Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Frozen Fudgy Pops

Summertime.... what tastes better during the hot months of summer than a fudgy, perfectly chocolatey frozen treat from the freezer? 

Yesterday, I decided to make Charlie a little treat since he has been working so hard this summer.  I decided to make these fudgy pops.  They were quick and easy, and used basic ingredients I had on hand. 

Running some hot water over the mold helps the frozen treats release more easily.

As I was taking some photos, I decided that it would be more authentic if I took one bite out of the fudge pop (I wasn't going to have one since I am working on getting rid of the post-baby weight, you know).  Yum!  I thought to myself.  Oooo these are really good... ok, just one more bite...

As you can see, that didn't work out so well.  These fudgy pops are a perfect balance of fudgy rich chocolatey-ness.  I'd better go for another walk now!

Frozen Fudgy Pops


  •  1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • dash salt
  • 10 wooden Popsicle sticks

Melt chocolate chips over low heat in medium sized saucepan, until they are melted and smooth.  Add the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk and heavy cream.  Turn heat to medium and cook and stir frequently until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, add the vanilla and butter, and stir until well combined.
Let the mixture cool slightly (it should still be warm but not hot to the touch), and then pour into 10 slightly greased Popsicle molds (I just put a tiny spray of pam in each mold).  Freeze for 30 minutes, and then insert sticks.  Freeze completely before serving.  To remove fudgy pops from molds, run a little hot water over them and they should slide right out. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Hi!  First of all, I wanted to apologize for my lack of blogging lately!  Between working full time still and trying to get ready for the baby, its been a little too busy to do very much blogging.

Want to see some of the things I have been up to? 

I took the plunge and finally decided to stop storing all of these Taste of Home magazines!  I am going through each magazine, entering the recipe I want to try or keep on the Taste of Home website, and adding it to the virtual "recipe box" on the website.  No more storing all of these paper magazines! (the chair is the 'done' pile and the table is the 'to do' pile - yay - I am almost done!).

We had an ultrasound of the baby at 32 weeks... she is healthy and doing well! 

I made a pan of Orange Sweet Rolls to celebrate "spring."  (or at least the snow being almost gone!)

Yum, they were so tasty!

I have been organizing everything!  My latest project was to organize and paint under the kitchen sink - tada!

It looks sooooo much better than it did!  And if you are thinking that it looks like a nice, light yellow, you would be right!  I had extra paint after painting the baby room and thought, why not use the extra under the sink?

I have been enjoying this precious birthday gift from Charlie - books from my favorite children's illustrator and author: Tasha Tudor.  I can't wait to read them to our little girl!

I have been organizing every cabinet, shelf, drawer, closet, ect...!  As an example, under the fish tank:

And the organized kitchen pantry...

I have been getting some seeds going for the garden this year.  Just a few since I will be pretty busy!

And look how close I am to sewing a baby dress - I have gotten the pattern picked out!  Now, just have to find material....

Speaking of baby, I have spent a lot of time in the baby room: I painted it a delightful light yellow.

The baby room is still under construction a bit, we've still got to get a crib in there, ect...  By the way, do you notice the rocking elephant in the pictures?  My dad made that for me when I was a little girl. 

Organizing the baby closet...

And the dresser...

Well, I guess I'd better keep working!  I've still got some more things to cross off my list...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Raspberry Tartlets

Ah, the temperature has finally risen to the 60's, and even the 70's on some days!  The sun is shining and the snow is pretty much gone. I think spring is finally on its way!

To celebrate I made these Raspberry Tartlets.  I love making pastries, and I love making mini pastries even more!

These raspberry tarts begin with crisp-but-not-too-sweet almond crust. 

Next is a slightly tangy filling of homemade raspberry curd.

Topped by a dab of crème mousseline - a French vanilla-bean-infused-custard. 

Finally, they are topped by a fresh raspberry and the lightest dusting of powdered sugar.

At just over two inches, these little tarts are perfect little one-biters. 

So tasty!

