Monday, October 31, 2011

Award Winning Apricot Habanero Salsa

I've never made salsa before.  Ever.  So when I heard we were having a salsa contest at work, I started frantically experimenting!  Went through about 6 different kinds.  But as soon as I tasted this one, I knew it was the one.  And indeed it was!  First place winner at the contest!  It has a fruity sweetness, and you can add more or less Habanero sauce depending on degree of heat desired.  Just keep in mind the heat will intensify over time!  I found the original recipe as a barbecue sauce on www.great-salsa.com, but then added tomatoes to thicken it up and give it more of a salsa taste and consistency.  The chips are just flour tortilla cut up and pan fried.  So good.  Without the tomatoes you could use this as a basting sauce on fish, chicken, or pork.




Apricot-Habanero Salsa

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • corn or canola oil
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeded
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) dried apricots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vineger
  • 3 tablespoons (1/2 dl) brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (3 dl) water
  • 1 tablespoon Colmans powdered mustard
  • 4 tablespoon habanero hot sauce
  • salt
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and diced
In a pan, sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add the remaining ingredients, except the mustard powder, habanero, and tomatoes. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the apricots are soft. Pour into a food processor.  Add tomatoes (1 at a time) and season with mustard powder, habanero, and salt while processing to a smooth sauce. 

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

Oh my goodness.  These were to die for.  About 3 minutes out of the oven perfect.  Otherwise, just like the website said, rest the cookie atop a steamy cup of tea for 15 or so seconds and the caramel just softens up beautifully.  Recipe off www.scrambledhenfruit.blogspot.com.




Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets (I found this in my grocery store near the hot chocolate mixes.)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups all purpose flour
1 bag Kraft Caramels (14 oz)

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment. (You really need the parchment!)
  • In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
  • With your mixer (or an energetic spoon) cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  • Refrigerate for about an hour. (If you're really impatient you don't have to do this, but it makes it so much easier to work with.)
  • When you are ready to bake, unwrap your caramels. 
  • Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut. (I used a rounded cookie scoop-full. My scoop holds about a Tablespoon.)
  • Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Place on parchment covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter. Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.) If you forget about them and they cool too much and stick to your parchment, put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off.
  • Yield: about 4 dozen, depending on how large you make your cookies (or how many caramels have been snitched out of your bag before you begin.) Store in an airtight container.

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

These were sooooo yummy!  Found this recipe on www.pinchofyum.com.  The cake is moist and sweet and the maple glaze compliments them perfectly.  I will definitely turn to this again and again.  Fantastic fall treat!




Pumpkin Muffins

  • 3 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups solid pack pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  1. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.
  2. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture.
  3. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Glaze and enjoy!
Maple Glaze
  • 1/3 stick of butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-3 tbs. water
  • 1 tbs. maple syrup
  1. Melt butter in saucepan.
  2. Add sugar and vanilla.
  3. Add water until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Stir in maple syrup.


Tangerine-Maple Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

Tangerine-Maple Glazed Chicken Drumsticks by Bobby Flay

Since finding this recipe on www.alyssastwobites.blogspot.com, I've made it three times!  And that was only about a month ago.  These drumsticks turned out so good!  Even after glazing them on the grill I like to pour some of the glaze on my plate and mop it up!  I couldn't find the orange-tangerine juice so used an orange-peach-mango juice, about half the carton, but it'll boil down.  Highly recommended!!!





Tangerine-Maple Glazed Chicken Drumsticks 
Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons canola oil
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
1 quart tangerine juice or orange-tangerine juice, not from concentrate
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tangerine or orange zested
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
8 chicken drumsticks (I only cooked drumsticks)
8 chicken thighs
Salt
2 green onions, sliced for garnish
Grilled oranges or tangerinces, for garnish

Directions:

Heat the grill to medium high.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat, add the onion and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the juice and thyme, bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to approximately 1/2 cup, 25 to 30 minutes.

Strain the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the syrup, soy sauce, and black pepper and let cool to room temperature. Can be made 2 days in advance and brought to room temperature before using.

Brush chicken on both sides with remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through. Begin brushing with the glaze during the last 5 minutes of grilling. Remove to a platter and sprinkle with the green onion. Garnish with the grilled citrus.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oven Baked Polenta with Sausage and Mushrooms

I found this while browsing www.tastespotting.com, but it's on www.weekofmenus.blogspot.com.  SOooooo fantastic!!!  Wow, I highly recommend this.  I used fresh white corn off the cob and breakfast pork sausage from Nugget Market.  Yum-O.

