Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Easiest Nut Brittle in the World for #handcraftededibles

Let's go Nuts!!!  It is the holiday season and my family tree must be the pecan because we are a family full of nuts.  I mean that in the best way possible.  We love to have fun.  We love getting together to share stories and laughs.  Play some cards or board games.  Eat and drink and eat and drink and laugh and eat and drink....well, you get the idea.

So it is very fitting for me and my clan that Camilla's theme for this weeks Handcrafted Edibles is nuts.  I had previously shared with you a recipe for spiced cashews. Spice is always good right?  But sometimes you want sweet and spicy so I shared with you this peach and jalapeno cheese spread. Then there are times that you just want sweet so today I am sharing with you the easiest nut brittle in the world.  It is done in the blink of an eye and it is delicious. I was able to make this recipe found on Allrecipes. com AND write this post during Little Miss Melody's one hour nap.  Perfect for the busy holiday season and perfect to serve to guests or give as a gift.

I adapted the recipe slightly using mixed nuts instead of peanuts, lowering the amount of baking soda and varying the cooking times for the individual ingredients.  I can tell you that it turned out perfectly using the recipe as I am writing it.  I sprayed my wooden spoon with cooking spray before stirring which helped keep the brittle in the bowl instead of on the spoon. Once done cooking, spread it onto a parchment lined baking sheet and let it cool.

Break it into pieces.  No science here, just pick it up and snap it.  All different shapes and sizes with different kinds of nuts scattered about.

Transfer them into individual bags, wrap them with a bow and they are all ready for sharing with your family and friends.  Nuts for the nuts, in my case!!

World's Easiest Nut Brittle
adapted from Allrecipes.com

1 can (10 oz) roasted mixed nuts
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. white corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
1 T. butter
1/2 t. baking soda

In an eight cup glass measuring cup or comparable bowl, combine sugar, salt and corn syrup. Cook in a microwave at 100% heat for 5 minutes.  Stir and add in the nuts.(mixture will thicken but loosen up again upon cooking)  Cook at high heat again for 2 minutes.  Stir in the butter and vanilla, microwave for another 2 minutes at 100% power.  Quickly stir in the baking soda to add air and foam.  Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely.  Break into pieces and enjoy. Print Recipe 

In an effort to make all of her holiday gifts this year, Camilla has us sharing recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes that you can make at home to give to friends and loved ones, or things to serve at holiday parties. We hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule: here.

This week, we are "going nuts" and sharing all sorts of recipes with nuts. Think spiced nuts or nutty fruit cake or whatever floats your nutty boat!

Here's what we're posting this week...
Next week - week 10 - check back for our recipes to inspire you as we let our confectioner’s skills shine. Think truffles, barks, anything and everything with chocolate. Don't forget to check out our #handcraftededibles pinterest board.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Delicious, Savory Crepes for Secret Recipe Club

It is time for Secret Recipe Club and this month I got to explore Tara's Multicultural Table.  As the name implies this blog is owned by Tara, wife and mother of two adorable children.  Tara was born in Japan and spent her toddler years in Germany before moving to the USA.  She was lucky enough to travel extensively and has learned to love the food of other cultures. Fortunately for the readers of her incredible blog, Tara has decided to share this love with us in the form of tried and true recipes. You just have to check out her recipe page, you are going to be awestruck.

Regular readers of my blog know all about Secret Recipe Club but if you are a new visitor here and not a regular visitor of one of the over 100 members of our club you can find out all about SRC by clicking on this link.

Now that you are back from checking out Tara's recipe page, didn't you just love how your first choice is to check out her recipes by Continent?  Who does that??  Tara, that's who!  Then when you open a Continent, you are shown subsets by Countries of that Continent.  I told you it was awesome. Don't feel like browsing by Continent or Country?  Just scroll on down where you will find the recipes sorted by categories.  Tara certainly aims to please.

On the day I was cooking from Tara's blog I was looking specifically for a pork recipe.  There were tons but I narrowed it down to Chinese Style Pork Adobo, Australian Sausage Rolls, Pork Fillets in Mushroom Cream Sauce, Hungarian Crepes, South African Spiced Meat Casserole (substituting pork for beef) and  Pork Enchiladas.  As you probably have figured out, I went with the Hungarian Crepes.