Raspberry Tartlets

almond crust

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, ground finely
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3-5 tablespoons ice water

raspberry curd

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter

cream mousseline

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

    For Crust: Place flour, almonds, sugar, salt and butter in bowl of food processor.  Pulse a few times, making sure butter is cut in well.  Add water while you pulse about 10 times, make sure dough comes together.  Dump dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, form into a disk, wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. with rack in lower third; spray 12 tartlet pans with nonstick spray.  Roll out dough, place it in the pan, trim.  Repeat.  Prebake crusts in lower third of oven about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Leave crusts in tartlet pans. 

    For Raspberry Curd:  In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, place raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks and salt.  Cook over medium heat until filling thickens slightly but is pourable, about 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Strain filling through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Discard seeds and other impurities.  Fill tartlets.  Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled.  Bake tartlets at 325 degrees F. until filling is just set, 6 or 8 minutes.  Cool slightly before removing tarts to wire rack to cool completely.  [Note: If you would like to make the curd ahead of time, after you strain curd into a bowl, just press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the raspberry curd, this will prevent a skin from forming and will make the curd creamier]. 

    For Cream Mousseline:  Put the milk in a saucepan; split the vanilla bean, scraping the seeds into the milk, and add bean into the pot.  Heat to a simmer, remove from heat, cover, and set timer for 20 minutes.  This will allow the vanilla bean to infuse into the milk.  Meanwhile, beat the yolks with the sugar until pale, than beat in the flour.  After the 20 minutes, remove the vanilla bean from the milk.  Gradually whisk the milk into the egg mixture; pour back into the saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and cook one minute; remove from the heat.  Strain into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; set aside to cool.  When chilled, gently fold in the whipped cream.

    To put it all together:
    On top of the cooked and cooled raspberry tarts, place a dollop of cream mousseline.  I like to put the cream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip for a pretty added affect.  Then, place a fresh raspberry on top of the tart.  Top with a light dusting of powdered sugar.  I think these tarts are best served at room temperature. 

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Black Bean Shrimp Salad

    Since spring is coming, I have been in the mood for some lighter meals.  This main dish salad fits the bill!

    It is filled with juicy shrimp, crisp vegetables, tangy sauce and hearty black beans.  We love it!

    Black Bean Shrimp Salad

    • 1 pound cooked medium size shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 small yellow pepper, julienned
    • 1/2 small red pepper, julienned
    • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced chopped celery
    • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 3/4 cup salsa
    • 2 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
    • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh lime peel
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
    • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced

    In a large bowl, combine shrimp, peppers, onion, celery and black beans.  In another bowl, combine  salsa, cilantro, lime juice, oil, honey, salt and lime peel if desired.  Pour over shrimp mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

    When ready to serve, spoon salad onto spinach lined salad plates.  Garnish with tomato slices. 

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    Homemade Self Rising Flour

    How many times have you been baking, and realized you need self rising flour?  This has happened to me more times than I can count.  Of course, you can buy pre-made self rising flour, but did you know it is also very easy to make on your own? 

    All you have to do is stir three basic ingredients together - flour, baking powder and salt.  Easy peasy!

    Homemade Self Rising Flour

    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt

    Stir together ingredients.  For two cups, double this recipe, three cups, triple, ect...

    Sunday, April 13, 2014

    German Chocolate Cake Cookies

    The other day I wanted to make a batch of cookies, but I didn't know what kind to make.  So I asked Charlie what kind of cookies he was in the mood for.  He didn't really have anything in mind either.

    Where to find inspiration??  I grabbed my Taste of Home cookie cookbook.  As I was paging through the book, Charlie randomly suggested to make the cookies on page 38, in the top left corner (such a fun idea!).

    I hurriedly turned to the correct page, and found a recipe for German Chocolate Toffee Cookies.  Mmmm, they sounded delicious!  But, as I read through the recipe, I realized I didn't have all of the ingredients.  I ended up creating these German Chocolate Cake Cookies, chock full of sweet German Chocolate, coconut and toasted pecans.

