20131208

PEPPERMINT BARK BROWNIE TRIFLE


"When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laughter broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies" Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie

Earlier this week I was sent a nice box of assorted brownies from Fairytale Brownies in Phoenix. I have plans to create some cocktail recipes using these delicious chocolate treats as inspiration, but my trifle addiction kicked into gear and I was momentarily sidetracked away from cocktail hour to the dessert course. 

I always keep instant jello on hand and either cool whip or whipping cream in the fridge. I had just made some peppermint bark and I now had some great brownies to use as the cake element so I was good to go and take some brownies onto Trifleland! Come away with me, it's the second star to the right . . .

PEPPERMINT BARK BROWNIE TRIFLE

INGREDIENTS:
1 Small Box of Instant Chocolate Pudding
1-3/4 C. Milk
4 Bite Size Original Fairytale Brownies
Whipped Cream (Cool Whip is acceptable)
Optional: 1 Oz. of Your Favorite Liqueur
(Chocolate, Coffee or Peppermint)
Peppermint Bark, Chopped Small

DIRECTIONS:
Prepare the pudding per the instructions on the box, using 1/4 cup LESS milk for a thicker custard.
Chill and allow to set in the fridge.
Prepare your whipped cream if you are making homemade.
Chop your peppermint bark into approximately 1/4" size pieces, leaving a few larger pieces for garnish.
To layer your trifle(s), crumble 2 brownies into each serving bowl.
If you're adding booze, drizzle it over the brownies. 
Top with a layer of pudding. 
Spoon on a good layer of whipped cream.
Sprinkle on a layer of the peppermint bark.
Repeat this for another layer of each ingredient.
Garnish with several larger chunks of the peppermint bark and a chocolate mint candy cane.

That's it. Simple and delicious and chock full of chewy, chocolate-y, brownie goodness kissed by a bit of cream and peppermint. Pretty perfect recipe for National Brownie Day and for the holiday season, huh? 

Makes me believe in fairies all over again!



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20131011

BUTTER POACHED EGGS ROSEMARY


ROSEMARY BUTTER POACHED EGGS
on Pan Fried Fingerlings
garnished with Cheddar and Bacon Crumbles

INGREDIENTS:
Eggs
Baby Fingerlings, split in half lengthwise
1/2 Stick of Butter
Crisp Bacon, crumbled
Tablespoon of Shredded Cheddar
Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Cook your bacon crisp, crumble and set aside.
Turn oven onto warm setting.

Par boil your fingerlings, dry with paper towels then pan fry skin side up until fork tender with a crisp finish. Plate in the center of an oven proof plate and keep warm in the oven.

Melt the butter with a few sprigs of rosemary in a saute pan over medium heat. Do not let butter bubble. I start with a cold pan!

Remove pan from heat and gently add your egg. Lower heat then place pan back on the burner and spoon warm butter over the top until the whites are solid but the yolk is still runny. (About 2 - 4 minutes depending on how you like your egg).

Immediately remove eggs from burner, take your plate from the oven then slide egg gently onto the plated fingerlings.

Season with salt, sprinkle with the cheddar and the crumpled bacon.
Garnish with some fresh ground pepper and a fresh sprig of rosemary and enjoy!



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20130726

PINA COLADA CUPCAKES RECIPE - A Vacay for your mouth!


PINEAPPLE COCONUT CUPCAKES
How to do an Edible Pina Colada!

I have been craving pineapple and coconut lately and got it in my head that I might try making some cupcakes with those flavors.  I didn't want to go to a lot of work - as I've said before, I'm basically lazy - and I happened to have a white cake mix on hand, some coconut, some cream cheese and a can of pineapple junks so I thought I could come up with a fair-to-middling little late night tropical dessert.

Feel free to make your cupcakes from scratch from a favorite recipe.

Coconut Cupcakes

Take one white cake mix and prepare according to the directions.  Fold in 1/2 Cup of shredded coconut that you've run through the food processor for a second or two. Bake as instructed. Allow to cool.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

8 Oz. Softened Cream Cheese
1/4 C. Butter at Room Temperature
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp. Cream of Coconut
1 C. Powdered Sugar (+/-)
(you can adjust this to suit your tastes, I don't like really sweet frosting.)
 
Pineapple Compote
 
1 C. Pineapple Chunks
1/3 C. Brown Sugar, Packed Firm
1 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 C. Pineapple Juice
(I used the juice from the pineapple chunks)
1/4 C. Dark Rum
 
Bring all the ingredients, except the rum, to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid is reduced to a thick, syrup consistency.  Add the rum and cook for another few minutes to allow most of the alcohol to burn off.  Cool.
 
Construction of the
PINA COLADA CUPCAKES
 
Toast some coconut in the oven. Set aside.
 
If you want to infuse your cupcakes with a little booze, now is the time.  Take a bamboo skewer and poke about 10 - 12 holes in each cupcake but don't go all the way to the bottom.  Slowly spoon a tablespoon of coconut rum or spiced rum or even plain dark rum over the holes in each cupcake little by little allowing the alcohol to absorb into the cake.

Now pipe your cream cheese frosting onto your cupcakes leaving a little well in the center for the pineapple compote.

Sprinkle on some toasted coconut flakes (or just quickly dip the frosting in the coconut).

Gently spoon on some of the yummy caramelized Pineapple Compote.

ENJOY!
 

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20130719

CORAL ISLAND COOKIES - Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

 
CORAL ISLAND COOKIES
also known as Thumbprint Cookies
 
This is my second favorite cookie of all time, my favorite being my Mom's Gingersnap Cookies.  My Mom had this recipe handwritten in her recipe book since before I was born and I have no idea where she got the recipe from and really don't care!  Mom made these with mixed fruit jelly and I loved them but I usually use seedless blackberry or boysenberry jam.  They are rich, buttery and literally melt in your mouth and I crave these at least once a week.

