Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Raspberry Filled Donuts, Just Add Sharing!

I was excited about the first time I tackled raised donuts and was pleased even though my version appears a bit different from the blog post that helped influence it.  Jenni Fields' Copycat Raspberry Filled Donut recipe and several others was a reference.  Her site is Pastrychefonline.com and she has many wonderful recipes for baking as well as dinners and great photography.
The kiddoes and my other tasters were satisfied with these delicious and pillowy pastries.  The tangy raspberry filling was courtesy of the Walmart Bakery, giving shortcut to the overall time for my recipe.
 The ingredients are on hand and only require your commitment to the time it takes for the dough to rise.  Homemade donuts are well worth the wait.  Next on my list, Lemon filled donuts!! Happy Baking and remember, Sharing is Caring, especially when it comes to indulgent sweets! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Sloppy Joe-Jacks and other Places to Hide Veggies

Sloppy Joe has been around for a long time, saving dinners across the country, by providing a quick and wholesome meal, meaty and saucy, tangy and filling.  Now, more than ever, we need to make every meal count and also make sure we are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies need, especially our kiddoes. I found that I can fortify certain meals with non traditional, nutritious ingredients that can pack a mean punch of antioxidants and fiber, plus slews of good for us nutrition.  One such ingredient is pumpkin. 
Pumpkins, which are a member of the Squash family, is full of substantial, nutritious benefits like vitamins A, C and E, B2, protein, beta carotene, manganese, fiber, folate, antioxidants that help thwart free radicals, plus it's inexpensive! Most households probably have a can or two left over from the holidays past and if it is just PLAIN pumpkin, it can be added to many of our everyday or tried and true recipes we already serve our families.  I found that I could add it to sloppy joes and not rob the dish of its integrity and go virtually undetected by the picky eaters, adults included.  I call them 'Sloppy Joe-Jacks', as in jack o lantern, as I came up with this fusion around Halloween of last year.  You can add anywhere from 1/4 to 2/3 cup to 2 lbs. of prepared sloppy joes, making a exponential increase in its nutritional density.
Other places pumpkin goes well and may be added is chili, taco meat blends, beef stew and even mac and cheese.  Butternut squash puree goes well blended in with Broccoli w/Cheese Sauce and chunks of butternut squash also blend well in casseroles containing cheddar cheese.  Various types of beans are also awesome mashed and blended with many other proteins to stretch and keep you fuller, longer.  White beans will blend well with ground poultry and pork, while brown to black beans will be suitable for beef and other red meats. 
Be creative, if the color can blend, blend it in, TASTE it of course and adjust seasonings as needed.  Fresh herbs really bring brightness and freshness and added health benefits to any dish, so definitely consider some when planting for your family this spring! 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Spinach Tagliatelle and Fettuccine w/ Country Style Sausage

This is an easy and most flavorful pasta dish that I created 'on the fly' one day, for a late evening dinner.  I used on hand ingredients with the least effort, as it was approaching the wind down time for the kiddies and we were finishing up a hectic day.
 I used a country style sausage originally bought for breakfast and decided to use two different pastas because the spinach tagliatelle wasn't enough for a meal on its own.  I had some heavy cream on hand, but I like to mix 2% milk or evaporated milk with it, to shave off some of the fat.  I find that this works well for my family.
This sauce may be prepared in the same way as a bechamel , stirring in a cup of the cooking liquid. The al dente cooked pasta is tossed with it at the end and sprinkled with a little cheese, toasted bread crumbs or both. 
1 lb. country style breakfast sausage, cooked and drained
1 lb. total, spinach taggliatelle and fettuccine, cooked al dente in salted water
1/4 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. 2 % milk or evaporated milk
1 c. pasta water
1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
2 tbsp. AP flour
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
Olive oil for drizzling
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)

To make the bechamel, use the same pan you cooked the sausage in, leaving about 1 tsp. of the rendered fat.
Add butter.
 Add about 1 turn of the pan of olive oil to make sufficient amount to 'cook out' flour over medium high heat.
Add onions, and cook until fragrant and translucent, about 4 minutes.
Sprinkle flour into pan and cook for about 1 minute, scraping up browned bits as you go.
Add milk and pasta water, then cream and garlic.
Bring up to rolling simmer, then reduce to medium.
The sauce will thicken as it cooks, about 5 minutes.
Once the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon, stir in the cheese and sausage.
Fold pasta into sauce and simmer for an additional 2 minutes to finish the pasta.
Remove from heat.
Garnish with toasted bread crumbs, parmesan, olive oil or fresh herbs  as desired.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Foraging: Fried Morels

