Friday, March 13, 2020

The Connection Between Pan Fried Rainbow Trout and the Coronavirus

Now that I have your attention, please be sure to practice proper hand washing techniques, especially during this time of growing concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus.  We need to make certain that we keep our electronic devices, door knobs, handles and surfaces clean by wiping them down with disinfectants, like wipes and sprays. We need to try our best to keep our hands away from our orifices  or eyes, nose and mouth.
Household bleach diluted will also help eliminate unwanted critters on surfaces we come in contact with.  Try to avoid large crowds and those under the weather, to do your part in slowing this Pandemic.  Together, even in the face of uncertainty about the ins and outs of this not so new virus, we can find comfort in knowing that all we can do, we will.  To make sure you are washing your hands for the proper duration, try singing along to BINGO, two times aloud or in your head.  Encourage your kiddoes to do so also.
Cater to your personal need by finding a snippet of a song you love and count  20 seconds in.  This will be your gauge and you can use this song over and over again. Get your children to do the same with their favorite songs right now and it becomes much easier to enforce. We all know how tweens and teens, as well as the younger crowds love to sing their favorites at the top of their lungs. Make sure you are washing the backs of your hands, between fingers, up the wrists and soap them liberally. Wash in a rubbing back and forth fashion.  Turn water source off with your elbow or paper towel or you are going to reintroduce the germs right back onto your hands.  Use a paper towel to open the door if you are in public, if at home, be sure to sanitize the knob regularly.
Hand sanitizer is okay, but only if you cannot get to a sink to physically wash them.  With proper hand washing techniques, you can be sure that when you are enjoying a meal or snack and using your hands, you are not introducing viral invaders into your body.  Pan fried trout is delicious, but you can't really enjoy it when you are ill.  Stay vigilant and lets get through this.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Ziti w/Brats, Kraut and Burst Grape Tomatoes

A quick and delicious spin on your Ziti is using Bratwurst and Sauerkraut.  The mellow brats and tangy kraut blend well and add a surprisingly wonderful fusion of Italian and German cuisine.  The grape tomatoes implement more flavor and freshness, plus lycopene and B vitamins.  Serve with a green salad and fruit for a deliciously satisfying and complete meal in no time!

1 lb. ziti
1/2 lb. brats, sliced thinly
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 c. sauerkraut, drained and squeezed of excess liquid
1 jar or 15 oz. favorite tomato sauce
1 pint of grape tomatoes
Herbs de Provence
Olive Oil for drizzling
Fresh Parsley for garnish

In a large pot, cook ziti in salted water, according to instructions to al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 c. pasta water.
In the same pot over medium high heat, drizzle with two turns of olive oil and add onion.
Cook , stirring often, until fragrant and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add brats and sauerkraut and SPST.
Cook until brats show signs of caramelization, about 3 minutes.
Add sauce and pasta water as needed. Fold in ziti and Herbs de Provence as desired, about 1 tsp.
Check Seasonings.
Simmer for about 4 minutes for flavors to marry and add tomatoes.
Cover and let simmer another few minutes and remove from heat.
Serves 6 to 8.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Saying "I Do" To What Matters Most

I love the invite of Spring just around the corner.  As a sufferer from SAD, the warmer, sunnier, brighter days induce a feeling of hope and positivity, that I can get nowhere else.  The little buds are forming on the trees, as they have been for weeks, mind you, while various flowers and bulbous plants are peeking their little heads above their cozy leaf covered beds.  Mother nature's growth hormones are in full effect.
It is now time to start tiny seedlings indoors, row by row, prepping them for the transition to our outdoor gardens and beds.  Soon, we will be digging, hauling, hoeing and making raised rows and anthills, to foster the best possible outcome for our magnificent homegrown produce. The pruning and gardening gloves, shears and clippers, will be our decided gear.  Aprons will have smears of the fertile and viable soil, especially along the tops of the pockets, and our shoes will show telltale signs of earthen activities.  We will have salad greens abound; tomatoes and cucumbers as well as violet and crimson berries; aromatic herbs and fresh accoutrements to a menu bursting with vitality and life.
The majority has embraced a more organic and virginal form of growing, using minimal additives if any at all.  Awareness is taking hold and this year, there will likely be more gardens or newly ordained 'farmers' than ever.  From the roof tops of cityscapes, to the marginal plots newly designated, the revolution will ensue.  We will assert ourselves as conscious consumers and bolster our confidence with our hands, turning sweet nothings into delicious somethings.  We will compost. We will engage in sensual congress with our progenys, our grow spaces.
These growing stations will not only provide sustenance and foster our most primal instincts, but also exercise our minds and bodies and quench our souls.  Some will be learning canning and dehydrating techniques for the first time, while others are hardened veterans and already have their preservation plans mapped out, like clockwork.
Fermentation will yield such ethnic delicacies as sauerkraut, Kimchi, pickles and Kombucha, full of viable prebiotics, probiotics and flavor. Jams, jellies and preserves, oh my.  Sweet, savory, tart and briny all have a place at the table. Feelings of accomplishment and confidence will spring forth proverbial sunshine, to reflect onto all we do.  We will get to know our foodstory more than ever.  We will share, we'll feast, we'll preserve, we will fellowship.  We will be Betterthaneverians. Do you like the way that sounds? I know I DO!

