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Something for the Trail

May 14, 2013

c ii 11may13Meeshie and I went to camp this past weekend with her girl scout troop.  I love her troop.  Every girl makes me smile and every mom makes me laugh.  To say I had a great weekend, is really underselling it.  We had perfect weather.  The activities included: archery, candle making, rifle shooting, rock climbing, canoeing, paddle boating, hiking and horse back riding.  The picture above is one of the two awesome slides for the girls to enjoy.  The hiking was world-class.  Lots of trails and beautiful sights.

Meeshie asked that I make trail mix for the trip.  This was a perfect treat.  Everyone enjoyed it.  I transferred it to a resealable bag and it went very quickly.

I used a fabulous recipe from Alton Brown.  I love him.  I really wish that Good Eats was still on the air.  I have to get my fix through reruns, which is better than nothing.

The key to good trail mix, in my opinion, is good granola.  Thanks again Alton.

trail mix iiiGranola

  • 3 C Rolled Oats
  • 1 C Silvered Almonds
  • 1 C Cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 C Shredded Sweet Coconut
  • 1/2 t Nutmeg
  • 1 t Cinnamon
  • 1/4 C Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C Honey
  • 2 T Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1 C Raisins

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar and raisins.  In a separate bowl, combine the honey, vegetable oil, and salt.  Combine both mixtures and pour the granola on a large jelly roll pan or two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake in 250 degree oven for and hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent over browning.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

trail mix iiTrail Mix

  • 3 C Dried Fruit (I used bananas, mangos and blueberries)
  • 2 C Granola (see above recipe)
  • 1 C M&Ms

Combined ingredients in a large bowl resealable bowl.

Enjoy!

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Spread the Love

April 21, 2013

banana butterThis wonderful banana butter recipe is to die for.  It’s perfect for pancakes, french toast, toast, muffins, scones, or grilled peanut butter and jelly.  That’s right grilled peanut butter and jelly.

You’ve never had grilled peanut butter and jelly?  Assemble your sandwich as you always do.  Spread butter (or in this case banana butter) on the outside pieces of bread and grill the sandwich like you do with grilled cheese.  The natural sugar in the banana will caramelize, giving the bread a nice crust.  Plus, peanut butter and banana are a marriage made in heaven.

I came across this recipe in the latest Food and Wine.  This magazine is a great resource.  I love the accessibility of the recipes.  Or, in this case, the twist on something simple.  Flavored butter is something I make often, but I never considered adding banana.  The recipe pairs this with blueberry muffins.  Which, I’m making right now.  I’m sure blueberry zucchini muffins would also work.

Impress your friends and whip this up.  Heck, this would be a great gift.  Add it to a basket of muffins and enjoy the accolades.

banana butter vBanana Butter

  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • 1/2 t Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 t Ground Ginger

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree.

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A Little Birdie Told Me

April 14, 2013

hummingbird cakeEvery Easter I make lamb cake.  Every Easter except for this one.  Meeshie didn’t want lamb cake this year.  And everywhere we went they haunted us.  I would point out the expense and snicker.  But a lot of people don’t have a lamb cake mold passed down from their mother and many more of don’t bake.

When Meeshie asked me not to make lamb cake this year, I knew I had to make something else.  I’ve seen hummingbird cake recipes before and had always been intrigued.  What a perfect spring cake.  Or more accurately the perfect spring cupcake.  For those who have never had Hummingbird Cake, I would describe it as a carrot cake made with bananas.  Or spice cake made with bananas.  It’s lite.  Nothing like the denseness of banana bread.  People that don’t generally like banana bread love this cake.

This recipe requires roasting the bananas in their skin in the oven.  At first, I was going to skip this step.  I am the person that freezes all of my over ripe bananas.  The riper the banana the sweeter the bread.  I just figured that roasting the banana would move the ripening process along.  But then I read further in the post and discovered that roasting gives the bananas a slightly different flavor. I can’t really describe it, but just don’t skip that step.

When I made the frosting, I felt that the amount of cream cheese was overkill.  I’m not a fan of the in your face flavor of cream cheese.  But once the frosting had sat for a bit, the flavor along with the cake, was perfect.  Oh, adding the pecans to the frosting, genius.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I took pictures on the same day my washer died.  And my washer was out of commission  for almost two weeks.

Sorry folks, as much I would love to share this recipe with you.  I can’t.  If you would like to read the recipe that I used, please use this  post.  The author has asked that I not post it.  Happy clicking.

 

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A Touch of Irish

March 9, 2013

irish soda bread iiiI know I’ve shared this recipe before, but it’s just so good.  I made two batches of this bread last weekend.  I like using the two raisins.  It’s a visual thing as well as a taste thing.  But if you don’t have golden raisins, don’t let that stop you.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I like to soak my raisins.  That simple step really adds a lot to the texture of the bread.  Give it a try.

This bread would be perfect for Easter brunch or any time of year.  It makes two large loaves that can easily be split, although I never seem to get that far.  We eat the bread so quickly, but you can make four smaller loaves to share with friends.

Serve this bread plain or with butter, but either way enjoy!

I’m waiting for spring.  I’m tired of snow.  We haven’t had a lot compared to some years, but it’s March and I’m so over it.  Last week I saw my daffodils popping up, and this week Meeshie had a snow day.  Crazy!

irish soda breadIrish Soda Bread
•6-6 1/2 C Flour, sifted
•1 C Sugar
•3 t Baking Powder
•1 t Baking Soda
•1 3/4 C Buttermilk
•2 Eggs, beaten
•1/4 C Butter, melted
•1 1/2 C Raisins, soaked in warm water for at least 20 minutes (I used 3/4 C regular raisins and 3/4 C golden raisins)

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix the flour (I start with 6 C), sugar, baking powder, and baking soda together in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture in the center. Mix the ingredients with the dough hook on a stand mixer, if you have one. If not, mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon. Mix the ingredients together until well combined. Add the raisins and knead until fairly smooth. Turn out on floured countertop and continue to knead for another minute or two. If the dough is overly sticky, add more flour and continue kneading. Divide the dough into two parts. Place on the prepared cookie sheet and pat into two round loaves. With a butter knife, cut a cross about 1/2 inch deep on top of each loaf. Sprinkle with flour and bake for 45 to 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.

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Chili Pie

February 17, 2013

chili pie iiWe went the Chicago Auto Show over the weekend.  It’s always a great way to look at all the new cars without the hassle of the salesman.  Of course, if you go there because you’re in the market for a car, you can always find someone willing to contact you.

On the way home we stopped at a bakery.  Now you may be wondering why we would stop at a bakery when I seem to always be baking.  I love a good bakery.  I love the smells, the display case, the happy people behind the counter.  Unfortunately, a good bakery is hard to find these days.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some nice bakeries out there, but not all of them are good.  The one we went to has been around for a while, so they know what they are doing.  We bought some fabulous turtle cookies there, but when we were about to leave I noticed something.  It was chili pie.  I asked the girl behind the counter about it, and once we got in the car, my husband said “please, you have to make that pie.”

Turns out, I had just made chili a few days prior and I’d been waiting to try a new pie crust recipe.

I’m not going to share my chili recipe.  I think that most people feel that their chili is the best chili.  Maybe that’s true.  Regardless, everyone has their go to recipe.

This pie can be eaten as an entrée or leave the top layer of pie crust off and serve it with tortilla chips at your next get together.

I have to mention, though, that this is by far the best pie crust I’ve ever had.  Tthe vodka prevents cracking when you roll it out.  It also makes a very flakey crust that browns evenly.  I like to make pie crust, stick it in a Ziploc bag and store it in the freezer.  This recipe makes 1 9-inch pie crust, which translates into two crusts, the top and bottom.

chili pie iiiPie Crust

  • 2 1/2 C Flour
  • 1 t Salt
  • 2 T Sugar
  • 1 C cold Butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices (or 12 T and 1/2 C cold vegetable shortening)
  • 1/4 C Vodka, chilled
  • 1/4 C Water, ice cold

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the flour, salt and sugar and pulse a few times

Add the butter (or butter and shortening) and process until the dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down sides and pulse again until pea-size pieces to start to form.

With the machine on, slowly add the vodka and water until it just comes together.  Dump the contents onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Divide the dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk.  Wrap each in plastic wrap, or a place in Ziploc bag.  Refrigerate at least 45 minutes or place in the freezer.

Chili Pie

  • Pie Crust (one for the bottom and one for the top)
  • 4-5 C Chili  (I didn’t actually measure, I just filled the pie plate)
  • 1 C Shredded Cheese, divided
  • 1/2 C Onion, diced

Line the pie plate with pie crust.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, making sure to line the crust with weights.  (Remember that once you’ve worked the crust into the plate, put it back into the fridge to rest for 20 minutes before placing into the oven.) Remove the crust from the oven.  Layer  shredded cheese onto the crust, add the chili, add another layer of cheese, sprinkle with diced onion and place the crust on top.  Cut slits into the crust and place the pie back into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve warm.

 

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Paczki Day

February 11, 2013

Lent starts tomorrow.  I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll be sacrificing.  I have time because today is all about indulging.  It’s all about Fat Tuesday, or around here Paczki Day.

I love a good paczki.

The ones of my childhood, though, are nothing like the ones I see now.  The paczki of my youth are small, like the size of a donut hole.  Sometimes they are filled with jelly, sometimes they are plain.  There was a Polish-Irish restaurant that served the best paczki at the end of every meal near my hometown. It was called Paczki-Dunn or Dunn-Paczki.  I’m not sure it it’s still there.

