Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Change has Come

My blog has moved - to a place with more flexibility and support.


I'll leave this version up, but I also moved all the posts for your convenience.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Fire and Ice Salad

Tomato and cucumber salad - one of my favorites.  Cool, refreshing and that bite of vinegar! Never before has it had a kick, though and this one fits the bill. Quite colorful and inviting for the eyes as well, this salad was a huge hit at our barbecue yesterday and I was thrilled to have a little bit to bring home for lunch today. Don't let it sit for too long as the tomatoes will turn to mush, but I don't think it will last very long - it'll be devoured.

Adapted from Cook's Country Magazine
Yields 6 to 8 servings
1/2 Cup vinegar, white wine 
1 Tbls sugar, white 
2 tsp salt, Kosher 
1 tsp mustard, dry 
1/2 tsp celery salt 
1/4 tsp pepper, crushed red 
1/8 tsp pepper, black, ground 
2 Pounds tomatoes, red, fresh cored, cut in 1/2-in wedges
2 Large cucumbers peeled, sliced, 1/4-in thick
1 Large bell pepper, yellow or orange seeded, sliced in matchsticks
1 Medium onion, red halved, sliced thin

Tools Needed:

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard, celery salt, and peppers in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper and onion and toss to combine. 

Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Serve. 

Triple Oreo Madness Cupcakes

Who doesn't love Oreos? The best of both worlds - vanilla and chocolate all in one cookie. Whether you eat it straight up, or split it apart and eat it in pieces, it's America's cookie.

They keep churning our imitations and fancy new variations (cookie dough was a travesty), but you cannot mess with the classic Oreo. I'll even take a Double Stuff once in a while.

So I've turned it into the ultimate decadence - a cupcake with more Oreo than you may be able to stand.

Yields 24 cupcakes
24 Each cookies, oreos halved w/ cream filling attached (reserve other cookie)
2 1/4 Cups flour, all-purpose 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt, table 
8 Tbls Crisco, butter-flavored sticks 
1 2/3 Cup sugar, white 
3 Large egg white at room temperature
2 tsp extract, vanilla 
1 Cup milk, skim 
20 Each cookies, oreos quartered
24 Each cookies, oreo minis

Tools Needed: 
OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
Farberware 52106 Nonstick Bakeware 12-Cup Muffin Pan
Wilton Disposable 16-Inch Decorating Bags, 12 Pack
Oasis Supply No.1A Round Decorating Tip, Large

Preheat the oven to 350. 

Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Blend in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix. 

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

While baking, pulverize the reserved cookies in a food processor until a fine powder.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs* and garnish with Mini Oreos.

Cookies & Cream Frosting: (optional) 
8 Ounce(wt)s cheese, cream regular at room temperature 
6 Tbls butter, unsalted at room temperature 
1 Tbls extract, vanilla
4 Cups sifted sugar, powdered
2 Tbls cream, heavy

Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

*If you like, fold in the cookie crumbs (instead of sprinkling on top of the cupcakes) to make a true cookies and cream frosting.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Onion Dip from Scratch

We all remember that onion dip our mom's made with the container of sour cream and a packet of onion soup mix - we thought it was the greatest thing to have at a party.  You can admit it.

Then came Alton Brown and he figured out a way to make it from scratch and my whole world was turned upside-down - how could it be better?

Well, after a few times making it and then being challenged to even approve upon that - this is the ultimate, cannot stop eating it EVER dip. A must-have at every party.

Yields 2 to 3 cups
Adapted from Alton Brown, Good Eats

2 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive 
1 1/2 Cup onion, yellow or Vidalia (when in season) diced
4 cloves garlic, fresh, minced 
1/4 tsp salt, Kosher 
16 oz sour cream (1 lb container)
3/4 Cups mayonnaise 
1/4 tsp garlic powder 
1/4 tsp onion powder 
1/4 tsp pepper, white, ground 
1/2 tsp salt, Kosher 

Tools Needed:

In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and garlic. Let begin to sizzle and lighten in color - do not let brown.  Then add onions and salt. Cook the onions with the garlic until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Do not be afraid to let them cook longer, if needed. They need to brown and get some dark edges, but do not let them burn.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool. 

Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. 

Refrigerate for at least an hour and stir again before serving.

Chef's Note: If you can resist, let this sit in the fridge overnight to let the flavors really meld. The dry spices will soften and the onion flavor will permeate the dip and you will wonder how you were ever satisfied with the powdered mix growing up.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Breaded Chicken Thighs with Angry Cuke Salad

From Garnish & Gather
Yields 4 servings

4 Each chicken thighs, boneless, skinless 
1 Cup yogurt, Greek, plain 
1 tsp pepper, crushed red 
1 Cup flour, all purpose
1/2 Cup cornmeal, yellow 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 Tbls onion powder 
1/2 Tbls thyme, dried 
1 Large egg, whole 
To taste salt and pepper 
oil, olive cooking spray 

For Salad:
1/2 Cup yogurt, Greek, plain 
1 Tbls mustard, dijon 
1/2 Cup Doux South Angry Cukes sliced drained, brine reserved (*you can use dill pickles)
2 Cups cucumbers 
1/4 Pound green beans 
1/4 Pound radish 
1 Tbls basil, fresh chiffonade
2 Tbls oil, extra virgin olive 
To taste salt and pepper 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray roasting pan with cooking spray to prevent sticking. 

Bring a medium pot of water to boil for the green beans. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the 1 cup of greek yogurt, egg, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. In a separate dish, mix together the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper and mix well. 

Dredge the chicken thighs in the breading mixture, then the yogurt mixture then again in the breading mixture. Place into a prepared roasting pan. 

Bake chicken for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping half way during cooking time, until cooked through. 

For the salad: 
Finely chop the pickles (Angry Cukes if you can get them), reserving 1 tablespoon of the brine to use in the dressing. 

Peel, seed and small dice the cucumbers. 

Thinly slice, then roughly chop the radishes. 

Dice the green beans and cook in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, until bright green but still crisp, then drain and run under cool water or in an ice bath to stop cooking. 

Assemble all veggies. 

In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup yogurt, Dijon, olive oil, brine, salt and pepper. Whisk until combines and toss with the veggies. Add basil and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lindy's Lemon Bars

From Lindy Sparks Ruffin
Yields 24 bars

1 Cup butter, unsalted 
1/2 Cup sugar, powdered plus some for dusting
2 Cups flour, all-purpose 
4 Large egg, whole slightly beaten
2 Cups sugar, white 
4 tsp juice, lemon 
4 tsp flour, all-purpose 
2 tsp zest, lemon 
1 tsp baking powder 

Tools Needed:
Pyrex Grip-Rite 2-Quart Oblong Baking Dish, Clear

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter, powdered sugar and 1 cup flour; cut fine with pastry blender. Pour into 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Press in bottom until flat all over. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Should not be brown. 

Mix eggs, sugar, juice, remaining flour, zest and baking powder and pour over baked crust. (While still hot).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar immediately and let cool completely before trying to cut into them or they will NOT set up.