Doin’ The Salsa

 

When I was a kid, you didn’t see salsa on the store shelves in Chicago. At least not that I remember in my doddering old age.Β  There also wasn’t a variety of chips to serve the non-existent salsa with. You had Jays potato chips (yes Jays; not Lays. Jays was/is regional to the Midwest), Doritos in two flavors- Nacho Cheese and Taco (I HATED the Taco ones; still do and wish they had never made a comeback) and bagged popcorn. Yes, yes I AM old. Why do you mention it? I am also old enough to remember when frozen meals were called TV dinners and came in foil trays like this *points down*

I prefer not to think about what the parts that weren’t white meat consisted of. Do Turkeys have lips? These wonderful dinners had school paste masquerading as mashed potatoes and veggies that were so mushy you could feed them to the seniors at the nursing home with no problem.

On the subject of “omg, I’m old and nobody else remembers this”, does ANYBODY other than me remember the pop (soda for those born elsewhere) named “Anna Banana”? I have asked others and no one else seems to remember it.

 

Moving back to the subject of salsa. Yes, that was the original subject… I just got distracted by shiny things. Imagine that huh? When I was a kid, I had never heard of salsa. I imagine it was available in certain areas of the country but not mine. Then came the taco sauces. Thin uninspired mild stuff with very little flavor. Then we started coming into the time when people were branching out in their food tastes and from what I saw, salsas were one of the first things that became something everyone was eating. You name the flavor, there was/is a salsa with that taste. Want some pineapple salsa, no problem! Habanaro Peach Salsa… get it here!Β  Turkey Lip/Orange flavored salsa? Yep; we have it! Fine, so I’ve never REALLY seen that one but I bet somewhere, someone tried to make something with turkey lips!

My favorites have always been the fruit flavored salsas. There is something about the sweet taste of the fruit mixed with the bite of peppers and onions that I just love. That’s also why I love chutneys. Same fruit to heat thing going on there.

In Spring and Summer, I tend to make Salsas even more. they are a great way to get some fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. And generally speaking, kids tend to love them too which is always good when it comes to the fruit and veggie idea. So today I kind of cleaned out my fridge of the fruits I needed to use. Add some vegetables, some spice, some sweet and I ended up with a great fruity salsa. It is so good with chips but I can also see it making a fantastic cover for some grilled chicken or fish. I was really pleased with how this turned out so I hope you enjoy it. πŸ™‚ This really needs to be eaten the day it’s made to maintain the fresh taste and texture of the fruits.

SPICY THREE FRUIT SALSA

  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 10 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 jalapeno, very finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder (can omit this if you prefer more mild but it adds a nice smokey flavor and aroma)
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Mix everything together in a large bowl. Taste for personal preferences. I added a bit more chipotle and a touch more lime but that’s cause I love them both.
  2. Eat.
  3. Comment here telling me how easy and how tasty this was. πŸ˜›

Have I Mentioned That I love Berries And Chocolate?

I love them separately, I love them together. I do so love them on a plane, I would happily chow down on them on a train. I would eat them with a goat (but he better not try to get any) I would eat them near a moat. I will so eat them sam I am. I would eat them in a can. Ok, maybe not that last part but my rhyming skills are rusty.

Ok, now that my Dr. Seuss moment is over, I really do love berries. And chocolate. And berries and chocolate together. I look forward to Spring/Summer every year for one reason only since I hate the heat. I can get berries inexpensively (and corn on the cob but that’s another story.)

I wanted to make something with fruit for today (Memorial Day) but I just wasn’t up to something that took a lot of work or, since I wanted something my two year old (and grandkids) could eat, something that was too messy.

I decided to make a bar cookie with fresh Strawberries. Then the wonderful thought occurred to me to use chocolate too because I mean really, is there anything better than a chocolate covered strawberry? Except maybe chocolate and raspberries.

