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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Homemade Ravioli

Here is the process...I will post recipes shortly for anyone that would like a great pasta and meat filling recipe.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dinner Aprons for the Retirement Center

Pictures of some of the Dinner Aprons for the Retirement Center.  I took a pattern for a cute apron and altered it so that it would be shorter.  I like the way they turned out, much nicer bibs then what I've seen.  I think they will love them.
December 14,2011 Laura Love and I hand delivered Christmas gifts to the Residents at the Tomball Retirement Center.  We delivered over 80 gifts.  We had dinner aprons, lap blankets, handmade jewelry of charms or kiln melted glass pendants as well as for the men we had Disciple Crosses and some handmade soap.  I think the residents were very happy with their gifts.  They were not much but were gifts of the heart. Very sweet people who reside there.  Laura Love got me out of a bind by giving me a hand.  I could not have done it on my own.   I was so concerned that I'd not have enough so that each resident would get a gift but we did...Planning on it again next year so I'm going to get started right away this year so I'll not be in a mad rush as I was this year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chocolate Covered Coconut candies

I'm going to share my most secret recipe :0)   it is also my favorite. When I make these everyone always says how did you get the chocolate so yummy creamy.... I adapted these from my hubby's favorite chocolate cereal treat...kind of like what we make with rice krispies but with chocolate and a different "cereal" coconut...yummy!

Chocolate covered coconut....

1 large bag coconut
3-4 large bars of Hershey's Symphony chocolate bars

Toast coconut in the oven at about 380 till toasted well but not burnt
Meanwhile melt the chocolate bars in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted, being careful not to burn.

Stir the coconut into the melted chocolate and coat well. The more chocolate you use the more like those expensive russell stover coconut clusters. Using 1 less bar gives them more texture and more fun to eat.

In the picture I used 3 bars to make them spiky looking. I also use three bars if I'm going to make those Bird nests that you can only get at Easter time with the 3 tiny jelly beans in them...yummy.

Note: If using less chocolate to get the birds nest look they will hold together better if kept in the fridge. If making the candy type to be more like the Russell Stover Coconut Clusters then you will need to crunch up the coconut to be smaller pieces and use more chocolate, (at least one more bar) then place them in the fridge to firm up. Then you can box them up like the retailers do, placing paper in between each layer in the box.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sausage Rolls

A good quality pork sausage raw, not the cooked sausage links; not suitable for Italian....a very very mild breakfast sausage will due after you add the spices...or you could make your own.

1 tablespoon butter
• 1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
• a sprig of fresh sage, leaves picked
• a handful of breadcrumbs
• fresh nutmeg, for grating
• 6 good-quality pork sausages see note above also remove casing and roll into logs
• 250g ready-made puff pastry
• 1 egg
• a little milk

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook gently for about 20 minutes until soft and golden brown. Add the sage leaves, cook for a couple of minutes more and then spread out on a plate to cool.

With a sharp knife, slit the skins of the sausages and pop the meat out. Put it in a mixing bowl with the cooled sage and onion mix and the breadcrumbs, then scrunch well with your clean hands to mix together.

On a floured work surface, roll the pastry out into a big rectangle as thick as a pound coin and cut it lengthways into two long, even rectangles. Roll the mixture into sausage shapes with your hands and lay along the centre of each rectangle.

Mix the egg and milk and brush the pastry with the mixture, then fold one side of the pastry over, wrapping the filling inside. Press down with your fingers or the edge of a spoon to seal the join.

Cut the long rolls into the sizes you want and space them out on a baking tray. Brush with the rest of the egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until puffed, golden and cooked through. Serve with piccalilli and a cress salad.

Cheese & Onion Pasty/Cornish Pies

"The traditional Cornish recipe uses a cheese such as Double Gloucester or English Cheddar, but I have made some very tasty varieties using Stilton, Feta, Bleu Cheese, and even Havarti."