I don't like, nor have the time, to bake that much but I have solved that problem simply by quadrupling the recipe and freezing the dough for later baking.  I usually go through to the step of rolling the dough into balls then freeze the individual balls on a cookie sheet.  Then I bag them up by 6 or 8 so I can just defrost a bag whenever I have a craving!
 
CHOCOLATE THUMBPRINT COOKIES: Yes! You can omit the jelly, bake the cookies and the moment you take the cookies out of the oven press a chocolate kiss into the cookie! Don't press the chocolate kiss in before baking - it burns the chocolate.

MOM'S CORAL ISLAND COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:
 
2/3 C. Butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1-1/3 C. Sifted Flour
Your Favorite Jelly or Jam
1 Egg Yolk (reserve the egg white)
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
Optional: Chopped Pecans or Other Nut

DIRECTIONS:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease your cookie sheet(s) or line them with parchment. (I prefer parchment as it keeps the cookie bottom from getting too brown).
  • Cream together the butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour a little at a time, blending completely.
  • Shape the dough into 1" diameter balls.
  • Place the balls about 3" apart on your cookie sheet(s).
  • Press your thumb into each cookie ball for a well for the jelly/jam.
  • Beat the reserved egg white until foamy and brush on top of the cookies.
  • Spoon in the jam or jelly.
  • Sprinkle on the optional chopped nuts.
  • Bake 12 - 15 minutes.
Enjoy and send a little "hello" up to my Mom while you enjoy them - I think she would like that!
 

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20130712

Italian Sausage Meatball Bruschetta - Mama Mia!

ITALIAN SAUSAGE MEATBALL BRUSCHETTA

BRUSCHETTA INGREDIENTS


10 Slices of a hearty white bread.
Italian Meatballs (recipe below)
Marinara Sauce (recipe below)
15 - 20 Slices of Smoked Provolone Cheese
Shredded or Grated Parmesan Cheese
Few Fresh Basil Leaves for Garnish

TOOLS

Cookie Cutter in a fun shape
Cheese Grater
Medium Sauce Pan
Medium Mixing Bowl
Baking Sheet

MARINARA SAUCE


1 - 12 Oz. Jar of Tomato Sauce
1/2 C. Diced Green Bell Pepper
1/2 Med. Onion Diced Small
4 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
1 Tsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tsp. Dried Basil
1/2 Tsp. Marjoram
1/4 Tsp. Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to Taste
2 Tbsp. Red Wine
Olive Oil
  • In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium.
  • Add the onions, green pepper and garlic and saute until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, spices and wine.
  • Simmer until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

ITALIAN SAUSAGE MEATBALLS
Makes approximately 20 - 24 meatballs


1 Pound Bulk Sweet Italian Sausage
1/2 C. Plain Bread Crumbs
1/3 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Med. Onion, Diced Small
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp. Fennel Salt Mixture
1/4 Tsp. Pepper
!/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 Large Egg
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Combine all the ingredients together in your medium bowl until completely mixed together. I just use my hands to mix it up.
  • Scoop out mixture by 1" ball into your palm and roll into balls.
  • Place on a cookie greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

ASSEMBLING THE BRUSCHETTA
  • Cut out 20 pieces of cheese with the cookie cutter and set aside.
  • Cut out 20 pieces of bread with the cookie cutter.
  • Paint on the melted garlic butter then lightly toast under the broiler.
  • While the bread toasts, cut 10 meatballs in half and coat with the marinara sauce by adding them in the sauce and rolling around until they are completely covered.
  • When bread is toasted, top with a cut out slice of the provolone and then half a marinara coated meatball.
  • Arrange several on a small cocktail plate, sprinkle the tops with some Parmesan cheese and add the fresh basil garnish. (If you prefer you can chiffonade the basil and sprinkle it on top of the meatball bruschettas after the Parmesan cheese.)
Serve this mini meatball sandwiches up with this Basil Cucumber Martini or another of my 400+ Designer Martinis and enjoy!

MANGA!


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20130711

PEANUT BUTTER MARSHMALLOW CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS


PEANUT BUTTER MARSHMALLOW
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS
.....Whew!

Prep: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you mix up your favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

1. Press your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough 1/2" thick into a greased 9x12 baking dish.

2. Cover cookie dough with peanut butter. Feel free to add something crunchy on top of the peanut butter - like toasted nuts or seeds, toffee bits or even coconut.

3. Sprinkle on a layer of mini marshmallows.

4. Sprinkle on a few extra chocolate chips and a few of those nuts if you like.

5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 - 55 minutes.

6. Cool, slice and enjoy.

Don't blame me if your butt grows by a few inches. I'm just the messenger.

Toodles!
 

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20130705

PEAR and BLUE CHEESE BRUSCHETTA


Thanks to a gift of a bag full of assorted pears, here is my recipe for

PEAR and BLUE CHEESE BRUSCHETTA

Ingredients:

1 Small Baguette, sliced 1/3" thick
1/2 C. Crumbled Blue Cheese
1 Firm, Ripe Pear of your Choice
Honey
Butter
*Optional:  Toasted Pecans

Directions:
  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Toast your pecans in a skillet until lightly browned, set aside.
  • Lightly toast your baguette slices, don't toast until hard!
  • Slice your pear lengthwise into 1/8" thickness while your baguette slices are toasting and
  • Saute the pear slices in some butter until nicely caramelized. (Keep an eye on those toasting baguette slices!)
  • Spread the blue cheese on the toasted baguettes, top each with a warm slice of pear and top off with your toasted pecans*
  • Drizzle with honey and serve. 
 I served this up with my Pear Champagne Martini (recipe at The Martini Diva Blog) which I made with my homemade Pear Sorbet!

