Saturday, May 31, 2014

CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM & CHOCOLATE DIPPED BROWNIE CUPS

Those of you who follow this blog know that I support Alzheimer's Idaho (local grassroots organization) and one of the things that I do is to make the dessert for their monthly support group dinner.  The dinner is the last Friday of the month.  Last night they had creamy chocolate ice cream and chocolate dipped brownie cups with whipped cream topping.  Both recipes new to me.
 Let's start with the recipe for the embarrassingly EASY ice cream. Four ingredients - cream, vanilla, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk. I modified the recipe as it was originally a coffee ice cream recipe from the wonderful Nigella Lawson. Her recipe is even more easy as she just puts the ingredients into the mixer and whips it into the wonderful fluffy concoction and puts into containers and freezes until ready to use.  

Nigella's Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 300 ml double cream
  • 175 grams condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons espresso liqueur

Method

  • Whisk all the ingredients together until soft peaks form, and you have a gorgeous, caffe-latte-coloured airy mixture, and then fill 2 x 500ml / 1 x 1-pint airtight containers, and freeze for 6 hours or overnight. Serve straight from the freezer.
The problem for us in the U.S. is that our heavy cream is typically 36% butterfat and has been pasteurized. In the U.K. double cream 48% butterfat and has been heated then cooled and is used to make the creamiest puddings and desserts and may be piped. Double cream may be available in some areas of the U.S. but it is very hard to find.  Below is how I got around this problem and made chocolate instead of coffee ice cream.

Modified Recipe

1 14oz Can sweetened, condensed milk
1 1/4 Cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon Vanilla or Vanilla paste 

As you see in the photograph above while whipping the cream, in another bowl combine the remaining ingredients and when the cream has whipped to pretty stiff peaks (don't make butter) pour the other ingredients into the whipped cream to mix, pour into containers and freeze until ready to serve.
The recipe yields (2) pints - I made (4) pints.
 A quick label in Corel Draw and the ice cream is ready for the freezer. Feedback from the girls was that this was the creamiest ice cream they had ever had.  I want to try the coffee recipe and think I will do so the next time I am asked to bring a dessert - so easy.


 Once again I modified a recipe - this time to make it much easier.  These adorable little brownie cups are not hard to make but are a little time consuming so I made mine easier by using a box brownie mix.
 Not just any brownie mix but Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie Baking Mix.  It is made with dutch cocoa and is often at the top of the lists of BEST brownie mix.  I completely understand the frustration of anyone reading this who does not have a Trader Joe's as the first Trader Joe's in Idaho just opened a few months ago.  Amazon understands and they have made some of the most popular Trader Joe's items available on their website - I will post a link below.
 This pan is called a mini-cheesecake pan, if you don't have one of these you can just use a muffin pan, mini (if you want lots of little brownie cups) or a regular size muffin pan if you would like bigger brownie cups.  A word about specialty pans. I admit that over the years I have collected several specialty pans and I often read someone saying not necessary, why would you spend the money for something rarely used, etc. I am polar opposite - if I need a specialty pan well, I'm apt to just get that pan!  This pan was perfect for these brownie cups - one box of mix made 12 mini brownie cups or one pan. Just make your brownie mix according to pkg directions and spray your pan with non-stick spray and bake.  Baking can be a little tricky because the directions on the box will not apply when  you are baking in cups - I found that what worked best was to lower the temp about 25° and increase the baking time. The cups are taller than a brownie and they need to be done.

After the cups were baked and cooled time for the next step, dipping them in chocolate. I took 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (you could use milk chocolate, personal preference) and gently melted them in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring after each 20 seconds until melted.  Then using a spoon cover the top of the cups with chocolate and put in the fridge to cool.
 Once the chocolate on top is set you are ready for the final step - pipe some whipped cream on the top and dust with some chocolate sprinkles.  I used a Wilton 2D, large flower tip. The chocolate whipped cream needs to be stiff in order to stand up so here is the recipe I used and it worked great.

*Chocolate Whipped Cream for piping

1 Cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 t Vanilla
2 T fine white sugar
1.5 T Cocoa powder

*If you are only making 12 of these brownie cups cut this recipe in half and you will have plenty.

 Combine all ingredients into your mixing bowl and whisk to combine - because of the chocolate it will not look combined but that is OK.  Put the bowl and your paddle for your mixer in the refrigerator for at least one hour to chill, then mix as usual and pipe onto the brownie cups and add the chocolate sprinkles.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.




