Monday, April 30, 2012

Steak & Morels

 We have not had steak in several months and when Kelly gave Ben some morels...a weak moment happened in my mind.
 I generally prepare mushrooms like Mom always did...rolling them in flour and frying in butter...but I decided to go in another direction.  And the result is a winner!
An interesting ingredient came into the who doesn't like the crunch of that?  
I heated olive oil (not butter) in a fry pan and added the morels that I had dipped in a mixture of flour and panko (season to taste)...and believe me the crunch just enhanced the flavor of the earthy morels.
Served over a small steak and garnished with fresh chives, how can you go wrong?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Morel Mushroom/Asparagus Tartlets

 Thanks to Kelly for the morel mushrooms!!!
 Allow me to boast just a little...these little tartlets are absolutely delicious!  They are a bit time consuming but so worth the effort!
 We reside in a wooded area and used to find mushrooms galore but not any more and thankfully Kelly shared her bounty...bless her heart!
 The combination of ingredients is perfect and I would not change a thing in making them again!

Morel Mushroom/Asparagus Tartlets:

2 sheets puff pastry dough 
1 egg yolk, mixed with a tablespoon of water
2 cups morel, cleaned thoroughly
1 nice medium to large bunch asparagus
2-3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 pint heavy cream
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 heaping tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon tarragon, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Allow pastry to thaw for about twenty minutes.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each sheet to measure 8" x 10".  Cut into 5" circles (you will have some pastry remaining and you can make a few smaller tartlets or save for something else)
Puncture each circle at least 3-6 times.  Double over the outside edge to form a raised 1/2" crust.  Chill on parchment paper lined cookie sheet

Blanch the asparagus until tender, do not overcook.  Drain and rinse with ice cold water to stop the cooking.  Dry on paper towels.  Cut off the tips and reserve.  Dice remaining stems and reserve separately.

Steep heavy cream and whole black peppercorns for a good 10-12 minutes, being sure not to boil.

Saute mushrooms lightly in butter until tender.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, along with 1/2 the thyme and tarragon.  Add the cream and simmer until the mixture is reduced by 1/4 (it will get a little thick)

Brush puff pastry with egg wash.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and and raised.

Remove from oven and spoon mushroom mixture in the center of tartlets...arrange the asparagus tips around the edge of mixture in a circle.
Add diced stems in middle and then sprinkle with Gruyere.  Place back in oven and bake for an additional 7-9 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.

Remove from oven and garnish with remaining herbs.
Serve promptly and enjoy~

Monday, April 16, 2012

Share The Love!!!

 In the May 2012 issue of Woman's Day Magazine there is an opportunity to enter a contest to win one of 50 plates like the one in this post.
 Thanks to Kitchen-Aid's Pass The Plate Campaign, you can help fight against breast cancer.  As you read recently on my blog, I have a special & dear friend that is battling this awful disease and when I read the article in Woman's Day I decided I would enter the contest to win a plate AND also purchase one outright.
 You can purchase the plate by calling Villeroy & Bach at 1-888-886-8318.  The plate is designed by Jacques Pepin and the purchase price is $24.95 plus shipping.
After you purchase the plate, decide on a yummy recipe and a recipient...I am currently pondering the recipe.
Once your goody is baked and recipient chosen, go online to cookforthecure and register the plate using the number on the back of plate.
Deliver your goody and encourage the recipient to do the same and each time someone registers the plate's number, Kitchen Aid will donate $5.00 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  You can then log on to track your plate's progress as recipients pass it on.

Please consider joining the mission to destroy breast cancer!!!

In October Woman's Day will reveal how much money their readers raised!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pork Chops with Apple Slaw

 The combination of cabbage & apple with pork is simply delicious!
 If you are not familiar with Ellie Krieger and are looking for some delicious & healthy recipes, I would encourage you to try a couple of her interesting recipes!

Pork & Slaw:

4 teaspoons fresh sage, divided
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
4 pork chops with bone-in
1 large Vidalia onion
1 large Granny Smith apple (peeled, cored, & sliced)
1/2 head cabbage
3 large carrots
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Combine 3 teaspoons sage, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.  Rub this mixture over the pork chops and let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion, apple and cabbage and julienne the carrots.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large frying pan until very warm, add the chops and brown on both sides.  Remove chops and wipe the pan thoroughly.

Heat remaining olive oil over moderate heat and add the onion, apples and remaining fresh sage.  Cook until mixture is soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Add the cabbage, carrots, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue cooking until the cabbage and carrots begin to soften.  Add the broth and return the chops to the pan (under the veggie mixture).  Cover and cook just until pork is done. 

Place a small amount of slaw on serving plate and top with a pork chop and place more slaw on top!

Your home will smell divine! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring-Thyme Mantel

 I have always looked forward to the re-birth, re-newall of spring...such a beautiful time of the year.
Forsythia is a favorite shrub of mine and I just can't let spring go by without a bouquet of the yellow specimen adorning the house!

Enter the fireplace...the mantel to be exact!  Now add the birdhouse, a wreath, a little box decorated with cedar and ribbon, perhaps some candlesticks...that is inspiration enough to get started!
The candlesticks were wrought iron and I decided I wanted an antique paint them I did!  A fun lime green ribbon would accent the wreath and some ivy from my garden would dress up the birdhouse.  

Now the you can see from the picture below the display was off center...
just keep tweaking until you are happy!
Happy Spring, everyone...and blessings to each and everyone of you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bunny Mix

 I love me a cereal mix, especially if it is drizzled with chocolate and contains a bit of salty...perhaps peanuts or pretzels!
 This particular "mix" worked well for Easter with the spring-time colored M & M's.
 Bunny Mix:

10 cups Crispix cereal
10 ounces pretzels
2 cups salted peanuts
14 ounces M & M's
22 ounces of white chocolate chips
3 tablespoons oil

In a large bowl, combine cereal, pretzels, peanuts & M & M's

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate and oil on medium high for two minutes, stirring once.  Microwave on high for 10 seconds and stir until smooth.  Pour over cereal, mixing thoroughly but gently and spread in a disposable aluminum roaster to cool.  
Store in an airtight container.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fleece Blanket

 After learning that a dear, dear friend was diagnosed with cancer, my mind went into over-drive...what to do, when to do it, and the list continues to mount.
 A fleece blanket for comfort...that seemed to be a necessary item and I went on a hunt for the "just right" fabric.
 Yellow being her favorite color was the mission and the daffodils on this fleece seemed to be screaming re-birth, perfect!

I purchased two yards of the daffodil print (60"wide) and two yards of the plain yellow/gold backing fleece.
Lay your fabric out on a solid surface, trim edges evenly and pin entire blanket securely.
On each of the four corners, cut out a 4" square.  Next, every inch along the edge you will cut into the fabric 4" you can see in the picture below I made a couple of templates which make cutting much easier and accurate.

Now, onto the tying...I started in each of the corners and tied a double knot two strips in to secure the blanket. Continue the double knots until all strips are tied...remove all pins and after a couple of hours of your time you have a blanket to share with someone!

The blanket was much appreciated!

The prayers continue for this special friend and I would encourage everyone to send up a little prayer as you read this...and I thank you for your time and dedication!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"The" Carrot Cake

 After nearly 40 years of trying carrot cake recipes I have found a new "favorite"!
 Ben has been talking about carrot cake for some time...wanting that for my birthday and also Courtney's recent, I thought I would go on the hunt for a good recipe and this particular choice did not disappoint!

Carrot Cake:
2  1/4 cups flour (plus some for dusting pans)
1  1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1  1/2 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups grated carrots
Preheat oven to 350.   Brush 2  9" round cake pans with butter.  Line with parchment paper and brush with butter again and dust with flour.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and eggs and beat at low speed until well combined.  Add oil in a slow steady stream until mixture is smooth.  Add flour mixture, vanilla, and grated carrots.  Mix on low speed until well combined.  Divide batter between the two pans.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  Allow pans to cool on rack for about ten minutes and then remove cake from pans and remove the parchment paper.  Allow to cool completely.

Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

I purchased a Russell Stover Chocolate Bunny to place on top and when I opened it the bunny was broken beyond repair.  Ben went to the local grocery market and found the chocolate bunnies must be adorning children's Easter baskets...he purchased the only one remaining on the shelf.
My plan was to paint the bunny with edible paint but time was running short so I opted to use candy melts instead.

I hope you enjoy this cake recipe!

The "carrots" are actually Circus Peanuts that I made a hole in one end and inserted cut up green licorice to resemble carrot tops!