Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Bars

Chocolate, Coconut, and Brown Sugar - what's not to love?  When I saw this recipe on the bag of C & H Dark Brown Sugar, I decided to try it.  They're easy to put together without a mixer.

These bars are well-suited to bring to a potluck because they're very rich.  They taste a bit like Magic Cookie Bars - I think I would have liked them better with walnuts.


Anacapa Island at Sunset from Oxnard Shores Beach

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Inspirational Blog Award!

My blogger friend and mentor, Lizzy, of That Skinny Chick Can Bake was sweet enough to give me the "Inspirational Blogger" Award.  Lizzy is a talented baker who juggles the favorites of her family to create delicious meals and fabulous sweets.  If you're a chocoholic, you will love exploring her blog!

The best thing about this award is that I get to share it!  I'd like to take this chance to recognize some bloggers that I haven't recognized before:

Lemons and Anchovies for her healthy, flavorful dishes and beautiful photography.

~ Sheri at Pork Cracklins who is a fellow member of Baked Sunday Mornings. She's an inspired baker and likes to explore unique flavor combinations.

~ Kyleen at Sixteen Beans who is a young gourmet chef  in the making!  She writes about her adventures as a teenager going to culinary school in Canada.

~ Candy at Candy Girl who is a Dorista from Kentucky and participates in Baked Sunday Mornings with me.

Please take a few moments to visit these inspirational blogs - whether you're a cook or a baker, you'll find something wonderful to try.

Starfish and Sea Anemones - Sycamore Cove Beach, CA

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Coq au Vino Bianco, Green Beans, and Broth Braised Potatoes ~ French Fridays with Dorie ~ and Lemon Tarts

I wanted to make something rich and flavorful to accompany this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe.  I remembered this wonderful Chicken dish we'd made called Coq au Vino Bianco from The New Classics Cookbook.  It's perfect for winter - like a chicken stew infused with bacon, caramelized pearl onions, and white wine.  And the vegetable gravy was perfect with the potatoes.  I served them with steamed Green Beans.

I found fingerling potatoes at the Farmers' Market this week.  I cut them into wedges, rather than in half, so more surface was exposed to the broth they were cooked in.  The Broth Braised Potatoes make a wonderful side dish for any number of entrees.  They're quick, flavorful, and delicious!  We're sure to enjoy these again, and again.

For dessert, I made Lemon Tarts with Dorie's Sweet Tart Pastry (scroll down - I've made this Pear Tart, too, and it's amazing!).  For the filling, I used Clearbrook Farms Lemon Fruit Tart filling.  It was as good as homemade.


Sycamore Cove Beach, CA

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pizza Rolls!

I had a friend who made incredible Pizza Rolls.  Although she made them often, she wouldn't share the recipe with me, so this is my first attempt at trying to make them on my own.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Make 1 recipe of Wolfgang Puck's Pizza Dough and allow to rise according to recipe directions.
Cut the ball of pizza dough in half.  Roll each half into a rectangular shape.
Slather with Pizza Sauce - I used Trader Joe's.

Using kitchen shears, cut slices of Pepperoni into matchstick pieces and scatter over sauce.
Then sprinkle shredded cheese over it - I used a 4-cheese Italian blend.
You can really add anything you like at this point:  Olives, onions, peppers,  artichokes, etc.

Roll the dough up jelly-roll style and slice into 1" thick pinwheels.
Place evenly spaced out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet cut side down.
Bake for 10 minutes.

Each roll makes 9 pizza rolls.  You can also make one roll and keep half the dough in the refrigerator in a ziploc bag for a couple of days.


Goleta Beach, CA

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dorie Greenspan's Coconut Tea Cake

Crisp top, velvety cake, and yummy coconut!

I love coconut! I always have, so I was looking forward to trying Dorie's Coconut Tea Cake from Baking From My Home to Yours.  Infused with coconut milk, vanilla, and rum, it's moist and delightful!  I had a piece warm from the oven with a cold glass of milk.  If you love coconut as much as I do, you're sure to like this simple cake.

It comes together quickly and can be placed in the oven at the beginning of a dinner party so you can serve it warm to your guests.  Although it would be an easy accompaniment to whipped cream, ice cream, sorbet, or fruit, it stands well on its own,  It can be served as dessert, eaten for breakfast (can you tell I'm planning ahead?), with tea, or an after work/school snack.
My brother & me drinking coconut milk in Hawaii

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quatre Quarts ~ French Fridays with Dorie ~ with Limoncello Blueberry Sauce

Quatre Quarts - lovely, light, & golden!
This week's French Fridays with Dorie challenge is for Quatre Quarts  which is a lovely, light cake that is simple to make.  Although American Pound Cake is said to have been derived from this French cake, the French version is far lighter.  The cake is good on its own, but also serves as a delicious base for fruit, chocolate, or any number of toppings.  Because this cake is not too sweet, it would be a great addition to a Brunch or Tea table.

Limoncello Blueberry Sauce 

I found fresh Blueberries at the market, so created this Limoncello Blueberry Sauce which was just perfect.  

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, stir together:  1/2 cup Water, 1/2 cup Sugar, 1/2 cup Limoncello, 12 ounces Blueberries.  Continue stirring until blueberries start to bubble (about 8 minutes).  Then add: 2 teaspoons Arrowroot (or Cornstarch) dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water.  Continue stirring until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.


