Patriotic Fruit Pops

When my blogging group decided to go with a traditional red, white, and blue theme for our recipes this month, the thought of turning on the oven made me break into a sweat, so I opted for frozen fruit bars for the 4th of July, and for the hot days ahead. Easy instructions are below, and you’ll also find the links to the other bloggers’ posts. Hope you’ll check each one out!



Patriotic Fruit Pops closeBlended strawberries, lemon, and blueberries are layered in molds for a red, white, and (mostly) blue ice pop. Lightly sweetened, these are a healthy alternative to store bought frozen treats.

Before I give you instructions, I have a few tips:

  • I originally wanted to use pineapple and coconut milk for the white layer, but it took too much pineapple to achieve a flavorful mixture, which made it yellow…and I really wanted white.  So, lemon and coconut were my Plan B, which worked beautifully. You could also add a bit of Greek Yogurt if you’d like. Heavy cream will curdle. (Ask me how I know.)
  • You can make these without the gelatin, but they will be a little bit icier. Your call!
  • The blueberry layer is blended, and has a bit of a pulpy texture. I don’t mind it at all, but if you do you can try straining it before adding the gelatin mixture – and then add a little juice or water to make at least 6 ounces.
  • Speaking of blueberries, I used my favorite frozen Wild blueberries, which were a lot more burgundy than blue…more the color of huckleberries. Try using regular blueberries for a truer blue color.
  • Make sure you give each color adequate freezer time before adding the next layer, and keep the molds level. That will give you nice, crisp lines between each layer.

Here’s how I made these refreshing pops:

Patriotic Fruit Pops
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Author:
This recipe makes six 3-ounce frozen pops. There may be a little of each flavor left over. If so, pour it into a paper cup or ice cube tray and freeze just as you would the pops. These are great to drop into a glass of sparkling water! You will need less than 1 package of gelatin for all three flavors. Gelatin may be omitted, but the frozen treats will have a slightly icier texture.
Ingredients
  • RED:
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered gelatin (like Knox)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • WHITE:
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered gelatin (like Knox)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • coconut milk added to lemon to equal ¾ cup
  • BLUE:
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered gelatin (like Knox)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Instructions
  1. RED:
  2. In a small bowl or ramekin, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and hot water and stir thoroughly. Microwave on high for 10 seconds. Stir and set aside.
  4. In a blender or food processor, blend the strawberries until smooth. Add the warm gelatin mixture and blend briefly. If mixture is too thick to pour or spoon into molds, add 1 tablespoon water and blend.
  5. Fill molds ⅓ full and freeze for 2 hours, or until firm.
  6. WHITE:
  7. In a small bowl or ramekin, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
  8. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon hot water and stir thoroughly. Microwave on high for 10 seconds. Stir and set aside.
  9. Put lemon juice in a measuring cup and add gelatin mixture. Add coconut milk to equal ¾ cups liquid.
  10. Remove molds from freezer and add about the same amount of lemon mixture as the strawberry. This should fill the molds approximately ⅔ full.
  11. Freeze for approximately 1 hour. The object is to have it firm but not totally solid, so the handle or stick will be able to penetrate the second layer if necessary.
  12. BLUE:
  13. In a small bowl or ramekin, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
  14. Add sugar and hot water and stir thoroughly. Microwave on high for 10 seconds. If you are using lemon juice, add now. Stir and set aside.
  15. In a blender or food processor, blend the blueberries until smooth. Add the warm gelatin mixture and blend briefly. If mixture is too thick to pour or spoon into molds, add 1 tablespoon water and blend.
  16. Remove molds from the freezer and add blueberry mixture to the "fill" line. Add handles or sticks.
  17. Freeze until totally firm - overnight if possible.
  18. Remove pops from molds, running molds under warm water if necessary to release the treats.

 

Soften gelatin in cold water.

Soften gelatin in cold water.

 

Blend the strawberry mixture and add to molds.

Blend the strawberry mixture and add to molds.

Combine lemon, coconut milk, and gelatin mixture.

Combine lemon, coconut milk, and gelatin mixture.