Tara's recipe said you could use any meat that you chose.
I had some pork stew pulled from the freezer so I ground it using my kitchen aid attachment but you can use any ground meat that you like.
Because I used pork, I lowered the amount of oil to 2T, if using a less fatty meat use 1/4 cup.

The crepes were tender and delicious.
Slightly thicker than a French Crepe so able to withstand the hearty filling.
The spices were perfect and I was worried about the amount of sour cream but it blended so nicely and as you can see it wasn't too much because I added more to my serving.

Hungarian Stuffed Crepes
adapted from Tara's Multi-Cultural Kitchen

2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. diced onions
1 lb ground meat (I used pork)
1 (12 oz) can diced tomatoes with juices
1 c. water
4 t. paprika
1/4 t. caraway seeds
2 T. fresh chopped parsley (I used Gourmet Garden)
1/2 c. sour cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

4 eggs
1 c. flour
1 c. milk

Drained liquid from meat filling
1/4 c. flour
1 c. sour cream

Heat olive oil in large skillet over med heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened and fragrant. Add the meat, stirring and breaking it up into small pieces as it browns. Stir in tomatoes and their juices and the water along with the paprika, caraway seeds and parsley. Bring to a slow boil and let cook, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens.  Stir in the half cup of sour cream.  Pour meat and sauce into a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl to catch the liquids. Return the meat mixture to the pan and set aside to cool. 

While the meat mixture is cooking, place the crepe ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. 
Heat a crepe pan or skillet over med low heat.  Spray with cooking oil.  Pour a scant 1/4 c. of batter into the skillet and swirl to coat the bottom.  Let cook until side start to curl away from the pan and the bottom is golden brown.  Remove from skillet to a plate and repeat with remaining batter placing a sheet of parchment or paper towel between the cooked crepes.
Whisk together the flour and the sour cream for the sauce.  Add it to the drained liquid whisking until smooth.  Set aside.
To assemble prepare a 9x13 baking pan by spraying with cooking spray.  Place each crepe, one at a time, cooked side down on your work surface.  Place a layer of meat over the bottom third of the crepe leaving a 1" border from the edge.  Fold over the end and sides, then roll up and place seam side down in the baking pan.  Pour the sauce over the assembled crepes and bake in a preheated 350* for 20-30 minutes, until heated through and the sauce is bubbly. Print Recipe

Check out what the rest of the Secret Recipe Club is revealing

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Preparing to give Thanks

I wonder if I would love Thanksgiving as much if I did not have so very much for which I am grateful?  It is easy to give thanks and be positive when you live in a Country where you can speak what you think, write what you want, pray to your God or not pray at all, publicly condemn and criticize your government without fear of reprisal.  

I wonder if I were going to bed, underneath a viaduct or in my car, with my stomach rumbling from hunger and my body smelling from not having a shower in which to wash...how much I would love Thanksgiving?  I wonder if I was elderly and alone in my home with no company but the television or 18 and just released from the foster care system with no where to go and no prospects for my future, how grateful I would be?  I wonder if I were dying of cancer and had no insurance to get treatment that could make my life better or save my life, how much I would feel like giving thanks.

Image result for homeless

Thankfully, I have never gone to bed hungry or anywhere other than a warm bed in a warm house.  I have never awoken and not known how I was going to feed my family that day.  I have never applied for job after job after job just to be turned away time and again.  I have been very blessed and I try my best to help others who have not been as lucky.....because that's all it is....Luck.  But for the grace of God, I could have been born in a third world country and never have known the security and peace that I have know my entire life. 

Image result for refugees

This year, as we enjoy our huge feast and then sit in front of our big screen tv's watching guys who get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw a ball around a field may we say an extra prayer for those who are not as fortunate and are seeking refuge in our Home of the Brave and Land of the Free.

I am sharing with you today, our Thanksgiving Menu for this year, we are having a small group (by our standards) of 10 for dinner.  I pray that you and yours have a very blessed Thanksgiving Day and that your team wins!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Hundred Foot Journey: Cook the Books meets Food n Flix and join the French Winophiles

I have a very exciting post for you today.  It started out good.  It got better and then it got perfect. You  see our Cook the Books selection this month chosen by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen is The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais.