3 sheets ( I use frozen, but homemade is fine if you are a purist)
3/4 ounce unsalted butter
3 medium onions, finely chopped
3/4 lb double Gloucester cheese or 3/4 lb cheddar cheese, grated
6 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Thaw the pastry.
If using homemade, put your dough in the refrigerator to chill.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Melt the butter in a frying pan on a low heat.
Mix in the onions and cook them until they are just beginning to soften.
Mix them with the cheese and parsley.
Roll out the pastry and cut out 6 rounds, each about 6 inches in diameter.
Put a quarter of the cheese mixture on one half of each one.
Fold over the other side and crimp the edges together.
Lay the pasties on a floured baking sheet and brush them with milk or beaten egg.
Bake them for 30 minutes and serve hot.

Pecan-Topped Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 15 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through allspice) in a bowl.

Place sugar, egg substitute, oil, buttermilk, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add 2/3 cup water and pumpkin, beating at low speed until blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Spoon batter into 2 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
You can also make these low GI by using Gluten free flour and I sub'd 1 cup of sugar substitute with 1 cup reg sugar and used apple sauce instead of oil.

Home hash browns quick

Fast hash browns using your own potatoes not frozen
For two
1 large potato grated, rinse and shake dry(you can leave the skins on if you want)
salt and pepper to taste
small 2 inch onion (omit if you don't like onion) chopped

In a medium microwavable bowl add the grated, rinsed potato with about 2 tbsp water and the salt and pepper, toss to coat the potaoes. Microwave for about 2 1/2 minute, the potatoes will not be completely done and you will be able to still toss them with a fork. If you over cook you will have mush so watch this closely. You want them just par cooked.
While the potatoes are cooking in the microwave get a skillet out and place on stove and turn burner on getting the pan good and hot. Add about 2 tbsp oil to the pan add onion and cook till translucent.
When the potatoes are par cooked drain the water off of them if there is any. Pour potatoes into the hot pan with the onions. Spread around in the pan so that as much surface of the potatoes are touching the hot pan and cook for about 3 minutes without turning. After 3 minutes toss potatoes around in pan with a spatula and cook for additional 3 minutes..keep doing this until the potatoes are as crisp as you like.... While all this is going on cook your sausage/bacon and then your eggs. All should be ready at the same time because the potatoes will only take about 6 minutes in the fry pan. I actually put my sausage in the oven at 375 when I put the potatoes in the microwave so I have one less thing on the stove top to worry about.

These are so good and crispy....and cost hardly anything to make.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My crazy dreams

Do you dream of things that when you wake you have the need or compulsion to recreate?  It is so weird but I always have, and generally I am not able to recreate these things, although I feel the need to give it my best shot.  I can not just let it go as just another nightmare.  I have to rummage through all my art supplies and figure out how to recreate that crazy thing I seen in my dream....  Here are some examples but believe me these are the least crazy of them all!
I call the one below, Nose in the News....lol  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pretzel Rolls

Above are the ones I made with the original recipe.  Below is a picture of the ones on the Food Pusher site.

Update:  New recipe found at Food Pushers
2 ½ – 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup water (110-120 degrees)
2 Tbsp room temperature milk
4 quarts water (for boiling)
½ cup baking soda
additional butter (optional)
Kosher or pretzel salt to taste
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, salt, brown sugar and yeast. Mix in 1 cup water, milk and butter until a dough ball forms, and then kneed on medium low for another minute.

The dough should form a slightly tacky, but firm ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, knead again for about 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring the 4 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, slowly add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface and gently degas it. Cut dough into twelve relatively equal pieces. Form into balls and set on a lightly floured piece of wax paper.
Drop balls three or four at a time into the baking soda bath for 30-60 seconds, turning once to guarantee both sides covered. Drain the excess water from the dough and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
Sprinkle the kosher salt over the bread to your specific tastes, and use a sharp knife to cut a small incision on the top of the bread so the dough has somewhere to expand.
Cook the bread for 18-22 minutes, or until deep pretzel brown, rotating the baking sheet once. Brush with melted butter, if desired. Remove to a cooling rack to cool.
These freeze really well, and are a great little snack. Just pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds on 50% power, and it's soft and warm.

The old recipe below:
The Dough
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk, slightly warmed
1 cup water, slightly warmed

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

The "Bath"
7 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons baking soda

In a small container, mix yeast with warmed milk and let rest for 10 minutes.Whisk flour and teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.

