- Lorilyn Tenney aka: **Tinkerbell** or *Tink
- I'm the Food Editor for the Mill Creek View Newspaper in Mill Creek, WA. and a Forum Host on Food.com (formerly Recipezaar.com), co-hosting in the Kitchen Gadgets and Appliances Forum and since going back to school for my Bachelor's in Child Development, I am just a ghost host in the Topic of the Month forum. I like to cook, bake, read, scrapbook, quilt, and practice food photography. I have two children, my son is 20 and my daughter is 6. I like to volunteer in my daughter's classroom as much as possible. I didn't realize how much I would miss it until I wasn't needed in my son's classrooms anymore.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I have many recipes on my To Do list, but this one has been there for years. Cookin’Diva posted the original recipe on Food.com, and although it was good as posted, I have made a few tweaks to cut down on the sweetness and the time involved. I made it for a casual dinner with friends at our house, but the recipe made enough to take the next night for dinner with another family. Both families gave it rave reviews. Copycat recipes are some of my favorites, because I like dining out as much as the next person, but I hate not knowing what ingredients are in my food. That is what keeps me testing or creating new versions of take-out or dine-out recipes, especially when the item is a seasonal one. Sure, pumpkin flavored shakes and pies are traditionally only served in the fall, but that does not mean I only crave them in October, so I experiment with pumpkin or other flavors all year round. My husband’s craving for a certain rib-shaped, meat-like, drive-thru sandwich do not just happen one week out of the year either, but between you and me, I have my limits.
Today we are only raising the bar with these copycat Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks. A combination of white chocolate, cranberry, and orange makes them refreshing enough to transcend the holiday season. They have a texture somewhere between a cake and a cookie, and are soft even when refrigerated, which makes them a great recipe for making a day ahead. These bars are beautiful, citrusy, and sweet. Just as perfect for a rainy spring day as they are the holidays. Enjoy!
Cranberry Bliss Bars
1 cup butter (softened)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract (or use all vanilla)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used both pomegranate and orange flavored Craisins)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract (or vanilla)
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3 tablespoons orange zest
Directions: Preheat oven to 350° (325° for a glass or dark pan). Prepare pan (10x15, 11x17, or 9x13) by lining it with parchment paper or non-stick cooking spray. In mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and extracts, beating slowly, and just until the eggs are combined. Add flour, baking powder, and ginger, beating gently, and then add the cranberries and chips, stirring by hand, just until incorporated. Batter will be thick. Spread into prepared pan. For 10x15 and 11x17 inch pans bake for 20-24 minutes. For 9x13 pan bake for 26-28 minutes. Do not over bake. Remove bars when light brown at the edges and a toothpick tests clean. Cool completely on baking rack. When pan is completely cool, make three cuts lengthwise into four rows, and width-wise into five rows to form 20 large squares. Now cut each square diagonally into two triangles. FROSTING: Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add orange extract and powdered sugar; beat until frosting is fluffy and spreadable (add 1 teaspoon of milk, if needed). Spread frosting over each bar. Sprinkle orange zest and chopped cranberries over frosted bars. You can save time by frosting before cutting, but they do not cut cleanly due to the cranberries. Store covered in the refrigerator.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
I was making a couple test recipes for pineapple vinegar last week. Both are recipes I’ve wanted to make for about a year now, but every time I used fresh pineapple, I didn’t have time to use the peel for the vinegars. Suddenly, it felt like wasting food every time I threw out pineapple peel. Last weekend I needed to test the vinegar recipes, so I bought the pineapples, trimmed off the peel, put all the fruit in a large Ziplock bag, and tried to convince my family that pineapple goes with every meal.
When that approach didn’t work, I searched recipes to use up the fruit and stumbled on a recipe for pineapple pie. It was posted to Food.com by chef mailbelle, who says that her husband was Johnny Cash’s cousin, and this recipe comes from the Favorite Recipes from Mama Cash’s Kitchen cookbook. The recipe is written in that sparse way that implies it’s a family recipe, made from memory, and only written down when it was requested. Sometimes details are forgotten, or left out because we’ve done it so many times we start assuming that everyone else has too. The recipe is simple, yet delicious, and now holds the record for the fastest disappearing pie ever in my household.