Add lemon to frozen strawberry.

Add lemon to frozen strawberry.

Blend the blueberries.

Blend the blueberries.

 

Not blue...but pretty. For a true blue, don't use wild blueberries!

Not blue…but pretty. For a true blue, don’t use wild blueberries!

Yeah, baby!

Yeah, baby!



Patriotic Fruit Pops horizontal watermarked

red white blue collage

Now, for some other great Independence Day ideas, take a look at THESE posts:

(Links will be live on June 29th.)
From Crumbs in My Mustachio: Star Spangled Cannoli
From Tampa Cake Girl: Red, White Chocolate, and Blueberry Cheesecake
From Moore or Less Cooking Blog: Easy Butter Cake With Berries
From Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom: Patriotic Pie

Baked Alaska-licious!

A trip to Alaska is sounding awfully good right now! It is only June 1st, but it feels like July here in Eastern Washington. Whooeeee.


Baked Alaska cut horizontal
As the temperature rises, I get a craving for cold, bright desserts…and popsicles don’t count!  When my favorite group of bloggers decided to put together a group of ice cream desserts, Baked Alaska was the first thing I thought of. You can make it with any flavor of ice cream or cake you desire, and you can make it a couple of days ahead, pop it back in the freezer, and then appear to produce it effortlessly after just a few minutes in the oven, impressing friends and family with your mad skills.

Here are the other delicious goodies you’ll find in the links at the end of the post!
frozen desserts collage

If you’ve read my blogs before, you’ll be familiar with this disclaimer: You’ll find my recipes for cake and ice cream below, but feel free to simplify things by using (gasp!) store bought ice cream and a cake mix. I understand – I do!

I made small, individual desserts the first time, to great enthusiasm here on the home front. Next I made a large dessert using a half gallon (though we all know – even if the bastards at the ice cream companies think they’ve pulled one over on us – that they aren’t actually half gallons anymore) of store bought ice cream and it was perfect for the large dessert. My ice cream recipe yields a little less (I have a small, wimpy ice cream maker) so if you’re making the large dessert using my ice cream recipe, it will change the ice cream to cake ratio a bit, but it will still be beautiful.

For best results, start your Baked Alaska-licious a couple of days before you plan to serve it. It takes a while to freeze the ice cream into a bowl shape, and will be much easier to “frost” with meringue if the ice cream is rock hard.

I made a lemon-blueberry ice cream that was killer good, and used my Luscious Yellow Cake recipe for the base of the dessert. (It makes two large 9-inch round cakes, so you’ll want to cut the recipe in half or eat/freeze the other half.)

Baked Alaska-licious!
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Author:
Makes 6 small desserts or 1 large dessert.
Ingredients
  • 1 9-inch round yellow cake
  • ICE CREAM:
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen wild blueberries
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • MERINGUE:
  • 8 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups superfine sugar (Baker's sugar)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan on medium heat, stir together the berries, sugar, and lemon. Bring to a low boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm.
  2. Add the cream, milk, and vanilla, stirring well. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. Make ice cream according to your machine's instructions. (If you have a small ice cream maker, you may need to make this in 2 batches.) While the ice cream is churning, prepare molds:
  4. To make single serving desserts, use a jumbo cupcake pan, lining 6 cavities with plastic wrap.
  5. To make a large dessert (using a double batch of ice cream (or a 1-3/4 quart container of store bought ice cream) line a medium bowl (about 8 inches across) with foil or plastic wrap, smoothing the liner as much as possible.
  6. Scoop churned ice cream into mold(s) and freeze until solid - at least 3 hours.
  7. MAKE MERINGUE:
  8. Using a squeaky clean bowl and beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Sprinkle the cream of tartar over the egg whites and beat until soft peaks form. With mixer on medium, slowly drizzle the sugar into the egg whites, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides. Don't rush this! When all of the sugar has been added, turn up speed to medium high and beat until firm peaks form. The meringue needs to be firm; sloppy meringue will just slide off the ice cream. But don't go past firm peak stage or the egg whites might collapse.
  9. For single serving desserts, cut 3 circles of cake the same size as the jumbo cupcake cavities. Slice each horizontally to make four thinner rounds. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Turn 1 molded ice cream onto each cake round and peel off the plastic.
  10. For a large dessert, place the 9 inch cake onto a round of parchment on a baking sheet. Flip the ice cream out onto the cake and remove the plastic or foil. Cut away any excess cake around the bottom with a sharp knife.
  11. Spread meringue over dessert(s), covering completely, and swirl with a knife.
  12. Return to freezer until ready to serve, up to 2 days.
  13. Heat oven to 450 F.
  14. Place baked Alaska(s) in the oven and bake for approximately 5 minutes, turning once for even browning. Watch them closely - oven temperatures vary. You want the meringue to turn golden with dark brown peaks.
  15. Serve! Slide a large dessert (on its parchment round) onto a serving platter. Lift small desserts with a spatula and serve on dessert plates. The large dessert may need to sit for a few minutes to soften before serving, but the individual size desserts will be ready to go. Expect the meringue to be crusty on the outside and a little creamy on the inside.
Make a 9-inch yellow cake.

