Fudge Frosting. With and Without Sand.

Hello! Today we have a recipe and a lesson. Except not in that order. And sadly, no pictures. Mostly because I've been crazy-pants busy the past two weeks and my family has been eating a lot of Little Caesar's $5 pizza-to-go. Also leftovers. From weeks ago. They don't want to talk about it.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share some cooking wisdom with you, along with some wicked-fabulous frosting that is good on everything. Except maybe steak. And eggs. I like to use icing on those.

Chocolate Sand (Recipe for the Real Frosting Follows)
1 Batch Chocolate Fudge Frosting For Which Your Child Has Lost Her Head And Used Granulated Sugar Instead of Powdered
1 Large Pot

-Stare at batch of messed-up frosting. Try to keep face expressionless so as not to embarrass child and leave her with emotional scars you'll have to spend her college tuition to get therapied out of her. Decide you can save the frosting — and thereby your child — because sugar, chocolate chips and butter are expensive. Not to mention, tasty. And you can probably boil the snot out of the whole mess and turn it into fudge. I mean, that is what fudge is made out of, yeah?
-Pour daughter's frosting into large pot. Place on stove and turn burner to medium-high. Smile at child and tell her it's okay, you've done this sort of thing a lot. Except you haven't. So you'll be lying. This is where you decide what kind of character you have, and then throw it out the window because your child's psyche is more important.
-Bring to rolling boil (the frosting, not the child) and boil the living shortcake out of the thing for like 10 minutes, or until it reaches softball stage. Baseball stage works too.
-Pour into pan. Worry that this might not have worked.
-Wait for it to cool. Dig into the center of it with a soup spoon. 
-Hear grinding sound.
-Grimace. Morph grimace into smile and stick giant spoonful of fudge in your mouth. Reminisce about your dental work. Chew.
-Voilá. Chocolate Sand.

-You're welcome.

And now:
Sand-Free Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
 (NEVER margarine, or I shall follow your IP address to your home and revoke your cooking license)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (milk chocolate chips are for wussies)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups 
Powdered sugar.  (Not granulated. Powdered. POWDERED. No little sugary grains of sand.)

-Place milk and butter in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat.
-Blend in chocolate chips and stir until melted. Off the heat. For reals. They will melt.
-Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until of spreading consistency. Thin with milk if desired.
-Spread on cakes, cupcakes, muffins, graham crackers, backs of spoons, pieces of cardboard, all the fingers of your left hand, whathaveyou. Lick off. Throw cake and other leftovers away.
-Ta-da! Easy peasy.

Wait! I have a picture for you: 
 

This is a possessed crepe. Never had one freak out like that before. Sand-Free Fudge Frosting would calm that puppy right down.
 
This is me with a mouthful of Chocolate Sand. Yeah. My necklace didn't like it either.
 
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Tarragon Balsamic Beans (a.k.a. Ugly Beans) – Multimedia

These beans are the partay beans. Mostly because I took them to a partay. But they are mighty mighty good. Like, you won't just be able to eat one serving. I couldn't. And I got a lot of recipe requests, hence, the recipe postage here today. (BTW, this recipe calls for nuts. If you have a nut allergy, just don't add them.Voilá! Tragedy averted.)

One little problemo, though. I was in a hurry when I made these and only took one picture: the final product. I know. Horrifying. Will you be okay if there's only one picture, and only one picture's worth of my incisive commentary? I hope so. Perhaps the eating of the beans will assuage your pain. If not, I'll find a way to make it up to you–at the end.

Commencing of the Assuaging:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed OR 2 cans green beans (This is what I use, and frankly, I like it better. Counterintuitive, yes. But there you have it.)

1/3 cup sliced green onions (Diced shallots are lovely too.)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp. olive or canola oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

4 tsp. sugar

1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I burned these. So I chucked them and just chopped up a bunch of roasted mixed nuts from Costco. Me likey. Me make it this way all the time.)

 

Method:

–Place beans in a saucepan and cover with water. (Or alternatively, open cans of beans and pour contents into saucepan). 

–Bring to boil; cook, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes, or until tender (If using canned beans, bring to boil then simmer until warmed through)

–Meanwhile (DUN! DUN! DUN!) (Sorry. "Meanwhile" always makes me think of old radio dramas), in a nonstick skillet saute onions and garlic in oil until onions are tender. Add vinegar, sugar, tarragon, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until liquid is reduced by half.

