Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Little Friend, The Squirrel...Part 2

Yesterday I was making a cookie recipe along with experimental doughnuts.  The ingredients in the pan from the cookie recipe needed to cool a bit, and the oil I used for the doughnuts needed to cool as well, so I put both outside.  Mind you, I well remember what happened to bring the first story of my little friend about.  Yesterday morning I saw the squirrel many times, but every time he was 3 doors down.  First, I put the oil on the front porch to cool.  Then I set the pan of the melted cookie ingredients on the little table on the front porch.  I looked each squirrel.  Not 10 minutes later, there he was on the table, Cassie on her haunches trying to get through the glass of the door.  My friend is a gutsy sort, and just yelling at him through the glass did nothing.  After moving the kids (my cats) well aside, I opened the door and he scampered down the sidewalk.  I realized then I should have taken a picture, so I went back in the house, got my camera, went back outside, and waited.  Five minutes squirrel.  So, I went back in the house with the pan and reheated it so the aroma would be there again, and set it outside.  Yeah, I know, crazy, but I just had to do it.  Coming back in, I turned to Cassie and actually said to her, "Be on the lookout!" as if she could really understand what I just told her.  But there she was, looking out the door, and a few minutes later, there was my little friend, on the railing of the porch.  I snapped some shots and then shooed him away again.  Needless to say that by this time, whatever I had in that pan needed to be tossed because it looked awful being reheated twice.  Also, the squirrel had absolutely no interest in the used oil...figures.   I can't believe what a nose he has for him to be able to smell what's in a little pan from 3 houses away.  And, I also can't believe that I was dumb enough, again, to not have learned my lesson.   Will there be a Part 3?  Only time will tell...

all day the squirrel was down at the end of the sidewalk...

Cassie on the lookout...

There he is...

Eyes the oil...wants no part...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Recipe #68: Old Fashioned Strawberry Lemonade

Although this recipe contains about as much sugar as kool-aid, it has many things going for's made from scratch, it takes less than 15 minutes to make, it's very refreshing and looks absolutely beautiful.  I have a few friends who pretty much drink nothing else all year round, and since making it for myself, love having it every once in awhile.  This lemonade doesn't last very long as it can be pretty addictive.  It's a lovely addition to a luncheon, and it's also the makings of a wonderful cocktail by adding vodka, or even champagne.

1 1/2 cups strawberries, cut in half                           1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice, about 5 lg lemons
1 cup sugar                                                                     3 cups cold water

Puree berries with 2 tbsp of the lemon juice in blender or small food processor.  At this point, if you want a lot of the seeds removed, place through a large sieve into a large bowl.  If not, just place puree in a large bowl. I put through a sieve once, but didn't see much difference. Stir together puree, remaining lemon juice, sugar and water...I use a whisk to make sure the sugar is fully incorporated.  At this point you can serve over ice or refrigerate.  Stir again before serving.  I usually pour the lemonade into a pitcher, slowing down towards the end.  You will find a multitude of seeds, at which point I just discard.  Bon appetit!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Recipe #67: Raspberry Jam-Filled Muffins with Cinnamon Crumb Topping

I tend to associate muffins with New England...why, perhaps it's because they seem so Americana, so puritan, so homey.  If I had my druthers, muffins would not be first, or second, for that matter, on my choice of breakfast.  But, every once in awhile,  I will come upon a bakery that has a flavor combination that either sounds so inviting, or is so out there ingredient-wise, that I indulge just to see two things...what they are all about, and if my instincts were right about what I would think about that particular muffin once I tried it.  I have a very strict rule of thumb about any muffin I has to be pretty well packed with what I'm filling it with, whether it be blueberries, chocolate chips, or in this instance, jam.  The one thing I really detest is biting into something, only to have the tiniest bit of filling inside.  I was at a bakery in West Seattle one day, and got one of their chocolate filled croissants, seeing that at each end the chocolate just seemed to be spilling out.  I think all the filling was either end, because it certainly was lacking throughout the rest of it.  So, true to my word, this muffin has a very generous amount of filling inside, and by the way, you can change the jam to just about any flavor your heart desires. 


2 cups flour                                                               1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt                                                                 1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
2/3 cup sugar                                                            1 tsp pure almond extract
1 cup 2% milk                                                            1 cup raspberry preserves
2 eggs


1 cup flour                                                                1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon                                                    pinch of clove OR 1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
6-7 tbsp butter, melted

Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and clove/nutmeg in a small bowl.  Stir in the melted butter and gather up and rub the mixture between your fingers to form coarse crumbs.  Scatter crumbs over all the muffins and press slightly so mixture will adhere to muffins when they are baking.