I ended up with a mildly sweet shortbread style crust with a juicy creamy chocolate covered strawberry center topped by crumbs and more chocolate. While my recipe is fairly different, I want to give a shout out to the lovely hostess ofΒ  Can You Stay For Dinner for the inspiration.

So if you want a nice bar cookie to take with to a BBQ tonight, this one will work for you. It would also be great as a weeknight (or weekend) dessert for your family or the best idea of all, just as one of those go hide in the closet and whimper pitifully if anyone comes near and tries to take them from you style sweets.

Enjoy!! Have a great Memorial Day!

CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRY BARS

  • CRUST-
  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • FILLING-
  • 1 lb container fresh strawberries, capped and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves (I actually ended up using a 1/4 cup strawberry and a 1/4 cup Raspberry but you can use what you like)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12 ounce bag chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch pan.
  3. Combine flour, butter and powdered sugar until you have pea sized crumbs.
  4. Pat 2 cups of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Set the rest aside.
  5. Bake the crust for ten minutes or until a very light golden brown around the edges.
  6. Meanwhile, gently fold your sliced strawberries together with the preserves.
  7. In a small bowl, mix half the bag of chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and microwave on high in 30 seconds increments, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  8. Carefully spread the strawberry mixture on top of the hot crust. Then pour the chocolate/milk mix on top of the berries and spread. Sprinkle that with the reserved crumbs and the other half of the bag of chocolate chips.
  9. Bake at 350 for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the center is set.
  10. Let cool, preferably in the fridge for a couple of hours. But just letting it cool and attacking it works too.

 

Do You Know The Muffin Man?


If not, well, you know me right? I can be “The Muffin Top Woman”.

I like muffins. I like anything that can be made in a muffin pan. In other words, cupcakes, mini pound cakes, muffins, pot pies, Hershey’s chocolate nuggets (WHAT!? If I take some, unwrap them and put them in a muffin tin before eating them, it counts!), Baileys Irish Cream (it falls under the same heading as above), steaks, french fries….

Betcha didn’t know muffin tins were so versatile huh? Stick with me kid… I’ll train you right πŸ˜€

I decided to nix the High tea theme for now. I just kept thinking to myself that while baked goods are wonderful any time of the year, a high tea theme that involved turning ones oven on for hours at a time and suffering heat stroke was more suited for cooler weather. Since it is close to 90 here today, that doesn’t really fall under the cooler weather unless you normally live on Mercury. But I will definitely get back to it when Autumn gets here.

In the meantime, here is a very Spring/Summer type of muffin. With fresh Blueberries and fresh Peaches in it, it is a perfect way to enjoy those fruits you bought 10 quarts of because they were on sale. Or is it just me that does that and then wonders what I was thinking? As I look downstairs to the 60 ears of corn I bought yesterday with the ambitious notion of cutting them off the ear and freezing them, I have the feeling that yes, I AM the only doofus wasting nice weather by being inside preparing corn for freezing πŸ˜›

This makes a LOT of muffins. I got 24 regular size and 4 large from it. So it’s perfect for potlucks or sharing or freezing.

BLUEBERRY PEACH MUFFINS

  • 4 peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 6 ounce container peach yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peach (could sub Apricot) preserves
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Β  Prepare 36 regular sized muffin pans (If you don’t have three pans, just do it in batches.) or 24 regular sized and four large ones. Peel and chop your peaches. Easiest way to peel peaches is to put them in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two then dump them into a bowl of ice water. The peel should slip right off then.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the peaches and blueberries and stir just until combined.
  3. Fold in the fruit. Don’t over stir.
  4. Bake at 350 for 22 to 27 minutes or until tops are golden brown and they are firm to the touch in the center.
  5. Cool for a few minutes in the pan on a wire rack then take them out and finish cooling them on the rack.

Go Way Marykin, Go Way!