 

Oven Baked Polenta with Sausages and Mushroom
5 to 6 servings
adapted from Lazy Gourmet by Robin Donovan & Juliana Gallin

Ingredients
1 cup cornmeal (quick cooking polenta is fine as well)
3 ½ cups water
1 cup sweet corn kernels, fresh off the cob
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup mascarpone
2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil (more if needed)
4 shallots, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic minced
8 oz sausages, diced or chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
10 oz of Crimini mushrooms, sliced or roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
5 leaves basil, chiffonade (or more to taste)

Method
Preheat oven to 350. Oil a 2 quart baking dish. Combine cornmeal, water, corn, salt and pepper, stirring to mix. Bake in a preheated 350 oven, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, mascarpone, butter and return to oven, baking another 5 minutes.

While polenta is baking, cook sausage mushroom topping. Heave a heavy saute pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil, shallots, garlic and sausages, and cook until all the shallots are transparent and the sausage is caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for an additional 4 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender.

When polenta has finished baking, pour topping mixture over polenta. Return to oven for another 7 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Sprinkle basil over the top and enjoy.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes with Apple Cider Frosting

This was a great find on www.ahintofhoney.com.  Just in time for fall!  Recipe is for a layer cake, but I love me some cuppies.  Turned out moist and tangy.



Caramel Apple Cupcakes with Apple Cider Frosting

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups light brown sugar
¾ cup canola oil
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup caramel sauce (homemade or jarred)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
1½ cups buttermilk

Apple Cider Frosting:
7 1/2-8 cups confectioners’ sugar (to desired consistency)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two (8 or 9 inch) round cake pans and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a second large bowl, beat sugar and oil together with an electric mixer until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add applesauce, caramel and vanilla, beat for 30 seconds, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, and continuing to beat until well combined.

3. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Set aside to let cool for 10 minutes, then gently loosen cakes and turn out onto a cooking rack; set aside to let cool completely.

4. For the frosting, put sugar, butter, cider, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Arrange one cake on a large plate and spread about 1 cup of the frosting evenly over the top. Arrange second cake on top then frost top and sides of entire cake with remaining frosting. Set aside at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow frosting to set before serving.

Makes a tall 2-layer, 8-9 inch round cake or about 30 cupcakes.

Aloo Chole

This yummy Indian dish is meatless, but you don't miss it!  Chickpeas and potatoes give this dish some substance and fragrances will heat up your kitchen.  Found this recipe on www.clookbook.com.  I had the hardest time finding the chana masala powder...ok, so i never did find it.  But somewhere I found a recipe of how to make your own...equally difficult to find ingredients.  SO!  I added about a tablespoon of Tamarind paste / concentrate which I found at Nugget Market to give it the tang.  Then I added a sprinkle of this and a sprinkle of that (cinnamon, allspice, cumin powder, ginger powder, coriander seeds).  I know you can order a box of the powder online, but I wanted to make it NOW!  Also, I didn't want to wait for the chickpeas to soak overnight so I used 2 cans rinsed.  Since the soak called for a tea bag, I made a cup of tea and diluted it to about half (adding water to make 1 cup) and then added it to the mix when called for.  Turned out super tasty.  Make sure to serve with Jasmine rice.