–Drain beans; add to onion mixture. (Or add the onion mixture to the beans. Whichever suits your OCD-ness best). Cook and stir until heated through. Sprinkle with nuts. Or don't. But if you're not allergic, do.

TA DAAAAAAAA!

 

And Now, the Picture:

Mmmmmm People. Just MMMMMMM. Your life will never be the same.

Admin Note: (SOME people [see comments] are too wussy to handle the REAL picture of Balsamic Beans. SOME people say they look like "beans in throw up." Well, perhaps SOME people can start their own food blog and take their own food pictures. In the meantime, perhaps THIS picture will suit SOME PEOPLE'S appetites better.)

Not enough? Wellllll. Perhaps a clip of the inimitable Rowan Atkinson, of MR. BEAN fame will warm your hearty-cockles?

Still not enough? How about . . . 

 

Okay. That's probably enough.

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Scotch Eggs Re-post from January 15, 2011

Hello, my dears.

It's been a beautiful yet stressful week. Celebrating one life (my uncle) while worrying about another (my dad, in the hospital with V-tacs that they can't figure out. Except to call them V-tacs. Which by the way is easier and less stressful to say than Ventricular Tachycardia.) 

I said I wasn't posting again until Monday. But when I stress, I cook. This week I made Scotch Eggs with Dijon Sauce, and they were lovely and far too rich. Which made them lovely. So I thought I'd share them with you. And they're pretty easy–insofar as you consider from-scratch-cooking easy. I do. If opening a box and pouring it into a pan is your speed, then these might not be easy. But they are worth it. Let us proceed.

Scotch Eggs With Dijon Sauce
1 pound bulk pork sausage (I am partial to Jimmy Dean. Mostly because I'm pretty sure it references James Dean. And any sausage that wears black leather and rides motorcycles is a sausage of mine.)
6 hard cooked eggs (plus extra for the little people in your life who love boiled eggs)
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp prepared mustard

Sauce:
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped parsley  (Okay. Someone needs to explain parsley to me. What's it's point? I mean it's cute and all, but once it's cooked it tastes like slightly chewy air.)
1 to 1 1/4 cups half and half (And this is where we part ways. Because I used skim milk and no one died. Oh stop gasping in horror. It works fine.)
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

Preparation
– On a sheet of waxed paper, divide sausage into 6 equal portions; wrap 1 portion around each egg. (This is oddly fun. Like popping bubble-wrap bubbles, except not.)

– Roll each wrapped egg in bread crumbs.

-Beat egg with mustard and water. Dip bread crumbed eggs in beaten egg mixture.

– Roll again in bread crumbs; place on a rack in a shallow baking dish (A rack? I've got no racks except cooling racks, and I think those things are just aluminum sprayed silver. No way am I baking on them. Can you say 'Aluminum Cancer'? Just stick them on a cookie sheet. It works fine.)

– Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes or until browned. Turn once during baking. Cut into halves lengthwise; serve hot with Dijon sauce. (Or don't cut in half. It's fun to let them roll around your plate while you try to stab them with a fork.)

– Dijon Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour; cook for about a minute, whisking constantly until smooth and bubbling.

-Add seasonings, then add half and half a little at a time, whisking constantly until to desired thickness. 

– Whisk in mustard. Serve over Scotch eggs, vegetables, or fried fish. Yeah, it's THAT good. But don't serve it over chocolate cake, because, ew.

Pictures, my young cooking-padawans!

 
Clearly, I increased the recipe owing to the testosterone-factor in the Miller Family. Look how pretty those lovely eggs are on that lovely plate! (The lone egg is for my littlest-dude's after school snack.)
 
 
Slightly blurry ingredients. They were not blurry in real-life.

 

Look how weird that meat looks on my iPhone 4. Actually, it's not on my iPhone 4; it's on an old cookie sheet. But you know what I mean. Really I should invest in a good digital camera. But really again, this isn't bad for an iPhone. Here we have the meat portions and one partially wrapped egg.

 

Closeup on the Partially Wrapped Egg of Gorgeousness.

 

Fully wrapped egg being enrobed in breadcrumbs. Wouldn't you like to be that little egg?

 

Rolled, dipped, rolled, and placed on rack-free cookie sheet. So sue me.

 

And the finished, sliced, fully Dijon-sauce-drizzled product. Yum-city. And also Very Rich-city.

 

The "Gypsy Kings" on my iPod. The only music by which to cook adventurous food. I Samba'd all over that kitchen, baby!
 
Enjoy, my friends. Enjoy!
 
**Disclaimer – This is not a professional cooking blog. If it were, my cookie sheets would be pristine silver, and show no signs of having ever been used. However, my cookie sheets have had the living shine used out of them, and are therefore permanently discolored. It is just a sign of what a great mom I am. And no, I don't need any suggestions about how baking soda and a little bit of boar fat would take those stains right off. I like my stains. And I don't like boar fat.
 
With love and lots of cookies,
 
Janiel
 
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Sooji Halwa. That’s Right.

Hello, my Affectionate Food Aficionados! I felt rather adventurous tonight, so instead of dinner we had dessert. And instead of dessert we had an Indian dish that I think was dessert. It was tasty. And the kids are currently upstairs washing it down with nachos. Yeah. I'm THAT kind of mother. The kind who would rather die than feed her children liver or eggplant, but serves dessert for dinner and then washes it down with nachos.

So, voilá! Sooji Halwa Without Nachos!

Sooji Halwa Ingredients: (Do you notice how much fun I'm having saying "Sooji Halwa"? It's like popping bubble wrap. Once you start you can't stop. You try it: "Sooji Halwa. Sooji Halwa. Sooji Halwa." See?)

1 cup Semolina (Known in uncultured kitchens as Cream of Wheat. And sometimes Germade. That's what I've got in mine.)

1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar (Seriously people. Lean toward the 1 cup. We didn't. I'm using our janitor's broom to scrape the children off the ceiling. 1 1/2 cups is VERY sweet. It was still good though.)

Golden raisins, almonds, and cashews (I used Craisins, because that's how we roll. Also, I chopped the nuts. Add whatever amount suits you.)

1/2 cup butter

2 1/2 cups water

Pinch cardamom (Cardamom makes the world go 'round. If you've never heard of it, your world is probably just sitting there all stagnant and flat. I'm so sorry. Go buy some cardamom.)

Process:
– Melt butter. Add nuts and raisins. Cook on low until nuts attain a slight golden color.
-Add Semolina/Cream of Wheat. Roast on low until golden-brown.
-Add sugar and stir to mix.
-Slowly add water.
-Increase temperature. Stir. Add dash salt and pinch or two of cardamom.
-Cover and cook on low for 3 minutes.
-Take off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Eat and be grateful you didn't add the extra 1/2 cup of sugar. Vow to make this once a week.

Pictures!
 

The ingredients. That alien claw-like shadow in the upper right is really being cast by a lovely bouquet of flowers that my husband gave me. *sigh*
 
Melting butter. Ahhhh. There is nothing so pretty as melting butter. I want you to experience it with me. To enjoy the golden bubbles, and the liquified solids blanketing the pan with luscious goodness. 
Isn't that gorgeous? Someone should make a movie of that.
 
Nuts and craisins bathing in buttah.

 

Fresh semolina, a.k.a. cream of wheat, a.k.a. germade. Note the wooden spoon. You must always cook things like this with a wooden spoon. Do not ask why. Be at peace knowing that it is.
 
Golden-ified semolina with the addition of a bit too much sugar. 1 cup, my children. 1 cup.
 
Water added, creating a lovely slurry-pool.
 
The stir, the simmer, the addition of salt and cardy-cardy-cardimom, the sitting for 5 minutes. And then the eating. Oh my, yes. The eating.
 
Smiles everyone! Smiles!
(My children's smiles are rather fixed. And they're bobbing around the ceiling again. Excuse me while I just go get them …)
 
 
 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Dork Cookies

The story of my life is that when I fail, i fail BIG. No wussy itty bitty stuff. Just gargantuan, hideously embarrassing, terminally mortifying horror. 

Same is true of my cooking. I'm often quite good, and occasionally spectacular. But when I fall, I fall hard. And our garbage disposal gets a workout.

I don't usually post those recipes.

However, today I am posting a fail that ended up tasting quite good. In fact, I would recommend it–if someone could help me figure out how to get through it with less desire to slap it with a spatula.

