Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gadgets: Korin Cutting Board

I have a few cutting boards, and I have to say that like some of them better than others. And frankly, my knives like some of them better than others. A cutting board needs to be a little bit soft, so it doesn't dull the knife. But not so soft that it gets gouged every time your knife touches it.

The Hi-Soft cutting board from Korin ($69.90 for the 15.75"x11.5"x0.78" board) is made from polyvinyl acetate, which is about the same hardness as wood - just about right for your knives. In using the board, I thought it might have been just a tad softer than my favorite old wooden board, but I could be wrong. Maybe it's just that, unlike wood, there's no grain in the material.

The benefit to this type of board over wood is that it can be soaked water and washed with whatever soap you like or cleaned with bleach - since it's not porous, it won't absorb the soap and it won't warp, crack or split. However, this board can't be washed in the dishwasher or exposed to very hot water - too much heat could soften it or make it warp. So, hand-washing it is. Not a big problem for me since this wouldn't fit in my dishwasher, anyway.

I have to say this board is a nice size - big enough to be useful, but small enough to be easy to store (and you can order larger sizes as well). The color isn't quite as pretty as a wooden board, but it's not shockingly ugly, either. One of the things like I most is what the board doesn't have - there aren't any feet, so the board can be used on both sides, and there are no handles or grooves, so the whole surface of the board is flat and usable.

This cutting board isn't so outstanding that I'd suggest you throw out the ones you own, but if you're looking for a new board this one is a good choice.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Compound Butter - it's not complex

Compound butter is so simple to make, but it's also sort of magical to have on hand. On those days when you don't want to think too hard, you can use the butter to add flavor where you need it. You can cook with it, you can spread it on, or you can let it gently melt.

From left to right, Italian, Greek, Chili-Lime, and Bourbon Maple compound butters.

The combinations are endless, but here are four to get you started. Two are savory, one is savory and spicy, and one is sweet.

I started with half-sticks of butter, but of course you can make more - a full stick or a full pound, depending on how much you need. If you're making a lot, you can do the mixing in a food processor, but for a small amount, a fork works just fine.

The butter should be softened enough so you can mix it easily, but you don't want it melted. Leave it at room temperature until you can mash it with a fork.

Italian Compound Butter
If you can't find tomato powder locally, you can order it online. I get mine from Savory Spice Shop. You could also use tomato paste, if you like.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon tomato powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)

Combine all the ingredients until well blended. Chill until needed. You can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap if you like, but I just store it in small resealable containers.

How to use it: Add this butter to pasta, or cook chicken or pork in this butter and a bit of olive oil. Spread it on French bread, then add cheese and toast it.

Greek Compound Butter
Pink peppercorns aren't "real" peppers, but they have a spicy peppery flavor and add pretty pink flecks to the butter. If you don't have them, you can use regular ground pepper.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon lemon powder (I used Real Lemon)
Several grinds pink peppercorns

Combine all the ingredients until well blended. Chill until needed. You can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap if you like, but I just store it in small resealable containers.

How to use it: Nice with rice, or for cooking fish, chicken, or lamb. Melt a small dollop on top of a finished steak. Spread it on the bread when you make a chicken sandwich.

Chili Lime Compound Butter
You could use chili powder (which is a blend of pepper and spices) or chile powder (which would be one type of pepper, ground). Or, if you want something really spicy, you could use cayenne. Or, you could also use hot paprika.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon lime powder (I used Real Lime)
1/8 teaspoon chili powder or chile powder.

Combine all the ingredients until well blended. Chill until needed. You can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap if you like, but I just store it in small resealable containers.

How to use it: Add a bit to grilled fruit or spread it on corn on the cob. Great on cornbread. Use it, with a little olive oil, if you like, to cook fish, chicken, shrimp, or pork.

Maple Bourbon Compound Butter
Grade B maple syrup is darker and has stronger flavor than Grade A. I prefer it for most recipes.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 teaspoon maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
1/4 teaspoon bourbon

Combine all the ingredients until well blended. Chill until needed. You can roll it into a log and wrap in plastic wrap if you like, but I just store it in small resealable containers.

How to use it: Use it to top your pancakes or French toast. Spread on cornbread or muffins. Rub it on chicken or pork before roasting. Spread a little on bread for a turkey or ham sandwich.

Want some actual recipes? I'm working on it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bake for 214,560 minutes ... and it's DONE

The total number of days between Thursday, September 6, 2012 and Saturday, February 2, 2013 is 149 days. If you prefer to think in weeks, that's 21 weeks and two days.

Or, you could say it's 4 months and 27 days.

149 days is 3,576 hours or 214,560 minutes or 12,873,600 seconds.

Why am I telling you this?

Because if my husband is released from the rehab hospital on schedule - on February 2 - this coming Saturday - that will be how long he has been in the hospital. Or, more accurately three different hospitals.

Almost five months. Nearly half of a year.

It felt like a lifetime, but he doesn't remember much of it. He has asked me not to tell him the details until he gets safely home, and then we will talk. And we will start our new life together as he continues to build up his strength and gain back some of the weight he lost.

It's going to be difficult for a while. There might be some re-arranging of furniture. Some re-arranging of our schedules. Some re-arranging of our roles because now I'm the strong one - physically - and he's going to have to trust me not to let him fall. And he's got to be willing to ask for help, and that might be the hardest thing of all.

It sure as heck was hard for me.

But I also think that we have a renewed appreciation for each other. Just today, he told me that he appreciates that I didn't give up on him and just walk away. And I appreciate that he clawed his way back to health and that he's working on rehab like he's training for the Olympics.

He's still got more rehab to go - probably at an outside facility rather than in-home. We both agreed that going out would be preferable, since a rehab gym would have more equipment available, but with in-home work, it would be limited to whatever the therapist could bring in.

And going out will be good for him. Walking to the car, getting in and out of the car, walking from the car to the gym. All very normal things. All very challenging right now.

Of course, there will be exercises at home. Practice on stairs. Walking. Standing. Reaching. Getting used to living at home again.

Even now, there are some naysayers who insist that Bob will never be normal again - that he won't be able to do the things he used to do. That his life will be forever changed.

Okay, I might agree that things will be changed. We lost five month of "normal" time together. That changed us. But not necessarily in a bad way.