You always knew when she was somewhere up ahead. Traffic would be crawling at a snails pace and there would be a lot of cussing and horn blowing. Yet… the cussing was rarely directed at her nor was the horn blowing. It was at any “newbie” drivers who seemed to be getting frustrated at her slow progress and didn’t understand why this old woman was allowed such a free rein on the roads.

She had to have been at least 80 years old. This tiny Korean woman was as much a part of the bases family as any soldier. Nobody seemed to know if she was somebodies mama-san or housekeeper or just one of the many Koreans who had come here years before and become forgotten.

She didn’t seem to understand or care that the sidewalks were for human traffic and the roads for vehicles. She walked straight down the middle of the lane of traffic that was heading in the direction she was going, pushing her heavy beat up shopping cart in front of her. When there was a stop sign, she would stand there as if she too were a car, waiting for her turn to go. If a light turned red before she could finish crossing, she would simply stand in the middle of the road and wait as traffic would carefully go around her, soldiers greeting her with “hi mama-san; how are you today?” as they passed, most handing her folded up money or a small sack of groceries they had bought for just this purpose. Periodically she would just stop and sit down in the road to rest.

Inevitably, when she would sit down, the driver stuck behind her would offer to give her a lift to wherever she was going. Her response never varied. She would stand up, brush herself off with an inate dignity few humans can match and would wave both hands disdainfully at the offer saying, “go way marykin; go way. I walk goodly.”

Yet in her cart, sticking out, was a faded American Flag wrapped in plastic. If it rained, she would quickly pull it out and protect it under her clothing, hunched over to make sure no water hit her obviously precious burden.

At 5pm, every night, all traffic would come to a standstill as evening reveille was blown and the flags were taken down for the night. Soldiers all over base would get out of their cars or come to a standstill wherever they were and salute until it was done. Mama-san was no exception but her routine was known to have brought more than one soldier to tears.

Every night, as the sounds wafted through the air, she would get out her flag and lay it gently on the top of the shopping cart. She would then stand as straight as her aged body would let her and raise a trembling hand to her forehead in a salute as tears streamed down her face and the other hand softly stroked her plastic wrapped treasure. When it was over, she would tuck her flag back into place, wipe her eyes and continue her seemingly never ending walk.

She was found dead one day, flag in her arms, sitting upright in front of the Post Exchange when the staff got there in the morning. There were no identifying papers found in her cart or on her person. The soldiers of the base created a fund to give her a funeral and a proper burial. At her funeral, it was standing room only for this little old Korean lady known only as mama-san. Her dignity and her love for what was assumed was some long dead American soldier had won her a spot in the hearts of an entire military base. In a cemetery in Mannheim Germany is a tombstone that simply says “Mama-San; she was one of ours”

She has a place in my memory today, over twenty years later. Rest in peace mama san.

 

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. To all the people out there who have lost a loved one because they willingly served our country, thank you for YOUR sacrifices. God Bless.

Anyone For High Tea?

Dontcha just want to dip a finger...or hand...or face...into that creamy butter?

I have always had a fascination with anything originating in the U.K. I have a habit of talking in British and Scottish accents (don’t ask; I have no idea why and yes, I do it rather well actually πŸ˜› ), I love royal weddings & yes, I watched the weddings of Charles and Diana, Andrew and Fergie and I loved watching William and Catherine get married (is it just me or are they totally adorable? I just want to hug them both and invite them over to play board games and eat junk food.).

I also have a fascination with many of the foods of the British isles. Mind you, you’re not going to find say, haggis, posted here anytime soon (ok never) but there are, contrary to popular belief, many good foods that come from that area of the world as well as many traditions surrounding the food. One of my favorites has always been the idea of Afternoon tea or High Tea as we Americans tend to think of it.

So from today through the rest of this weekend (Sunday) I am going to do dishes that would be perfect for an afternoon tea. Scones, muffins, a cupcake or twelve, tea sandwiches, sweet condiments to spread on them as well as a couple of coffee drinks and a flavored tea or two. If I gain ten pounds over the next few days, know that I have made this noble sacrifice all out of a deep love for all of you.

