Sunday, December 30, 2012

Citrus Salad

This is one of my winter favorites. It is especially wonderful for brunch when there aren't a whole lot of other fresh fruit options available in the grocery store. The segments look like glimmering gems!

Grapefruits, segmented (one per 2 people)
Oranges, segmented (one per person)
Blood orange or ruby red grapefruit, 1-2 for color.

Add to taste:
Dark Rum (optional, but very yummy)

Mix together in a pretty bowl (not leaded crystal) and serve at room temperature. Store refrigerated.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lemon Curd

I got this idea from the Krusteaz Gingerbread mix box.  It's a delicious compliment to the bread!

Lemon Curd
1 sm. package instant lemon pudding, prepared according to directions.
1/4 cup water

Prepare pudding according to instruction on box, add water. Serve cold to room temp. with gingerbread.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Quinoa, Almond and Orange Salad

Quinoa, Almond and Orange Salad

My favorite quinoa recipe to date.  I love the warmth of the cumin and the cool of the parsley.  
1 cup quinoa
1 cup plus 1 T orange juice, divided (can be from concentrate)
2 large oranges, peeled and cut into membrane-free segments (or a large can of drained mandarin oranges)
1 teaspoon orange zest (if you have it)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 T olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup parsley (or cilantro), chopped
1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water (if not pre-rinsed). Drain and combine with 1 cup water and 1 cup orange juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; immediately reduce heat, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (I just toss it all into my rice cooker, works like a charm.)
2. Meanwhile, place the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and very lightly toasted. Set aside. Mix together 1 T orange juice, olive oil, spices and orange segments.
3. Combine the cooked quinoa, oranges and spices, toasted nuts, dressing and parsley/cilantro and serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 4 generous servings

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ranch Seasoning

If you're like me, you like being able to pronounce the ingredients in your food.  Ranch seasoning without the preservatives (or dairy)!  And we like it better than the brand name.

Ranch Flavor Mix
1/2 c dry buttermilk (optional)
1 T parsley flakes
1 t dill weed
1 t onion powder
1 t salt
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t ground pepper

This is equivalent to a single packet, or about 3 T of seasoning.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sweet and Zesty Coleslaw

The sweet of crushed pineapple combined with the zest of horseradish!  After a dinner date at Famous Dave's, my husband made a special request - copy their coleslaw!  My husband, the self-proclaimed coleslaw hater (and horseradish lover), LOVES this recipe.  I hope you do too.

Sweet and Zesty Coleslaw  
1 bag shredded cabbage for coleslaw
1 c shredded carrots
20oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 c mayo
1/2 c sugar
3 T prepared horseradish (from a jar, with as few ingredients as possible - horseradish, vinegar, water should be about it)
1 t dijon mustard (I like Trader Joe's)
1 t ground white pepper
1/2 t salt
1/2 t celery seed
1/4 t garlic powder

In a large bowl, combine sauce ingredients and blend well.  Stir in cabbage, carrots and pineapple.  Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, stir before serving.  

Serves 10-12.   

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tricky Water

This is how I trick myself into drinking tap water... Yummy citrusy ice cubes.  So fancy, but so easy!

Start by slicing up the citrus of your choice.  I am picky.  Heirloom naval orange are a-mazing.  And when I can't get my hands on some Meyer lemons, organic lemons are the next best thing - sweeter than just any ol' lemon.  Or you can use a whole cranberry, sliced grapes, edible flowers... the options are as varied as your taste. 

Pop that little bit of flavor into an old fashioned ice cube tray. Fill with tap water and freeze.
When the cubes are frozen, put them in a zip top freezer bag and enjoy at your leisure. I like to put 2-3 in my reusable water bottle. I even have a bag stashed in the work freezer!

They're especially fancy with some orange juice and lemon-lime soda in a punch bowl at a party! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mandarin Orange Coffee Cake

I love mandarin oranges!  (They're especially yummy when stowed in the ice chest on a camping trip). So when I had them baked on top of a delicate coffee cake I had to have the recipe.  I snagged this one from a co-worker's wife over a decade ago - and have yet to see anyone else bring a similar dish to the table.  Now you're in the know!

Mandarin Orange Coffee Cake
350F, 40-45 minutes in a 9x9 square pan, greased and floured
(I use the wrapper from the stick of butter and rub it all over the inside of the pan to grease it.)

2 15oz cans mandarin oranges, drained (in light syrup or in juice recommended)
2 c all purpose flour
1 c sugar
1/2 c butter (1 stick, salted)
2-1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt (I like kosher sea salt, reduce to 3/4 t if using regular iodized table salt)
3/4 c milk
1 t vanilla
1 large egg
1 t cinnamon, divided
1/2 t nutmeg

Combine flour and sugar, cut in butter.  Reserve 1/2-3/4 cup of these crumbs for topping.  To remainder of flour mix add baking powder, salt, and 1/2 t cinnamon.  Mix together wet ingredients and combine with dry.  Blend/stir until light and smooth.