I loved these so much that every time I get pears now I always buy extra so I can have bruschetta!
 
Buon Appetito


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20130704

PEAR HIBISCUS SORBET in Gingersnap Cups


This is a recipe I tried out when I got a bag of pears from a friend.  As a single person I can't eat a whole bag of pears before they go bad but I sure can use them up in some interesting recipes.

This is my first sorbet. Technically it's more of a granita since I don't have an ice cream maker but to heck with technicalities, this was not the texture of a granita. It was silky and creamy and delicious.  The gingersnap cups came into the mix when I decided to share some of my pear sorbet and serve it up as a dessert at a dinner party.

PEAR HIBISCUS SORBET
IN GINGERSNAP CUPS

PEAR SORBET:

Ingredients:

4 Pears
1 Tsp. Sugar
1/2 C. Water
3 Tbsp. Lemoncello*
1/4 Tsp. Hibiscus Elixir
1 Pear for Garnish
Hibiscus Flower for Garnish

Directions:
  • Peal, slice and core the pears. I used a combination of Red D'anjou, Barlett and Bosc.
  • Puree the pears, hibiscus syrup and sugar in a blender until smooth
  • Simmer this pear mixture in a saucepan about 3 - 4 minutes.
  • Add the hibiscus elixir and the Lemoncello and stir in completely. (The alcohol keeps your sorbet from freezing too hard.) I used my own homemade Lemoncello!
  • Refrigerate until completely cool.  Refrigerating prior to freezing keeps the ice crystals smaller and makes a smoother sorbet.
  • Freeze in a covered bowl in the freezer until solid or use your ice cream maker to freeze.

GINGERSNAP CUPS:

Ingredients

2 Gingersnap*** Crumbs, Ground Fine
3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, Melted

Directions
  • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  • Spray cupcake molds with cooking spray
  • Grind the baked gingersnaps in a blender or small food processor.
  • Slowly add the melted butter until a dough forms
  • Take a small handful (about 2 or 3 tablespoons) of the dough and press down and around the sides of your baking cups
  • Bake 7 minutes and allow to cool
  • Release the cups by tipping the cupcake pan over and gently patting the back of the cups.

ASSEMBLY & PLATING:

Ingredients:

Pear Sorbet in Gingerbread Cup
Hibiscus Syrup
3 - 5 Fresh Pear Slices
1 Wild Hibiscus Flower preserved in the syrup.
Some Interesting Cake Decorations*

Directions:

  • Squiggle a little of the hibiscus syrup onto the plate in a nice pattern.
  • Spoon the sorbet into the gingersnap cups.
  • Place your Pear Sorbet filled Gingersnap Cup onto the syrup a little off center.
  • Arrange your pear slices around the cup as a garnish then place the hibiscus flower on the pear sorbet.
  • Sprinkle on some of the cake decorations.

**Candied ginger makes a nice substitute for the cake decorations!


Tomorrow I'll post up the Pear & Blue Cheese Bruschetta I used some more of my pears in AND the Pear Champagne Martini that I used some of this Pear Sorbet in as well!
 

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20130628

PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE in CHOCOLATE CUPS


 PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE
In Dark Chocolate Cups
with Strawberry Blackberry Coulis

PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE:

4 Oz. Whipped Cream Cheese
1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter (don't use natural peanut butters as they are not homogenized and will separate.)
1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
Splash or so of Half & Half
  • With a hand mixer blend together the cream cheese, peanut butter and the powdered sugar until smooth.
  • Slowly add in the half & half until you get a consistency similar to soft ice cream.
  • Chill until ready to serve.

CHOCOLATE CUPS:

Small party balloons
16 Oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

  • Blow up the balloons until they're the size of cup you want.  Mine were about an 1-1/2" across.
  • Melt your chocolate in a double boiler (I don't like microwaves for melting large amounts of chocolate).
  • Dip your balloons into the melted chocolate part way - you can get fancy and do a tulip shape like the video below if you want.
  • Chill the cups in the refrigerator.
  • Dip again for a stronger, less fragile cup.
  • Chill until ready to assemble your dessert.
Here's a great video showing you how to create the chocolate cups - I forgot to take pictures, lol:


TIP: After I blew up my balloons I SPRAYED THEM LIGHTLY with Pam - made mine SO much easier to remove the balloon without breaking my chocolate cups!!


ASSEMBLING and PLATING
THE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE CUPS

1/2 C. Extra Peanut Butter
Chocolate Syrup
Chocolate Shavings
Optional: Berry or Fruit Coulis
1/2 C. Whipped Cream
  • Put your peanut butter mousse into a piping bag (or a plastic bag with a 1/2" hole cut out of one corner).
  • Pipe the mousse into your chocolate cups.
  • I added some berry coulis around my peanut butter mousse to make these a PB& J style flavor.
  • Top off with some shaved chocolate curls.
  • Microwave 1/2 cup of peanut butter for about 20 seconds.
  • Take a pastry brush, dip in the brush in the peanut butter then paint a streak across your plate.
  • Squiggle on some of the chocolate syrup in a decorative pattern.
  • Drop some of the chocolate shavings on your plate.
  • Spoon on a little extra of the fruit coulis.
  • Add a dollop of whipped cream.
  • Serve and enjoy!
I have been really jonesing for peanut butter and chocolate this week - check out my Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Chip Cookies too!
 