Aloo Chole

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried chick peas (about half of a bag)
  • 1 teabag
  • 3 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
  • 2 large red onions, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 chili peppers (sub with jalapeños)
  • 1-2 medium red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup frozen green peas
  • pieces of garam masala (1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick, 5 cloves, 3 green cardamom pods)
  • 1 tablespoon, cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon, turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (or paste)
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic (or paste)
  • 3 tablespoons, chana masala powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cayenne red pepper
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons, chopped cilantro; more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon salt
Preparation
  • the night before: place dry chickpeas into a large bowl and presoak in water overnight (at least 4 hours). make sure the beans are submerged by a few inches of water as they will double in size
  1. the next day: once chick peas have hydrated (overnight), it’s time to cook them. i prefer to cook them in a pressure cooker, which takes about 10 minutes. you can also boil them in a pot for about 60-90 minutes
  2. pressure cooking: add enough water to submerge hydrated chic peas by 2 inches of water in the pressure cooker.  add 1 tablespoon oil (prevent foaming) and the teabag (darken the color of the beans). make sure not to fill pot more than 1/2 full. lock lid, heat on high-heat until pressure is on. lower heat to low and heat for 12 mins. remove from heat and release pressure
  3. boiling: 1 cup dry beans, 3 cups water, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teabag. bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer (partially covered). cook until beans are soft and can be smushed easily by hand (or utensil)
  4. once chick peas are cooked, drain them making sure to reserve 1 cup of the liquid they were cooked in
  5. while chickpeas cook, cut potatoes into quarters (if using a larger sized potato) and boil for 10-15 minutes or until a knife goes through potatoes with little resistance. when done, cut potatoes into bite sized pieces and set aside
Cooking the Dish
  1. heat oil on medium-high heat and add garam masala and cumin seeds
  2. add onion once cumin seeds begin to react with oil and season with a sprinkle of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  3. after 5 minutes cooking, add ginger, garlic and turmeric to the mixture (aka masala) and stir
  4. cook until the onions are softened (~10 minutes) and then lower heat to medium
  5. add tomatoes and chopped chilis, stirring occasionally until tomatoes are fully cooked (wilted and softened). this will take about 15 minutes
  6. once tomatoes are cooked, add chana masala powder and stir until combined. cook for another 2 minutes
  7. add 1 cup of water reserved from cooked chickpeas along with cooked chickpeas, potatoes, frozen peas and cayenne pepper and stir together
  8. bring to a boil and then reduce to low-medium heat.  simmer uncovered for 20 minutes to allow the liquid to reduce and thicken
  9. add salt, lemon juice and cilantro and cook for another 2 minutes
  10. transfer to a serving bowl. garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with (naan) bread or basmati rice
Tips:
  • shortcut: use 2 cans of chickpeas instead of the dry ones. substitute the chickpea water with regular water. make sure to rinse the goo off the chickpeas before placing into the masala (step 7 above)
  • Indian ingredients: cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, bay leafs, cardamom pods, cloves are non-perishable spices and can be purchased online at sites like www.kalustyans.com. buy them, store them in your pantry
  • chana masala powder is a prepared combination of spices and can be purchased as well.

Mom's Chili Mac

I've been eating this stuff and loving it since I can remember.  It was one of the top three recipes I had to take to college just so I could have a taste of home, some comfort food.  Being the first day of fall, I thought it was the perfect dish to kick off the season.  Only hitch, I've gotta use Brook's Mild Chili Beans in Chili Sauce and ya can't find the stuff in California!  So, every time I go back home to the midwest, I pack my suitcase up with 6-8 cans.  They do sell chili beans in chili sauce out here of course, and I think I tried it once--good substitute.  Honestly, it's probably in my head.



Mom's Chili Mac

1 lb. or a little more ground beef
1 sweet onion, chopped
garlic
large serving spoon of flour
4 T chili powder (or to taste)
beef broth (about 3 cups)
1 (16oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can tomato soup
1 can tomato paste
1 can chili beans in chili sauce

Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic.  Add flour and saute until well mixed.  Add chili powder.  Add soup, sauce, and paste; simmer.  Slowly add broth about a 1/2 cup at a time.  Usually takes about a half hour of simmering.  You can add more or less broth according to your taste in consistency of chili.  I like mine thick.  Last, add can of chili beans in chili sauce and heat a few more minutes.  Serve over spaghetti!

Fresh Fig Upside Down Cake

I've made this cake numerous times and I don't even like fig newtons.  Coworkers ask for it each year and it's always consumed quickly!   Keep refrigerated!  The cake itself is great, but the figs on top are a tasty addition.  Original recipe from www.emerils.com.  I added some honey to the figs while they sauteed and people unknowingly said, "It was even better this time."


Fresh Fig Upside Down Cake
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3 T honey
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, toss the figs with the sugar. In a hot cast iron skillet, melt 1/2 stick of the butter.  Add honey.  Sauté the figs for 2 minutes.

For the batter: In a mixing bowl, cream the remaining stick of butter and brown sugar. Stir in the eggs 1 at a time. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Combine vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture and milk to the egg mixture. Mix well.

Butter a 9"x13" glass pan, lay parchment paper on the bottom, and re-butter paper.  Transfer sauteed figs to the glass pan, leaving the majority of the liquid behind.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the figs. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and pulls away slightly from the edges of the pan. Cool for about 30 minutes, then invert over a large platter. Cut into individual servings and serve with a scoop of hazelnut ice cream.