Add canola oil and warmed water to yeast mixture. Pour mixture into bowl with flour. Knead in the bowl until dough is very smooth. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let rise for one hour.

Punch down dough and knead in bowl for one minute. Cut dough into 15 pieces. Form balls by pulling the dough under. Place on a well-greased surface. Let the dough balls rise for 15 minutes.

While the dough balls are rising, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get the pretzel "bath" ready. In a large pot, bring water, salt, and baking soda to a rolling boil. Plunge three dough balls into the water and let them "poach" for 1 minute on each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a well-greased baking sheet. With a serrated knife, cut 2-3 lines across each roll and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pretzels are a rich brown. These are best eaten the same day they are made.

The Best Vanilla Cupcake recipe I've found

Yield: 2.5 dozen
From:  http://sweetapolita.com/2011/06/ruffles-roses-a-madish-tea-party/

1 3/4 cups (175 g) cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups (157 g) all-purpose flour
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 227 g) unsalted butter cut into 1-inch cubes, room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (250 mL/8 liquid ounces) whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract for all of my baking)


1. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Line standard cupcake pans with your favourite paper cupcake liners.

2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients (flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt) and mix on low speed until blended. Add cubes of butter, one at a time, and mix again until all butter is coated with flour.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, to mixer and blend until incorporated.

4. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together milk and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl with spatula after each addition. Beat until just incorporated (try not to over beat).

4. Using a 1.5 oz cookie scoop (or your cake batter tool of choice), divide batter among liners (should be 2/3 full). Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and immediately transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack by inverting the tray. Carefully turn the cupcakes right-side-up and let cool completely before frosting.

*Recipe source: Billy’s Bakery Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes via Martha Stewart

These are best with Royal Icing


1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
2 tablespoons (30 mL) meringue powder (I avoid Wilton brand and I like Ateco 480 Meringue Powder, 20 oz.)
*Optional: Flavoring/extract to taste (nothing oil-based) such as, almond extract, rosewater, vanilla extract (clear if you want the icing to remain very white), etc.
1 lb (454 g, about 3 3/4 cups) icing (powdered, confectioners’) sugar
Few drops food color gel (optional)


1. Place meringue powder, cream of tartar, and water (and extract, if using) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on low speed until frothy.

2. Add the icing sugar, and mix on low speed for 10 minutes. You can use the paddle attachment or the whisk attachment and see which you prefer (I tend to use the paddle attachment because it’s how I was taught by Bonnie Gordon, but I’ve done it both ways, and they both work!). The icing will be fairly thick, but glossy and not as thick as regular royal icing at this point.

3. If too thick, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the icing just runs off a spoon and is glossy and spreadable (but not too watered down). I was also taught at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts that you can run the tip of a knife through the icing and count how many seconds until the line disappears, and when it takes about 8 seconds (in this case), I find it to be the best consistency for these fairy cakes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls — Artisan Bread

Here they are complete..yummy

This image is of the rolls rising.

