first place for his Edible Scary Halloween Creation!  Not sure I could eat it...but it is scary...gross mostly!  I am curious how it tasted...not curious enough to actually taste it, though.



I forgot that since this is a flashback, I can participate in Flashback Fridays with Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Milky Way Malt and a Royal Mess

When I was little my mom and dad would occasionally take us to the drive in.  I remember the gals on the roller skates and how they glided up to the door of the car and attached a tray to the window.  I recall how cool I thought it was to see them skate from the window to the cars with a tray balanced on one hand.  I wanted to do that.  But what I remember most was getting to order whatever I wanted and I always wanted a chocolate malt. 

To me, chocolate malts just have a special flavor.  It was a flavor that I could never get enough of...knowing that, my mom got some some malted milk flavor so that I could put some in my milk.  Oh, how I loved it.

Recently, The Good Stuff Cookbook by Spike Mendelsohn became available.  I was intrigued by his Milky Way Malt.  Yes, I bought the cookbook because of this recipe!

My new learning is that I should not become too eager.  It was a very warm day when I decided it was the day for the Milky Way Malt.  The chocolate on the whoppers was a bit too soft and the ice cream was softening much too quickly.  On top of that the blender somehow became too loose...or it wasn't tightened to begin with...anyway, I lifted off the container and had ice cream all over everything! 

Since I had ice cream on oozing all over the place and on me too, I couldn't take a picture of the total disaster but the one below gives you an idea.  I moved the blender to the closest sink, so naturally, the floor was involved also.


I was able to save a little so that I could try to enjoy the malt.  It is hard to enjoy something after dealing with such a mess.  But, I managed!  "grin"  It actually became more of a sundae than a malt but I didn't care...I got to taste the malt...yum!


Milky Way Malt
adapted from The Good Stuff Cookbook

Yield:  4 servings

1/4 cup hot fudge sauce
1/4 cup butterscotch sauce
1 1/2 cup malt balls, reserve 1/4 cup for garnish
2 cups vanilla ice cream
Whipped Cream

Drizzle about a tablespoons of the hot fudge sauce and a tablespoon of the butterscotch sauce down the sides of an 8 ounce glass.  Turn the glass coating the inside.  Repeat with the remaining three glasses.

Place the malt balls in the blender and pulse until they are crushed but not powdery.  Or, place them in a plastic bag and smash with a mallet. Set aside 1/4 cup for garnish.

Add the ice cream to the crushed malt balls and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Pour into the prepared glasses.  Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream.  Sprinkle crushed malt balls onto the whipped cream.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


I will definitely make these again.  But, I will make certain that the blender is secured!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spinach Salad with Snappy Dressing

I have never been able to eat cooked spinach served as a vegetable.  I don't mind it in lasagna, as a souffle, in pasta...just not as a pile of green twisted stuff on my plate!  I do, however, love fresh spinach.  I enjoy a wilted spinach salad or just a fresh spinach salad.  Today is about a fresh spinach salad with a snappy dressing!  The combination of flavors in the dressing keeps me coming back for more.  I think it is the dash of Tabasco combined with vinegar and garlic.  Whatever it is, it is a hit.  I have guests who request this spinach salad and dressing.  That is a very nice compliment!

The basic spinach salad can be adjusted to meet your taste by adding or subtracting ingredients. 


Spinach Salad with Snappy Dressing
adapted from Pacific Fresh

Salad
Serves 4-6

1 bag baby spinach
8 slices lean bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
4 green onions, sliced, include both white and tender green tops
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Snappy Dressing
Yield:  1/2 cup

1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Shake well before using.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Variations:
Add sliced water chestnuts and omit mushrooms.
Use red onion instead of green onion.
Add 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese.

This is always a perfect salad with a snappy dressing!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Marbled Stuffed Potatoes

I have a weak spot for cookbooks and cooking magazines.  I also have a great love for fall!  This means that I have to pick up magazines that feature wonderful fall recipes.  It is a good thing and a bad thing.  It is good because I get to prepare wonderful comfort foods, cook with many types of squash and think about all of the baking that is just around the corner.  It is a bad thing because I have a very difficult time parting with the magazine...thus, my leaning tower of magazines.  Hopefully, there isn't anything at the bottom of the tower....heavens, I have no idea what is at the bottom of the tower!  I really must get a plan.

In the October issue of Food Network Magazine I saw a recipe for Marbled Stuffed Potatoes.  I love re-stuffed baked potatoes and this one added a sweet potato to the mix!   It couldn't get any better than that!


Marbled Stuffed Potatoes
adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2010

4 large russet potatoes
1 large sweet potato
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tbsp unsalted butter, but into pieces and softened
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Pinch of mace
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Put the russet and sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  Pierce each potato a few times with a fork and continue to bake until tender, 15-20 minutes for the sweet potato and 20-25 more minutes for the russet potatoes.  (Test them before removing them from the oven.) Let cool slightly.

