Candid Reflections

March 23, 2010

Red and White

Filed under: In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 3:15 pm

Enjoying some dehydrated strawberries,

and bananas.

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March 17, 2010

Mocha Silk Pie

Filed under: In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 11:54 am

Oh!  Thank yous go out to the uber-talented Ree, creator of yummy recipes and recipe sites like Tasty Kitchen , for this most delicious recipe:  Mocha Silk Pie   Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!  I made it three times in one week… my children vowed that my wish was their command, my husband did the dishes, I served it to my parents and they increased my inheritance!  Rich and silky, I topped a slice with real whipped cream… and discovered my new weakness.

Crust

1 cup Pecans, Finely Chopped

½ cups Packed Brown Sugar

2 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Grated

2 Tablespoons Kahlua  (I used Amaretto)

Dash Of Salt

Filling

2 sticks Butter (salted)

1-½ cup Sugar

2 teaspoons Instant Coffee Granules

1 teaspoon Kahlua  (I used Amaretto)

3 ounces, weight Semi-sweet (or Bittersweet) Chocolate

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

4 whole Large Eggs

Preparation Instructions:

To make the crust, combine chopped pecans, brown sugar, grated chocolate, and salt. Stir with a fork to combine, then drizzle in Kahlua, stirring until combined. Press mixture into a pie pan, bringing it up the sides a bit. *Do not bake* Set aside or refrigerate until needed.

In small microwave safe bowl, melt 3 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate until stirrable (about 45 seconds on high). Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter, sugar, 2 teaspoons instant coffee, and 1 teaspoon Kahlua until fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. When melted chocolate is cooled, drizzle it into the butter/sugar mixture as it beats on medium speed; use a rubber spatula to get it all out. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat the mixture thoroughly until combined, scraping the sides if necessary.

On medium speed, add the four eggs, one at a time, over a period of 20 minutes; leave about 5 minutes between each egg addition. Scrape sides of bowl halfway through this process. Pour filling into the pie crust. You might have a little filling leftover.

Smooth out the pie filling and place pie in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours (preferably longer).

Top with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

February 11, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Filed under: Gluten-Free, In the Kitchen — Tags: , , , — candid reflections @ 11:35 am

Dear Andrea L., or anyone who may be trying to avoid that white, fluffy gluten containing stuff,  AKA: wheat flour,

Here is the chocolate cake recipe I promised… a little later than I’d hoped to get it posted, but I think you’ll find it was well worth the wait!  Prepare your taste buds for a velvety, chocolately scrumptious experience.

This fudge-like cake is so easy, my two fifth graders prepared it during school – Cooking Class.  Later (in between coaching math problems), I enjoyed my helping of the chocolate cake (half), in the teacher’s lounge (anywhere where there is no kids!)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

16 oz. good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate (ie. Scharffen Berger, Dagoba, etc.)
5 large eggs, separated
1/3  cup powdered sugar
1 TBSP vanilla
1/2  cup unsalted butter
Powdered cocoa (to dust pan)

Preheat the oven to 250.  Use butter or margarine to grease a nine-inch spring form pan, then dust it with the powdered cocoa.

Melt the chocolate (the kids used inexpensive chips by Ambrosia) with the butter completely in a double boiler, or the microwave.

Separate the eggs.

Beat the egg yolks with the vanilla in a large bowl, then very gradually add the warm chocolate-butter mixture, stirring constantly. 

In a clean, large bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until they are stiff and form soft peaks.

Slowly add the powdered sugar to them, still beating until it is well blended.  The egg whites should appear a little shiny and stiff.  Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture a little at a time.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake for approximately an hour.  The top of the cake should appear dry and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should have crumbs stuck to it, but not appear gooey.  Serve when it is completely cooled.  You may dust it with cocoa, powdered sugar, or serve with whipped cream. 

.. if you’re feeling really naughty, prepare a yummy ganache frosting for your flourless chocolate cake, a dangerously delicious combination indeed!

Ganache :

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)

Place the chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl.  Set aside.  Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Stir with a whisk until smooth.  If desired, add the liquer. 

