RECIPE: Tangy & Sweet Fruit Dip

This is THE perfect dip for a large fruit platter. Being strawberry season and all … it’s the perfect time to post this.

Here’s what I do for fruit dip… a cup of sour cream and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Whisk it into submission (aka “until all powdered sugar is dissolved”) and give it a taste. If you like it sweeter add another 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

The sour cream makes it tangy. The powdered sugar sweetens it up… and it’s just heavenly. It’s like the perfect combination!

So, so, soooo good! You can also add a drop of vanilla extract or lemon zest, etc. Top it with a pinched off mint blossom… OR just dunk a strawberry in it and enjoy it as is…

This dip is also great served over blackberries or blueberries, to dip pineapple in, etc…

Sure there are healthier options than sour cream and powdered sugar… so have at it (like yogurt and honey)…

Get creative. Be your own chef. But promise me one thing: eat your fruit! It’s good for you…

(Yes, I double dipped… don’t judge me. It’s my own kitchen and I rule here!)

(smile)

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

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RECIPE: Boysenberry Linzer Torte

So sooo soooooo good… and as with most desserts it can also serve as breakfast, right?!  (Thank you to my cousin Amy for introducing me to this glorious delight!)

In fact, that’s how I feel about MOST desserts … don’t judge me.

It takes just 3 ingredients. Yes, that’s all. Here’s where I started… sugar cookie dough, boysenberry jam and almond slices.

Once you get over the guilt of not making your own dough, break open the packages. I used 1 1/2 tubes of cookie dough to make the crust on the bottom.

Press it into the pan firmly. And then top it with some boysenberry jam…

When layering the jam I left an edge of crust around the edge… this isn’t a requirement. It’s just my creative touch…

Then I tossed some sliced almonds on top… and started some not-so-fancy lattice work on top (made of dough).

I slid it into the oven for about 25 minutes… but I wish I would have left it in there a little longer. I would recommend more like 30 minutes. But each oven is a little different.

Allow it to cool a tad and then cut into 1″ squares. But I would advise to enjoy this while it’s still a little warm… just trust me on this one.

And when you do enjoy it you might want to have a cup of coffee handy… it’s a perfect match.

And of course you can switch out the boysenberry for raspberry or strawberry or blackberry or whatever it is you like. Be creative… there’s no rules with this one. Except for this: ENJOY!

Boysenberry Linzer Torte
Recipe courtesy http://www.epicurious.com

Ingredients
2 tubes of sugar cookie dough
6 tablespoons boysenberry jam
2 tablespoons almond slices

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9” x 13” casserole pan with cooking spray. Spread approximately 1 ¼ tubes of cookie dough over bottom of casserole pan, pressing firmly until dough creates a crust. Spread jam over surface of dough, leaving 1/2 inch border around the edge.

Using the remaining dough, create lattice work across the top of the jam (criss-crossing dough over the top in both directions).

Bake for 20-30 minutes until dough is golden brown. Bottom crust will bubble a bit. Allow to cool completely and cut into 1” squares.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Grape Nuts Peanut Butter Bars

Who likes their Grape Nuts? And how do you like it?

As a snack, all on it’s own?
On top of yogurt or ice cream?
As cereal? With honey on top? <— my fav!

But one morning I spied a recipe on the back of the box … and it included peanut butter…

And it didn’t matter what else was in the recipe. They had me at peanut butter.

Here’s what else is included… sugar, light corn syrup and Grape Nuts.

Start with a large bowl (microwave safe)… and warm up the peanut butter, sugar and corn syrup. (Stir it half way through…)

Pour the Grape Nuts into the bowl and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a greased 13 x 9 inch pan… and set aside to cool.

After the bars cool for several hours, cut them into small squares and wrap them individually in saran wrap for keeping in a cool/dry place.

They can be enjoyed for snacks, breakfast, dessert… whenever you receive a Grape Nut or peanut butter craving.

They are crunchy and sweet and peanut buttery… and a perfect afternoon snack! Good, good stuff here!