Peel the sweet potato.  Transfer to a bowl and mash lightly with a fork until almost smooth.  Trim a thin slice off the top of each russet potato, cutting lengthwise.  Scoop most of the flesh into another bowl, leaving the shells intact.  Add the sour cream and butter to the bowl and mash with a fork.  Stir in the scallions, 1/2 of the cheese, mace, 1 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper to taste.  Gently fold in the sweet potato.

Brush the potato skins with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Generously fill with the marbled potato mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bacon crumbles.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.  Place the stuffed potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until the cheese melts, 25-30 minutes.

PRINTABLE RECIPE

The potatoes were delicious!  I love the addition of the sweet potato and bacon.  As the Kitchen Gnome says, anything is better with bacon!  The original recipe can be found here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tomato Avocado Salsa or Salad



I found some lovely tomatoes at Costco last week.  You know the ones, they are about the size of a fifty cent piece and have a cute little vine attached.  They are always flavorful and I have a hard time resisting a package of them.  When I rounded the corner at the end of the aisle I was facing a bag of avocados that looked spendid.  Part of them were starting to ripen and the others were still quite firm. 

When I left, I had the makings of a great salsa or salad.  Today the ingredients were going to become a salad.  I had run across another very easy recipe in Cooking Light's 5 Ingredient, 15 Minute recipe collection. 

I did vary the recipe just a smidge.  I used the tomatoes from Costco which are larger than the grape tomatoes.  I used Feta that had a garlic and herbs.  The recipe called for feta with basil and sun-dried tomato.  I used two avocados.  I actually liked not having another herb compete with the oregano. 


Tomato Avocado Salsa or Salad
adapted from Cooking Light
5 Ingredient, 15 Minute Recipes


Yield:  4-6 servings

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese with basil and sun-dried tomato (or other combination)
1 ripe peeled avocado, chopped

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir with a whisk.  Add tomato halves, cheese, and avocado; toss gently. 


Friday, October 15, 2010

Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup



I had an adventure last week.  I went to Saigon Village to the market.  I had been there before but just to tour, this time I had a list.  I was going to prepare Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup from Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook, Around My French Table.  Wondering the aisles at the Saigon Market was interesting.  I found items that I didn't know existed...I found items that I had heard of but never seen in a grocery store, and I found everything that I needed.  Well, I think I got the right items.  Sometimes there wasn't much English on the labels! 

One does not need to go to an Asian Market in order to prepare the soup.  I did because I had the time and it gave me a reason to explore!

I was so excited when the book arrive.  From the moment I opened the book I was in love.  I must admit that I can be intimidated by some French recipes.  I don't find that to be the case with these. 

Preparing the soup was easy.  The directions are clear...I am really big on clear and direct steps! I especially liked that there were directions on preparing the Chinese noodles.  (I know it should be intuitive...but....)  Dorie included information that was not to be found anywhere on the packaging. 

The directions in the cookbook did not tell the cook when to remove the cheesecloth bundle of herbs.  I chose to remove it before adding the chicken and the noodles.  The soup was delicious!  I love the flavors and on occassion I got a little piece of ginger that was like a special treat!  The family loved the soup and I know that I will be preparing it for dinner again.


I was exploring websites and learned that there is a group of cooks who are cooking their way through Around My French Table.  This sounded like fun so I am going to participate when I can and am linking to French Fridays with Dorie


If you are interested in cooking along, pick up a copy of Dorie's cookbook and join in!


 Ummm, Ummm, Good!


I am also participating in Foodie Friday.  If you get a chance, visit Michael at Designs by Gollum to see what wonderful dishes are being prepared.  Thank you, Michael, for hosting this weekly event.



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Riding the Rails


While at the lake this summer I discovered a new "sport", riding the rails which is actually known as railbiking.  Okay, I was in...what do you do?  On what?  What about the trains?  And the adventure begins...what?  No, not me.  I was the happy, intrigued photographer trying to catch the group as they cruised the rails.


First off what kind of contraption is used to ride the rails?  Well, a bicycle of course. 


Not just any bicycle, but one that has had guidewheels and an outrigger attached to it.


Who does this?  Is it popular?  Well, a group of guys spent a few days in the area riding the Oregon rails.  The trains had not been running between Coos Bay and Eugene for a few years so in my mind, no problem.  The members of this adventurous group were from multiple countries, sharing the one thing that they loved, riding the rails and seeing the countryside and wildlife that most folks never do.  They had pedaled in many countries and mentioned that they had actually taken the rails across Argentina! 

I can see this becoming a popular activity but not one without risk.  My mom always told me not to play on the train tracks.  Good advice. 


What about riding on them?  Well, it takes some research on the part of the rider. 


Are the tracks in use?  If they are in use, when does the train run? 


What happens if the schedule changes and you are surprised?


What if you forgot something and had to return to camp and find yourself on the train tressel with track repair equipment coming your direction?  Do you pedal faster?  Where do you go when there is a tunnel?  Well, getting out of the way is good advice. One can only hope that there is a place for the rider to get out of the way!



One would not want the light at the end of the tunnel to actually be a train!