I’m just posting one today cause life is in the middle of intruding lol. But what a one it is. Tender orange Scones with a sweet orange butter to spread on them. Serve these with a nice hot cup of tea (ok, I supppoooseeeeee you coffee drinkers can have some coffee πŸ˜› ) and make sure you stick your pinkie finger out and you must, you absolutely must, talk in a British accent. It’s the law. This is loosely adapted from a recipe I found years back on food.com when it was still recipezaar.com

ORANGE SCONES WITH ORANGE BUTTER

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • zest from one large orange
  • 1/3 cup butter, cold
  • 1/2 cup mandarin orange segments, well drained
  • 1 6 ounce container regular (not sugar free/fat free) vanilla yogurt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • sugar to sprinkle on top
  • FOR THE ORANGE BUTTER-
  • 1/2 cup butter,softened
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and orange zest. Cut in the 1/3 cup cold butter with a pastry blender until the dough forms coarse crumbs. Add the orange segments, yogurt and egg. Stir with fork just until mixture forms a soft dough. This is a very soft very sticky dough so be ready for that. Don’t try and add a ton more flour to make a firm dense dough or you will end up with tough dense scones. Dump onto a board or counter lightly sprinkled with flour and knead about a dozen times. Now go wash your hands because you will have soft goopy dough all over them :-P.Β  Take the dough and put it on the greased cookie sheet. Using SLIGHTLY damp hands, pat into a circle. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut into 8 wedges and bake at 400 until golden brown and firm to the touch about 22 minutes. Please keep that “ovens are different and annoying” thing in mind when baking. MY oven took 22. Yours may take 25; it may take 19. Go by color and touch more than time.
  3. To make the butter, just beat the butter ingredients together.
  4. Get a scone… slather it with so much butter it drips down your chin. Please tell me it’s not only me that does that. I’ll really feel foolish. Ehhh, no I won’t. πŸ˜€

I Do Not Have A Caffeine Problem

I ALWAYS shake like this. It’s a natural thing for me. really; it is. *Cough cough*

I don’t much like coffee. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I’m a tea person at heart. But being the fair kind hearted person that I am, I’m always willing to make exceptions. So what exceptions do I make you ask? You were asking weren’t you? I like coffee if it has 4000 calories due to the flavored syrups, piles of whipped cream and various sprinkles. I mean seriously? Is there a reason to drink it any other way? It’s natural depths of flavors are brought out by all the other ingredients. At least that’s what I tell myself when I go to Starbucks and order a cafe mocha macchiato latte with 4 extra shots of espresso made with heavy cream straight from the cow, don’t hold the can of whipped cream and 2 extra cups of chocolate syrup please.

Recently, Starbucks has me hooked with the new Coconut Mocha Frappuccino. I can easily drink 4, ok, 12, maybe 23 of those bad boys in a row. Don’t worry; I keep an eye out for all the restrooms nearby. And the caffeine doesn’t bother me a bit. Just ask my husband. We were just talking about this last night as I slurped down one of my home made frappuccinos. It’s still considered slurping it down if you have your head buried in the glass licking out the remaining contents from the inside isn’t it? He told me I looked adorable with that caffeinated wild look in my eyes and whipped cream dripping down my chin. He still likes to bring up the day we got the police escort out of our local Starbucks after I had six Cinnamon Dolce Lattes in a row. I’ve never understood why the police were so upset. I was just trying to help clean out the blenders. And the counters. And the back room. And the other customers. As for my husband bringing it up with that funny look on his face, it’s not like the bail money set us back THAT much. I like to think of it as a bonding experience. For the life of me though, I can’t figure out why the closed sign is always up when I go near that place.Β  When we reminisce about good times like that, my husbands smile looks forced. Go figure.