 One of the simplist and most delicious ways to prepare a morel mushroom is to lightly batter and fry them.  Some of tasters liken the flavor to that of chicken. That may be why they are referred to as "Hickory Chickens".  I find the taste quite unique and most appeasing, slightly umami with an earthy and woodsy appeal.  They aren't slimy at all, as some may think.  They have a sturdy texture, especially if some of the water is taken away.  Prep is a simple as a soak in salty water for about 5 to 10 minutes, to kill the critters that may be dwelling there, then squeeze gently, like a sponge and place on paper towels to soak up excess moisture, as per Mama Fisher, my bestie R.D's mom, second mom to me for almost 25 years.  She's has always been an authority on morels.  She and the family hunted them for decades out near their cabin in the woods.
Morels are one of her favorite things, but they haven't been as prevalent on the properties as they were in the past.  I thought of her  immediately after the initial excitement of finding them occured. I made sure I put some up for her, since we can't travel to deliver them fresh because of the quarantines.  I want her to have that same feeling she used to have back when she found them with Papa Fisher, walking the woods and finding arrowheads too! She is near and dear to me and I am so grateful she made my best friend, life partner and confidant.
Below are some of the many morels we scooped up over the hunts so far, some are far easier to see than others.  Usually where there's one, there's another, just look carefully around.  They are perfectly camouflaged sometimes on the forest floor!

Recipe: Dredge lightly in lightly seasoned flour, whole or cut in half.
Fry in desired oil until desired crispiness.
Drain on paper towels.
Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

TacoBell's®Triplelupa®: A Socially Distanced Review

So, my daughter's birthday was coming up and she was full of anxiety and dread, thinking about  how it would be hard to have a 'good birthday' when there is so much going on in the world, school being suspended, the Covid-19 pandemic and all things worrisome at the age of 13.  I wanted to cheer her up a bit, and I needed to go out for supplies, so I offered she come with, on the condition that she remained in the vehicle, for all stops. She agreed, so I thought she may like to go get some Tacobell, one of the kids' go-to on the normal monthly occasions that we would get takeout.  We went through the drivethru and ordered the newest addition to the menu, the Triplelupa, we both had one, hers was a combo.  She doesn't care for tomato and loves the Diablo sauce. She thought her sissy would enjoy the cinnamon twists more, so she saved those for Bronwyn. Genesis is a kind and gentle soul, always thinking of others and usually full of cheer. I sanitized  my hands and the money, then my hands again. When parked, I would use bottled water and napkins, then sanitize again, still thinking about touching the money, Sheesh!
We parked in the Walmart parking lot to consume our contraband. We ordered for the crew back home too. The package was nicely warm.  The shell was nice and crisp, not greasy tasting or too chewy and what was supposed to be hot was and what was cold, cold.  The lettuce was crisp and the tomatoes firm.  The cheese sauce had a bit of spice on the section where it was located. There are three.  I never broke it apart, because I didn't want my hands all over it, then going into my mouth.  The beef was seasoned properly and the same all the way across.  There were a couple of extra sauces, making the segments a little different each, but it ultimately all tasted very similar.   I liked it and so did Genesis.  Maybe we were hungry, maybe a little excited to break from the home food norm, maybe it was really good.  We agreed that we would order the Triplelupa again, though we don't know when that opportunity will be.
The Triplelupa is reasonably priced, around $3.50.  We had answered the commercial's beckoning and went in for the kill.  We parked easily 200 feet from the nearest person or vehicle.  I only cracked the windows, just in case any cough germs blew by in the wind.
After chatting and nibbling with Gen for several more minutes, it would be time for me to make my way into Walmart for our essentials. Her meal and Sirius Satallite Radio would keep her company, while I jetted in, to get out.  I went equipped with my trusty homemade sanitizer, jazzed up with 7 essential oils, including cinnamon oil, (that I initially bought for making homemade lollipops, that never happened) for extra germ fighting and soothing relief for superwashed hands.
I super sanitized the cart with wipes and speed walked through the least populated areas, picking up butter pecan ice cream and rainbow sherbet for an early surprise, and the Addams Family movie, in case we weren't allowed out when her birthday arrived, days later.  I also grabbed some Snickerdoodles from the bakery.  I sanitized yet again. These items would serve as her birthday treats, early edition, uncertain as to what the days ahead would bring.
I had managed to get some smiles and laughs from Genesis and I was thankful.  She had been a bit apprehensive about anything going well in light of our nation's current crisis and expected nothing really other than more gloom and peril, I assured her these times would not last always and that we would overcome this as we have many other scenarios with dire straits.  Faith in God and country, in that order, helps.
  A special shout out to the Triplelupa, for assisting in saving my daugther's birthday, little things do mean a lot. What would have been a most likely a soon forgotten moment under normal circumstances, became THE moment, that all the bad things went away and a beefy, crunchy, cheesy and 'Diablo' sauce doused menu item, became an unlikely hero.  Yo Quiero Tacobell.