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20130626

PEANUT BUTTER FILLED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES


So, I got a craving the other night for chocolate chip cookies - you know - the kind we all grew up with, Nestle TOLL HOUSE Cookies. So I made a batch. A batch of cookies all for me. I cannot eat all those cookies at once and I only like my cookies fresh baked, I'm finicky that way.  So I baked up a few and wrapped the rest of the dough up and stuck it in the fridge.

The next night I made a few more. The next night after that I had a craving for peanut butter.  (No, I'm not pregnant - I am just a slave to my food cravings, okay?) As I was grabbing the peanut butter out of the cupboard I had a little flash of inspiration....why not stuff the peanut butter IN the chocolate chip cookies?  So, I did.

PEANUT BUTTER FILLED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Make the traditional Nestle Toll House Cookie dough.
Chill it for an hour or so to make it less sticky to work with.
Heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Take a 1-1/4" ball of dough and flatten it on some wax or parchment paper.
Spoon on a teaspoon or so of peanut butter (I used honey roasted, yum!)


Pick up the flattened, peanut butter filled cookie in your hand and mold the cookie dough around the peanut butter.
You don't have to close it completely up.
Put the cookie balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten them just slightly.
Bake at 375 for about 15 - 20 minutes - baking time will depend on how big your cookies are - you can see the size of mine from this:

Eat cookies.
(How much do you love me now?)

And now I'm thinking.....where did I put those mini marshmallow and the honey roasted peanuts?

And if you like peanut butter and chocolate.....wait until you see what I'm posting up this Friday!


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20130621

LEMON APRICOT BISQUICK SCONES


LEMON APRICOT SCONES
Made with Bisquick - Easy & Delicious

1 C. Bisquick (Heart Smart is okay!)
2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
1/2 C. Dried Apricots, Soaked and Chopped
1-1/2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1/4 Tsp. Fresh Ground Nutmeg
2 Tsp. Lemon Zest
1/4 Tsp. Vanilla
1/3 C. Half  & Half (or Milk)
1/4 C. Apple Juice (or water or apricot brandy)
  • Pour some apple juice, water (or even some apricot brandy!) over the dried apricots. Cover with plastic wrap and warm this in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just long enough to warm the liquid. This will speed up the re-hydration of the apricots. Allow to cool.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mix the Bisquick, sugar and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  • Break the butter into small pieces, then cut this into the Bisquick mixture until you get something that looks like crumbs.
  • Stir in the vanilla, half & half, apricots and lemon zest until moistened.
  • Drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or simply an ungreased baking sheet) using a 1/4 measuring cup as a scoop.
  • Bake 10 minutes or until GBD (Golden Brown Delicious).

Serve with fresh butter or, better yet, clotted cream and some apricot preserves and one of my yummy TEA or COFFEE MARTINIS!


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20130516

CAPRESE BRUSCHETTA RECIPE

 

 RECIPE FOR
CAPRESE BRUSCHETTA
Turning a Salad into a Tidbit!

I love Caprese Salads with their lovely fresh tomatoes, basil and all that nice creamy cheese.  But you know me, I had to turn it into a TINY food!  So I took it off the salad plate, supercharged it with heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese then plopped it onto a nice little piece of toasted baguette!

INGREDIENTS
Mini Heirloom Tomatoes
Roasted Garlic
Goat Cheese, Crumbled
Fresh Basil, Chiffonade
EVOO ( Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Balsamic Vinegar
Toasted Baguette Slices

DIRECTIONS
  • Break down a bulb of garlic, clean the cloves. Coat cloves in olive oil, season liberally with salt and roast in a 400 degree oven until caramelized and tender.
  • Toast your baguette slices under the broiler until golden brown.
  • Remove the baguette slices and spread a little of roasted garlic on top. Save the rest of the garlic for other recipes.
  • Spoon some crumbed goat cheese on the baguette slices.
  • Top the cheese with several slices of mini heirloom tomatoes.
  • Layer on some of the basil chiffonade.
  • Drizzle with EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar.

BTW, if you like, you can toast the brushcettas again after you've added the cheese or after you've added the tomatoes.

Serve up with my Caprese Martinis



Bon Appetweeto!
 

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20130420

HERE'S WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVER STEAK


I went out to dinner last night and had a great ribeye steak. It was huge, so course, I took home a doggy bag. The only problem with leftover steak is there isn't very much of it , but I had enough to slice it up and make myself a snack!
Here's what I came up with, and , yes, you can use any steak leftovers:
ROSEMARY RIBEYE CROSTINI
Thinly Sliced Rare Ribeye
Small Baguette Slices, Lightly Toasted
1/ 3 C. Sour Cream
1 Tsp. Horseradish Sauce
1 Tsp. Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
Sea Salt and White Pepper; to taste
Clove of Garlic, Peeled
Tbsp. Steak Sauce
Few Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary

Toast some baguette slices in the oven until lightly browned.
Slice your steak fairly thin, set aside.
Combine the sour cream, horseradish, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl, set aside.
When the baguettes are toasted, remove from the oven and rub the top quickly with a clove of garlic.
Top each baguette with a few slices of the ribeye, then place back in the oven for a few minutes to warm the steak.
Top each crostini with a dollop of the sour cream mixture.
Place the crostini on your serving plate, add a streak of some steak sauce for dipping, then garnish with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.

It's like a steak sandwich, only classier!

20130406

EASY HOMEMADE KETTLE CORN RECIPE for Caramel Popcorn Day!


HOMEMADE KETTLE CORN
for Caramel Popcorn Day!