The Master Recipe: Boule
Adapted From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François
Yield = Four 1-pound loaves. Recipe can be doubled or halved
3 cups lukewarm water
1½ T. granulated yeasts (1½ packets)
1½ T. kosher or other coarse salt
6½ cups (29.25 oz.) unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
Mixing and Storing the Dough
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100ºF.
2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a five-quart bowl, or preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve. (I added the yeast, then the flour and then the salt on top of the flour to avoid killing any of the yeast, but apparently this is unnecessary.)
3. Mix in the flour: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping the flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula; don’t press down into the flour as you scoop or you’ll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon. If necessary, reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don’t knead! It isn’t necessary. You’re finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. Dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of the container.
4. Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you’re using. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately two hours. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period, but fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and is easier to work with. So, the first time you try this method, it’s best to refrigerate the dough overnight before shaping a loaf.
If you want to make standard boules, continue with step 5 here.
Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls
1 1/2 lbs. of pre-mixed dough (recipe above)
Note: My portion of dough weighed 1 lb 12 oz., so the recipe is relatively flexible in this sense. I did have to whip up a little bit more butter-cinnamon-and-sugar filling, however, to compensate for the larger surface area.
The Caramel Topping
6 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
30 pecan halves (I crushed up my pecan halves, but feel free to leave them whole if you wish)
The Filling
4 T. salted butter, softened (I used unsoftened)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I did not use)
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans (I did not toast)
Pinch of ground black pepper (I did not use.)
1. On baking day, cream together the butter, salt and brown sugar. Spread evenly over the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Scatter the pecans over the butter-sugar mixture and set aside. (Note: I experienced terrible spillage, which resulted in a burnt oven floor. Soooo, if you have a pan with high sides, that might work best. Otherwise, place a pan (disposable or not) on the rack below your pan to catch the spillage.
2. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1.5 lb piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. (Note: I didn’t really do this. I simply placed my piece of dough (Which was a little bit larger than 1.5 lbs.) on my work surface and stretched it out into a rectangle.)
3. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thick rectangle. As you roll out the dough, use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface but not so much as to make the dough dry. If the dough is being stubborn, let it sit for 20 minutes, then come back to it with the rolling pin.
4. Cream together the butter, sugar and spices. Spread evenly over the rolled-out dough and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. (I had to make a little bit more of this mixture to cover the surface area of my dough.) Starting with the long side, roll the dough into a log. If the dough is too soft to cut, let it chill for 20 minutes. (Note: My dough was very soft, but I was too impatient to chill it.)
5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. With a serrated knife, cut the log into 8 equal pieces and arrange over the pecans in the prepared, with the “swirled” edge facing upward. (Not sure what the “swirled” edge means — they were both swirled as far as I could tell?) Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise 1 hour. Note: I basically just let my rolls rise for 20 minutes. As soon as the buns started filling up the pan, I popped the pan in the oven.
6. Bake buns about 40 minutes or until golden brown and well set in center. While still hot, run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the caramel rolls, and invert immediately onto a serving dish. If you let them sit too long, they will stick to the pan and be difficult to turn out.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tri-County Quilters Charity Bee, Christmas Stockings for Children in need.

Tri-County Quilters Charity Bee is making stockings to fill for a couple organizations which includes Boy's and Girls town...I am so excited that I actually got to work on some of these. It sure warms your heart knowing that this tiny effort for a few hours today will make the difference in 10 children's lives. I hope to be able to help more with this project I so think it is worth it. The Charity Bee had little packs all made up for you to take home to make the stockings....I mean everything was already cut out and included very clear instructions. These were fun to do. This is my first set, (I'm hoping to be able to do another 10 but it might be too late)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Summer Lap Blanket for Ms. Ramona

At the retirement center there are so many wonderful people there.  I wish I had more time to spend with each one.  Every now and again one of the lovely people there ask for something special...I feel so blessed that they feel comfortable with me to make these sorts of requests.  I absolutely love making someone's day.  A wonderful lady that resides at the retirement center, Ramona said she once had a thin blanket that was just made up of a top fabric and a backing fabric with no quilt batting.  She said she gave it away because she thought she had another one.  When she found out that she didn't she wished she still had the one she gave away.  I told her I'd sure make her one like this as it is easy peasy to make.  She said her favorite color was blue.
Then a couple weeks ago a good friend of mines mother sent over some material to make these lap blankets as well as receiving blankets, and to my surprise a lovely blue fabric was in this stash.  I will certainly replace it but I decided this was perfect for Ms. Ramona and so here is my finished project.  Mind you she never mentioned liking flowers so I'm a tad bit worried, but I can't seem to do anything without adding a little bit of "Janet" all over it...lol

so here it is...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spinach Lasagna with Bolognese Meat Sauce

2 tblsp olive
1 tblsp unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 small rib celery, chopped
1 small carrot chopped
1 pound round
1/2 cup dry white wine (one you would actually drink)
1/2 cup milk
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 recipe of master pasta or spinach pasta recipe
1 1/2 cups Bechamel Sauce
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat oil and butter in a large, very heavy copper or cast-iron saucepan. Add onion and saute over medium heat until slightly wilted, about 4 minutes. Add carrot and celery and continue cooking until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes more.