Maybe he won't want to climb a ladder to clean the gutters, or maybe he won't be able to lift as much weight as he used to. But those things are inconsequential. And just maybe with enough rehab, he will gain back his strength, and then some. He might emerge on the other side of rehab in better shape than before.

Meanwhile, he's underweight. I can fix that. His hair is thin and wispy and his fingernail look ... strange ... no doubt because of lack of nutrition. His hair will probably come back. And if not, so what? His fingernails are already growing better. Seriously, if his fingernail looked forever wonky, who would care? He's not a hand model. His voice is a little raspy, but it's getting better day by day.

But his sense of humor is completely intact. And that's really, really, really important to me.

Despite what the doom-and-gloomers said, he has beaten the health issues. He is breathing room air, and doesn't even need oxygen when he's doing the rehab work. He no longer needs the feeding tube, and it will be removed soon and that little wound will heal up just as well as the surgical wound and the hole in his throat where the trach tube used to be.

Despite those negative people, we do not need a vast array of medical equipment at home. We do not need a hospital bed, or an oxygen tank or fancy monitoring equipment. He will come home with a walker, and a shower bench is recommended. We might rent or borrow a wheelchair just for convenience. And that's it. Nothing earth-shatteringly expensive or complicated. He won't need nursing care or tests or injections or monitors or wound care or tube feeding. He will be himself, but a little weak. He will get better.

The important thing is that I will have him home, to cuddle up to and talk to and confide in and laugh with. Our lives will be normal enough. I won't have to drive to a facility to visit with him, and I won't be home alone all day.

Of course, I will also be able to cook for him, and that makes me positively giddy.

This will probably be the last post about Bob's health, but I'm sure you'll be reading a LOT about what he's eating.

Won't that be fun?

Here are most relevant previous posts about my husband:

Sept. 10 - Cooking has been put on hold
Sept 13 - Over one Hurdle, Surgery is Done
Sept 16-  It's my birthday, and I'll steal posts if I want to
Sept. 24 - 34 Years and Still Counting
Oct. 17 - The Single Worse Day of My Life
Oct. 28 - Why I'm not giving away Snickers for Halloween

There were quite a few other posts that mentioned him in a sentence or two, but the ones above are the main posts. If you want to see all the mentions, a search for "hospital" in this blog will find all of them for you.

Thanks to everyone who supported us, comforted us, cheered us up, and cheered for us. Without all of you, I don't think I would have made it through the past five months with my sanity intact. I love all of you!

Monday, January 28, 2013

American Flatbread, Rustic Crust, Mom's scrambled eggs, and #BigGameParty

I grew up in Chicago where good pizza was always a stone's throw away. Or a phone call away. Pizza wasn't something fancy. It was what you ordered when you didn't feel like cooking. Maybe you grabbed a pizza after a movie. It's what the babysitter ordered.

When I moved to my new home in Colorado, pizza wasn't that easy. When we first moved here, there was no good pizza. There wasn't even average pizza. It was all pretty awful.

Now, there are some pretty fancy pizza places in Boulder. But ... but ... that makes it a "dinner out" option rather than a phone call for delivery.

If you know me at all, you know that I've made my share of pizzas from scratch. Heck, I make bread, there's no reason I can't make pizza dough. But that's not on the agenda on those "gee, I've been cleaning all day and now I want food to magically appear" kinds of days.

Enter American Flatbread pizza. I was offered the opportunity to sample the pizzas, and I have to say these are pretty darned good. What surprised me was how fresh the tomatoes tasted on the one you see here.

These are par-baked in wood-fired ovens, so you just need a quick bake in a hot oven to melt the cheese and crisp the crust, and you're done.

And, wow, the pizza actually looks like what's pictured on the box. That's just crazy stuff, right? That pizza right there is still frosty, and it looks pretty good, right?.


Above, the pizza before baking. 

And below, after baking ...


Looks pretty good, eh?

The crust is thin and crisp rather than being a big puffy, thick, bready crust. Like the name says, these are flatbread pizzas, not deep dish. I'm looking forward to finding these on sale locally. Having a few of these on hand would be nice for those days when I want pizza, but I don't want to fuss at home or go out for dinner.

Or ... for hanging around the house, watching TV (and isn't there some big sporting event coming?) or for feeding unexpected guests. Pop a few of these in the oven, and you've got food fast. 

Ahhh ... but the goodies I got didn't end there.

Rustic Crust and Mom's Scrambled Eggs

Rustic Crust makes pizza crusts, gluten-free pizza crusts, and ciabatta. I was sent the ciabatta, which was flavored with basil and sea salt. Just like the pizza, it cooked quickly. Preheating the oven was the longest part.

This ciabatta was fairly thin, which I liked. The great thing about ciabatta is that it's such a blank canvas. I mean, it's bread. You can eat it plain, use it to make sandwiches, dip it in oil, dip it in a sauce, or do whatever you like.


 Just rip into it and eat.

I decided to use it for a breakfast-brunch-like item. Of course basil pairs nicely with tomatoes, and I love tomatoes and eggs. So there it was - scrambled eggs and some little tomatoes on top of a basil-flavored ciabatta, with a little fresh ground pepper for a finish.


Looks good, huh?

So, no real recipe here, but can I tell you about my Mom's scrambled eggs? Because she didn't make her scrambled eggs the way most people do these days. Look closer.


Do you see the difference? See the bits of white mixed with the yellow? Those are photographic highlights, that's how the eggs are cooked.

You see, most people beat or whip their eggs before they cook them. Mom would crack the eggs into the pan and then break the yolks and mix them around. So there would be bits of cooked whites that weren't mixed with the yolks. Kind of like the whites in an over-easy egg. Sometimes she waited longer before mixing and the whites were more visible (and the yellow was yellower), and sometimes it was pretty quick so there wasn't quite as much contrast.

I'm betting a lot of people would look at the way my mom cooked eggs and say that it was wrong. But I like it. You get a little texture difference, and the white mixed with the yellow is a little more interesting, visually.

So there ya go. Mom's secret scrambled eggs. Give 'em a try.

Join me with @BlogRConnection on Mon 1/28 9 p.m. ET for a twitter party. We’re talking football,
food, and parties with the hashtag #BigGameParty. Go here to here for more info. Did I mention prizes? Well, yeah, it's a party. You could win something!


