Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beautiful Weather

I am sorry about this not being a food post. But the weather up here is just to beautiful to not attache a picture here.

Will post again after the New Year!

Fancy versus Basic

Fancy versus Basic

For years I clipped recipe after recipe. In the years prior to my laptop, these recipes were handwritten into notebooks and then into categorized binders. Then along came my laptop. I typed so many of these handwritten recipes into my computer I could have written two cookbooks! At one time, I had over 2500 recipes typed out. They came from magazines such as Gourmet, Food and Wine and the like. Imagine the amount of time I spent on that project!

Any recipe that sounded remotely interesting would get clipped and saved because ‘some day’ I would make it. Some day! Securing the ingredients in these recipes was not a key factor in the selection process. A quick scan of the ingredients would give me the heads up for “sounds good” or “I will pass.” But, since I love food so much, I had to have every recipe possible.

The ingredients used in these recipes were most often things you would find in any large metropolitan grocery store or market, or things you would only get if you were to order the dish in a restaurant. One of my faults was that I never really thought about where I might find these ingredients. I live in a tiny town in rural Manitowoc county Wisconsin. I live an hour from Milwaukee and an hour from Green Bay. The markets in this area have only the basics. Many of the recipes in my vast collection went unmade since one or two of the key ingredients could not be found.

My second fault within the recipe collection process was the method or amount of time necessary to complete these foods. The thought of making some of these recipes was so daunting that they were always passed over. Sauté for three hours. Refrigerate overnight. Let rise for 2 hours until doubled. Brine for 24 hours. Now don’t get me wrong, some of these methods and prepping were workable during the weekends and I would make these recipes, but not all the time. Cooking was starting to be like work rather than something I loved to do. What was I thinking?

My third weakness in collecting was I forgot who my cooking audience was going to be. Most of the people that eat the food that I prepare are not those that are looking for something exotic or gourmet. My friends and family enjoy good, old-fashioned home cooking. Just the basics, please. And really, when it came down to it, I enjoyed the simplicity of eating this comfort food. Hence my love of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives or Paula Deen’s down home cooking shows.

My latest school of thought follows three basic tenants. First, is this a recipe that is easy to make? Second, what are the people I am cooking for going to enjoy? And third, how involved is this to make? Fancy versus basic? Depends on the occasion, but basic seems to be a bigger hit!

And now on to my latest project, sifting, sorting and purging the collection of over 2500 recipes I have collected over the years. My new school of thought on collecting recipes is based something my sister would say when we were shopping. Is this a “Need to have” or “Want to have?” Nine times out of ten, they usually fall under the “want” category and will not get made. Gone are the endless hours of typing of recipes I will never use. My collection will be of recipes that people will ask me to make because they are tried and true. Fancy or basic? Down-home, old-fashioned basic cooking is the way to go!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Taking a mini-vacation!

Kevin and I will be traveling to the cabin for the week. Blog posts will be sporatic due to limited internet access. If we head into Michigan we usually stop at a great coffee shop that has internet access.

I will resume posting daily on January 3, 2010. Please stay tuned! Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa visited!

How lucky am I that Santa found his way down my chimney and was able to fit with a brand new set of Calphalon pots and pans! YIPPPEEEEEE! Can't wait to start cooking even more great things to share with you all!

Wait....he also left the DVD of Julie and Julia. If you havent seen it. Go out and rent it. Great movie about the life of Julia Child and one of her followers who creates a blog chronicaling her journey through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Great movie!

The Italian Christmas Day

Each year after the stockings were emptied and the presents all opened, my weary parents would clean up the mounds and mounds of wrapping paper gathered in the living room. My mom would inevitably make the Christmas Tree Coffee Cake for breakfast (a recipe that will have to wait for posting....sorry, Mom.) We would then all retreat to our respective rooms to get dressed in our Christmas outfits. You see, in the later years of my childhood, Christmas Day would always be spent with the Italian side of the family. After we were dressed, my father would pile all of us, including the trunk full of gifts and cookie platters, into the car for the 15 minute journey to my grandparents house.