On Monday, my brother & I discovered the Coronado Butterfly Preserve in Goleta, CA.  I'd never seen anything like it!  It was truly magical.  The docent said they estimate at least 52,000 Monarch Butterflies in residence.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings ~ Substitute ~ New York-style Crumb Cake

Grab a fork!
Wonderful Sour Cream Cake
This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge is for Pecan Tassies.  I love Pecan Tassies, but I just made them for Christmas because they're a tradition in my family.  Since the recipe I used and the Baked recipe were surprisingly similar, I decided to take the opportunity to make up a recipe I missed since it was featured before I joined.  I've had the New York-style Crumb Cake tabbed since I got the book, so am excited to finally bake it this week.

Fresh from the oven!

Easy to make & even easier to eat!  The crumb topping tastes like caramel!  I fought the temptation to throw walnuts on top.  I'm sure to make this again and again!

My beautiful NEW Kitchen Aid mixer!  Isn't it gorgeous?!?  I had my other one for 18 years and there was nothing wrong with it, so I really had to think about getting a new one, but this one has more power (575 Watts) & a bigger bowl (6 quarts).  And, just look at the color!  I'm so ready for Tuesdays with Dorie now!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Curried Lentil Soup ~ from Lemons and Anchovies

Curried Lentil Soup
Purple-topped Turnips
I had some leftover chicken from this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe and I wanted to try something with a different flavor base.  When I found this recipe on Lemons and Anchovies, I decided to try it.  Take a moment to check out her beautiful blog.

John & I really like curry, but I've rarely had turnips - I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were.

Seasoned Vegetables

This soup is full of flavor and texture - not to mention vitamins!  Perfect for a cool winter evening.

I'm not sure what was better - smelling the aroma of this soup as it cooked, or eating it!

Snowy Egret - Middleton Place, S.C.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

M. Jacques' Armagnac Chicken ~ aka Magical Chicken ~ French Fridays with Dorie

Ta-dah - Chicken Magic!
Fresh Vegetables
This week's French Fridays With Dorie challenge is for M.Jacques' Armagnac Chicken ~ which could be accurately described as "magical."  Reading Dorie's description of this dish let me know I was in for something special, but I had no idea just how special it would be until lifted the lid from my le Creuset French Oven!

Cooked Vegetables

It was incredibly easy.  And delicious!  The vegetables were perfectly cooked and the chicken was falling-off-the-bone tender.  The only change we made to the recipe was to sprinkle a little Wondra Flour into the sauce to thicken it a bit.  This recipe will definitely make a repeat appearance in our kitchen!

John said the Carrots were his favorite part!
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cauliflower-Potato Soup

I've featured this soup before, so what's so special about it this time?  We grew our own Cauliflower!  Once you get the basics down, you'll find lots of ways to make this soup your own.

Cauliflower-Potato Soup

Add vegetables (except tomatoes) to large pot of boiling, salted water. Cover and cook until tender ~ about 15 mins.

2 Cups Diced Potatoes
1 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Cup Sliced Celery
2 Cups Chopped Cauliflower
1/2 tsp Salt
2 ½ Cups Boiling Water

While the vegetables are cooking, melt butter in a skillet. Whisk in flour, then pour in milk, stirring continuously until it thickens. 

¼ Cup Butter
¼ Cup Flour
2 Cups Milk
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Dill Weed
1 tsp Minced Parsley
¼ tsp Ground Pepper
½ tsp Dry Mustard
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
10 oz Grated Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup Diced Canned Tomatoes

Stir in spices and cheese, then remove from heat.

Pour cheese sauce into pot with vegetables and mash with potato masher, or immersion blender, until it reaches desired consistency. Stir in tomatoes.

1 ~ Substitute broccoli for cauliflower and leave tomatoes out.
 2 ~ Add extra potatoes instead of cauliflower, leave tomatoes out, and add bacon and chives.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bubble-top Brioche! ~ French Fridays with Dorie ~ and Deviled Ham + Late Addition - Bourbon Bread Pudding with Caramel Bourbon Sauce

Bubble-top Brioche!
This week's French Fridays with Dorie challenge is for these lovely, buttery Brioche!  I was so excited to try these - I even have these cute little pans!  I have to admit that my first batch didn't rise - John & I make Pizza almost every week, so I didn't have any anxiety about working with yeast.  Needless to say, I was really upset when the dough didn't rise.  I read & re-read the recipe and was sure I'd done everything right, so the only conclusion I could draw was the milk was too hot & killed off the yeast.  So, last night, I tried again - and, voila! Here they are!

Deviled Ham
This is one of those "no recipe" recipes.  John often makes this when we have ham.
In the bowl of a food processor, add:
About 2 Cups Cubed Ham
1/2 onion
Pulse a few times until finely chopped, scrape into a bowl and stir in 2 - 3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise.

For all my fellow Doristas who, like me, missed out on Tuesdays with Dorie, I wanted to let you know that the group is open again and will start baking through Baking with Julia in February.  It's only twice a month - and I'm hoping it off-sets Baked Sunday Mornings, but I really want to become a better baker, so am going to join.  If you're undecided, check out this video!

 Late addition:  This Brioche made the best Bourbon Bread Pudding I've made so far - and, of course, I made Caramel Bourbon Sauce to top it off!

Southern Caramel Bourbon Sauce
In a medium saucepan, whisk:
1 Cup Cream
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Light Corn Syrup
Boil over medium heat for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon Bourbon.
Pour over Bread Pudding while warm.

View of Santa Cruz Island from our rooftop.
Have a fabulous weekend!
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