So, here's the deal:

There's no recipe posted today. Just a photographic, and (optional) musical journey. What follows are pictures of me deciding to make Nestlé's Tollhouse cookies even though I didn't have any Nestlé's Tollhouse chocolate morsels. Who needs chocolate morsels, when you've got a mega-block of dark chocolate of the gourmet persuasion sitting in your pantry? You just cut it up into chunks. Voilá! Chocolate Chips.

Right.

(Feel free to play the song below as you browse the photos. It will set the mood. It describes how I often feel toward my recipes when they go awry. When listening, just substitute the word "recipe" for all references to love, romance, lovers, or happiness.) (On the other hand, the song is pretty rocking, and even though it is a bit noir, you're going to want to dance to it. So listen to it first, then look. Then listen, look, listen . .  . )

Annnnnnd . . . . GO!

 

My mother-in-law obtained this chocolate for me. She's written "Dark Cho for Janiel" in permanent marker on the outside of the packet. This is so no one accidentally mistakes what's in it for actual edible MILK chocolate and uses it for, like, food or something. No. She wants to be SURE that the Hemlock-like block goes to NO ONE but her odd Daughter-in-law-Janiel-who-clearly-has-mental-issues-because-she-likes-dark-chocolate. 

Removing the Dark Chocolate Matter from it's protective wrappings. The first time I offered a piece of dark chocolate candy to my hub's mom, she looked at me as though I had said, "May I schmear dog-poop on your bagel for you?"

Finding a second layer of protective wrappings beneath the first. Thank heavens for foresight. This stuff might have touched an innocent counter-top, or *gasp!* un-gloved hand.

 

And we commence the dicing into delicate chocolate morsels. Come on, little brick of gourmet loveliness, dice. DICE! (shave, shave, shave) Stupid, stupid block of gourmet chocolate.

 

Twenty minutes later I am sure I must be done. It's taking forEVER. There must be more than the two-cups required here. Three, at least! Let's measure.

Wha?

(*snort*) shaveshaveshave–

HACK, HACK, HACK!

Thirty-five minutes later we achieve two cups of little chocolate curls and shavings interspersed with ragged chunks. Half of it is smeared on my hand. And, by the way, it doesn't wash off without a gallon of Joy, grease-cutting dish soap. Because this is gourmet chocolate. This is gourmet chocolate with lots of cocoa butter and stuff. Or something. Or maybe it's cheap waxy stuff. It cost what costly stuff costs, so it'd better be good! (wash, wash, wash)

On with the Original Tollhouse Recipe. Mounds of flour, soda, and salt . . . . 

Followed by gobs of butter and sugar and splashes of vanilla . . . 

Tagged along with by the eggs–added one at a time and beaten well after each. Except not. Obviously I can't read a recipe when I'm upset with chocolate. Oh well. Hopefully it works, and neither egg is offended by not being treated as an individual.

And then the chocolate. Sweet Mary Francis on Buttered Toast! Look at that batter-to-chocolate-shavings ratio!

Perfect.

Check it, my peeps. Stirred together. Looks kind of like Oreo ice cream. Not sure? Let's look closer:

Yes. yes it does. That blurry bit in the foreground is playing hazard on my eyes. You?

Lovely little mounds of cookie dough on the sheet, placed there carefully and lovingly by me, using my lovely little cookie dough scooper thingie. You should get one of those. They're lovely.

Aerial view, brought to you by Chopper 5, Eye-In-The-Sky.

Does it bother you that the last little cookie blob on the bottom right there is not aligned with the others? Does it?

Now we bake.

And, Voil– er. They're sort of . . . . brown. And marbled. And flat. And crispy. And I don't see no chocolate morsels. Where are the chocolate morsels? WHERE THE HOO-HAH ARE THE BLINKING CHOCOLATE MORSELS I JUST SPENT HALF AN HOUR SHAVING LIKE SOME SORT OF LOW-PAID BARBER-BAKER REMINISCENT OF JOHNNY DEPP IN SWEENY TODD?!

Oh. There they are. Spread all through the cookie.

And may I just say:

Yum.

 

So, okay. Maybe Miss Otis DOESN'T regret. These were mighty fine little Dork Cookies.

 

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15 Minute Minestrone

Dear Cooking Cherubs,

Today I offer an extremely easy, incredibly fast little meal for those nights when the day didn't go right and you don't have time to make the stinkin' filet mignon with beurre blanc et fromage de campagne (I have no idea what language that is.)

I threw this soup together one night when I also had no time to go to the store for anything because my peeps were starving and wanted dinner RIGHT NOW. It's fast. It's affordable. And it's totally non-funky. Unless you consider crushed tomatoes and cabbage funky. (Don't let the cabbage scare you. It's massively good for you and you can't taste it. Just there for texture. And vitamins. And to make the soup look like it has stuff in it. Promise.)

So without further ado because this recipe is so fast that too much ado will make you miss it:

Fifteen Minute Minestrone Soup
2 cans chicken broth

1 cup water

1 can (28 oz) CRUSHED tomatoes (Not diced, not smooshed, not chopped, CRUSHED. And none of that "Basil And Garlic Added" business either. I hate it when they do that.)

1 16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables (I know. And I don't even believe in frozen mixed vegetables. What's the world coming to?)

1 can Great Northern Beans, drained (My recipe says "white kidney beans." Wha? There's no such thing, I swear. No idea what I was thinking.)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup shredded cabbage (If you hate that whole business where you accidentally shred part of your finger into the cabbage, just slice it fine. The cabbage. We don't want bits of you in the soup. No offense. I'm sure you're delicious.)

1/2 tsp. dried oregano (Scant. I'm more of a basil person, myself.)

1/2 tsp. dried basil (Or 1 Tbsp fresh basil, which is mucho bettero. Don't go crazy on the dried stuff or the flavor will take over.)

1/3 tsp pepper

1 cup Minute Rice

Process
-Bring broth, water, tomates and galic ("galic"? What am I, from Boston? Garrrrlic.) to boil in large saucepan.

-Add veggies, beans, cabbage, oregano, basil and pepper. Return to a boil.

-Reduce heat; cover and simmer 8 minutes or until veggies are done

-Stir in rice; cover. Remove from jeat. Let stand 5 minutes.

-Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, if you've got it. Or even if you don't.

-Great with French or Pugliesa bread. (I know. I'm so impressed that I know that word. "Pugliesa." Makes me feel all international. When in reality I'm just all Costco.)

Again with the Pictures:
 

 
Ya got yer tomatoes (crushed), broth and water here.
 
 
Live-action shot of veggies going into the soup-jacuzzi.
 
 
 
Great Northerns. Not White Kidneys. That's ridiculous. They'd have to be albino.
 
 
Mon petit chou.
 
 
Garlic, minced. I used to keep fresh garlic on hand but it would shrivel up before I could use all of it. I love the bottled stuff. And it lasts forever. Almost.
 
 
Beautiful freshly ground pepper. And don't you just love prep-bowls?
 
 
Stirring it all together. T-minus 10 minutes.
 
 
Easy-Peasy Minute Rice. Thank you, inventors of the Rice of Minutes.
 
 
Annnnnd . . . The Minestrone. Waiting for shavings of Parmesan and a slice of warm Pugliesa. That's what I'm talking about.
(And no, that is not a growth coming out of the top of my saucepan. It's a random and clearly used crepe pan. How embarrassing.)
 
The End. And because the soup took so little time you can go knit afghans for all the puppies in your neighborhood. It's been a heck of a blizzard, yeah?
 
 

 

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Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies of Fame

Dearests: I have ever been on the lookout for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Tollhouse cookies, bless them, always ALWAYS come out flat as pancakes and crisp like crackers for me. No idea why. And this will not do. I want soft and chewy and gooey.

Well, my search is over! From a good friend comes a perfect recipe: soft and chewy, mounded with chocolate chips–white and semi sweet–delicious flavor, perfect crumb. In short, YUM-baby.

Now, before I launch into the recipe I want you to brace yourselves. Sit down. Get a cuppa cocoa. Breathe–Innnnnn, ouuuuuut, innnnn, ouuuuuut. Go to your happy place. Why?

Because this recipe has margarine in it.

I KNOW! The bane of the palate of every eater-of-discerning-taste. The carcinogenic concoction of carnivorous cream-like clotted crude. MARGARINE! That against which I have ranted since the inception of this blog. Can't be helped. Only way it works. So suck it up, my dearests! It is worth it.

Let us begin:

Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies of Fame

2 cups margarine (The pain I feel at typing this cannot be described . . .)

2 cups brown sugar (This almost makes up for the congealed crude-oil.)

1 1/2 cups white sugar

3 eggs 2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. salt

6 cups flour

1 package milk chocolate chips (Except I only believe in semi-sweet)

1 package of any other flavor (We tend toward white chocolate chips)

Process:

Cream margarine and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla, soda, and salt. Mix for 3-4 minutes (This is important. Not sure why. It just is. Something to do with a change in the chemical structure. But I majored in English. I don't do Chemistry. Just do it please.)

–Add flour and mix. –Add chocolate chips. –Spoon onto cookie sheets (I use a cookie dough scooper thingie. Makes them all uniform. Then the OCD in me is satisfied.)

–Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (You want these just slightly underdone. Not enough to start a salmonella epidemic; just enough to remain soft and mounded up. They should not be browned, except maybe a bit on the edges. Mostly set, but not completely. Have I said this enough? Please do not overbake.)

Pictures, AND . . . a Movie!

 
Sugars, with a bit o' marg–ack! Marger– yeesh, I can't type it. MARGARINE! There.
 
 
 
Creaming the fat and sugars. Fat doesn't sound better, does it?
 
 
 
Eggs and vanilla and all the good stuff that eventually turns this sweet fatness into cookies.
 

What's a Food! Feats! recipe without a live-action segment taken on an iPhone by a blogger who can't remember to turn the thing sideways? Here you go, lovelies: The Mixing. Soon in theaters near you: stirring plot, mushy love story, oozing with corruption  . . .  You don't want to miss it!
 
 
 
The essential chocolate added. Then scooped onto cookie sheet. Then popped into oven. Until . . .
 
 
 
Magnificent! I'm going to blow this up and hang it on my wall. Once you taste these, you will forget there was anything at all wrong with the ingredients list.
 
Run, my little poppets! Grab some milk! Eat, and be free!
 
 
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Blueberry Salmon. Easy. Crazy. Delicious.

You guys. You GUYS! So, one day I had some blueberries on hand. And some salmon. And some grapefruit. And some chilies. And some pineapple. And some limes. 

What to do?

I searchified the internet, and found this lovely thing. It sounds weird. It sounds random. But it is a little piece of salmon-y, blueberry-y heaven. And it is mighty good for you with all that fruit. You can ignore the calories the brown sugar adds. The fruit cancels them out. Trust me. I know these things

So here we go. Delve deeply, my friends. Delve deeply into the life enhancing properties of the magnanimous BLUEBERRY! (BTW, I tripled this. Worked marvelously)

 

Ingredients:

1 cup blueberries (You could use frozen. I prefer fresh. Just because.)

2 (6-8 ounce) salmon filets (If you want to sound cultured, make sure you shorten the "e" and pronounce the "t" in "filets," as the English do. Salmon fillitts. Feels like I'm in London already.)

1/2 grapefruit (Do whatever you want with the other half. Go to town, honey.)

1/2 cup crushed pineapple

2 limes

Fresh ground black pepper

1/2-1 tsp chili powder

1 small anaheim chili (I kept buying these, and they kept rotting before I made this. So I finally used canned mild green chilies. It worked fine. Fresh is nicer.)

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar

 

Process:

–Generously butter a glass baking dish and spread pineapple in the bottom (Much as I love butter, I sprayed the dish with cooking spray and no one got offended)

–Sprinkle liberally with fresh ground black pepper (Not conservatively. Liberally. And you thought I didn't get political on this blog)

–Slice the chili into thin rings and arrange over pineapple (Or open the can because your chilies rotted. Drain and throw all over the pineapple like you're Jackson Pollock)

–Squeeze juice of two limes over chili slices, then lay salmon fillitts on top

–Cut grapefruit in half and section them (just like you would for breakfast). Arrange chunks over salmon.

–Top with blueberries, load with sugar, sprinkle with chili powder

–Bake at 425 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly, and salmon is opaque (tripling the recipe made this bake longer. More like 40 minutes. Just check it)

Serves 2. Can be tripled. I know. I've done it.

 

Ya want photos? Ya got photos. Or you can skip to the next post for the printable version of this recipe, and deny yourself the pleasure of my über fantastico picture-taking skills. No? Good. Here they are:

Okay, folks. This is all it takes to bake the Salmon of LIfe. Look how pretty the limes are. Wonderful color.

Pineapple with serious ground black pepper generosity. Love that stuff. I can just grind, and grind, and grind . . . 

Squeezing the living JUICE out of the limes. Look at that coolio live action shot. See the little drips? This picture should be a poster hanging on the wall in your kitchen.

 

Canned-green-chilies-that-should-be-fresh-but-are-pretty-good-canned.

 

The beauty of the Grapfruit. Grapefruit are pretty too. (Grapfruit?) Look at that color. Look at those succulent jellybeans-of-juice waiting to burst into your mouth. This was a mighty fine grapfruit. It would have been even better as a grapefruit.

 

Arranging a still-life for Connor Walton to paint.

 

Can Connor handle even more detail? We'll find out, as I add the Blueberries of Bodacity.

 

Whoa. Woah, I say. That's a lot o' sugar! It was very delish. But I might try cutting back a smidge next time, due to the richness factor. (Cook's Note: And now years later I figured out what's wrong with this picture. That ain't no 1/2 to 3/4 cup of brown sugar on top of there. That's more like a cup and a half, or two. I inexplicably doubled the sugar. Wha? Must have been distracted. Don't do that. I mean, it was good and stuff, but sweet Mary Francis on buttered toast! I slept on the ceiling for two nights afterward. I recommend the recommended amount. That is all.)

 

Chili Powder. Adds that je ne sais quois. Except, I DO sais quois. It's Chili Powder.

 

Voilá, the sweet serenity of the doneness of my Blueberry, Pineapple, Lime, Grapefruit, Chili Salmon. I'm having leftovers for lunch. 

You should make this. Tonight. Go shopping. Now. And pick up some $7 shoes while you're out.

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Luscious Irish Soda Bread of Fabulosity

Faith and begorrah! How are ye, me wee Leprechauns? Today we learn to make Irish Soda Bread–with a twist. A lovely cardamom-y twist. Once ye taste it this way, ye'll never go back. And if ye've never been there, ye don't need to worry about going back, because ye're already somewhere's else! The road will rise up to meet ye right in the face if ye try to go back.

(I'm dizzy. What were we talking about?)

Ah, right me boy-o. Irish Soda Bread. Shall we? Let's shall.

Ingredients:

4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar (Do you know what this is? It's not that pickly sauce you eat with fish sticks, nor anything that grows on your teeth. We're talking a white powdery substance found in the spice aisle of your supermarket that makes baked goods all nice and fluffy.)(And by "white powdery substance," we mean cream of tartar. Not something found in little zip-lock baggies hidden in the lining of your gym bag and found by your local CSI unit's German Shepherd. Just want to be clear.)

1/2 tsp cardamom (*choirs of angels sing*)

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 stick butter, melted 

1/2 cup dark raisins (Not in this house, though. My people are not of the raisin persuasion.)

1 1/4 cups buttermilk + 2 Tbsp. for brushing (The loaves, not your teeth. Although, that might work) (And, btw, you can do that whole milk-and-vinegar-substitution-thingy for the buttermilk if you're out. You know, throw a tablespoon of vinegar into the measuring cup before you pour in the milk. And voilá, me lads and lassies! Soured-milk-which-is-like-buttermilk-but-not-but-it-works-fine-trust-me.)

Method:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

-Butter and flour a baking sheet.

-Sift dry ingredients into large bowl. Add sugar.

-Add melted butter, buttermilk, and raisins (if you don't live here). Mix until well blended.

-Dust with more flour if dough is too sticky to handle. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead 3-5 minutes, until firm.

-Split dough in half and shape into two round loaves.

-Put loaves on baking sheet. Brush loaves with buttermilk and dust with flour.

-Score top of each loaf with an "x".

-Bake until golden, about 50 minutes (maybe less, depending on your oven and where you live. So check and make sure it's not getting too golden). Cool completely on wire rack. (Except don't. This stuff is a thing of beauty all warm with butter melting into it, so eat it now.)

Pictures? Yeah. Pictures:

Loovely, loovely ingredients. Doesn't take much to make Irish Heaven, does it?