Instead of canned, I used the fresh pineapple I had leftover from the vinegar peels, so I put a cup or so of that through the Ninja blender to crush it. The instructions did not say to drain the pineapple, so I drained 3/4 of the cup by pushing it through a sieve, which also mashes the fruit into a near puree. I left the last 1/4 cup un-drained and in small bits. I also made a homemade crust, and I would suggest using an 8 or 9-inch pie dish for this recipe. Although the filling rises and puffs up nicely, it won’t completely fill out a deep-dish pie plate. The end result is a slightly crunchy, lightly browned topping, with a custard-like filling. I liked the contrast between finely strained pineapple puree making up the custard, with the small bits of pineapple for texture. There’s just something about old southern comfort food, and I think this one is going to become a family favorite around my house.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup crushed pineapple
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 350°. In medium bowl, beat together everything except pie crust. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell and bake for 50 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown and set up.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Some of the best comfort food I remember growing up is my Mom's Easy Chicken & Homemade Noodles.
Gramma used to make these for my mom and her sisters when they were growing up.
My favorite part of mom making this recipe is when the noodles were laying out on a tea towel to dry. My sister and I couldn't resist the slightly soft, floury, noodles laying about. We would always sneak through the kitchen and steal a noodle. Of course, these days we know better and I don't let my kids do that because of the raw egg in the dough, but it is one of my favorite memories surrounding this meal.
These days I make chicken and noodles whenever someone is ill, when the weather turns cold, when I have leftover chicken or turkey, and even when I just have very little in the house to cook with. It's a great way to stretch a small amount of chicken.
I sometimes add veggies to the broth, whatever I have on hand, and often I'll use homemade chicken stock or broth. When I make the broth homemade as well, I really feel like this comfort food is taken to another level.
It doesn't take much effort to make your own broth and the extra nutrients and flavor you'll get out of it are definitely worth the time! There are some really excellent recipes posted on Food.com. These are a few I've tried and keep coming back to:
Herb and Garlic Broth-Aigo Bouido
Homemade Chicken Stock for Cooking
Crock Pot Chicken or Turkey Stock
The noodles can be rolled and cut thick or thin. I use a pizza cutter to slice them quickly. Personally, I like a little thicker, chewier noodle, but sometimes I'll cut them spaghetti thin because it makes a lot more for serving to a crowd or for sharing with a sick friend.
I've also tried a variation of homemade egg noodles, posted to Food.com by kindcook, and found that I liked the richness of using egg yolks instead of whole eggs.
Delicious Homemade Egg Noodles
Regardless of the broth or noodles you use, the best way to serve this recipe is over a big mound of mashed potatoes!
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
After having a question posted in the Kitchen Gadgets and Appliances forum on Food.com inquiring about recipes for the La Cotta pan I was intrigued. It was a pan I'd never heard of before, and finding information about it online was difficult.
Probably because it was such a unique item, I got sucked into buying one off of Ebay.
I was so excited to receive it, but life got in the way of trying it out until several months later. I've now had a chance to use it twice, and hopefully my experience will help others looking to buy or trying to make use of the La Cotta pan.
I was able to dig up several years worth of advertisements for the pan; all from various magazines ranging from 1971 to 1977. I found it interesting that the price of the pan never went above $9.95, and in particular that in the 1976 Popular Science magazine add, we were only asked to pay $1 per order to partially cover postage and handling.
After reading through the ads I started thinking that this pan was kinda like the original "As Seen On TV" product. LOL
So what makes it so special? The ads claim that it is made from volcanic rock found only in Northern Italy; that it is 5 different types of "lead-free" stones ground fine, and then formed into this revolutionary pan. The porous nature of volcanic rock pulls out acidity, bitterness and fat from your meat, leaving you with nothing but the meat's natural flavor.
Ad from a 1971 issue of The Rotarian Magazine:
Ad from the September 1974 issue of Women's Weekly Magazine:
Ad from a 1976 issue of Popular Science Magazine:
Well, it's time for my official review of the product.
It's approximately 40 years old, and arrived with a rope tied around it to hang the pan on the wall. It looked like it had never been used, based on my experience with other stoneware baking pans and pizza stones.
This is what mine looked like when I received it:
The online instructions I found at The Healthy from 25 to 100 Blog were the original instructions for the pan, but I quickly found that they weren't very specific on a very important step in preparing the pan for use.
My first attempt at cooking a thick piece of flat-iron steak was somewhat of a disaster. Since the pan is rather small, I cut my one large piece of meat into 4 equal pieces; cooked two the first night, and the rest two days later.
