Sunday, June 27, 2010

SMS: Ginger Snap Cookies

                                                                       Tasty Mutant

                                                             Not so Tasty Burnt Cookies

Today's recipe for the bakers of Sweet Melissa Sundays was Ginger Snap Cookies picked by Gloria of The Ginger Snap Girl who has the recipe posted on her blog. And I have to say I'm glad she picked it because I seriously love gingerbread despite hating the smell of molasses. I'm a complicated woman when it comes to food...that's all I can say.

I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I could not get a decent cookie to save my life out of this recipe. So, please definitely check out Gloria's website as she has some cookies there that gives this delicious recipe the credit is is due instead of starting a panic of people running for the door after being presented with mine.

Okay, so maybe I'm over dramatizing but I had so hoped my cookies would turn out better. My traditional cookies all burned and the picture above is alas the best of the lot. I even tried a variation by making them into tiny little cakes but they caved in at the top and only a few came out of the pan...hence the unfortunate mutation above that is also the best of the lot.

Never mind. They were still delicious topped with some lemon curd and I would definitely try making this recipe again as soon as I figure out where I went wrong with these one.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

TCS: Shenandoah Valley Blueberry Cake


We have a winner!

I made this cake for my sister when she came to visit a few weeks ago for breakfast. And despite the fact that I did not as usual wait long enough for the butter to soften properly it still turned out wonderfully moist and very nearly addictable. It was just one of those cakes where after eating a piece, you cut yourself a tiny sliver more, nibble on the rest and then throw restraint to the winds and just dive on in.

No doubt I would make this again but only if I had guests as I could see myself eating way too much of this. I'm very happy about how well this turned out especially as I had actually been concerned about how good this would taste considering how simple the ingredients and instructions were. The only thing that would have made this absolutely perfect is if I had had whipped cream on top... however my sister in a flash of brilliance suggested adding a scoop of peach ice cream on top which I will love her forever for.

Shenandoah Valley Blueberry Cake
(Recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

Heat the oven to 375F and generously grease a 9 inch square or round pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and stir with a fork to mix well. In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat with a mixer at high speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl until the mixture is smooth and light.

Stir in half the flour mixture then half the milk, mixing just enough to keep the batter fairly smooth and well combined. Add the remaining flour, then the rest of the milk, mixing gently. Stir in the blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 375F for 30 minutes or until the cake is golden, springs back when touched gently in the centre and is pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Serve a square of cake right from the pan, warm or at room temperature. If its round, let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for 10 minutes and then turn it out to cool, top side up.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So-Cal Hot Dog

One of the best things about having my sister visit is having a chance to use her as a human guinea pig when I want to try out new recipes. But in case she's reading this, I love your company of know that. Honestly. The guinea pig thing is really just a lucky coincidence.

I found this recipe in the Cuisine Grilling magazine I picked up a month or so ago. As hot dogs go, this was way outside my comfort zone. I'm usually a ketchup, mustard and relish kind of girl although I've been lead to believe that that is a severe hot dog faux pas in Chicago. So when I saw this, I went hmmm because I love my guacamole fixes. The other ingredients either left me dubious or a little perturbed at the thought of mixing them all together.

But don't let that turn you off. This is a mmmmm recipe in sister speak. When she is too busy eating and asks for seconds I know I have a winner. The only substitution I made was to omit the jalapeno but for those who love the spicy, I think this would make it even better.

Now I just have to work at figuring out how to dice melon without it looking like a prop from a horror movie and it would look even better.

I should also admit...I liked this a lot more than I had expected too. There's something about these flavors together that blend well...first you taste the fruit, then the mayo and then the guacamole when you bite it and then you think yum.  Definitely a eye opener for me in regards to stepping outside my food comfort zones.

From Cuisine Grilling Magazine

1 avacado, pitted and peeled
Juice from 1/2 lime
Salt to taste

1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime

1 cup diced fresh mango
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 tbsp seeded and minced jalapeno (I omitted this)
1 tbsp honey
Juice from 1/2 Lime

4 hot dogs
4 hot dog buns

  1. Mash avocado with lime juice and salt with a potato masher or fork until chunky.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, cilantro and lime juice in bowl until combined. 
  3. Combine mango, onion, jalapeno, honey and lime juice in bowl. Chill until ready to serve. 
  4. Grill hot dogs and buns to desired doneness. Serve hot dogs in buns with avocado mash, cilantro lime mayo and mango pico de gallo.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

SMS: Chocolate Orange Macaroons

It's been quite awhile since I've had the chance to bake along with everyone over at Sweet Melissa Sundays (Thanks to Tracey for hosting in my place last week) so I was glad for what looked like an easy recipe to sort of ease back into the baking routine. 5 ingredients seemed fairly foolproof which it was and it wasn't. I liked that I had all the ingredients on hand in my pantry already but the cookies didn't come together quite as I had been expecting. My cookies weren't sticking together with the 3 egg whites so I cheated a bit and poured a dollop of rum into the dough to add a little more moisture. I also was concerned about the 25-30 minute cooking timeframe so I set the timer for 20 minutes and ended up pulling them out about 2 minutes early already nicely browned.

Tastewise these were great, whether they turned out well like in the photo above or turned into tasty mutated cookies (already devoured by my sister and I). This weeks recipe was chosen by Ellen over at Blue Tree Green Heart (great pick, Ellen!) so please check out her blog as she will be posting the recipe over there.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Skillet Chicken Teriyaki with Fruit

I had a chance to make this recently when I was staying with my sister and trying to keep busy so I didn't go nuts from having to sit through a few hours of Home Shopping Network. No offense to those who shop it. I'd watch cooking shows all day in a heartbeat but clothing shows are not my thing. 

As my sister is not a cook herself, she didn't have much in the way of cooking items like measuring cups and timers and the such so I was a little concerned for a bit but I was happy (well more like relieved) that it turned out surprisingly good for a new recipe.

I should confess...I did mess up on following the instructions a bit by adding everything all at once but it still turned out very tasty according to my sister who says she would request it again. The picture doesn't do it justice as it was a night shot without a great deal of light but it's worth trying at least once. 

Skillet Chicken Teriyaki with Fruit 
from Creative Everyday Cooking

8 chicken thighs
1 can (8 oz) pineapple chunks, packed in juice
1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp pepper
4 scallions
3 garlic cloves minced or crushed

  1. In a large skillet, place chicken thighs skin down. Set cold skillet on burner. Start heat low and gradually increase to medium high until chicken fat is rendered. 
  2. Brown chicken on one side, about 10 minutes. Turn chicken over and brown on other side for approximately 8 minutes. 
  3. Drain pineapple, reserving juice in 1 cup measure. Drain mandarin oranges, adding enough of syrup to reserved pineapple juice to measure 1/2 cup.
  4. In small bowl, combine fruit juice, soy sauce, cornstarch, dry mustard, ginger and pepper. 
  5. Coarsely chop scallions
  6. Remove chicken to plate and cover loosely to keep warm. Pour off all but 1 tbsp fat from skillet. Add garlic and stir fry over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add scallions and stir fry until limp, 1-2 minutes. 
  7. Stir in fruit juice mixture and pour into skillet. Add any juices that have accumulated on plate under chicken. Bring to a boil, stirring and cook until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  8. Add chicken and pineapple to skillet and let sauce return to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. 
  9. Just before serving, stir in mandarin oranges. Serve chicken topped with some sauce and fruit.