Thursday, April 12, 2018

Edible Flower Garden: Crafts for Kids and the Kid in Us All

Fun should not be limited to just the kiddoes.  I had as much fun with this project, as the kids at my daughter's birthday soiree did.  It was a small, all day affair, starting with appetizers.  The day was cold and windy with rain, but on the inside of our home, it was bright and sunny with smiles, food, edible plants and fun!  I initially planned to do the plants as place settings, and the miniature terra cotta pots that held the treat was the party favor, along with some seeds to grow their own little personal plants.  I then figured, heck, the kids can do this with me as an engaging, interactive party craft, bursting with Spring flair and full of vibrance, yummies and creamy delectables.  This  would also help over shadow the fact that the first days of Spring were actually quite wintry!!
There is no wrong way to arrange the indoor garden and the kids and you can let your creativity run wild. At the end of the day, the most important thing will be the bonding and time shared, adding yet another pleasant and loving memory to the scrapbooks of our minds. Cherish Each Day!<3 p="">
pudding cups or homemade chocolate pudding
whipped cream
chocolate striped shortbread cookies, crumbled
sweet and sour gummy worms
gummy savers
colorful straws with little spoons on the end
miniature bows
scissors to trim straw
plastic wrap to line flower pots
Tear pieces of the plastic wrap, just enough to coat the inside and hang over the edges of the pots.
Anchor the plastic wrap in the pots with about 1 tbsp. cookie crumbles in the bottom.

Place 4 oz. of pudding in each of the pots.
Add whipped cream over the pudding and another tbsp. cookie crumbles.
Trim the straw about 3 inches and attach miniature bow to top portion of straw with spoon end.
You may use the trimmed piece of straw to make another little flower or toadstool decoration.
Use the gummy savers to decorate the stalk of the flowers.
Garnish with gummy worms as desired.

Enjoy and have fun!  The above photo is of the edible garden we made. Contributors included My daughters Genesis and Bronwyn, my nephew Braelyn and me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Bacon Wrapped Mini Sweet Peppers Stuffed w/ Brie and Pickled Beets

Quick and easy snacks don't have to be boring and unhealthy.  With just a few ingredients, you can turn delicious flavors into extraordinary combinations.  To aide in time management, I used precooked bacon.  You may omit it if you choose, to cater to specific dietary needs, but the smoky, salty and crunchy bite, is most welcome with the creamy brie and sweet/tart pickled beet quarters, nestled inside.
The colors and flavor profile of this dish scream Spring and your family will never know how hard you didn't have to work.  It will be our little secret!
1 lb. bag of mini sweet peppers
1 8 oz. portion of Brie
homemade or store bought whole, small pickled beets, cut into small portions or quarters
1 pkg. precooked bacon
Olive oil mister, optional
Green onions, fresh chives or parsley for garnish, optional
Turn on broiler.
Halve and de-seed desired amount of peppers, using all colors available.
Cut up portions of cheese.
Cut strips of precooked bacon in half.
Assemble by placing a portion of cheese and pickled beet in each pepper half.
Wrap with a half strip of bacon.
Place on roasting pan or cookie sheet. I find the roasting pan helps keep the peppers upright.
Spray with olive oil.
Place under broiler and broil until cheese is melty and bacon is crisp, about 4 minutes.
Remove from oven and arrange on fresh greens or platter.
Serve.  Also may be enjoyed at room temperature!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Cheddar and Provolone Frico Egg Sandwich: Frico Hand Pie