Make a 9-inch yellow cake.

Combine berries, sugar, and lemon to make ice cream.

Combine berries, sugar, and lemon to make ice cream.

Add cream and milk to cooled berry mixture.

Add cream and milk to cooled berry mixture.

Glop on the meringue!

Glop on the meringue!

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Individual serving Baked Alaska-licious.

Individual serving Baked Alaska-licious.

Large size Baked Alaskalicious.

Large size Baked Alaska-licious.



Go ahead, have a bite!

Go ahead, have a bite!

I’ve given you a generous amount of meringue. Nothing is worse than trying to make pretty swirls in thinly spread meringue.

When baked, the meringue will be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. If you are concerned about eating or serving egg whites that aren’t thoroughly cooked, I recommend making a cooked Italian Meringue; there are lots of recipes for it on the Internet. It’s a little more work, but it will remove any worries about egg safety that you might have. I know where my eggs come from (my front yard…thank you, girls!) so I’m comfortable with regular meringue.

That’s it – a fancy dessert that is impressive but not that hard to make. Go wow ’em!

And don’t forget to check out the links below for some drool-worthy cold treats.
Lorinda

From Crumbs in My Mustachio: Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches
From Tampa Cake Girl: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Avalanche
From Moore or Less Cooking Blog: Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
From Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom: Easy Chocolate Ice Cream
From Hun, What’s for Dinner: Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches

Banana Split Cupcakes



Banana Split Cupcakes Vertical2 watermarkThis idea has been simmering in my brain for a couple of weeks, refusing to be ignored, so I finally pulled out all the stops and made my dream cupcakes. Surprisingly, they turned out exactly as I had imagined! That almost never happens; usually I just adjust my expectations to meet the reality I’ve created.

You could probably see the big smile on my face right now if it wasn’t covered with melted chocolate.

I started with a Neapolitan cupcake, topped it with a cherry surrounded by fresh banana whipped icing, and dipped the top in a simple chocolate shell. Of course I had to sample one. And then there were the ones that I cut in half for photos…couldn’t let those go to waste! I put the uneaten cupcakes in the freezer because I found that they’re even better frozen  to remove further temptation.

Doing the happy dance, and sharing these Banana Split Cupcakes (aka: HolyCrapWhatHaveIDoneI’mGonnaGain15PoundsThisWeekForSure Cupcakes) with you.

I made two batches, one from scratch and one using a boxed mix. Although my recipe is a little more generous, I have to admit the boxed cake worked perfectly, so I’ll leave that decision up to you. If you want to try it from scratch, I used half of a batch of my homemade white cake mix. Otherwise, just use your favorite white cake mix – the kind that uses only egg whites.