To cover cake:  First brush any loose crumbs from the cake and place cake on a wire rack.  Put rack on a baking sheet, so that ganach has a place to drip, making cleanup easier.  Using a cake spatula, cover the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of ganache.  This is called a crumb coat.  Refrigerate for 5 min.  To cover cake, pour the remaining ganache onto the center of the cake.  Working quickly, spread with a spatula using big strokes to push the ganache over the sides of the cake, creating an even coating.

February 3, 2010

Chocolately, Gooey Goodness… and they’re Gluten-Free!

Filed under: Gluten-Free, In the Kitchen — Tags: , , , — candid reflections @ 10:10 pm

Oh my, now here is a gluten-free cookie that my little man-cub who has allergies is going to have to hide from the rest of the bunch!  I made these for the first time tonight, after he had gone to bed.  I’m back into test mode, trying out various recipes for my little allergic fella, so of course I had to try them out as soon as I pulled them from the oven.  All I can say is that they were deeee-lish!  I called my eldest, non-allergic son in to have a sample.  I asked him if he could tell that they were gluten and dairy free.  He ate some and then replied that he’d have to taste some more before making that call.  I gave him the other half of the cookie and waited for his answer.  Immediately after licking his lips, he responded to my anticipation by repeating the request for yet another taste to really be sure!  Ha!  I knew they were that good! 

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Cookies
Recipe from Carol Fenster’s book 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes

¼ cup ( half stick) unsalted butter or Earth Balance
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups Carol’s Sorghum Blend*
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used dairy-free)
½ cup dried sweetened cherries
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

     *Carol’s Sorghum Blend
     1 ½ cups sorghum flour
     1 ½ cups potato starch or corn starch
     1 cup tapioca flour

1. Place a rack in the lower-middle position and another in the upper-middle position of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 375º.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing brown, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on low-speed until very smooth, about 1 minute.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sorghum blend, cocoa, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda and gradually beat into the egg mixture on low-speed just until blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips, cherries, and coconut.  Knead the dough with your hands a few times to make sure the chips, cherries, and coconut are thoroughly incorporated. 

4.. Using a spoon, scoop balls onto parchment paper.  Place one sheet on the upper rack, and one on the lower rack.  Bake 12-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets between racks halfway through baking.  Cool cookies 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store, tightly covered for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.

February 1, 2010

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies/ Snickerdoodles

Filed under: Gluten-Free, In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 10:43 pm

In the kitchen this evening, trying out a new recipe I picked up from a local community GF meeting a few months ago.  My little gluten-free fella found these cookies pleasing.

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter (or Earth Balance)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg (or egg replacer)
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla.

1 cup white rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour
¼ cup starch (potato, tapioca, or corn – I used tapioca)
1 tblsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp soda
2 tsp xanthan gum

Mix together dry ingredients in separate bowl.  Add dry mixture, one cup at a time to butter mixture.   The dough will be stiff.  Scoop by spoonfuls, roll in sugar or a sugar/cinnamon mixture, place onto cookie sheet and bake about 7 minutes or until golden.

October 2, 2009

Butterscotch Zucchini Bread, oh baby!

Filed under: In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 2:23 pm

We’ve been harvesting some monstrous zucchini from our garden this year!   Thus, we’ve been eating lots and lots of this scrumptious bread.

bread

 As potato salad is to summer, so Butterscotch Zucchini Bread is to autumn.  

As sure as the turning of the leaves on the trees every autumn, so shall the pages in my recipe book turn… to this delightful concoction:

Butterscotch Zucchini Bread
As found at www.cdkitchen.com

   3 eggs
   1 cup oil
   2 teaspoons vanilla
   2 cups sugar
   2 cups grated zucchini
   2 cups flour
   1 teaspoon baking soda
   1 teaspoon salt
   1 teaspoon cinnamon
   ½ teaspoon ginger
   ½ teaspoon nutmeg
   ¼ teaspoon baking powder
   ½ cup rolled oats
   1 package (3.4 oz) butterscotch *instant pudding mix            (*amended later to add instant)

   Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.
   Stir both mixtures together and then pour into 2 greased and floured bread pans (8×4)
   Bake at 350 for about one hour.

If you haven’t had a slice for yourself, you don’t know what you’re missing!

July 14, 2009

A Match Made in Heaven

Filed under: In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 7:02 pm

I recently introduced these two together.

yummy

um… yummmm.

yum

yum2

June 30, 2009

Wondering what to make for dinner?