Once at their house, we would always find my grandmother in the kitchen with the meatballs and sauce. My father would walk in and greet his mother and immediately snatch a meatball when her back was turned. Her meatballs were the best. You never knew the exact amount of any of the ingredients but the taste was the same time and time again. For us kids, the first stop was the living room to view the pile of presents. The living room was like that of most Italian families in the 70's, complete with white furniture covered in plastic and the green metal Christmas tree that played music and slowly turned in a circle.

My grandmother would spend hours in the kitchen each year preparing meatballs, sauce, mostaccioli or lasagna, breaded chicken, green beans with bread crumbs, red, white and green Jello mold and ALWAYS the "Honey Roast." This was a beef roast injected with a special honey marinade from what used to be Phil and Dave's Gourmet Meats. From research done on the Internet, the shop is now called Honey Baked Ham Company. Her roast always came out perfectly. A juicy medium rare. She would happily give you her "secret" for the preparation of the roast, however, she always accidentally left out a step in the process. To this day, our family is in debate over her true method of cooking.

For the longest time my sister and I were the only grandchildren and we were allowed to sit at the dining room table. In all, about 12 people were around that large table. At one end of the table sat my great-grandfather who spoke very little and at the other end, my grandfather, who was a character himself (Teeth should stay in the mouth at the table.) The meal went on for hours. In fact, other than opening presents, we really never left the table. Once the presents were opened, back around that table everyone went for desserts, cookies and fruits.

Christmas Day was completely centered around a dining room table full of the most wonderful tasting dishes prepared lovingly by one woman. This remarkable woman could always be found in her kitchen humming as she prepared the feasts that kept her family going. In an earlier post, I talked about traditions. This was another of those traditions that has left a memory for all of us. My grandmother suffered for many years from Alzheimer's Disease and finally passed this past year. As I type this post, the tears are gently rolling down my face, I think back each year to those happy times and urge everyone, again, to keep old traditions alive! For me, food always seems to be the key!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

NEVER Fail Waffle Mix

I have two stand-by recipes that I will not deviate. One is my Buttermilk Pancake recipe which makes the lightest pancakes you will ever have. Pockets of air make these better than any restaurant. The second recipe is my Waffle mix recipe. I made these again for Kevin this morning and they literally melt in your mouth! I can not wait to try the leftover waffles with Fried Chicken and Gravy, a southern classic! I got this recipe from Recipezaar a long time ago.

The only hint I can give on these is DO NOT skip the whipping of the egg whites separately. This is key. This recipe makes about 12 - 4-inch x 4-inch waffles.

Never-Fail Waffle Mix

1 1/3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cups milk

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
2. Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture, and placing the whites in a small mixing bowl.
3. Beat whites until moderately stiff; set aside.
4. Add milk and melted butter to dry ingredient mixture and blend.
5. Fold stiff egg whites into mixture.
6. Ladle mixture into hot waffle iron and bake.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gumdrop Cookies

Gumdrop Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar; divided
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup choped fruit flavored gumdrops
2 egg whites

1. In a large bowl, cream shortening and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in gumdrops.

2. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold into dough.

3. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2-inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

A special shout out to Deb B. She asked that I post a Christmas Cookie recipe. So, I thought I would post two! This recipe calls for fresh raspberries. I used frozen that we picked over the summer.

Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
1 cup butter; softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips; melted and cooled
1/2 cup fresh raspberries; pureed
3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla chips

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in melted chocolate and raspberries. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in vanilla chips.

2. Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2-inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fast Food

With the onset of the holidays, we all are faced with frantic last minute baking, shopping, gift wrapping, and parties. Who has time to cook, right? I can honestly say that Kevin and I are guilty of visiting the local drive-thru quite often. Don't get me wrong, I would much rather cook than eat out. But, sometimes you just don't feel like cooking or you don't have the time. And that is ok! I just don't like making a habit out of doing that.

For me, cooking is the relaxing part of my day. To come home at the end of the day and chop vegetables or brown meat in a saute pan is my means of decompression. Now, don't get me wrong, I do not perform brain surgery or mediate at the United Nations. I just work in a college and sit at a desk all day. But, that can be stressful in its own way. Trust me! During the course of the day, thinking about cooking dinner makes the day go faster.