When we had to mortgage the kids however, I realized it might be time to figure out how to make my own Coconut Mocha Frappuccinos at home. We had to save the money plus the kids weren’t here to help me with the housework. So Idid. Because…well… that’s what I do. I create things that hopefully you like and you tell me how wonderful I am to have done so. At least it works that way in my day dreams.

This isn’t exactly like Starbucks (I love you Starbucks people!!!! Don’t be mad at me! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?) but it’s darn close and it doesn’t cost me five bucks. Which means I have five bucks extra to waste spend at places like Amazon.Β  That way, I can buy educational books like “How to beat your caffeine addiction in twelve easy cups”.

In the meantime however, I’ll go lick out clean out the blender and you go make some of these. In theory it makes enough for two, but we all know better, don’t we?

By the way, anyone know if I have to keep paying the mortgage on the kids once they turn 18?

COCONUT MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO WANNA-BE

  • 2 cups of ice cubes
  • 1 cup milk (you can use whatever kind. We all know I used whole)
  • 1/2 cup double strength coffee (just make half a pot of coffee using the amount of coffee you’d use for a full pot)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract (found with the vanilla extract at the store) (I plan on getting some coconut syrup to try making this with)
  • GARNISH-Β  whipped cream, caramel syrup, chocolate syrup and coconut flakes
  1. Toss all the ingredients in the blender except for the garnish. Blend until …well… blended. garnish then drink. then make more. Then drink. Then make more. Then drink. Then come clean my house. Do you do windows?

Call Them Delicious But Don’t Call Them Sliders

I’m not sure if I have mentioned before that I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago (yes, that gets capital letters… πŸ˜› ). I have been here in Kentucky since 1988 (Sobs as I realize I have lived here longer than some of my readers have been alive) but I am originally a city girl.

Everyone has heard of White Castle right? If you haven’t you either live outside the United States or have been here but need to periodically move away from the rock you live under. πŸ˜€ They originated right in the Midwest so I hold a rather possessive interest in them :-P. I loved them as a kid and I still love them. I was thrilled beyond sanity (not that doing something to take me past the point of sanity is difficult) when they finally opened a store not far from me. Ok, so it’s 30 miles but when you live in the sticks, near and far become very relative terms. I don’t get them often but oh my do I love those greasy little bite sized pieces of oniony heaven.

Being from the Midwest (Chicago in case I didn’t say that loud enough earlier and no, I’ve never been involved in a drive by. You have no idea how many times I’ve been asked that), I find myself getting mildly annoyed when I hear every sort of mini burger one could think of (most quite yummy but that’s neither here nor there) being called sliders. THEY AREN’T SLIDERS! THEY AREN’T THEY AREN’T THEY AREN’T!!! Ok, that’s out of my system now. However,Β  “Sliders” can only be bought at White Castle and even then, one doesn’t go in and place an order saying “I want 315 sliders”. Do that and the employees and other customers will know you spend far too much time paying attention to weird media sources. They are just hamburgers… or maybe “White Castles” if you are in the middle of Chicago ordering them. But the mini, small, tiny, minute, teenie, call them what you will, burgers that get made at home are not sliders. Shhh…don’t argue. They aren’t. Just trust me.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious and fun as hell to eat though. So make a big batch of these mini burgers ( Did you notice I didn’t call them sliders? Did ya see? Huh huh huh?) cover them with the tangy sweet onion relish and slather some extra cheese and the Cajun mayo and eat until you burst. Since these are mini, they have no calories. You knew that right? Small means no calories. The calories dissolve before they get to your stomach. Just a little FYI for you there.

