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I’m a TV Star!

I’m a TV Star!
two women cooking

Bridgett (left) and me (right) just cooking on TV, like we do…

Ok – maybe not a star, but I was asked to demonstrate my Mac & Cheese with Pears recipe on our local PBS station as a part of their KCTSCooks program. Twice a year our station asks for recipe submissions for a category of recipe – this show was about Pasta, Rice & Grains. They generally get 300+ submissions from all over and ask a small portion of folks to share their recipe on the air – I was one of 12. I had practiced at home a few weeks prior, showing my pal Jacquie how I prepared the dish and having her help me. I had to bring a finished dish, my demo pasta precooked, the rest of the ingredients,and a pre-made pot of the cheese sauce so it would all fit into the 10 minute segment. The day before heading to Seattle, I did all my prep and practiced in my head as I made two full recipes of the pasta and cheese sauce, packaged up my other ingredients and finished the full recipe so that, by the magic of television, a finished casserole could be removed from the oven for the unveiling. (Please note that the measurements aren’t exact on the video and that you are welcome to purchase the book from KCTS to get all the other recipes.) As I was preparing to go on – and it was shown LIVE, people! – I decided to pre-chop my onions to avoid crying and getting snotty on camera. (it was a good call). I was scheduled about halfway through, so I had plenty of time to be nervous and watch some of the people ahead of me. I was right after a low-fat, Vegan, gluten-free recipe – pretty much the opposite of my recipe which was fatty, gluten-filled and had meat, milk and cheese!Variety is the spice of life -am I right, people?

I’ve posted my Mac & Cheese recipe before, but I’ve jazzed it up some since – a recipe isn’t any good unless you can deviate from the printed text to make it your own! This version uses extra sharp cheddar (white) cheese as well as bleu cheese for the sauce.

It was a very fun day of being nervous, cooking, and eating! Recipe HERE. Watch video of segment HERE.

macaroni, cheese, sausage, pears

“Beauty shot” of my prepared dish.

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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Entertaining, Information, Recipe

 

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Low-Fat Fruity Cake

Low-Fat Fruity Cake
Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

This is a recipe I adapted from, “The New American Diet,” a book I bought back in the eighties. In the book, it was called, Apple Loaf Cake, but it wasn’t baked in a loaf pan and I often use different fruit, so I re-named it!

In the cake pictured, I used rhubarb and apple. My rhubarb has been growing like crazy – probably because it’s in a container and we’ve been blessed with a fairly mild late winter/early spring, but I didn’t have quite enough larger stalks to cover the 3 cups of chopped fruit needed, so I used 1/2 of a Pacific Rose apple (unpeeled).

This is an easy recipe that goes together quickly, but it takes at least an hour to bake. Use the tooth pick test and add 5 minutes if it comes out gooey.

Low-Fat Fruity Cake

½ c apple juice

½ c canola oil

Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

2 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 c chopped fruit (apple, rhubarb, berries, peaches – any combo, one or all!)

3 c flour

¾ tsp cinnamon

¾ tsp nutmeg

1 ½ tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a Bundt (or tube) pan with non-stick spray. Mix ingredients in order given (wet ingredients & sugar first, add fruit, etc.). Mix thoroughly. Spoon into pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Cool completely before removing from pan. Use a spatula to loosen the edges before inverting onto a plate. This is a very moist cake and doesn’t need any frosting. It can be served as a dessert or breakfast-type cake.

Don't you want a taste?

Don’t you want a taste?

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Recipe

 

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Cutest Cookies Ever!

I made these cookies for Halloween last year and thought they were super-adorable! I found the idea on the PBS “Fresh Tastes” webpage, but used my own tried-and-true recipe for sugar cookie dough. I use this recipe annually for my “Christmas Cookie Sweatshop” party (to be blogged later….) and it has never failed me! I think this recipe will work with whatever sugar cookie recipe you prefer as long as it is refrigerated before slicing and you use real butter. Seriously. There is no worthy substitute for real butter in a sugar cookie.

My recipe: Cream 1 c. (two sticks) room temperature butter with 2 c. sugar. Add 4 eggs and continue mixing until well blended. In a smaller bowl, stir together 5 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. nutmeg (optional). Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients, mixing well after each addition until you have a smooth dough.