    They were a hit!

    German Chocolate Cake Cookies

    • 1/4 cup butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup shortening
    • 1/2 plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
    • 1 ounce German chocolate, melted
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 1/4 cup flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped German chocolate
    • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
    • 1 cup toasted coconut

    In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening, and sugars.  Beat in chocolate.  Add egg and vanilla, beating well.  Add flour, baking soda, and salt, and gradually beat into the creamed mixture.  Stir in chopped chocolate, pecans and coconut.  Drop by tablespoonfuls two inches apart on silpat lined baking sheet or a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove to wire racks to cool.

    Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

    Saturday, April 12, 2014

    Sauerkraut and Kielbasa

    One night last week, we decided to crack open a jar of homemade sauerkraut from last fall and add some chunks of kielbasa.  While we haven't eaten this in a while, it is a dish we've occasionally eaten since we got married.  This time though, I decided to change it up a little. 

    I added a peeled diced apple and a sliced onion to the sauerkraut, and a few other little dabs of ingredients.  At first, Charlie wasn't too sure.  But after he tried it, he said he loved it.  I wrote the recipe down and will make sauerkraut and kielbasa this way all the time in the future!

    One of the things I love about this dish is that it is so quick and easy, it is hearty and filling, and it is a "one pot" meal. 

    Sauerkraut And Kielbasa

    • 1 package kielbasa
    • 1 jar sauerkraut
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 1 apple, sliced
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 tablespoons butter

    Heat a medium sized pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add butter and sugar.  Allow sugar to cook to a golden brown color.  Add onions and cook until slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Then, stir in the kielbasa chunks, sauerkraut, chopped apple, Worcestershire sauce and butter, and cook for another 10 minutes or until everything is warm.  Serve immediately.  This is good with a nice piece of crusty bread or rolls. 

    Friday, April 11, 2014

    Raspberry Curd

    Since I was a teenager, I have been known (at least in tiny circles) for my lemon curd - particularly lemon curd that I make into lemon tartlets.  I first became interested in making fruit curds when I was a late teenager.  Fruit curds are luscious and bursting with flavor, and able to go on pretty much everything (as we will soon see!). 

    The curds I have made so far are lemon and kumquat curds, and today I decided to use my tried and true lemon curd recipe to make a raspberry curd. 

    And.... it turned out deliciously!  The raspberry curd still had the delightful tang my lemon curd recipe has, but it was balanced by a delicious fresh raspberry flavor (though I do have to admit, I used frozen raspberries).  Also, the color of the raspberry curd was beautiful - an all natural deep raspberry color.


    So what can you use raspberry curd for?  To start off, I created these Raspberry Tartlets - almond pastry crust, raspberry curd, vanilla bean whipped custard, fresh raspberry and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar.  These perfect little one-biters were amazing and oh-so-beautiful. 


     Next, I had some leftover biscuits and created a Raspberry Curd Shortcake.  

    Then, I wondered how the raspberry curd would taste on vanilla ice cream?  No pictures (I forgot), but it was delicious - a perfect combination of sweet and tangy.

    Next, hmmm... what else?  I toasted an english muffin for breakfast one morning and used the raspberry curd instead of jelly.  It was very tasty.  


    Then another morning, I was making waffles and wondered, how would the waffles be topped with raspberry curd, whipped cream and fresh raspberries?  Deliciously springy and light tasting. 

    Another simple idea I had was to add raspberry curd to a classic dish of raspberries and cream (I love raspberries and cream).  It was awesomely flavorful and fresh. 


    Other ideas I had (but haven't tried yet) would be to use the raspberry curd for filling in a cake, as a filling in a "raspberry meringue pie" instead of a lemon meringue, or to use the curd to fill a cake roll.  Or, you could just grab the jar from the fridge and eat it with a spoon - speaking from experience, that works pretty well too.      

    How will you serve your raspberry curd?