Yield: 12 servings

Fresh Fig Torte

After getting an abundance of figs from a coworker, I decided to make a couple different desserts.  This one only required a handful of figs, and worked out perfectly.  The almond powder was a nice twist on the traditional all purpose flour.  Found the recipe on www.beyondtheplate.net.  Make sure you are equipped with a small scale!  This dessert was well received by people who like a less sweet dessert.  Maybe serve with tea after dinner. 

 
Fresh Fig Torte
  • 2½ ounces/ 71 grams blanched almond meal
  • 2½ ounces/ 71 grams all-purpose flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick/ 113 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 ounces/ 100 grams sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light rum
  • 2 large eggs
  • About 4 to 5 ripe figs, sliced or quartered depending on your preference (see headnote)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/ 200C. Line the base of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, then tighten the springform ring to keep the parchment in place, trimming the excess.
  2. Stir together the almond meal, flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside while you prepare the wet ingredients.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale yellow and fluffy. Switch to the lowest speed setting then add the rum, the dry ingredients and the eggs. Return the speed to medium and beat for another 5 minutes until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan, using your spatula to spread the mixture so that it evenly covers the base of the pan. Arrange the fig pieces atop the batter and bake for 45 minutes or until the top of the cake turns golden brown. A toothpick test should also come out clean.
  5. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake before unlocking the pan, then leave to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting

I've had exquisite champagne cake before at a local bakery and wanted to try my hand at a cupcake version.  I think next time I would just use plain champagne instead of a rose.  These still turned out quite good.  Recipe off thecurvycarrot.com.

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream




Servings: About 20-22 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup champagne**I used a light pink rosé.
6 egg whites
For the buttercream frosting
3 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons champagne, at room temperature

1. For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.
4. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.
5. In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
6. Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites.
7. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
9. For the frosting: With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter.
10. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.
11. Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute.
12.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. 

Drop Biscuits and Gravy

I've never made, much less tasted biscuits and gravy before although I've always been curious.  I added in a bit of chorizo to the gravy to give it a little kick, as well as subbed in half heavy cream for the milk.  Also to start out I made bacon first in the pan and friend the sausages in the grease.  Not the most heart healthy dish, but it was yummy.  Recipe base off allrecipes.com.

Drop Biscuits and Gravy


  • BISCUITS
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon butter or margarine, melted
  • GRAVY:
  • bacon grease
  • little under 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
  • about 1/8 lb chorizo
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
 In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Combine milk and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cook the sausage and chorizo over medium heat in the bacon grease until no longer pink. Stir in butter until melted. Sprinkle with flour. Gradually stir in cream, milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Serve over biscuits.

Kefta Kabobs (Moroccan Meatballs)

I found these linked in to tastespotting.com, off the blog shecookshecleans.net.  They're called Kefta Kabobs, but I ended up skipping the sticks.  I rolled the meatballs out right by the grill and plopped them down, turning to brown all sides.  These turned out so incredibly delicious!!!  Only problem is the cost of ground lamb.  Geez it's expensive; 11 bucks a pound for ground meat?  What the chuck?

I also opted to make my own ras el hanout spice mix.  Long list of ingredients (off food.com), but I had them all on hand so no need to order it.  I also cut the measurements down to a fourth because this would've made a LOT of ras el hanout and the meatballs only call for 1 teaspoon of the mix.  Served with grilled zucchini and corn on the cob.

Kefta Kabobs (Moroccan Meatballs)


Ras el Hanout spice mix:

 Meatballs: 

  • 2 pounds ground beef or lamb (use meat with a higher fat ratio, as lean meat will tend to dry out)
  • 1 onion, grated onto paper towels to adsorb excess moisture
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ras-el-Hanout (you can order from The Spice House, but you can also blend your own-see above recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • several grindings black pepper
  • a small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
  • a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
Mix the ground meat with all the other ingredients; knead vigorously, until very smooth and pasty.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Wet your hands and divide the meat into golf-ball sized balls.  This will make 24-30 balls. 
Press the meat balls firmly around square-bladed skewers, and mold into a sausage-link shape.  (If your meat balls are too large, they will just fall off.)
Prepare a grill for direct cooking at around 400F.  When the coals are ready, grill the kabobs for 4-5 minutes each side, turning once or twice, until browned.  Be careful not to overcook or the meat may dry out.
Serve immediately.  These kabobs were perfect with grilled peppers and eggplant, but would also be great with couscous or rice.