CHEESY CHIPOTLE MINI BURGERS WITH AN ONION RELISH

&

A SPICY CAJUN MAYO

  • For the burgers-
  • 3 pounds ground chuck
  • 1/2 of a 7 ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces shredded Colby jack cheese (sub your favorite if Colby jack doesn’t do it for you)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 12 packs of mini burger buns
  • For the onion relish-
  • 3 large onions, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • For the spicy Cajun mayo
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons salt free cajun seasoning (if you only have salted, be more careful on amounts and taste as you go so it doesn’t end up over salted)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • salt to taste if using the salt free seasoning
  1. For the mayo, mix all the ingredients together and then refrigerate until serving time. See how easy that was? πŸ˜›
  2. For the relish, add the olive oil and sliced onions to a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Turn heat down to low (about 3 on an electric stove) and cover the pan, Stirring occasionally, cook the onions until they are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and brown sugar. Stir well and cook over medium heat until the vinegar is totally absorbed, about five minutes. Set aside until ready to serve.
  3. For the burgers, mix all the burger ingredients together. Don’t over work it; just mix until combined. Shape the meat into 24 small burgers. Cook via your favorite method. I used my George Foreman grill. If you’re going to use a regular grill, I highly suggest using one of those wire grill pans that holds small things unless you LIKE digging through the coals for your food πŸ˜›


Just An Old Fashioned Girl At Heart

Until you surround it with juicy fruits and some pillowy whipped cream it can seem....

Although I’m sure if my kids had their way, they would delete the fashioned part and just say that I am old. But what do they know? What’s the old saying? Youth is wasted on the young. πŸ˜› Let us old farts be young…or something like that. If I think of a way to put that logically, I’ll get back to you. Until then, I guess I’ll just stay old and feeble minded .

Seriously though, I really am an old fashioned girl. It took me forever to join the 20th century and get a cell phone because I thought they were silly. For the longest time, I only had a 20 pound Tracfone. You know the kind. You had to pull up the antennae to get it to work and even then it only worked on alternating Tuesdays in months with J in them. I still haven’t joined the 21st century when it comes to phones. My phone may be smaller now but it doesn’t have any bells or whistles. I can’t use it to go onliine, I can’t play games on it, I can barely make calls on it half the time. But hey, it’s not 20 pounds! I’m getting there!

I’m old fashioned in other ways too. Ways that make my teen boys still at home roll their eyes and give me the “but the other kids get to!” routine way more than is probably good for my eardrums. I limit TV watching, they aren’t allowed to watch anything over PG unless I’ve seen it myself or know from a reputable source that it’s ok. They are only allowed on the computer one hour one day a week and then an hour and a half each weekend day or vacation day. I’m so cruel. It makes me happy. πŸ˜€

I’m pretty old fashioned in many ways when it comes to food too. I absolutely love the recipes I find online from fellow bloggers or cooking sites or what have you and am constantly needing a bib to sop up the drool over so many of the desserts posted. But when it comes to cake, I’ve never been a big cake eater. My vice has always been more along the lines of ice cream. So unless I am craving gooey frosting like I was the other day with the Caramel Cupcakes I made and posted here, I prefer a simpler cake. One that always works for me is pound cake. You can do so much with it. It’s good warm, it’s good cold. It tastes great plain and it can be fancied up and made oh so fattening by adding creamy sauces and sugared fruits. You can change the flavoring in it and get an entirely different cake from the same recipe. Bottom line, pound cake is, in my opinion, the best all around cake when you want a cake but don’t want either a whole lot of trouble making it or something over the top rich and goopy. The one I am posting here has been my go to pound cake for about 15 years now. It has a fine tender crumb and a nice crispy crust; the quintessential pound cake assets. With the lemon flavor I post here, it is a mild sweet NOT tart lemon flavor. If you want more flavor just make a glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar. So get to cooking!Β  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. πŸ™‚ This is also excellent with the almond extract variation. In some ways, I almost prefer that one; depends on my mood. πŸ™‚

SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE

  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons lemon extract or 1 tablespoon Almond extract if you prefer an almond flavored cake (yes, you read that right. Four. If you’re not wanting lemon, just omit it and the zest and juice.)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of half a lemon (again, omit the zest and juice if you’re not wanting lemon)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan. Or spray with cooking spray that has both oil and flour.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, lemon juice and other extracts, if using.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating it with the sour cream. Beat well after each addition.
  6. Bake at 350 for 55 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. A few teenie tiny baby crumbs are ok, but no loose batter and if’s it’s dripping, you may want to make sure you turned the oven on. πŸ˜€
  7. Let cool in the pan for ten minutes then invert onto a serving plate. Serve cold, serve warm, bury your face in the plate, smear it on your toes… whatever works. I won’t judge. πŸ˜€

...pretty unassuming can't it? But don't be fooled.

