Sunday, October 30, 2011

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The Haunted Chambers (photo taken with my trusty Canon Power Shot SX130 camera, in this pitch dark)
For the last three years, we have enjoyed a fabulous Halloween celebration, usually the last weekend, before the actual Halloween evening. It is held downtown West Palm Beach at the Flagler Montessori pre-school, that has such wonderful staff, and the little children just love going there. My little 5 yr. old granddaughter just graduated from their pre-kindergarten this summer, and still loves going back there for fun events.
Another scary scene from the "Haunted Chambers"
Also, it's so much safer to attend a party such as this, and will cost you less money! So, for tomorrow on Halloween, the kids will be going "trick-or-treating" in the vicinity of their neighborhood escorted by adults, of course, and making sure to have all their candy examined when they bring it home!
This particular cake was a donation from my daughter's dear friend, Ilaria, who just recently started her baking treats, such as this beautiful Italian Ricotta Cake, decorated with cute little fondant ghosts! Her little daughter, Giorgia attends the pre-school, and she named her business after her: GIORGIA'S TREATS. You can reach her by e-mail, GIORGIA'STREATS@GMAIL.COM if you are in the Palm Beach County area. She is a talented true Italian baker, who has been making the United States her permanent home, for the last 10 years, or so!
More treats, from a local bakery!
They have what they call a "cake walk"...which is held outside, but unfortunately we got rained out by this ongoing remnant of Hurricane Rina, which is not unusual to get in the last week of October! All we got from the hurricane is several days of heavy rain and wind, strong, and lots of it! I feel for you folks up north who are having early snow surprising you at this time of the year. No fun, while your lawns are still green, and your lovely trees with the fall color leaves, to all of a sudden go into "winter wonderland" when you are still enjoying the beauty of fall! Mother Nature sure is temperamental at certain times of the year!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Savory Butternut Squash Tart, the best...Ever!

Am I the only person that doesn't realize that we are in the fall season?...is it because I live in South Florida?
Well, neither are true. Living in a tropical climate doesn't mean that our temperature does not dip to a comfortable cool in the evening, and early morning. This is the best time of the year. I love fall, and I do miss the changing of the leaves to a gorgeous orange, yellow, and amber colors. I love the pumpkin patches, and the pumpkins sold in all the supermarkets, all the hearty soups, stews, and mostly pumpkin desserts, and savory squash dishes, and tarts...as this one for example!

I'm linking my Savory Butternut Squash Tart to: Full Plate Thursday , 10-27-11
@ Miz Helen's Country Cottage


I didn't want to be the last food blogger to present you with a sweet, or in this case, a savory delectable Butternut Squash Tart...but first, and most important, is the dough, which is used in pies, and for this free-form tart. Very simple, and easy to make; mix the tart ingredients in your food processor...the main thing is, as soon as the dough incorporates, you are ready to wrap it in plastic wrap, pat it down, and chill for at least 1 hour.
Without any further delay, I will let you in on a secret that is not such a secret... "best pie/tart recipe, from my daughter Lora @ Cake Duchess!  >>>> Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Birthday Cake...and Fun Celebration!

It's showtime! "Theater of Horrors"...or is it "Tales from the Crypt?" In my last post, I mentioned that I was planning to make a birthday cake for my granddaughter Sophia's birthday...a very special 10th birthday. The second of 4 precious grandchildren that I was bless with. I held off till the last day...the day before the birthday party. Just could not decide how it's going to be, since I am not a cake decorator...but yes, I can bake, just not my "forte."...I would rather put ten gourmet meals together, before I would venture into a "cake decorating disaster!"
Did I mention that the little plastic decorations were from the dollar store?...a whole fun bag for $1.
Sophia requested for me to bake special birthday cake, 2 weeks before her birthday...she requested that it should be a Halloween cake, since her birthday is 1 week before Halloween, and decided to have a special birthday party at home for her friends, and parents included. This is her first b-party celebration, since she was born. Every year she had her party out in different fun places, including at an ice-skating rink last year.