Sticky Honey Lemon Chicken

I found this recipe while browsing tastespotting.com; blog it's off of is urbanstrawberries.wordpress.com.  Definitely will be making this again.  It was really simple and packed full of flavor.  Served it with a baked potato and voila!  a perfect meal.  I also tripled the sauce ingredients to make for some extra juice.

Sticky Honey Lemon Chicken


8 chicken drumsticks (or 4-6 breasts)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup honey
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 lemon, sliced
splash of red wine vinegar
2-3 sprigs lemon-thyme
salt & pepper to taste


In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high, to that add the garlic and heat till fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Then add the honey and soy sauce and bring to a slight boil; add lemon slices and vinegar. Turn down heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Put entire lemon-thyme sprigs into sauce and continue simmering 5-10 more minutes.


While the sauce is simmering, hand the chicken to your husband so he can begin grilling it on med-high heat, turning every few minutes to cook through.

Now back to the sauce, turn off the heat and let sauce cool a bit. Taste test for salt and pepper additions. If sauce is too thick once it’s cooled, add a little hot water to thin it out. It should be a thick consistency to baste onto chicken & stay, but not so thick that it only sticks to your brush. Remove the lemon slices and lemon-thyme sprigs remnants.

Once your chicken is cooked through, turn down the heat and begin basting the honey-lemon sauce onto the chicken, turning the chicken as necessary to get all sides. Let the heat help adhere the sauce to the chicken for a few minutes. Transfer chicken to a platter, continue basting with leftover sauce and garnish with lemon-thyme.


Butterscotch Meringue Bars

I'm not sure why these are termed "butterscotch"...maybe the sweet flavor?  No butterscotch in them!  I'd rather call them chocolate chip bars with meringue on top.  These turned out super rich and sweet.  Big hit with the coworkers.  And such an interesting combination!  Recipe off tastykitchen.com

Butterscotch Meringue Bars


  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 2 sticks Softened, Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cups Light Brown Sugar, Divided
  • ½ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs (separated)
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing excess foil to hang over the pan edges (this will help you to remove the bars from the pan later). Spray foil with cooking spray. 

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, set it aside.
With a hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well blended. Add egg yolks, water, and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Press the chocolate chips gently into the dough.

In a clean bowl, whip egg whites to stiff peaks, then reduce speed to medium and add the remaining 1 cup of brown sugar. Mix until uniform in color and shiny. Spread meringue over chocolate chip layer and bake until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Cool completely (2-3 hours) before lifting out of the pan using the aluminum foil overhang. Cut into squares.

Chicken Adobo

Since working at my current employer, I've encountered numerous Filipino cooks who've exposed me to this yummy dish!  It seems to always be different depending on the chef, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.  This recipe called for 3 whole bay leaf, but I think next time I'd go with just one, maybe even a half.  I also added a little sugar to the original recipe since I've heard that's what some people do.  Recipe off Foodnetwork.com.

Filipino Chicken Adobo


Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover and marinate chicken for 1-3 hours. Bring to boil, then lower heat. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until sauce is reduced and thickened, and chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes. Serve with steamed rice.



Brazilian-style Kabobs

Although I've never had the famed Brazilian sticks of meat at a restaurant, I decided to try my hand at them.  Pretty simple--marinate your meat and put it on a stick with bacon.  Unfortunately my grill was down that night so I used a cast iron pan.  Next time I want to get that nice brown outside from the grill.  Recipe off cookbrazil.com

Brazilian-style Kabobs




1 lb of beef tenderloin
2 tbs of olive oil
2 tbs of lemon juice
2 tbs of chopped onion
½ lb bacon
16 wood skewers
Salt and ground pepper



Cut beef tenderloin into ¾ inch cubes.
Marinate in olive oil, lemon juice, onion, salt and pepper for 2 hours.
Soak wood skewers in water for 2 hours.
Cut bacon in squares and assemble alternating bacon and beef squares on skewers.
Grill as usual.
 
SERVE:
 
Traditionally, Brazilians roll kabobs over manioc flour (farofa) after cooked and serve.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tropical Chicken and Coconut Rice

I found this dish as a recent post on Tastykitchen.com and the coconut rice drew me in. I ended up extending the marinating time of the chicken to overnight, turning a couple times. This all came together deliciously! The light coconut milk gave a subtle taste to the rice; for a stronger version I may try regular coconut milk next time. Salsa was cool and refreshing atop the creamy rice and tangy chicken.


Tropical Chicken and Coconut Rice
  • FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 pinch Garlic
  • 1 pinch Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Water
  • 1 whole Lime, Juiced, Divided
  • 1 whole Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Thigh

  • FOR THE RICE:

  • ½ cups Light Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
  • ½ cups Water
  • ½ cups White Rice
  • 1 stalk Green Onion, Sliced
  • Salt To Taste

  • FOR THE PINEAPPLE SALSA:

  • ½ cups Pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons Minced Red Onion
  • ½ whole Jalapeno, Seeded And Diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Salt To Taste
1. For the chicken, add the brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, water, and half of the lime juice to a bowl. Whisk together and pour into a Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

2. For the rice, pour the coconut milk, water, and rice into a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the green onion. Season with salt. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the pineapple salsa. Add the pineapple, red onion, jalapeno, and parsley into a small bowl. Pour in the remaining half of the lime juice and season with salt. Set aside.

4. Heat a grill pan/small skillet/George Foreman over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil (if using a pan) and cook the chicken for 5 minutes per side, or until it reaches 165ºF. If using a Foreman, cook for 5 minutes.

5. Add equal portions of rice to each bowl. Top with the pineapple salsa and equal amounts of sliced chicken.

Chorizo Empanadas with Avocado Cream

I found this recipe while browsing tastespotting.com; blog it's off of is www.handletheheat.com. These took a little bit of a time commitment as they had to be made in stages. First the dough, super easy to make, but then chill overnight. Then the filling, and cool completely. Then finally the assembling and avocado cream creation! But I will tell you, they were worth it. Not the re-heated by microwave version, but the right out of the oven goodness! Yes, if you're going to re-heat them, make sure it's in an oven to recover that crisp outer shell, I did 10-12 minutes at 350. These came together beautifully and so delicious. I served with some fresh organic corn on the cob and sliced heirloom tomatoes with a little salt and pepper.


Chorizo Empanadas with Avocado Cream

Dough:
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • pinch paprika
Filling:
  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2-3 medium Yukon gold potatoes (or other waxy potatoes), peeled, finely diced, and boiled
Avocado cream:
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 avocados
  • kosher salt
For the dough:
Heat water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted. Let cool slightly. Mix flour, salt, and paprika in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour melted butter mixture into flour mixture and mix with your hands until you get a wet, oily dough. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

For the filling:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chorizo, breaking apart into small pieces, then add onion. Saute until chorizo is cooked through. Turn off heat, add diced and boiled potatoes, and let cool completely.

To assemble:
While the filling is cooling, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment. Tear off pieces of dough to roll about 20 golf-sized balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on a lightly floured surface into 5" circles. Place 2-3 tablespoons of cooled filling into the center of each dough circle. Fold dough over filling to make a half-moon shape and press edges firmly to seal. Crimp with the back of a fork. Place empanadas on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

For avocado cream:
While the empanadas cool, place sour cream, half and half, lemon juice, and jalapeno in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Peel, pit, and dice the avocado and add to blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Season with salt. If not serving immediately, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, pressing plastic onto the surface of avocado cream to prevent browning.

Blondies (a white chocolate brownie!)

I found this recipe on Food Network's website, courtesy of Al Roker. Since I haven't been able to eat real chocolate due to the migraines, I decided on a white chocolate version for the potluck today. These whipped up super quick and with ingredients I had on hand already. Perfect recipe! With the pecan addition, and the rich brown sugar flavor, they almost taste like a pecan pie bar.


Platinum Brownies
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped, or 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high. Using an electric mixer or mixing by hand, beat together the sugar and egg until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and butter and beat to mix well. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Using a spoon, stir in the pecans and white chocolate.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and use a flat metal spatula or a butter knife to smooth the top. Bake the blondies for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is dry and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached (not wet, but not perfectly dry). Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cut the blondies into 2-inch squares. The blondies can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days (these seem to get better as they sit) or frozen for up to 2 months (thaw before serving).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

I found the cake recipe on www.whataboutsecondbreakfast.com and tried the icing from www.thatwinsomegirl.blogspot.com. Yummy! I think next time I would tweak the icing to just use butter and add in a little heavy cream, rather than half butter half crisco. The cake turned out so moist and fluffy, really tasty!


Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

2¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour

¾ Cup Unsweetened Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
¾ Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Milk
1½ Cups Malted Milk Powder
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
1 Cup Sour Cream, at room temperature
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ Cup Chocolate Covered Malt Balls, chopped


1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
½ cup malted milk powder
4 tablespoons unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
5 cups confectioner sugar, sifted
*Chocolate Covered Malt Balls and Straws to garnish (Optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, both sugars, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat flour mixture, milk mixture and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat just until combined. Fold in crushed chocolate covered malt balls.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.


