Friday, February 29, 2008

Kristina's Potato Salad

This recipe is from the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. The copy I have is about 15 years old, and unfortunately this edition is no longer available. I would hope that they've kept this recipe in more recent editions, it's a good one.

We served this salad with hot dogs, for Sawed Off's 2nd birthday party. H-Bomb helped me make it, he loves helping in the kitchen. It was a hit. I made a double batch, and it was more than enough. Good thing it is delicious, because we have quite a bit left. Guess what I'm having for dinner!

Preparation time: 45 minutes to an hour (depends on how much stuff you choose to put in)

Yield: 6 main dish portions (more, if serving with other things)

This is a kitchen-sink-type of potato salad, brimming with fresh vegetables, and texturally enhanced by the addition of toasted nuts and seeds. Make it as simple or as chock-full as you have time, ingredients, and desire for. You can keep the fat content very low if you use homemade Tofu Mayonnaise (p. 44 & 91 *If anyone is interested, leave a comment and I will post the mayo recipe. I used real mayo) and yogurt. Serve this salad as a main dish for a summer lunch, especially if paired with a chilled soup from the previous chapter.

6 medium potatoes (about 3 lbs.) scrubbed, and chopped into 1-1/2 inch pieces (that's approximate, of course). Boil potatoes until tender; drain and cool.

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (I used more eggs)
1 medium bell pepper (any color), diced
3 to 4 finely minced scallions (whites and greens)
1 small cucumber (peel if waxed), seeded and minced
1 cup (packed) finely minced parsley
1/4 cup (packed) minced fresh dill (about 1 Tbsp. dried)
1 to 2 tsp. salt (to taste)
fresh black pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup cider vinegar (possibly more, to taste)
1 to 2 tsp. dry mustard
1 to 2 tsp. tarragon
1 to 2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise (real, Tofu Mayo or Plain Fake Mayo--I use real)
1/2 to 1 cup yogurt or sour cream (I used sour cream)

OPTIONAL ADDITIONS: (I'll star * the ones I included this time)
a handful of alfalfa sprouts
*1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, minced
thinly sliced radishes
fresh peas, raw or steamed
*1 cup lightly toasted cashews
*1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 to 3 Tbsp. sesame seeds

For Garnish:
fresh spinach leaves
cherry tomatoes

Combine well, season to taste, cover and chill.

Step-By-Step Cake Decorating: Red Tractor

I am not a cake decorating expert. I grew up watching my mom make cakes for our birthdays and other special occasions. I don't remember the first cake I decorated. It's quite possible I "assisted" my mom sometimes, but I have no clear memory of doing so.

Since the birth of our first son, H-Bomb, I have been decorating birthday cakes every year for him and now for his brother, Sawed-Off. I thought it might be fun to take you through the process. (I realize the party is less than 24 hours away, and there is oh-so-much preparation yet to be done. Perhaps this is also a demonstration of how easy on-the-fly blogging is?)

Here we go. I baked a cake from scratch for H-Bomb's very first birthday, a sugar-free carrot cake. It was good, but if I recall something happened and I had to start over. Now I just use cake mixes. This time, it's Betty Crocker Super Moist Hershey's Butter Recipe Chocolate. Could the name be any longer? Oh yes, I forgot "Cake Mix."

I used a Wilton tractor shaped pan. No matter what it says on your cake mix box, you need to grease (Crisco solid shortening) and flour your pan. No exceptions. Then mix up your cake and bake as directed. You will need to bake your cake two days in advance of your event. I also make the buttercream frosting while the cake is baking, and store in the refrigerator until needed.

My reasoning for the two-day recommendation: your cake has to be completely cooled before you start frosting it, and you don't want to be stressed while you're decorating. If you bake it two days in advance, then you have the whole next day to frost it (completing other party prep while waiting for frosting to soften or harden, etc.) and your results will be much better. This isn't something I recommend doing at the last minute.

