Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blue Cheese Update . . .

. . . because I know you're oh so curious to find out how this

became this.
It wasn't easy.

After the marginal blue cheese bites and the quite wonderful pear and blue cheese salad, there were
these cute little blue cheese tartlets: a buttery crust, blue cheese filling, topped with walnuts. Tasty but not terrific.
Effort expended greater than results achieved.

Blue cheese salad dressing.
Kahuna: "This tastes a lot like mayonnaise."
Me: "That's because it is mostly mayonnaise."
Note to self: adding cranberry balsamic vinegar with deep red color to white mayonnaise-based blue cheese salad dressing gives food a creepily lumpy-mud look.

Blue cheese sauce.

To serve over grilled steak.
A keeper.
Recipe to come later this week.
Thank you, Kim at Easy French Food, for so generously sharing.
Since the blue cheese sauce recipe made lots, I had plenty left over to experiment with, using a Fettuccine with Blue Cheese Sauce recipe provided by Kathryn at Full Life, Simple Heart, as a start. To Kim's sauce, you add pine nuts, slivers of ham, and julienned raw spinach; serve over cooked fettuccine. Another keeper. (Unfortunately, all evidence of said meal has disappeared.) Thank you, Kathryn.

So there you have it. Lesson learned. In the near future, do not buy a hunk of cheese bigger than your face.
Unless, of course, you find a really good sale.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Honey Almond Scones

This delicious recipe comes from Julie Hyzy's fun culinary mystery, State of the Onion (see post below). The recipe makes eight scones, but they're quite large, so you could probably cut it into 12 or even 16 pieces if you like.
And the frosting? Yum.
1/4 c. buttermilk or plain yogurt (I used milk and added about 1/2 t. lemon juice)
3/4 c. honey
2 eggs
1/4 t. almond extract
3 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. butter, chilled
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. finely chopped almonds
3 T. butter, melted
1 t. vanilla
2 drops almond extract
1 T. hot water
1 c. powdered sugar
Put a sheet of parchment paper on cookie sheet. Set aside.
In small bowl, stir together buttermilk or yogurt, honey, eggs, and almond extract. Set aside.
In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender, until the butter is well distributed in small bits throughout. (You can use clean fingers to finish the job, if you like.) Add sugar and almonds and mix.
Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until a ball forms. With floured hands, knead 5 to 6 times until it's well blended.
Plop dough onto parchment paper and pat down into circle (maybe 9 inches across). Smooth it out so it's evenly thick throughout. Cut into wedges. (Hyzy recommends 8, but you can cut into 12 or 16 pieces if you like. I made 8, but we ended up cutting most of the scones in half before eating. But then we ended up eating two wedges anyway, so I suppose it all works out in the end.)
Bake at 375 degrees until medium golden brown. The recipe says for 25 minutes, but my oven runs hot so I took mine out after 17 or 18 minutes.
For frosting, mix together butter, vanilla, almond extract, and water. Add powdered sugar and stir well. You can add more hot water, 1 t. at a time, until the glaze has the consistency of thick syrup. Spoon over warm scones.
Now kick off your shoes and enjoy your scone with a good book (like State of the Onion).


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Food Books

Aside from making food and eating food, I love to read about food.
Is this what you'd call an obsession?
A few titles I've been enjoying lately:
Alice, Let's Eat: Further Adventures of a Happy Eater by Calvin Trillin. I haven't read anything of Trillin's that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. This book of funny food essays by the self-acknowledged "genial glutton" is no exception. It's grand fun to join in his zealous quest as he scours Kentucky, for example, for that perfect barbecued mutton.
It Must've Been Something I Ate (The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything) by Jeffrey Steingarten. Steingarten, who writes about food for Vogue magazine, has a completely different style than Trillin. An attorney by training, he thoroughly investigates subjects that intrigue him, often turning what for most of us would be mild curiosity ("I wonder if all these different types of salts are really all that different?") into quantifiable experiments that would earn him the blue ribbon in any state science fair competition. Fascinating stuff.
State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy. This culinary mystery, complete with recipes in the back, features fictional White House Assistant Chef Olivia Paras. Along with the entertaining "cozy" mystery come details about the White House kitchen and its goings-on that make for a super enjoyable story for food fans.