You want to know more? Check out American Flatbread and Rustic Crust on Facebook.

Thanks to The Blogger Connection for sponsoring this post.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bourbon, Ginger, Orange: Cocktails and #TopChef

Sometimes a thought has to percolate in my mind for a while before the idea bubbles forward so I can grab it and use it.

In this case, it was all about the Top Chef challenge using ginger. One of the cheftestants (don't ask me which one - I deleted the episode already) used a soda siphon to infuse ginger flavor into something else that she had also put into the siphon.

It's a good idea. The pressure in the siphon makes the infusion process a lot faster. So she put the ingredients into the siphon (I think with some liquid, but I'm not sure what), charged it, let it rest for a few moments, and then released the pressure, dumped the liquid, and removed the ingredients from the siphon. So the other items in the siphon took on the flavor of the ginger.

I've done flash-infusing, where I've infused flavor into vodka to make cocktails, and it works pretty well. But then I started thinking about infusing ginger flavor into ... something. And the ideas muddled around in my head for a while.

And then I thought, well, gee, why not just make ginger-flavored fizzy water. Wouldn't this be the ideal "my tummy doesn't feel good" potion? I mean, you have the fizz, you have the ginger ... but you don't have the sugar. Which might or might not be an issue. It would be sort of like ginger ale, but with fresh ginger and not as sweet.

So that's what I did. I peeled a piece of ginger about the size of the first two joints of my little finger, and I popped that into my soda siphon. I added water, pressurized it, and waited a bit. Here's the deal. The longer you wait, the more ginger flavor you'll have.

And then.

I made a cocktail.

Wanna join me?

Bourbon, Ginger and Orange

1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice
Ginger soda
Orange slice for garnish

Fill a short glass with ice. I don't have proper cocktail glasses. I use what I've got. Use what you've got. I won't judge.

Add the bourbon and orange juice. Fill the glass with the ginger soda. Add a slice of orange for garnish. Serve.



Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Bravo.

If you're watching the show, you can help keep your favorite chef in the competition. Check out the Save a Chef competition where you can vote via Twitter or by texting. Easy peasy!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Whole Foods Friday: Bread Machine Sprouted Wheat Bread

For years, I was skeptical about bread machines.

Then I got a decent one and I realized that the machine was actually quite useful. There's no denying that a hand-shaped loaf is usually much prettier. But a bread machine loaf can still taste very good. It's great for times when I want bread, but the mix-knead-rise-shape-rise-bake routine doesn't fit into my schedule.

This uses sprouted wheat, which is a whole-grain product. I think it tastes a little sweeter and a little more malty than regular whole wheat. According to some sources, it's also healthier for you than standard wheat flour. I'll let you research that on your own.

Of course, if you don't have a bread machine, you can use this formula to make a loaf of bread using your favorite method.

This makes a nice sandwich bread and is good for toasting.

Sprouted Wheat Bread

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) sprouted wheat flour
2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer of your machine.

Set it for a medium size, regular loaf, and light crust (if your machine has those settings.) Push buttons, as needed.

When the bread is done baking, remove it from the machine and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Whole Foods Friday: Vanilla Sprouted Wheat Muffins

Sprouted wheat flour is an interesting ingredient. It's a whole grain product, but I've read that since it's sprouted, it's more like a vegetable than a grain. Whether that's completely accurate, I have no idea, but it makes some sense.

I'll leave the research on that up to you.

The flavor is similar to whole wheat, but with some sweet, malty notes. It paired nicely with the vanilla. And when it comes to vanilla, I'm a bit of a fiend. As much as I like chocolate, I really adore vanilla, In a lot of recipes, vanilla is a background note. In these muffins, it's a little more prominent.

I thought these muffins were fine as-is, but they'd make a perfect background for some fruit added to the muffins. Dried cherries would be my first choice. Or apples. About 1/4 cup of fruit would be perfect. Add the fruit when you mix the wet and dry ingredients.

The one problem with baking with any whole wheat flour is that it doesn't hydrate quite as quickly as white flour, so the baked products don't seem as "soft" as when you bake with white flour - there's a grittiness or toughness in the finished product.

That hydration problem is easy to solve - and it's simple. You just need to let the batter rest. The flour absorbs liquid and gets softer. For these muffins, an overnight rest is perfect. Or a full 24 hours, if that works better for your schedule.

Vanilla Sprouted Wheat Muffins

2 cups (9 ounces) sprouted wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.

In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, milk, oil, egg, and vanilla together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well.

Cover the bowl or transfer the batter to a storage container with a lid. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray 12 standard-sized muffin tins with baking spray. Or, if you prefer, line them with cupcake papers.

Stir the batter - it will have bubbled up a lot. You don't want to beat the heck out of it, just stir.

Portion the batter into the 12 muffin cups. Bake at 325 degrees until nicely browned, the top bounces back when lightly pressed with a fingertip, and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

Turn the muffins out onto a rack to cool completely.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beef and Rigatoni

I used to be a pasta sauce snob.

I think it started in childhood. My mother - not Italian at all - used to make her own sauce from canned tomatoes, herbs, and whatever.

Then one day she discovered the jarred sauces. At the time, there weren't too many choices. One was immediately deemed awful. The other was okay, if she (as she said) "doped it up." She'd add herbs, garlic, maybe some meat. And she's have sauce.

But then she realized that she was adding the same things she would have added to canned tomatoes - but she was paying more for the jarred sauce. And that was pretty much the end of her affair with jarred sauces. And it certainly affected my perception of them.

I usually make my own sauce, but I've found a few brands that I like well enough to keep on hand for that emergency meal when I don't have the energy for much more than boiling water, dumping in some noodles, and covering it with a sauce. And for the most part, those brands are from small producers. One, in fact, comes from Miller Farms, which is a nearby farm that sells at the local farmer's market.

Dave's Gourmet sauces are also on my "acceptable " list. I haven't tried the complete product line, but I've really like the ones I tried.

That's not to say that the ONLY way I use the sauces is dumped on top of pasta. The great thing about a good jarred pasta sauce is that it makes a great sauce for cooking, too. Because you can add extra things to it, but you've already got all the base flavors you need.