I created the labels in Corel Draw and printed them out on a full sheet label and then cut them out and applied to the ice cream cartons and made a tent out of white card stock and added the brownie cup label to the cardstock. Using the print-pdf button on the side of this page you can print these labels out for your own use.


Resource

Brownie Cup recipe inspiration, The Kitchen Whisperer
Ice cream recipe, Nigella Lawson

Wilton 2D tip, WILTON LG DROP FLOWER TIP#2D 402-2004
Trader Joe's brownie mix, Trader Joe's Brownie Truffle Baking Mix
Mini Cheesecake Pan, Chicago Metallic Mini Cheesecake Pan 12 Cavity, 13.90-Inch by 10.60-Inch (2-Inch by 1.6-Inch Cavities)
Paper Ice Cream Cartons, 25ct White Pint Frozen Dessert Containers
Chocolate sprinkles, grocery store

Thank you for stopping by.






Thursday, May 29, 2014

PATRIOTIC LANTERN

I recently found these cute lanterns while I was looking for something else - I felt sure I would find a use for them!
The jar itself measures about 6" and to the top of the handle about 11."  They come with sand and a tea light included so they would be great for patio use as they are or decorated (sand helps weight them down).  They would also be cute in trees if you lived somewhere where it is not very windy.  Lots of uses for them. They came in a box of 3 for $10.  After I came home with them I looked online and the least expensive I could find (exact same ones) was $21.99!
 I moseyed over to the Graphic's Fairy and found this adorable girl graphic.  You will note that I flipped a couple of the images - if you don't have a draw program where you can do this all of you Windows users can just paste the image into Microsoft Paint (comes will Windows) and flip the image.  I did this because I am going to put two of these on my entry table when I decorate for the 4th of July and I think they would look better if one if flipped.  Personal preference.  I printed these out on waterslide decal paper.
 Follow the directions from the manufacture of the decal paper and then for ease of placement cut around your image before putting into the water and sliding onto your lantern.  I always print a full sheet so I don't waste the paper.  Then just cut out and spray the image as needed.
 So simple after adding the graphic to the lantern and pouring in the sand I just added some star garland and some bakers twine.  I tried a red votive instead of the white tea light that came with the lantern but think I like the tea light better.
 I think I like this best - this is a gift and I am keeping the other two for myself - what a great gift for $3.33 since for the rest of the project I used items I hand on hand.

Resource

Mason Jar & Tea Light Set, Big Lots or online
Bakers Twine, Hobby Lobby
Star Garland, Craft stores and $ store
Waterslide decal Amazon Bel Decal Waterslide Inkjet Paper Clear 5 Sheets per package 
Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

MEMORIAL DAY - A DAY OF REMBERANCE

In the fall of 2011 I had the great fortune to take a trip to Europe that included a day in Normandy.  It was a solemn day as we went to the Musee du Debarquement, the D Day Museum with it's installations and vignettes using authentic items. We walked on Omaha Beach and the sculpture on the beach just seems so fitting and appropriate. The most chilling thing to me was after walking down the beach I turned around and my vantage was that of a solder landing on the beach, you look up and the gun turrets and bunkers are still there and you see that these BRAVE men were truly sitting ducks long before they even got out of the boats. We saw the visitor's center and then walked through the cemetery. The first grave I saw was a boy from California (my home state) a young boy, and one can only imagine the pain his parents felt when the telegram arrived letting them know their boy was no more. There is such a sense of hallowed ground at this site. I just wish there was some way that all American kids could visit here so they would know first-hand the place where so many gave their lives to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.  It is so fitting that we continue to set aside a day to honor all those who make personal sacrifices so that we are free.

Resource

Photography credit, blog owner

#1 - Inside the Musee du Debrquement

#2 - Sculpture at the American Cemetery Visitor's Center, "Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves." It is dedicated to the young American lives lost in Normandy. The American Cemetery is permanent and our cemeteries in Europe are built, operated and maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, which is an agency of the federal government.

#3 - An American grave

#4 - Sculpture on Omaha Beach titled "The Braves" erected in the memory of Allied solders.

Thank you for stopping by.

Friday, May 23, 2014

I ♥ EVERNOTE AND IT IS FREE!

If you are already a fan of Evernote© you need not read more.  However if you do NOT use Evernote©, please read on about this wonderful database - did I mention that it is FREE, yes readers this is FREE software. Not only is this software free it is also life changing.  Big statement I know but really I have found Evernote© to be life changing it's that simple.