You will need a cake board, which is basically just a thin piece of wood. Mine is about 16-inches square, and it fits about every shaped pan I have so far. You can buy a cake board at a cake store, or you can cut one you have lying around. I remember my dad cutting boards for my mom's various size cakes. (amazon sells cake boards made of corrugated cardboard, which I have never tried. The thought of it makes me nervous) Clean your board, and cover the top completely with foil. You will probably need to overlap a couple pieces of foil to cover the top, and you will neatly fold your edges under the board. I tear my foil, lay it on top of the board, then begin folding it under. Flip the board over, then neatly fold (think gift wrapping) the ends of the foil. I secure the foil edges on the bottom, all of them, with masking tape.

When your cake comes out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then lay your cake board, face down, on top of your cake in the pan, making sure to center your cake on the board. With oven mitts, grab the board and the cake pan as if it were one piece, then gently flip the whole thing over. Gently lift off your pan. If you've done a good job greasing and flouring, the cake should come out perfectly. Let the cake cool completely. Since it was so late when I got around to baking the cake last night, I let mine cool overnight (covered with a clean towel) and part of today.

If your frosting has been in the refrigerator, you will need to bring it to room temperature. Once it has arrived at room temperature, it will be spreadable. You are ready for the "crumb coat." This is basically a thin layer of frosting to trap those pesky crumbs in.

Get out your angled icing spatula, a small bowl, and you're ready. Gently and very lightly cover the entire cake with frosting. You will need to get frosting into all the crevices, detailing, etc. You want a thin layer of frosting, so you will still be able to see the details for decorating, but while you're decorating crumbs won't come off and spoil your final layer of frosting. After each bit of frosting, you'll need to make sure you don't have crumbs on your spatula. You will get some, so just scrape that bit of crumbs and frosting into your small bowl, and get more fresh frosting and continue. Don't worry, you'll get to eat the frosting scrapings after you're finished.

If it's summer or your house is hot, you'll need to refrigerate your cake in between steps, so be sure to plan on that. In other words, clean out space in your refrigerator for the cake board and cake. Luckily, it's not hot here right now.

When the entire cake has been lightly coated, let the frosting set up and harden a bit. Either leave your cake out on your counter, or if it's too warm in your house, carefully put it in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to come back to your cake, and the crumb coat has set up, divide your frosting into portions. Think about which color is dominate in your design, and put a portion of your frosting in a bowl. In this case, red will be the dominate color, followed by black, then gray, brown, white, and the tiniest bit of yellow. So, I put a dab of frosting in a bowl for the yellow, a bit more in a separate bowl for the white, and so on. It is kind of guess work here, just try to estimate to the best of your ability. I mostly use gel food coloring, available at cake decorating stores. I keep forgetting to buy brown gel when I get up to the city, so I do use cocoa powder to produce brown. It work fine, but it does change the flavor of the frosting.

Below, I actually forgot to take a picture of all the colors until I had used some of the black. It really doesn't take much frosting to do some things.

*I am assuming a basic knowledge of cake decorating, including the tools and techniques, but if you would like to know anything more in detail, please ask. I'd be happy to try to explain it as best I can.*

I decided to do the smooth white parts first, then I used a decorating bag and tips to make "tubes" for the grill and engine of the tractor. I also used a large "tube" tip to fill in the tires, then smoothed the front tires with a butter knife. The rear tires need to have more definition in their tread, so I only did tubes across parts of it, following the outline from the pan. I will fill in the rest later.

It is important that your frosting be the right consistency, so you might have to fill a decorating bag and then refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so so the frosting doesn't get too runny. My black frosting was okay for the smooth-looking pipes and tires, but too warm and runny for the rest of the tires, so it's in the refrigerator right now.

I filled in the rest of the rear tractor tire with "stars." I'm sure there is a more sophisticated technique, but I said before I'm not an expert. Then I piped in the steering wheel, and filled in the seat with black. I also outlined some parts of the tractor. It's best to do everything you need to do in one color before moving on to the next. I smoothed the seat with a toothpick.

Moving on to the red, I filled in all the red parts with the star method.

I also filled in the gray tire centers and did the exhaust pipe with gray, then used a little spoon to make the yellow headlights.

I smoothed brown frosting around the entire edge of the cake, since the premise of the Red Tractor book is everything getting stuck in the mud.