All the dry stuff mixed together. I'm using raw sugar here, hence the boatload of brown stuff. Also, I'm doubling it, hence the boatload of boatload.

Mixing in the butter, buttermilk, and no raisins whatsoever. *weep*

Removal of jewelry before commencing of kneading. Isn't that an awesome bracelet? I shall make one just like it someday. Except with different colors and different beads and different chain, and stuff.

The soda bread. Mightily kneaded. In the Yellow Bowl Of Largeness. Yep. It's a magical thing.

 

Dividing the dough into loaves. Remember, I've doubled this, so I've cut it into four pieces. YOU will just cut yours in half. Unless you want itty bitty loaves. But I don't think it will work well that way. So, just cut it in half. Except in the case of doubling it.  Have I said enough on the subject of Loaf-Division?

 

Two of my four loaves. Two of your two loaves. Cute little X's scored into them.

 

Gorgeous loaves of Irish and cardamom gorgeousness. Yum. I can smell the goodness.

 

Look at that crumb! Not lofty. Nay: humble, dense. Crispy on the outside, luscious on the in. Just waiting for that bit of butter and that cup of milk. And that nightly viewing of NCIS with the feet propped up on the piano bench. 

And remember:

Go n-ithe an cat thú is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat

(May the cat eat you, and the devil eat the cat) (Don't worry about it. Just eat the bread.)

 

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Kitchen Sink Muffins, a.k.a. Best Muffins Ever!

Hallooooo my Fellow Food Flingers. Welcome to Food! Friday! Today I have a lovely recipe for a muffin so healthy, so stuffed with nuggety bits of nuggety goodness, you could run a marathon after eating just one. For indeed, they are filled with everything but the kitchen sink.

Without further ado (which is a sacrifice, because you KNOW how much I love ado),

Kitchen Sink Muffins!

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (not in a suitcase. although if you do use a suitcase, make sure it's Louis Vitton.)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

(have you noticed all these extra spaces in here? i did not give them permission to be here, and yet here they are. this blog does not respect me yet. but it will learn.)

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted (that's just silly. "toasted." just chop them and stick them in. also, use pecans.)

1/3 cup raisins (owing to the anti-raisin faction in our home, we use craisins. except for today. today we use dried cherries, which i highly recommend. oh baby, oh baby.)

1/3 cup chopped dates (i know. but guess what? they melt away and disappear when they cook, imparting a lovely flavor without all that narsty date-ness.)

1 stick BUTTER, melted and cooled

1 cup buttermilk (or do like i do and never have it on hand. instead put about a tablespoon-sized splash of vinegar in a measuring cup, then add enough milk to equal 1 cup. it sours and it works fine.)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg, beaten (but i don't beat eggs. that's too violent. i persuade them.)

Procedure

–Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit, and grease a twelve-slot muffin tin (is there any other kind? is there a seven-slot somewhere?)

–Mix together the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, walnuts pecans, dates, and raisiny-things. In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and butter. 

–Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together. That's it. (the original recipe gets its apron all in a bunch over not stirring too much so as to keep the muffins from developing too many gluten bonds, blah blah. i say, if the muffins want to bond, let them bond. it's a free country.)

–Spoon batter into muffin tin. There might even be enough to fill an additional 2 or 3-slot tin, if you've got it. If you don't, just make really big ones in the 12-slot-er. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check with a toothpick. (or live on the dark side and don't.) Cool for a sec before removing to a rack. Or eat while warm because they're fabulous that way.

My kids love these. Tonight they had them for dinner because they snuck them and then weren't hungry for the lasagna. They'd be great for breakfast or as a snack, too.

Now, the pics!

The ingredients. Obviously it is Pantry by Costco around here.

The ingredients trying to look photogenic for you. Aren't they talented?

Mixing the dry . . . 

Mixing the wet . . . 

Mixing the dry and the wet. Nice and sloppy and ready to go!

Into the oven. Ignore the 900 year-old muffin tin. They taste better this way.

Eat these while you wait. Mighty fine. And made of rice, so, you know, ricey! And spicy!

Bing! All done. Yum. We'd better get a side view:

LOOK at all of that nutrition and deliciosity! Now go make some.

Go on. You can do it. I'll just stay here and eat muffins. With rice chips.

🙂

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