It is the story of an Indian Family who leave their home and country after the murder of their mother during riots in which they were targeted because they ran a successful restaurant.  The move first to England but are very unhappy there so decided to look elsewhere.  They end up in France and stumble upon a large house that can be converted to include a restaurant.  The only problem is that it is directly across the street from a fine dining establishment that has been awarded the Michelin star. A battle ensues and then a war until one day the young chef, Hassan, ends up badly injured and the owner of the French restaurant, Madame Mallory, is determined to make amends.  Madame Mallory decides to do this by taking on Hassan who "has the gift" and turning him into a fine dining chef. The title of the book refers to the hundred feet between restaurants and cultures but it is really just the start of Hassan's journey.  


I enjoyed this book and there was certainly tons of food inspiration from Indian to English to France to Fusion when Hassan starts connecting the two cultures.  Hassan also decides to start cooking cleaner and locally, earning him the coveted 3rd Michelin star.  All of this, of course, comes at a price but you will have to read the book if you want to know what that cost was.

This book was made into a movie in 2014.  I had never heard of the book or the movie so I was very excited when Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, chose the movie in conjunction with Deb for our Food n Flix club this month.  I told you it got better.

I loved this movie and can't believe I had never even heard of it.  It is one of those movies that I wouldn't mind watching over and over again.  And the food!  The entire movie is a feast for the eyes. I was overwhelmed and wanted to make everything!!  

Here is the funny thing, for some reason I thought the book was based on a true story so when I first started watching the movie I was dumbfounded by all of what I perceived to be poetic license with Hassan's story and life.  I had to pause the movie and go back to check and that was when I realized it was a novel not a biography.  Now able to enjoy the movie, I turned it back on, sat back and lost myself to it.

Now, evidently, I am the only person who has never heard of this novel or movie because there was a huge blogging event that went on prior to the movie's release in which the chef who cooked for the movie shared his recipes.  I found  29 wonderful recipes at a blog called Inspired by Dis.  That helped narrow my choices to about a third of what it was.


While trying to figure out which of these many recipes I wanted to make for these two events it occurred to me that another great group to which I belong, The French Winophiles, led by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva, was showcasing Bordeaux wines this month.  This helped me narrow it down to foods that I could pair with a Bordeaux.  

I finally opted for Beef Bourguinon a la Hassan created for the movie by Chef Floyd Cardoz.  This is the first French dish that Hassan gives to his father in the film after leaving their restaurant to work for Madame Malory.  It was a very touching scene with some humor included when he tried to have his younger siblings try it.

I, of course, adapted this recipe to make it my own.  Using Bordeaux wine instead of Burgundy for the braising liquid, substituting stewing beef for the short ribs, using my homegrown bacon that is not applewood smoked and used regular beef broth because I have not a clue what white beef broth is.
I did keep the the Indian seasoning but substituted chile pepper paste for the aleppo pepper and mustard oil for the mustard seed.  I also did not braise the meat and add the vegetables at the end but put them all in together for the braise.

The Bordeaux I chose was a 2010 Chateau Dumas Cenot, a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet from vines averaging 25 years of age.  We received this bottle as a gift and have been waiting for this month of French Winophiles when we celebrate Bordeaux to open it.

It had a fruity aroma and look at that deep, garnet color.
I took a sip and it was delicious.
These French wines may actually win me over.

The meal was lovely.  The food and wine pairing worked perfectly with the heaviness of the wine playing off of the richness of the dish.  This is the perfect post folks, great book, fun movie, delicious dinner, good wine and a date night with my wonderful husband.  Life is so good!

One last note: Since I wrote this post when life was so good....life was turned upside down for our entire world with the senseless and violent attacks that took place in Paris.  I would like to take a moment in prayer for all those who were affected by this devastation.  May God send his peace down to you and yours.

Indian Spiced Beef Bordeaux
adapted from Beef Bourguignon ala Hassan by Floyd Cardoz

1 lb stewing beef
1/2 c. flour
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices bacon, diced
1 T. canola oil
1 T. butter
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 c. frozen pearl onion
small package baby carrots
1 small turnip, peeled and cut into eighths.
1 onion, diced
2 t. garlic paste
2 t. ginger paste
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. mustard oil
1/4 t. chili paste
1 T. tomato paste
1/2 c. dry red wine
4 c. beef broth
2 oz. dried chanterelles mushrooms, partially reconstituted

Place flour, salt and pepper in a large bag.  Add beef and shake to coat.  Let set at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Cook bacon in large dutch oven over med high heat.  Remove bacon from pan to a bowl, reserving drippings in pan, set aside.  Add canola oil to the reserved dripping and heat over med high heat, add beef (reserving remaining flour) and sear until browned. Remove to bowl containing bacon.