While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting. In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter and shorting for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Sprinkle in malted milk powder and cocoa powder. Whip for 1 minute. Slowly add the powdered sugar a few spoonful at a time, letting it incorporate until the frosting becomes thick and stiff.

Fill bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of cupcakes. Top with candies.

Radish and Apple Salad

Since one of the interesting veggies that showed up in our organic produce box were radishes, I've been searching for a fun way to prepare them. I found this recipe on www.honestvanilla.com and changed out the spinach for red leaf lettuce, which was also in the organic loot. This turned out so crisp and fresh! Really yummy and convinced me hey, I think I like radishes!


Radish and Apple Salad

  • A handful of cherry radishes, thinly sliced
  • A bunch of baby spinach, rinsed
  • 1 red apple, thinly sliced
  • ½ a lemon
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Toss spinach, radish and apple slices in a bowl
  2. Squeeze lemon juice over the mix
  3. Drizzle honey and olive oil
  4. Toss again to ensure everything is well coated
  5. Add sea salt and black pepper to taste

Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was looking for another cookie recipe and found this one on Tastykitchen.com. Really easy to whip up and were perfectly browned after exactly 10 minutes. Thanks to my sister for the cute dish to display them in!


Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoonBaking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoonSalt
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
  • 1/2 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1/2 cupRolled Oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.

4. Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.




Monday, June 6, 2011

Saucy Thai Chicken Noodles

I found this recipe in one of my magazine subscriptions, Taste of Home, the June and July '11 issue. It called for beef (sirloin steak), but I felt like chicken and it worked well. Great nutty flavor and I think the sherry was the key to the sauce.


Saucy Thai Chicken Noodles

1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T brown sugar
2 T sherry
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
3 drops hot pepper sauce (optional)
12 oz. uncooked spaghetti
1 lb. chicken breast or steak sirloin, sliced thin
1 1/2 t canola oil, divided
1/2 c thinly sliced fresh carrot
1/2 c julienned sweet red pepper
1 c fresh snow peas
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 c chopped salted peanuts
2 T minced fresh cilantro (optional)

In a small sauce pan, bring the first eight ingredients just to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; set aside. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
In a skillet, stir-fry chicken in 1/2 tsp oil until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm. Stir fry carrot and red pepper in remaining oil for 3-4 minutes. Add snow peas and onion; stir fry 2-3 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp tender. Return chicken to skillet.
Drain noodles; add to pan and combine everything with sauce to coat. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cherry Buckle

A buckle is a coffeecake with a streusel topping. The batter will be extremely thick and heavy, and some effort will be required to spread it into the prepared cake pan. I got this recipe from a coworker, but the original one came from cooksillustrated.com. I've tried it with blueberries, as well as cherries since they're in season right now (and plentiful on the front yard tree!). You must use fresh fruit since frozen will provide too much liquid for the batter. This is a fantastic recipe. Very dense, moist, sweet, LOVE the streusel!, and super easy.


Cherry Buckle


Streusel
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 8 pieces, softened but still cool

Cake
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( 7 1/2 ounces)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 stick), softened but still cool
2/3 cup granulated sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 2 large eggs , room temperature
4 cups fresh blueberries or cherries (about 20 ounces), picked over

INSTRUCTIONS
1. For the streusel: In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined and no large brown sugar lumps remain, about 45 seconds. Add butter and mix on low until mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer streusel to small bowl and set aside.

2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides with nonstick cooking spray, line bottom with parchment or waxed paper round, and spray round; dust pan with flour and knock out excess.

3. Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to combine; set aside. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter, sugar, salt, and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; using rubber spatula, scrape down bowl. Beat in vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time; beat until partially incorporated, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Disengage bowl from mixer; stir batter with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, until no flour pockets remain and batter is homogenous; batter will be very heavy and thick. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries until evenly distributed.

4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; with rubber spatula, using a pushing motion, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Squeeze handful of streusel in hand to form large cohesive clump; break up clump with fingers and sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Repeat with remaining streusel. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool on wire rack 15 to 20 minutes (cake will fall slightly as it cools).

5. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place upside-down plate (do not use plate or platter on which you plan to serve the cake) on top of cake pan; invert cake to remove from pan, lift off cake pan, then peel off and discard parchment. Re-invert cake onto serving platter. Cool until just warm or to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve.