Spread in greased and floured pan and top with mandarin oranges in rows, try to think of how you'll be cutting the cake and line them up appropriately.  You might have some leftover oranges (you're welcome).

To the reserved crumbs, add 1/2 t cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle on top of oranges.

Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Serve hot or cooled.  Makes 9-12 slices, depending on how you cut.

I love having serving dishes that match up to my baking dishes.  I bought this square one just for my 9" square baking pan.  It always looks so pretty to fill it with matching goodies!  I even store them together in the same cabinet and pull them out at the same time when I bake.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Favorite Pilaf

I love pilaf. I happily credit my Grandma Rose for this love affair. She made hers from scratch; this is as close as I have ever tasted from a mix.

Start with Trader Joe's Rice Orzo Pilaf Mix and add a 1/4 c Israeli Couscous.
Increase water to 2-1/3 c. otherwise, prepare as directed.

This makes an excellent side for chicken, steak, salmon... yeah, anything really. Tonight it's fish sticks.  One pot, 25 minutes, tah-dah! Dinner!

Hope you enjoy as much as we do.  And ask your Grandmothers and Aunts and dear ones for their recipes. You'll miss more than hearing their voice when they're gone.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fun with Dr. Seuss

It is our dear Dr. Thodore Seuss Geisel's birthday and Alex's school celebrated with a week of fun activities!  I joined in the fun... call it a perfect storm of my love of feeding people, and my love of all things Seuss.

We made Green Eggs and (Bacon)... if anyone has a suggestion for the ham, without having to mold chocolate or play with marzipan, please chime in.  I thought about spray food coloring Bugles, but they still weren't quite right.  And these are just TOO cute (and easy)!  Melted white chocolate, green mini M&M's, and small stick pretzels.

Then, for One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish - snack cups with Sweedish Fish on top.  Super easy and lots of fun.  Alex got to help stir the gelatin and put the fish on top.  I used Glad Press and Seal over each cup and transported them in 12-muffin tins with a small cookie sheet between each layer, in an insulated grocery sack.  Ice pack on top, zip-top baggie full of spoons... worked like a charm.

For 24 Red Fish Cups:
24 10oz clear plastic cups
1 8oz package Sweedish Fish
6 3oz package Berry Blue gelatin dessert, prepared as directed.
1/2 c measuring cup (for dispensing into cups)

Did you know that Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel was married to Helen Palmer (A Fish Out of Water)?  And that they worked together with P.D. Eastman on the book Go Dog, Go!  Amazing to think of that think-tank of children's authors!

Now, go read a book!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate Mousse

Is there anything better than chocolate cake with a thick, creamy layer of chocolate mousse?  I think not.  Costco does a smashing job of it, but they have limited designs.  My Alex wanted a rocket for his 6th birthday.  Not just a rocket decoration, a cake the shape of a rocket.  And I would not disappoint.  I considered buying one, completely devoid of decoration, shaping it and trying to put it back together.  Yeah.  You can see the possibility for disaster there too, 'eh?

So I'll make one all myself!  Thankfully, I have some cake decorating skills (thanks Mom).  I can do this.

After some scrounging on the web, I merged a couple recipes and came up with this.  So. Amazing.  I could have licked the bowl right then and there.  Unabashedly.  Really.  Stan laughed at me, almost giving myself a stomach ache snacking on it one spoon at a time the whole while I put the cake together.  Did I say A-mazing?!  Easy too!

Chocolate Mousse
1 c heavy whipping cream or RichWhip, thawed (in the freezer section)
1 c milk (I used Lactaid 2%)
1 5.9oz package instant chocolate pudding
1 t vanilla

Combine all, whip until peaks form (but stop before it goes into butter stage).

Tah Dah!  Spread between your cake layers, liberally.  Stick your face in the bowl and consume directly... mmm...

I think you could even use the all powerful ice cream scoop and portion it out to a bunch of little desert cups. Little sprig of mint on top and you'll look like a pro.  I can't stress enough the beauty of a simple scoop. Of anything.

I used dark chocolate cake and dark chocolate frosting and let Alex decorate with an assortment of candies.  I think it looks great and it was SUPER yummy.  So much so that all the adults had a piece and all we had was a little sliver leftover.  Sad, but in a good way.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sneaky Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Muffins

What's that you ask? Oh, just a grated zucchini... Yup. Zucchini.
I use Aldi's Baker's Choice mix for Chocolate Chocolate-Chip muffins ($1.99), prepared according to directions, adding a shredded medium zucchini (3 for $1.79).
Alex enjoys them in mini-muffin form best. No matter the size, they're always really yummy and really moist, thanks to the zucchini.