Filed under: In the Kitchen — Tags: , , — candid reflections @ 6:12 am

My friend Wendy makes the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches ever. ever! EVER!!  This coming from someone who doesn’t care for pork.  She served them to us for dinner one evening a few months ago and I made a complete PIG of myself! 😉  (pun intended)   She served the pulled pork inside the most delicious homemade wheat rolls, and I think I gained 5.8 lbs. that very night.  I guess you could say I love Wendy’s pulled pork sandwiches.  So, you can imagine my delight when she showed up to our monthly cooking session this month with her spices and a few pork shoulders, if I were a gymnast I would have done a hand-stand right on the spot!  Needless to say, I’ve served pulled pork sandwiches for two dinners this month, last night being one of them.  Here’s a picture for you, and the recipe just in case you feel like doing a couple hand-stands yourself.   You could serve them up for your 4th of July celebration, they’ll be the hit of the party, guaranteed!

 clover3 copy

Pulled Pork Sandwhiches  (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

3-4 lb. pork shoulder
Enough dry rub to cover pork shoulder (½ of recipe below)
Rolls
Barbeque sauce

Dry Rub for Barbeque Pork

4 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (if you don’t like spicy, just reduce or eliminate this one)

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
Makes enough rub for at least two medium roasts.  Rub entire roast down, place in crockpot on low, cook all day.  When done, shred pork using two forks.  Shredded meat will absorb liquid in bottom of pot.  Serve on warm rolls, and top with barbeque sauce (we love Sweet Baby Ray’s.)  Coleslaw is always yummy  on the side.

June 29, 2009

waving goodbye to what FIG-ure I once had!

Filed under: In the Kitchen — Tags: , , — candid reflections @ 1:18 pm

I’ve had a love for fig cookies ever since I was a kid.  Yesterday I made them in my kitchen for the first time, and let’s just say, it definitely won’t be the last!

fig

Yummy Fig Cookies

Filling:
1 lb. raisins
1 lb. dried figs
1 ½ cups honey
1 cup water
1 small orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cookie:
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ½ teaspoon baking powder
5 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

Begin by grinding figs and raisins.  Add finely grated orange rind.  Place in a sauce pan and add honey, water, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring until condensed like jam.  Set aside to cool.

For cookie dough, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs.  Measure vanilla into milk.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Then add dry ingredients and milk alternately to creamed mixture.  Mix well.
Refrigerate dough for at least one hour.

Roll dough out thin, and cut into rounds using small biscuit cutter.  Place about a tablespoon of cooled filling between two dough circles, pinching edges together.  Prick the top of the dough and bake 35o° for 15 minutes (till golden brown.)

June 23, 2009

Sweet-Tooth Consoling Dessert

Filed under: In the Kitchen — Tags: , , — candid reflections @ 8:15 am

I dare you to make this for dessert … you’ll never be the same.  and neither will your thighs!

db135

I discovered this recipe last night on a box of puff pastry in my freezer, my sweet tooth was screaming out for some satisfaction.  I made the recipe, and then adapted it for you(see below) to build individual desserts, rather than a big one that you have to slice (like the one in this picture.)  Better for presentation… and much less messy.

Strawberry Napoleon

1 package of puff pastry sheets
1 pkg. (3 ½ oz) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. milk
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen sliced strawberries
1 square (1 oz) semi-sweet chocolate

Thaw pastry sheets at room temperature 40 min.  Heat oven to
400 degrees.  Lightly grease baking sheet.
unfold pastry sheets on lightly floured surface.  Cut into 3 strips
along fold marks.  Then cut each strip into three squares. 
Place on baking sheets.  Bake 15 min or till golden brown. 
Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

Prepare pudding mix according to package directions with 1 cup of
milk in large bowl.  Fold in whipped cream (after you’ve whipped it.)  Cover and refrigerate. 
Stir confectioners’ sugar and 2 tsp. milk in small bowl.  Spread
confectioners’ sugar mixture on six pastry squares. 

Spread a large spoonful of pudding mixture on 1 pastry square. 
Top with a handful of strawberry slices.  Repeat layers.  Top with
iced pastry square.  Repeat to make six desserts.  Drizzle desserts
with melted chocolate.  Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hr.

So…. what are you waiting for???

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