Now I'd love to hear your suggestions for good books about food. Mysteries? Essays? Fun cookbooks? Other food genres?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Watermelon, Part Two

Well, in answer to SAH in Suburbia's question about how you make this beautiful creation, I had to ask my friend Angie, whose creation it is.
First, you'll need a v-shaped knife, something like this. (You can probably get one at a kitchen supply store. I'd never even seen such a knife; had you?)
Next, Angie scores lightly around the center of the watermelon, to make sure she keeps her cuts level. Then you stab the knife all around the watermelon's center, poking in the knife as far as you can, and making sure your cuts connect. Once you've cut all the way around, it should break in two (especially if you've purchased a small-ish watermelon).
Even if the middle part isn't quite perfect, don't worry because you scoop out the middle to make a"bowl" that you fill with cut up fruit.
To serve your creation, make a cut from the top toward the bottom (like you'd cut a piece of pie), making your cuts just two or three inches long (not all the way through the bottom of the watermelon). Rotate the watermelon a bit and make another two/three inch cut, and do this all the way around. Then to extract individual pieces, you just use your regular knife to cut side to side (horizontally, connecting between your vertical cuts). Does that make sense?
Then, of course, you eat. And thank the good Lord for the beautiful creation sitting in front of you.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Even though it's Thursday already.
So sue me.
Beautiful watermelon courtesy of my dear friend Angie.
Now I'm really pushing the definition of "wordless." I'm stopping now.
I've stopped.
Note: See more Wordless Wednesday (or Thursday) entries here.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chocolate Rice Krispie Bar Cookies

Is there anything sweeter than getting a surprise package in the mail? Unless maybe it's getting a surprise package from your college-aged son who's in the throes of majorly intense end-of-the-year projects. But who still took time to remember his mom for Mother's Day.

1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. butterscotch chips
1/4 c. peanut butter
4 1/2 c. Rice Krispies

Put first three ingredients in large bowl and microwave "until creamy." Add cereal and stir. Press into 8 x 8-inch pan and let cool. (Let cool is underlined twice, so I'm assuming this is the most difficult part of the process -- you know, the waiting to eat it part.)

Recipe from


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Salad Month!

And happy Wordless Wednesday, too.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Barbecue Tip

I haven't tried this tip yet, but I just now read about it, and it's too good to keep to myself for even one minute. Tammy over at Tammy's Recipes says you can use a spray bottle to apply liquid smoke flavoring to grilled chicken, salmon, and steaks.

And since I happen to have a bottle of this in my cupboard, and Kahuna is in big-time barbecue mode right now, this is good news.
Very good news, indeed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Well how cool is this?

Check this out!
Or this!
I don't think there are enough exclamation points on my keyboard to express my excitement, or gratitude, to the creative and lovely blogger, Aunt Ruthie, at Sugar Pie Farmhouse.
But here, let me try.
Thank you, Aunt Ruthie.
If you love all things home, you will LOVE Aunt Ruthie. Mosey on over for a visit. And prepare to stay for a while. Her site is filled with inspiring photos about family and home, ideas for making your surroundings cute and homey, reviews, videos, even a message board. Heaven on earth.

Mint Tea Sandwiches

Well happy anniversary to me! It's my 100th blog post, so I'm having myself a little tea party. Complete with iced tea, made southern style (from Favorite Recipes of The Virginias cookbook, in honor of my mama) and mint tea sandwiches.