It is no accident that their logo is an elephant because that is the life changing aspect to this software - you don't forget where you have put your important cyber stuff. Instead of saying "oh gosh where did I see that," and then trying in vain to find something online you can just clip into Evernote© and your file, graphic, recipe, etc. will be available to you when needed. It is just the greatest organizational tool.

I am going to address the basic things that you will be able to do with this software but I also need to note that this is a powerful program that has business applications and uses.  It is free but truth in advertising I will admit that I pay the $45 annual fee which allows me to upload 1GB per month (you are allowed 60 MB upload per month on the free account).  I was using all my free space because I download a lot of  big graphic files, unless you will do the same thing you will not have a problem exceeding your allowed amount.



The first thing you will need to do is to go to https://evernote.com/ and download the software onto your computer.  Then add the app to your phone and your notebook.  The reason you do this is that once you have added a note to your Evernote and hit "sync" you will have that note on all three devices. Hmmm, doesn't sound like something useful to you well how about adding all those recipes to Evernote or perhaps your travel information?  Not only do I have the recipe on my phone so I can look and check my ingredients list while grocery shopping but I am able to set up my iPad in the kitchen to reference while I am cooking (or the phone). If you do not have a smart phone or a notebook it is easy to print out any of your saved "notes."

I think the thing that I found so wonderful about Evernote© from the beginning is it's ease of set up and use.  Anyone who has ever set up a data base knows that unless you have a lot of expertise in this area it can be a nightmare. This software allows you to keep track of, and more importantly, be able to find, what is important to you as a user.  Think of it as a file cabinet on your computer and set up files and sub files that interest you.

 


 After downloading the software you are ready to go! First you will set up a notebook, say "Recipes" then just start adding your recipes you find online or entering them if you prefer. Another great feature is that when setting up the file you give the file a name say "Raspberry Pie," but Aunt Rosie gave you this recipe and you would like the ability to find all of Aunt Rosie's recipes (but don't really have enough to make an Aunt Rosie file) so you just add a tag at the top "Aunt Rosie Raspberry Pie." Then when you do a search it will come up both ways.  This is particularly helpful if you are entering something that you think will be hard to remember, you can put a tag that will jar your memory. On the left side is a list of all of your notebooks and below that is an alpha list of all your tags. I have notebooks from cooking to crafts to images, to lists of things to do etc., in short this software can be used to organize your life - as I like to say only limited by your imagination.  I was so enthusiastic about this software that I badgered my husband to download and start using and now he is a believer. He is the "travel agent" for the family and has found Evernote© to be a great way to keep track of all our travel information and then when traveling you will have all those necessary things like confirmation numbers, etc. in one convenient place. Another great thing is you want to share something? Just click on "share," enter the email address and you are done! The recipient does not have to have Evernote©  but if they do all the better, for they just have to do a "click" and it's now theirs. 

I have no connection to Evernote©I am not one of their minions I just happen to think that anyone not using this software is really missing out on one of the great free things in life.  I will not go over all the features, just tried to hit the high spots for understanding.  I will however promise you that if you download this software and take the time to make it a part of  your life you will be happy that you did so.  I give a little silent "thank you Evernote" every time I am in a big hurry and am at the store or the airport and realize that the information that I need is waiting for me on my iPhone! Just like the elephant I like to remember.

Resource

Evernote Link, Evernote©


Thank you for stopping by. 






Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CONTAINER GARDENING 101

Last year was the first time in many years that we have had a vegetable garden.  When we lived in California it just seemed that all I had time for was a wonderful herb garden.  We then lived in two extreme climates one too hot, one very cold (resulting in a very short growing season) and now here in the Treasure Valley of Idaho - one just right!
 Do not be deceived by how small this looks. Six of these Grow Boxes will yield more than enough herbs, strawberries and vegetables for our use, some to can and some to share.  We have plenty of room on our almost 1/2 acre lot to plant a traditional garden but these boxes are wonderful, easy to care for and no bending over! This spot was chosen because the plants will receive the maximum number of hours of sunlight each day.
We learned a lot last year which was the first year that we had used these boxes. This was one lesson - do put the tomatoes on the ground.  We had so many tomatoes and they grew so tall that it will be easier to pick them if the container is not elevated.  Lets talk a little about the boxes themselves. These boxes (plus the ingenuity of my dear husband) will put your garden on auto-pilot). They grow fabulous plants, are self-watering, no weeding, no bending, you can put them anywhere and even for the novice gardener they are easy-peasy.  If you have bad soil, no problem these boxes use potting soil.  They set up very quickly and come with the nutrient patch that helps with fertilizing, keeps in the moisture and keeps out the weeds. Please note that they do not come with the cage for the tomatoes, we added the cage. Simple to do, this one modified from one purchased at a big box box store.
 Here you can clearly see the opening for the water and any nutrients that you may need.  You just fill the bottom with water and the plants wick up the water as needed.  You will notice emitters on the side of the box.  My dear husband gets 99% credit for the garden - my 1% being helping purchase the plants and making a decision as to what we would like to have in the garden. As wonderful as the garden was last year it has made it even better this year.  The emitter is connected to a float device and he has the garden on auto-pilot.  He figured out a way to set this up so if we decide to be gone for a week or so, we will not have to worry about the garden being watered. I will not go into detail here but if you are interested in this aspect send me an email and we will send you some information and setting up the auto-pilot watering.
A word about the trellis.  The trellis will be completed later today. The boxes do not come with the trellis, it is something we added.  Last year we had so many cukes and squash that we had to set the boxes on the ground. Clever man that he is, hubby added the wood trellis. He will add one more board on each side and then add string giving the plants plenty of places to grow and climb.
One last thing and then the garden should be on auto-pilot as planned.  We have sent for some bird netting that will go over the garden to keep out the birds and keep them from eating the berries, etc.

Notes: The manufacture says self-watering and this is true in that you put the water in the bottom of the container and no worries about have I watered too much or too little.  As stated previously the plants wick up the water as needed but you do have to keep putting water in the bottom part of the container.  We like to use Miracle Grow nutrient and you just add it to the water using the manufacture's instructions.  We learned to treat early for tomato blossom end rot, adding the treatment to the water too. This is our second year to use the Grow Boxes and we look forward to many more seasons of use. I also learned about the hardiness of some kitchen herbs - the sage is quite hardy and at Thanksgiving, under the snow, I had fresh sage!

Resource

Grow Boxes Link, TheGarden Patch
Shelves that contain the boxes, Home Depot storage racks

P.S.
 The trellis is complete! Something else I should mention is
that these boxes are great for water conservation as they take much less water than a normal garden and as I mentioned earlier there is no guessing about how much or how little to water as the plants take water as needed. Ideal for use in drought areas.

I am not associated with Garden Patch, I am not one of their minions, I just happen to LOVE their product.

Thank you for stopping by!



 

Monday, May 19, 2014

COOKIE CALL - CHOCOLATE CHIP

My youngest grandson was in need of a treat yesterday. I asked him on the phone what kind of cookies he would like and without hesitation he said "chocolate chip please."
This quintessential American cookie has been around since the thirties and even though the basic ingredients are about the same there is an abundance of recipes floating around. Some add nuts, some oatmeal, some chocolate chunks instead of chips, some small chips, etc. I had a recipe that was new to me, no nuts, very little white sugar, more brown sugar and more chips.  Anyway I thought this would be a good day to try out this new recipe. So I gathered the ingredients.
 Pretty straightforward mix your butter and sugars (be sure and follow recipe instructions and cream these items  for the prescribed time) next eggs and vanilla and then your dry ingredients. Mix well, add the chips and you are ready to bake.
I used the small scoop and had a yield of five dozen cookies.  
Out of the oven, ready to package.
I decided on a Panibois pan with insert for my packaging with a cellophane bag to cover and a red, white and blue ribbon to tie, a nod to the upcoming Memorial Day. 

Here they are ready for delivery.  I gave the remainder of the cookies to the family for the freezer and they will take with them to their cabin for the upcoming holiday weekend.  I was rewarded with kisses and hugs......the best reward ever! BTW, good review on the recipe. More chips equals more chocolate flavor and more brown sugar makes the cookies more chewy.



The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER!
Author: Savory Sweet Life
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  12 mins
Total time:  22 mins
Serves: 48 Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2¾ cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour *If at all possible, please weigh the flour
  • ¾ tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium-high speed on a K-5). Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed. The cookie batter should be somewhat thick. Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cool non-porous surface. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Notes
*please do not use table salt, the sea salt gives the cookies a nice flavor and hints of texture. If you only have table salt, use ½ tsp. *When using sea salt, you will get small crunchy flecks of salt when you bite into the cookie. If you do not like this taste, go with ½ teaspoon of table salt. *I realized grocery stores sell bags of chocolate chips in 12 oz bags but this recipe really needs every last chip. Otherwise you’ll get cookies with only a few chips in each one and this recipe requires lots of chocolate to bulk the cookie up. You’ll need about 1½ bags.

