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Salmon and English Muffins

Salmon and English Muffins

I have never been one to shy away from making something new, but when it comes to baking I tend to stick with more of the tried and true; recipes that have been passed down from my parents or ones that I have made myself many times.

(Warning: this post may suffer from seemingly random thoughts and wandering. Stay with me.)

Last night The Hubs grilled a lovely, big piece of salmon for dinner. When I told him I had purchased some salmon and it would be great on the grill he didn’t look at it. Basing his coals and cooking estimate on the salmon I usually buy he miscalculated a bit. When he saw the big, thick piece of salmon I had purchased his initial grumbling and running (under his breath) commentary was that it was much bigger than he had thought and he hadn’t put enough coals in and it was going to take much longer than he had thought. His next concern was what I had paid for it. I assured him that not only was it sale, but it also pays (saves) to know your butcher! I got an incredible deal on the salmon! I should have cut it in half and frozen part of it, but it was too damn pretty!

As we were eating dinner and savoring the delicious grilled salmon (The Hubs and I and Daughter Number 4 were savoring. Daughter Number 3 was complaining about not liking fish, and we discovered later that one of our cats and our Chihuahua got the benefit of her dislike under the table.) I was already planning on making some of the leftover grilled salmon my breakfast today.

I have loved salmon for breakfast since my trip to Banff, Alberta, Canada in 2010. Prior to that trip I had the rare occasion to eat lox, cream cheese, and bagels, but nothing more exciting than that. I was introduced to salmon with poached eggs and hollandaise, salmon omelettes, and more; I digress.

When The Hubs asked what I was thinking about so quietly at the dinner table (yes, I was quiet) I told him I was planning my salmon breakfast. His eyes sparkled. “MY salmon breakfast?” he asked. I agreed that it would be OUR salmon breakfast. (Homage to Billy Madison)

I did not start thinking about breakfast as soon as I got up, but I did start thinking about it very shortly after. All during my workout I was thinking about what I was going to make with the salmon that would be simply amazing. I thought about crepe-eggs, a delightful fluffy egg/crepe served at “The Good Egg”. I thought about the poached eggs with salmon I had eaten in Banff. I decided that whatever I made there had to be a side of English muffins. Sadness hit when I realized I didn’t have English muffins. Happiness overcame when I decided to make my own. Although I had never made English muffins before, that became as much a part of the breakfast (which I knew would be brunch) as the salmon. I quickly found a recipe and got started on the English muffins. As with many baking firsts, they English muffins took longer than I had anticipated. Our brunch would be lunch at the rate I was going. (Thank goodness I can work from home.) I was delighted at how the recipe for English muffins was coming along and could not wait to try them. Once I placed the first batch on my hot, oiled griddle I was ready to start the rest of my breakfast / lunch.

The salmon dish I decided on was Salmon Omelettes. Since I was already trying something new I didn’t want to ruin one thing by becoming overwhelmed. The omelette filling was simple. I melted butter in a sauté pan, added some green onion whites, minced garlic, and some flaked, grilled salmon. Once that was sautéing I added a knob of butter to my omelette pan to melt. I whipped three extra large eggs in a glass bowl until frothy. Once the butter started to bubble I added the eggs to the pan. (Here’s just a quick run-down of omelette (omelet to most Americans) making.) Swirl the egg around the entire inside of the pan. Take a rubber spatula and carefully lift the edges away from the pan in a light swooping motion around the entirety of the pan. As you lift the edges continue to swirl the eggs lightly. When the edges are set, but still pull away from the pan add your filling ingredients to the still soft omelette, being careful to keep all of the filling on one side. The other side will be flipped over the fillings. To my omelette I added some cubed cream cheese, the salmon mixture, a bit of dill, and a small amount of grated cheddar. When the cheese melted I gently folded the unfilled side over the filling. After removing gently to a plate I topped with some chopped green onion.

Omelette

During the cooking of the omelette I had turned the English muffins at the 10 minute mark. The timer went off after another 10 minutes and I removed the muffins onto a platter. I had more English muffins to add to the griddle, but I left some room. I added a small bit of butter to the griddle, split one of the already ‘baked’ English muffins and added it to the buttered griddle. I left it on to toast for a couple of minutes and then removed to the plate with my omelette.