I guess the sandwiches are also in honor of my mama, since she's the one who gave me this cookbook a few years back, when she was thinning out her own collection.
The filling for these cute little tea sandwiches is made with butter, powdered sugar, and mint. Now I ask you, can you possibly go wrong with a recipe whose two major ingredients are butter and powdered sugar?
I think not.
Take 2-3 T. butter and put it in a bowl. Add 1/2-3/4 t. powdered sugar, and maybe about 4 mint leaves, chopped up. Nuke the bowl for about 7 seconds if you want an easier time of smushing everything together.
Once you've done your smushing, spread mixture on a piece of bread (I found 7-grain bread from the grocery store to be an excellent choice). Top with a second slice of bread, cut off the crusts if you want to be especially tea-partyish, slice into cute little bars, and eat.
Don't forget the tea.
(The recipe in the book, by the way, called for four loaves of bread, 1/2 lb. of butter, and 2 c. of powdered sugar, so I would like it duly noted here my extraordinary restraint.)
Anyone else have special tea party treats they like to make?

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Homemade Pizza

You know those meals where you're chewing, and every few seconds you just can't keep yourself from shutting your eyes and letting out a little groan of pleasure -- kind of like a purr?

That's what happened when we ate this pizza.

Me: I think this might be one of the best pieces of pizza I've ever eaten.

Kahuna: This is definitely the best piece of pizza I've ever eaten.

Me (eyes shut): Mmmmmm.

This recipe comes from a fine little cookbook I'd highly recommend: 15-Minute Cooking (28 Days of Game Plans) by Rhonda Barfield, a busy homeschooling mom of four. The idea behind the book is that in just a couple of 15-minute sessions a day -- one in the morning, one in the evening -- you can put together a homemade meal, complete with main dish, bread, side dish and dessert.

I wondered if I could really put together this pizza that fast, especially with the homemade crust. So I timed it. Mixing up the crust in the morning took exactly nine minutes, including digging out the dirty measuring spoons from the dishwasher and washing them, and refilling the flour canister.
In the afternoon, rolling out the dough and prepping the pan took four minutes. I let the dough "rest" for a few minutes, then rolled it out a second time and put it onto the pan: two more minutes.

Rhonda, I'm a believer.

Note that this recipe makes TWO crusts. I cut it in half because I didn't want to be stuck with an extra one in case we didn't like it. Needless to say, next time I will make both pizzas and freeze one if we don't have enough hungry mouths around to eat them both.


1 c. very hot water

2 t. (or one package) yeast

4 c. flour

1/4 c. sugar

2 T. vegetable oil (I used canola)

1 1/2 t. salt

1 egg

In the morning: Combine water and yeast in small mixing bowl, and do not stir. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, oil, salt, and egg. Mix well.

Stir yeast into water until thoroughly dissolved. Then stir yeast mixture into flour mixture. Stir until blended; knead by hand one minute, adding a bit of flour or water as needed so the mixture won't stick to your hands. Cover dough completely, lightly, with plastic wrap. Cover bowl tightly with foil and refrigerate.

Here Rhonda suggests making pizza sauce in a slow cooker (or you could always buy the pizza sauce). I just made it on the stovetop. This makes double the amount you'll need for the pizzas, as Rhonda uses the extra on spaghetti, so plan accordingly:

PIZZA SAUCE (makes enough for two pizzas AND one batch spaghetti)

3 15-oz. cans tomato sauce

1 1/2 c. ketchup

1/2 c. brown sugar

2 T. Italian seasoning (I didn't have this, so mixed up my own according to this fine set of directions from

Mix all this together in a saucepan over medium heat until you think it's well blended.

At this point, Rhonda and I diverge, as she added a ground beef mixture to the sauce and I did not.

When you're ready to assemble pizzas to bake, remove dough from fridge, cover clean counter top or cutting board with flour, divide dough into two if you've made the full recipe, quickly roll out each part with floured rolling pin to about 6- or 8-inch circles, and let rest for a few minutes.


Prepare your toppings. We used about:

2 c. grated mozzarella cheese (per pizza)

1/3 package regular Jimmy Dean pork sausage, cooked, crumbled, and drained (per pizza)

a couple regular old tomatoes, sliced about 1/4-inch thick (per pizza)

Now coat two pizza pans (or large cookie sheets) with non-stick cooking spray. Cover lightly with flour, roll out dough into sizes that fit well onto your pans (either thick or thin crust works), put dough onto pans and layer on your pizza sauce (about 1/4 of the total amount for each pizza), cheese, and toppings. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.

Prepare to purr.