Why, Hello There!

I truly believe food is love; it calms the soul, and lightens the heart. I am pleased you are here to share my many recipes, crafts and thoughts. Thank you so much for joining me, and may you always eat, drink, and be merry!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Braised Lamb with Autumn Vegetables over Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Healthy, hearty, and easy to create: Throw the ingredients into your slow cooker and let cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Enjoy tucking into this late autumn supper! 






Ingredients

For Lamb and Vegetables:

1.5 pounds lamb cubed
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon vegetable base
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 medium zucchini, chopped
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

For the Potatoes:

4 large potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
--extra milk *optional





Method

For Lamb and Vegetables:

Sear lamb in a pan with 2 tablespoons butter on med high heat for about 1 minute on each side.  Add to slow cooker.  Deglaze the pan with 1/2 red wine and whisk in 1 tablespoon vegetable base; add to slow cooker. 

Add prepared garlic, carrots, onion, zucchini, salt, pepper, and fresh sprigs of thyme and rosemary (tied together with butcher's twine) to the slow cooker. Reserve 2 cups of chopped vegetables to add later.  Set your slow cooker to low and let cook for 4-6 hours. One hour before the lamb is finished add reserved vegetables to your crockpot, and begin preparing the mashed potatoes. 

For the Potatoes:
Peel and cube the potatoes into 1" to 2" pieces. Add the potatoes to a pot and cover them with water.
Put a lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil over high to medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce
 the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender and falling apart.

After the potatoes are cooked all the way through, drain them and add the salt, pepper, parsley, crushed garlic, heavy whipping cream, butter, and extra milk if needed. Use either a potato masher or electric mixer to combine the potatoes until creamy.  

To Serve:

Spoon the finished lamb and vegetables over a bed of the mashed potatoes.  Garnish with finely minced rosemary, or parsley. Bon Appetite! 




Friday, February 7, 2014

Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls On A Snowy Afternoon:


Cinnamon rolls remind me of Christmas morning.  I don't know why, I honestly don't think I have ever had a cinnamon roll for Christmas breakfast. They just seem like the perfect comfort food for a snowy day.


 
It began to snow yesterday, which is highly unusual for Corvallis, Oregon.  And when I say snow, I don't mean a few inches; we are over a foot now and it's still snowing.




I made the cinnamon roll dough last night, and rolled it up with the delicious brown buttered cinnamon-sugar filling on the inside.  This morning I baked them off.  While they were baking I prepared the Maple Bacon Frosting.



When I make food, generally measuring goes out the window, so I can tell you the ingredients I used and roughly how much of what I put in, but it won't be exact.  Half the fun is experimenting anyway right?! 

Lala doing a poor job of resisting the bacon bits
The cats could NOT stay away from the bacon scent.  I kept having to fight them off while I was taking pictures!



 What horrible manners they have...who raised these animals?! Goodness.


The kitty harassment continued into the eating phase. 


Bon Appetit! 

Maple-Bacon Cinnamon Rolls
(Best on Snowy Days)

Ingredients:

Dough:
1/4 ounce package yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup browned butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Filling:
1/2 cup browned butter, plus more for pan
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins, walnuts, or pecans (optional)

Frosting:
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons natural maple flavor
2 tbsp browned bacon grease
3 to 6 tablespoons hot water
bacon crumbles for sprinkling

 Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface. Spread browned butter all over dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, or raisins if desired. Role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 4-6 slices.

Coat the bottom of baking pan with butter and cover with parchment paper if desired. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Meanwhile, mix butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, bacon grease, and natural maple flavor. Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches desired consistency. Spread over slightly cooled rolls.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Black Cherry Almond Tart with Nutmeg Whipped Cream

I must confess, sometimes I am a bit resentful that we live in a tiny apartment with no yard, not enough privacy, and very little space.  It hits me the most when I am desperately trying to shove all the pots into the kitchen cupboards.  It's bad, I turn into a crazy person.

I have become completely enthralled with an entertaining-cooking youtube channel called Entertaining With Beth.  "She", as Hillary and I refer to her, is incredible.  The quality of video is comparable to a show you would find on the Food Network. On her channel she not only shows you how to make her dishes, but how to entertain, including: how to plate the food so it looks beautiful, how to set up decorative table decor, when to serve what, and event timing.  It is wonderful.  It makes me want to throw sophisticated food parties with sophisticated people.  Unfortunately our tiny apartment throws off the ambiance of it all.

That being said I wouldn't change it, our life is a journey, and this apartment is part of it.  Someday we will have a home perfect for hosting dinner parties and holiday celebrations, but for now we have what we have, and I actually like it that way.  It just means I can practice making the food until we can fit more than 4 people comfortably in our house.

I basically got the recipe for my tart from Beth.  I changed the recipe for her Fig Almond Tart to be more my style, but used roughly the same method.  I changed out the figs for black cherries, and doctored up the whipped cream using nutmeg. Oh my it turned out delicious!