The ones I see now are too big.  Too doughy.  Not light enough.  These paczki are just right.

I made these in honor of Lent.  I hope you try them, they are totally worth all of the steps.  I used a shot glass to cut out the dough, but if you want them bigger-go for it.  I stuffed some with raspberry filling, some with almond and some I left plain.

Paczki

  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 C warm (room temperature) milk
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 4 ½ to 5 C flour
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.  Pour the yeast into a small bowl. Pour the warm milk into the bowl and stir until the yeast dissolves. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, nutmeg, eggs and vanilla. Mix. Add the butter to the large bowl and mix until it is well blended.  Add the milk and yeast to the large bowl. Mix well.  Slowly add flour. When you have four cups of flour mixed in, the dough should not be sticky. If it’s still sticky, add a little more. (Remember, the eggs help make the paczki light, but too much flour can quickly weigh the dough down. Use only as much flour as needed.)

Knead the dough gently with your fists until it no longer sticks to your knuckles.  Put the bowl of dough in a warm place; cover it with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Let it  double in size.  Once it has doubled, punch it down.  Let it rise again. This should take about an hour.

When the dough has risen a second time, dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter and roll it out to about one half-inch thickness. Using a two and one half inch round (oblong is better) cookie cutter or regular canning jar ring, cut the dough. Carefully place the dough cutouts on greased cookie sheets, in a warm room.   Let the dough rise until about double in size.

While the dough is rising, heat the oil to about 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fry each paczki for about two minutes per side, or until deep brown. Use the slotted spoon to turn the paczki and lift each one from the oil carefully. Place the paczki on the paper towels lined cookie sheet to drain. The more grease that is drained away from the paczki the better the paczki will taste.  While they are still warm, dipped them in a powdered sugar glaze.  I used 2 C powdered sugar, 1 t Vanilla Extract (or Almond), and 1/3 C milk.  Once they’ve been dipped, you can fill them with jelly.  They are light and airy enough to be shot with a pastry filler and stuffed.

Paczki can also be frozen.

Here’s were I found it.

Meeshiesmom's Blog

 

Lent starts tomorrow.  I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll be sacrificing.  I have time because today is all about indulging.  It’s all about Fat Tuesday, or around here Paczki Day. 

I love a good paczki. 

The ones of my childhood, though, are nothing like the ones I see now.  The paczki of my youth are small, like the size of a donut hole.  Sometimes they are filled with jelly, sometimes they are plain.  There was a Polish-Irish restaurant that served the best paczki at the end of every meal near my hometown. It was called Paczki-Dunn or Dunn-Paczki.  I’m not sure it it’s still there.

The ones I see now are too big.  Too doughy.  Not light enough.  These paczki are just right.

I made these in honor of Lent.  I hope you try them, they are totally worth all of the steps.  I used a shot glass to cut out…

View original post 423 more words

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A Peppermint Treat

February 10, 2013

peppermint cookie iiiI made these cookies for Christmas.  I found them in the Every Day Food Christmas edition.  I had planned to post in December about them, then realized I hadn’t.  Sorry.

These cookies are a little crisper than I like, but it didn’t take away from the greatness of this cookie.  Meeshie loved them.  So did I, and I’m not generally a fan of chocolate and peppermint.  It always makes me think of York Peppermint Patties and I’ve never liked them.

Don’t let the candy garnish prevent you from making these year round.  You could easily substitute the Starlite Candies with buttermints at Easter.  Or use green Starlite Candies in March.  Or better yet, use white peppermint candy and a few drops of food coloring.

These cookies, as is, are perfect for your favorite valentine.  Use a heart-shaped stencil to sprinkle for the candy sprinkles.  And use your own judgement on how finely you want to crush the candy.  I made the pieces larger for Christmas, but making a candy dust for Valentine’s Day would be perfect, too.

peppermint cookiePeppermint-Chocolate Sugar Cookies

  • 2 1/2 C Flour
  • 1 T Baking Powder
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1 C Butter, softened
  • 2 C Sugar
  • 1/4 t Peppermint Extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 C Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 C Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 3-5 T Half and Half
  • 12 Round Peppermint Candies, crushed (Starlite Candies or Candy Canes)

Combine first three ingredients in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the peppermint extract.  Beat again for three minutes.  Beat in egg.  Slowly add flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into quarter sized balls.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Let cool for five minutes before transferring off the cookie sheet.

Stir the confectioner’s sugar and enough cream to make a spreadable glaze.  Spread a thin layer of glaze on top of each cookie (or dip the top of the cookies in the glaze) and sprinkle with the crushed candy.

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