30 September 2009

Cheeky Quote Day over at The Social Poets 30 Sept 2009



This lampshade chef had a very long day at the hotel kitchen... - Photo by Tracy Hunter @ Flickr

From Denny: Had some fun today and put up a post chock full of funny cooking quotes! When it comes to cooking there are a variety of opinions. Here's a "chef's table" sampling of the cheeky quote menu:

* In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport. - Julia Child

* Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

* The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found. - Calvin Trillin

* When men reach their sixties and retire, they go to pieces. Women go right on cooking. - Gail Sheehy

* Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. - G. K. Chesterson (1874-1936)

* Recipe For Chili: Put a pot of chili on the stove to simmer. Let it simmer. Meanwhile, broil a good steak. Eat the steak. Let the chili simmer. Ignore it. - Allan Shivers, former governor of Texas

* I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead - not sick, not wounded - dead. - Woody Allen

* Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat. - Alex Levine

* In Mexico we have a word for sushi: bait. - Jose Simon

For more of Cheeky Quote Day, go here! :)

29 September 2009

Video and Recipe: Whole-wheat creamy fettuccine with chicken sausage, olives and rabe

From Denny: This looked really great! As a pasta lover, I've never quite adjusted to whole wheat noodles. However, one of the toppings that tastes good with the heavier more flavorful whole wheat noodles is anything with spicy tastes like sausage or olives and this recipe has both.

This is a healthy version made with chicken sausage and lots of yummy garlic. Any time you add greens you are addings lots of minerals like calcium to your diet. She's using milk instead of heavy cream like so many fettacine dishes. Whew! Tastes good and fewer calories, works for me. This is a great easy and quick dish for busy parents at the end of a busy work day!




Whole-wheat creamy fettuccine with sausage, olives and rabe

From: Chef Cat Cora

Serves: 4-6

INGREDIENTS

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 pound fennel or hot light Italian turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices

• 2 tablespoons minced garlic

• 1 pound fresh whole-wheat fettuccine

• 1/2 pound broccoli rabe, cleaned and rough chopped

• 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted (about 1/4 pound)

• 1/4 cup milk

• 1 teaspoon pepperoncini or chili flakes

• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

• Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Put water on to boil in a large pot or a pasta pot, fitted with a strainer.

Pour the olive oil into a skillet and set over medium heat. Cook the sausage slices just until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Toss the minced garlic into the skillet and cook just until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. If the water in the pot is boiling, add the fresh pasta to the pot. Cook until al dente, about 5 minutes.

Now add the olives to the skillet. Saute 1 minute, then stir in the milk. Strain the pasta and transfer to a large pasta bowl. Add the olives to the pasta and toss. Season with oregano, pepperoncini, salt and pepper before serving.

28 September 2009

Video and Recipe: Paula Deen’s cheeseburger casserole for kids

From Denny: Always fun to cook with kids and cook dishes kids will like! Paula Deen is the ultimate indulgent grandmother who can cook. Take a look.




Cheeseburger casserole

From: "Paula Deen's Cookbook for the Lunch-Box Set"


INGREDIENTS

• 1 pound ground beef
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 green pepper, chopped
• One 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 8 ounces wide egg noodles
• Cooking spray
• 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese

all of the pink is gone from the meat. Get an adult to help you drain off the fat.

Add the onion and green pepper, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, with juice, and the Worcestershire sauce, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low. Simmer the mixture for about 15 minutes.

Fill the medium pot halfway full of water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring the water to a boil. Stir in the noodles and boil for about 8 minutes, until tender. Get an adult to help you drain the noodles. Return the noodles to the pot. Pour the tomato mixture over the noodles, and stir until blended.

Put the noodle mixture in the baking dish that you have sprayed with cooking spray. Top with cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Enjoy it as a family meal, then refrigerate the leftovers.

27 September 2009

Music Video: Thats What Love is About, Band from Utah

From Denny: Friend Mystic Dave - all the way across the country out in Utah - filmed a favorite band singing a really mellow song to end your day on a good note - That's What Love is About. For more of his music and video choices, go here.

25 September 2009

3 Easy Pork Chop Recipes: Italian Grilled, Autumn Glazed, Stuffed with Beer Glazed Onions



From Denny: Down South we love to grill and cook meat dishes with beer! It's become so popular nationwide that even the meat producers have polished some great recipes for us to enjoy.

The first recipe is ridiculously simple and quick to prepare. All you do is marinate with Italian dressing and fresh herbs of your choice and grill.

Since pork is coming into season this fall making it easier on the budget, now is the time to try your hand at something new! This second recipe is perfect for a Sunday dinner with family or for the holidays if you don't feel like cooking a large turkey because there are just the two of you. The pairing of cranberries and orange juice with pork is always a winner taste combination. I'll even throw in a small amount of garlic to counterbalance that tart and citrus taste though this recipe does not call for it.

The third recipe is a real show stopper! It's an OMG on the calorie meter but worth it because it combines the melting of fontina cheese, hickory-smoked bacon and onions sauteed until soft and sweet in a flavorful beer. This kind of "stuffing" helps to keep lean pork moist during the cooking process.

Pork is such a versatile and easy meat to cook for great flavor that can be short on time in this time conscious world. Also included are a few tips and suggestions about preparation and cooking.

Bon Appetit and Happy Grilling!

Herbed Pork Chops

From: Pork Information Bureau

Yield: 4

Ingredients:

4 (3/4-inch thick) pork chops

1 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing

2 tbls. chopped fresh herbs (chives, basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary — any combination)

Directions:

1. Place chops into a resealable plastic bag. Add dressing and herbs; seal and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours.

2. Remove chops from marinade; discard marinade.

3. Grill chops over medium-high heat (or broil 4 inches from heat) for 8 to 10 minutes, turning once.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 170 calories, 6 grams fat, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 360 milligrams sodium and 1 gram carbohydrates.