Resource

Recipe from Savory Sweet Life
Panibois baking pan, TechnoBakeStore

Thank you for stopping by.





Friday, May 16, 2014

THE PEONIES ARE IN BLOOM!

pe·o·ny
ˈpēənē/
noun
noun: peony; plural noun: peonies; noun: paeony; plural noun: paeonies
  1. a herbaceous or shrubby plant of north temperate regions, which has long been cultivated for its showy flowers.

     Peonies are my favorite flower and until I moved to Idaho I was never living in a climate that was kind to them or had a hot house in which to grow them.  My dear mother-in-law Viola Dewhirst, had a very green thumb and even in the hot, dry San Joaquin Valley of California (with it's mild winters) she was able to have the most beautiful white peony plant in a shaded area near her front door.  It had grown into quite a large plant and when in bloom visitors were greeted with the wonderful fragrance of that single peony bush. I was in love.
    My Missouri family sent me a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and lilies for Mothers Day (thank you very much).  The bloom is off the roses as they say but the lilies are still beautiful and still opening so I combined my lovely first peonies of the season with the lilies and the combination has made a fabulous bouquet for my table.

    I wish I could add a "scratch n' sniff" as the subtle fragrance is one of my favorite things about this beautiful bloom.  Not in your face like a gardenia but just as I once read in a plant catalog "delightful and delicious fragrance."
    Finally today, I have the most beautiful bowl of rose petals that I will turn into some potpourri sachets for my linen closet.  Future post!

    Thank you for stopping by.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PEDA BURGERS or SHISH KEBAB ON PEDA BREAD

The fruits of your labor! Here is the burger for 8 that you get with one large loaf of Peda bread.
 Yummy view #2.

 Simple family dinner with the star being that big, gorgeous, yummy burger.

For the Peda burger:

Shape 3 pounds of lean ground beef (you could use ground turkey, chicken, lamb or buffalo) in 8 wedge-shaped patties about 3/4 inch thick, or if you have a basket grill, make a 12 inch diameter patty. Cook 3 inches from heat, 5 minutes to a side for rare, 8 for medium and 10 for well done. Salt and pepper only on the meat.

Split a loaf of Peda bread horizontally, making bottom crust at least 3/4 inch thick. Cover bottom with the hot meat, then 1/2 pound sliced jack cheese. Place the burger under the broiler to melt the cheese. Top with 2 thinly sliced tomatoes, 1 thinly sliced red onion, 1 cup shredded lettuce, and 1 to 2 thinly sliced dill pickles. Cover with bread top, cut in sections with individual patties or cut patty-filled loaf in wedges. Serves 8

Note: I like to take a mixture of low-fat mayo and some mustard and put on the bottom of the bread top to add some moisture.


If you prefer to have Shish Kebab on your Peda bread here is a recipe for marinade & instructions:

In a large bowl mix 2 pounds lean boneless lamb (in 2" cubes) with one large onion (cut into large chunks), 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup dry red wine, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Let meat marinade 6 hours to overnight, toss the meat occasionally. Lamb is the classic Armenian meat for this dish but beef or chicken may be substituted.  Then thread onto skewers an barbecue five minutes per side for medium rare. Serve the meat on a split loaf of the Peda bread, adding grilled veggies (peppers & onions) or grilled onions with the meat.

Coleslaw Recipe - KFC Copycat recipe

  Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar or your favorite substitute I like Whey Low
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 16 oz shredded bagged coleslaw mix

Whisk together all the ingredients except for the shredded coleslaw mix.



Instructions

  1. Add the bag and mix until nicely blended with the dressing (good idea to first give the mix a little chop to avoid big chunks of cabbage)
  2. Refrigerate 2-3 hours (or longer).
  3. Mix well again just before serving.

I just use frozen fries and store bought frozen yogurt for this fun summer dinner. Clean and cut the strawberries and mix with a little sugar to macerate them, I use the Whey Sugar here too and serve the froyo in dessert glasses drizzled with the strawberries.

Bon appetit!

Resource

Peda bread, burger & Shis Kebab recipe, Sunset Magazine, 
Recipe to make the bread: Peda Bread Recipe
Copycat KFC coleslaw, Mom on Timeout 
Whey Low Sugar, Whole Foods

Thank you for stopping by.