The Hubs was very complimentary of the presentation of the omelette. He was even more impressed after he tasted it. I asked how he liked the homemade English muffins, and he asked if I was kidding. I hadn’t tasted mine yet, so I was getting ready to pout a bit when he clarified his comment. He couldn’t believe they were homemade. We will never buy English muffins again. These were incredibly delicious.

momelette

I followed this recipe exactly, and suggest you do the same when you make YOUR English muffins.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/english-muffins/

Also, I think everyone should make friends with a butcher! Even if you don’t get a super deal like I did, you will get better cuts of meat than the average customer.

A few morsels to chew on…while planning your next foodventure!

 

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in recipe

 

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Artwork, Passion, and Desire

Artwork, Passion, and Desire

I have never considered myself to be artistically talented. As a child during grade school art classes I was somewhere in the middle of the pack as far as ability. I wanted to be one of those kids who could free hand horses, or shade a vase, or paint a beautiful flower and have it look like the flower. Alas, that was not me.

About a month ago I got this intense desire to paint or create artwork. I shared this strong desire with my husband and my mother. They both gave me the same kind of look, which said: “You don’t do that.” Last Friday night I went to a local “art walk”. There were some amazing paintings and other pieces of artwork. It made my desire even stronger. I wasn’t 100% sure where to begin or exactly what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to create.

Yesterday morning my mother mentioned that she had a cardboard box that she was going to have to get into the recycling. I went to help her with it and what I saw sparked an even stronger desire. Within this large box (which I brought home for my 10 year old to play with) was a large piece of corrugated cardboard that I just knew could be used as a canvas. My mother suggested that I read a little bit about priming the cardboard or see what I would need to do in order to prep my “canvas”. I found this awesome site that talked about mixed medium artwork, and I knew what I was going to make!

On www.modpodgerocksblog.com  I found instructions on how to create some neat pieces using items that I already had around the house. I invested in some Mod Podge and a few bottles of acrylic paint. In one day I finished one piece, and started a second. They have turned out better than I could have hoped for considering I have never attempted anything like this in my entire life! I wish I had more time today to do more.

cafe

The reason I am sharing this is threefold. First, I am super excited! Second, this creative endeavor has been like a reset button to my mind and soul. Possibly to my body considering I was on my feet for the better part of 6 ½ hours while doing my art. Third, and possibly most importantly: follow your passion. When we feel a desire burning inside of us, it was put there for a reason. The word desire comes from the latin “of the king”. Our desires are put in us by our higher power (God).

Whether I make more artwork (I will definitely make more) or not, I tried something new and discovered that I am NOT bad at it, and I love doing it.

I would love to hear your own stories about your creative endeavors and if you follow your desires and passions~

I will plan out my next project as I enjoy a glass of Moscato. Cheers!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Fried Mushrooms

Fried Mushrooms

It has been a busy end of Winter, beginning of Spring so I have not been doing quite as much cooking of new or fun foods. I also have to admit that I have been a little bit lazy on the healthy eating. So, I’m going to share a dinner that we had one day last week…as long as you promise not to judge. Really. No judging!

As I mentioned last September, we purchase a Fry Daddy to make homemade French fries for my mother on her anniversary. It has been seldom used and sits in a lower cabinet. The Hubs thought that French fries sounded great, and I knew that I had some fresh mushrooms in the fridge so told him that as long as we were getting it out, we might as well do a couple of things. He sliced up the potatoes and found a recipe for breaded fried mushrooms. I also decided that if we were going to do this thing we would do it with gusto! I also had some avocados  that I cut up and a can of large black olives that I thought would lend themselves to battering and deep frying. (You’re not judging, right?)

Growing up my dad learned how to make breaded fried mushrooms for my mother after she had some at a tavern. They always make me think of him.

Below is the recipe that we used for our insanely awesome mushrooms! They were some of the best I have ever had. The avocadoes were “ok”, the French fries were delightful, and the black olives were interesting. I would like to try them again, with maybe a filling for the middle of the olives. I’m thinking a spicy cheese mixture. (Judging?)

Deep Fried Mushrooms

  • 10 ounces whole mushrooms
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup breadrumbs (my dad used cracker meal)
  • Oil for deep frying

Heat the oil in the deep fryer to 375 degrees. Wash the mushrooms and remove any woody stems. Pat mushrooms dry with a paper towel. Coat mushrooms with flour, lightly tap to remove excess flour. Dip in eggs. Coat with bread crumbs. Set aside to set the batter. Deep fry mushrooms in batches, turning if needed to cook evenly, 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels or a rack and serve warm.

