Wednesday, December 23, 2009


i'm not kidding..i thought i'd never see the day that i #1 ate fruitcake let alone #2 made a fruitcake...but this one is well worth me. i wanted a challenge and the ever so popular...NOT! fruitcake was on my mind...could i possibly make a reasonably good fruitcake? better yet..WOULD i ever make a fruitcake ? then i spotted this one @ Blue Ridge Baker adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich. Sarah the blogger (great blog by the way. stop in and check her out) reeled me in on this one not just by the craggy-cool photo of her slice, but also her simple explanation that straight out states that this fruitcake will change anyone's mind about the touted fruitcake of yore....
directly below is the original recipe from Blue Ridge Baker
below that are my adds and changes
adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup palm sugar (though next time I will use more like 1/3 - 1/2 cup)
1 cup dried fruit (I used un-sulphured apricots, cherries and figs) chopped into medium-sized pieces.
2 cups medjool dates, quartered
3 cups walnut halves
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 300. Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with parchment. Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and palm sugar in large bowl. Add dried fruit and nuts and toss with your hands. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla extract. Pour into large bowl, toss until all of the fruit and nuts appear well-coated. It will not look like there is enough batter to form a cake, but trust me, there is. Pour into prepared loaf pan, and smooth as well as you can. Bake for about 1 hour 15 - 1 hour 20 minutes. If it looks like it is browning too quickly, place a foil tent over it. After removing from oven, let the cake sit in the load pan for about 5 minutes, then, using the edges of the parchment, lift the loaf out and cool on rack for 45 minutes before cutting into it.
the directions are the same but i added quite a few things that i think worked reeeeeally well. i added quite a bit more fruit and nuts and the small amount of batter took to it and held it all together.
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
i used 1/2 cup slightly packed light brown sugar instead of palm sugar
added 1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 cups dates-quartered
3/4 cup golden California figs-diced large
2/3 c. dried cranberries
2/3 c. dried apricots-diced large
1 3/4 walnut halves
1 1/2 cups pecans
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicken in Red Chili Sauce w/MAIZ MORADO (purple hominy)

this recipe is super delicious and really easy once you have your red sauce made up. i really suggest you make your own red sauce. you won't settle for anything else once you've tried it. i've tried a few and came up with a fairly easy one. it just takes a little extra time and it's a bit messy(just the straining part and the fact that it can stain things)...once you have your red sauce the sky's the limit with what you might use it for. i end up putting it on or in everything.

the purple Indian corn was amazing. just like your regular hominy, but i found it a bit more...hmmm...a bit more dense?...a bit more like a bean?...maybe just a bit more fun because it was different. i found this at my favorite Mexican market, NORTHGATE in Santa Ana. find them and try them is what i say to you...


i use this recipe from Dona Martha i found while researching Chili Colorado

i didn't copy it for you because this site explains it so well and her info is there if you have questions for her. i want more recipes from Dona Martha.

my notes about the RED SAUCE...

i have used dried New Mexico Chilies, Pasilla Chilies and Guallio Chilies. depends on what i can get my hands on. i always add a few Chilies de Arbol as well.

i use an immersion blender, due to the fact i don't have a reg. blender and it works really well.

a few thing i like to add while chilies are simmering....

CUMIN...i like to add about 1/2 tsp.

GARLIC decide

BLACK PEPPER...grind some in there

DRIED OREGANO...i like to add 1/2-1 tsp...just cuz...

HONEY?...yeah...i got a little Bobby Flay with it one worked

also, it states that Dona does not strain the sauce...the 1st time i made Red Sauce i didn't strain it. it turned out great, but the 2nd time i strained it and it was soooo much better. so i suggest'll be surprised even after all the purree-ing how much chili skin will strain out. take your time and press it through the strainer slowly, because it's already kinda thick.

now....let it sit for a few hours, then get back in there and taste it. you'll find that you have created a nice thick slightly spicy sauce that can really be used on and in anything...veggies, fish, chicken, pork, beef...tamales, enchiladas, tacos......



store bought roasted chicken. shred into bite size pieces. i used almost a whole chicken depends, of course on how many you're serving and how much yummy left-overs you want. it just gets better and better.