 I love caramel popcorn but it's such a pain to make so when I get a craving I make this Homemade Kettle Corn instead!  Kettle Corn is that great sweet and salty popcorn that you find at county fairs all over the country that's sold for as much as $5 for a small bag.  

I love the stuff and I found a way to make it at home for a fraction of the cost! Plus it's as easy as making regular popcorn if you do it right!

INGREDIENTS
1/4 C. Coconut Oil
1/2 C. Popcorn Kernels
1/3 C. Sugar
Salt to Taste

DIRECTIONS
  • Melt the coconut oil in a large lidded pot over medium-high heat.
  • Drop in 3 kernels of corn, when they pop you oil is ready.
  • Remove the 3 kernels of test corn.
  • Add the sugar and the popcorn kernels and give the pot a quick stir then cover.
  • Shake the pot every few seconds until the popping slows down, about 3 - 4 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the Kettle Corn into a large bowl.
  • Sprinkle with salt and serve.

To aid in cleaning your pot, fill the pot completely with water and let this set to dissolve any leftover caramelized sugar. By the time you finish your popcorn you should be able to easily clean the pot with soap and water!

Enjoy & Happy Caramel Popcorn Day!


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20130405

ROASTED ASPARAGUS BROCCOLI SOUP & Roasted Shrimp Appetizer

 
 Roasted Asparagus and Broccoli Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 Pounds of Asparagus, Ends Trimmed, Stems Peeled
1 Pound of Broccoli, Stems Peeled, Florets Removed
5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled & Cubed
1 Bunch of Scallions (Green Onions)
1 White Onion
2 Tablespoons of Roasted Garlic
Juice from One Lemon
6 C. Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 C. Half & Half
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
Toss the broccoli stems in olive oil, salt, pepper and some garlic powder. Place in the oven at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Toss the asparagus in the left over olive oil mixture and add those to the baking sheet in the oven, stir and roast all for an additional 10 - 15 minutes.

While your broccoli and asparagus are roasting:
Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to your stock pot and turn burner to medium.
Dice your onions and chop your green onions and add these to your stock pot, reduce heat to medium low until lightly caramelized.
Add the stock, the potatoes, un-roasted broccoli and the garlic, bring to a boil on high. If necessary, add enough more stock or water to cover the potatoes and broccoli.
Reduce heat to medium and cook until the potatoes and broccoli are fork tender.
Add your roasted broccoli and asparagus and cook until completely tender.
Once your soup is cooked blend with an immersion blender OR transfer, in batches if necessary, to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
Return to the stove on medium until reheated then add the half & half and the lemon juice.
Add salt & Pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or some dry sherry.
 
 HOW DID I TURN THIS INTO AN APPETIZER?
  Easy, I simply added a nice roasted shrimp to the mix! The soup is already a great pureed sauce so....

ROASTED SHRIMP IN A SEA OF GREEN

INGREDIENTS

1 Pound of Large (31 - 35 Count) Raw Shrimp in Shells
(I buy mine cleaned & deveined, saves time)
Leftover Roasted Asparagus Broccoli Soup
Olive Oil
Roasted Garlic, Smashed Up
Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
Pinch of Saffron & a few threads for garnish
Sea Salt & Pepper

TOOLS

Baking Sheet

DIRECTIONS

Toss some cleaned, deveined shrimp - in the shell - with olive oil, roasted garlic, Saffron, salt, and pepper.
Roast at 400 degrees for about 6 - 8 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.
Set these aside.
Spoon some warm Asparagus Broccoli Soup into a serving spoon.
Top with one warm shrimp.
Garnish with a sprinkle of the Trader Joe's Seasoning Salute and a few threads of saffron.
Serve warm or cold.
 
I served these up with my Heirloom Tomato Martinis - nice pairing!
 
Bon Appetit!

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20130328

SWEET POTATO LATKES


Instead of that tired old sweet potato casserole
how about some
SWEET POTATO LATKES
this year?

My mom was full blooded Czech so potato pancakes, aka latkes, were a staple in my house growing up.  Being Protestants and/or Catholics, however, we did not call them latkes but latkes they were indeed!

Little nuggets of shredded potatoes, mixed up with some flour, egg, seasonings and fried to a delicious, crispy nosh to die for.  Mom always served hers up with homemade applesauce which made them even better.

I didn't learn they were also "latkes" until many years later when I was working as an advertising artist in New York and the owner of the agency, also my amour at the time, took me "home to Mama" and she served up....Potato Pancakes!!  Hers came with a little dollop of sour cream and a bit of caviar so it was a new taste experience for my childhood potato pancakes, one that I enjoyed greatly, thank you very much!

Here is my version of these classic Passover - Easter snacks with a little bit of Diva twist, I used sweet potatoes and served them up with some spicy Cherry Salsa!

SWEET POTATO LATKES
with Sour Cream and Cherry Salsa

INGREDIENTS
3 Pounds of Sweet Potatoes, Shredded
3 Eggs
1/3 C. Flour
3 Scallions (Green Onions), Sliced 1/4"
Kosher Salt & Pepper to Taste
Peanut Oil
Optional: 1/2 T. each of Ginger, Cardamom
Serving: Sour Cream, Micro Greens, Sauce

TOOLS
Shredder
Large Mixing Bowl
Large Skillet
Ice Cream Scoop
Spatula
Wire Racked Baking Sheet
Paper Towels

DIRECTIONS
Shred your sweet potato(es) by hand or in your food processor.
Dry them by wrapping in a towel.
Mix the eggs, flour and scallions in the large bowl.
Stir in the shredded potatoes.
Add about 1/2" of peanut oil to your skillet on medium and bring it almost to smoking point.
Scoop out the mixture carefully into the hot oil, flatten slightly with the spatula.
Fry 2 to 3 minutes per side or until GBD (golden brown delicious), don't crowd the pan, repeat with the remaining batter.
Remove onto the wire rack on top of the paper towel lined cooking sheet.