This time, I used to to braise some beef to make a meaty pasta dish. I wanted short ribs, but I couldn't find them. I found a small package of boneless short rib meat, but I wanted some bones for flavor, so I picked up some short little beef back ribs.

This recipe would work with whatever braise-worthy beef you have. Quantities aren't set in stone, either. Make it as beefy (or not beefy) as you like. And as far as the jarred sauce - well, use whatever you like. But use a good one.

Beef with Rigatoni and Tomato Sauce

1 jar Dave's Gourmet Red Heirloom tomato sauce
2 small pieces boneless beef short rib meat
4 beef back ribs (they were about 5 inches long)
1/2 pound rigatoni
Parmesan cheese

Toss the beef into a slow cooker and cover with the sauce. Set the cooker on low and cook until the meat it tender. Not just that you can jab a fork in it, but tender. In my slow cooker, that took about 6 hours - yours might be different.

If you have meat on bones, you can remove the bones now, or wait.

Transfer the meat and sauce to a storage container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Overnight is good.

When you're ready to serve, cook the pasta in boiling salted water.

Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks. Heat the meat and sauce in a large-enough pot to accommodate that and the pasta.

When the pasta is cooked almost to your liking, drain it and add it to the sauce. Cook a minute or two longer until the pasta finishes cooking.

Serve hot with a little shower of parmesan cheese on top.

This dish also reheats well, and during storage the pasta absorbs even more of the liquid so the sauce is thicker. Thin it out, if you like, but I think it's just as good with a thicker sauce.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Slow Cooker Braised Cabbage

Maybe it has something to do with my heritage, but I absolutely love cooked cabbage. I love it cooked with tomatoes, but creamed cabbage is also pretty darned good, too.

This version is a little more austere, with mushrooms and cabbage as the main ingredients, and just a little flavoring.

I cooked this in my slow cooker, and it took quite some time before the cabbage was as tender as I liked. Your slow cooker might cook at a higher or lower temperature, so the cooking time could be much different.  And even though it's cooked in the slow cooker, you're going to need to do just a little bit of stirring to make sure it cooks evenly.

And yes, the recipe is correct. There's no water added.

Slow Cooker Braised Cabbage

2 tablespoons butter
1 head cabbage
1/2 pound mushrooms
2 teaspoons salt (more to taste)
Several generous grinds black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Put the butter in your crock pot.

Remove the gnarly or damaged leaves from the cabbage. Quarter the cabbage and shred or chop it coarsely - not fine shreds - you want this to have some body. Add the cabbage to the crock pot. Clean and slice the mushrooms and add them to the cabbage.

Add the salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

Cook the cabbage on low, stirring occasionally so it cooks evenly and it doesn't burn on the bottom. Cook until the cabbage is tender, but not mushy - it took about 4 hours in my slow cooker.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or vinegar, as desired.

If you prefer a creamed cabbage, you could mix in creme fraiche, cream cheese, or sour cream before serving.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Small-Batch Buttery Buns

One of the things that drove me a bit crazy when I was first learning how to make bread was that all the recipes made two loaves of bread or 24 buns. That's a lot of bread for two people to go through.

Okay, I'll admit that when you first start making bread at home, two people can plow through a fresh loaf pretty quickly. But when you've been baking all your bread for a while, you don't eat nearly as much of it. By the time you've finished one loaf of bread, that second loaf would be pretty darned stale.

When I started creating my own bread recipes, I scaled them down to one loaf at a time. Now that my husband is in the hospital, I've been working on even smaller recipes. This one makes just six buns.

I baked these in a pie tin because it was convenient - it happens to have a plastic dome cover which was handy when I was letting the buns rise. You could bake these in a cake pan, or, if you prefer buns that aren't joined together, you can bake these on a baking sheet, leaving space between them for rising.

To make these buns super-easy, I did the kneading in my bread machine. This also speeds up the process since the machine warms the dough. I used the "pizza dough" setting which runs for just 45 minutes. Then I  let the dough rest an additional 15 minutes before turning it out and shaping the buns.

You could also hand-knead the dough, letting it rise for an hour after the first knead (or until doubled in size), and 30 minutes after the second knead (or until doubled in size).

Small-Batch Buttery Buns

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar (I used cane sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
Eggwash - 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (optional)
Sesame seeds (optional)

Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set to a knead-only setting (I used the "pizza dough" setting on mine) and let the machine knead the dough. After kneading, let it rest an additional 15 minutes in the machine.

Sprinkle some cornmeal on the bottom of a pie plate or cake pan (or on a baking sheet, if you prefer). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Flour your work surface and knead the dough briefly. Divide the dough into six pieces, Roll each piece into a ball and arrange the pieces in the pie tin. One in the center with five around the outside works well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

When the rolls have risen, uncover them, then brush the rolls with the eggwash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 350 degrees until nicely browned, about 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve warm or let them cool.

If you're interested, this is the bread machine I have:


Monday, January 21, 2013

Chicken with Secret Dipping Sauce

For quite some time, this dipping sauce was talked about on the Slice side of Serious Eats, but the recipe was kept (somewhat) secret. Finally, Diana Horst, known as dhorst on Serious Eats, posted the recipe. Of course I had to make it. Several quarts were handed out as gifts, and I was making a dent in the remaining sauce ... but then I thought, "why not cook with this stuff?"

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. The sauce had peppers, garlic, tomatoes ... why not use it as a cooking sauce?

So I brainstormed a bit. What should I cook in it? A pork shoulder roast sounded good, and beef brisket sounded good. But it's just little ol' me here, and I'd be eating those for a month. I decided that chicken would be work, and since I wanted to cook it in the slow cooker, thighs were a good choice.

I decided to make sort of a stew, with potatoes and green beans along with the chicken. The only error I made was that the beans I bought were a little too mature and tough, so they took a bit more time to cook than I expected. But that's okay. In the end, the beans were tender and very tasty.

SDS Chicken

4 chicken thighs
4 red potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 pint Secret Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)
Avocado (for garnish)

Place all ingredients in your slow cooker. Set the cooker to low and cook until the chicken and potatoes are cooked through and the green beans are tender - mine took about 5 hours, but slow cookers vary.

The oil from the sauce will separate and rise to the top while cooking. Don't worry about that.