I'm linking my Halloween Birthday Cake to: Full Plate Thursday, 10-27-11
@ Miz Helen's Country Cottage

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple-Date Cobbler...and Homemade Biscuit Mix


I have been searching around in my little trusted file box from Better Homes and Gardens to pull out some "magic"...as in pulling a rabbit out of a magic hat?...well, it certainly came down to that, because I am just fresh out of ideas, for finding something out of my favorite cookbooks, ie: How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman, or my Southern Living collection, my Food and Wine Collections, or my Cooking Light collection of series, from the year 2000 all the way through 2010...all of which are "thrift finds," but my collections of newspaper clippings, which I have totally narrowed down, and have stopped collecting, and index cards that I have pasted or written recipes on, are now, a "thing of the past."...done, and gone!


Nowadays, you can find so many recipes on the Internet, and you don't have to go further than, your foodie buddies' blogs, to get inspired by all the amazing recipes they create, and post. I get inspired just by visiting, and commenting on all the my favorite blogs...most of, who are my friends that I like to keep in touch with! So why don't I just stay comfy-cozy, and keep getting ideas from their blog?...it's because I need to accomplish what I set out to do, is to go through my collection of recipes...or just toss them out...which most I have already done so!

Homemade Biscuit Mix
from Sun Sentinel, West Palm Beach, 1994

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking
powder, sugar, and salt. cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Store in an airtight container, and refrigerate. It will keep fresh for up to one month, or you can freeze it and keep up to 6 months. Just let it come to room temperature before using it, either way.
Makes up to 2 1//2 cups.







Apple Date Cobbler
my own recipe

1/2 cup Homemade Biscuit Mix
2 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cane sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
4 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup pitted dates

In a medium mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix, flour, and 1 Tbsp. of cane sugar. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs, and the 2 Tbsp. milk, just until they are combined, and smooth. In another medium bowl, combine the sliced apples, the 2 Tbsp. brown sugar the one teaspoon cinnamon powder, juice of the one lemon. In a medium skillet, melt butter, add the apple mixture, and saute until al-dente (not quite soft)...add the 1 cup of the pitted dates, stir for a few minutes to let the dates heat up, and soften a little.

Transfer the mixture to a 1 quart oven proof casserole that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Immediately spoon biscuit mixture atop of the hot fruit mixture, into 4, or six mound (I added 6) Bake in a 400 -degree F. oven for about 15-20 minutes. Spoon out, 1 biscuit, and surround with fruit. You can sprinkle with powdered sugar, or additional cinnamon, mixed with sugar.
Serves 6.
Note: If you are using frozen fruits for the cobbler, you can mix 1 Tbsp. cornstarch into 3 Tbsp. water, to add to the fruit mix to heat up.

Enjoy!
I made this in the middle of the afternoon, and my 10 yr.old  granddaughter Gabby and I enjoyed a serving of this...just check out the biscuit, how light, and fluffy, the apples still in beautiful pieces, and the dates, slightly softened...Mmmm...let me tell you, this is a TREAT!...a great middle of the afternoon snack, with a nice cup of hot tea (which I don't drink unless it gets cool outside)...or a cup of cold glass of milk!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Smoky Chipotle Hummus

I am in one of those unprepared mode...not mood, but I suppose that would also label it as such! I have not been photographing anything I have made since last week. The only thing that inspired me to actually photograph, is just one shot of the Chipotle Hummus that so inspired me by Alisha's hummus that she made!
@ The Ardent Epicure.

She made this most amazing Cilantro Hummus with Chipotle Oil Drizzle... that I could just not resist! She has such an amazing vegetarian blog, with all the gorgeous exotic fruits, and vegetables and legumes she uses to prepare delicious and healthy dishes, and appetizers.

I did not have fresh cilantro on hand, but I did have dry cilantro, which was not my first choice, but it did the trick, and it was actually a vibrant green color, because I keep my dry herbs in my freezer, and they last a long time, and stay fresh and that makes my foods taste a lot better.