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D. Smith :)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Foraging: Morel Mushroom Flatbread

 Old Macdonald had a farm, we learned from way back and if he made flatbread, this would be it.  This flatbread's components are staples and part of everyday farmlife.  We have the grains or bread of course, then we have the meaty, earthy and nutty flavor profile of the morels, then we have our dairy cows with the butter, a little duck fat and a bit of garlic sauteed with the mushrooms, then removed to provide the perfect kiss of goodness. 
I actually used large butter flavored refrigerator biscuits to create the flatbread, creating a delicious and time savvy flavorbomb, with a lid on the stovetop pan to create a mini dutch oven.  After being flipped, the flatbread will reach a crispity, texture filled, crusty bottom, caramelized and to your standard's perfection.  This a recipe perfect for small hauls or when you want something to showcase the mushroom's delightful aromas, texture and flavor. Feel free to toss a few fresh thyme leaves or edible flower petals for an over the top, spectacular presentation! For best results, allow biscuits to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, for ease of stretching.

In a medium nonstick pan over medium high heat, melt 1/2 pat of butter and about 1/2 tsp. duck fat.*
Swirl pan to combine and add mushrooms, about 1/4 c. cut in half and 2 smashed cloves of garlic.
Saute for about 2 minutes.
SPST . (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Meanwhile, take 1 of the jumbo butter biscuits mash and stretch with hands until about 2 1/2 times its normal size, and about 1/4 inch thickness.
Push mushrooms together in pan, remove garlic, making sure textured sides of morels are facing down, then cover with dough.
Turn temperature down to medium heat.
Place a plate or tightly fitting lid over pan to cook/steam the dough.
After about 3 minutes, remove lid and carefully flip flatbread over (you may press on top lightly to ensure mushrooms adhere to bottom) and cover again.
Cook until bottom is slightly crisp and golden brown, but not burned, check as needed.
Place on paper towel to absorb any excess oils.
Makes 1 flatbread.

*If you do not have or want to use duck fat, olive oil, schmaltz (chicken fat) or bacon renderings will make great variations.

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D. Smith :)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Foraging: Black Morel Mushroom Omelet w/ Fresh Asparagus and Aged Gruyere

It's foraging time for Morel mushrooms and I must say, I hit the proverbial jackpot!  In all my years of hunting with my best mate and his family, as well as more recently, my sister Bonnie and brother in Law Jackie, this time I was alone and happening by a location where I'd previously photo documented around 30 other types of mushrooms, most I never knew existed.  I was mid sentence describing the mushrooms I'd logged before, when my eyes beheld one large elusive and magical morel, standing tall within 10 feet of my car window.  I immediately stopped my vehicle exclaiming how I thought I was certain that I'd finally found a morel, after 3 long years.  
I  hustled from the car , explaining what was happening to my cousin Bradley, who happened to join me during tasking earlier in the day.  I looked around from the first morel and the impromptu hunt went into full swing! I was ecstatic, scurrying to and fro, shouts of joy on repeat for the next 30 minutes.  In all, we accumulated just over 120 morel mushrooms, and made up for all those years, of hoping and wishing upon the mushroom star, I felt like a champion, with a glow of satisfaction for the remainder of the day.  
That was Tuesday. The following recipe is derived from the morels I found with my kiddoes yesterday, for class outside. They even found a couple each and I was super stoked for them. We found around 25 yesterday at the same location. 
If you are a mushroom enthusiast, I hope you get a chance to feel the excitement and get your hunt on , I have a hunch that the 'Hickory Chickens' are running rampant this year! Happy Hunting!
For One Omelet
1/2 c. morels, (soaked in salted water for 5-10 minutes, swished, squeezed dry and placed on paper towel)
Halve Morels
1 pat butter
 Olive oil for drizzling
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste
3 large eggs
1/4 c. asparagus tips
Aged Gruyere to taste, optional
Saute morels and asparagus over medium high heat with butter and a drizzle of olive oil
Remove from pan after about 2 minutes, and add beaten eggs to pan.
Swirl and shake pan and turn heat down to medium. 
Flip egg before adding Morels and Asparagus to one side of the egg.
Remove from heat.
Grate or Shave a scant amount of cheese over veggies.
Fold the unadorned side onto the deliciousness. 

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D. Smith :)