Remove the meat and vegetables when they're done, drain off the excess oil, and serve the sauce with the chicken. You can also cook this a day in advance. When you refrigerate it, the oil will become more solid and it will be easy to remove. Then reheat it and serve.

I thought avocado was the perfect garnish for this dish. A bowl of Secret Dipping Sauce passed at the table would be nice for those who want the extra heat.

Secret Dipping Sauce
By Diana Horst (dhorst)
Makes about 5 quarts of sauce

6 1/2 cups olive oil (just your basic cheap kind--I used Wegmans)
1 cup sliced garlic
1/3 to 1/2 cup pickled Thai chiles (depending on how hot you want it)
4 oz. Asian chili oil
2/3 cup honey
96 oz. crushed tomatoes ( of course I used Sclafani!)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

Cook the garlic on medium low in the olive oil until golden ( I used a stock pot). Strain garlic from oil and reserve both. Puree Thai chiles with chili oil in blender--set aside.

In stock pot with olive oil, add tomatoes, honey, salt and pureed Thai chiles in chili oil. Puree mixture with stick blender or puree in batches in blender. Whisk in garlic by hand. Store in mason jars in the fridge. 

Keeps for quite some time--at least 2 months.

Secret Dipping Sauce on Punk
Domestics

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A #SundaySupper Inspired by Tuna Noodle Casserole

Let's get this out in the open. I LOVE tuna noodle casserole. And I mean the old school version with canned soup. So when I found out that this week's #SundaySupper theme was retro recipes, it was the first thing I thought of.

But even though I love the original, it doesn't mean I can't mess with the recipe. This has a lot of the same flavors, with a few twists and a complete fashion makeover.

For this recipe, I like the tuna packed in oil, which seems to be getting harder and harder to find. If all you can find is tuna packed in water, you can use that and add olive oil to compensate. Because this does need a bit of fat to carry the flavor.

Inspired by Tuna Noodle Casserole

1/2 pound thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 white or yellow onion, medium dice
2 5-ounce cans tuna in oil
1/2 cup frozen peas
12 pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced in half

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water while you're cooking the rest.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms and onions and cook until the liquid releases and evaporates and the mushrooms begin to brown a bit and the onions softens.

Add the pasta to the mushroom/onion mixture, along with about a cup of the pasta cooking water and the tuna along with the oil (if you think there's too much oil in the tuna, drain some off - but reserve it, in case you want to add it back).

Cook and stir until the tuna is distributed throughout the pasta and the water has cooked off so it's no longer soupy. It should be moist, but not gloppy.

Add the peas and olives and stir until they're distributed through the pasta. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if you feel it's needed - with the fish and olives, I didn't think it needed any more, but it's your choice.

Serve hot.

The #SundaySupper crew has a lot more retro recipes for you. Check them out:

Appetizers:
Irish Cheddar-Whiskey Fondue by girlichef
She Devils: Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs by Ruffles & Truffles

Salads:
Coca-Cola Salad by Magnolia Days
Salmon Salad | Retro Tuna Salad by Family Foodie
Ambrosia Salad by Simply Gourmet
Romaine “Wedge” Salad with Hot Maple Bacon Dressing by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Carrot & Raisin Salad by The Roxx Box
Sweet & Smoky Broccoli Salad by In The Kitchen with KP

Breads and Sandwiches:
Italian Style Bread by The Meltaways
Creamed Chipped Salmon Jerky on Toast by Pescetarian Journal
Grown-Up Tuna Melts by Home Cooking Memories
English Muffin Pizzas by Comfy Cuisine
Patty Melt, Hand Cut Fries, & a Shake by Mooshu Jenne
Grown-Up Grilled Cheese With Tomato Soup by Catholic Foodie
Toast Topper #16: Grandma’s Mock Apricot Jam by What Smells So Good?

Main Dishes:
Chicken Pot Pie Topped With Bacon Cheddar Biscuits by Chocolate Moosey
Tuna Noodle Casserole by Country Girl in the Village
Nana’s Marinated Beef Roast by Supper for a Steal
Chorizo Scotch Eggs by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Chicken Maryland by Vintage Kitchen Notes
Mushroom Stroganoff by Small Wallet Big Appetite
Dairyfree Toast Hawaii by Galactosemia in PDX
Porcupine Meatballs by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Chicken Kiev by The Urban Mrs.
Salmon Quiche with Preserved Lemon by Shockingly Delicious
Steak Diane by Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends
Fried Chicken only in the Oven by In the Kitchen with Audrey
Hambak Steak a.k.a. Salisbury Steak by Kimchi Mom
Retro-Redo: Homemade TV Dinner by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Kicked Up Meatloaf by Curious Cuisiniere
Shrimp Scampi (a lighter version) by Kudos Kitchen
Old-Fashioned Pork Chops by My Trials in the Kitchen
Jägerschnitzel by Sustainable Dad
Healthier Hamburger-Corn Noodle Casserole by The Weekend Gourmet
Inspired by Tuna Noodle Casserole by Cookistry
Chicken-N-Biscuits Pot Pie Casserole by The Messy Baker Blog
Souper Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes by Mama.Mommy.Mom
Meatloaf that will make you swoon and Datz the truth by Midlife Roadtrip
Spaghetti with Currywurst Sauce by Masala Herb
Tator Tot Casserole by NeighborFood

Sides and Veggies:
Smokey Braised Red Cabbage by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Classic Corn Casserole by The Foodie Army Wife
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Balsamic by Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
Classic Green Bean Casserole Redux by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Mem’s Broccoli Casserole by Momma’s Meals

Desserts and Cocktails:
Peachy Keen Tutti-Frutti Jello by La Cocina de Leslie
Old School Boozy Rum Cake by Webicurean
Individual Baked Alaskas by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Rainbow Jello by Cravings of a Lunatic
Pineapple Upside Down Cake by Noshing with the Nolands
Pineapple Bars by Peanut Butter and Peppers
Creamy Dairy Free Fresh Orange Julius With Coconut Milk by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
Refrigerator Strawberry Cheesecake by There and Back Again
Frozen Pineapple Upside-Down Cake by Juanita’s Cocina
Boston Cream Pie by Gotta Get Baked
Coca-Cola Cupcakes by Daily Dish Recipes
Jello Poke Cake by Flour On My Face
Devil’s Food Cake by Maroc Mama
Bread Pudding with Pecans by Basic and Delicious
Victoria Sponge Cake by The Lovely Pantry
A Chocolate Twist on the Classic Japanese Strawberry Shortcake by Ninja Baking
Post War Apple Pudding by My Cute Bride
Layered Mini Chocolate Banana Cakes by Big Bears Wife
Raspberry Jam Cakes by Pippis in the Kitchen Again
Cocktail: Moscow Mule by Crazy by Crazy Foodie Stunts

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gadgets: Hightailer

Some gadgets I approach with glee. I know I'm going to love them right from the start. Others, I'm skeptical about, and I have to convinced of their value.