And there you have it, a red tractor cake.

In this case, I had a lot of extra red frosting, but I could have used more brown. I had extra of some other colors too. That's okay, we'll just get some graham crackers and make lots of frosting sandwiches.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Best Buttercream Frosting

As Sawed Off's birthday party approaches, I thought I would share with you the frosting recipe I will be making on Thursday. It's a basic buttercream recipe, quick, easy, and delicious, and it is perfect for cake decorating. I use it whenever I make a decorated cake. It is from the cookbook, Colette's Birthday Cakes, by Colette Peters. Honestly this book is so intricate and ambitious that the frosting is absolutely the only thing I have tried out of it. Just check out the link, you'll immediately understand what I mean.

Also, I may not have said this before, but whenever a recipe has "butter or margarine" in it, I only use butter. I do not ever use margarine. I don't know why I am so opposed to it, but I am. So, you will never in these pages see the word margarine again. I promise. Unless of course it's in someone else's recipe on the blog...

Basic Buttercream

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or other desired flavoring (my absolute favorite and until now secret flavoring? Organic Coconut Extract. NOT imitation. The real deal. Try it and you will fall in love)
2 pounds confectioner's sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix at slow speed until smooth. If stiffer icing is needed, or if the weather is very warm, add a little more confectioner's sugar.

Chocolate Buttercream: Add 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa and 2 tablespoons of cold, strong coffee. (I have yet to try this, but doesn't it sound delicious?)

Yields 5 cups, enough to fill and cover 2 9-inch cake layers. (Or to elaborately frost an entire He-Man birthday cake, with enough leftover to eat on graham crackers. Lots of graham crackers. Ahem.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dinner in Carpinteria

Have your cute sons help skewer some shrimp.

Have your husband start the charcoal on the beach grill while you cook rice pilaf with almonds, and steam broccoli. And find a pie server that will serve as a spatula and wash it. (It's not your beach house after all, you're making do with what's around. Good thing you're a bad girl who knows how to improvise).

Have your husband place a nice slab of salmon on tin foil. Top with thinly sliced lemon and olive oil; wrap. Grill. He'll talk to neighbors for a while, then flip.

Have your husband place tuna steaks on grill, and shrimp skewers around outside edges of grill. By the time he gets upstairs, grabs the pie server/spatula and turn around, it will be time to head downstairs and flip both the tuna steaks and the shrimp.

Serve up the fresh fish with rice and lettuce, steamed broccoli on the side. Delicious.

Friday, February 15, 2008

And The Winner Is...

Kris !!! Congratulations! As the one and only entrant in the 1st Ever Bad Girl's Kitchen Contest, you win! I do love Buttermilk Pie, so we gained a good recipe (and another Bad Girl!) from the contest! Thank you so much for your entry, Kris. I can't wait to try this pie!

Here is Kris' recipe:

Well, I will not be cooking Valentine's dinner until Saturday, hubby is working nights. But his all time fave of my desserts is Buttermilk Pie. I could probably get him to do anything with this pie!

*I do not use the nutmeg*

Buttermilk Pie

1/2 c butter, at room temp.
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pie crust, unbaked
nutmeg (optional)

Have all the ingredients at room temperature. Put oven rack in lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In mixer bowl, beat butter until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar; beat until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, slightly beat eggs. Mix in flour, buttermilk and vanilla. Add egg mixture to butter mixture and beat on high speed until well combined and mixture looks slightly curdled. Slowly pour mixture into crust.

Place on rack of preheated oven and bake about 55 minutes. Partly cool on wire rack and refrigerate for about an hour before cutting to serve. Keep in fridge.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

1st Ever Bad Girl's Kitchen Contest!!!

Submit your very best
Valentine's Day recipe

Your recipe can be in any category you choose. Please include a story about what makes your recipe special to you; to whom you served it, what inspired you to make it, whatever you feel like sharing.

Deadline for entries will be February 14, 2008 at midnight, MST. Winner will be chosen completely subjectively.

