Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beginner 101 Tab

It has been a busy winter, lots of changes for my family. As I was thinking through some things several random thoughts popped up, it occurred to me that I don't have a Beginner 101 tab on my list of labels. Really, I didn't think I needed one because everything on this blog is supposed to be beginner doable, however it might point out the less scary recipes or the ones with more photos (are there any with fewer photos?). So today I added a Beginner 101 tab, I will be editing the labels on each recipe as I go along but almost everything on here, except the Manicotti, would be super easy for someone starting out. 
Since we can't have a post without photos here are some random photos to go with the random thoughts.
As much as you can, know where your food comes from :)
Give your best!
Know where you are going, someone is always following.
Enjoy what you do, it will mean so much more to those around you.
Enjoy G-d's creation.
Even the humble egg can be a beautiful offering.
Take everyone seriously, except yourself of course. 
Love always! It never fails.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creamy Strawberry Smoothie--Great for Breakfast

I found some fresh strawberries at the store yesterday and their fragrance sold me right away, ripe, red, glossy. I made milkshakes last night after dinner and had a few left for breakfast this morning.
Measurements for a smoothie are approximate but it's hard to mess up something so simple and good.
Put some fresh or frozen fruit into a container or blender. I use a smart stick, but if you need a lot a blender would be better size wise.
My photo is blurry, it was very early.
I use kefir or yogurt, whey protein powder, flax seed, a spoon of stevia.
 If the yogurt is very thick you may need to thin this a bit with milk or water.
You can put in a couple ice cubes if you want it icy.
Try blueberries, pineapple or raspberries or any combination of your favorite fruit. I suppose you could use a banana if you have to (ick). It's your smoothie, use what you like.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Creamy Corn Chowder

So creamy, loaded with sweet corn, with a hint of cayenne and the best of all it's quick and easy. Can be prepared in about 20 minutes on the stove or cook on low in the crock pot for 4-6 hours.

6 ears of corn or 16 oz. frozen
1 large onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
3 small golden yukon potatoes, cut in cubes (about 3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup yogurt or sour cream
3/4 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
Chop onion coarsely.
Saute in the butter until tender.
Add broth, potatoes, spices and corn. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Stir in yogurt or sour cream until it melts into the broth. Add the cream stirring until all is warm throughout.
 My favorite cream, yum.
This would be even better with some chopped red pepper added to the onions but, alas, I had none today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hamantaschen--Boo, booo

Who doesn't like to boo and hiss at Haman's name? I pulled these out of the oven and called Samuel to ask if he wanted a couple Hamantaschen, his gut response was--"Boo, hiss".
In case you don't know the story, the villianous Haman tried his best to exterminate the Jews only to be thwarted by the mighty hand of G-d through the lovely Esther and her uncle, Mordecai.
Every year during Purim we celebrate by retelling the account from the book of Esther, booing every time the name of Haman is read and clapping and shouting every time Mordecai is read. And of course baking Hamantaschen, named for Haman. Not sure why we are eating cookies named for the bad guy but here they are.
This is a less traditional recipe because it uses real butter and cream cheese. I adapted the dough from a tart dough I have used for years just adding some orange or lemon zest, it is very tender so treat it gently as you work with it lest it become tough.
8 tablespoons butter
3 oz. cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange or lemon zest
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
jam of your choosing
Zest an orange and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese.
Add sugar, then egg, vanilla, zest and salt, mixing well after each addition.
Mix in the flour just until combined.
Scrape dough onto a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper
 and shape into a disc.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Dust a work space with flour and sprinkle on top of dough disc also.
Roll to about 1/4 inch thick.
Using a 2-3 inch round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter, cut the whole piece.
Place each circle onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. This is the best raspberry jam I have ever had, my friend Gail made it, gave me 2 jars and I was saving this last bit for something special, thanks Gail!
Place 1 teaspoon of jam in the center of each circle then run a damp (clean) finger around the perimeter, this will help to seal the dough. 
Pinch the dough at 3 places to form 3 corners, like an old colonial hat.
Bake for 20 minutes. Dough will turn golden and jam will begin to bubble. 
After they cool for a few minutes, hot jam is HOT!, call your resident growing boy to come eat the cookies that came unsealed or bubbled over so no one sees the imperfect ones. If you don't have a pre-adolescent, growing boy just call and you can drop food off here, just kidding, maybe.
Now, go work on your costume for Purim! I'm looking for a three cornered hat to paint golden brown and fill with jam so I can go as a hamantaschen. 
Remember, the mighty hand of G-d is still as mighty as ever to save!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Meringue Frosting

This creamy whipped frosting was so light and fresh it was irresistible!
Loaded with fresh strawberries, cooked egg whites and butter with the added bonus of a lot less sugar than most frostings it is a real winner. Adapted from Martha Stewart.
For 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes or 9x9 cake pan:
1 cup fresh strawberries
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup soft butter
Puree strawberries in a food processor, set aside.
Carefully separate the whites from the yolks by rocking the yolk back and forth in the shells.
In a heatproof bowl, combine egg whites and sugar. Place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 155F.

This mixture will become thicker and creamier as it cooks.
Put the cooked egg whites and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form and mixture is glossy.
Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time beating well after each addition.
Add strawberry puree.
As you beat this, it will appear to separate, just keep whipping and it will come together and look creamy.
This was incredible! Try it on vanilla, lemon or orange cupcakes. Double it for a layer cake or a 9x13.
See irresistible!

Lemon Cupcakes--Fresh, Sweet and a Little Tart

These are so yummy, especially when you want dessert but not something heavy. The cake was light and moist, rose well, the dark yellow egg yolks gave it a rich golden hue and after a brush with fresh lemon juice the "tart" mingled with the "sweet" for one delicious cupcake.
For 1  1/2 dozen cupcakes:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I used spelt)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
Grate the lemon peel and set aside.
Generously grease a muffin pan or line with papers. Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix the flour, soda, powder and salt, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter together with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.
Add the vanilla and lemon peel.
Add the sour cream alternately with the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
When fully cool, poke the top of each cupcake a few times with a toothpick
then brush with the juice of one lemon.
Frost these with cream cheese frosting, butter cream or strawberry meringue (found on this blog).