BAKING OPTION: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray or line with a silpat and bake for 25 minutes on one side then an additional 15 minutes on the other side.

Freezing: Place the latkes in a lidded container or a Ziploc bag by stacking the latkes one layer thick, separating each layer with wax paper or parchment paper.

Reheating: Place the frozen latkes on a wire rack on a baking sheet and heat at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (unfrozen latkes at 350) for 10 minutes (unfrozen for 5 - 8).

Top off with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with a few micro greens and serve with applesauce or another favorite sauce.  I served with some Cherry Pepper Salsa (from Benjamin Twiggs.)

Mazel Tov & Dobrou chuť!



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20130324

BERNIE'S BOURBON PECAN PRALINES for National Pecan Day!

 MY MOM'S BOURBON PECAN PRALINES
for 
NATIONAL PECAN DAY
 
My mother could make a mean praline.  It was a treat we looked forward to but it was one of those recipes she only did occasionally.  They weren't traditional for any holiday and we didn't get them often but, every once in a while, there she was standing over a pan with a candy thermometer and we knew we had pralines coming!

I also remember stopping at a Stuckey's on nearly every road trip and getting a praline there too.  I think my Mom had a fondness for pralines.  But Mom put bourbon in hers and that gave hers a definite edge over Stuckey's!

I've had her recipe forever but I was never able to master it until one day a few years ago. I have no idea what I was doing wrong before that or what I did right then, but now I've got it - and I'm not letting it go!  Maybe it was the pan, I did get a copper pan!  I'm not letting that go either.....

BERNIE'S BOURBON PECAN PRALINES

INGREDIENTS
4 C. Toasted Pecan Halves
2-1/2 C. Sugar
1-1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1-1/2 C. Heavy Cream
4 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Kentucky Bourbon
Pinch of Kosher Salt

TOOLS
2 Large Baking Sheets
Parchment Paper
Large Copper Pan
Whisk
Candy Thermometer
Wooden Spoon

DIRECTIONS
  • Prep your baking sheets by lining with the parchment paper.
  • Mix both sugars and the baking soda in your saucepan.
  • Stir in the cream.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the candy thermometer reads 235 Fahrenheit.
  • Immediately whisk in the butter until it is all melted.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon until blended.
  • Add the nuts and switch to your wooden spoon.
  • Stir the mixture vigorously until it thickens, about 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Immediately start dropping by spoonfuls (my wooden spoon is a heaping tablespoon) onto the parchment lined baking sheets.
  • Allow to set until dry to the touch - about 30 minutes.
  • Wrap in individual candy wrappers and store in a sealed container.
You can keep these at room temperature and they'll stay fresh for a week.  You can also freeze these for a month or two.

Box up and give as gifts or just eat the whole freaking bunch yourself!  But don't blame me if you can't fit into your skinny jeans later......

Happy National Pecan Day!!

P.S. There's a BUNCH of great Pecan Cocktails and my recipe for Candied Pecan Liqueur over at The Martini Diva Blog today too!


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SMOKY BACON & EGG SALAD - Easter Egg Recipe for Leftovers


In a week everyone who celebrates Easter is going to have a TON of boiled eggs to deal with.  After all the family fun of coloring, hiding and finding Easter Eggs, Mom is left with the quandary of what to do with all the boiled eggs nobody really wants to eat.

So it's Deviled Eggs, Egg Salad, Spinach Salad garnished with Egg and so forth, ad naseum.  Yes, this is yet another recipe for Egg Salad but this one isn't just any old Egg Salad, this one has BACON and sour cream!  Try this one, Mom - you'll be a hero and you won't be wasting any of those Easter Eggs this year! I'll also bet you might be asked to make it other times of the year....

SMOKY BACON & EGG SALAD

4 Lg. Boiled Eggs, Diced Small
4 Slices Cooked Bacon, Crisp & Crumbled
1/4 C. Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. Chopped Chives
2 Tbsp. Best Foods (Hellman's) Mayonnaise
2 Tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
Pinch of Marjoram
1/8 Tsp. Smoked Sea Salt
1/4 Tsp. Black Pepper

Mix everything, except the bacon, together and chill for at least an hour. Fold the bacon into the egg salad just before serving to keep it from getting soggy, then serve as a sandwich on 12 grain bread (or any grain bread with a slight sweetness to it.) Garnish with potato chips and slivers of dill pickle.

Happy Easter & Happy Easter Egg Eating!

 

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20130321

CREAMY ASPARAGUS BRUSCHETTA RECIPE


 Just in time for all that Fresh Spring Asparagus!
CREAMY ASPARAGUS BRUSCHETTA

These Creamy Asparagus Bruschetta are absolutely delicious, not to mention pretty healthy!  They're a perfect cold appetizer to serve for Spring with all the lovely fresh asparagus popping up (from the ground and in your markets!)  I discovered these at a nice cocktail party but those were made with mayonnaise and served on crackers which got soggy, so  I made what I thought were some appropriate changes.

First, I substituted Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise, and I blanched my asparagus instead of boiling it so my asparagus would be al dente. Also, that recipe didn't have capers and I don't think they used the caper juice, just lemon juice, but I like the extra tartness the capers and juice added.

I also like using capers in recipes because then I get to tell people that capers are the pickled buds of a flower! Capers (Capparis spinosa) are the bud from the Caper Bush which is sometimes called a Flinders Rose, and it is indigenous to the Mediterranean.  Little Tip: Be sure to taste you mixture before you salt it because capers bring a bit of salt on their own. (But you know that you should be tasting your recipes as you cook, right?)

You can plate these up and serve as individual appetizers as pictured or you can leave the Creamy Asparagus in a serving bowl with a serving spoon and set the baguette slices in a bowl or basket next to it as a DIY buffet dish.  When I'm rushed I take option two! 

I changed the recipe a bit after the photo.  I noticed that the one inch sized pieces I originally chopped the asparagus into when I first served these made the bruschetta a little difficult to eat, so next time I made this I chopped the asparagus into smaller pieces which worked much better!

BTW, a little trivia for you:  If you substitute caper berries and caper juice in a Dirty Martini you will then be having a Filthy Martini!  Which would be a pretty good cocktail to serve with these!

INGREDIENTS

1 Small Baguette
1 Bunch of Asparagus
1/2 C. Unflavored Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp. Fresh Dill, Chopped
2 Tbsp. Capers
1 Tbsp. Caper Juice
1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Clove Garlic, Chopped Fine
Salt & Pepper to Taste
16 Asparagus Tips, 3"+/- Long
4 Cups Cold Water
1 C. Ice

TOOLS

Large Sauce Pan
Large Bowl
1 Large Collender
Chef's Knive
Small Mixing Bowl
Large Bowl
Mixing Spoon

DIRECTIONS
  • Blend together the yogurt, dill, garlic, capers and caper juice, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in the small mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • Slice the baguette into 1/2" slices on the bias then place under the broiler until slightly browned, set aside. You should get about 16 - 18 pieces.
  • Clean, peel and dry the asparagus then cut into 1/2" long pieces on the bias.
  • Add the ice to the ice water in the large bowl.
  • Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil, add all the asparagus pieces and blanch for 5 minutes.
  • Quickly move the asparagus to the iced water to shock. This stops the cooking process.
  • Drain and dry the asparagus.
  • Fold the asparagus into the yogurt mixture.
  • Top each baguette with a spoonful of the creamy asparagus mixture.
  • Top each with a small spear of asparagus (or a few chive twigs or a sprig of fresh dill).
  • Plate and serve.

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20130318

MINI REUBEN SANDWICHES


 MINI REUBEN SANDWICHES

I always have a ton of corned beef leftover from my St. Patrick's Day meal.  I love corned beef sandwiches so that's okay by me, but I thought that corned beef sandwich idea could take a little leap into appetizer territory so:
MINI REUBEN SANDWICHES

INGREDIENTS
4 Slices of Rye Bread, Toasted on One Side
1/2 Pound of Corned Beef, Sliced Thin
4 Slices of Swiss Cheese, Sliced into Quarters Lengthwise
1/2 C. of Sweet & Sour Beet Cabbage* (Recipe Below)
Mustard(s) of Your Choice
16 Sprigs of Chive

TOOLS
Knife

DIRECTIONS
Toast your rye bread on one side then slice in quarters lengthwise.
Spread the un-toasted side with a bit of the mustard.
Layer on a nice amount of sliced corned beef.
Top the beef with a slice of the Swiss cheese.
Place under your broiler until the cheese is melted.
Plate up then add a small spoonful of the Sweet & Sour Beet Cabbage.
Garnish with a sprig of chive and serve.

 Pair these up with my POTATO LEEK SOUP made with the corned beef stock for a yummy appetizer or meal combo!

*SWEET & SOUR BEET CABBAGE
INGREDIENTS
1 Head of Cabbage, Shredded
1 Red Onion, Julienned
1/2 Can Pickled Beets, Juice Drained, Beets Julienned
1/2 C. Sugar
Juice from Pickled Beets + Water to Equal 1 Cup
1/2 C. Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 C. Red Wine Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt

TOOLS

Saute Pan
Knife
Wooden Spoon
Measuring Cups

DIRECTIONS
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large saute pan/skillet.
Saute the onions for a few minutes on high.
Add the shredded cabbage, salt generously.
Add the beet juice/water. sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and cook until the cabbage is tender.
Season to taste.


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POTATO LEEK SOUP - What to do with Leftover Corned Beef Recipe #1


POTATO LEEK SOUP
or
How to Use Up That Corned Beef Stock from St. Patrick's Day!

So, you made a Corned Beef dinner yesterday for St. Patrick's Day? DON'T throw out the stock!!!! Use it to make this delicious soup!

INGREDIENTS
Stock from Corned Beef Brisket
3 Leeks, Cleaned and Sliced Bite Size
15 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cut Bite Size
1 Sprig of Fresh Rosemary
1 Sprig of Fresh Thyme
1 Onion, Diced
1/2 Cup Sliced Carrots
2 Stalks of Celery, Chopped
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Sour Cream or  Creme Fraiche
Chives for Garnish

TOOLS
Knife
Stock Pot
Measuring Cups

DIRECTIONS
Sweat the onions, carrrots and celery in some olive oil in the bottom of your stock pot until slightly transparent.
Add the remainder of the ingredients to your stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs.
If you like you can use your immersion blender to cream the soup at this point.
Serve up with a dollop of sour cream of creme fraiche garnished with a sprig or two of chives.

AMUSED SOUP
Another fun presentation idea for your Left Over Corned Beef and this Potato Leek Soup served up with a side of cucumber slices topped off with a little Balsamic and EVOO:


Now, my very next post will be using the leftover corned beef so stay tuned!!

OTHER RECIPES FOR LEFT OVER CORNED BEEF


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20130314

GREEN TAMALES with CHERRY SALSA


GREEN TAMALES
with
CHERRY (Pepper) SALSA

 OK, I admit it, I don't always cook everything I eat from scratch.  I'm an illustrator/graphic designer by trade and I run 2 websites, 3 blogs and 3 online shops all by my lonesome so I pretty much work at everything but food most of the time.  A lot of that time is taken up by creating cocktails and the recipe cards to go with them.  One of the reasons I got into a food blog was to get creative with the munchies I had with those martinis!

With that little explanation aside, I confess to having a few things in my freezer that I can just pull out and zap at the end of a very long day.  I don't do frozen box dinners - too much salt, too much sauce, too little flavor and not enough food, but I do have a few favorites that are fairly healthy and pretty decent tasting.

One of those favorites are the frozen Green Tamales I get at Trader Joes.  They're pretty good for something I can stick in the microwave and you can dress them up with just a good salsa and some salad or some micro greens if you're going for an appetizer serving.

That's exactly what I did here.  I had a nice jar of Cherry Salsa from Benjamin Twiggs, which has a good share of heat from the peppers, and some micro greens so I made myself a nice snack for my happy hour dinner!

STEPS
Reheat the Green Tamales according to the package.
Spoon some cherry salsa (or whatever flavor you like) onto your plate.
Place the hot tamale (lol, pun!!!) on the salsa.
Top the tamale with some shredded cheddar cheese.
Place a good pinch of micro greens on top.
 
Enjoy with my Cherry Margarita-Tina.


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20130309

CRAN-CHERRY ORANGE BREAD PUDDING with Drunken Cherry Rum Sauce & Orange Whipped Cream


Last week I came upon this box of cranberry orange pound cake slices I'd forgotten about until they were too dry to eat as is, so I decided to recycle those into bread pudding!

Since I had the oven already on for my Baked Salmon Cupcakes (don't go eeeuwww, they're really just yummy Salmon Cakes baked in a muffin tin), it was simply a matter of getting on with the recipe and whipping them into a batter and resetting my oven to 350.

I happened to also have some Wisconsin Dried Cherries from Benjamin Twiggs (sent me to create some martinis & dishes) and I always have rum, so these little Cran-Cherry Orange Bread Puddings were getting a Drunken Cherry Rum Sauce!

I went one step further and topped them off with Orange Whipped Cream. Et voila! Those dreary little dried slices of pound cake turned into a decidedly improved dessert aka:

CRAN-CHERRY ORANGE BREAD PUDDING
with Drunken Cherry Rum Sauce & Orange Whipped Cream


 BREAD PUDDING INGREDIENTS
2 Cups of Old Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
1/2 Cup Dried Cherries, Chopped
1/2 + 2 Tablespoons Cup Dark Rum
Splash of Heavy Cream
1/4 C. Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. Nutmeg
Pinch of Kosher Salt
3 Eggs
1 C. Milk
Drunken Cherry Sauce (Recipe Below)
Orange Whipped Cream (Recipe Below)

TOOLS
1 Large Mixing Bowl
Measuring Cups & Spoons
Spatula for Mixing, Folding
Cooking Oil Spray
Muffin Tin

DIRECTIONS
  • Spray your muffin tin with the cooking spray.
  • First rehydrate your dried cherries a bit by soaking them in the rum for 15 minutes.** Microwave for 1 minute first to help infuse the cherries, then set aside while you prepare your batter.
  • Mix together all the ingredients except the pound cake chunks.
  • Fold in the pound cake until it's completely moistened.
  • Spoon cherries out of the rum and add to batter. (Save the rum for the sauce*!!).
  • Let this rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  • Spoon your batter into the muffin tins up to the top. (Bread pudding does not rise like cupcakes!)
  • Bake for 20 - 30  minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. (remember the heat carry-over - if you bake until the toothpick comes out completely clean your bread pudding cups will be too dry!)
ORANGE WHIPPED CREAM INGREDIENTS
2 Tbsp. Orange Juice
1 Tbsp. Orange Zest
1/2 C. Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar

TOOLS
Large Stainless Steel Bowl, Chilled
Hand Mixer, Chilled Blades
Measuring Cups & Spoons

DIRECTIONS
Add cream to your chilled bowl.
Whip with hand mixer until soft peaks form.
Stir in the orange juice, orange zest and powdered sugar.
Whip until firm peaks are formed.
Refrigerate until serving time.


DRUNKEN CHERRY RUM SAUCE INGREDIENTS
1/2 C. of Butter
1 Egg, Beaten
1 Tsp. Orange Zest
1 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Cherry Infused Rum*
(you can add extra rum if you need to get the 1/2 cup)
Teeny Pinch of Sea Salt

TOOLS
Small Sauce Pan
Measuring Cups
Whisk
Medium Bowl
Medium metal strainer

DIRECTIONS
  • Melt the butter completely in a small saucepan
  • Remove from heat and allow butter to cool in pan but do not allow to solidify.
  • Add in the sugar and mix well.
  • Slowly mix in the beaten egg.
  • Return to stove and warm on medium until the sugar starts to dissolve.
  • Slowly add the orange zest and the cherry infused rum, being careful not to spill the booze anywhere near the open flame!
  • Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 or 4 minutes, remove from burner.
  • Stir in a small dash of salt (this will balance out the sweetness).
  • (The sauce can be refrigerated for up to two weeks and heated up in the microwave.)
You can now serve the warm sauce immediately over the Cran-Cherry Orange Bread Puddings, top with the Orange Whipped Cream, serve and take your bows!.

The bread pudding and the sauce can both be reheated for later servings.

**If you like you can double up on the Drunken Cherries and put some aside to add to the Drunken Cherry Rum Sauce, use as a cocktail garnish or just to nibble on.


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