For Candy Corn Cookies:

Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Line a regular-sized loaf pan (or two small ones if you like tiny cookies…which I do…) with plastic wrap. Press one portion of the dough into the loaf pan(s) so that it is an even, flat layer (harder than you think!). Transfer another portion of the dough onto a lightly floured roul-pat mat (if you don’t have one, you should.) Add several drops of orange food coloring and mix in by hand – wear plastic or latex gloves unless you want to look jaundiced! – until the color is uniform. I use gel food dye for a more intense color. Press into pan(s) as before. (using glass pans helps a lot!). Transfer the last portion onto your floured surface and add yellow food coloring and mix/press as before. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

After dough is properly chilled, remove the block to a floured surface and slice in 1/4″ slices. Cut each slice diagonally as shown to create three triangle shapes. Bake on lined cookie sheets (silicone baking mats or parchment) at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes (watch carefully!) until lightly browned on the bottom and the top is puffy. Try not to eat them all at once…I dare you!

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Recipe, Uncategorized

 

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Super Easy: Crispy Fruit “Pudding”

Crispy Peach "Pudding"

Once in a while, you come across a recipe that is not only easy, it is versatile and so tasty that it always garners compliments. I found this in a Family Circle magazine about a zillion years ago… Originally called “Crispy Berry Pudding,” it was made with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, but I soon discovered that just about any fruit combination would work well in this dessert. Click on the highlighted text for the recipe. Some of the fruits I’ve tried: apples and cranberries, rhubarb (with and without another fruit) and peaches – pictured here. The only fruit that I didn’t care for was plums – and maybe it was because we had “prune” plums. I also can’t imagine it would work with citrus fruits, but if you try it and it works, let me know! I have no idea why it is referred to as a “pudding” – perhaps it is a British thing…?

A Few Tips:

  • If you are using orchard fruits – such as peaches, apples or pears – be sure to peel them as a part of the preparation.

    Ready to bake! See? Not stirred!

  • Melt the butter in your baking dish while preparing the fruit, but keep an eye on it! You want it to be just melted, not browned.
  • The most important thing to remember when assembling the pudding is Do Not Stir. You will pour batter (which, yes, you have stirred, but that is a different step!) over the melted butter and then pour the fruit over the batter. No stirring!
  • I use a 3 qt. dish so there is plenty of room for juices to bubble without boiling over. This is probably my most used baking dish! If you wish, you can put it on a baking sheet or some foil to avoid a nasty boiled fruit clean up in your oven until you are sure of the recipe.
  • Watch the baking time the first few times you try the recipe. I recently got a different oven and find that I don’t have to bake it the whole hour as I did in my old oven. The pudding pictured at the top of this post was baked for 40 minutes.
  • Optional Ingredients: Add a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg to the fruit, along with the sugar. You could also sprinkle with chopped nuts before baking.

As Autumn blows wildly in, I am looking forward to making this dessert with apples and cranberries!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in Recipe

 

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My Husband Likes to Bake, So I Let Him: Raspberry Scones

It’s not that I don’t like to bake – I do! But my husband has developed a talent and drive to bake which I will not discourage! He particularly enjoys baking goodies for breakfast – scones, muffins, coffee cakes, etc. He was whining a bit that he loves the flavor and texture of scones made with King Arthur Scone mixes, but feels they are too expensive. (They are! They run between $7-$9 for a package that makes a dozen – crazy!) We have started buying King Arthur Flour when it is on sale – I can’t articulate the difference. Perhaps it is a finer grind of flour, a different type of wheat – but baked goods are just better when made with this brand. They have a website, so you can order items directly from the company, but you won’t save a penny and it will probably cost more, so look in your local grocery store if you are interested in using their products (or keep checking their site for sales). It is a nice website, though! In a moment of inspiration, he looked up scone recipes on the site and found one that would accommodate the ingredients we had on hand, without a  pre-breakfast dash to the grocery store!