Add meat and use a fork or the back of a spoon to break it into small pieces. As soon as the meat looses its red color, add wine and simmer until the aroma of the wine fades, about 4 minutes. Add milk and simmer until liquid in pan is clear again, about 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes and 1 tsp salt and reduce heat to low. Allow sauce to simmer very gently (sauce can be ruined by high heat but not by low heat), stirring occasionally, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Finished sauce will be thick with no excess liquid floating on top. Taste for salt and set aside.

Cook and drain pasta. Preheat oven to 400 F.

Grease a 13x9" lasagna pan. Smear 3 tblsp bechamel across bottom. Line bottom with a layer of pasta, making sure noodles touch but do not overlap. Smear 2/3 cup meat sauce over noodles and drizzle with 3 tblsp bechamel. Sprinkle with 2 tblsp cheese. Repeat layering of pasta, meat sauce, bechamel, and cheese four more times. For the sixth layer, coat noodles with 6 tblsp bechamel and sprinkle with remaining 6 tblsp cheese.

Bake lasagna until top turns golden brown in spots and sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, let lasagna settle for 5 minutes, and serve.

Cooks note: Since this meat sauce takes so long to cook (preparation time is actually less than 30 minutes), consider making a double recipe. Leftover sauce can be frozen and is perfect with fettuccine, ravioli, gnocchi, or tortellini.

Bechamel Sauce

2 cups milk
4 tblsp unsalted butter
3 1/2 tblsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Gently heat milk in a small pan so that it is warm but not scalded.
Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium sized saucepan. When butter is foamy, whisk in flour until smooth. Stir and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Do not let flour brown.

Add several tblsp of the hot milk, whisking constantly. When milk is thoroughly blended into butter and flour mixture, add several more tablespoons. Repeat until all the milk has been added and the sauce is smooth. If at any time the sauce sparates or lumps form, whisk vigorously until smooth.

Add salt and cook sauce over medium heat for several minutes or until it thickens slightly and has the texture of heavy cream. Do not let it bubble. Remove pan from heat and use sauce immediately, or pour into a glass measuring cup and cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming. Keep at room temperature for up to 2 hours or refrigerate overnight. Reheat if chilled and whisk before using.

Master Recipe for Egg Pasta
Makes enough pasta for 6 layers in a standard 13/9 Lasagna Pan
2 Cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
5 Quarts water
1 tblsp. salt

I'm going to post the book cover picture for each Lasagna recipe as this book has no pictures, but I have found the recipes to be very good.

Place flour on a clean, dry work surface (a counter top or wood surface is best). With your hands, shape flour into a 6 inch ring with an empty well in the center. Crack eggs into this well and beat lightly with a fork. Slowly work in some of the flour from the inside of the ring. Continue incorporating flour from around the inside of the ring as the egg mixture becomes thicker.
Eventually the walls of the flour ring will collapse. Continue using a fork to incorporate flour into the sticky egg mass. Use your hands to knead dough into a solid ball for about 1 minute. Incorporate as much flour as necessary to keep dough from being very sticky.
At the point, set dough aside (it will still have chunks of unincorporated flour in it) and clean your hands and the work surface thoroughly. Small bits of dried flour will cause lumps in the pasta and must be removed. so wash and thoroughly dry the work surface. Wash and dry your hands and dust them lightly with flour.

Return dough to work surface and continue kneading by hand. If small bits of hardened dough fall off, sweep them to the side of the surface or move dough ball to a clean part of the work surface. In any case, do not try to incorporate these pieces into the dough. Continue kneading until dough is quite smooth and not sticky. As a Florentine pasta teacher would tell you, "Pasta dough should be as smooth as a baby's behind." Kneading should take about 10 minutes.

Shape dough into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic, and set aside for at least 15 minutes to let dough relax. If tightly wrapped, the dough can be set aside at room temperature for several hours.

Set up a hand-cranked pasta machine and cover a large area with paper towels. Unwrap dough and knead for about 1 minute to incorporate the moisture that has formed on its surface.

