December 18, 2014

Tapenade \ˌtä-pə-ˈnäd\

ejtapenadeSo ~ December’s Improv Cooking Challenge, hosted by Lesa, simply called for RED & GREEN ingredients. Because of the busy-ness of this season, I was sorely tempted to make some crisped rice squares topped with red & green candies/sprinkles!notmyredngreen However, I decided to “upgrade” and share the recipe for my fellas’ favorite condiment.

The lovely thing about tapenades is their versatility & adaptability to ingredients on hand. In dark, desperate days my pantry has been raided for a can of black olives, a little granulated garlic, olive oil and a handful of green olives sent through the chopper.

Today, however, we’re going to plan ahead and be a little more selective with the components of our dish. Here are the basic ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb. each of kalamata, stuffed green & plain ol’ black olives - rough chopped
  • scant 1/2 cup capers
  • 1 fresh red pepper (smoking optional, of course & jarred are easier to use) 
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh lemon thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

There were a few remaining red peppers hanging about my fall-depleted garden. ejtap1We sliced then tossed one of those on the smoker for a bit, along with a large garlic clove. And, I found some basil and lemon thyme in my patio pots. ejtap3The remaining ingredients we gleaned from Sprouts!ejtap4And since you can’t consume tapenade usually is not consumed straight out of the jar,ejtap6 I made some crostini from gluten free baguettes I baked off of this bread recipe.

(BTW -- tapenade is also a good gift for olive lovers…)

Need more RED & GREEN recipe ideas? Check out my friends’ creations at these links:

December 16, 2014

Spoiler alert:

peppermint leakschopped

goin' green

espresso yourselfno coffee needed

Joyeux Noël

NowelMy word last Christmas was “JOY”. noel
This year, I found “NOEL” and decided to study up on it. And I’m glad I did, because Monday when our exterminator stopped by he asked what that word meant.noel2Some researchers claim the word Noel simply means a Christmas song and that it dates from the early 19th century. noel3A few state that it originated centuries before the French used it. noel4Some say that Noel means “good news”. noel5My favorite explanation (and the one I shared with my bug guy) asserts that “NO-” comes from the Latin natalis which means “birth,” and “-EL” of course, is Hebrew for God. Thus, to me, Noel celebrates the birth of God.

Like last year, we visited our friends’ church to hear their Christmas concert.noel6
And again, as I was leaving the church, God brought me “my word” as He did last December. noel7
May you be blessed this season as we celebrate His birth.

December 11, 2014

Mrs. Butterworth® gets her wings

A few years ago my mom gave me an old syrup bottle.mrsBOf course she started living in the kitchen. (The bottle, not my mom…)mrsB1
Struck with a “stroke of genius” I rescued the heart insert from an old spring-form pan and rusted it.
Attached with wire, and in the right light, Mrs. B looks like an angel.
She tried to fit in with the other angels atop the old telephone table; but the space was a bit cramped...
She thought she might try the angel tree in the front room; but realized without a light of her own, she was outshone by some of the others.

mrsB3…but she looks marvelous living in my kitchen.

(I believe I will show Mrs. B off over at NewlyWoodwards for Dare to Deck the Halls linky party.)

November 20, 2014

Hey Mom, I signed up to bring…

…apfel kuchen.
Yeah -- like my son knows how to make an apfel kuchen to take to his post-marching-band-season party!
For some reason my boys are fascinated with German folk traditions & food. For an international dinner years ago in his 5th grade class, “we” made this kuchen:apfel kuchenI don’t recall the reason for these “we” baked a few years back, maybe for an Easter brunch:apfel (1)Here’s the one “we” baked for last week’s party:ejapfelkuchenThe recipe I came up with for the sweet dough is incredible! (It rises like you would not believe, too…) ejapfelkuchen11Here you go:
for the dough:
  • 4 c. flour
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 c. warm water
My hands & arms weren’t in the mood for doing a bunch of kneading, so I tossed all the ingredients into the bread machine on the “dough” setting. I made sure the eggs & yogurt were room temperature before I started. I whisked together the flour, salt & soda in a bowl. The yeast, sugar & water were put in the bottom of the pan. I then put in about half the dry ingredients and started the machine. In went the yogurt, eggs & the balance of the flour mixture.
While that was going in the machine, I used my apple peeler/slicer/corer on 3 beautiful Honeycrisp apples and splashed them with a little lemon juice to keep from browning. I also tossed together the streusel ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 4 T. butter, softened
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
When the dough was finished with its first rise, I divided it in half. Formed it into a sort of disk with a hole in the middle and pressed it into a tube pan (prepared with parchment on the bottom and well-buttered tube & sides…) A layer or two of apples and sprinkling of cinnamon sugar completed the filling. The second half of the dough was prepared same as the first, but this time topped with the remaining apples and covered with the streusel. The oven was set for 350° and the kuchen sat on the counter for its final rise. It more than doubled after 45 minutes, so I went ahead and baked it. After 30 minutes I put foil over the top to keep it from browning too much. Internal temp was 200° at around the 55 minute mark, so I took the pan out to cool on a bottle. ejapfelkuchen11-2The outer ring soon fell off, so the bread on the tube was put on a rack to finish its chill-out. After carefully removing the tube portion, I plated it then mixed up a little half & half/confectioners sugar glaze. Here’s your slice:ejapfelkuchen11-22
I know he’ll be unhappy with me, but here’s what my oldest returned with from their band party. I’ve included my pics of him in uniform so you can see what the certificate is referring to:AlecNPMB