Boredom Is REALLY The Mother Of Invention

I think all the things we take for granted were discovered out of boredom, not out of necessity.Β  Did we NEED electricity? Nope. Did we NEED phones? Nope. Did we NEED cars? Nope. Did we need Twinkies and Cheetos? Ok, maybe we needed those. I do anyway. Life would be hell without my Cheeto fix. Dipped in hot sauce and/or blue cheese dressing. I know. Strange. But it’s good darn it!

Boredom works in cooking too. Buffalo chicken wings, brownies, Twinkies , God knows how many things came about because the creator was bored with cooking things the normal way and wanted something different.

Well, today I wanted something different. And while it won’t be as earth shaking as Twinkies or Cheetos cause I mean, really, can ANYTHING match those two, it turned out pretty yummy.

Years and years ago, I learned how to make a Caramel flan. I always got a kick out of how quickly the melted sugar would harden up. Yes, I realize I’m easily amused. But the transformation from a solid to a liquid back to a solid again, albeit one that tasted completely different, was strangely fascinating to me. So for the longest time I had been wanting to play around with caramelized sugar. Not caramel sauce though that ended up in this recipe too… just the sugar. But my worry was wasting a bunch of sugar and it not working.Β  A couple months ago one of my favorite bloggers, Culinary Concoctions By Peabody, did it with
These delicious cookies and since I now knew it could be done, I knew I would be trying it sooner or later.

Today was the day. But I didn’t want cookies. I wanted cupcakes with a creamy “OMG, how much sugar did you put in this” type of frosting. So I made a cupcake with the finely ground caramelized sugar. When you make this, be ready; the sugar doesn’t immediately dissolve into the butter the way regular sugar does. It clumps up. Just keep beating. You will still have some clumps after the batter is completely made but that’s actually ok. When the cupcakes are done, you will have these slightly dimpled cakes with small bits of caramelized sugar and those bits give a nice caramelly burst of flavor. The cupcakes themselves aren’t overly sweet but the frosting makes up for that πŸ˜›

If you have never worked with caramelized sugar before, be careful. This is dangerously hot when liquid and stays that way for a while.

CARAMEL CUPCAKES WITH A CARAMEL BUTTER CREAM

  • For the Caramelized Sugar-
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • For the cupcake-
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground caramelized sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • For the frosting-
  • 3/4 cup Smuckers Caramel Sundae Syrup
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) For the caramelized sugar, first, line a cookies sheet with foil and set aside. Then take the 2 cups sugar and pour into a heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Over medium heat and never leaving the stove, cook the sugar. When you start, it will start to lump up. That’s fine. It will smooth out as it melts. Stir every ten seconds or so to expose all the sugar to heat. When it starts to melt, just continually gently stir & turn your heat down to about 4. This isn’t a quick process but if you have the heat too high the only thing you’re going to end up with is a scorched pan and a really nasty smelly mess of burnt unusable sugar. When it is all melted and a nice golden brown color (be careful here. It can go from golden brown to burnt in a heartbeat), carefully pour it out onto the foil lined pan. Set it aside somewhere not reachable by small hands and let it cool.

2) Once it is cool, break it up into large chunks. Eat some :-P.Β  Save some for garnishing the cupcakes. Put the chunks into a food processor bowl and process until it is finely ground.