 Black Cherry Almond Tart with Nutmeg Whipped Cream



Serves 8

For Crust:
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ice water
1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
4 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed

For Filling:
7 ounces almond paste
¼ c sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick salted butter, room temp
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup flour
1/2 Cup pitted black cherries,
¼ sliced almonds

For whipped cream:
3 tbsp powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp nutmeg

 

Method: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl of a food processor combine flour, salt and sugar and pulse until combined.  Add butter cubes a few at a time, pulsing quickly until dough resembles a coarse meal. Beat egg together with water. Add egg mixture, slowly, pulsing just until dough comes together.  Turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a ball and then pat down into a disk.  Wrap disk in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or pop in the freezer for 10)

Meanwhile, beat together almond paste, sugar and salt in a mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, then almond extract, scraping down the bowl. Add flour and mix on low until just combined.





Roll out dough onto a floured surface until about ¼ inch.  Transfer to a removable bottom, non-stick tart shell and fit into pan.  It’s okay if it falls apart, just press it into pan, making sure the dough feels evenly distributed.  Trim top edge of dough so that it is flush with the pan’s rim.  This will give you a nice finished edge once the tart is baked. Place tart in the freezer for 10 mins to firm up before adding filling.
Pour filling into pan.

Pit cherries and arrange in a circle around tart, as well as place a few in the middle. Top with sliced almonds.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45mins just until browned and a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely.  Remove tart from tin and dust with powdered sugar before serving.  Serve with homemade whipped cream. (Whip ingredients together until soft peaks form.)


Bon Appetit
      

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chocolate Dipped American Macaroons

Compared to French Macarons these American Macaroons were a piece of cake! They took all of 15 minutes to make.  On top of that this recipe is almost guilt free for me.  The nutrient content in the ingredients is quite high, and makes me actually feel good about what I am consuming. Imagine that! That being said I don't recommend going crazy with them, eat a few not the whole batch, it is a dessert after all! :D Get ready for the super simple:

Dark Chocolate Dipped American Macaroons:


Ingredients:
 
1 heaping Cup finely Shredded Coconut (unsweetened)
6 Tbsp. Almond Flour
1/4 Cup warmed Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp. (real) Maple Syrup or raw honey
1/2 tsp. Vanilla

1 cup dark chocolate chips
Method:


In a large bowl mix together the coconut, and almond flour. Add the coconut oil (should be liquid), syrup or honey and vanilla.  Mix until well combined. Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Use a small scooper or you hands to make 24 equal sized balls, and set each one on the prepared cookie sheet.  Put in the freezer for a few minutes so the oil can firm up in them.  Meanwhile in a sauce pan on a low heat, warm up chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Remove macaroons from the freezer, and dip each one quickly into the chocolate, and put it immediately back onto the cookie sheet. When all the macaroons have chocolate bottoms, drizzle them all with the remaining chocolate.  You can pipe the chocolate onto them, or use a spoon. Put them in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens and keep them cold until ready to eat.



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blueberry Muffin Macarons (and more!)

Yes...more macarons :) This time we made delicious blueberry muffin macarons, and chocolate peanut butter!  We are working on coloring the shells naturally and it is proving to be quite difficult.  The middle of our macarons have beautiful colors to them, but we will get the shells right, eventually.  We have the flavor down that's for sure.

Blueberry Muffin Macarons:



I love the beautiful speckled shells

And for the Peanut Butter Chocolate:

We used chunky peanut butter in the filling recipe, great texture!



I hope you have fun experimenting with your own fun macaron flavors, just follow the recipes for the chocolate and vanilla shells on the two posts before this, and mix things into it! The filling is where you can really go nuts! Happy baking :)

Perfect for afternoon tea!
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Chocolate Espresso Bean Macarons

Today I had a party all by myself in the kitchen.  I had so much fun creating the first successful batch of French Raspberry Cream Macarons that I had to do it again.  So Hillary (my baking partner in crime) came over and we tried again with slightly different ingredients; well it was somewhat of a disaster, a delicious but ugly disaster.  So today I avoided doing my last bit of homework to satisfy my obnoxious need to prevail.  And what do you know, I whipped up a great batch of chocolate macarons.  The filling is really where you can get creative with these cute cookies.  Yesterday Hillary made a vanilla bean creme filling that was simply amazing.  Today I made a slue of fillings, but the chocolate espresso bean filling with the chocolate shells was my favorite.  Okay, now for the recipe:


Chocolate Espresso Bean Macarons




Macarons:
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
 

2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons granulated sugar


Espresso Chocolate Creme:

2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp finely ground espresso/coffee beans (I used a French Roast)
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp water plus more if needed




METHOD:
Preheat oven to 275-300 degrees F

Beat egg whites and sugar for 8-10 mins. 
TIP: #1 egg white should be room temp. To create room temp eggs, submerge in warm water for 5 mins.