To aid in being more organized, I took a tip from Martha Stewart. Her latest cookbook is a 52-week menu. At the beginning of November, I planned out meals until the end of the year. I even went so far as creating a "leftover/go out" night knowing that sometimes cooking would not be in the cards. For the most part, we stick with the plan. I have to say, it truly helps with grocery shopping and waking up in the morning saying "What should we have for dinner tonight?" Do that a few times in a row and it gets a little overwhelming and you DO NOT want to cook!

On Saturday we will be going up to the cabin for the week and I have a few projects to keep me busy. One of which is planning out dinner menus for the next 3 months. I will continue to build in the "leftover/go out" night as before. During the week the grocery lists will get written and on the weekends we will do our shopping. The one thing I have found is I can never say " I don't have time to cook dinner." Knowing ahead of time allows me the opportunity to prep in advance!

So, be flexible in your plan and if the need arises to make a quick dash through the drive-thru, it is OK! But, remember take the time to relax and unwind while making dinner for those you love. The smile on their face as they eat will make it all worthwhile.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chocolate Toffee Cake

There is nothing more comforting than a warm Bundt cake out of the oven. My first thought yesterday-make a cinnamon streusel cake. Then, I noticed the new Taste of Home sample magazine that had come. It had this recipe in it and I thought how perfect. I modified this recipe slightly. The filling/toffee center portion made entirely too much for the cake. I actually put a small portion of it in a bag for use on ice cream.

Chocolate Toffee Cake

4 ounces english toffee bits (half of bag)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon brown sugar


1 cup butter; softened
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanila extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Caramel Icing:

1/4 cup butter; cubed
2 teaspoon flour
5 ounces evaporated milk
1 cup packed brown sugar

1. Combine the toffee bits, chips and brown sugar; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream buter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (mixture will appear curdled). Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with butermilk, beating well after each addition.
3. Pour half of the batter into a greased and floured 10-inch fluted tube pan. Sprinkle with toffee mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Check at about 53 minutes.
4. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely. For icing, in a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir inflour until smooth, gradually add evaporated milkk and brown sugar. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 4-5 minutes or until thickened. Cool to almost room temperature. Drizzle over cake. The cooler the icing, the thicker it will be on the cake.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Beef Tips with Gravy

Tonight we had probably the most delicous beef tips that either of us have ever had. The recipe came from http://www.recipezaar.com/. I modified it slightly to adjust taste. We had it over extra-wide egg noodles and a dinner salad. This was so good that we ate two-thirds of the platter. As you can see by the picture, fairly good size plate. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed eating it.

Beef Tips and Gravy

2 pounds cubed beef chuck; 1-inch cubes
2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 package brown gravy mix
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water


1. In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat.

2. Saute the onion until translucent.

3. Add stew meat and cook on high heat until meat is browned on all sides (3-5 minutes). Pour 2 cups water, soy sauce, and worcestershire sauce into the skillet.
4. Stir in garlic powder, salt and pepper.

5. Bring to boil and reduce heat.

6. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

7. Then combine the gravy mix with 1 cup of water, mix thoroughly and stir into the meat. Bring to boil, stirring frequently until it slightly thickens.
8. Right before serving, if still thin, mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch and cold water. Add to beef gravy and bring to boil. Thicken.

9. Serve over egg noodles.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Cookbook Hunt

Today, Kevin and I went shopping for some last minute Christmas gifts. He had asked that I drop him off at the Half-Price Bookstore while I ran the remainder of my errands. Thinking it would not bother me much, I left him there and went on my way. Not this time though. I kept thinking "Will I miss THE one?" Then I had to tell myself that life would go on, hopefully, if I didn't spend the afternoon looking at cookbooks. Any foodie, worth his/her salt (no pun intended) would be in their glory to be left at a used bookstore with a pretty good sized cookbook section. The same holds true about me. Typcially, when we do stop at these types of stores, we both split up and I naturally head to the cookbook section. Usually, an hour goes by before I see him. And normally, he comes looking for me.