1 large onion diced and slightly sauteed

1 can plum tomatoes cut into large pieces (drained and squeezed)

1 1/2 c. - 2 c. purple Indian corn (of course you can substitute hominy)

put all the above in a med. sauce pan.

to this i add enough red sauce to coat everything plus a bit more in case the inevitable reduction. bring this to a nice simmer...not a boil...just heat it through and let it sit. let all the flavors meld. when ready to serve bring out the fresh tortillas, cilantro, avocado and salsas etc....

well, i think that's it...i really should write these things down as i'm cooking, but one doesn't think of it at the does one...?!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


i like to call this "THE ELVIS 2010"
maybe if Elvis was still alive in 2010 and trying to be a bit healthy he would start his day with one of these babies...
i know...i like to put bacon in alot of things, but this one is a winner. i've already made them 3 times and just today i had a friend ask if he could order a months worth. he said it was the best granola bar he'd ever had. his friend said his mouth was exploding with flavors. granola bars are easy to make and you can't help but feel a bit healthy eating them even though you know there's a little sugar and butter involved along with extras you decde to add.
i used Alton Brown's Granola Bar(2005) recipe for the base.
i don't find myself using Alton's recipes that often. he tends to get a bit too detailed for my liking, but this type of recipe is the kind you can mess with and make your i did.
below, i have copied his recipe found here or you can click on this and read the full site with the comments of others.

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1 1/2 ounces raw sunflower seeds, approximately 1/2 cup
3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup
i used 1 cup slightly chopped salted virginia peanuts-no seeds, no almonds
1 1/2 ounces wheat germ, approximately 1/2 cup
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1-ounce unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract-i used 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp maple
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries
i used approx 1 c. broken banana chips and 1/2 c. dried apricots
the 3rd time i added 1/2 c. peanut butter chips
and scant 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
BACON...i almost forgot about the BACON...1 package(12 oz.)center cut
crispy! crumbled into small pieces

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass*** baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.
Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the dried fruit, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down(i took this step seriously and pressed down really good and hard, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes.(i left mine in untill the edges were starting to brown and the top was golden) Remove from the oven(i pressed down slightly again) and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
***the 1st time i used a 9x9 cake pan and they came out great, but just a bit thick. i did, however, like them because they were a cube of goodness. the next time i used a 9x13 cake pan or roasting pan, also metal, and they came out great as well. i just got more squares out of the deal. i think it all depends on how you like your squares and how many extras you add in. just make sure you don't go overboard because you want the whole thing to have enough "goop" to keep it all together or you'll end up with loose granola. great granola, probably the best you've ever had, but just not the bar we're shootin' for here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ina Garten's Macaroons

i say, bring a little tropical treat to your trays...say that 3 times real fast.

Ina's Macaroons...

they're sweet, but not too sweet. chewy, but not mooshy. simple, yet delicate.

they are Ina's. nuff said...

AND, i might add (admit!) they keep well. i made these about 2 weeks ago and i just so happen to come across one in the fridge, one that got left behind. to my surprise it was fabulous. 2 weeks later!!! i'll be the first to say, there's nothing like a fresh macaroon with it's crispy edges and soft inside, but this 2 week old, left behind little tropical pile of coconut was no joke.

don't leave these off your party platters. they are so easy and a quick add to your holiday cookie line up.

to the right is an example of the macaroon cooked on parchment. i think the base was just s smidge darker and they spread ever so slightly. i couldn't really tell you which i like better, only that i could fit more on the pan with the parchment due to the fact that my silpat is so small. i actually prefer cooking with parchment just for the clean up fact...wad it up and toss (i do try to reuse when possible). for these i wanted to make sure there would be NO sticking, so i also lightly buttered the paper (don't know if that was necessary, but better safe than sorry.

here you see the results on the sipat. anyway you decide they will come out great.

i found this recipe HERE at the food network site while searching around for an easy macaroon recipe. i have copied it for you below and you can check out the comments of others there (here).
much love and thanks always for Ina and all her cooking.

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut (plus extra. c-notes***)
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
***Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.

***MY NOTES...i did not use an ice cream scoop...i used a fork so i could sort of fluff up the coconut. i didn't want them to be too wet. if you think it looks a bit too runny go ahead and add some more coconut. i put in a little extra in the beginning. then after each batch i added a little more and a little more. mine came out great from the first batch to the very last...and i probably got quite a few more cookies out of the deal.

ENJOY !!!...and go ahead and hide some from yourself. you'll come across them days, weeks later and be surprised at how well they hold up.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


for the next few weeks we'll call this the Italian Christmas Cookie. i believe it is better known as the Italian Wedding Cookie. i've also been informed, by an Italian, that if these don't show up at the party in some shape or form...'s just not a party. period.
weddings, baby showers, birthdays, engagements, any and every celebration has to have these.
being that this is the must have cookie i had to try it.
my friend Kim, an Italian, asked for my help with some cookies for the holidays to show off her new cooking skills to her very large Italian family. she informed me they take their cookies seriously so i googled around and found this one. i'm glad i did. these are a great addition to any cookie tray.
as i promised little chit-chat and on with the recipe...

i must say that i'm so sorry i lost the original site that i found this bad! i always like to give credit to the the right person. when i find it i will be sure to post it and give proper thanks.
These can be shaped any way you want. i chose to knot them.
Anisette Rings
1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 teaspoons anise extract, divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
rainbow sprinkles

In large bowl with mixer on low speed beat margarine or butter with sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until creamy. At medium speed beat in eggs, vanilla and 1 teaspoon anise extract; constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour and baking powder occasionally scrapping bowl. Dived dough into 4 parts, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze at least one hour or refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On lightly floured surface divide 1 ball of dough into 9 equal pieces, keeping remaining dough refrigerated. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece of dough into a 7 inch long rope. Bring ends of rope together and gently twist several times. Pinch twisted ends together to seal.

Place cookies about 2 inches apart on ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake cookies 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. With spatula, remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

When cookies are cool, prepare glaze. ***In small bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar with 1 teaspoon anise extract and 2 tablespoons water. Brush top of cookies with glaze. Add sprinkles. Set cookies aside to allow glaze to dry. About 1 hour.
***i used this glaze recipe
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
i dipped the cookies 6 at a time then sprinkled, then dipped then sprinkled and so on and so on....

Saturday, December 5, 2009


these might possibly at the top of the holiday cookie list.
i am soooo behind in my posting. i've been baking, cooking and shooting so many new goodies that i just haven't had the time to share it all. so for the next few posts i think i'll just get right to the point, make it short, add a few comments if needed, but just get to the important stuff... and give you the recipe...

i found this at Recipezaar. click here for full info or i have just copied it for you below.
i would love to give a ton of thanks to the creator of this fab recipe. my changes are added in italics

2 cups all purpose flour, unsifted (i substituted 1/2 c. wheat flour AND 1/4 c. almond meal)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (i used approx 3/4 c.)
1/2 cup blanched almond, sliced, lightly toasted (i did not pre-toast the almonds)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
white chocolate chips or bark for dipping

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease and flour a large baking sheet.
3. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, ground ginger and salt. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
5. Beat in the eggs and vanilla and then slowly mix in the flour and other dry ingredients.
6. With a spoon stir in the crystallized ginger, almonds and white chocolate chips until well combined.
7 . Divide dough in half and roll each portion into logs about 12 inches long.
8. Place on prepared baking sheet and flatten each log slightly with your hand and then round off the edges a bit.
9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned.
10. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet.
11. Carefully lift onto a cutting surface and slice with a serrated bread knife, using a gentle sawing motion, almost an inch thick.
12. Transfer slices back onto the baking sheet, standing them up.
13. Bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes to dry them out, not letting them get too brown.
14. Cool completely on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.
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