Whip until they form a peak that stands upright.

TIP#2 Sift almond flour, powdered sugar (confectioners), and cocoa powder. Add salt. You want a really fine powder mixture to create a smooth and pretty on top to your cookie.

Fold flour/sugar/cocoa mixture into the egg white mixture.

TIP#3 This is where all your hard work can really go wrong. Under mix and your macarons will be lumpy and cracked when the bake with no feet, over mix and your macarons will be flat and won't have feet, the mark of a well-made macaron. 65-75 turns of your spatula when folding is about the right amount of time.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag.

Pipe out 1 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

TIP#5: tap the pan hard at least 2-3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of your macaroons from cracking.

TIP#6 Let them sit out for 20--30 mins, or up to an hour if you want. This will allow them time to dry out a bit before hitting the hot oven. They should be "tacky" to the touch, but not stick to your fingertips. This is another important step to assuring your macarons develop feet! When they dry out they can't spread out in the oven, and are forced to rise up. That's what creates the feet!

Bake for 18-20 mins. DO NOT UNDER BAKE, even if they look done! Otherwise they will stick to your tray.
Meanwhile mix the filling. Whip butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Slowly add sugar ground beans and cocoa powder. Add water until a thick but creamy consistency is achieved.
 
Transfer to a pastry bag, fitted with a small tip (about ¼ " in diameter)

Reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them. Top with the other shell.


If not eating right away, keep refrigerated. 
Bon Appetit!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

French Raspberry Cream Macarons

Delicate, adorable, and delicious, these French Raspberry Cream Macarons were fun, and somewhat simple to make.  There were a lot of steps, but if followed closely, you too can make these beautiful macarons on the first try (like I did, yay!). I adapted the recipe from Entertaining with Beth, a great Vlogger on Youtube. You can play he video below to see her methods.  I did things a bit differently for mine, which the written recipe will reflect.
 

We love our local farmer's market, but one thing it's missing is a great bakery booth.  One of my wonderful and most endearing friends Hillary and I, will be attempting to start producing and selling pretty little desserts that use organic, local, fresh, healthful ingredients.  We want to use many ingredients that are being sold at other booths around the market.  What a fun way to use our passion for cooking, baking, and health, while bringing in a little extra cash.


French Raspberry Cream Macarons
*makes 24 completed cookies* 

Raspberry buttercream with a hint of orange


INGREDIENTS
3 Egg Whites (free range eggs)
¼ tsp cream of tartar (2 ml) * You can omit if needed, just may take a bit longer to reach stiff peaks but the recipe will still work)
¼ cup evaporated cane juice (organic sugar) (50 g)
 

2 cups organic confectioners sugar (200 g)
1 cup almond flour (120 g)
pinch of salt


RASPBERRY BUTTER CREAM
½ cup salted butter (120 g)
1 cup
organic confectioners sugar (75 g)
1 cup (150 g) fresh raspberries, worked through a sieve to extract 3 tbsp of juice
5 drops orange extract

Berries from a wonderful organic farm down the road!


METHOD:

Preheat oven to 275-300 degrees F

Beat egg whites and sugar for 8-10 mins. 
TIP: #1 eggwhite should be room temp. To create room temp eggs, submerge in warm water for 5 mins.

Whip until they form a peak that stands upright.

TIP#2 Sift almond flour, and powdered sugar. What remains will be the larger lumps of almond pieces. Just discard those, or use them to snack on :) You want a really fine powder mixture to create a smooth and pretty on top to your cookie.

Fold flour/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. 
TIP#3 This is where all your hard work can really go wrong. Under mix and your macaroons will be lumpy and cracked when the bake with no feet, over mix and your macaroons will be flat and won't have feet, the mark of a well-made macaron. 65-75 turns of your spatula when folding is about the right amount of time.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag.

Pipe out 1 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

TIP#5: tap the pan hard at least 2-3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of your macaroons from cracking.

TIP#6 Let them sit out for 20--30 mins, or up to an hour if you want. This will allow them time to dry out a bit before hitting the hot oven. They should be "tacky" to the touch, but not stick to your fingertips. This is another important step to assuring your macarons develop feet! When they dry out they can't spread out in the oven, and are forced to rise up. That's what creates the feet!

Bake for 18-20 mins. DO NOT UNDER BAKE, even if they look done! Otherwise they will stick to your tray.

Pretty brown eggs


Meanwhile mix the buttercream. Whip butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Slowly add sugar. Then place sieve (if you do not want seeds) on top of a bowl the same size. Work raspberries through the sieve with a spatula, pushing them through, mashing them around until you extract their juice. You want 3 tablespoons of juice.

Add juice to buttercream, along with the orange extract, and whip until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag, fitted with a small tip (about ¼ " in diameter)

Reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them. Top with the other shell.

If not eating right away, keep refrigerated. 

This beautiful plate came straight from Paris, thanks Hillary!


Bon Appetit!