Thursday, November 30, 2006

Slush Punch.....

Here is a kinda crappy picture of the punch. It was totally easy and yummy. The gals at the agency were wishing vodka was an ingredient( which I'm sure you could totally do), but today's function was no alcohol allowed. A mixture is made up the night before and frozen in two ziplock bags. When its time to serve the punch, you dump a bag in a punch bowl and add a bottle of sprite. I garnished with orange and lemon slices.

I don't want to post the recipe here because I might use this for future jobs, but if you're interested drop me an email or note and I'll direct you to it.

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Glad that's over.....

Today, I catered an Open House for a local social service agency. I spent the majority of yesterday baking and cooking in preperation. I made Pumpkin Bread, cranberry bread, hello dollies, toll house cookies( with dark choc. rasberry swirl chips), ginger almond biscotti, Sourcream cranberry bars and triple choc. brownies. I made 3 dips. Giada's white bean dip, a leek/carrot veg dip and a ranch dip( using penzey's ranch mix). The dips will go great with the veggie trays. I also made assorted tea sandwiches( tuna, chicken and egg) and various cheese's with crackers. I provided a slush punch( good recipe if you need a punch) and some drinking chocolate( I used the dulce de leche choc mix I got in a blogging by mail exchange).

The sourcream bars were Anna's recipe. I was looking thru the betty crocker site and came across these. She won a prize in the mix it up with betty contest. The bars were easy and very yummy. Even though they start with a packaged cookie mix, the final product doesnt reflect that.

This was fun to do, but a lot of work. I woke up at 6:30am to do the final prep and Robin was an absolute gem. She cut all the crusts off the bread and help me assemble and wrap the trays with plastic. I could not have done all this without her.

Our plane leaves Friday night for Florida. We will leave here around 1pm to make the drive to detroit. I'm not looking forward to the traffic at the border or the snow that is predicted. My 40th bday is Saturday and my fingers are crossed that we will get there for my party. I just pray that the weather holds out.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happy Bday Robin....

Monday was Robin's 42nd bday. She requested a yellow cake with a choc. frosting. I ended up making her a Southern Caramel Cake because she loves caramel. Holy batman can you say butter sugar overload? The frosting contains 2 cups of brown sugar and a cup of butter. The cake has 1/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup shortening( which I absolutly hate using). I misread the recipe and only used 2 eggs instead of the 3 the recipe called for. The cake was ok, nothing spectacular. We had calzones for dinner too.

I'm so incredibly busy this week. I trained at a new job yesterday( cooking at a senior dining program) and I have a catering job tomorrow. I have 7 things to bake today plus numerous dips, and other things to prepare. We leave for Florida on Friday. Saturday is my 40th Bday and we have a dinner party planned with friends and family.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Friday Thanksgiving.....

Or, better late than never. Thursday was Thanksgiving, but not here in Canada. I always celebrate Thanksgiving though because you can take the girl out of American, but you can't take the American out of the girl. Thursday was jam packed and I had to work in the evening so no turkey on Thursday. I made it Friday instead and Robin and I had a nice quiet dinner at home.

My oven is seriously whacked. I cooked a 14lb turkey in 2.5hrs at 325. The oven needs serious calibration. The pop up thermometer popped and who knows, it could have popped at 2 hrs. The turkey was slightly dry.

I also made some boursin mashed spuds, and baby roasted spuds for Robin. I made the ubiquitous green bean bake as well. I made a corn bread/wheat bread apple mushroom dressing that I put in the crockpot at 1pm. That freed up oven space and kept the dressing nice and moist. I had a cornbread in the freezer from July. It was originally destined for a grilled cornbread/arugula salad as we were having guests, but I had some weird gallbladder attack and ended up in the ER. The cornbread has been sitting in the freezer since then. I just chunked it up and toasted it with half a loaf of wheatbread( in hindsight, it was too cornbready). Butter, onions, mushrooms and grannysmith apples followed suit. I made a really rich wild mushroom broth in the morning( I got 3lbs of shiitakies for 99 cents) and that moistened the stuffing. I used some broth for the gravy too. Way back in July, I also blanched some sweet Ontario corn and I froze that. I pan sauteed it with some thyme and added a splash of half and half for my very own version of creamed corn.

I made a regular old pumpkin pie for dessert but I was too full to eat dessert.

No cooking today, plenty of leftovers.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Lasagna Soup.....

Forgive my lack of posting. I've been working the last few days and I'm pretty tired when I get home. Yesterday was a Christmas Party at work. We prepped Tuesday and yesterday morning for the party. I made a huge carrot cake, pumpkin raisin bread, date nut bread, rum balls, mollases cookies and white chocolate brownies. I also made salmon salad, tarragon chicken salad, hot spinach dip and various other goodies. Surprisingly, I still felt like cooking dinner when I came home last night.

I threw together this soup in 15 minutes. This is another recipe from CuisineatHome soup and stews magazine. I sauteed garlic, onion, mushrooms, Hot turkey sausage and carrot in some evoo. Chicken broth and chopped tomatoes are added next. I also added some oregano and a pesto spice blend. Malfadina pasta is added directly to the broth. Lastly fresh spinach is stirred in and then you ladle the soup over cubed mozzarella or provolone. Parmesean and basil finish this dish off.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Dark and Soft Restaurant dinner rolls( KA whole grain)....

I've been on a real roll( or bun as my honey calls them) kick lately. It's nice to pull one out of the freezer to make a sandwich or heat one up with a cup of soup. I've also been on a whole grain baking kick too. I love my new KA Whole Grain Baking Book.