Add the onions, carrots and turnips to the pan and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, remove to a bowl.  Add butter to the pan along with the onion, garlic and ginger.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and onion starts to soften.  Add bay leaf and cloves, cumin, mustard oil, and chili paste.  Stir and cook until fragrant.  Add leftover seasoned flour and tomato paste. Cook and stir until combined. Deglaze pan with the wine, bringing it to a boil and scraping bottom of the pan.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Add beef and bacon first followed by the seared vegetables and finally the chanterelles mushrooms.  Cover and place in a preheated 325* oven for 2-3 hrs.  Print Recipe

Let's join up with the others and see what they poured with Bordeaux

Don’t forget to join the live Twitter Chat Saturday at 8 am PST/11 am EST hosted by Jeff from foodwineclick using #winophiles. Au revoir!

Join us for our upcoming events: December 19  Champagne –  January 16 Burgundy – February 20  Alsace

Friday, November 20, 2015

Let's play Chopped and the Weekly Menu

You open your basket...or in my case refrigerator.....and you find:
  • Leftover pasta sauce made with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms
  • 1/2 a head of cabbage
  • Ground Venison
  • Leftover rice
What would you make with these ingredients?

Do you watch Chopped?  It is one of my favorite food shows.  I think I could do okay with it except for the time constraints.  How these cooks are able to come up with an idea and prepare it so quickly is mind boggling to me.  Luckily when I looked in my basket (refrigerator) I had no such time constraints.

Here is what I came up with and I must say that if I could adjust the time that it took to make it...I would be a Chopped Champion!  This turned out absolutely delicious!!

I measured out the sauce and saw that I had 2 c. left.

So I added the full pound of venison and 1 c. of the leftover rice.

I formed 2 dozen meatballs and still had meat mixture left.

So I formed it into a meatloaf, baked it up and will serve it as one of my meals this week.

While the meatballs baked, I shredded up the cabbage.
Melted some butter and added the cabbage and some sliced leeks.
I cooked and stirred over med heat until wilted.
I went into the pantry and added a can of diced tomatoes.
It was not saucy enough for me.
 I opened a can of tomato soup and added that along with a 1/2 can of water.

When the meatballs were done baking I added them to the mixture.
Then I let them simmer for about 20 minutes to meld the flavors.

Served them up with a crusty loaf of bread that we used to sop up the juices.
Delicious...tasted just like Stuffed Cabbages.
That's what I will name this...Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage.
You will find the printable recipe below the Weekly Menu.

This is going to be a very busy week for everyone in the USA who celebrates Thanksgiving.  I am going to be busy with the food pantry until Monday evening.  So our meals are going to be catch as catch can.

I changed our menu for tonight because Frank's sister and brother in law are going out so we are going over to hang out with Mom Klik.  I am taking the Chicken Soup that was on the menu for last night.  Hence the reason why we had Chopped here yesterday.

Saturday I am taking a painting class.  I am pretty excited, it has been a long time since I have been painting.  We will be having the meatloaf that I made yesterday for dinner when I get home.

We are singing Sunday morning and then we will take any last minute calls for Thanksgiving Baskets and start taking stuff to the distribution point.  I still have leftover rice so I will be making Fried Rice for dinner when we get home. Quick and easy.

Monday is distribution day so we will be grabbing dinner out afterwards.

Tuesday I am taking Mom Klik to the doctor in the morning, doing my shopping for Thanksgiving dinner and we have choir practice since Thursday is Thanksgiving so a crockpot dinner is being served. 

Wednesday we are having furniture delivered and I will be prepping the things that can be made early for dinner on Thursday....Happy Thanksgiving all.

Friday, of course, is leftovers.

Meatloaf (see meatball recipe below)
Baked Potatoes

Pork Fried Rice

Out for dinner

Hungarian Pancake

Hot dogs
Baked Beans

See large menu


And here is my Chopped recipe for Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Stop back by during the week for recipes and photos.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

2 c. leftover pasta sauce (mine contained Italian Sausage and Mushrooms)
1 lb. ground venison
1 c. cooked rice
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced
3 leeks, white and light green parts, well washed and sliced
1/4 c. butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (10 oz) can condensed tomato soup
1/2 c. water

Combine pasta sauce, venison and rice.  Form into meatballs, about 2" in diameter and place on baking sheets that have been lined with foil.  Place in a preheated 350* oven for 20-30 minutes, until nicely browned.