As anyone who REALLY knows me is aware that I normally do not read often unless I am on vacation. As Kevin tells me, its because "I just like to look at the pictures." The exception comes when it involves cookbooks. In my early years, I would buy cookbooks like they were going out of style. I would read them through once or twice and then they would sit on the shelf until I might pick it up to make a recipe. Mostly, they would just sit there because "some day" I would use them.

As the years past, the numbers of books grew until there was not an inch of space on top of our kitchen cabinets. Sometimes I wondered if they would someday fall off of the wall. About a year or so ago, I went through the "collection" and pared them down substantially selling most on Amazon. I made sure that I used the "Would I be lost without this book?" rationale. I was finally able to get the collection down to three shelves on the bookcase in the living room. Success!

Well, a little over a year later and slowly the collection is starting to grow again. But this time I feel it is different because I try and be more selective and only buy the classics. Currently, the book at the coveted top spot on my list is Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now I know that I could simply find a copy of this book on the web but I choose not to go that route. You see, it is the hunt for the book that I realize is most important. The thrill of finding it tucked amongst those tightly-packed shelves is what really gets me excited. It is the same feeling you get when you run across a "must have" in a thrift shop or antique store. So continue on the hunt and keep searching for the "classics" and "must haves" for your collection. It is those that you find on this quest that will put a smile on your face!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Horseradish Crusted Pork Chops

I found this recipe for a pork chop dish I had at Wildfire restaurant chain in Chicago a few years ago. I adjusted the breading ingredients a bit because it made much more than was need but got the tastes pretty darn close.
Horseradish Crust:

½ - 1 cup softened butter
4 tablespoons prepared, hot horseradish
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

Pork Chops:

4 pork loin chops (1 ½ thick)
2 cloves garlic; smashed
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

1. HORSERADISH CRUST: In a large mixing bowl, beat together well 1 stick butter, 4 tablespoons horseradish, ground pepper and fine bread crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until use.

2. PORK CHOPS: In a large Ziploc bag, mix together the garlic, herbs and 2 tablespoons olive oil, add chops and seal bag. Shake and refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove chops from bag, season with salt and pepper.

4. Heat oven to 450˚. Heat the teaspoon olive oil in a large non-stick fry pan over medium high heat.

5. Add chops and cook for 5 minutes, turn and brown for 5 minutes more.

6. Remove chops to shallow baking dish, top each chop with 1 to 2 tablespoons horseradish crust and place in oven 6 to 8 minutes or until crust is golden brown.


When I was a small child, I can remember each year, come the beginning of December, my mom would start her Christmas baking. This usually involved collecting Christmas magazines by the dozens (a habit she still continues.) As soon as they would hit the news stands she would start collecting. She would sit for hours pouring through each magazine reviewing the recipes and then compiling "the List." Most often the list would amount to 20-25 different varieties.

Each night, she would practice the "make and bake" concept. She would make a dough for the next night and bake one dough from the night before. I can remember our tiny kitchen buried in cookie sheets and cooling racks. She would bake while my sister and I would sit in front of the TV watching all the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials. She would be up for hours working on the cookies so they were ready for christmas giving. Rest assured though, no matter what the cookie was many baked and unbaked cookies were snatched from those sheets.

The cookies were stored in the freezer downstairs until it was time to create the cookie trays. If you remember back in the day, gallons of milk came in cardboard cartons. Weeks ahead of time, these would be washed out and saved to store the cookies until it was time to make the cookie trays. With our playroom down in the basement, trips to the freezer for the "sneaky snack" were plentiful. She will never know, we thought! Right, especially when our favorites like "Ice Cream Cookies" would be 50% of the original amount.

Well, as I got older, I now carry on the tradition. Each year, I pour through that magazines and make the list over Thanksgiving weekend. Baking proceeds the beginning of December. I also operate on the "make and bake" concept. Every year, our friends, any visitors to the house, or hosts of parties that Kevin and I might be invited to are the recipients of the "Cookie Tray." These cookies are made with love and those on the receiving end always seem to enjoy them.