Churros with #AngryOrchard Caramel Dip

What says “FALL” better than apples? Apple cider! And what food says “Cinnamon” better than churros? uhhhhhhh… nothing!?!ejaplcin
At the Improv Challenge hosted by Lesa, this month it was all about apples & cinnamon. I made the decision to create gluten free churros and an apple caramel dip. ejaplcin1Initially I planned to juice 3 varieties of apples and make caramel from that.ejaplcin2As “fun” as that process was, the resultant caramel came out a little lumpy & too sweet, for my taste.ejaplcin3I’d been seeing caramel recipes made from hard cider, so decided to give that a try.
The flavor was fabulous and I knew this caramel would be perfect with some hot churros!
I began by making the cinnamon sugar finishing “bath”.ejaplcin4Next I prepared my eggs so they’d be ready to add to the hot pâte à choux without any stray shells problems. I’d never prepared this with a mixer before -- I’ve always beat the eggs into the cooked flour mixture in the pan by hand. (That’s the way I learned in 7th grade Home Ec years ago…)ejaplcin5Next, the batter was spooned into the pastry bag so it could be piped into the oil heated in the cast iron skillet.ejaplcin6ummmmm  -- Pretty sure I need more practice; because it was quite difficult to juggle the heavy pastry bag in my right hand and the scissors to stop the flow of batter in my left. I could not pipe a straight 6-inch line to save my life!ejaplcin7I was quite surprised at the lovely texture of the fried dough! You would never know they were gluten free except for maybe a slight discernable flavor difference. ejaplcin8Happily the hubs, who is by no means a donut or cruller fan, proclaimed them very tasty & even had a few with his coffee the next morning.
for the caramel:
  • 1 bottle (12 oz.) Angry Orchard® hard cider
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons half & half (you could use cream Smile)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Boil the cider to reduce to about half. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook until thickened. Control yourself while consuming! Winking smile
for the churros:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Pamela’s®)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Bring the water, butter, salt & brown sugar to a rolling boil. Remove from heat. Dump in the flour all at once and beat with spoon until well-combined & smooth. Transfer to mixer and add eggs one at a time, beating until shiny after each addition. Spoon into pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pour about one inch deep oil in skillet, and heat to 350°. Pipe a 6-inch length of dough and fry both sides until brown. Drain excess oil and shake into cinnamon/sugar mixture. Try to let it cool before you bite into it!
So, I loved the incredible apple-flavored caramel sauce and I loved the cinnamon churros ~ however, together they were much too sweet for my taste… ejaplcin9But, try the recipes for yourself before you make that call! Open-mouthed smile You should also check out the other apple & cinnamon creations from my friends via the following links.

If you don’t mind, I would like to leave you with one last picture & ask you to pray for a sweet boy from our church. Nick is battling a nasty, terrible, ugly monster named Osteosarcoma. You can attribute this churro to my poor piping skills, but as I was emptying the last of the dough from the tip, this came out. 20141114_090606I was touched in my heart, because I had spent the morning praying for Nick & his family.

phone phun

Because the mister is involved with IT all day/every day; well let’s just say his condition is terminal & contagious! 'puterboysHe makes sure we are connected…connectedAdmittedly, we are a family of technerds.
Last month our mobile contract was up & 3 of our phones were eligible for free upgrade. So, now 3 of us have the exact same phone. ejcowphone4Well, except mine is white.ejcowphone3Which is great, except the OtterBox® cases are all three black.ejcowphone7Well not anymore! Thanks to masking tape, white spray paint & a good coat of Mod Podge® mine stands out a little.ejcowphone5In fact, the guys make sure they’re not caught dead with my phone…ejcowphone6But here’s the best part: