Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Simple and delicious Home made Cream Puffs with Blueberry Whipped cream

Simple and delicious Home made Cream Puffs with Blueberry Whipped cream

I can remember, as a kid, my mom making cream puffs for us.  They were so light and fluffy, filled with delicious whipped cream.  They were a real treat.  Sometime Mom would make them into swan shapes.  They were beautiful and delicious.  I never dreamed I'd try to make them.  I thought they would be too difficult for me to try.  

One day, last year, Mom and I were talking about birthdays.  She told me that as a little girl living in Germany, her Mom and Uromi would make her cream puffs for her birthday.  They would place them in a silver platter, filled with whipped cream and she could eat all she wanted, all day long.  They would also present her with a bouquet of Daffodils.  She said she loved feeling so special.  That's where the idea was started.  I thought I'd make sure Mom got daffodils and cream puffs for her March birthday.  

About a month before her birthday, hoping she had forgotten our conversation about her birthday as a child, I asked Mom to give me the recipe for the cream puffs. Without questioning me, she e-mailed it.  I'm always nervous when I try a new recipe, I guess everyone is.  I didn't want to ruin the ingredients, and I really wanted to make these for my Mom.  The time dwindled down to a few days before her birthday.  Since she doesn't live near me, I would have to UPS the package to her. It was time to "sink or swim".  So, I got my ingredients and went to work.  

I used a tip on the pastry bag, that was too small.  You can see the dough on the left was piped using the small tip.  I switched to a larger tip, and you can see example of those.  The ones on the far right are the ones that looked the best.  
As you press the paste, through the pastry bag tip, it will automatically spiral around, just go with it.  You can also see the water. That is the water, you'll see in the recipe, I sprinkled on top.  I just dipped my fingers in water (wash them first, ha ha ha), then let them drip on top of the pastry.  

Here are the tiny ones filled with blueberry whipped cream. They are delicious.  So light, fuffy and full of flavor.  My son asked me if I was going to mail those delicious muffins to Romi (that's what he calls her).  Yes I am.  Well, yes I did.  I couldn't post this recipe until after Moms birthday.  I didn't want to ruin the surprise.  She said she felt like a little girl again!  Success!!
Below is the recipe Mom sent me.  I just copied and pasted it here.  She used a term, Choux Paste.  Since I have never seen it before, I did a search.  It seems it is a light pastry dough that is used for many types of pastry, including eclairs.  Yum!!

Cream Puff Recipe:

Choux    Paste      
(about 2 ½ cups)
Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ tsp. salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature (VERY important!)
1 large pastry bag

One ½ inch plain decorator tip (I don’t know if a zip-lock bag with the edge cut off would work, it could, but you would have to re-inforce it with maybe masking tape.  I think it would be worthwhile to invest in the decorator tip and a package of disposable decorator bags)
Method:
Combine in a large, heavy saucepan:

1 cup water, the cut-up stick of unsalted butter and ½ tsp. salt.

Bring the mixture to a full boil over medium heat.

Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.  The mixture will look rough at first but it will become smooth, at which point you should stir faster.   

When you see the mixture starting to coat the bottom of your saucepan, be watchful. 

Take your pan off the stove and let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Then, add one egg at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until totally incorporated and smooth; by the fourth egg will be shiny and if scooped up on the end of the spoon will stand erect.  

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 deg. F.

Scoop the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip and onto an ungreased cookie sheet pipe 1-inch to 1-1/2 inch little mounds about one inch apart (they spread and rise up).  

Before baking, ever so lightly sprinkle a few drops of water over the shapes for a light, airy texture.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 deg. And bake until golden brown and very firm to the touch, about 25 minutes longer.  

Remove to a rack and let cool completely.

Note: I used salted butter and left out the 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Fillings:
Slice in half (they will be hollow) and fill with your choice of:
1.  Sweetened whipped cream
2.  Whipped cream w/strawberries other berries of soft fruit mixed in
3. Puddings lightened with whipped cream
4. Ice cream

How to make Blueberry Whipped Cream:

Ingredients:

1 small carton of heavy whipping cream
sugar
1 cup frozen blueberry's

Put the blueberry's in a food processor and finely chop

Pour the carton of heavy whipping cream into a mixer bowl and turn on the mixer.  Keep mixing until the cream starts to come together.  It looks like clouds.  I add sugar to taste, it seems the more sugar you add, the stiffer the whipping cream gets.  Too much will make it too sweet though. Once it is at a nice stiff consistency, I added the frozen blueberry's and whipped some more.  Once thoroughly combined, I put the whipped cream into a pastry bag with a round tip and filled up the cream puffs.  