Keeping this tradition alive is one way to take me back to my childhood each year. Watching my mom bake these wonderful cookies every year has stuck with me. I can see it as though it were yesterday. This year, being in a bit of a funk, I didn't bake more than 3 different kinds. And, as Kevin and I talked the other day, we decided it just didn't feel like the holiday this year. It wasn't until sitting here writing this post that I realized part of what keeps Christmas alive in my heart is not only the giving but keeping what is familar to you alive and near.

So my parting comment is "Begin traditions with your family and keep the ones that do exist alive by passing them down!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Capers

I pulled this recipe off of one of my favorite sites, www.recipezaar.com . We had this tonight for dinner and it was very good. I made a minor tweek to the amount of lemon juice, as it was just a bit lemony. This would make a great meal in the summer-time. Also, it would be good with the fresh asparagus in place of the artichokes and capers. I hope you enjoy!

Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Capers

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup lemon juice
1 ½ cups uncooked instant rice
1 14 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts; drained
2 tablespoons capers; rinsed
1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

2. Saute chicken in hot olive oil in a large skillet 5-6 minutes on each side or until done.

3. Remove chicken from skillet.

4. Add chicken broth and lemon juice to skillet and bring to a boil.

5. Stir in rice, artichokes, and capers.

6. Top with chicken.

7. Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Balsamic Vinegars....

On a recent visit to the Chicago area to see Mom, we took a small shopping trip (like that was a surprise) to the small village of Long Grove in northwest Illinois http://www.longgroveonline.com. For those of you who have not heard of Long Grove, it is comprised of many different boutiques, galleries, restaurants and shops. You can find anything from old-fashioned penny candy in the “Ma & Pa Candy Store”, homemade apple fritters from the “Apple Haus”, and excellent food from their many restaurants. We had a wonderful day there taking in the sites and gorgeous fall weather.

One shop, however, stood out on this day. I had my first experience in an olive oil and balsamic vinegar store. The Olive Tap, http://theolivetap.com/ , had so many urns of olive oils and vinegars, my head began to spin. If you don’t believe me, ask the rest of our group. I was, literally, like a kid in a candy shop. Who would have thought one person could spend just shy of an hour sampling oils and vinegars.

My main focus was on the balsamic vinegars. I am sure you have all tried some form of balsamic vinegar at one time or another but these were incredible. Each urn had a small stack of shot glasses for sampling. I must have tried at least 15 different kinds. Some of my favorites included Black Current, Blueberry, Coconut, Fig, Peach, Pineapple and I could go on. Each one was just a bit better than the one before. The ultimate, though, was the 18-year old traditional. This vinegar was so smooth. It had none of the bite one might expect. I was able to drink almost a whole shot glass full.

The salesperson, seeing me stopping at every urn, came over and asked if I would be interested in trying the different pairings of flavored olive oils and vinegars. She began to mix, as a chemist would, the different combinations. She made one using blood orange olive oil and tangerine balsamic to create what tasted like an “Orange Pushup”, blood orange olive oil and blueberry balsamic to create “Uniquely Blueberry,” and roasted sesame oil with pineapple balsamic to create “Roasted Pineapple.” I could go on forever, so I will just attach the link for their pairings http://www.theolivetap.com/news/pairings.php .

What an experience! After doing some research on the internet, I have found several stores similar in nature. For any foodie that has not visited a store like this, my only comment is “GO!” You won’t be sorry! Kevin and I took my mom up to Door County in Wisconsin over the Thanksgiving weekend and found another store named “The Door County Olive Oil Company” found at http://www.dcoliveoil.com/ . So, with a bit of exploration, stores such as these are scattered all over our great land.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cranberry Fruit Coleslaw

This past weekend, I had some friends come over for brunch. I made a Potato, Cheddar and Green Onion Fritatta, Roasted Asparagus with Fried Capers and this Cranberry Fruit Coleslaw. It went over very well. This recipe was pulled off of http://www.blogger.com/www.recipezaar.com .

Please note that the recipe as tested was made with Black Currant Balsamic Vinegar, hence the brownish tone to the dressing. Another idea might be to try Balsamic Vinegar in place of that called for in the recipe.