So as you see, this is the beautiful dry chipotle peppers that I used. They were purchased at my local produce market, and, the price is very inexpensive. All you have to do is to put them into boiling water, and simmer them on med. low temperature, until they get soft, so you can put them in the food processor. Use some of the liquid from the water as well to make your sauce the proper consistency.



The recipe I used is something I found online, that I adapted from was on> All Recipes.com
 
Linking my Smoky Chipotle Hummus, to: Full Plate Thursday, 10-20-11
@ Miz Helen's Country Cottage!

The change I made in the Smoky Chipotle Hummus recipe, was that instead of canned chipotle, I used the homemade sauce to combine it with the recipe. I also omitted the canned roasted tomatoes, and the sundried tomatoes, as well.I didn't have fresh cilantro, so I had to use 1 teaspoon dry cilantro. Extra virgin olive oil was drizzle on the top, making a well around the center, to hold the oil, for easier scooping, and dipping. Serve with toasted pita wedges. Quite a change from the ordinary plain hummus!

Here's a helpful hint, how to dry fresh cilantro, a question asked by Laurie @ how my time flys.
As a rule, I freeze my dry herbs, and spices. They have a much longer life in the freezer, and every time I use them, they are always fresh, and potent, and not lose their aroma and strength. Even if you don't want to freeze them, at least refrigerate them, and you will get the same results. The only two seasonings that I don't freeze or refrigerate is the salt and pepper, which is always kept at room temperature!


How to dry fresh Cilantro

Cilantro
Cilantro, which originated in Greece, has been grown as an herb for thousands of years. Today, this annual is used in cuisine in countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. "Cilantro" is generally used to refer to the leaves of this plant. The seeds of the plant are usually called "coriander."

Growing Cilantro
You can buy cilantro as small plants from your local nursery and transplant them into the ground or into containers. These plants like the weather to be cool and sunny. Therefore, plant them where they can catch their rays during the morning and afternoon hours. Like us, these plants shouldn't be exposed to the sun during the mid-day hours.
If you want to plant your cilantro from seeds, you will need to do some groundwork before the seeds hit the soil. First, you have to crush each seed's husk a little. Then, the seeds should be soaked for one to two days before you plant them.
Plant seeds every six weeks or so during the growing season as cilantro is not a long lived plant.

How to Dry Fresh Cilantro: Leaves
Yes, you can buy dried cilantro at the store. Have you ever tried it? Dried cilantro has lost most of the attributes that makes cilantro "cilantro." While home dried leaves might be an improvement, these dried leaves will still leave much to be desired.
Your best bet is to wash the cilantro and remove most of the stems. Pat them dry with a towel and freeze individually on a cookie sheet. After the leaves are frozen, put them in freezer bags and place them back in your freezer until you need them.

How to Dry Fresh Cilantro: Coriander
When the seeds on the flower heads of your cilantro plant are starting to turn from green to brown, snip off the flower heads. Put the flower heads in brown paper bags and close the bags. Let the plant dry until the seeds fall off the heads easily.

Have a wonderful week...I will have more to offer in my next post!



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Friday, October 14, 2011

Chocolate Pancakes...and a Guest Post

So far, since I've been blogging, for about 1 year and a few months, I have not picked up even the concept, about guest posting for someone, until now. This will be my actual second guest post, and I'm all excited about it!
This is not just a guest post, but THE guest post for my special friend, Swathi, who I've had the pleasure to meet through our blogs, since a year ago. We've been staying in touch through e-mail occasionally, since that time, keeping each other posted with our lives.

I am so thrilled, and honored to accept the invitation from my dear friend Swathi, who is the author of
Zesty South Indian Kitchen, and one of the host @ Hearth and Soul, Tuesday Blog Hop. Her blog is so beautiful and exquisite with true South Indian cuisine, and the most amazing yeast breads, that I cannot compete with, so I decided to post something simple, and American, that we can all relate to, is "pancakes."