Slice a 1/2 inch piece of dough (you should be able to get about 6 slices from the dough ball) and flatten it into a disk. (Rewrap remaining dough to prevent it from drying out as you work). Run disk through widest setting on pasta machine. Bring ends of dough toward the middle and press down to seal. Run the open end through the first setting again. Repeat folding, sealing, and rolling once. Without folding, run pasta through first setting two times or until dough is smooth. (If dough is at all sticky, lightly dust it with flour.) Continue running dough through rollers, narrowing the setting each time until dough is quite thin and the outline of your hand is visible through the pasta (usually setting 6 on the Atlas Machines). If at any time the dough breaks of holes from, roll pasta back into a ball, return machine to the first setting, and begin process again.
Set pasta sheet aside on paper towels. It will probably be quite long and should be sliced in half. Continue the process until all of the dough slices has been rolled into sheets.

Bring the water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add salt and four sheets of pasta when water is at a rolling boil. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve lasagna noodles and transfer them to a bowl of cold water. Once noodles are refreshed, about 30 seconds, transfer them to a clean kitchen towel to dry. Repeat process, cooking about 4 noodles at a time. Use cooked noodles within 1 hour.

Spinach Pasta
1 cup water
1/2 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs

Bring water to a boil in a small pan.  Add spinach and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain and refresh spinach under cold running water.  Use your hands to press out all the liquid from the spinach.

Transfer spinach to a cutting board and chop fine.  Press your hands against spinach and tilt the cutting board over a sink to squeeze out any remaining liquid.  There should be about 1/3 cup very finely chopped, completely dry spinach.

Place flour on a clean, dry work surface such as a counter top or wood surface.   With your hands, shape flour into a 6 inch ring with an empty well in the center.  Crack eggs into this well and add spinach.  Beat eggs and spinach lightly with a fork until well mixed.  Slowly work in some of the flour from the inside of the ring.  Continue incorporating flour from around the inside of the ring as the egg mixture become thicker. 

Knead, roll, and cook the pasta as you would in the master pasta recipe.

Cooks note Frozen spinach is easier to work with than fresh, and this is one of those rare occasions when nothing is sacrificed by using the frozen product.  If you have fresh spinach on hand, boil about 1/2 pound in abundant water until tender, about 2 minutes, and follow the same directions for frozen spinach.

Potted Chicken and Ham

7 oz butter
7 oz Cooked skinless chicken or turkey cut into pieces
3 1/2 oz Cooked ham, cut into pieces
black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground allspice
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 fresh bay leaves

To clarify the butter, place it in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, taking care not to let it brown. Line a sieve with a damp muslin, place over a bowl and pour the butter into the sieve, discarding the milky deposit left in the pan. Leave the strained liquid (clarified butter) to cool for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend the chicken or turkey and the ham until fairly smooth in a food processor. Add the pepper, nutmeg, allspice and cayenne to taste and blend until combined. Gradually pour in just under three-quarters of the clarified butter, blending all the time until mixed well.

Spoon the mixture into small dishes or ramekins and tip each with a bay leaf. Pour over the remaining butter to seal, then refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or overnight...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My very favorite Lemon Meringue Pie recipe

For the crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tblsp shortening or 1/3 cup lard
2 1/2 - 3 tblsp very cold water
In medium bowl, combine flour and salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives, using a short cutting motion cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Quickly sprinkle ice water, 1 tblsp at a time, over pastry mixture, tossing lightly with fork after each addition and pushing dampened portion to side of bowl; sprinkle only dry portion remaining (pastry should be just moist enough to hold together, not sticky)
Shape pastry into a ball; flatten to 1 inch thickness; refrigerate at least 30 minutes or several hours.
On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 11-inch circle. Fold rolled pastry in half; carefully transfer to 9 inch pie plate, making sure fold is in center. Unfold pastry and fit carefully into pie plate. Do not stretch pastry.

for the pie...
Lemon filling
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tblsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups water
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tblsp grated lemon peel
1 tblsp butter

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Prepare and bake pastry above and cool completely before filling.
Make Lemon Filling: In medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, flour, sugar and salt, mixing will. Gradually add 2 cups water, stirring until smooth.
Over medium heat, bring to boiling, stirring occasionally; boil 1 minute.

Remove from heat. Quickly stir some of the hot mixture into the egg yolks then return mixture to hot mixture; stir to blend. Return to heat; cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, lemon peel and butter. Pour into pie shell.