And it is not...


Wow, what a way to see the countryside, the trees, lakes, rivers and wildlife. 


Wednesday rolled around quickly...it is time to share the great outdoors with one another!  Susan at A Southern Daydreamer hosts Outdoor Wednesday.  Stop by and take a look at the many outdoor acitivies.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Roasted Chili-Citrus Chicken with Mixed Olives and Potatoes


When the October Bon Appetit arrived I sat down with my booklet of flags and a pen.  I decided that I would mark those recipes of interest as I paged through.  It was a great idea.  Now, I have a magazine with tiny flags poking out the top...way too many to reasonably expect to prepare.  Hmmmm.

I needed a recipe for chicken last night.  I went directly to the magazine knowing that I must have flagged at least one chicken recipe.  I found it on page 73:  Roasted Chili-Citrus Chicken Thighs with Mixed Olives and Potatoes.  With a few adjustments and a little help from the pantry, I decided that I could do it without driving to the store.

The chicken was really flavorful and the family all gave it a thumbs up.

As mentioned, I had to make a few changes.  I sliced chicken breasts into chunks as I didn't have any thighs.  I used a mixture of russets and yams. I had to omit the orange zest and the cilantro.   I didn't cook the potatoes in water ahead of time.  I just roasted them with the chicken.

Roasted Chili-Citrus Chicken
with Mixed Olives and Potatoes
adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2010

4 medium russet potatoes
1 medium yam
3 chicken breasts, slice each breast into into four chunks
2 tbsp lime juice, divided
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp grated orange peel
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp cilantro, divided
1 tbsp coarsely choppe fresh parsley
25-30 olives (mixed colors and sizes)


Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook potatoes in large saucepan of lightly salted water until almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, place chicken thighs on large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt; drizzle with 1 tablespoon lime juice and set aside. Whisk 1 tablespoon lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, both paprikas, grated orange peel, ground cumin, dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small bowl. Rub chili mixture all over chicken. Arrange potato wedges on baking sheet, nestling around chicken. Drizzle olive oil over chicken and potatoes. Bake chicken and potatoes 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Turn chicken and potato wedges; spoon juices over. Bake 10 minutes longer. Add chicken broth, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, and chopped parsley, stirring to scrape up any chili bits at bottom of baking sheet. Turn chicken over. Bake until chicken is cooked through and beginning to brown in spots, about 10 minutes longer.

Carefully transfer chicken and potatoes to platter, keeping potatoes intact. Place baking sheet over 2 stovetop burners. Boil sauce until reduced to 1 cup, about 3 minutes. Mix in olives. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper and additional lime juice, if desired. Pour sauce over chicken and potatoes; top with remaining tablespoon cilantro and serve.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


The original recipe is here.  As I did make adjustments along the way to match the ingredients I had on hand.

You might want to visit Michael at Designs by Gollum to see what other cooks are preparing for Foodie Friday!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Who Drives?


It was my turn to drive!



You always get to drive.

We saw these dogs on two mornings when we went to breakfast.  They were adorable.


Today is Outdoor Wednesday! I am sending the two dogs over to Susan's blog.

Susan at A Southern Daydreamer is hosting Outdoor Wednesday.  Hop on over and take a look at all of the outdoor "happenings".

Monday, October 4, 2010

Almond Crescents

 

I had never heard of almond filling in a can.  Guess I don't get around much!  I have never really had a recipe that required me to try to find it, I guess.  I must admit that I love anything almond and that I did enjoy a wonderful Twice Baked Almond Croissant from Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle this summer.  I wondered how they got the wonderful creamy layer in the croissant.  Maybe with almond paste?  filling?  (Bakery Nouveau is a great place to visit.  I posted about it here.  It is worth the seventeen hour drive to Seattle!)  So, when I saw the can of Almond filling and visualized pictures of the Twice Baked Almond Croissant, it popped off the shelf and into my shopping cart!

I found the Almond Crescent recipe on the back of the label.  I decided that I had to try out that recipe and use the product before I could venture into unknown territory and attempt the croissants!  The label also listed a website featuring additional recipes for the product.  The recipe is pretty straight forward.  I was surprised that there were not any eggs in the recipe but it didn't seem to matter.  The dough must be refrigerated for four hours!  One must plan ahead when making these cookies.


Almond Crescents
adapted from Solo Foods


Yield:  about 48 cookies

Heat oven to 325° F.
Planning note: Dough must be refrigerated for at least 4 hours before baking.

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 can Solo Almond Filling
2 cups all-purpose flour
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Preparation
Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in almond extract and almond filling until blended. Stir in flour to make stiff dough. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or until dough is no longer sticky.

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Dust hands with flour. Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into small tapered crescents about 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute. Remove from baking sheets and cool on racks. Dust with confectioners sugar while cookies are still warm. Cool completely. Store in airtight containers.

PRINTABLE RECIPE


We liked the crescents.  They were light and flavorful.  I might add 1/4 tsp additional almond extract when I make them again.  They are going on my Christmas cookie list!