 Gluten free grilled cheese? Yup! Vegetarian? Yup! Delicious and different, old and new at the same time? Yup! This sandwich is inspired by an Italian dish of Friuli called frico, referring to  cheese crisps.
Frico is commonly made with more oil heavy and harder cheeses, a way to utilize the rinds,similar to the way one would flavor soups and stews, historically prepared by the economically disadvantaged or anyone wanting to  make the most of the whole block portion of cheese.
The recipes I reviewed after creating my own version, involved the oven and baking the frico, then molding it into desired shape before it cools.  This serves as a vessel to fill with other goodies and such, i.e. fruit, meats, softer cheeses etc..
For my take on frico, I use softer cheeses and I use a nonstick pan to melt and brown the cheeses.  I made a literal grilled cheese sandwich by adding an egg, cooked to one's own preference to achieve a chewy, melty, eggy and cheesy hand pie of deliciousness!
The cheeses I use for this recipe are cheddar and provolone.  You may use the cheese of your choice, but be mindful of it's melting properties and the temperature may vary, depending on the hardness of the cheese.
Eggs, to be cooked according to desired doneness
Sharp Cheddar cheese slices
Provolone slices
Large nonstick pan
Rubber spatula
In large non stick pan or seasoned cast iron skillet, heat to medium.
Fold double slices of cheese in half, then half again, making a square.
Place one square of cheese on one side of the pan, and the next on the other.
Melt the cheese slowly, meanwhile, prepare the egg.
I prepared my egg over medium. 
Remove egg from heat.
Using a rubber spatula,  press the square to help facilitate the melting process.
Once the frico is melted and nicely colored on the bottom, remove from heat to cool, just enough to handle.
On a large plate or countertop, center egg atop the provolone frico, making sure there is room around the edges to press the cheeses together and place the cheddar frico on top.
Put back on heat and using a fork heated by the burner, press the edges of the frico, going around several times until the edges marry.
Remove from heat and place on a paper towel, to dab away excess oil.
Serve as soon as cool enough to handle.

Friday, April 6, 2018

See and Slay: Easter Elegance, Stuffed Pork Loin Pinwheel

To achieve this effect, I place the whole loin in the freezer for about 30 minutes, to enable easier cutting and for security of form.
Make a cut horizontally along the length of the loin, stopping about 1/2 inch of the end. This cut is made about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the loin.
Flip the loin over and repeat.
This enables the loin to be opened like a fold-out book of sorts.
Using a rolling pin and/or meat mallet, flatten the loin to make as even as possible all the way across.
Cover the loin with plastic wrap to protect the meat while flattening.
Make a stuffing with more Greens(I used Spinach) than bread crumbs for a delicious union.
Use a measuring cup to evenly distribute the stuffing along the length of the loin.
Carefully and slowly roll the loin lengthwise and finish with the open seam facing down.
Secure the loin in intervals with butcher's twine.
Carefully curl the loin into a pinwheel and secure with a piece of butcher's twine, around the circumference of the loin.

For a fantastic golden glaze on your protein, use an egg wash.  This helps browning and also to hold in moisture as the loin roasts!  And remember, don't forget to remove all the pieces of twine, after the loin has cooked.

Swiss Cake Roll Ice Cream Log

Craving Ice cream and cake at the same time? Try this recipe on for size.  It combines two familiars in a pleasing way, easily jazzing up the dessert scene, with little effort and a little patience.  Once you make sure your log is frozen solid before getting ready to serve, the rest is smooth sailing!  I was so excited about this recipe, I failed to give proper time to set completely!  I used chocolate and vanilla bean ice cream.  You may choose your brand accordingly.  I also plan to share my Strawberry Shortcake version of this same log, so stay tuned!  

2 half gallons or containers of ice cream, one chocolate, one vanilla or vanilla bean
 6 chocolate cake rolls
Plastic wrap
Loaf pan
Rubber Spatulas
Allow ice creams to thaw just enough to manipulate.
Line loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Press about 1/3 of chocolate ice cream into pan.
Take the chocolate cakes and place one about 1 inch from edge of loaf pan lengthwise, rounded side down.
Place two more cakes, flat sides together, and position on top of the first cake.
Repeat with remaining 3 cakes.
Spoon vanilla ice cream in and around stacked cakes and press into all corners.
After securing cakes, continue to add ice cream and cover cake stacks, until no longer visible and the top is smooth and compact. 
Fold the pieces of plastic wrap over the top of the ice cream and refrigerate until the loaf is frozen solid and able to stand cutting , at least 24 hours.
For serving, invert onto chilled plate for best results.
Garnish with chocolate sprinkles if desired.
May be served with chocolate syrup and whipped cream for a decadent presentation, or served in slices as is, for a splendid dessert, perfect for any occasion.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ice Cream Eggs and Feeling Like a Princess; ICE ICE Bunny!