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Make Meringue: In medium bowl, with portable electric mixer at medium speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually beat in sugar, 2 tblsp at a time, beating after each addition. Then beat at high speed until stiff peaks form when beaters are slowly raised. Spread over Lemon ?Filling, carefully sealing to the edge of the crust and swirling top decoratively.
Bake 7-9 Minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Let pie cool completely on wire rack 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Refrigerate left overs. serves 8

Glamorgan Sausages

3 1/2 oz Potato
Salt and pepper to taste
3 1/2 oz white bread crumbs
5 oz Lancashire or Caerphilly Cheese, grated
1 small leek, finely chopped
1/4 tsp dried sage
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 medium egg, plus 3 egg yolks
3 tblsp plain flour
Oil for frying
Cook the potato in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes, until tender.  Drain well, mash, then leave to cool for 15 minutes.  Mix the cold mash with half the breadcrumbs, the cheese, leek, sage and parsley.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne and the yolks.  Using your hands, shape into 12 sausages.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Season the flour.  Beat the whole egg.  Dip the sausages into the seasoned flour, then into the beaten egg, then coat in the remaining bread crumbs.  Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large frying pan and fry half the sausages, turning, for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Drain on kitchen towels and keep warm while you cook the rest.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve room temperature.
There were complaints about this recipe....I made it following the instructions exactly except I added a pinch of salt. I am not sure if it gets thicker as it cools but I was wanting a thick caramel sauce for the mini pumpkin cheese cakes. If it stays thin more like something for ice cream then I would decrease the heavy cream to one cup.
Update: The sauce was thick enough so no alterations need to be made to this recipe other than the pinch of salt.

Black Bottomed Mini Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

8 whole Oreos, finely ground in food processor
1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup pumpkin puree (I used Libby’s)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
3 Caramel Sauce recipe on this blog
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine ground Oreos and melted butter into a bowl until well combined.  Spoon into12 mini cheesecake cups that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Press into the bottom of each cup so the crust is flat.  Partially bake for 10 minutes then remove from oven.
2.  In a stand or electric mixer beat the cream cheese,  sugar and pumpkin until smooth.  Beat in egg, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined.  Pour evenly into the 12 cups filling about 3/4 way full.  Spoon about a teaspoon of caramel into the tops of each filled cup and swirl with a toothpick gently.  Bake for 25-28 minutes or until cheesecake is cooked through.  Let cool completely.
3.  Remove cheesecakes from pan and top each with a spoonful of remaining caramel and a Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kiss.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
12 mini cheesecakes

Found recipe here:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The mean personality type

You know there are so many different personality types…it’s really amazing and mostly a wonderful thing.  We are all who we are, and changing our core differences is near impossible.  I often think we are born with these differences; maybe some are inherited but for the most part I believe these differences come from a higher power…the one I like to call God.

Today for whatever reason, I felt the need to write this down; maybe I feel it will help me get through what I’m feeling at this moment.  Possibly it’s the high dosage of a nerve pain reliever I take daily…and yes just like it says the possible side effects are it does cause depression for me on some days.   It is an overwhelming depression and feels like a heavy cloud pushing me down.  Anyway that’s not what this post is about.

I, my personality type is, well probably not a common one or at least I’ve always felt like people think I’m on my own planet and really I’m okay with that.  My head swims with ideas, so much so that I could never accomplish all that I want in one life time (I think I’ll have to come back to complete all of the tasks in my head) I’m also very organized, and can’t stand disorganization,  I actually cannot even think around a mess.  However my mind is disorganized if that makes any sense at all.  I’m also very companionate, overly so.  I cry when I see injustice and often want to right a wrong.  I will give my last dime away to someone who needs it; I always say that I’ll never be rich even if I won the lottery because I’d just give it all away. (Thank God I have a husband that keeps me in check) I’ve always been drawn to people and animals that need a friend.

After having said all of that, because that is also my personality type, (“over talking, overthinking, and lecturing”) sorry.  I am upset today.  I’m upset at another personality type that can’t let people be “nice people” that they always have to think that nice people have an ulterior motive; that no one is “that nice”.  That nice people are trying to outdo someone else that they are trying to make someone else look bad, etc…. I think they feel this way because they don’t want to be nice, they are “ME” people and never wake up thinking “what can I do today to make someone smile”.  This personality type complains and drains the life out of ever happy moment; they feel out done by the slightest acts of kindness.   I don’t wonder why there are so many frowns on people’s faces at work, at the grocery store, at public events… I don’t wonder why some people do not come to the rescue of someone in need; I don’t wonder why people are afraid to be “nice”.  I know it’s because of this personality type I’ve described.  They try to ruin every happy moment.