A modest prize, I know, but it was hand-crocheted by me! (my grandma taught me how to make 'em.) I use a whole towel, folded in half, not cut in half like some do. These towels are useful and cute, and this one will complement a variety of decors. I keep mine right by the sink for ultimate handiness and convenience.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

My family LOVES this chicken....i serve the chicken with wild rice and a veggie...usually steamed brocolli or something like that!

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp molasses
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
4 garlic cloves
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

comine first 4 ingredients in a nonreactive dish and add chicken. cover and marinate in fridge for 1 hour, turning occassionally.

preheat oven to 425 degrees
remove chicken from dish, reserving marinade and arrange in shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. pour reserved marinade over chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper. bake for 20 minutes, basting occasionally with marinade. continue baking, without basting, for an additional 20 minutes or until chicken is done...serve with lemon wedges and garnish with parsley if desired

Beef and Bean Chimichangas

I love mexican food. This recipe is AWESOME, one because it taste good, the other...these are BAKED chimichangas not fried!!! yay!!! This recipe also calls for ground beef, but I actually use ground turkey...

1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups corn
2 cups taco sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 can refried beans
8 (12") flour tortillas
shredded chese
1 tbsp melted butter
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350. brown meat, drain greese and add onion, pepper, and corn. cook 5 more minutes (until veggies are tender) Stir in taco sauce and season with chili powder, garlic salt and cumin. Stir until blended and cook until heated through.
open can of beans...spread thin layer of beans down middle of each tortilla (I warm up the tortillas before doing this) and spoon beef mixture down with cheese. Roll up and place seam side down onto baking sheet. Brush tortillas w/melted butter
bake for 30-35 minutes until gold brown...

Serve with lettuce, tomatoes....we also do guacamole and sour cream! with a side of spanish rice and beans....YUMMY!!!

3 Bean Avocado Dip

This recipe is meant as an appetizer. My good friend gave it to me, and said that they actually ate it as a meal. So I tried the same and its Delicious! it would be GREAT as an appetizer for a party but also is good as a meal. my kids love it! and they are getting good nutrients from all those BEANS!!!!

2 cans red beans/pinto beans
2 cans black beans
2 cans kidney beans
1 can low sodium, petite diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5-6 T Chopped cilantro
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups picante sauce
1 avocados chopped
low fat cheddar cheese, shredded
salt to taste

Drain all the beans. Put 1st 8 ingredients in crockpot. cook on low 4 hours. Serve topped with avocado and cheese on top. Eat with tortilla chips.

Note from Min: This is also great on baked potatoes!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pear Crisp

This is a recipe that sounded good to me. Possibly because I'm hungry right now. Or maybe because I am completely enamored with, dare I say it again, this Pear Pie...regardless, I am putting pears on my list (again) and I will make this Pear Crisp and report back, with pictures. The recipe comes from the back of my C&H Brown Sugar package, attributed to Jean Porter.

UPDATE: I made this pear crisp tonight for dinner for 9 people, and it was delicious! I used red pears, dried cherries and pecans, and served it with vanilla ice cream. I will definitely make this again!

Picture some day when I get a new computer!

Pear Crisp

2 pounds ripe pears (4 to 5)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup dried cherries, blueberries or raisins
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup C&H Pure Cane Golden Brown Sugar (you can tell where the recipe came from; just use whatever brown sugar you have!)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg
Vanilla ice cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Half and core pears; slice about 1/2 inch thick. Toss with lemon juice. Combine pears and dried fruit in a 9x13-inch baking dish or shallow casserole of similar size.

In a medium bowl mix butter and flour with a fork or your fingers until crumbly. Mix in rolled oats, brown sugar, nuts and spices. Sprinkle mixture evenly over fruit and press down lightly.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until pears are tender. (check with the tip of a sharp knife or a pick). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, creme fraiche or whipped cream, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Now, I'm off to eat another slice guessed it, Pear Pie. Then there will only be one slice left. And I will be sad, and yes, I WILL contemplate eating ALL THE REST before my husband gets home instead of sharing the last piece with him. It IS that good. Have you tried it yet??