I definitely recommend trying these mushrooms if you are a fan of those little treats! I like to serve mine with Ranch dip or dressing.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Pie Crust Cinnamon Rolls

Pie Crust Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite little treats to bake when I was little were pie crust cinnamon rolls. What? You don’t know about pie crust cinnamon rolls? Let me help you out.

When my mother would bake pies, the scraps of dough that were left over after trimming her pie crust to fit the pie plate were made into pie crust cinnamon rolls. The dough was re-rolled into an oblong shape, covered with melted butter, and covered with cinnamon and sugar. Then the prepared dough was rolled cinnamon roll style, cut into 1” pieces, placed on a pie plate or a baking sheet and baked for 15-20 minutes until brown and cooked through. These little yummies were always my favorite part of homemade pie!

This past weekend when I was at my mother’s house she asked me if I wanted a box of pie crusts she had purchased ahead of the holidays. She wasn’t sure she would bake a pie, and if she did if she would have the energy to scratch make a crust. She had been holding on to this unopened box and was going to throw it out if I didn’t want it. I wasn’t planning on baking a pie, but I took the crusts home with me.

I was planning on a big pot of chili for dinner. I like to make chili a couple of times over the winter, almost as a requirement. I wasn’t in the mood to make corn bread, which I typically make to go with homemade chili. I also like homemade cinnamon rolls with chili, but really didn’t feel like baking cinnamon rolls. Light Bulb (yes, I did recently watch Despicable, Me)! I would make pie crust cinnamon rolls using the premade pie crusts my mother had sent home with me, if they were still good.

lighbulb gru

Per the directions on the box I took the 2 individually wrapped pie crusts out of the box and laid them on the kitchen table in the plastic wrappers. I took a block of cream cheese from the fridge, and got out brown sugar and cinnamon. Next, I called Daughter Number 4 in to the kitchen. I asked her if she would like to make the best part of dinner. When she saw the array of ingredients she said she would. I removed the first pie crust from the wrapper and unrolled it onto a cutting board. I explained that instead of butter we would be using cream cheese as the base. She spread it out on the pie crust, as if she were spreading sauce on a pizza. It was beautiful. The she covered the cream cheese with brown sugar and cinnamon. Together, we rolled the pie crust and I let her use the pizza cutter to cut the 1” (some smaller, some bigger) slices. We laid them onto a pizza pan. Then, I gave her more freedom on the 2nd pie crust. She covered it with cream cheese, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Then she asked for pecans and cinnamon chips. She was liberal in her coverage. We rolled and she cut the 2nd pie crust and laid those on the pizza pan. We baked the pie crust cinnamon rolls at 350◦ for about 20 minutes until they were golden brown and cooked through.

The whole family was excited about the rolls, and doubly excited when I told them they were to be eaten with the chili and not after the chili. The rolls were delicious! The Hubs raved about how good they were and how well they complimented the chili. The pecan ones were our faves.

It was wonderful to take an experience from my childhood and share with one of my own children, but also to take some pre-packaged pie crusts and create something wonderful. This is a great dish if you are in a hurry and makes a super accompaniment to chili, but would also be great for a little breakfast or brunch addition.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Homemade Pretzels Update and Beer Cheese Dip

Homemade Pretzels Update and Beer Cheese Dip

Homemade Pretzels – updated and Beer Cheese Dip

This will be short and sweet, or short and cheesy!

First, I made a very little adjustment to the Homemade Pretzel recipe. I reduced the baking soda in the water bath from ¾ cup to ½ cup. The pretzels are less bitter, otherwise they turned out as beautiful as the first batch.

Now onto the good stuff;  I have discovered the world easiest (and quite possibly tastiest) Beer Cheese Dip ever. Just to make sure that the first time wasn’t a fluke, I tried it several times with several different beers and cheeses. Still great!

Beer Cheese Dip

  • 12 ounces beer
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened, cubed
  • 12-16 ounces cheddar, shredded

Pour beer into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat until warm. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Add in shredded cheese, slowly, whisking continuously. Remove from heat and serve with fresh baked pretzels.

The first time I made this I used an oatmeal stout, cream cheese, and smoked Swiss. The second time I used a wheat beer, the cream cheese, and sharp cheddar. The third time I made the dip in the microwave, microwaving for 30 second intervals, whisking briskly between. It only took about four minutes to cheesy goodness! This batch I used Light Beer, cream cheese, and cheddar. All three were total success.