Sophie and I had created a basic marinade for the steak, but the pan's instructions say no seasoning other than salt and pepper are necessary, and not to use any oils or butter. Just before putting a piece of steak into the pan, I blotted the marinade off with a paper towel.
To prepare for cooking the instructions tell you to rinse the pan, inside and out, in lukewarm water. We did this, then sprinkled coarse sea salt into the bottom of the pan, put my steak in, and then closed the top, leaving a fork turned on its side hanging out of the pan to allow the steam to escape.
The house began to smell immediately. Not a cooking meat smell, or even something burning in the oven smell, but one that can only be described by admitting to the world that I have forgotten laundry in the washer for more than a day, and then been assaulted with that mildewy smell when I next open the washer.
In the words of the immortal Cat in the Hat, "But that is not all, oh no, that is not all!"
Imagine taking those moldy clothes and stuffing them in the oven to dry them out.
Yep. I'm quite sure my neighbors thought I was roasting sweaty gym socks.
The steak was perfectly cooked in about 14 minutes, but the smell had pretty much knocked out any hunger pangs by then. I ate a few bites and then stuffed it in the fridge.
I allowed the pan to cool before cleaning it, and then I tried the no soap, scraping only, method that the La Cotta ads suggest, and that Pampered Chef recommends for their pizza stone and baking dishes; no good. I tried the liquid dish soap, then I tried soaking it overnight in a heavy duty, all natural cleaner, and still nothing. The next day I tried my favorite homemade cleaner recipe; still no luck, so then I made a simple paste of baking soda and vinegar to soak and scrub it with twice. I scrubbed and soaked and nothing got the blackened stone to look clean again. Even the bottom of the pan was blackened, and I have an electric stove.
I'm not having a good experience, but I don't give up quite that easily. The following day I start again. This time I've done even more online digging, and found one mention of having to soak the pan in water, not just rinsing it, before using it. So this time I soaked the pan for about 15 minutes and then I reduced the heat from medium high down to medium. Hoping that the soaking and less heat would keep the pan from turning black; It didn't. And I'm not sure how I'd tell anyway, considering how blackened it still was from the first use. During the first steak the pan began to boil completely dry, so I started adding Tablespoons of water during cooking. I've already lost one pan from letting it boil dry while making dulce de leche; I wasn't about to risk this new one! I know the lower heat was a good idea. I don't think this pan should be over any more than a medium fire, and definitely soaked for a good 20-30 minutes before use. In the photo above you can actually see how the pan starts to dry out during cooking, and how the area along the crack soaked up more water originally, so it's staying wet longer.
Again, the end result was a very tender piece of meat... but the smell was just as bad as it was the first time. Maybe it'll get better over time? I don't know, but I do know that I can't think of steak without smelling that moldy laundry smell, and it was so bad it permeated the garage and into my sealed car, so now I get to enjoy it even when I'm away from home.
I may or may not try doing battle with this pan again... I haven't decided what kind of meat I want to ruin next.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
If you ask my husband to name his favorite part of Christmas he'll tell you it's Christmas morning breakfast. I love that his family had a tradition of making a special breakfast, and I have carried that on into our family's holidays. However, I can't seem to juggle both a breakfast and dinner for a crowd on that day, so I've grown to love breakfast casseroles, or stratas, of all sorts. There are both sweet and savory varieties, and because they're made the night before, it’s possible to make one of each to satisfy everyone the next day. Doing the prep and cleanup the night before frees up my morning to start the Holiday dinner.
By definition, a strata is "one of a series of layers, levels, or gradations in an ordered system". The three basic ingredients in a breakfast strata are eggs, cheese, and bread. Your dish could be as simple as that, or toss in some vegetables, meat or herbs, and make it as elaborate as you want. The first known mention of a breakfast strata is a simple recipe for Cheese Strata printed in the 1902 edition of the Handbook of Household Science By Juniata L. Shepperd.
The strata is layers of various kinds of bread, cheese, eggs and can include milk or creams, as well as different vegetables, herbs or meats. It is then refrigerated overnight, which allows the liquid to be absorbed by the bread and the other flavors to meld. Feel free to invent your own combinations. Often I have to sub cream for milk, swiss for cheddar, or ham for bacon. It all works. I just try to have fun with them... and clean out the fridge at the same time!