Molten Strawberry Tall Cake

 What could be better than a nice slice of strawberry cake? A strawberry cake filled with a cooling, luscious, fruity and tangy cream filling of course!  This recipe is actually a hybrid of the another one I had in the lab, sketches drawn and ingredient list complete and purchased.  The variable that helped to create this spin on a classic, is time.  This was a quicker and lighter version of a cake I had planned for Valentine's Day.  Additionally, I wanted to work on a few skills needed to create an upcoming cake for my daughter Genesis' 14th birthday.  For her special day on the 24th of this month, she requested a 'Cheesecaken' similar to the one I made for my nephew Rob for his January surprise birthday party.  I created a 3 layer cake, Guinness Extra Stout and Butterscotch, with a whole Chocolate Guinness Cheesecake serving as the middle layer.  I made a Guinness Buttercream with Caramel Drip w/ chocolate covered pretzel thins as the topper.  Rob and the family loved the flavor profile and the design, which I was pleased to hear.
 I will be happy to share that recipe as well, stay tuned for the release!  Genesis asked if I could  make her a cake in this style, but she chose Red Velvet Cake and Plain Cheesecake as her flavor preferences.  I agreed, so I decided a little practice before the big event was in order.  As with any busy schedule, sacrifices have to be made, so midway through building my Strawberry Short/Cheesecaken, I had to bail, but I also needed a worthy supplement for what I had already announced would be the star of our dinner party for Vday.  Enter the featured cake for this post.

Rob's Guinness Extra Stout & Butterscotch Chocolate Guinness Cheesecaken

 I decided to play up the strawberry shortcake aspect of the cake, just with a little edge. While staring blankly at the baked layers of strawberry cake, utilizing the strawberry glaze, 2 lbs. fresh strawberries and whipped cream was key.  I then thought of how awesome it would be to have a hidden treasure.  I used a biscuit cutter I fashioned from an empty vegetable can to make a cylinder opening in layers 2 and 3.  Layer 1 would remain whole, to hide the cream center and make 'icing' it easier.  I then blended 1 1b. of fresh sliced strawberries with the glaze and folded in some sour cream for a vibrant tang.  I added a small amount confectioner's sugar to cut the sour cream and marry the flavors.  I spread this between the bottom 2 layers and filled the center.  I frosted the whole thing with whipped topping  and garnished with some glaze and fresh strawberry slices blended.  The results were fantastically familiar and much lighter than the one I'll be making later for my oldest sweet love, Genesis.  The optimal counterpoint for rich dishes is to serve it at events where portions will be such that, by the time it goes around once, it is gone anyway!
The best part about this recipe aside from it's refreshing flavors are the shortcuts.  As much as we would all love to have the time it takes to make everything we give our families from scratch, we can always dress up some items and make them our own.  I used strawberry supreme cake mix, store bought glaze and whipped topping and it saved the day.  Life is hard enough, don't beat yourself up over a little spilled cake mix. 

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Judgy Cereal

Okay, so I saw these cereal at the supermarket on sale, along with some others, so I took advantage of the bargains.  I thought it would be good and a welcome change to the tween and teens, breaking up the monotony that can come with always getting a particular set of cereal when shopping for your kids.  Well, it so happens that Ryan's World™ and Baby Shark™ cereal were the select bargains.  I grabbed a box of each and headed home.
When after school snack time came, I  presented the trio with them as options. Unbeknownst to me, those were "kids cereal" and the brood actually refused to eat them.  The Nerve, Right!? So I find myself pouring the cereal into zip type bags and getting rid of the boxes, so they could come back down to earth and partake.  I ultimately ended up eating most of the cereal, since taking away the boxes was a foiled attempt at "Mother Woman™" magic!
On this particular day, I decided to grab a bowl of cereal, since I like vitamins and minerals too.  I was having my cereal somewhat on auto pilot, going through my mental rolodex of my day's appointments and such, one of which consisted of a trip to my Rheumatology doctor, for my mom also.  For some reason, my glance down to take a bite forced me to linger a bit.  This is when I saw the above image.  I had to laugh at the indifferent expression the cereal literally had on its face.  I knew no one would believe it, so I carefully and gently eased from my seat at the kitchen  table and made my way to my bedroom where my phone was charging.  I managed to keep it as is and was able to capture this photo, luckily I have voice activated photo option.
The face above pretty much sums it up.  I wondered if the cereal was mimicking my usual expression or telling me to 'just get it over with'. I wasn't sure, but it sure did make me laugh trying to figure it out.  Since there was no other way to spare the 'Judgy Cereal', I sentenced it to a quick and tasty end.
Laughter is food for the soul, gorge on it!