Autumn Glazed Pork Chops

From: TheOtherWhiteMeat

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 boneless pork chops, 3/4-inch thick

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Salt, optional

1/4 cup apple cider or juice

1/2 cup whole-cranberry sauce

2 tbls. honey

2 tbls. frozen orange juice concentrate

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions:

1. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of chops with pepper and salt, if desired. Brown chops on each side in hot skillet. Add apple cider or juice. Cover tightly; cook over low heat for 5 or 6 minutes or until chops are just done. Drain off juices.

2. In a small bowl, combine cranberry sauce, honey, orange juice concentrate, ginger and nutmeg. Pour over chops. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes or until heated through.

***

Stuffed Pork Chops With Beer-Glazed Onions

From: National Pork Board

Yield: 4. “A simple, but flavorful stuffing is a great way to keep chops ultra moist and flavorful while grilling. This stuffing delivers an intense trio of tastes by combining sautéed bacon, fontina cheese and meltingly tender beer-glazed onions.”

Ingredients:
Beer-Glazed Onions

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)

1 tbl. oil

1 tbl. brown sugar

1/3 cup beer (OR white wine if you prefer)

Directions:

In medium skillet, cook and stir onion in oil until onion is translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in brown sugar; cook for 2 minutes to caramelize. Stir in beer; simmer for 5 minutes or until there is no liquid. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

For pork chops:

4 slices hickory-smoked or peppered bacon

4 ozs. fontina or white Cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)

4 bone-in rib pork chops (1-1/2 inches thick)

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Cook bacon in skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels; crumble and add to Beer-Glazed Onions mixture. Stir in cheese; set aside.

2. Prepare pork chops for stuffing by inserting sharp paring or boning knife through side of each chop until tip touches bone. Carefully cut opening to width of about 1 inch. Swing knife tip through chop to create pocket, being careful not to widen opening. Turn knife and swing blade in opposite direction to make finished pocket as large as possible.

3. Divide Beer-Glazed Onions mixture among 4 chops (about 1/4 cup stuffing for each.) Carefully stuff the mixture into the center of each chop. Season both sides of chop with salt and pepper.

4. Preheat grill to 400 to 450 degrees. Spray chops lightly with nonstick cooking spray; place over hot grill. Cover and cook for 8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees using an instant-read thermometer. Remove from grill; cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Useful tips about pork:

■ A spicy mustard, honey and vinegar mixture makes a wonderful marinade or sauce for pork chops.

■ Baste with thick sweet sauce only 5 to 10 minutes before chops are done. This prevents burning sugar-based sauces.

■ For easy preparation and cleanup, place chops in a resealable plastic bag, then pour in marinade. Turn bag frequently. Discard leftover marinade.

■ Pork chops absorb flavor of marinades and rubs in as little as 30 minutes.

■ Chops will have a slight blush of pink in the center when they are done. To be sure that you cook them perfectly to medium doneness, use a meat thermometer and cook to 160 degrees.

■ Spice up barbecue sauce with a splash of horseradish or stir in your favorite jam or preserves.

■ Make an extra chop or two for sandwiches or salad toppers the next day.

24 September 2009

Awww Video: Go, Baby, Go! Baby Dancing with Beyonce

From Denny: This baby is too cute! He's just dancing away in sync with Beyonce. As a musician you know your music is good when little kids love it. It's the best compliment! He keeps trying to perform the dance moves but his muscles aren't quite developed yet to do what he wants. At the rate this kid is teaching himself he will probably be an excellent dancer by the time he is only five years old. This video will get you grinning! He reminds us to keep the joy in our lives.

23 September 2009

Cheeky Quote Day at The Social Poets! 23 Sept 2009



From Denny: Make sure you collect your work week laughs of funny quotes over at The Social Poets! I've been wrestling with my Twitter account for several months now and it's been slowing down my daily posting on time. Along the way of building a new account I've found a lot of funny quotes on Twitter to give you some grins! For your dose of cheeky quotes, go here.

Photo by I'm Fantastic @ flickr

22 September 2009

Video and Recipe: Learn How to Make Slamming Chicken Wings at Wings Boot Camp

From Denny: This guy is touted as The Wing King and he shares some of his successful - and very easy - recipes with us. Make these favorites for all your friends and family during football season.



Wing King's BBQ Buffalo wings

From: Drew Cerza

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

• 2 T. butter
• 1 large shallot
• 2 garlic cloves
• Dark beer 2 oz.
• Chili sauce 1 cup
• BBQ sauce 1 cup
• (Stir up for 1 minute)
• Ancho pepper 1 1/2 t.
• Brown sugar 1/2 cup
• Honey 1/2 cup
• Cayenne pepper sauce 4 oz.

DIRECTIONS

Chop up and sauté butter, shallot and garlic cloves. Add dark beer, chili sauce and BBQ sauce — stir up for 1 minute. Add ancho pepper, brown sugar, honey, cayenne pepper sauce — stir for 2 minutes.

As you create the sauce, drop 50 chicken wings (the amount you drop in at one time will depend on the size of your fryer) in your table-top deep fryer.

Once wings are fully cooked, sauce the wings in a large mixing bowl. To plate the wings: Garnish the plate with celery and carrots and serve with a side of blue cheese dressing.
TIPS

Serve with celery and blue cheese dressing. For equally crispy wings: Deep-fry wings at 375° F (High) 10 minutes until cooked and crispy; drain and serve.

***

Original Buffalo Wings

From: Drew Cerza

Makes: 24-30 individual pieces

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

• 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings
• 1/2 cup hot sauce
• 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

DIRECTIONS

Split wings at each joint; discard tips. Place wings on rack in foil-lined pan.

Bake 20 minutes at 500° F until fully cooked and crispy, turning halfway.

Combine hot sauce and butter. Dip wings in sauce to coat completely.
TIPS

Serve with celery and blue cheese dressing. For equally crispy wings: Deep-fry wings at 375° F (High) 10 minutes until cooked and crispy; drain and serve.