This cheese dip is also delicious with tortilla chips and on sandwiches. It’s also delicious on a spoon and my fingers.

The next time you need a cheese dip, especially if you like beer cheese…this is a great one to try! Quick, easy, and delish!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

King Cake

King Cake

For as long as I can remember I have been enamored by Mardi Gras. I love the symbolism, the music, the tradition, the meaning, and mostly – the food. Yes, the food.

Almost every year since I can remember I have celebrated Mardi Gras by making feasts and fare associated with Fat Tuesday. Sometimes I create New Orleans’esque fare, sometimes Shrove Tuesday inspired pancakes, or crêpes. About 7 years ago The Hubs decided to up the festivities by ordering a genuine Traditional King Cake from a well-known New Orleans bakery. It was not only a hit, but the beginning of a tradition! We have purchased a King Cake every year since!

This year I had the good fortune of having President’s Day off from work. The timing could not have been more perfect in correlation to Fat Tuesday the next day! Even more exciting was the knowledge that I had purchased some special items to make my very own King Cake the year before and my schedule didn’t permit me doing it. This year I had the time, I had the ingredients, and I was ready! I chose what seemed to be about the easiest recipe I could find and set out with the help of Daughters 3 and 4.

The ease of the recipe was not underestimated and the King Cake itself turned out better than I could have hoped for! I will make my own King Cake every year now – well, at least the next 5. I have 5 new plastic babies to put in the cakes (they came in a package of 6).

Here is the recipe I used. It is definitely easy enough for anyone with basic bread making skills.

Mardi Gras King Cake  

Dough

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 ¼ to 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten

Glaze

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons water
  • Green, purple, and yellow sugars
  • Small Plastic Baby (optional)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1/2 cup sugar, butter, milk, egg yolks, salt, lemon peel, nutmeg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges.  Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. If you are going to put a plastic baby in the cake do it during the rolling process. Pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush with egg.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. For glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Yield: 1 cake (12 slices).

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/traditional-new-orleans-king-cake#ixzz3Sb1qwpBL

Again, let me say how easy this cake was to make. Daughter Number 4 told me that this is the best King Cake she has ever eaten. In fact, she ate 2 pieces after dinner and asked for one for breakfast the following morning.

When you’re laying out your menu for next year’s Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival feast add this delicious morsel! Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez!

 

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Very Best Cheesecake

Very Best Cheesecake

As much as the meatloaf was the husband’s Valentine’s gift from me, the dessert from Valentine’s Day was a gift to both of us and our girls.

Everyone in our family loves cheesecake. I am convinced that the love of cheesecake was passed to me in utero. As I recall the story, when my mother was pregnant with me she craved cherry cheesecake. My dad would get a Sara Lee cherry cheesecake to share with her and to satiate her craving. She would sneak into the kitchen and have a piece, and then another and another…and before she even realized it she had eaten the entire cheesecake. In her defense (according to her) they were very small cheesecakes. My father realized that the cost of these cheesecakes was prohibitive to the amount of her cravings and he found a recipe on the side of a graham cracker box.

That recipe was lost over time, so my parents spent a great deal of time trying to replicate that recipe. When they found it they made sure to write it down and make copies. In fact, the recipe made it into the “family” cookbook that they made for each of their four children in the early ‘90’s. This is the very same recipe that my mother makes for me every year on my birthday. It is “The Very Best Cheesecake”.

The Very Best Cheesecake

Crust

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 8 Tablespoons melted butter

Filling

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1-pound can sour red cherries, drained, liquid reserved
  • Cherry liquid plus enough water to equal ¾ cup liquid
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix crust ingredients and pat firmly into the bottom and sides of a pie plate. Beat filling ingredients with an electric mixer until satiny; pour into crust. Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees; remove from oven. Mix sugar for topping with cornstarch into a saucepan; gradually blend in cherry liquid and heat, stirring, until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. After removing from heat stir in lemon juice and cherries. Cool 5 minutes and spread on top of cooled cheesecake. Chill several hours.

This is not only the Very Best Cherry Cheesecake, it is so simple! This recipe is one of the testaments to scratch baking. It is easy and tastes exponentially better than a boxed mix or frozen cheesecake, without being cost prohibitive.

Oh, and I love this cheesecake after it has been refrigerated for a day or two. The crust caramelizes a little bit and tastes even better.

Take the opportunity to make this cheesecake the next time you have a craving for cheesecake or want to make a special dessert.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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