Not just any old pancakes, but made with your own homemade baking mix. I'm sure you all are familiar with Bisquick baking mix. It has been around for decades. I have used it for years, myself for pancakes, and various other baking goods. Making your own mix is so easy, so practical, that once you have the mix completed...which is such an easy process, you can keep it in your fridge for up to 6 weeks in a plastic container. It's a good way to use up excess butter or margarine, so it will not go bad.
Without further delay, here's my recipe for the Chocolate Pancakes, made with the Homemade Baking Mix, and a simple recipe for easy muffins.

Thank you Swathi, for your gracious invitation to guest post for you. Have a wonderful weekend!
Please stop by Swathi's blog @ Zesty South Indian Kitchen to get the recipe, and say HELLO!















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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Garden Lentil Balls, and Gremolata

If you are looking for something pretty...this isn't the dish you should be looking at, but if you are looking for something healthy, and good-for you vegetables made into meat balls...actually there's no meat in them just all vegetables mashed up, egg whites, and bread crumbs to bind them.
I almost forgot to mention the incredible gremolata which was mixed into the vegetables that really added the flavor to the lentil balls. Inspired by Joy Bauer's Slim and Scrumptious "Garden Lentil Burgers" recipe, I re-created something entirely different from a few basic ingredients. I will certainly make the Lentil Burgers next time, which has brown rice, soy sauce, and different kinds of veggies, and spices.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies...and Breast Cancer Awareness!

I have featured my brownies quite a few times since a little over a year ago that I have been blogging...but trust me, this one is so different...so perfect...so chocolaty goodness...fudgy, and oh, so yummy! Really! I kid you not!
Exactly one year ago..give or take a week earlier, or later, I posted my Breast Cancer Awareness Month post, and  linked it back to my sweet food blogger friend, Joanna, from ChicGorgeous  since she had the most gorgeous pink cupcakes posted.

Linking this with Hearth and Soul Blog Hop #69



Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies
adapted from: Bon Appetit magazine 1999

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet Girardelli chocolate chopped
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup bittersweet Girardelli chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13x9x2 inch metal baking pan. Stir butter and bittersweet chocolate in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk eggs and 1 1/2 cups sugar in large bowl until pale yellow and light, about 3 minutes. Gradually, whisk in warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in vanilla, then flour. Mix in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool brownies completely in pan on rack. Cut into squares. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.) Store in airtight container at room temperature. You can sift powdered sugar over the top!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bundt Noodle Kugel...and a Winner!


OK...moving on!
This is entire new post I am trying to create...unfortunately I had technical difficulties since yesterday...cannot seem to comment, and now, the worst part of it is, I have written a new post right under the first photo, which is no longer there...the photo and the post got wiped out for some reason. When I put caption into a photo, it gets linked, but to where does it link to? That I don't know. I hear a click, and "poof"...it just disappears. I will just deal with this one photo now, and try to start all over!
For the Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) celebration, we were invited to my son's best friend's house for dinner. They had a "feast"...literally! The hostess, Lisa, made this beautiful and delicious Bundt Noodle Kugel, and to my amazement, I have never made this in a bundt pan, like a dessert! I asked her where she got this new recipe...she simply said..."online"...at Epicurean. So here's the recipe. Honestly, this was the lightest, and perfect Noodle Kugel I have had...ever! Light, perfect, and yummy:DDD

Bundt Noodle Kugel ...recipe, from Epicurean

Monday, October 3, 2011

Haitian Cole Slaw...and a Giveaway!

I've been on the cabbage kick all last week. I bought 2 heads of organic cabbage at Whole Foods, and also, I bought Daikon radish, the long white Japanese radish, Scotch Bonnet peppers, and really "kicked up" the spices in my Haitian Cole Slaw...you probably wonder what is a Haitian Cole Slaw?...and what makes it Haitian. I do have an answer for that. I became acquainted with it several years ago, working in the country club with Haitian cooks that make this fabulous slaw. Usually it's served with griot, which is a crispy fried pork dish, and a side of lettuce wedge with French dressing, and the cole slaw...and oh, my! spicy, tangy, and slightly sweet. Absolutely zero fat, healthy, refreshing, and delicious!