21 September 2009

Recipe: Simple Easy Creole Fried Fish



Photo by ViNull @ flickr

From Denny: This is a simple recipe typical of how people cook freshly caught fish on the weekend at their river camps throughout Louisiana. If you like yours spicier, then add your favorite Cajun spices to the flour dredge like we do at our house!

Catfish, farm raised filets from the grocery store or wild caught is commonly cooked this way. The cornmeal gives a roasted corn taste and lots of extra crunch for the fish. Because of the mustard, the fish inside is wonderfully moist and tender. Tenderness, taste and crunch: can't beat that! :)



Photo by danperry.com @ flickr

From: Thomas Gresham

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1-1/2 to 3 lbs. fish fillets, speckled or white trout, catfish, sacalait or bass

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tbls. yellow mustard, such as French’s

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup cornstarch

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

Cooking oil

Directions:

1. Trim and wash fish fillets. Pat dry with paper towels. Place fillets in large bowl; salt and pepper generously.

2. Add mustard to fillets. Stir fish fillets gently to coat with the mustard. Let coated fillets sit for 30 minutes.

3. Blend flour, salt, black pepper, cornstarch and yellow cornmeal.

4. Heat cooking oil to 350 degrees.

5. Dredge fish pieces one at a time in meal mixture and place in deep, hot fat (a frying basket is excellent to use, also a 3-quart cast-iron saucepan for deep frying).

6. When fish pieces float to the top and are golden brown, remove them from the pot and place on paper towel-covered plate to drain. Keep warm until ready to serve.

20 September 2009

Photos: Funny Food Flags From International Food Festival

From Denny: The International Food Festival held in Sydney, Australia this September 8th decided to create food flags for several countries. Thanks to toxel for posting these funnies.

You have to take a look at these creative offerings they are so clever and amusing! You will also leave hungry... :)



Brazil



Australia



France



Greece



Italy



India



Japan



Lebanon



South Korea



Spain



Switzerland



Vietnam

19 September 2009

Recipes: Fried Nutella ravioli with mascarpone, toasted hazelnuts. more great pasta dishes

From Denny: Now if this doesn't take the cake, uh, pasta, for an unusual and tasty idea for using chocolate! Found this over at NBC's The Today Show. These are all recipes featured from the FRESCO restaurant run by the Scotto family in New York City.



From: FRESCO restaurant by Scotto

Makes: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS


Filling

• 1 jar Nutella (hazelnut spread)

Ravioli

• 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
• 2 tablespoons hot water
• 2 tablespoons melted bittersweet chocolate
• 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3 eggs

Mascarpone cream

• 1 container of mascarpone (500 g)
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Toasted hazelnuts for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Raviolis

1. Combine cocoa and hot water to make a paste. Combine cocoa paste, bittersweet chocolate, semolina flour, sugar, 2 eggs in a mixing bowl with dough hook. Mix dough until smooth, remove from bowl and knead adding flour as necessary until dough is no longer sticky. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Pass dough through a pasta machine according to manufacturer’s instructions to make 2 sheets measuring 6-inches by 15-inches.

3. Cut pasta sheet into 3-inch squares. Place 1 tablespoon of Nutella spread in the center of each square. Lightly beat 1 egg and brush the edges of the pasta squares, then fold diagonally over the filling, pressing gently to seal.

4. Preheat the oven to 200° F. Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350° F.

5. Working in batches, carefully add the ravioli to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Then, transfer the cooked ravioli to another baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while frying the remaining ravioli. (The fried ravioli can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool them completely, then cover and refrigerate. Before serving, place them on a baking sheet and rewarm in a preheated 375 degrees F oven just until they are heated through, about 7 minutes.)

Mascarpone cream

Mix 1 container of mascarpone (500 g) with 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Place a dollop of the mascarpone cream in the center of a plate, surrounded by 5 ravioli; sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts and serve.

***

And the pasta recipes:

Artichoke linguine with wild mushrooms and goat cheese

From: FRESCO by Scotto

Makes: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 4 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
• 1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, trimmed, washed and dried (any combination of oyster, shiitake, or trumpet mushrooms)
• 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes cut in half
• 1 cup frozen or canned artichoke hearts or bottoms, washed and drained
• 1/2 cup fresh frozen peas, defrosted
• 1 pound fresh baby spinach, trimmed, washed, and pat dried
• 3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 pounds fresh linguine, spaghetti or fettuccine
• 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.

2. Meanwhile, in a large 12-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium to high heat or until almost smoking. Add the garlic and scallions, sauté until lightly brown. Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until mushrooms are soft, follow by adding cherry tomatoes and artichokes; season with salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes; set aside.

3. Drop the pasta into boiling water and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes; drain.

4. Add the hot pasta to the large sauté pan containing the vegetables by stirring gently over medium heat. Add the peas, spinach and soft butter, toss until butter is melted and spinach is wilted. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.

Serve immediately.

***

Penne with pesto sauce, string beans and Yukon gold potatoes

From: FRESCO by Scotto

Makes: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS


Pasta

• 1/2 pound string beans, blanched; cut in half
• 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, diced small and blanched
• 1 pound penne pasta
• 1/2 cup basil pesto (see recipe below)
• 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
• 1/2 tablespoon julienne shallots
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper

Pesto sauce

• 4 cups basil leaves
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1/2 lemon, juice only
• 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup pine nuts, roasted
• 2 ounces Parmesan, freshly grated
• Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Pasta

1. Sauté garlic and shallots over medium to high heat 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Add string beans and potatoes and sauté for about 1 minute.

2. In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook penne according to package directions, drain and add to sauté pan containing the string beans and potatoes.

3. Simmer for about 2 minutes over medium heat, then add basil pesto and toss.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Pesto sauce

1. Pick over basil leaves, wash and dry in a salad spinner.

2. Place basil in a food processor with the garlic and lemon juice, process until well combined.

3. With machine running, drizzle in olive oil. Add pine nuts and Parmesan and process briefly to retain some texture to the pesto.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

18 September 2009

Video and Recipes: Chocolate Brownies with a Twist, Recipes for Easy Weekend Menu

From Denny: I don't know how I missed this little gem of a video. While it was set up for a Labor Day picnic this is a menu you can use anytime on the weekend when you want something tasty but don't want to spend a lot of time tending over the stove. The crispy not fried chicken looked great! What was especially clever - and tasty - is her idea of crushing Parmesan croutons and using them as her breaded coating for the chicken, awesome! Her idea for the simple made-from-a-mix brownies where she added some cherry pie filling. Take a look!




Easy creamy coleslaw

From: Chef Katie Brown


INGREDIENTS

• 4 cups preshredded cabbage for coleslaw
• 3 carrots, peeled and shredded
• 2 bunches radishes, thinly sliced in rounds
• 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon mustard
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Mix together coleslaw mix, carrots, and radishes. Set aside.

Mix all other ingredients except the salt and pepper together in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth. Add the dressing to the slaw and toss. Salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Crispy no-fry fried chicken

From: Chef Katie Brown


INGREDIENTS

• 8 cups garlic and Parmesan croutons (2 packages)
• 4 tablespoons dried thyme
• 6 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
• 10 eggs, lightly beaten
• 5 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 cups flour
• 4 chickens, quartered
• Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Prepare the "assembly line" of ingredients that you will use to coat the chicken. First, place croutons and dried thyme in a food processor and pulse until chopped roughed. Transfer the crouton-thyme mixture to a large plate and mix with parsley. Set aside.

Make the "glue" that will hold crumbs on to the chicken parts. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard, and oil. To finish the setup, place the flour on a plate and set the three elements of the recipe (flour, egg mixture, and crouton mixture) in a line.

Rinse the chicken parts under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season chicken skin and meat with salt and pepper.

Dredge a piece of chicken on both sides in the flour and shake to remove the excess. Dip the flour-coated chicken in the egg mixture. Dredge chicken on both sides in the bread crumb mixture, patting on more by hand if needed.

Place coated chicken, skin side up, on baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with knife.

Chocolate brownies with a twist

From: Chef Katie Brown


INGREDIENTS

• 1 box brownie mix
• Zest of 1 orange, plus the juice of 1/2
• 1/2 cup cherry pie filling, roughly chopped
• 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.

Make the brownie mix according to the directions and stir in the walnuts, orange zest, and juice.

Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and drizzle on the cherry pie filling. Using a knife, swirl the cherries into the brownie mixture, then bake until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

17 September 2009

Video and Recipes: Easy Dips and Cool Appetizers

From Denny: While the weather is still warm we can have an end of summer party or two. Here are some simple popular recipes for just such a gathering of you and your friends! Listed are BBQ Chicken Quesadillas, Fresh Crab Dip and Avocado Dip and Torilla Chips and for your vegetarian friends: Vegetable Fritters. There is a little something to please everyone! This man really knows how to cook easy, simple and divine!



* If you don't have a mandolin, just use your box grater like for making coleslaw or shredding your favorite cheese! These look divine as he has a dip for them. They don't have any flour in them and are a quick cook for a warm appetizer.

Vegetable fritters

From: Chef Curtis Stone

Makes: 12

INGREDIENTS

• 1 russet potato, peeled
• 1 carrot, peeled
• 1 zucchini, ends trimmed
• 1 onion, halved and very thinly sliced
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• 2 large eggs
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1/4 bunch fresh dill, leaves coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

DIRECTIONS

Using a mandoline or julienne peeler, cut the potato, carrot, and zucchini lengthwise into long spaghetti-like strips.

Toss the potato, carrot, zucchini, onion, and 2 teaspoons of salt in a medium bowl.

Let the vegetable mixture stand for 10 minutes, or until the salt has drawn out some of the moisture from the vegetables.

Place the vegetables in a colander to drain the excess moisture then squeeze the vegetables between your hands to exude as much moisture as possible.

Using a fork, beat the eggs and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl to blend well.

Add the vegetables and stir to coat with the egg.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat.

Working in batches and using about 1/4 cup of the vegetable-egg mixture for each, spoon the vegetable-egg mixture into the pan forming thin patties that are about 3-inches in diameter.

Fry for 4 minutes on each side, or until the fritters are golden and crisp on the outside.

Using a metal spatula, transfer the fritters to paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Meanwhile, stir the sour cream and dill in a small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the fritters on a platter and serve with the sour cream-dill sauce.

***

Another fast preparation, a minute or two on each side of the tortilla to warm the chicken, melt the cheese and brown the tortilla and another awesome warm appetizer that is a big hit!

Barbeque chicken quesadillas

From: Chef Curtis Stone

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

• Four 10-inch-diameter flour tortillas
• 2 cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely shredded roasted chicken
• 2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated Monterey Jack cheese
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
• 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
• Salt
• 1/4 cup barbeque sauce

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 250F.

Arrange the tortillas on a work surface. Divide the chicken, cheese, cilantro, and jalapeno among the tortillas, scattering the ingredients over half of each tortilla.

Sprinkle with salt and drizzle a tablespoon of barbecue sauce over each.

Fold the uncovered half of each tortilla over the filling to form a half moon shape.

Heat a large flat griddle pan over medium heat.

Place 2 quesadillas on the griddle.

Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden and the cheese has melted.

Transfer the quesadillas to a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven.

Repeat with the remaining 2 quesadillas.

Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve.

***

This looked simply beautiful. What is better is it's simplicity, all because they are the freshest ingredients!

Fresh crab and avocado dip with crispy tortilla chips

From: Chef Curtis Stone

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS

• 4 firm but ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup fresh crabmeat
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
• 1 red jalapeno, finely chopped
• Canola oil, for deep frying
• 12 fresh corn tortillas, cut into 8 wedges each
• Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Mash the avocados, sour cream, 3 tablespoons of the lime juice, and the chives in a large bowl.

Season the avocado mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the mixture into a clear glass serving bowl, forming an even layer and smoothing the top.

Squeeze the crabmeat gently to remove any excess liquid.

Gently mix the crabmeat, mayonnaise, sliced basil, jalapeno, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice in another bowl.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the crab mixture over the avocado mixture, forming a second even layer and smoothing the top.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat 3 inches of oil in a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat.

Working in batches, add the tortilla wedges and fry, stirring often so that they cook evenly on both sides, for about 3 minutes or until they are crisp and golden brown.

Using a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, transfer the corn chips to paper towels to drain any excess oil.

While the chips are still hot, sprinkle them lightly with salt.

Garnish the dip with basil leaves and serve with the tortilla chips.

16 September 2009

Cheeky Quote Day at The Social Poets! 16 September 2009



Photo by *L*u*z*a* @ flickr

From Denny: Here's an idea of what Cheeky Quote Day is like over at The Social Poets, enjoy!

***

Since so much is up in the air with the economy worldwide, and my audience is an international one (BTW, thank you everyone for your great support!), I thought I’d put up some quotes about retirement. After all, we all are dreaming about that “one day” of what we would like to do without anyone telling us it can’t be done!

While I was driving all day Monday out of town on sales calls I saw a lot of travel trailers and motor homes towing SUVs. I sure wondered where they were going and what they were going to do when they got there. I’ve been seeing those happy people motoring down the road for several months now and it sure got my curiosity up and turned my mind to the subject of retirement.

The first comedian from the past that came to mind concerning retirement was George Burns. He was quite the character and well loved in America. As he aged he made a new career out of standing on stage with an unlit cigar, a sly grin, and cracked jokes in his understated manner until his late nineties. He was in show business all his life beginning in Vaudeville.

George Burns isn’t the only comedian to craft a whole routine around the subject of retirement. The following are all kinds of perspectives about what it is like to retire from your job – or what you thought it might be like to retire! :) Get a grin and think good thoughts for your future.

Quotes

Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples. - George Burns

The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does. – Anonymous

Retirement: It's nice to get out of the rat race, but you have to learn to get along with less cheese. - Gene Perret

Retirement is wonderful. It's doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it. - Gene Perret

When you retire, you switch bosses - from the one who hired you to the one who married you. - Gene Perret

I enjoy waking up and not having to go to work. So I do it three or four times a day. - Gene Perret

I'm now as free as the breeze - with roughly the same income. - Gene Perret

The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off. - Abe Lemons

The money's no better in retirement but the hours are! - Anonymous

When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income. - Chi Chi Rodriguez

A retired husband is often a wife's full-time job. - Ella Harris

I've been attending lots of seminars in my retirement. They're called naps. - Merri Brownworth

I'm retired - goodbye tension, hello pension! – Anonymous

Retirement itself is the best gift. No gold watch could ever top it. - Abigail Charleson

Retirement: World's longest coffee break. – Anonymous

Retirement has been a discovery of beauty for me. I never had the time before to notice the beauty of my grandkids, my wife, the tree outside my very own front door. And, the beauty of time itself. - Hartman Jule

Middle age is when work is a lot less fun and fun is a lot more work. – Anonymous

Life begins at retirement. – Anonymous

The challenge of retirement is how to spend time without spending money. – Anonymous

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles. - Doug Larson

There are some who start their retirement long before they stop working. - Robert Half

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. - J. Lubbock

When you retire, think and act as if you were still working; when you're still working, think and act a bit as if you were already retired. – Anonymous

The question isn't at what age I want to retire, it's at what income. - George Foreman, prize fighter

I'm not just retiring from the company, I'm also retiring from my stress, my commute, my alarm clock, and my iron. - Hartman Jule

Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun. - Jim Bishop

Golf is a day spent in a round of strenuous idleness. - William Wordsworth

Retirement means no pressure, no stress, no heartache... unless you play golf. - Gene Perret

In my retirement I go for a short swim at least once or twice every day. It's either that or buy a new golf ball. - Gene Perret

The reason the pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can't see him laughing. - Phyllis Diller, comedian

If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt. - Dean Martin, actor, comedian, singer

If you are going to throw a club, it is important to throw it ahead of you, down the fairway, so you don't have to waste energy going back to pick it up. - Tommy Bolt

Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did. - Malcolm Forbes

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. - Will Rogers, Autobiography, 1949

When men reach their sixties and retire, they go to pieces. Women go right on cooking. - Gail Sheehy

There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want. - Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes, cartoonist

A gold watch is the most appropriate gift for retirement, as its recipients have given up so many of their golden hours in a lifetime of service. - Harry Mahtar

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering. - Pooh's Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

Retire from work, but not from life. - M.K. Soni

Retirement is like a long vacation in Las Vegas. The goal is to enjoy it the fullest, but not so fully that you run out of money. - Jonathan Clements

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life. - Herbert Asquith

Retirement is the ugliest word in the language. - Ernest Hemingway, writer

First you forget names; then you forget faces; then you forget to zip up your fly; and then you forget to unzip your fly. - Branch Rickey

You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely. - Anonymous

In retirement, every day is Boss Day and every day is Employee Appreciation Day. – Anonymous

Retirement: That's when you return from work one day and say, "Hi, Honey, I'm home - forever." - Gene Perret

Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow. - Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

*** Comedy writer Gene Perret has been writing television comedy since the 1960’s. For more about him, go here.

Have a great work week, everyone! Keep your head down and your attitude looking up! You never know when you will get to retire and add some cheeky quotes of your own to the funny category of life…

Recipe: Worlds Easiest Homemade Lasagna



From Denny: Found yet another great recipe for lasagna that is simple. This one has pesto in it, a real favorite of mine. This is also kid friendly and convenience oriented. Who said fast food had to be boring? Not this gem of a tasty recipe! Besides, we love Italian dishes at our house so you can never have too many versions of lasagna recipes (or chocolate ones either).

From Atlanta Journal-Consititution: To streamline the cleanup, we've devised this recipe using mostly ingredients that come in pre-measured containers that can be tossed away once emptied.

Hands on time:
Total time: 30 minutes
Serves: 10

Ingredients:

1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1/4 cup prepared pesto
2 (28-ounce) jars (about 6 cups) pasta sauce
1 (8-ounce) box (12 pieces) no-boil lasagna noodles
4 cups shredded Italian cheese blend

Instructions:

In a bowl, combine the ricotta and pesto. In a 13-by-9-inch microwavable casserole dish, spread about 1 1/4 cups pasta sauce. Top with 3 pieces uncooked noodles in a single layer. Noodles shouldn't touch each other or touch the sides of the pan since they will expand as they cook.

Dot with 2/3 cup of the ricotta cheese mixture and spread evenly with back of the spoon. Spread another 1 1/4 cups of the pasta sauce evenly over ricotta, covering noodles completely. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese.

Lay 3 more pieces of noodles on cheese, spread with another 2/3 cup ricotta, another 1 1/4 cups sauce and 3/4 cup shredded cheese. Add another 3 pieces noodles, remaining ricotta, 1 1/4 cups sauce and 3/4 cup cheese. Reserve remaining shredded cheese. Top with last 3 noodles and cover with remaining sauce.

Cover with microwavable plastic wrap and microwave on high for 13 to 15 minutes, turning twice.

Remove from microwave, carefully remove plastic wrap and sprinkle with reserved cheese. Replace plastic wrap, return to microwave and cook on high for 3 to 4 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Remove plastic and let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Notes:

When layering the ingredients, there's no need to be a stickler for measuring; so long as you can eyeball the approximate amounts given, you can save yourself from washing a single measuring cup.

If you can't fit a 13-by-9-inch pan in your microwave, an 11 1/2-by-8-inch pan should work. Just don't overfill the pan when you get to the top layers and break the noodles to fit. Barilla makes no-cook lasagna noodles that work well in this recipe.

Nutrition:

Per serving: 333 calories (percent of calories from fat, 54), 18 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 20 grams fat (11 grams saturated), 64 milligrams cholesterol, 267 milligrams sodium.

15 September 2009

Video and Recipes: Love Crab Cakes? Try Caribbean Version from Florida Chef

From Denny: We love crab cakes in the South and this chef from Florida has a fabulous recipe available! I just love it when chefs come on national TV and share their recipes as promotion for some new restaurant they are opening like this lady. These recipes are such a treat! Take a look - try and not salivate too much - you still have to get through your work day before you can get home to make this delicious dish! :)




Caribbean tropical crab cakes

From: Chef Cindy Hutson

Yield: 8 servings

INGREDIENTS


Caribbean tropical crab cakes

• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
• 2 each scallions, chopped, greens only
• 1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
• 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
• 1/4 cup red onion, diced
• 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
• 2 cups panko
• 1 pound crabmeat, jumbo lump
• Salt, to taste
• Pepper, to taste

Mango papaya salsa

• 1 teaspoon chives, chopped
• 1/4 cup sugar (adjust to sweetness of papaya)
• 3 limes, squeezed
• 1/3 cup scallions, chopped (green only)
• 1 teaspoon Scotch Bonnet sauce – to taste
• 1 cup papayas, diced
• 1 cup mangoes, diced
• 2 tablespoons cilantro. chopped

DIRECTIONS

Caribbean tropical crab cakes

Beat eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire and curry powder in a large bowl. Set aside and let the curry bloom for 15 minutes. Add scallions, parsley, red onion, red and yellow pepper and toss with curry mixture. Add the crab, panko, salt and pepper to taste. Toss ingredients together gently. Form into 3-ounce servings. Sear off in hot skillet with butter until golden brown on each side. Finish in the 400 degrees oven for about 8-10 minutes. Serve with mango papaya salsa.

Mango papaya salsa

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

13 September 2009

Video: Singer Bill Withers Pranks USC Football Team

From Denny: This is from ESPN of all places. When do I watch sports? Rarely. But, as I was crossing the room in the house my husband had on ESPN and they were profiling the Southern California team, the Trojans, and a favorite musician was there talking to them: Bill Withers. It's also inspirational.

Turns out he was invited there by the head coach to pull a prank on the team. It's really cute and funny. As Bill Withers said to the team, "You've been punked!" And they all cracked up laughing.






12 September 2009

Beautiful Angel Photo, Quote, Healing Poem Link



Psalm 91:11 - And He will give His Angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways.

Yesterday I wrote:

From Denny: Since this particular poem was a hard write, and I'm a bit emotionally tired and saturated to say the least, here's the link to my latest poem over at The Social Poets, called Rock, My Children. Found some awesome art photos over at flickr to illustrate it!

Rock, My Children is about how to deal with loss. Never planned on writing about these experiences but lately there has been so much news about people encountering terrible loss in their lives. And, here it is the 911 anniversary, a tough day for so many folks all over the world.

When I was fishing around for inspiration I found Robin's blog Naked in Eden and some of those word phrases sprinkled throughout one of her posts just struck me right (like "abyss of emotion") and before I knew it the poem was forming in my head. Went to flickr first before writing it down as the poem was still a lot of raw emotions swirling and I needed some visual anchors.

Rock, My Children deals with loss, disappointment, and looking to the future for understanding Life's Plan. When you ask the question, you receive the answer though it may take fifteen years like it did in my case.

Received an incredibly awesome comment from fellow spiritual blogger Robin from Naked in Eden after I sent her the link to show her how she had inspired me to write the poem. Just skip on past the poem to read what she has to say it's that great! I've been grinning silly all day - and behind in my posting - since she posted that loving comment...

Rock, My Children, go here.

11 September 2009

Make Your Own Cajun Blackened Seasoning for Fish or Chicken!

Photo of Cajun blackened drum fish from chef Paul Prudhomme
at his New Orleans restaurant K Paul's by wallyg @ flickr




From Denny: Seasoning spices are a personal thing for cooks everywhere. We all have our own way of doing things. Some like a lot of spice, others tone it down. OK, so my middle name is practically "garlic" but who's noticing, right?

Seriously, whenever I've moved out of Louisiana it was the seasonings I first missed. Sometimes, you can't get a hold of your favorite brand. Worse, you've traveled in America, experienced yummy New Orleans or Lafayette racetrack food, go back to Europe and no proper seasonings to be had on the grocery shelves. Then that wonderful taste experience starts to dim in your memory... Well, we can't have that! :)

Here are a few recipes to get you started. Try making a few and adjusting after you try it, that's what I always end up doing, adjusting to personal taste. You should be able to find these ingredients anywhere in the world....

Magic Coffee Fonts Mini Wallet

Magic Coffee Fonts celebrate our morning cup of joe!



10 September 2009

Funny Video: Bride Laughing Loud at the Altar During Vows

From Denny: Just found this hilarious true video of a bride laughing so hard at the altar she almost fell over when they were trying to say their vows. The laughter is contagious! Laughter really IS the best medicine!

09 September 2009

Its Cheeky Quote Day at The Social Poets! 9 Sept 2009



From Denny: It's Cheeky Quote Day over at The Social Poets and today I'm featuring another early American entertainer who was a big hit during the dreary Depression years: actress Mae West.

The woman was known for being a bit saucy and downright risque for her time period. She was a child actress in Vaudeville who grew up to write her own comedic material and star in many a Hollywood movie during the 1930's.

To read more about her and enjoy many more rib-tickling quotes from her and a couple of short videos from her movies, go check out Cheeky Quote Day, here.

3 Quotes From Mae West

* I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.

* Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.

* Don't keep a man guessing too long - he's sure to find the answer somewhere else.

For Cheeky Quote Day featuring Mae West, go here.

08 September 2009

Video: Summer Shrimp Recipes

From Denny: All together now, "We LOVE shrimp!" I've been dining on shrimp the past three days since I got some pre-boiled shrimp over at Whole Foods grocery since it was a such a great price. Then I ran across this food video and recipes from The Today Show and just had to post it!



Mozambique Shrimp

From: Chef Angela Shelf Medearis

Serves: 4

Shrimp is transformed using an African cultural recipe, spices and flavor profiles. I call this dish African Fast Food because it's an easy, delicious and a delightful change from the typical ways shrimp is prepared in America.

INGREDIENTS

• 12 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails left intact
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 medium onion, chopped
• 1 large clove garlic, chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2/3 cup canned tomatoes, drained and chopped
• 2 tablespoons ground coriander
• 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

DIRECTIONS

Wash the shrimp under cold running water and drain on paper towels. In a heavy skillet, heat oil until it is hot but not smoking. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent but not brown. Add the shrimp and season it with the salt, pepper, the paprika and the cumin. Saute for 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp and vegetables from the pan and set aside.

Add the tomatoes and the coriander to the pan. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes and stir in the coconut milk. Simmer the sauce for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shrimp and vegetables back to the pan. Simmer over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve over rice.

***

Shrimp Salad with Corn and Peaches

From: Chef Angela Shelf Medearis

Serves: 4

Typically, a dinner salad is one of the smallest entrees on a menu. However, these bold recipes are meal in a bowl, and provide a delicious, diva-style twist on traditional salads.

If you're short on shrimp, just add a few more hard-cooked eggs to boost the protein in the salad and save on money!

INGREDIENTS

• 3 medium ears of fresh corn, shucked, and kernels removed from the cob or 1 cup frozen, thawed corn kernels
• 1 roasted red bell pepper from the jar, (5 ounces), packed in brine, drained, and coarsely chopped
• 1 small purple onion, minced
• 1/4 medium jicama (about 4 ounces) or a medium-sized green apple (Granny Smith or Empire), peeled and cut into julienne strips
• 1/4 teaspoon cumin
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1 fresh jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and finely minced
• 1 pound peeled, cooked large shrimp, thawed if frozen
• 2 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced or 2 cups frozen, thawed and drained peaches
• 2 hard-cooked eggs, cut in quarters
• 1 head radicchio or Romaine lettuce, or butter lettuce separated into leaves
• 1/4 cup minced cilantro
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

If using fresh corn, in a medium pot of boiling water, blanch the corn kernels for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under running cold water. Put the corn in a large bowl. Add the roasted pepper, onion, and the jicama or apple slices, and half a teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Mix together the cumin, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, jalapeño and the remaining half teaspoon of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

Lay the thawed shrimp in a shallow dish and pour on the cumin-olive oil mixture. Toss to coat. Wash and peel the peaches (if necessary, dip the peaches in boiling water for 1 minute to facilitate removing the skin) and cut in half and remove the pits. Slice into wedges and add to the salad bowl. Or use frozen peaches that have been thawed and drained.

When ready to serve, arrange 2 or 3 radicchio, romaine or butter lettuce leaves on individual dinner plates. Toss the corn-peach mixture and spoon onto the leaves. Arrange the eggs over the corn-peach mixture. Spoon the shrimp and any remaining dressing over the salad. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

07 September 2009

Weird News Video: Middle Aged Guy Puts Elderly Parents for Sale

From Denny: There's nothing like putting your parents up for sale to get the conversation started like this guy did! This news story sounds like a tutorial on how to do it. What started as a fun idea snowballed into a sensation. I can only imagine what his parents told their son off camera ... :)

06 September 2009

Video: Rock Climber Moons the Town

From Denny: This is a funny news story about a rock climber "mooning" an entire town and getting away with it because it's "art."

05 September 2009

Awww News Video: Check Out This Snow Leopard Cub

From Denny: Check out this new story depicting a snow leopard cub. This little animal is quite the beauty! Never seen a snow leopard and the story gives you some interesting facts too.

04 September 2009

Video and Recipe: Southern Fried Peach Pies

From Denny: Here's a Southern food favorite: fried peach pies! This chef shares the secret to light and crispy sweet delights!



Classic fried peach pies

From: Chef Scott Peacock

Makes: 24 pies

INGREDIENTS

Pies

• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 1⁄4 cup lard
• 3 cups unbleached all-purposeflour
• 2 tsp. kosher salt
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 8 to 12 tbsp. ice water
• Peach-fig filling
• Peanut oil for deep-fat frying
• Sugar

Peach filling

• 3 cups ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tbsp. cornstarch
• 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
• 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Dough

1. Place butter and lard in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. Place flour, salt and the 1 teaspoon sugar on a large cutting board. Mix them with your fingers to blend. Place cold butter and lard on flour mixture. Use a pastry scraper or large kitchen knife to roughly cut butter and lard into the flour mixture. (Some butter and lard will be finely cut in, and some will be in 1⁄2- to 3⁄4-inch pieces.)

3. Working quickly, gather the flour mixture in a mound. Use your fingers to shape a lengthwise trench through center. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the ice water along the length of the trench. With upturned fingers toss and fluff together flour mixture and water. Repeat to reshape, sprinkle ice water, and toss and fluff. After incorporating 8 tablespoons of ice water, dough should begin to clump. If necessary, repeat to add more water.

4. Gather rough dough with a pastry scraper. Working quickly, use the heel of your hand to smear (push away) egg-size pieces of dough, one at a time. Regather dough and repeat process.

5. Gather dough in mound. Wrap in a double-thickness of plastic wrap. Press with palms of hands to flatten. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll chilled dough about 1⁄2-inch thick. Brush excess flour from surface of dough. Fold dough in thirds, brushing flour off the underside of dough as it is folded over. Lightly press layers together with a rolling pin. Wrap dough in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

7. On lightly floured surface, roll out cold dough to an even 1⁄8-inch thickness. With 3-inch round cutter, cut 24 circles, rerolling dough as needed. (If dough becomes warm, transfer to baking sheet and refrigerate about 5 minutes.)

8. Spoon a generous teaspoonful of filling on center of each circle. Lightly moisten dough edges. Fold in half, pinching edges to seal. Refrigerate sealed pies until ready to fry.

Peach filling

Mix together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the diced peaches and toss. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the peaches soften and the sauce thickens. Stir in lemon juice. Cool completely before using.

Optional: Sweet potato filling (can be substituted for peach filling)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. On foil-lined baking sheet bake two medium-size sweet potatoes for 1-1/2 hours or until very soft. Meanwhile, remove stems and half dried figs (to equal 1/4 cup, packed). Place in small saucepan; barely cover with water. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, about 15 minutes until softened. Cool slightly, drain, and finely chop. Stir in 1 tablespoon honey; set aside. Remove potatoes from oven and cool slightly. Peel potatoes. In a large bowl mash potato flesh until smooth. Mix in 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1-1/2 teaspoons packed brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Stir figs into sweet potato mixture. Cool completely before filling pies.

Cooking

1. Fill a very deep 10-inch cast-iron skillet half full with oil. Heat over medium heat to 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry pies, a few at a time, about 3 minutes, until golden brown, turning as needed to cook evenly.

2. Drain on cooling racks.

3. Cool slightly; roll in sugar.

Serve warm or at room temperature

Recipe: Simple Easy Chocolate Coconut Krispies, Plus Vegan Recipe

Rice Krispies? Meet S'mores. S'mores, Rice Kri...S'Mores version of Rice Krispies treats Image by e.marie via Flickr

From Denny: People are always searching for a recipe of a food they fondly remember from childhood - and Rice Krispie bar cookie recipes are often a favorite! When this was featured in our local newspaper recently (no photo) I just had to include it here. What's perfect about this simple easy recipe is that it's perfect for this holiday weekend of Labor Day. You can make and take it any where easily, enjoy!

From: Susan Filopowicz

Yield: 12 muffin-size or 24 minimuffin-size servings.

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 (10-ounce) bag marshmallows

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

2-1/2 cups shredded coconut

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1-1/2 teaspoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Directions:

1. Melt butter, 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate and marshmallows. Combine and add Rice Krispies and cool.

2. Spray palms of hands with cooking spray and while mixture is still warm press the mixture up to 1/2 full of the minimuffin cups or regular cupcake tins.

3. In a medium glass bowl, stir coconut with 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk. Microwave 1 minute on high. Stir and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to cool slightly. While warm, pour over the crispy mixture to the top.

4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate and 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for 30 more seconds. Add water and vanilla and drizzle over each crispy cup and top with several slivered almonds.

*****

krispie carnageVegan version of Rice Krispies treats Image by Jocelyn | McAuliflower via Flickr

Now here's another version of a Rice Krispie treat, vegan style from Jocely McAuliflower @ Brownie Points Blog.

Chocolate GORP Rice Crispy Treats

GORP: Good Old Raisins and Peanuts

Lightly oil an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and set aside.

Combine in a sauce pan:

light corn syrup, 1/2 cup

light brown sugar, 1/4 cup packed

1/4 teaspoon salt

Bring to a full boil and remove from the heat.

Stir in:

peanut butter butter (or any favorite nut butter), 1 cup
(Warming the peanut butter jar in the microwave makes the 1 cup easier to scoop out.)

vanilla, 1 teaspoon

crisp puffed rice cereal, 3 cups

With oiled hands, press the mixture firmly into the buttered 8″ x 8″ pan.

Directions:

Sprinkle the top with chopped raisins and enough grated or finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate to cover the entire pan, making sure to get the chocolate in the corners, as well as thick enough to form a layer. As I was working with a large block of chocolate and free-form with the raisins, I don’t quite remember the quantities required. A four ounce chocolate bar and 1/2 cup of raisins are a good place to start.

Using a blow torch (or a brief visit to the broiler), melt out the chocolate layer to help adhere the raisins.

This cuts best before the chocolate has completely hardened.


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03 September 2009

Weird News Video: Fried Butter, No Kidding

From Denny: Just when you thought there was nothing new under the sun and nothing more weird to deep fat fry, like Twinkies or fried pickles, this guy decides to fry butter, yes, butter!

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