Below is one of my family’s favorite sweet breakfast stratas; a baked strawberry French toast that was created during a camping trip. I had neglected to pack the frozen cherries for a similar recipe I wanted to make, and the nearest town’s only option was a small tub of sweetened strawberries from a chest freezer that also held ice cream treats. My makeshift breakfast was a hit then, but over the years I have perfected the recipe even more. You can serve this with maple syrup, but making a batch of homemade strawberry syrup takes just a few minutes, and it really does make this dish shine.
1 loaf bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (buttermilk or potato recommended)
4 cups strawberries, quartered (fresh or frozen)
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 loaf French bread, sliced into 1-inch thick slices
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
16 ounces frozen strawberries, thawed and quartered
1 tablespoon butter or 1 tablespoon margarine
Spray a 13x9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle bread cubes over bottom of dish. Sprinkle berries over bread cubes. Sprinkle cream cheese over berries. In large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, half & half, almond extract, nutmeg & cinnamon. Arrange French bread slices over the surface of the berries and cream cheese, creating a flat surface of bread rounds and getting in as many as possible without them popping up. Pour egg and milk mixture over French bread slices. Mix melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup & pecans and spread over French bread slices. Cover tightly & refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator and let stand 20-30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake uncovered 50-60 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing. For Syrup (can be made fresh or in advance, refrigerated, and reheated for serving): In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; add water. Bring to boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in strawberries and reduce heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in butter and serve over French toast.
During the holiday season anything that can be made in advance, and still taste fresh when served, should be done ahead. The amount of stress reduced is directly related to the enjoyment of the occasion.
Every holiday I cook for a crowd starts with planning the recipes I want to make, and when to make them. One thing I did different this year was to make the mashed potatoes the day before the holiday meal. Potatoes don't really seem like a big deal to make on the day, but it's just one less thing to worry about if it's already done.
There are a good many recipes posted online for make-ahead mashed potatoes, and my plan was to test one of those out before the holiday rolled around. Of course, I didn't have all the ingredients for any particular recipe, so I had to improvise. My immediate family really enjoyed the result, and when I made the recipe again for Thanksgiving, it was one of the factors that contributed to our early meal. I was shooting for a 2pm dinner. Not because I like to eat that early, but because most folks seem to schedule it at that time. However, I've never eaten a holiday meal at the planned 2pm time. Every holiday there is some setback (usually involving the turkey) that leaves everyone waiting around until 3 or 4pm before eating. This year I had a pretty lazy morning; enjoying coffee and our family from out of town before starting the meal. Even though I didn't rush around getting everything going, the make-ahead potatoes, made-ahead pies, and brining the turkey all contributed to an earlier than planned dinner. It was the exact opposite of every other holiday I've had or been involved with. The turkey was perfectly cooked in half the time of a non-brined bird, and we found ourselves rushing around throwing together the last minute sides so we could eat while the turkey was hot. We didn't eat at 4 or 3, or even 2pm. We were done and cleaned up by 1:30pm!
Take a little extra stress off yourself this holiday season. Make your mashed potatoes the day before and spend more time relaxing with your family. The following is two of my recipes combined into one delicious pan of mashed potatoes. Roasted garlic makes plain white potatoes into something special, and it's easily done while you're peeling and boiling potatoes.
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Chives
1 whole head of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
16 ounces organic chicken broth
4-5 lbs russet potatoes
16-20 ounces water (or enough to cover potatoes)
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons roasted garlic (more or less, to taste)
4-6 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove the loose, outer layers of papery skin from the garlic bulb.
Slice off the top of the bulb, about 1/4 -1/2 inch down, cutting just enough to expose the top of the cloves, but still leave the bulb intact. Tear off a 12-inch square piece of foil, place the garlic bulb in the center and drizzle it with a tablespoon of olive oil. Bring the edges of foil up around the garlic, wrapping tightly, and bake for 35 minutes. Remove packet from oven and carefully unwrap garlic. Squeeze each clove of garlic out of its skin and use as needed. Store any leftovers in a zip-top baggie in the fridge or freezer for later use.