Looking for a festive take on ice cream, eggs and Easter combined?  This Ice Cream Egg is certainly a way to go!  I actually arrived at this recipe or technique if you will, while gathering ingredients for another recipe idea featuring ice cream, can't wait to share that one too!  The above photo is made from Strawberry and Pistachio, represented by 2 halves.  The creamy center is a Strawberry Shortcake Cream, chocked full of Strawberry Shortcake Roll slices and fresh strawberry slices, folded into your favorite brand of whipped topping or homemade, the choice is yours.
 This is inspired by the whole Easter Holiday, or 'Southern Baptist Fashion Show' lol, which has always been a time of family and friends, church and worship, new, colorful dresses and egg hunts. I remember a child, getting to dress in the most beautiful dresses, frillies and laces, crinoline and under-slips, uber cute hats, straw curls and curly q's, patent leather shoes with small heels, those socks with the ruffled 'tutu top', fancy little purses and those candy eggs with the edible coating, that doubles as kid friendly lipstick, and don't get started on shawls!  
Easter was always a time when little girls became princesses, before the influx of Disney's princesses ensued. Some of my most fond childhood memories are attached to this time of year.  I now have two princesses of my own to entertain and the following recipe is one of the many ways I create recipes and food fun to see them smile, like how my mom made me smile when I was just a girl. She still does!
This egg is more about assembly, as there is no cooking involved.   The Strawberry Cream is prepared the day of assembly, as you will need a little extra freezer space for the bowls that house the egg halves.  You may choose your own flavors of ice cream, but I chose Strawberry and Pistachio because the colors scream Spring and the pastels remind me of colored eggs.  Of course this recipe is for more than just Easter, it's all about new and fun spins on old favorites.  
2 bowls, of equal diameter for 'Egg' shells, the ones I used were about 8 inches across
2 smaller bowls of equal diameter, to create inner cavity for filling, about 6 inches across
2 cartons of ice cream, equal amounts
1 16 oz. container whipped topping
8oz. fresh strawberries, sliced
4 strawberry shortcake rolls, sliced
Decorative sprinkles of choice
Plastic wrap to line insides of larger bowls
Vanilla or Strawberry frosting, optional 
to secure bottom egg half to serving vessel
Fake grass, optional, you may also use fresh fruit or fresh herbs like mint, parsley and basil
Place plastic wrap inside of large bowls and add a flavor of ice cream to each bowl.
Smooth and press ice cream, tapping bowl on surface to help settle.
Take smaller bowl, run under cool water and press into center of ice cream.
Press and smooth ice cream evenly along the top of smaller bowl.
Repeat with other bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.
Place in freezer until frozen solid again, about 2 days.
On assembly day, fold whipped topping, strawberries and cake rolls together.
Remove egg halves by pulling on the liner of plastic.
Remove the smaller bowl, by carefully pouring warm water into it, letting it stand for several seconds and carefully lifting water filled bowl from center of egg half.
Fill egg halves with cream.
Invert other half and put egg together.
Use a rubber spatula dipped in cool water to smooth halves together.
Serve Immediately.
Serves many with a smile! Enjoy

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Goulash with Rotini and Ground Beef, American Style

Historical origins place Hungarian Goulash  as early as the 9th Century Medieval times in Hungary and is popular throughout Central Europe. The word history suggests that Goulash was one of necessity created by the herdsman and shepherds, using meat that usually had to be dried and stored in sacks made from sheeps stomachs.  Paprika came into the picture around the 16th century, by way of the Old World Spice Route.  Potatoes appeared after the 16th as well.  The long distances and scarcity of food encouraged the herdsmen to stretch their proteins,  by making stews and the like to survive and feed their families', utilizing everything, including the protective padding from an animal's foot!
A proper goulash consists of several givens; paprika, spices, veggies (especially potatoes) and dried or stew meat.  Depending on region and time of year, the protein also included venison and boar. White wine and vinegar were also additions to the original.
  There are many variations to the dish as represented by the culture doing the cooking.  The German version includes wine, stock, potatoes, etc.. and some cultures like Croatia, Slovakia, Austria and Czechoslovakia, use bell peppers, carrots, mutton, bacon.  Some use sour cream and lemon juice, while others use dumplings, heavy cream and Sauerkraut.
American Goulash has humble beginnings around 1914, as an affordable way to feed one's family in a one-pot meal, consisting of elbow macaroni, beef or cubed steak, tomatoes and tomato puree.  Another version of this recipe, also considered goulash is called slumgullion, featuring beef, peppers, onions, celery, corn and pasta, to name a few. This unappealing namesake is said to have taken root around the California Gold Rush, with it's  moniker coined by the gold miners.