Others, I want to cheer on ... encourage them to be good.

That's how I felt about the Hightailer by Chef'n. It's a strange device that's designed to devein shrimp and remove the shell. I really really wanted this thing to work because I don't like cleaning shrimp.

My first problem was that finding completely uncleaned shrimp at the local stores was a little more difficult than I thought. The shell-on shrimp I found all were the easy-peel variety where the shell is split and the vein is removed.

Let me tell you, asking for shrimp that still have the vein gets you some funny looks in stores.

Finally, I scored some shell-on shrimp that needed to be cleaned.

The device is pretty simple to use - just insert the blade-like part into the shrimp, press the lever, and the shell is suppose to pop off and a little notch is supposed to grab the vein and pull it out. The results were fair. There were some shrimp that came pretty clean, others where I had to pick the vein out, and still others where the shell didn't come all the way off the way it was supposed to.

I have to admit that I got better at using the Hightailer after a while. With more practice on a lot of shrimp, it might be a bit more efficient. And it's possible that this would work better on fresh shrimp rather than frozen and thawed shrimp. But here in the middle of the country, fresh shrimp are pretty impossible to find.

Even with the shrimp that were imperfectly cleaned, using the Hightailer was a bit quicker than cleaning with fingers and knife. Whether it was enough of a time savings to make this device a must-have - well, probably not for me. I guess I'll stick with the easy-peel shrimp.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Whole Foods Friday: Roasted Cauliflower and Citrus Pasta

This is another recipe that uses the zest from Buddha Hand, but just like the previous recipe, you can use lemon zest instead.

This uses a little butter which means it's vegetarian rather than vegan - but you can certainly use more olive oil instead of the butter to make this a vegan dish.

Although this pasta is meat-free, it's pretty hearty, and the roasted cauliflower adds a nice, rich, roasty, deep flavor. You can cook the cauliflower as much as you like - as long you don't burn it. If you roast it a long time, you'll have tender cauliflower with some crisp bits and some chewy parts. Roast it for a very short time, and you'll have toasty edges and cauliflower that's still got some crispness. There's no right or wrong - it's up to you.

When I make a pasta dish, I think it makes sense for all the pieces to be bite-size so a knife isn't needed. Some cauliflower florets are the right size, but the larger ones needed to be cut into smaller pieces.

I like lemon a lot. If you prefer, start with less lemon juice and add more to taste.

Roasted Cauliflower and Citrus Pasta

1 small head cauliflower
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound dry thin spaghetti
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary*
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers
6-8 ounces grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon Buddha Hand or lemon zest

Cut the cauliflower into bite-size pieces. Put it on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 350 degrees until the cauliflower is cooked to your liking - 20 to 60 minutes.

Just before the cauliflower is done, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Add the butter, red pepper, and rosemary to the pasta over low heat and cook until the butter is melted.

Add the lemon juice and capers, and stir them in. Add the cooked cauliflower and the grape tomatoes and stir to combine, and cook just long enough to warm the tomatoes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if desired.

Add the Buddha Hand zest and stir to combine.

Serve hot.

This is also pretty darned good the next day, served chilled or at room temperature.

*If you like, chop the dried rosemary into smaller pieces.

Whole Foods Friday: Vegetable Salad (and meet the Buddha Hand)

Buddha Hand is a very strange looking citrus. It looks like a yellow, multi-fingered alien hand. Unlike the more familiar citrus like lemons, limes, and oranges, Buddha Hand doesn't have any usable juice - there's no pulp inside. So this citrus is all about the zest.


The flavor is similar to lemon, so if you can't find Buddha Hand, lemon will be just fine. On the other hand, it's so unusual that it's worth trying at least once, if you ever see it.


Artichoke, Asparagus, and Garbanzo Salad


This salad makes a great side dish, appetizer, or even a light lunch. For lunch, I might add some cheese. Feta would be good, or mozzarella, if you prefer.This can be served warm, but I actually prefer it chilled.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
1 bunch asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup pitted olives
Zest from about 1/4 of a Buddha Hand

Heat the oil in a saute pan. Add the oregano and stir, then add the artichoke hearts. Cook, stirring as needed, until the artichoke hearts begin to brown slightly.

Add the asparagus and lemon juice and cook until the asparagus is just about done to your liking.

If you'll be serving this warm, add the garbanzo beans and olives and continue cooking until they're warmed through. If you'll be serving this chilled, take it off the heat, then add the garbanzo beans and olives.

Add the Buddha Hand zest and stir to combine everything. Serve warm or chilled.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cookistry Likes Cookies!

Bridget Edwards, author of Decorating Cookies and blogger at Bake at 350 answered some questions about her interest in ... (oh, yum!) COOKIES!

When did you get interested in baking and decorating cookies? 

In 2000, I left my job managing a retail store for the artist Mary Engelbreit to be a stay-at-home mom. The company always gave us these beautiful cookies-on-a-stick at our company meetings...and I was going to MISS those cookies. I set out to learn to make them.

What's your favorite cookie to make? 

I love making any type of rolled, cut-out cookie....sugar cookies, gingerbread, you name it. Something about the rolling and cutting is relaxing to me. I feel the same way about kneading bread.

What's your favorite cookie to eat?

Oh, a warm chocolate chip cookie...hands down.

When did you realize that cookie decorating would be a good subject for a book?

When I started my blog (Bake at 350) in 2007, I wanted to teach people how to create decorated cookies; it's easier than you might think. I knew if I could learn to do it, anyone could...it just needed to be presented in an easy-to-follow fashion. A book was always in the back of my mind, and luckily a wonderful publisher (Lark Crafts) with the same vision contacted me.

Were there any funny stories that related to writing/publishing/promoting the book?

Well, I think back to the six days that the photographer was in my kitchen, taking the step-by-step pictures. He really got to know cookie decorating well. On the plus side, he was able to eat them as we went along.

What's your favorite cookie in the book? Why?

That's tough...they're all my favorite for different reasons. As we're heading into Valentine's Day, my favorite is the Heart Robot. As a mom of a boy, I always feel like they get the short end of the stick on Valentine's Day...everything is so pink and girly. The robot is full of love, and also perfect for boys!

Are you planning a sequel?

We're in the process of coming up with ideas for book two. I couldn't be more excited! :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies (with a hint of chocolate)

I wanted to bring a little treat to the hospital, and my husband adores peanut butter cookies. But of course, I can make anything that's completely normal. I decided to use white wheat flour to make the cookies a little healthier, and then I added a butter-vanilla emulsion that I recently found. If you don't have that emulsion, use vanilla extract instead.

And then for something really different, I rolled the cookie dough in P2B Chocolate before flattening. It's a powdered peanut butter that has had the oil removed. And the chocolate version has - obviously - chocolate in it.

Peanut Butter Cookies (with a hint of chocolate)

1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon butter-vanilla emulsion
2 tablespoons water
Chocolate P2B

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening and sugar. Beat until it is light. Add the peanut butter and beat until combined. Add the egg, butter-vanilla emulsion and water. Beat until combined.

Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until combined. Gather the dough into a ball and put it in a zip-top plastic bag. Or, if your prefer, bu the dough in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (Or use one sheet and bake a second batch after the first is done.)

Using a small scoop or a spoon, portion the dough into about 18 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls, then flatten them slightly to a fat disk. Put a few spoons full of the P2B on a plate or a small bowl. Dip the top of the cookie into the P2B, then place the cookies on the baking sheets, leaving room between them.

Using a fork, flatten the balls, making a crosshatch pattern on top of the cookies

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees until they're lightly browned, about 12 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for a minute or two, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

When I'm ready to let Bob cook ...

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boar's Head. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's hard to believe, but my husband - who has been in the hospital since September 6 - has just been cleared to eat anything he likes. Anything. No need for soft foods or small pieces. He can have anything. And now we're starting to talk about him coming home soon.

And I'm starting to think about what I'm going to cook for him. I can't wait to stuff him with home made food.

But I'm also thinking about what Bob can cook for himself. Because I'm sure there's going to come a time when he's going to want to fix a snack or lunch for himself.

And when I say "cook for himself" I mean "what can he fix to eat that doesn't require heat, fire, or sharp objects?"

Sandwiches fit the bill pretty well. But here's the deal. We don't eat a lot of processed foods in general, and if he's making sandwiches for himself, I'd like them to be made from good-quality products. A little less sodium would be nice.

Since we don't eat a lot of processed products, I think we're doing a good job managing sodium consumption. I don't want to start bringing in all sorts of salty products, but I want the food to taste good. If it's got no flavor, no one's going to be happy. So I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to try some of Boar's Head lower sodium deli meats and cheeses and see if I'd want to buy them for Bob when he gets home.

I picked up three different Boar's Head items - the Black Forest Lower Sodium Smoked Ham, the Lower Sodium Roasted Turkey, and Lower Sodium Bologna.

Of the three of them, I liked the bologna the least. But it wasn't the fault of the product, it was the fault of the store - they sliced the bologna thin and didn't remove the plastic casing. I didn't realize the casing was on it, and it was a bit unpleasant. Next time, I'll check to make sure the plastic is off.

The flavor of the bologna was good, and I have to say that I didn't miss the salt. Boar's Head says the salt isn't needed because the meat is better qualtiy so it doesn't need a lot of enhancements.

The turkey was pretty good. It wasn't like lunchmeat-turkey, it was more like actual roast turkey that was juicy and flavorful. This is something I could see buying for sandwiches or maybe even for recipes. A thick slice could be cut into cubes and used for things like fried rice or maybe a stir-fry or taco filling..

The ham was actually my favorite. It was a little sweet and - hey, how about this - not overly salty. Some deli hams taste overly salty to me. I'm fine with that on rare occasions, but if sandwiches start being a regular for lunch, I think I'd prefer this less-salty version.

This is the first time I've tried Boar's Head products, and I was pleasantly surprised. And the array of mustards caught my eye - I'm bit of a mustard fiend. I'll have to check those out anothr time.

So, tell me, are you concerned about sodium? Are you looking for lower-sodium alternatives? Have you tried Boar's Head products? Do you have a favorite?

Visit Sponsor's Site

Tea, messy ovens, spaghetti sauce, and more

I seem to collect bits and pieces I want to write about, but they're not quite enough to warrant a whole blog post. Sometimes they're review items that are fairly simple and don't need a whole post. Sometimes they're things that have come in from press releases that I think you might be interested in.

Maybe you won't care about all of them, but hopefully you'll find at least one tidbit that you think is useful.

First, let's have some tea

Tea is a LOT more interesting than when I was a kid and the choices were black tea or the mysterious stuff that was served at Chinese restaurants. Now, "tea" might not have any tea leaves.Technically, it's not a tea if it doesn't have tea leaves, but you drink it like a tea.

To be honest, these days I often like herbal mixtures better than actual teas. A bonus is that the herbal teas are usually caffeine-free, which is nice since I often drink tea in the evening, when I want something relaxing rather than energizing.

The folks at Zhi Tea sent me some samples, and my favorite was the Turkish Spice Mint which included peppermint, cinnamon, ginger root, licorice root, cardamon, cloves, stevia leaf and vanilla essence. The stevia added a nice sweetness to the mix, which was interesting. I don't usually add sugar to my tea, but this wasn't overly sweet - it was just a slight sweetness that made the peppermint and other flavors a little brighter.

Browsing the website is interesting, because for each tea there are steeping instructions - some need hotter water or different steeping times - and there are notes about the health benefits of the tea and a bit of history or notes about harvesting or other tidbits.

Oven spillage?

There's not much that's less fun than cleaning spillage in the oven. I try to be careful, but there's always something that spills or splatters. Oops.

Actually, the bottom of my oven is pretty safe because I've got a pizza stone that lives on the bottom rack of the oven. But the pizza stone gets a little messy sometimes. That's not good.

When the nice folks at Chef's Planet offered to send me an oven liner, I figured I'd give it a try. The liner is thick enough so it's not floppy, and it's made of some kind of nonstick material so it cleans up easily. You cut it to fit your oven, leaving a little space around the edges of the oven for air circulation. The instruction say it's dishwasher safe, but it's easier to just wash it by hand.

The only odd thing is that the instruction say that you shouldn't put the liner on the bottom of the oven - you should put it on the bottom rack. I'm not sure why, but in my case it made sense. I put the liner on top of my baking stone. And the instructions also say you can put pans and things directly on top of the liner, so it's not like you're losing the use of the rack.

The first time I used the liner, there was a chemical-like scent while I was preheating the oven, but whatever that was, it apparently burned off, since I haven't noticed that scent since then. The liner is good for up to 500 degrees, so that ought to cover most home uses. The only time I heat my oven higher than that is when I'm making pizza or when I'm using the self-cleaning cycle on the oven.

Spaghetti Sauce from a JAR???

I used to scoff at the idea of using a jarred pasta sauce. Why bother?  It's soooo easy to make your own sauce, right? And the jarred sauces I grew up on were pretty terrible Too sweet or too bland or too ... weird.

Recently, though, I've found some jarred sauces that are pretty good. Mostly, they're from small producers and they don't include the odd ingredients, preservatives, sweeteners, and ... strange stuff. I still make my own sauce when I have time, but i like to keep a couple jars of sauce on hand for the days when I don't have the brainpower to do much more than boil some noodles and dump on some sauce.

A little company called Elbow Foods produces just one product - Glicco's Pasta Gravy. One interesting thing is that the sauce includes honey, but it's not sweet. In fact, I thought it was just a tad acidic for my taste. Not terribly so, but if I was making my own sauce, I would have muted that tartness a bit.

Baking Demos! Free! 

King Arthur Flour's FREE Traveling Baking Demos winter tour kicks off later this month, with four weeks of Baking Across America.

Classes will be held:

January 27-29 – Florida: Altamonte Springs, Tampa, Fort Myers
February 9-10 – Texas: San Antonio, Austin
February 27-March 2 – Tennessee/Georgia: Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kennesaw, Duluth
March 22-24 – New Mexico: Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque

Some of the demos will also broadcast live online, so more bakers can join the fun. Details about online broadcasts will be available on Facebook.

There are two two-hour demos in each location: Perfect Pies & Savory Scones, and Baking with Yeast & Whole Grains. Demos are free, no registration, and attendees will leave with recipes, coupons, tips and tricks, and maybe even a great prize. More information is on the website.

I've been to these demos and they're definitely worthwhile to go to. And they give away some fun stuff, too.

Cook-Off!

From now until February 4, 2013, you can enter the 7th Annual Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off for a chance to win the $25,000 Grand Prize, which includes Maytag® appliances, cash, an expense-paid trip and a beautiful crystal trophy.

This year, the contest will be held at the Manischewitz Manufacturing Plant and Headquarters in Newark, NJ, giving contestants and guests a peek inside their state-of the-art production facilities. The Cook-Off encourages at-home chefs to experiment with kosher products..

The entry deadline is Monday, February 4, 2013. To enter, log onto www.manischewitz.com, and click on the Cook-Off Banner. The recipe must adhere to Kosher guidelines, be prepared in under an hour, have no more than 9 ingredients which must include one of the Manischewitz All-Natural broth flavors-new Turkey, Chicken, Reduced Sodium Chicken, Beef and Vegetable, plus one additional Manischewitz product.

Four finalists will be chosen by the judging panel and five semi-finalists will be posted on www.manischewitz.com from February 21 through February 28, allowing consumers to vote online to select the fifth finalist. For complete contest details, go to www.manischewitz.com.

All five finalists will win an all-expense paid trip to compete live on March 21 at the Manischewitz Manufacturing Plant in front of a live panel of judges consisting of food media and other culinary experts. The grand prize package includes Maytag appliances, cash, expense paid trip and a beautiful crystal trophy.

Festival of Breads contest

Entries are due Jan. 31, 2013 for the Festival of Breads contest. Check out the rules at www.nationalfestivalofbreads.com/rules before submitting your recipe.

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's easy being green ... guacamole!

I absolutely adore avocados.

Love, love, LOVE.

I love them cubed, sliced, mashed ... even baked into cookies.

But there's one dish that I think is the ultimate use of avocado. Guacamole. It's even fun to say ... guac -a - mole -ee.

Me, some chips, and a vat of guacamole. Sounds perfect. Maybe some beer. With lime in it. Maybe some salsa on the side. It's perfect for a day of hanging out on the couch in front of the TV, right?

Like for a football game, right? Hello, Superbowl snack.

Sometimes my guacamole is nothing more that avocado and salt. Sometimes I add odd things, like kiwi. Sometimes it's classic, and sometimes it's not. This time, it's a fairly simple recipe, with a good hit of lime. One reason for adding lime to guacamole is that the lime keeps the avocados from turning brown quite as fast. But I like to add enough lime so you taste it.

Have you ever had cilantro go weird and sort of brown on you shortly after you chop it? The secret is that you need to use a sharp knife and cut the leaves rather than whacking and bruising them. That's easiest to do you roll the leaves into a tight wad and then slice through them.

Guacamole

1 avocado
1 teaspoon lime juice
Pinch of salt
6 grape tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Slice the avocado in half lengthwise around the pit. Remove the pit, then scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the lime juice and salt and stir to combine breaking up the avocado as you go. I like to leave it a little bit chunky; some people prefer it smooth.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lime, if desired. Fold in the tomatoes and cilantro. Serve. Now.

Oh, and if you eat as many avocados as I do, you can plant the seeds. As a houseplant, these are never going to grow any avocados, but they're kind of fun, anyway.


Check out the other avocado posts from my Virtual Potluck friends. Maybe one of these (or two ... or three ... ) will be perfect for your Superbowl party.

Cooking with Books
Diabetic Foodie
Miss in the Kitchen
Foodhunter's Guide
Thyme in Our Kitchen
Farmgirl Gourmet
30AEATS
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