Pour the chicken broth into a large pot and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and slice them into 1-inch thick slices. Add to the boiling chicken broth. If needed, add water enough to cover the potatoes. Boil until fork tender. Remove about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the potatoes. In a mixer bowl, combine potatoes, cream cheese, butter, roasted garlic, milk, salt, pepper and chives. Add small amounts of cooking liquid, as needed. Mix or whip until combined. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, and spread potatoes into dish. Cool and refrigerate overnight. 30 minutes before baking: Preheat oven to 350° and.remove the potatoes from the refrigerator. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Sophie and I spent a couple days this week making treats for her friend's Halloween party on Saturday. I think the sudden rain (after a summer of barely recordable rainfall) wreaked havoc on my body, brain and specifically my gluten free cupcakes. It's often difficult to bake gluten free while it's raining, so I wasn't too surprised when the first dozen wouldn't set up properly. I made some temperature and time adjustments and the second pan came out almost perfect. The third dozen was a completely new batter, with a little tweak, and it was perfect! After removing the muffin tin from the oven I set a cooling rack over the top of the cupcakes, and then, just like every cake or cupcake before it, I grabbed both the rack and tin and flipped the whole mess upside down. Or at least I attempted to.... Apparently my hands were worse than I thought, because they didn't hold onto any piece of that puzzle, and everything clattered to the floor in a spray of fresh, hot pumpkin cake.
Interestingly enough, this post isn't about baking. It's about the decorating of the cupcakes. You know, the easy part. Plus, after dropping a dozen perfect cupcakes on the floor, how much worse could it get? Okay, don't answer that. This post is more like a warning to those like me, who are always up for trying something new, even if you know that the best idea in a particular situation would be to do what you know. If you're a Pinterest fan, this is about good pins going bad.
The original plan was to make two kinds of cupcakes. A chocolate cupcake decorated with chocolate frosting, Oreo cookies and Reese's Pieces (I used M and M's due to nut allergies) to look like owls. The second cupcake was going to be pumpkin cake with a neon green buttercream swirl and an adorable witch's hat made from decorative cupcake liners.
The owls were fun and adorable. Sophie did all the decorating herself! After making these though, I have concluded that the original photo pinned for this treat had to have been Photoshopped. Not ONE Oreo cookie came apart without leaving cookie specks in the fluffy stuff.
Our Finished Product:
Even though our owls look like they've had a long night, they were easy, fun and most important of all, Sophie is very proud of her work.
|Hoo-Hoo! Who rocks the cupcakes?!|
After the owls turned out so cute we were excited to make the witch hats that we found in this pin:
The plan was to make another batch of buttercream frosting and tint it neon green, but at the last minute I remembered a pin for marshmallow buttercream, so I decided to make that instead. Here's the original pin. Note that the photo looks like a classic buttercream consistency.
Unfortunately, the recipe resulted in what I would consider a sugar cookie glaze; definitely not a decorator frosting. I really wanted the swirled look with the witch hat set on top, but the marshmallow icing was just too soft. Adding extra powdered sugar made it too sweet, so we opted to spread it on with a spatula and then add the hat. However, without a tall swirl to support the toothpick inside the hat, the witch hat just sunk down into the icing. That's when I remembered another pin that I thought I could take inspiration from.
An adorable marshmallow Frankenstein!
I removed the witch's hat from the cupcake. I stuck a new toothpick into a marshmallow and dipped it into the neon green marshmallow glaze. Then I dipped the top of the marshmallow into black sprinkles to make "hair", and placed the marshmallow Frankenstein on the cupcake. I stuck two mini-chocolate chips on the marshmallow for eyes. It was awesome! For about 30 seconds. By then the hair had slid down considerably, and his eyes were floating in a puddle of icing atop the cupcake. It was disastrous, but I don't give up easy, so I quickly grabbed the witch's hat and plopped it down on top of Frankie's head. We decided to call it a melting witch.
But, within a few moments the whole thing looked like the series of mistakes it was, and we knew we couldn't pass it off as anything we would be proud of.
So.... onto plan... oh, I don't know.... C or D? I've lost count by now, and it's going on 10 o'clock, so we've just got to do something quick!
Going with the Frankenstein theme, I knew I'd seen several versions in krispy treat form. So we whipped up a batch of Rice Krispy treats, cut them into rectangles, and then I spread them with the marshmallow icing while Sophie cut up sour gummy worms for neck bolts. Then she sprinkled on hair, put M&M's on for eyes and noses and then used a tube of black icing to finish off the eyes and make crooked mouths.
All in all, they turned out really cute. If I do them again though, I'll make a double batch so I can make each Frankie a little thicker. This time I pressed them into a jelly roll pan so that I could get as many as I could, but it made them a little too thin to keep from folding over when room temperature.
The party was great and the treats were a hit! Here's my Spider Girl and her BFF Little Kitty!