The folks at KA say that these Dark & Soft Restaurant dinner rolls remind them of the soft, mildly sweet, deep chocolate-colored rolls served at various chain restaurants( particularly steakhouses) across the country. I'm not sure about that part as I dont frequent steakhouses at all. We enjoyed these with our Italian wedding soup a few days ago. I used the dough feature of the bread machine. The dough came together easily and baked up fabulous.

If you're interested in the recipe, just leave me a note with your email.

ps: Thanks for the nice comments regarding Stanlee. When I moved to Canada, I left Stanlee with my aunt in California because he was very attatched to her and I felt he wouldnt be able to take the winters here. Even though he wasnt with me on a daily basis, I never stopped thinking about him or loving him.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Goodbye Stanlee........

Stanlee Redmond
Aug 22, 1993- Nov 16th, 2006

Rest in Peace sweet little red boy. You were my buggy man.

I love you.......

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Italian wedding soup( Cuisine at home).....

I'm sure getting my monies worth from this magazine. This is the 3rd recipe I've made and I have a few more bookmarked.

First I made some mini meatballs( I used ground turkey). These chill in the fridge while you assemble the rest of the soup. I used some canned low-sodium broth because thats what I had. Of course, homeade stock would be a lot better. Onions, garlic, carrot and celery are sauteed. White wine is added first, then the broth is added with some oregano, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. The meatballs are dropped in to simmer. About 10 minutes later, fresh spinach and canellini beans go into the pot. The soup is finished with some tempered eggs. I cooked up some mini cheese tortellini for a hearter meal. This was very good. Even Robin loved it and she's not a soup fan. Although she did say " this is a far cry from the soup I was served as a child".

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Applesauce spice cake( CI).....

Moist, sweet, spicy and Cook's Illustrated. What more can I say?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Beautiful Buns( King Arthur Flour)....

I've had this recipe in my Outlook Food File since March. I copied it from Joe's foodblog. I love the fact that it uses 100% white whole wheat flour( a lighter whole wheat, but still whole wheat) and no High Fructose corn syrup. This was actually my first time making buns. It was so easy. I threw everything in the bread machine and pressed the dough cycle. When the cycle was finished, I shaped them into 8 buns and let rise again for 40 min. I did an egg wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds( not included in the recipe). They smelled fabulous baking and Robin thought they were amazing. We had 1 each tonight with Turkey sloppy Joes( everyday food). I wrapped each one in PressNSeal freezer wrap. I'll never buy hamburger buns from the store again!!! Thanks Joe.

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Tortilla soup with Chipoltle shrimp( cuisine at home)...

When I lived in Cali, I never ate much soup. I'd make a big pot of matza ball when I was sick, but other than that soup didnt make it on my menu too often. To me, it has to be cold outside for soup. I saw this Cuisine at Home Soups and Splendid sides magazine( 9.99) at Barnes and Noble in Port Huron. I paged through it and every soup looked so good( I have another one on the menu this week). I love tortilla soup so this was naturally my first choice. It came together in 15 minutes too. I sauteed some onions and garlic along with a variety of mexican spice( cumin, corriander, oregano). Added some chicken stock( I had it frozen, but low sodium canned would work too). I then added a can of diced tomatoes, frozen corn, a can of black beans and a few torn corn tortillas. The recipe calls for charred poblano peppers but I subbed a can of green chilies. I also added some salsa verde and some chili powder. On sauteed some jumbo shrimp and added that as a garnish. Sour cream, shredded cheese and tortilla strips make a tasty garnish.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Andy's Fairfield Granola........

Now that I've finally succeded in getting Robin to eat breakfast( activia yogurt and granola) I thought it was time I finally make my own granola. She's been eating some Nature's Path Soy granola I brought back from Whole Foods in Ann Arbor, but that box is almost gone. I've had this recipe on my To Make list for awhile. I don't know why I waited so long. Its so easy and so good. The entire recipe calls for 2tbls of oil( safflower being the reccommended oil). I had some wonderful hazelnut oil in the fridge so I used that for some extra flavor. I also subbed dried cranberries for the raisins. Nigella says this recipe comes from a shop in Fairfield, CT. She was there on her book tour for Forever Summer. She said she ate this everyday and brought tons of it back to the UK. I can see why!!

4.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
¾ cup sesame seeds
¾ cup apple sauce
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
⅓ cup brown rice syrup, (OR rice malt syrup, OR golden syrup) I used golden syrup.
¼ cup honey
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 cups whole almonds
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. sunflower oil
2 cups raisins
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2.Mix everything (except the raisins) together.

3. Spread on baking sheets and bake for 40-60 minutes (till evenly golden, after one turning).

4. Cool and add raisins.

One variation: replace almonds with raw peanuts and add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to seeds and oats at the outset. Skip the raisins.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

The Perfect Slice......

To me, NY style pizza is my ideal( I had this jumbo slice when I was in FL). I grew up in suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The majority of residents at that time were transplanted NY'ers( like my parents). Consequently, I was exposed to NY style pizza, bagels and chinese food and to this day, that style of food is my personal preference. But as I found out shortly after moving here my ideal pizza, bagels and chinese food is non-existent. So, I schlep bagels back from Florida and I bring back NY style chinese food from Port Huron. On my last trip home, my mom had a coupon for a B1G1 Free Pizza. She urged me to bring the pizza back in my suitcase. I said thanks but no thanks because I didnt want to deal with it, but then as my sister was wrapping up the pizza for the freezer, I decided to take it. I'm so glad I did. I love pulling a slice out of the freezer, chucking it in the oven for 10 minutes and having a crizpy, chewey cheesy slice that transports me back to Florida. I'm down to one slice left. Thank gawd Robin and I are going back to Ft. Lauderdale for my 40th Bday( Dec 2nd). I'm taking a second suitcase( not really) for Bagels and pizza.

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