Cranberry Fruit Coleslaw

6-7 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup golden raisin
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons flaked coconut
1/2 cup red seedless grapes
1/2 cup chopped dried apricot


1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup light sour cream
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (I substituted Black Currant Balsamic Vinegar)
salt and pepper; to taste

1. Mix all vegetables& fruit in a large bowl.

2. Mix the dressing ingredients& pour over.

3. Chill at least 30 minutes& stir before serving.


Each year for Thanksgiving, my Lithuanian grandmother would get up very early in the morning and make these delicious pastries. She would make them using Almond, Poppy Seed, Prune, and Cheese filling. Naturally, as one might imagine, the prune filled ones would go last. I now make them using Almond, Poppy Seed, Cheese and Raspberry or Apricot filling.

As my grandmother got older and was not able to make these anymore, I was lucky enough to have been given the recipe. Each year as I got older, I would watch and help her make them. Each year I make these to continue the tradition alive. They take some practice to make, but they are well worth the effort!


1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water, 105-115°
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to achieve dough density
4 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2 tablespoons cream, scalded and cooled
4 egg yolks, beaten; room temperature

1 cup sour cream; room temperature

1. Combine yeast, warm water and a small pinch of sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in 1 cup butter with pastry cutter or your hands.

3. Add yeast mixture to the 2 tablespoons of cream. Add egg yolk and sour cream to yeast mixture.

4. Mix yeast mixture and flour mixture thoroughly. Chill dough OVERNIGHT. (DO NOT OMIT THIS STEP.)

5. Divide dough ball into as many sections as you will be using different types of filling. Each dough section will use 1/2 can of filling. Use almond, poppy seed, raspberry, cheese (recipe follows), almond, or apricot.

6. Roll dough to ¼” to ½” thick. Cut into 2"x2" squares. Fill with 1 round teaspoon filling. Fold one corner over the top of the filling, brush with a bit of egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water.) Fold second corner over the first and seal, brush with more egg wash.

7. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden brown.

Cheese Filling:

1-8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and chill overnight.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In The Beginning...

One of my first memories of any type of cooking was when I was about 12 years old. I wanted to try my hand at baking. From what I can rememeber my mom was working full-time and left a pot of chili for dinner to be reheated. Taking iniative into my own hands, cornbread was going to be my first baking adventure.

I pulled a box of Jiffy Mix out of the cabinet and proceeded to read the directions. Knowing that I was really not supposed to use the oven at that age, I kept the cornbread as a surprise for dinner. Thinking that my cornbread was not to be any old cornbread, I followed the instructions for making the deluxe version.

The mix called for the addition of "whole kernel corn". Without knowing better, I went to the cabinet and grabbed what I thought was "whole kernel corn" and added it to the batter. In the oven the loaf went. In the meantime, my grandparents were on their way for dinner.

Everyone was due home at 5:00pm, the loaf of bread came out of the oven looking golden and plump. My first venture into the baking world was a success. I was brimming with pride when my parents walked in. As we begin to eat, I sliced the loaf of cornbread and passed it around. My grandfather, being the patient and supportive person he was, took a piece and began to eat it. "This is good" he exclaimed. As the bread rounded the table to my mom, she asked "What are the lumps in the bread? I proudly told them all that I made the deluxe version and added "whole kernel corn". My mom, trying to fight back laughter, replied "Whole kernel corn is not un popped popping corn."

But still, after all these years of cooking, one learns that sometimes you make things that turn out well and some, well let's just say....Not so well! Always remember, you never stop learning.

A Little About Me...

Well, I was convinced by friends that my creating a blog about my cooking escapades might be fun. So, here it is two weeks before Christmas and having plenty of other things to keep me busy, I post my blog entry. I hope this is the first of many entries to Let's Live to Eat!

I am a 40-something year old, average guy who lives in the state of Wisconsin with his partner of almost 17 years, Kevin, our greyhound named Sadie, and our demonic cat, Jimmy. I am obsessed with food. I will try anything once and have very little that I refuse to eat. I love to test new recipes out in hopes of success but we all know sometimes that does not work out so well!

I started cooking back in my early teens and would sometimes torture my family with recipes that were not so good. I currently work in the wonderful world of education but latently desire to own a small diner. Maybe someday! Nothing big or fancy, strictly small time. Breakfast, Lunch and Early Supper.