Grape Nuts Peanut Butter Bars
Recipe courtesy Post Cereal

Ingredients
¾ reduced fat peanut butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
4 cups Grape Nuts Cereal

Instructions
Microwave peanut butter, corn syrup and sugar in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes, or just until mixture comes to a boil, stirring after each minute. Add cereal; mix well.

Press cereal mixture firmly onto bottom of 13×9 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cool completely.

Cut cereal mixture into bars. Wrap individually with plastic wrap. Store in lightly covered container at room temperature.

Makes 2 – ½ dozen or 30 servings, one bar each.

Fruit bars/optional: prepare as directed, stirring in 1 cup dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries, cherries or dried fruit bits, along with the cereal. (Or mini chocolate chips.)

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Some really good cookies were made here in my kitchen today… they are kinda crunchy but mostly soft, really sweet and really rockin’!

This is where it all starts… cream together the good stuff (sugars, butter, vanilla and eggs).

Once it’s all creamed together… mix together the dry ingredients: flour, oatmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

A little at a time, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture…

But here is where it gets tricky… the mixture gets so thick that you will need to put some elbow grease into it. (In fact, I took the mixing bowl off of the mixing stand and did it by hand from here… taking breaks every few minutes.) ; -)

I chopped up the chocolate and added it along with the chocolate chips… you can either use 4 of the regular size chocolate bars or one of the King Size bars. It doesn’t matter either way…

Mix it just one more time…

Scoop, scoop, scoop, scoop, scoop…

And then bake, bake, bake…

Try not to drool…

OK – you can drool now…

But only after you’ve gone to the store, stocked up on chocolate bars and made these for yourself. And it makes A LOT of cookies… so be prepared to share!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(This is rumored to be Mrs. Field’s recipe, but I haven’t been able to ask her myself to confirm that.)

Cream together:
2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine the following ingredients and add to creamy mixture:
4 cups flour, sifted
4 cups oatmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

Once well combined, add
8 oz. semi-sweet choc. chips
7 oz. Hershey bar (chopped)
Optional: add 3 c. chopped nuts

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet, 375 degrees F, for about 8-10 minutes.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Lemon Curd

There is NOTHING quite like a little lemon curd spread on a cookie, or IN BETWEEN two cookies)… or slathered on shortbread, or on a scone, or … oh, so many ways to enjoy this!

It’s quick and rather easy… and so, so worth it!

Zest a lemon…

Juice a few lemons…

In a double-broiler, whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice… cook into a thick “sauce”.

Strain the lemon mixture…

Remove the lemon mixture from the heat and melt the butter by whisking it into the lemon mixture.

At the very end, mix in the lemon zest and allow to cool.

And when you can’t stand it anymore… spread it on top of SOMETHING, just about ANYTHING.

Lemon Curd
http://www.joyofbaking.com/

Ingredients
3 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Instructions
In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce). This will take approximately 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn’t form) and refrigerate. Can stay in the refrigerator for up to a week.

If it will last that long…

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: French Macarons

I present to you… bliss…

Lori’s disclaimer: I made lots of mistakes through this recipe (my first time throught it). And I’ll share those with you throughout this post. Follow the instructions below and you’ll be fine.

Here’s where I started… almond flour (blanched almonds that have been very finely ground), powdered sugar, granulated sugar, water, cream of tartar, salt and egg whites.

Start by running the powdered sugar and almond flour through the food processor for about a minute. This will help remove any clumps and mix them together well.

Next, sift the two (a time or two) to make really sure that you’ve got out any large pieces of the almond flour. (Note from Lori: you may find the need to discard about a tablespoon worth of almond flour – or try running it through the food process/blender again to break it down a bit more.)

In a stand mixer bowl, combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt …

But first dissolve the sugar in the water and boil until it reaches approximately 240 degrees F.

While the sugar is boiling, whip the egg mixture (on high, for a few minutes) until soft peaks begin to hold.

Slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the egg mixture, still beating the meringue. Beat until it again holds soft peaks. It should be glossy and look very smooth.

Using a spatula, gently fold in the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture.

Using a spatula, stir the meringue mixture until the batter runs in ribbons… (

Here was my first mistake (which led to mistake #2): I don’t think I stirred it long enough… when I would hold up the spatula to watch for the “ribbons”, the mixture was dropping, not running like a ribbon. I believe that stirring for a bit longer would have created the “ribbon” affect I was needing.