Best .Oatmeal .Cookie. Ever.

This is one of my most cherished recipes. I created it in 2012. The book in which it was written, was a gift from my sister Brenda, meant  to house such treasures of this very caliber.  Sometimes, we are afraid to step outside of our comfort zone and open our vulnerabilities to the world, especially when dealing with cooking and what our personal idea of what is "good" really is.  This is one such time, but since I am not yet global per se, I feel the best way to obtain such status, would be to let the world in on one of my best kept secrets.
This recipe was misplaced in my sea of culinary journals and sketches for years.  I ran across it this past summer, luckily because my family had inquired about it for as long as it was missing.  I was advised to keep it to myself, but here we go....
Be advised, this cookie is dangerous. One bite will lead to another, then another, and more. Before you know it, you will be in 3 cookies deep and wondering how the heck you got there. You will bade for time, until you may shamelessly have another.  You will want to give out some as gifts, freeze some, anything to feel better about becoming a cookie monster. Try this recipe if you dare.  I will leave this recipe on my website for a total of 23 days. Why 23? One of my lucky numbers is 23. After the specified time, it will be removed promptly, to return to my personal recipe file, to only be baked by me alone.  I would take advantage of this opportunity if I were you.  Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this post. For more exciting and informative  content delivered right to your mailbox, enter your email address and hit the submit button at the top of the desktop version. I'd love to have you join me!

3 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. rice flour
1 1/3 c. cake flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. butter, softened, unsalted
1 large egg
2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350*F.
Mix dry ingredients together well in one bowl and in another, cream together butter, egg, molasses, sugar and vanilla.
Incorporate wet ingredients into dry  gradually, in a folding fashion, until evenly blended.
Drop by heaping teaspoons or roll into balls about 1' in diameter and place on a well greased cookie sheet.
Bake until golden, about 13 minutes. For a softer cookie, cut cooking time down to 11 minutes.
Let cool slightly before transferring to wire rack, then cookie vessel.
Makes about 5 1/2 dozen, depending on size.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Orangy Banana Nut Turtles w/ Orange Cream Glaze

March winds blow in  fresh and delicious treats, familiar to many, adored by more.  These muffins  are large enough to share and healthful enough to eat the whole thing by yourself.  They resemble turtles, something I noticed after they had been baked and ready to plate.  Incidentally, I walked past my set of mini tortilla pans on the shelf and It occurred to me, they could serve other purposes.  I have been a long time advocate of making the most of your kitchen aides, as not to wonder later, why you have so many appliances, pans, molds and cocottes that you never use.
 I have used bundt pans to make wonderfully circular meat loaves, with the opening in the middle serving as a bowl, filled with a side dish like mashed potatoes or even vegetable medley.   Using smaller pans also helps to lessen the cooking time.  My mom loved them, that makes me proud.  When I develop recipes, I like to be mindful of the ingredients, they can be discerning, but they trust my ability to deliver.
This recipe started off as a way to use up some bananas. They were perfectly ripe and ready for baking.  These muffins are fantastic for breakfast, lunch, after dinner or snacks. You definitely don't have to have mini tortilla pans, you may use the usual suspects like muffin tins and loaf pans.  The orange flavor is a wonderful complement to the fragrant bananas.  I like to use walnuts in my quick breads and cakes.  I toast them in a hot dry pan before adding to help the flavors bloom, earthier and nuttier . They provide texture and loads of good for you vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health benefits  like healthy Omega 3's, vitamins C, B6 and other B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and more.  Walnuts are also shown to potentially help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and reduce risks of heart disease.  Plus, they're  good for your brain health. You can go Nuts and feel good about it!

2 c. AP flour, unbleached
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Himalayan pink salt, fine grain
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
 3/4 c. pure cane sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 c. very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. orange flavoring
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted and crushed into smaller pieces
zest of one orange

Preheat oven to 350*.
Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) in a medium bowl with a fork, until blended or sift together into bowl.
In another bowl, combine cool melted butter, sugar, eggs,bananas and buttermilk.
Whisk or stir vigorously with wooden spoon until well blended and add orange flavoring, vanilla and zest.
Gradually add flour to wet ingredients, 1/3 at a time, stirring only until its just blended.
Fold in toasted walnut pieces.
Spoon or scoop batter into desired vessel or vessels. I used mini tortilla pans lightly sprayed or greased with neutral flavored oil) to which I added about 1 cup of batter to each. I used 8 mini pans.
Bake until golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 25 minutes, depending on type of oven used. Mine is a convection oven.
While muffins cook, prepare the glaze.
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
4 tbsp. confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp. orange flavoring
scant pinch of Himalayan pink salt, optional
Combine all ingredients until well mixed and sugar is dissolved.

Once muffins are removed from the oven, brush tops repeatedly until no glaze remains.
Let cool for 15 minutes. Your muffins are ready to be enjoyed.
Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack before transferring to a storage vessel or zip type bags.
Makes Smiles and Serves Plenty.