I give the instructions about the topping above so that you can have it ready to go after you make the muffin batter.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or coat the muffin tin with cooking spray.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl, using a whisk or fork until blended.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, almond extract and milk.  With a large spoon, stir in the flour mixture just until combined.  Fill each cup about half full.  Spoon 1 tbsp preserves on top of the batter.  Cover the preserves with the rest of the batter.  Bake at 375 for 18-22 minutes, until the crumbs just start turning a light brown on top.  Remove from oven, let cool just a few minutes, and take out of tin and place on cooling rack.  By the way, these will freeze beautifully...just individually wrap and then put into a freezer Ziploc bag.  Bon appetit!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Recipe #66: Fresh Cod Baked in Parchment Paper with Yukon Golds, Brussel Sprouts, Green Olives & Grape Tomatoes

I don't often make things in parchment paper, but I'll tell you, it's one of the easiest, and cleanest, preparations one can do, while achieving an absolutely beautiful and tasty meal.  This dish takes about 10 minutes to prepare, and about 20 minutes to bake.  You will love this dish, and you can literally add just about anything you want.  I had on hand what is in this recipe, so this is what it's titled.   By the way, I made this dish for one, so if you wish to make more, just adjust the recipe accordingly.

1 small Yukon gold potato, sliced in                        1 small shallot, sliced very thin
    1/8" slices                                                                  2 tbsp olive oil
1 wild fresh cod fillet, about 6 oz                              1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice                                             4 large green olives, cut in half
5 small cauliflower florets                                         4 small brussel sprouts, cut in half
1 tbsp butter, room temp                                           salt, pepper, lemon pepper

In a medium bowl, toss potato and shallot in 1 tbsp olive oil with 1/8 tsp salt.  Squeeze the lemon juice on top of the piece of cod.  Season with salt and pepper and/or lemon pepper.  Heat oven to 425.  Tear a sheet of parchment paper about 15" and fold in half just to have a marker..reopen and lay on counter.  Place potatoes, shallot and olive oil just above the center marker.   Add fish, then the vegetables and olives.  Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil.  Fold paper over and starting on the right, keep folding paper over itself so it looks like a calzone, finishing on the left hand side.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Place on a heavy baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until paper is puffed and liquid is bubbling.  Remove from oven and let rest about 5 minutes.  Mix butter with lemon zest and a pinch of salt.  Carefully open packet and top vegetables and fish with the lemon butter.  Bon appetit!



Friday, April 10, 2015

Recipe #65: Szechuan Chicken with Broccoli...Quick, Simple & Delicious!

I pretty much like any Asian food...Chinese, Japanese, Korean.  That said, I don't cook a lot of it, simply because most times it's easier going out for it.  Also, there can be quite a variety of spices, sauces and oils one needs to purchase, and like Thai food, you may use these ingredients once in a blue moon.  Unless I ate Thai once a week, I wouldn't be so inclined to invest in tamarind, fish sauce and dried shrimp.   This recipe, however, is simple, fast and does not require you to give up your first born in order to have what's needed to prepare it.  But, the best reason to make this dish is that it tastes absolutely delicious.  I never get tired of eating it, even though I'm more of a beef fan.  Please try it...I hope you end up feeling the same way I do about this recipe. 

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts                       2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry                                                         2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups broccoli florets                                               4 tbsp canola oil, divided


2 tbsp dry sherry                                                        2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar                                                    2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce                                      1 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornstarch                                                       1 tsp red pepper flakes

Slice chicken breasts into thin slices.  Whisk the soy sauce, sherry and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Add the chicken and stir until thoroughly mixed.  Cover with plastic wrap set aside for about 2 hours.   Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.  Place 2 tbsp of the canola oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat.  Add the broccoli and saute for about 2-3 minutes.  Remove broccoli and put in a bowl.  Heat remaining canola oil for about 30 seconds.  Add chicken, marinade and all, and cook over high heat, stirring constantly for about 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken just starts to brown, (see below).   Reduce heat to medium/low and add the sauce mixture and broccoli, (see below).  Cook just until it thickens.  This should take only a few minutes.   Bon appetit!


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Recipe #64: Disappearing Marshmallow Brownies

This is a recipe I have had forever, and never made.  I made it yesterday and really liked it, but made some minor changes.  Somewhat like a 7 layer bar/congo bar combination, but there is no coconut, and there are marshmallows.  The only way I can describe one of the roles the marshmallows play is sort of the texture of a rice krispie treat.  They also create a little crust on the top of the brownie.  The original recipe also uses a 9x9 pan, which is harder to come by than an 8x8, and I did use one, but I am going to suggest an 8x8.  If you're on the fence about making, I would try them once.  I think they're really tasty, and afterall, it's only an 8x8 pan's worth...

1/2 cup butterscotch chips                                   1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 stick butter                                                     1 egg
3/4 cup flour                                                        1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/3 cup packed brown sugar                                1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp baking powder                                             1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350.  I line an 8x8 pan with foil, then spray with cooking spray.  Melt butterscotch chips and butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.  Put in a medium bowl, and add flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla and egg; mix well.  Fold marshmallows, chocolate chips and nuts into batter just until combined.  Now this is the fun part.  Spread dough in prepared pan.  I found that by spraying my fingers with the cooking spray, it was much easier to press the dough into the pan.  Bake about 20 minutes; do not overbake.    Bon appetit!