So the next problem happened when I was dropping the meringue on to the cookie sheets… the dough wasn’t thick enough, so it was runny. Mistake #2 was… I placed the cough too close together, so they meringue ran together … you’ll see what I mean in the next few images.

And do you see an ever-so-slight change in color in the row of meringue closest to you? I scooped up the first half of the dough and then decided to add just 1 small drop of yellow food coloring (for a 2nd version of the macarons – filled with lemon curd).

Note to self – next time add 2 drops of yellow food coloring.

And so I prepared a second sheet tray. (You will need to use 2 large sheet trays.)

The meringues will need to sit out on the countertop for about 2 hours… and then bake them off.

Allow them to cool completely on the sheet trays… when they are ready remove them carefully with a very thin spatula. (For the macarons that were “joined” I simply cut them apart with a paring knife… they weren’t as pretty, but they tasted just as good.)

Then accessorize as you like… for the plain macaron I used a very soft carmel filling. And for the yellow macaron I used lemon curd.

The lemon macaron was the first to go…

And then it got ugly real quick… pardon me. I need to find a napkin.

French Macarons
Recipe courtesy King Arthur Flour Co
link to website: French Macarons

Ingredients
1 ½ cups almond flour
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 large egg whites, room temp
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cream of tartar
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon water
½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions
In a food processor, process flour and confectioner’s sugar for approximately 20 seconds. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Set aside.

Put 3 large egg whites, pinch of salt and cream of tartar into large bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan heat water and sugar over medium heat, until sugar dissolves. Then bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 2 mins. The temp of the syrup should reach between 235-240 degrees F. When it does take the syrup off the heat.

Immediately start whipping the egg whites, using an electric mixer. When they hold a soft peak on the end of the beater stop, grab the hot syrup, resume beating and pour the syrup steadily into the whites as you beat. Stop to scrap the sides of the bowl midway through.

Continue beating until the meringue is smooth, glossy and forms soft peaks. Fold in the almond flour/sugar. Once everything is fully incorporated, stir with a spatula until the batter runs in ribbons that disappear back into the mass in 10-20 seconds. Test frequently and stop stirring when you reach this point.

Using a teaspoon cookie scoop or pastry bag to deposit a generous teaspoon-sized round blob of batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Test cookie should flatten out, rather than remain in a tall blob. If it doesn’t spread, stir the batter some more.

Want to tint some? One or two drops of a gel-paste color. Add at this stage.

Allow to rest in a dry place with good air circulation (a counter top is fine) until you can gently touch the tops and come away with a clean finger, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Bake the cookies for about 25 – 30 mins, until firm on top. They’ll develop a “fuzzy” ring around the center; that’s a good thing. Remove them from oven, and cool completely on sheet.

Use a thin spatula to separate them/remove them from parchment.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

My favorite form of chocolate…

Prepare for your world to be rocked… the recipe calls these “brownies”, but I made mine a bit more like cake. Either way – brace yourself!

A shout out to my boss who brought these brownies into work around Christmas time… thanks Marsha!!! So, so, so good! And thank you for sharing the Penzeys catalog you brought back from your road trip! I have appreciated reading about their product line and some of the other recipes they share in their catalog! THIS ONE, though, BY FAR, is my favorite!

The idea of pouring the cocoa frosting over the piping hot cake is stellar… it’s like there are 3 layers of goodness to eat your way through: the top layer of cocoa frosting followed by a very moist and rich chocolate cake… but in between those two layers is a melty layer of fudge-like goodness (created by what I can only describe as a “melding” of hot cake and fresh frosting poured on top). Oh wow… this really IS chocolate nirvana!

Favorite Chocolate Brownies
Recipe courtesy Annette Gong, Penzeys Spices Fall 2010 catalog pg 53
Link: http://www.penzeys.com/images/F10.pdf

Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Frosting:
½ cup butter
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1 pound powdered sugar (4 ¼ cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup chopped nuts, optional

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 10×15 rimmed pan or 9×13 pan (for more cake-like brownies) and set aside. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cocoa and water and stir well to combine. When the mixture starts boiling, remove from heat, pour over the dry ingredients and stir. Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into the pan for 18-20 minutes, 25 if baked in a 9×13 pan. (Note from Lori: I made mine in a 9×13 pan and found it needed more like 30 minutes.)

During the last 10 minutes of baking, make the frosting. In the same saucepan you used earlier melt the butter. Add the cocoa and buttermilk and stir. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. Fold in nuts, if desired. As soon as you remove the brownies from the oven, carefully pour frosting over hot brownies.

Sidenote on making your own buttermilk – have you ever heard of such a thing?! I used to get frustrated buying buttermilk for a specific recipe and only needing 1/2 cup of it (knowing a good portion of it would go to waste). Well, I ran across a way to make my own buttermilk as a substitute for the real stuff.

What you’ll need:
– milk (just under one cup)
– 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice

How to prepare:
1. Place a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.
3. Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.

And it REALLY works! I love these kinds of kitchen tips…

Confession time:
As I prepared this blog entry, on a Saturday morning, I was enjoying a piece with a hot cup of coffee. As the saying goes, life is short – eat dessert first!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Lava Cakes

Two nights ago my hero-of-a-hubby asked for a favor … he wanted some chocolate treats in the house. Which means he wanted me to bake his favorite = brownies. But I had a full day on Friday and knew I wouldn’t be able to get any baking in…

So I stopped by Trader Joe’s. And I found these… Chocolate Lava Cakes!

They are packaged two to a box… already cooked, packaged and then frozen individually.

Remove the packaging, including the cup … and then you can either cook them in the microwave (one at a time) or bake them together in the oven.

In hindsight though, I think I should have turned the cups over and so the cake was “upside down”… right? Not sure if the packaging instructed me to do so… but I seem to remember seeing them that way… right? Who knows… (admittedly, they won’t taste any different)

My Friend Debbie also suggests to cook these about 3 minutes less than the box says… this will ensure that the “lava” flows freely from the center when they are broken into…

And of course she was right… the lava flowed. And my hero-of-a-hubby was happy to have chocolate.

Someday I’ll bake these from scratch… but Trader Joe’s version was a lifesaver last night!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Beignets with Maple Glaze

It’s Day 2 of Beignet Week… today we top with a beautiful maple glaze.

For the original post, click here: Beignets

Here’s where I started…

I took a 1/2 cup powdered sugar and slowly added about 1/2 teaspoon milk and whisked.

Then I added about 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup… and whisked…

And a very small amount of pure vanilla extract… and whisked…

Then I tasted it and it needed more… so I added more syrup…

And more vanilla extract… but I also added a little bit of regular pancake syrup (not pictured here and I’m pretty sure it’s currently unrated by the Maple Syrup Institute)… but that was the extra kick it needed.

(Confession: next time I might just use the unrated pancake syrup instead of the pure maple syrup from Canada. Don’t take offense Canada… it’s not personal. I think it’s just a little more of that typical maple I was looking for here…)

Plate your freshly fried beignet and drizzle some of this light and easy glaze over the top of it.

This is not a place for maple frosting, like you’d find at the corner donut shop (although you would find my hero-of-a-hubby and I fighting over the last maple bar if that’s what it came to).

For this light and fluffy beignet you want a light glaze. It’s just perfect…

Did I say it was perfect?

And speaking of my hero-of-a-hubby, I guess I should set it aside and save some for him. Hmph…

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Beignets

Beignets… they truly are a beautiful thing. Pronounced “ben-yay”… they are the state donut of Louisiana. Does your state have a designated “state donut”?! Mine doesn’t…

They are light and fluffy, sweet and satisfying… and come with a disclaimer: they are not doctor approved. :::Thinking to self: thank goodness January 1’s resolutions don’t come into play until next week:::

Here’s what I started with…

Flour, vegetable shortening, sugar, active dry yeart, kosher salt, powdered sugar, eggs and evaporated milk.

Start with blooming the yeast in some warm water…

And here’s a tip from Lori: while using active dry yeast that has been stored in the refrigerator or freezer it will help to bloom the yeast by adding a pinch of sugar to the water mixture. Sugar increases the yeast’s activity, which will speed up the blooming process. (Some bakers might argue with this… and say that sugar isn’t required. And it’s not. It’s just what I like to do… )

Using your stand mixer, transfer the yeast/water mixture to the proper mixing bowl and set the mixer on low speed. Then add the eggs, sugar, kosher salt and evaporated milk.

Add 4 cups of flour… and then the vegetable shortening. Mix until smooth.

Then you will want to switch attachments… remove the whisk and replace with the dough hook. Because you’re getting ready to add 3 more cups of flour…

You may find that the dough gets to be too big of a ball for the mixer. So, then I turned it all out onto a floured/flat surface and kneaded in the rest of the flour. This just took a few minutes.

The dough then went back into the mixing bowl, was covered with plastic wrap and allowed to chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Once you’re ready to fry these little beauties, do two things:

1) Heat up your oil…
2) Divide the dough into 4 smaller pieces. With a floured rolling pin roll out the dough until it’s 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2-3″ pieces… you will have both squares and triangles, depending on how you roll out the dough. (No need to trim your dough pieces into perfect shapes – when they fry they will change shapes.)

Find your strainer/skimmer (also known as a “spider” – not sure why), or some sort of kitchen gadget that will allow you to flip the dough in the oil and strain the oil off before you move it to the plate to cool.

Once the oil has hit the 360 degrees F mark try frying 1 dough piece. The oil will slightly sizzle/bubble. The dough will sink, but will begin to float within about 5 seconds. Within a minute the dough will start to brown around the edges. With your spider, flip the dough over – you are looking for a golden brown color. Allow to cook for about another minute and flip again to check doneness.

Once you have determined it is done, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and generously sprinkle with powdered sugar (while hot). Allow to cool for several minutes before enjoying…

After you’ve stopped drooling, move on to another batch of 2 or 3 or 4 dough pieces at a time.

As they finish, remove the cooked beignets and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

And for my little addition (not sure if this would be acceptable or not in New Orleans), sprinkle the plate with a pinch of kosher salt … and enjoy thoroughly.

Beignets
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

Ingredients
1 ½ cups warm water (110-110 degrees F)
1 envelope active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoon)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces evaporated milk
7-8 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2-3 cups canola oil
Powdered sugar/kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions
Remove bowl from stand mixer and add 1 ½ cups of warm water. Sprinkle one envelope of active dry yeast over the top of the water, add one pinch of sugar and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes. Place bowl back into stand mixer with whisk attachment.

Add whisked eggs to the water and yeast mixture. Turning the mixer onto low, add ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 8 ounces of evaporated milk. Mix thoroughly.

With the mixer on low speed, add 4 cups flour to the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth. Add ¼ cup of vegetable shortening and beat until smooth. Switch to dough hook and gradually add in 3 more cups flour until a smooth, thick dough is achieved. Towards the end you may need to turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface to knead in the rest of the dough.

Make large ball out of dough, place back into the bottom of the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours. (You can make the dough ahead of time –however use the dough within a week.)

When ready to finish the beignets, start by heating the canola oil in a heavy bottom pan, ideally a dutch oven. You will want approximately 4 inches of oil in the bottom of your pan. The oil is ready to use once it has reached 360 degrees F.

For ease of handling, divide beignet dough into 4 portions. Transfer one portion of beignet dough out onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut into 2-3 inches, you will most likely have squares and triangles.

Start by testing one piece of dough. The oil should sizzle, slightly bubble. The dough will sink, but will begin to float within about 5 seconds. Within a minute the dough will start to brown around the edges. With your spider, flip the dough over – you are looking for a golden brown color. Allow to cook for about another minute and flip again to check doneness. With spider, remove to plate lined with paper towels. Immediately sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Allow to cool several minutes before testing. When you bite into it you will see the inside is hollow. If the first one has turned out ok – then continue on with the rest of the dough pieces. Right before serving, sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the top. Serve hot. Yield: 40-50 beignets.

Optional toppings/fillings: instead top with a chocolate glaze, or fill/serve with a fruit preserve, etc. There are also savory versions of beignets… have fun!!!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…