While meatballs are baking, saute cabbage and leeks in butter over med high heat, stirring and cooking until wilted.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the tomatoes and their juices stir along with the soup and water.  Stir and cook until combined.  Lower heat to simmer, add the meatballs and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until flavors meld. Print Recipe

Jalapeno Sweet Potato Puffs for #CrazyIngredientChallenge

Can you guess what our ingredients are this month for Crazy Ingredient Challenge?  Yes, I gave it away right off the bat....Jalapenos and Sweet Potatoes.  Two ingredients that are not too crazy but that I am crazy about!

I stopped by my bff in the computer world, google search, and typed in Sweet Potatoes and Jalapenos. I was rewarded with a plethora of recipes containing both of these ingredients.  I usually read 5 or 6 different recipes and then make my own recipe by incorporating several different ideas. This month, however, I stumbled upon this recipe by Hello Healthy and it seemed pretty much exactly what I was looking for.  These little sweet potato puffs are a perfect little appetizer for all of the holiday parties we will be throwing and attending.  I did adapt the recipe to suit what ingredients I had a available and for easier preparation with less dirty dishes.

The first change I made was to microwave my potatoes instead of peeling and boiling them.

This way all I had to do was peel the skins off and put the potatoes in the bowl.

Mash the potatoes and add the remaining ingredients.
I substituted a Mexican Blend for the Cheddar Cheese.
Sour Cream for the Greek Yogurt.
I also used some precooked real bacon bits that I had in my cupboard instead of frying up slices.

I ended up with 2 dozen of these tasty little morsels that we enjoyed while playing cards one evening.

Jalapeno Sweet Potato Puffs
adapted from Hello Healthy

2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled and mashed
2 eggs
3/4 c. Mexican blend shredded cheese
3 T. sour cream
1/4 c. real bacon bits
1 lg. jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well incorporated.  Spray 2 mini muffin tins with cooking spray.  Divide the mixture into the muffin tins and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and slightly browned.  Allow puffs to cool and serve at room temperature. Print Recipe

Let's see what the others created with Jalapenos and Sweet Potatoes

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mocha Bundt Cake for #BundtBakers

Our theme for this month's Bundt Bakers, as chosen by Tara of Noshing with the Nolands, is Hot Chocolate.  A few weeks ago I shared a recipe for Flavored Mocha Mix for a project I'm participating in called Handcrafted Edibles.  I decided to stick with this theme and make a Mocha Bundt.

I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and followed it exactly which is very unusual for me as I normally consider recipes more of a guideline.  The cake turned out very well, it was moist and very good.  That being said, I have made better cakes that took much less effort and dirtied many less dishes than this cake.  So, while I may make this cake again, I will not follow the recipe exactly.  I will use it as a guideline and see how it turns out.  I will let you know and share the adapted recipe with you if it turns out well.  In the meantime, don't be afraid to make this cake for your holiday table, just be sure to give yourself time to wash all the dishes before your guests arrive.

Mocha Bundt Cake
as found at Allrecipes.com by alijmorris

3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 egg yolks
1 t. baking soda
2 T. cold water
1/2 c. strong brewed coffee
1 c. coffee flavored liqueur, divided
2 T. vanilla extract
1 1/3 all purpose flour
4 egg whites
1 c. confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 325*.  Grease and flour a 10" Bundt pan.  In a large measuring cup dissolve baking soda in water, then add coffee, 1/2 c. coffee liqueur and vanilla.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the cocoa and then the egg yolks, one at a time.  Alternately beat in the flour and the coffee mixture just until incorporated.

In a large glass or metal mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter, then quickly fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle removes cleanly.  Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn onto a cooling rack.While cake is cooling in the pan, combine the remaining 1/2 c coffee liqueur with the confectioners sugar in a small bowl to make the glaze. Pierce the warm cake all over with a fork or the skewer and drizzle the glaze a spoonful at a time over the cake until it is absorbed.  Print Recipe

Let's see what other Hot Chocolate Bundts are being served today:


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.