3) For the cupcakes- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 14 muffin cups. Or use cupcakes liners because you are smart and don’t want to have to scrub a muffin pan πŸ˜€ . In a small bowl, combine your flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4) Put your butter and sugar into a large bowl. Beat until well blended. Remember, it’s going to look clumpy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the extracts.

5) Add half the flour mixture, beat well, then add in half the milk. Repeat.

6)Pour the batter into the lined cupcake pan.

7) Bake at 350 for 19 to 21 minutes or until the top is firm and a nice golden brown. Let cool in the pan that is set over a wire rack for five minutes then take out and let cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

8)For the frosting- BeatΒ  butter and caramel syrup (I wanted to use the ground caramelized sugar in here too but I realized that it wouldn’t work after I saw the way it clumps since it can’t bake back out in frosting.) until creamy. Add in the vanilla and the powdered sugar and beat until thick and creamy. Spoon or pipe onto the cupcakes. Garnish with the slivers of hard sugar you held back and more caramel syrup.

 

 

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Real men Do SO eat Quiche!

Asparagus Canadian bacon Quiche

The Italian Quiche

I know this for a fact because every time I tie my husband to a chair and force bites of quiche into his mouth he eats it. So there! That theory shout outta the water. I’m pretty sure the threats and the rubber chicken I smack him with have nothing to do with it. He LIKES it. He really likes it!

I have never figured out how quiche got a reputation for being a food only women like. I mean really? It has meat and cheese and eggs in it. I know of no men who don’t like all of those in any combination as frequently as they can manage to eat them.

Quiche can be one of those meals that either turns out fantastic and you find yourself saying that you really need to eat it more often. Or it can be something that you eat and say “ehhh; not sure what all the fuss is about”.Β  I can’t help but feel that part of the problem is that it can tend towards bland. Take some swiss cheese, take a little bacon, throw it in a crust with eggs and milk or cream and call it done. Hello?! Can we say borrrrringgggggg?

That’s not to say that a nice Swiss cheesy bacony quiche can’t be good but it can always be helped along. Or better yet, just use different filling ingredients. Nothing says you have to use bacon or at least not ONLY bacon. When I make quiche, I make two of them and I make the fillings a little more exciting. I save the Swiss and bacon for the French Onion Bread Pudding I make. That recipe will probably go up come Autumn.

Today I made one with Asparagus, Canadian Bacon, various herbs and spices as well as a ton of Swiss cheese. The other has Italian Sausage, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Pepperoni, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and spices.

One tip before I get to the recipes. It is very easy to overfill pie pans when you make quiche. You see it and think it needs more cheese. Or it needs more meat. Well, don’t do it. All you will end up with is a mess. If you want to do that and I have done it before, just make extra filling base (the egg/milk/cream mixture) and put it into a 3 quart baking dish with no crust and call it a Frittata. πŸ˜› Also, make sure you put a baking pan under each quiche just in case of overflow.

REAL MANS QUICHE

AKA

SUN DRIED TOMATO ITALIAN QUICHE

&

ASPARAGUS & CANADIAN BACON QUICHE

Think I had a long enough title there?

  • 2 ready made 9 inch deep dish pie crusts (sure you can make your own but…ummm…why?)
  • For the Italian Quiche-
  • 2 Italian sausage links, cooked and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Italian Medley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Basil
  • For the Asparagus & Canadian Bacon Quiche-
  • 1/4 lb asparagus, chopped and 6 stalks cut in half to garnish
  • Half of a 6 ounce package Canadian bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • For the quiche base
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (preferably whole)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) Layer your filling ingredients in the pie shells, ending with the cheeses and herbs and spices in each shell. Like This: *points down

3) In a large bowl, mix together your eggs, milk , cream, sour cream, salt and pepper.

4) Carefully ladle the mixture evenly over the filling ingredients.

5) Garnish the Asparagus quiche with the reserved Asparagus.

6) Bake both at 350 degrees until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Check after 35 minutes because ovens are different and annoying.

Italian Quiche

Asparagus Canadian bacon Quiche