I also use the flavored whipped cream for my coffee as well.  I learned this from my Mom.  Instead of using creamer in our coffee, we just used the heavy whipping cream (unwhipped).  If it was whipped, then we dropped huge dollops into our coffee.  It's so good! 

You can use anything to flavor the whipped cream, chopped strawberry's, caramel, chocolate syrup and so on.  Be daring!



Friday, February 8, 2013

Delicious Easter jello with home made pudding, marshmallows and cheddar cheese

Delicious Easter jello with home made pudding, marshmallows and cheddar cheese

This recipe is one of my most viewed.  It's on every update reporting my Stat's for the week.  Since, Easter is on it's way, I thought I'd re-post.
Oh, one more note, even though the cheese sounds like it might not be so good, it is delicious.  You can not imagine how well this combination is.  My Grandma is a genius!! :)

One of my most favorite deserts is my Grandma's jello salad.  She made up this recipe and it is a family favorite.
I use different variations of this Jello salad, but the same technique Grandma taught me.  The home made pudding is out of this world. It is very easy to make.
When my husband first saw this jello salad, he wasn't sure what to think.  He told me he didn't think the cheese was such a good idea, he didn't think he'd like it.  His mind was quickly changed once he took a taste.  Don't write this off because you think the cheese will not be good, it is wonderful.
I found these cute, rabbit shaped, marshmallows and decided to use them since it is Easter.  They are hidden a little in the cheese, but it's still a cute presentation. 



This recipe makes a lot of Jello Salad. I cut it in half and I have fun with the combinations of jello and fruit. I also use the flavored marshmallows to mix things up a bit. Kids love this, and adults do too!

My Grandma makes this a lot, and she always adds different kinds of fruit with the pineapples. Her favorite type of fruit to add are bananas. I'm allergic to bananas! I went to her house and she told me she made her jello salad. I cut myself a piece then put it right back in the pan. I went back into the living room with no jello. She was just about to ask me why, when her eyes got all big and she said BANANAS! A few weeks later she made the jello again. This time she didn't add banana's and was happy to tell me that. I was so glad I could have a slice of her jello salad.  I get a slice and there were some odd looking fruit pieces mixed in with the pineapple, just to be sure I asked what they were, Mango. I'm allergic to mango too. So, I had to learn how to make it myself, or I'd never get any I could eat! Ha Ha.
The first recipe is Grandma's actual Jello Salad.  The ingredients I used for the salad pictured are listed below.  Feel free to experiment with flavor combinations. 


Grandma's Jello Salad:


1 regular package Lemon Jello
1 regular package Orange Jello
 can crushed pineapple
1 bag mini marshmallows
Orange Juice
2 TB. sugar
3 TB. flour
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 pint whipping cream (or 8oz. Cool Whip)
Grated cheddar cheese

Prepare Jello according to package
Drain pineapple and reserve the juice
Add pineapple to jello
Pour into glass dish
Cover with mini marshmallows and refrigerate to gel

Add orange juice to pineapple juice to make 1 cup
Pour into sauce pan
Add sugar, flour, and beaten egg
Cook over medium heat until pudding like, stir constantly
Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally
Once room temp., refrigerate until ready to add to Jello salad

Put whipping cream in a bowl and add lemon juice
Fold in the pudding mixture, whip together (if using whipped topping, then mix into pudding mixture)
Put on top of marshmallows then grate cheese on top

Refrigerate until ready to serve


Easter Jello Pudding ingredients:

Raspberry jello
Bunny shaped Marshmallows
Fruit cocktail drained, reserve the juice to use for the pudding

PLEASE NOTE: This recipe is protected by copyright law.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Caribbean style Jerk Pork Chops with Grilled apples and Fresh Strawberry shortcake

Caribbean style Jerk Pork Chops with Grilled Sugar Spice Apples and Fresh Strawberry shortcake

The only thing lacking at my house tonight? The steel drums singing with the roar of the ocean. It was a Caribbean style meal at our house, and it smelled so good!  I adore the Caribbean, the food is delicious, the people are fantastic and fun is in the air.  There is nothing like the sound of steel drums to make my spirit soar and my feet move.  We've had a crazy winter and we're having an unseasonably warm day.  To have the last two days be so nice, I had to break out a summer meal.
My little boy and I picked two baskets of strawberries on Wednesday.  We stopped at a "pick your own" farm.  Neither of us had ever been to a "pick your own" farm, it was a lot of fun!  We were both very proud of our baskets of strawberries.  My little boy loves to make "the plan", so, the plan was to make a strawberry shortcake and strawberry milk when we got home.  So far, there's been a lot of eating strawberries, along with the strawberry shortcake, but not so much the strawberry milk. Maybe tomorrow.

Grilled Apples:

Wash and thickly slice two apples
Brush with coconut oil
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the apple slice
Then place on grill until sugar is warm and bubbly


Caribbean style Jerk Pork Chops:

4 thick sliced pork chops
Spiced rum
Jerk seasoning
Salt and pepper

Let the chops marinate in the spiced rum for about 30 minutes then rub the jerk seasoning in
Grill until done





Strawberry Shortcake:

Strawberries
Angel food cake
Honey
Dark Chocolate sauce
Cinnamon

Slice the strawberries and place in a bowl
Drizzle with honey, liberally
Sprinkle with cinnamon and stir
Let sit for a while at room temp so the juices mingle
Break up some angel food cake
Spoon strawberries over and drizzle with dark chocolate sauce




Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cornstarch Salt Clay Christmas Ornaments

Cornstarch Salt Clay Christmas Ornaments


This is another project I have wanted to do with my son.  I have such nice memories of creating ornaments with my family.  Since I am addicted to Pinterest, I looked there first.  I found a wonderful recipe that also uses cornstarch.  I copied it down to use the next day.   I even tagged a friend of mine, so she could see the recipe and how their creations were decorated.  My friend Martha asked me for the recipe, so I tried to tag her on Pinterest,  I now, can't find the recipe.  I can find the pictures, but the link is to something unrelated.  So I am going to give the recipe, but I can not give the credit to whom deserves it.  To the right, is the picture, but no link to the author.  When I was a kid, my mom fixed us some salt dough. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I had so much fun making salt dough ornaments. In fact, the picture to the left are some of those ornaments.  Notice the round ornament in the upper left, that was my contribution.  
The next day I cooked up this recipe and it worked beautifully.  The first batch of dough turned out kind of whitish, but the second batch yellowed.  I don't know if this was because I used the same pot I used the first time, or if maybe I used too much salt?  No matter, they baked up beautifully and we had a wonderful time making these ornaments.  My friend, John, came over to help us make some very creative creations. He even made a pacman!  My son wants to make some more, he really enjoyed himself.    


Cornstarch Salt Clay:

2/3 cup salt
1/3 cup baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch

How to: 

Mix salt and soda with 1/3 cup water and bring to boil

In a small bowl combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup water stir well (use a fork)

When the salt and soda reach boiling, remove from heat 
Add the cornstarch mixture and stir vigorously for 1/2 minutes until a ball forms
Put ball of dough on wax paper to cool

Knead well once it's cool enough to handle.  DO NOT STORE USE IMMEDIATELY

I didn't try it, but you could try adding food coloring to make colored creations. 

I baked at 195 for 4 hours, 2 the night we made them, then left them in the heated oven overnight.  The next morning, the tops were hard but the bottoms were not, so I turned them over and baked the for 2 more hours. 


 Decorations:

Buttons
Strings of beads
Bedazzler crystals
Screws
Pipe Cleaners
Any left over beads, buttons, Christmas lights, screws, nuts bolts and whatever your imagination comes up with.

We used the pipe cleaner as hangers for some of the ornaments.  Press into dough before it dries
Some of our buttons came off, so I "gorilla" glued them back on.










Friday, December 7, 2012

Authentic LEBKUCHEN, Gingerbread recipe from scratch. Wonderfully simple.

Here we go, as promised, my Mom's recipe for home made gingerbread.  Mom is German and in Germany, or Deutschland, gingerbread is called Lebkuchen.  I found a recipe for Lebkuchen in an cook book called, "My Favorite Cookies from the old Country."  They called for allowing the dough to sit in a covered bowl for 10 days before using it.  That's more time than I'm willing to wait for cookies, I'd just head right back to the store and get the refrigerated kind.  Well, I really wanted to know an easy recipe for gingerbread, so I called Mom.  As always, she came through with flying colors.  I believe I will make some homemade gingerbread cookies this week.  Let me know how yours turn out, ok? (P.S. The picture is not one of Mom's gingerbread houses, it's one we did with the baby a couple years ago.)
A little note on the cookbook I was reading, they did suggest to leave the cookies out over night to harden and then bake them.  Of course, cover them up first.  I'm not sure why, but it was an interesting step to take.  Well, if you've waited 10 days to make cookies, what's one more night?  Ahhh, but there's nothing better than a house filled with the warm scents of freshly made, freshly baked and decorated, Lebkuchen cookies. 

Note: I didn't have dark corn syrup, so I used molasses. Delicious!



LEBKUCHEN (Gingerbread)


½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1 egg
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. salt



Combine butter and brown sugar in a large bowl; beat until well blended. Add corn syrup and egg; beat until smooth. Combine remaining ingredients in another bowl; stir to mix well then add to butter mixture, a third at a time, mixing after each addition until smooth. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each third in foil and chill at least one hour to make rolling easier. On a well-floured surface roll out one-third of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, cut out cookie shapes, placing them on ungreased baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake at 400 deg. F, for 8 minutes or until lightly browned; remove from baking sheet at once onto a cooling rack. While still warm brush with LEMON GLAZE.



LEMON GLAZE: In a small bowl 2 cups confectionery sugar add 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, stirring with a fork to combine. If too thick add a little at a time more lemon juice until glaze is of spreading consistency. Immediately decorate with sprinkles etc. (I use this same dough and glaze to make gingerbread houses)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Craft with Cinnamon Broom.

Christmas Reindeer Craft with Cinnamon Broom. 
 I don't usually post crafts, but this is one I've wanted to do for years.  After I got out of college, I moved to the beach.  I didn't care for living on the beach during Christmas, because there is no snow.  After growing up in the mountains, I usually had a white Christmas. To combat my homesickness, I decided to go to festivals and craft shows.  I thought that would put me in the Christmas spirit.  One stop was at an assisted living facility that had a craft and bake sale.  I found a Reindeer Broom, and had to have it.  It became a treasured Christmas decoration for years. Then it disappeared.  Every year, I would see a cinnamon broom and think, "I can make a reindeer broom."  I never did.  I've actually had these brooms for a couple of years, just waiting on me to turn them into Rudolph the Reindeer, or more appropriately, Rudolph the red nosed broom-deer.
I purchased everything I needed to make the broom-deer, but never got around to it.  I even had the googly eyes, but had misplaced them, so I purchased another pack.
 Then, misplaced them as well.  A couple of nights ago, my son and I went to the craft store and I told him we needed googly eyes.  He reminded me that we had two packs, and if I wouldn't lose them, I wouldn't have to buy new ones.  Smarty pants.  I purchased the third pack of googly eyes, thinking I should actually buy two packs instead of just one. That way, I could throw one pack in the trash, and then I'd always know where it was.  
I didn't want to lose any more googly eyes, so the brooms were brought out and I went to work.
It was a lot of fun, and not that hard.
I think they are really cute, and the craft was not very time consuming.  That's good, because I don't like to spend all day on a tedious craft, or anything for that matter.  Oh, and I found the other two missing packs of googly eyes.  Well, at least I won't have to buy anymore for a long, long, long, time.











Materials you'll need for:
Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer Broom-deer:

Cinnamon brooms
Pipe Cleaners
Red pom pom balls
Large googly eyes
Large jingle bells
String of small, colored jingle bells
Floral wire
Scissors
Glue

Split the brooms in half and tie each side with a pipe cleaner.  Attach a pine bough, or bells or pom poms to the pipe cleaner.
Glue on the googly eyes and the red nose
Take floral wire and cut to length, then put a pine bough at the base of the head and decorate with bells, pine boughs, or whatever you would like to make him look festive.

Wrap a length of floral wire around the base, under the pine bough, to make a hanger. Twist it tight, then make a loop with the remaining length, to hang on a door or wall.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Baked Butternut Squash with stewed apples, raisins, cranberries and molasses

Baked Butternut Squash with stewed apples, raisins, cranberries and molasses

                           Many times I have gone into the grocery store to buy butternut and acorn squash.  Almost every time, the cashier has no idea what I am purchasing.  When I tell them what it is, they look confused and some will ask me what do I do with it?       When I have my friends over for dinner and serve them their own acorn squash filled with stewed fruit, they are amazed.  It's so pretty, and the taste is incredible.  Most people think of squash, as a vegetable that you boil or bread and fry, not one that you bake.  I tried a recipe that called for peeling the butternut squash, cutting it into pieces then boiling it.  


 That took so much time, it was not fun. I spent more time trying to peel that hard skinned squash than I did preparing the turkey.  I will never do that again.  What a pain!
Acorn squash are smaller with a lovely dark green color.  Check out my post for Balsamic Maple Glazed Pork Chops and Acorn Squash, for a great dinner recipe with a lovely picture of an acorn squash ready for the oven.  The picture is from another blogger, and a link to her recipe is also included.  I can't take credit for that great picture.

Butternut squash are long and light tan in color.  I'm not sure I can describe their taste.  Maybe somewhere between a pumpkin and a sweet potato?  They are not too sweet, nor too bitter. They have a lovely flavor, that is enhanced by adding butter and stewed fruit.  Butternut squash can be the entire meal, or a lovely addition to a meal.  It's definitely a great "wow" dish.  One butternut squash can serve 4 people.  With an acorn squash, I serve one person a half of an acorn squash filled with the fruit.  Like a bowl.  The Butternut squash is bigger, and a little awkward.  I generally put the butter in the squash, stir it up, then add the fruit on top.  Instead of putting a enormous butternut squash on each persons plate, we dish it out with a serving spoon.  It still looks nice on the serving platter, then it's gone.  All of it usually.  

Baked Butternut Squash with stewed apples, raisins, cranberries and molasses:

Butternut Squash
Butter or Coconut Oil
Cinnamon
Apples
Raisins
Cranberry's
Molasses
Orange Juice
Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Wash the Butternut squash (to stop the spread of any germs that may be on the skin, when slicing through with the knife)

Place the tip of a sharp kitchen knife into the side of the butternut squash.  Place gentle pressure on the knife and slice toward the end of the squash.  Once you have a nice sized slit, slide the knife deeper and cut the squash in half.  Generally, once the initial opening is made, the squash will kind of "crack" open as you force the knife through it. It's not hard to cut at all.  

Scoop out the seeds and discard

Place each half, flat side down, on an edged baking sheet and add water.  Don't leave out this step.  ADD WATER!  This keeps the edges from burning, and keeps the squash from drying out.  Just enough to cover the bottom of the sheet.  

Place in the preheated oven and allow to bake for 45 minutes.  

The squash are cooked through when you can make an easy "dent" in the skin by lightly pushing on it. If it doesn't give easily, and make a small dent, then let bake a little bit longer.  

When the butternut squash are baked through and soft, pull out of the oven, and add butter to taste.  The squash should be easy to stir with a spoon to incorporate the butter. Drizzle on some molasses or brown sugar to sweeten it up.  It really does add a nice layer of flavor!

Stewed Apples:

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 Red delicious apple
Some sort of fruit juice
Orange Juice
Dried Raisins and cranberries
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon (to taste)

Heat a small saucepan on medium low and add the butter
Wash the apple, then slice into bite size pieces, add to the butter. I leave the skins on, that's where all the nutrients are, and they become soft during the cooking process
Stir it around and let the apples cook a little in the butter
Don't let the butter turn brown!
Add the cinnamon
I use whatever juice is in the fridge, tonight it was actually fruit punch. I just pour in enough to cover the apples half way up, and then add a splash of Orange Juice. It add's a surprise taste that is lovely.
Add the raisins and cranberries and put the lid on let simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples are soft.
Scoop the stewed apples into the prepared Butternut Squash