Marinated Flank Steak with Cardamon Bok Choy

I'm not sure where this marinade came from originally, but I got the recipe from a coworker and have probably made it 25 times in just a couple years. It's wonderful. This particular time I decided to make a side of bok choy since I've been getting fresh organic produce from a local farm. The bok choy recipe came off their website, www.farmfreshtoyou.com.


Marinated Flank Steak

1/2 c vegetable oil
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c red wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 T worcestershire sauce
1 T Inglehoffer stone ground mustard
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 1/2 pound flank steak

Combine all ingredients in a ziploc bag and marinate steak overnight, turning a few times throughout the day. Reserve marinade in a sauce pan and boil several minutes. Grill steak on high heat about 8 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Let sit a few minutes and then slice. Serve with rice and use cooked marinade as a sauce over rice.


Cardamon Bok Choy

1fresh cilantro, finely chopped1teaspoon salt
1tablespoon sesame oil1teaspoon black pepper
1clove garlic, crushed1teaspoon ground cardamom
1onion, thinly sliced in rings1pound bok choy leaves




Stir-fry garlic, onion and bok choy in sesame oil. Cook for 5 minutes until tender and crisp. Add salt, black pepper and cardamom. Stir-fry for 2 minutes until cardamom aroma is strong. Serve hot with other stir-fries on rice or noodles, or as a side order to barbecued beef or chicken.

Mexican Sauteed Pepitas Prawns

This recipe came highly recommended from a coworker out of a book by Heather Van Vorous. Reading through the ingredients, it may sound interesting, but nothing spectacular. Well let me tell you, it's incredible!! This seriously launched to my top ten list. It's so fresh, nutty, and delicious. You must try!

Mexican Sauteed Pepitas Prawns

1 lb. prawns, rinsed, shelled, and deveined
1/2 c green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 t coriander seeds
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, mashed
1 large tomato, diced (I used a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes)
1 small red bell pepper, roasted
1/4 t salt
3 t olive oil, divided
juice of one lime
1 c finely chopped fresh cilantro
rice for serving

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a large, ungreased (not non-stick) frying pan over medium high heat until they crackle, shaking pan constantly. Do not brown. Cool.

To roast the red pepper, place whole pepper in broiler pan and broil as close to heat as possible, until skins are black and blistered, turning peppers occasionally so they char evenly. Let pepper cool, then slip off skin, remove stems, and seeds. You can also roast the pepper over a gas burner until evenly charred, then cool and remove skin, stem, and seeds.

Add the pumpkin seeds and the coriander seeds to a food processor or a blender and grind to a fine powder. Add the onion, garlic, tomato, roasted red pepper, salt, and 2 tsp oliveoil. Puree until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and simmer, covered, over medium low heat for 30 minutes to mellow flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the chopped prawns and saute until they just begin to turn pink. Stir the sauce into the skillet and heat through until shrimp are cooked. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Serve over rice.

Cherry Chiffon Cupcakes

I found this recipe on cakewalker.blogspot.com and with my cherries ripening up, it was a great opportunity to use some. The cupcakes turned out super moist, but the cherry chunks sunk to the bottom. I think next time I'd chop them up even finer in hopes they might suspend better in the batter. Great flavor though! I used my cream cheese frosting recipe from the Coconut Cupcakes posting back in April, but it was a little overpowering for the delicate cake. I think next time I'd use a buttercream frosting.

Cherry Chiffon Cupcakes

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
3/4 pure cherry juice
1/2 cup minced fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Create a well in the middle of the mixture. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks to combine; pour them into the well. Add the oil, cherry juice and vanilla to the well of the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on low until combined. Scrape the bowl and continue beating on high speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture is completely smooth. Fold in the minced cherries. (This step can be mixed with a hand mixer. For the next step, if you don't have a stand mixer or an extra pair of beaters, you'll need to thoroughly wash the beaters ensuring they are oil/grease free before proceeding.)

If available, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment add the egg whites and cream of tartar (or use a clean bowl and clean beaters with hand mixer). Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently add the egg whites to the batter in thirds using great care to slowly fold the whites in using a spatula with each addition. The whites lighten the batter—folding them in with more than a gentle hand may deflate the air volume of the egg whites and potentially thwart the cake's rising power in the baking process. The cake should rise over the top of the pan by a couple of inches but it will recede slightly as it cools.

Using an ice cream scooper, pour batter into a cupcake tray with liners in place. Bake for 20-25 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

Cool for a couple hours and frost. Top with a cherry!