Raspberry Scones made with King Arthur Flour

It was a blueberry scone recipe – we didn’t have any, and it called for vanilla yogurt – also absent from the larder. What we did have was raspberries and a container of Greek-style Honey Yogurt – both acceptable substitutes! It also listed almond flavoring and lemon zest – neither of which went into this  batch. I didn’t miss them and you won’t either! The recipe on this PDF is the altered double-batch version he made for us. They are “dropped” instead of kneaded and cut-style scones and was the way the recipe was written.The scones were sweet and had a lovely vanilla-raspberry flavor! No jam or butter needed – all that is built right into the scone!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2011 in Recipe

 

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Knots of Tasty Goodness: Soft Pretzels

I enjoy baking, but my husband also loves to bake, so I let him. He was out of town for a few days recently and I had the hankering to attempt yeast dough. I haven’t made a bread-type thing in…forever! I decided I would try making soft pretzels and pulled out my trusty iPad with its All Recipes app and did a search on pretzels.  (If you don’t use allrecipes.com as an inspirational source, you really should!) Several recipes showed up and I read them over along with reviews by those who already tried them. The dough recipe was pretty basic – some flour amounts varied and made more or less of the finished product. I chose to use a recipe that made 12 large pretzels and to use a suggestion by one of the reviewers to boil each pretzel in baking soda water prior to the last rising. Some of the recipes had the pretzels dipped in a warm water/baking soda mixture and others didn’t have the baking soda bath step at all. This step seems a little scary, but it actually was surprisingly easy – but I am getting ahead of myself!

The dough recipe: Dissolve 1 pkg. active dry yeast (.25 oz) in 1 ½ c. warm (110 degree F/45 degree C) water (I used a candy thermometer – who knew I had one of those?) along with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 1/8 teaspoons of salt in a large bowl. Stir in 3 cups of flour. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes or until uniform and elastic. The dough is sticky, so keep sprinkling flour on your surface as you knead to keep it from sticking. Form into a ball. Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick spray and place the dough ball into the bowl, turn once to coat with the spray. Cover with a tea towel and set it aside to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.

Side note: If you don’t have a silicone mat for working your dough, you should dash out and get one. While you are at the cook’s store, get some silicone mats that will fit your baking sheets. They are the best thing ever when baking cookies, scones, pretzels. Easy to clean – like washing a lasagna noodle – and nothing sticks. Go ahead – go buy some. We’ll wait….

After dough has risen, turn it out onto your surface again. It will still be a little sticky but I did not have issues with it sticking to my mat. Cut the dough into 12 equal (more or less) pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 2 ft. long – like a Play-doh snake. While you are rolling the first snake, bring 4 cups water and 4 tablespoons baking soda to a boil and keep at a simmer throughout this step. Back to the snake – when your snake is the right length and fairly uniform in width, form into pretzel shape. (Make a “U”, bring the arms of the “U” down and cross them near the bottom of the curve.

Boiling pretzel - it's floating on the surface so it is ready to remove.

Gently drop your pretzel into the simmering soda water. It will sink to the bottom. When it rises to the top and floats, remove it with a large slotted spatula, draining the liquid, and place on your baking sheet. (PS If you don’t have the silicone mats, you will have to use parchment paper – otherwise these guys stick like crazy!) I had to reshape my pretzel a little for the first couple, but easily got into a rhythm of keeping half an eye on the simmering pretzel while rolling out the next snake. It went fairly quickly and soon I had 2 sheets with 6 pretzels on each. Let the pretzels rest for 20 minutes, uncovered.

Two sheets of lovely pretzels, resting for 20 minutes

As was suggested by one of the reviewers, I brushed them all with a beaten egg so they would be shiny. (after they were all rested and refreshed) One baking sheet of pretzels was sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar, the other with sea salt. I baked them at 450 degrees for 12 minutes with the racks positioned in the center of the oven. I switched the sheets around halfway through so they would brown more evenly. Cool on a baking rack, store in an air-tight container.

Pretzels with sea salt - fresh from the oven!

Another side note: Did you know you can get little spice grinders filled with cinnamon-sugar, sea salt, pepper corns, etc.? McCormick makes them and they are very handy to have around. Look for them in the baking aisle of your local grocery store amongst the spices. They also make good stocking stuffers for your favorite foodies.  (You’re welcome, McCormick)

This was my first foray into the pretzel-making habit and I feel almost qualified to open a soft pretzel stand – that’s how easy they were to make.

Cinnamon-Sugar pretzels - just a touch of sweetness!

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Information, Recipe

 

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