    Raspberry Curd

    • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 eggs
    • 4 egg yolks
    • pinch salt
    • 4 tablespoons butter 

    In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, place raspberries, sugar, lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks and salt.  Cook over medium heat until filling thickens slightly but is pourable, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Strain filling through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Discard seeds and other impurities.  Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the raspberry curd, this will prevent a skin from forming and will make the curd creamier.  Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled.  Use as desired. 

    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Dutch Baby

    Ever since I was a kid, we have made these Dutch Babies.  I believe the recipe originally came from my grandma?  I will have to ask her. 

    'Dutch Baby' is really nothing more than a puffed pancake, and I know there are many ways to make puffed pancakes.  I'd like to share with you this recipe.  Let me know what you think!

    To cut the Dutch Baby, I always remove it to a cutting board a) because I don't want to mess around with the very-hot cast iron pan and b) because the pan is so hot, I don't want the crusts to get overdone.

    Hey!  Who is taking off with the Dutch Baby?!  (I guess it is time for breakfast, haha)

    I love fruit syrups on my Dutch Baby, but top it with whatever suits your fancy!

    I just wanted to share this picture of another Dutch Baby I made - it got epically high!  The Dutch Baby in the above pictures didn't get as high because I ran out of eggs....


    Dutch Baby


    • 6 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • Toppings of choice: syrups, fresh fruit, whipped cream, powdered sugar, ect...

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place 10 to 12 inch cast iron pan in oven with the 1/4 cup butter.  Let it melt while you are making the batter.

    For batter, blend eggs in blender one minute.  Add milk, salt, vanilla and sugar and blend for 30 seconds.  Add flour and blend one minute more.  Pour over melted butter, and return to oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pancake is fluffy and high. 

    Remove from oven - being careful as the cast iron pan is very hot - and serve immediately with your choice of toppings.  Enjoy!

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    Breaded Fish Sandwich with Homemade Dressing

    As I have said before, Charlie loves sandwiches, and consequently, I spend quite a bit of time trying new sandwiches - either by a new recipe or by making up my own recipe.  One day I decided to make a breaded fish sandwich, and it was a big hit.

    Gently toasted bread, flaky delicious white fish, sliced fresh vegetables and a delicious homemade dressing.... tasty.  

    The only problem was that it was a little hard to take a bite out of it! 

    Breaded Fish Sandwich with Homemade Dressing

    the fish
    • about 2 pounds skinless white fish fillets (flounder, halibut, walleye, bass, cod, ect...)
    • salt and pepper
    • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 cup breadcrumbs
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1 tablespoon milk
    • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
    • some oil or butter for the pan

    the sandwich toppings
    • 1 to 2 cups fresh spinach leaves (lettuce would work fine, as well)
    • tomato slices
    • onion slices 
    • buns for the sandwiches, slightly toasted

    the sauce (yum, I love the sauce!)
    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons ketchup
    • 2 teaspoons relish
    • 1 tablespoon finely diced onion
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons chopped capers
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
    • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
    • dash salt, to taste

    For the fish:
    Cut fish fillets into four pieces.  Collect three shallow containers out for the dredging station.  In one container, stir together the flour, bread crumbs, old bay seasoning, salt and pepper.  In the next container, thoroughly mix the beaten eggs, milk, and soy sauce.  Heat your pan to about 350 degrees F. (or medium hot), and spread desired fat around in it.  Dredge the fish fillets in flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then dip in the breadcrumb mixture.  Gently lay the fillets into the pan, making sure they are not touching each other.  Let them fry for a minute or so, then adjust the heat down; adding the fish drops the heat of the oil, which is why you want to kick the heat up for a minute or two to compensate. If you can’t get all the fish into the pan at once, fry in batches.  Fry the fish until it is golden brown, about 3 to 6 minutes per side; use the longer range if your fish fillets are thicker than an inch.  Before removing from heat, do the flake test - just use a fork to gently see if the fish meat will flake.  Set on paper towels to drain.

    To put it together:
    Lightly toast the buns, then spread the sauce on both sides.  Add spinach, fish fillets, onion and tomato.  Time to dive in!

    Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Of Wines and Meads (and just what is mead, anyways??)

    Good day!  We have been organizing, racking and bottling a bunch of beers, wines and meads lately.  While we were going through these processes, I thought I would write down the wines and meads I/we have made (note: this will not include any beers we have made - I'll save that for another list!).  I have made all of the wines, and we have fun sharing the mead making. 

    If you are interested in anything on these lists, just let me know and I will post some recipes!

    Doesn't this pear wine look beautiful?  Charlie said it tastes just like eating a ripe pear!


    • 5 gallon Strawberry Wine (amazing strawberry essence, 1st place winner at county fair)
    • 3 gallon Kiwi Wine (quite acidic, waiting for it to hopefully mellow)
    • 1 gallon Wild Plum Wine (amazing, crisp and tart)
    • 3 gallon Mixed Fruit Wine (a taster pronounced it " a perfect dry Rosé ")
    • 5 gallon Crab Apple Wine (quite tart, waiting for it to mellow) 
    • 1 gallon Dandelion Wine (smooth and sweet - surprisingly tasty)
    • 3 gallon Pear Wine (tastes just like eating a ripe pear)
    • 5 gallon Riesling Wine (made from kit, absolutely a winner, perfect sweet Riesling flavor)
    • 5 gallon Australian Shiraz Wine (made from kit, a delightful dry red wine)
    • 5 gallon Italian Pinot Grigio Wine (made from kit, tasted just like a pinot grigio!)
    • 1 gallon Apple Champagne (still in secondary, but it smelled delicious!)
    • 2 gallon Mixed Fruit Wine #2 (still bubbling away in the primary)
    • 10 gallons Hard Cider (wasn't sure where to add this; tasted deliciously crisp, tart and appley!)

    This photo shows a glass of pomegranate mead - our favorite of all the meads we have made. 


    Before we get started on this list, let us ask the question: what exactly is mead?   

    Mead is an often misunderstood drink - when Charlie and I tell people we make mead, they wonder, is it a watery wine?  a type of beer?  or just something weird?  

    To put it simply, mead is a wine-like beverage made from a water and honey fermentation - the key is the honey.  Mead must be made with honey.  Mead can be quite alcoholic, sometimes as high as 20% (I guess it can go higher than 20%, but I think it compromises the flavor).  

    Meads can range from dry (tasting just like a fruity wine) to a sweet dessert wine with the perfect nose and essence of honey - and anywhere in between.  Mead is a very elegant, beautiful drink that is best sipped in small quantities.  

    Technically, the word "mead" refers only to a beverage made from honey fermented with water - with no flavorings or additives.  

    When you add fruit and other flavorings to mead, you get such names as blossomel (fermented or flavored with flower blossoms), cyser (made with apples, apple juice or apple cider), melomel (fermented or flavored with fruit or fruit juice), metheglin (fermented or flavored with herbs and/or spices), braggot (malted grain and hops added) and several others.  For ease of understanding, we generally call all of our honey-fermented beverages "mead" (it is hard enough to explain what a 'mead' is, let alone a 'blossomel' or a 'metheglin!').

    Here are the meads we have made so far:

    • 5 gallons Traditional Mead (tasty, focusing on the essence of the honey)
    • 15 gallons Pomegranate (a sweet dessert wine, delicious beyond imagination)
    • 7 gallons Blueberry Melomel (fantastic blueberry flavor, honey nose, slightly dry)
    • 2 gallons Madagascar Vanilla Tropical Mead (a delicious pineapple-y, mango, vanilla flavor)
    • 5 gallons Black Cherry Mead (not good at first, but in one year it was amazing, fruity and dry)
    • 5 gallons Medium Show Traditional Mead (sweeter than the traditional mead)
    • 2 gallons Peach Ginger Nutmeg Mead (interesting flavor, waiting for it to 'ripen')
    • 1 gallon Cranberry Mead (tart, amazing, just right for that turkey dinner!)
    • 3 gallon Chokecherry Mead (still in the secondary, but it smells delicious)
    • 1 gallon Hop Braggot (mead meets beer? interesting flavor)
    • 1 gallon Cardamom Rose Hip Mead (delicate cardamom flavor, colored nicely by the rose hips)
    • 1 gallon Vanilla Saffron Mead (yes, yes, yes, such a delicious vanilla flavor, colored by saffron)
    • 1 gallon Juniper Berry Mead (great gin-like flavor, but sweeter (and less alcoholic) than gin)
    • 5 gallon Apple Cyser (amazing apple/honey smoothness and flavor, tasty beyond imagination)

    The amazing Cyser on a snowy winter day.  

    By the way, these are comprehensive lists of all of the wines and meads we have ever made since we started vinting over two years ago.  A lot of them are gone.  And if you are wondering what we do with all of these bottles; of course we drink some, but we also love to share with friends and family and give bottles away as gifts.  We also have quite a few bottles put away to try in 5 or 10 years or so (or 15 or 20 years!).  

    We have found that vinting and brewing is a fun, creative hobby that also brings joy and inspiration to others!

    Monday, April 7, 2014

    Fruit Meringue Bowl

    Would you be interested in a light, refreshing spring dessert - especially after that last rich, chocolaty dessert I posted?  If you are interested, then this recipe is for you.  It starts out with a light, crisp, delicately sweet and beautiful meringue bowl.  Then, a layer of homemade custard is spread in the bottom of the "bowl".  This custard is topped with fresh raspberries, blackberries and sliced strawberries.  The whole dessert is gently topped with a homemade raspberry drizzle and a tiny meringue "hat."

    Does that sound wonderful or what? 

    Fruited Meringue Bowl

    meringue bowl
    • 6 egg whites
    • 1/4 tsp cream of tarter
    • 1 1/2 c sugar
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla

    custard filling
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 4 large egg yolks

    fruit topping
    • 1 pint raspberries, fresh
    • 1 pint blackberries, fresh
    • 1 pint strawberries, fresh, sliced

    fruit drizzle
    •  1 pint raspberries (frozen is fine)
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup cold water
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

    For meringue bowls:  Prepare two large baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper. On each piece of parchment paper, trace six 3-inch circles with a pencil.  Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy and stiff.  Add cream of tarter.  Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Add vanilla.  Beat until the whites form a stiff peak.  Place meringue into an icing bag with a large star tip.  Starting at the center of each circle, pipe a circle of meringue. When you reach the outer rim of the circle, pipe 1 to 2 additional layers on top of the border.  In between the bowls, pipe about 14 little stars of meringue - these will be the little 'hats' to top the desserts with.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours, then turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven for 30 additional minutes.  Remove and store in a airtight container until ready to use. 

    For custard:  Pour the milk and cream in a pan and place on medium heat.  Let the milk come almost to a boil but do not boil.  In a bowl, place the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch.  Using a whisk, beat thoroughly until light and fluffy.  Add the hot milk to the eggs very slowly while stirring at the same time - this is called "tempering" the eggs.  Pour the egg/hot milk mixture back into the same pan and set heat to low.  The mixture will slowly start to thicken.  Cook and stir until the mixture is thickened.  Place a strainer over a bowl and pour the custard into the strainer - if you have been following my blog for a while you know I always strain my custards, curds, puddings, ect...  Place strained custard in a clean container and cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the top of the custard - this avoids any skin forming and makes a creamer custard.  Refrigerate until chilled and ready to use.  

    For raspberry drizzle:  In a small saucepan, add the raspberries, sugar and water.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Pour mixture in blender and puree for about one minute.  Strain through a fine sieve.  Set aside until ready to use.

    To put it all together: Place meringue bowls on dessert plates.  Spread a nice amount of custard in the bottom of each bowl.  Top with a mixture of raspberries, blackberries and sliced strawberries.  Drizzle raspberry drizzle over top of dessert.  Top with meringue "hat."

    Makes 12 desserts.

    Sunday, April 6, 2014

    Soba Noodle and Pork Steak with Fresh Asian Vegetables

    Soba noodles are Japanese noodles made with buckwheat flour.  From what I have heard, people either really like soba noodles or they really don't like them.  I'd never tried them, but when at an ethnic market, I found a package and thought it would be an interesting experiment! 

    That soba noodle package has been patiently resting on the pantry shelf for several months now, and I decided that it was time to try cooking them - no more waiting for the perfect recipe to come up!  As I was rummaging around the kitchen, I also found a package of pork steaks in the freezer that needed to be used up, and thought it would be interesting to combine the two to create a dish.  And then I needed a sauce or topping to bring it all together....

    And so, 'Soba Noodle and Pork Steak with Fresh Asian Vegetables' was born.  It actually turned out really, really good (I was surprised that Charlie liked it so much!).  I cooked the soba noodles simply, brined the pork steak for a few hours, and created an Asian vegetable topping that tied everything together. 

    By the way, the soba noodles were quite tasty.  They definitely had a whole-wheat-pasta-type-flavor, but I also thought they had a stronger, nuttier taste.  We loved them and I definitely plan to keep experimenting with soba noodles!  

    Soba Noodle and Pork Steak with Fresh Asian Vegetables

    for the pork steak

    • 1/4 cup kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 cups water
    • sprinkling Old Bay seasoning
    • 2 pork steaks, thawed (I think pork chops might work fine as well, though I didn't try it)

    for the Asian Vegetable Topping
    • 1 finely chopped carrot
    • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
    • 2 - 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (depending on taste)
    • squeeze of 1/2 tangerine (or 2 tablespoons orange juice)
    • squeeze of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
    • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon mirin
    • 1 tablespoon seasoned roasted garlic rice vinegar
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons Thai sweet chili sauce (depending on hotness)

    For the soba noodles
    • 1/2 package buckwheat soba noodles
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 quarts boiling water

    For the pork steak: Place salt, sugar, water and seasoning in a gallon bag.  Seal and swish around to dissolve salt and sugar.  Add pork steaks.  Place in refrigerator for about 4 hours. When you are ready to put the dish together, heat a skillet over medium to high heat.  Pan fry the pork steaks for about 8 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature comes to 140 degrees F.  Remove to platter, cover with tin foil and let rest until you are ready to thinly slice and eat. 

    For Asian Vegetable Topping: Stir all topping ingredients together in a bowl.  Let sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours to allow flavors to meld.

    For soba noodles: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium sized pot with the kosher salt.
    When water reaches a rolling boil, add noodles and stir well.  As it begins to boil over, add one cup of cold water and stir.  As it begins to boil over again, turn off the heat.  This will take approximately 7 or 8 minutes.  Try a noodle - you want them to be firm-tender (or al dente) - not mushyIf they are still too firm, let them sit in the hot water for a minute until they are good.  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. I like to stir in a dash of olive oil while the noodles are in the sieve - it helps keep them from sticking together. 

    To put it all together: You can serve this however you wish.  For presentation, I placed a pile of soba noodles at one end of a plate, thinly sliced the pork steak and arranged the topping over the whole thing.  However, when we went to eat it, we stirred it all together anyways.  If you would like, just stir together the soba noodles, the vegetables and the thinly sliced pork steak in a bowl and serve it that way. 

    Saturday, April 5, 2014

    Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

    Ahhh, Steamed Shrimp Dumplings, another favorite meal of ours.  We first tried shrimp dumplings at PF Changs, and I fell in love with them and wanted to try to duplicate the dumplings and sauce.  After a few tries, I came up with this recipe.  Charlie and I think that these dumplings are better than those at the restaurant!

    It has been a long time I made these dumplings (probably over a year) and earlier this week we decided it was time to make them again. 

    Steamed Shrimp Dumplings are actually part of a larger family of foods called "dim sum-" which is "a Chinese dish of small steamed or fried savory dumplings containing various fillings, served as a snack or main course."

    All dim sum can be a bit time consuming to make, but we find the results well worth it.

    To get started, you need thawed raw shrimp that has been roughly diced.

    This is the shrimp dumpling filling ingredients - minced carrots, green onions, shrimp, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, and seasonings.

    The bamboo steamer.  I do use a bamboo steamer to make these shrimp dumplings and other dim sum, but you don't have to have one - you could also use a well greased metal steaming basket.  Or, you could skip the steaming aspect and pan fry the dumplings like I do for my pot stickers

    If you do use a bamboo steamer, make sure to place a piece of parchment steamer liners in the bottom of each basket.  I also lightly grease them with just a spray of non-stick cooking spray to ensure easy removal of the dumplings.  These steamer liners can be reused through all of the shrimp dumplings in this batch. 

    Now on to the filling.  You will notice I have a round wonton wrapper - it is actually a pot sticker wrapper.  I would recommend going with square wonton wrappers.  I usually use the square wrappers for shrimp dumplings, I just happened to have round wrappers on hand.  Anyhow, place about a teaspoon of filling in the middle of your wrapper.  (credit to: Photo Assistant Charlie who took these next few shots)

    Spread a little water around the perimeter of each wrapper.

    The dumpling, ready to fold.

    Start the fold by bringing up to opposite sides of the wrapper.

    Keep bringing the dough in toward the center of the dumpling - for your end result you want the fold to look like a 't.'

    Hopefully you can see that I am pressing all the corners to the middle. 

    Make sure the air is squeezed out of the dumpling.  (note: please don't mind my pregnant belly trying to get in on the action here!)

    And give the seams a final good squeeze. 


    This is what your dumplings should look like. 

    Time to fill the bamboo steamer!  You will actually only be cooking one layer at a time, but it is nice to have the next layer filled and ready to go.

    Aren't they beautiful?

    To cook the dumplings, I use a large skillet that has 1 or 2 inches of water in the bottom.  Bring that to a simmer and place one layer of the steamer basket in it - yes, directly in the pan.  Steam the dumplings for 7 or 8 minutes.  And make sure that your skillet of water doesn't boil dry - I have found that with each new batch of dumplings I add another cup or two of water to the skillet. 

    Now, it is time to eat!  See how beautiful and translucent steaming makes the shrimp dumplings?

    We love the dumplings served with this delicious sauce - fresh ginger, garlic, and soy sauce mixture - I've included the recipe at the bottom of this post.

    Doesn't this make your mouth water? 

    Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

    • 1 - 12 ounce package wonton wrappers(square preferred)

    • 1 pound raw peeled and deveined shrimp, thawed and roughly diced
    • 2 tablespoons minced fine carrots
    • 2 tablespoons minced fine green onions
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
    • 2 tablespoons sesame and garlic sauce
    • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon sugar


    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon seasoned roasted garlic rice vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon Thai sweet chili sauce
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion

    Combine shrimp filling ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour.  To make your dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan - except the fresh cilantro and green onion.  Bring to a simmer and simmer about 5 minutes.  Let cool and refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to use, stir in cilantro and green onion, or sprinkle on top of the sauce.

    When you are ready to start your dumplings, take a small spoon or small cookie scoop, and place about a teaspoon of shrimp mixture into wonton wrapper.  Moisten outside edge with water.  Fold corner to corner to form a cross or a 't' shape and seal.  The top should look like cross.  If you wish, forming the dumplings can be done a bit ahead of time.  Just place them in an airtight container in refrigerator until ready to cook and serve.  Or, just cook them right away.

    Place about 2 inches of water in a large skillet.  Bring water to a boil, then lower heat to bring down to a slight boil.

    Line bottom of Chinese steamer with a piece of parchment paper, then a light coat of vegetable oil or non-stick spray.  Place dumplings in steamer and cover with bamboo lid.   Place steamer in large skillet.  Steam 7 or 8 minutes, depending on how fast your water is simmering. Dumplings should be firm with internal temperature of 160 degrees. 

    Serve in steamer or on plate, with dipping sauce. 


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