If you want to take the time to visit with someone that could use the company; bring gifts of food and trinkets, and just be kind to someone then that should be okay right?  But no, it’s not okay because this personality type will say….  She’s trying to make the rest of us look bad, or she’s not bringing enough, or she only brings to people she likes, on and on and on…  So there sit’s the reason I don’t wonder why more people aren’t kind or bother  going to retirement homes and visiting the residents, or going to an animal rescue and bringing much needed supplies like old towels and such, or joining groups that dedicate their time to making items for war Vets, or cancer patients….  People don’t want to get involved because this personality type is always hanging around trying to turn it into some sort of Soap Opera Drama. 
The way this economy is we need to ignore this personality type, do the right thing, help people and animals in need, and ignore the greedy!  Help your neighbors, and do your best to right a wrong.
To this personality type I say to you:  Nice people ARE NOT OUT TO GET YOU!

Vietnamese Egg Rolls

These are my all time favorite Asian food.

1/2 lb. raw shrimp, minced
1/2 lb. lean pork, minced
1/2 lb. bean sprouts
2 medium carrots, grated
2 to 3 shallots, minced, if desired
1 oz. cellophane noodles(bean threads)
1 pkg. round rice paper(available at Oriental markets)
2 eggs, beaten
Oil for deep frying
Shredded scallions for garnish, if desired
Lettuce leaves
Dipping Sauce(Nuoc Cham)
1 fresh red chili or 2 small dried chilies
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
5 t sugar
Juice and pulp of 1/4 unpeeled lime
1/4 c fish sauce(available at Oriental markets)
1/3 c water
1 T shredded carrot
1 T minced scallion

In large bowl, combine shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, carrots and shallots; set aside.
Soak cellophane noodles in warm water about 15 minutes, until flexible; drain, cut into one-inch pieces and add to meat mixture. Toss until combined.

Run one sheet of rice paper quickly under tepid water, handling carefully because paper is very brittle. Place sheet on work surface and brush quickly with egg. Let stand a few seconds, until flexible. With very sharp knife, cut into quarters(or halves, if larger rolls are desired). Place one tablespoon filling on round edge of quarter piece; roll over once, then tuck in sides to enclose filling and continue rolling. If using halves, place about 1/3 cup filling on one end, roll once, tuck in sides and roll up. Continue filling and rolling until all filling is used. The egg will hold the rolls together. In wok or 10-inch frying pan, heat oil until a drop of water jumps on the surface. Fry about eight rolls at a time until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels, garnish with scallions and serve with lettuce leaves and Nuoc Cham. Makes about 50 small or 30 large egg rolls.

Dipping Sauce (Nuoc cham)
If using fresh chili, remove seeds and membrane. In food processor or blender, combine chili, garlic, sugar, lime, fish sauce and water. Process or blend until well minced. Pour into serving dish and sprinkle with carrot and scallion. Makes about 3/4 cup

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bacon Cheddar Scones

For the scones:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly slices
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
2 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper; mix briefly to combine. Add the cubes of butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas. (Alternatively, this can be done in a regular mixing bowl, using a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.) Add in the grated cheese and mix just until incorporated.
Mix in the green onions, bacon, and 1 cup of the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture. Stir by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated. If the dough is too dry to come together, mix in the remaining buttermilk a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch disk. Slice the dough into 8 to 10 wedges.
In a small bowl combine the egg and water and whisk together. Brush each wedge lightly with the egg wash. Transfer the scones to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows
7 ounces sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 recipe Homemade Marshmallow batter, recipe follows
Confectioners' sugar
Sprinkle half the toasted coconut in an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal pan. Pour in the marshmallow batter and smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands. Sprinkle on the remaining toasted coconut. Allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.

Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares. Roll the sides of each piece carefully in confectioners' sugar. Store uncovered at room temperature.