Monday, February 4, 2008


Artisan Bread in Banneton mold

Just had to share what I just took out of my oven.
Looks good for a first try. I know it doesn't have to look good to taste good, but there is much to be said for eye appeal. If you haven't tried this bread, please check out my previous post on Artisan Bread and give it a try, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Marlow's Pie Crust

Making pie crust is just as easy as purchasing it from the store, defrosting it, shaping/cutting. And it tastes so much better when you make it yourself!

3 lb flour (best if using all-purpose or pastry flour)
2 lb fat (butter or shortening or a combination. the more shortening the flakier the crust)
1 lb water
1 ounce salt
(makes 12 8-inch pie shells)

Hand mix flour and fat into hazelnut size pieces. Mix water and salt. Add water to the flour mixture - just incorporate the two - don't over mix. Measure out the amount of dough needed. (1 ounce of dough per inch of crust) Shape into a disk. You can freeze the extra and use some other time - it will keep in the freezer for over a year.

Rolling out dough: shape into an egg shape. Roll out. If you really think you need to use some flour to prevent sticking, use very little. The more flour you add the less flaky the crust will turn out. Roll out dough until it is 1 finger longer then the pie shell. To place the dough into the pan; turn the pan over and cover the bottom, then set another shell on top and flip over. If you have plenty of extra pie pans, then keep the 2 pans together and place in the oven upside down on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees until edge is brown. Turn shell right side up, remove extra pie pan and continue baking until dough is golden brown. You now have a parbaked shell ready to fill - this method even works great with fruit pies.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Faux Pie Crust

Yesterday, I made Pear Pie. I have to tell you, is it delicious and you need to go bake one right now. I mean it. I also have to tell you, I did not make the pie crust. I could say that I didn't have time, whatever, I just didn't do it. I am planning to do it one of these days.

So I usually use Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts, you know the kind that come rolled up in a box in the refrigerated section of the grocery store? Only that brand, no other brand because the others don't taste as good. And I'm sure that's not news to anyone, and you're wondering, where's the Hint?

This time, I placed one crust on top of the other crust, and rolled them gently together with the rolling pin. This made the crust thicker, gave me more edge to work with, and miracle of miracles, brought it closer to tasting like a homemade crust! You should try it next time you want a pie but don't want to make a crust! It really is delicious. Try it when you make the Pear Pie you're planning on making...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Homemade Granola

This is an excellent granola recipe, I don't remember where I got it. It's quite simple, delicious, and it really lasts for a long time.

Makes about 8 cups.

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup golden raisins (I have also substituted dried blueberries for this, delicious)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread shredded coconut onto a baking pan, and bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 300. Line two baking pans with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, canola oil and honey. Stir together until well combined. Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheets; bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.

3. Break up cooled granola; sprinkle with raisins and toasted coconut. Stir to combine. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup

Winter is here to stay so time to make soup. This soup is easy and good and one you should try . It may not make winter go away but it will make it much more bearable. As I look out my window the snow is coming down and it is truly beautiful. I am nice and warm inside; with bread raising on the counter and a quilt to work on, indeed I am very happy. However come March I will be very ready for Spring. Make some soup and enjoy this beautiful time of year.

Butternut Squash Soup
Pre heat oven to 400
Take a cookie sheet and line with foil ( just makes clean-up easier)
Place the following on the cookie sheet:
About 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled . seeded and cut up into cubes.
1 large onion, large chunks
2 tart apples, peeled, cut in pieces.
l pear, peeled , cut in pieces.
Toss with about 2-4 TBL olive oil
Sprinkle with the following spices: thyme, sage, salt and pepper, and a dash of nutmeg.
Roast in 400 oven , stirring after about 15 minutes, continue roasting about 30-45 minutes, until tender.
In blender or food processor take some of the roasted veggies etc. and some chicken broth (a total of 3 1/2 cups) process until smooth as desired. You will probably have to do this in a couple of batches depending how large your blender/processor is. Place in large saucepan and warm to simmer, then adjust seasonings adding more as needed, then add 1/2 to 1 cup half and half. Don't let it boil after adding cream. You might do as I do and add the half and half (after warming separately) to each serving bowl, instead of to the saucepan.

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