Banana Split Cupcakes
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Author:
Makes approximately 20 cupcakes if you're using a boxed mix (I know the box says 24, but those are pretty wimpy)...more if you use my scratch mix.
Ingredients
  • One batch prepared white cake mix
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • red food coloring (if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon strong coffee (or substitute water)
  • ICING:
  • ½ cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2 medium bananas, ripe but not spotty. Cut out any dark spots and mash well.
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 pounds powdered sugar
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • CHOCOLATE SHELL:
  • 10 ounces good quality dark chocolate (I use 70% cocoa)
  • 2 level tablespoons coconut oil
  • Maraschino cherries.
  • Sprinkles, if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners
  3. Separate cake mix evenly into 3 small bowls
  4. In the first bowl, add the strawberry jam and a couple of drops of food coloring and stir until mixed.
  5. In the second bowl, add the cocoa and coffee (or water) and stir until mixed.
  6. Add nothing to the third bowl.
  7. Using a separate teaspoon for each color, work with one cupcake at a time, dropping a spoonful of each color in the bottom of the cup, and then repeating for a second layer, varying the color (so vanilla goes on top of strawberry or chocolate). Fill each about ⅔ full. (Don't try to put all of one color in the cups at a time or the batter will level before the next color is added.)
  8. Bake 20 minutes. If toothpick comes out clean when inserted into a cupcake, remove from oven and cool completely on rack.
  9. ICING:
  10. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, cream cheese, mashed banana, and vanilla until well mixed - at least 1 minute.
  11. Slowly beat in 2 pounds of powdered sugar. When combined, turn speed to medium and beat for 1 minute.
  12. Add whipping cream and remaining powdered sugar and beat on medium for 2 minutes, or until thick and fluffy.
  13. Pipe a spiral of icing, beginning a little inside the edge of each cupcake top, and ending in the middle. Place cherry in the center of each cupcake. Working from the top, looking straight down at the cupcake, repeat the spiral, this time generously working around the cherry and ending in a peak, completely enclosing the cherry in icing. As each cupcake is done, place it on a baking sheet.
  14. Immediately place cupcakes in freezer for 1 hour.
  15. CHOCOLATE COATING:
  16. Break chocolate into small pieces. In a cup or small bowl in the microwave (or in small pan on the stove) slowly melt chocolate and coconut oil together. It's important to melt it very slowly at low heat.
  17. Stir very well.
  18. Remove cupcakes from the freezer and dip each into chocolate, bringing the chocolate all the way to the paper liner. Hold upside down until it quits dripping. Set on serving platter. (If you are using sprinkles, add them quickly before the chocolate hardens.)
  19. Serve immediately or keep chilled for best results.

 

Hints:

  • If you get overly generous with the batter and your cupcakes have a “pillow top”, just use a sharp knife to trim the excess. It will get covered with chocolate and no one will know.
  • If the icing is too soft to work with, add a little extra powdered sugar or chill briefly. If it’s too thick, add a little more cream.
  • There is a generous amount of icing, so if you want to you can poke the piping tip into the cupcake before you begin icing, and add a little bit of filling. Don’t add too much or your cupcake will blow up – not a pretty look 😉
  • Dry the cherries in a couple of layers of paper towel before using.
First layer. Do it again, varying the color combination.

First layer. Do it again, varying the color combination.

Baked and cooled

Baked and cooled

Trim if necessary.

Trim if necessary.

Beginning the second spiral.

Beginning the second spiral.

Pipe up and over cherry. Freeze for 1 hour.

Pipe up and over cherry. Freeze for 1 hour.

Melting the chocolate. Go slow!

Melting the chocolate. Go slow!

Dip. More than this...all the way to the liner!

Dip. More than this…all the way to the liner!

Drying on the rack. Now's the time to add sprinkles if you'd like.

Drying on the rack. Now’s the time to add sprinkles if you’d like.

cupcakes horiz watermarkSo. How am I going to top these babies?  I honestly don’t think I can. Oh oh – I think I just challenged myself!  We’ll see….after gardening season!

Lorinda

 

Gluten-Free Berry Pecan Muffins



GF muffins watermarkedShamed Challenged by my daughter to try a gluten-free muffin, my wheels started turning. I can’t say I was excited by the idea (my idea of a breakfast pastry includes butter, white flour, and sugar) but decided to give it a try…and was surprised and pleased by the results.

I used buttermilk and honey, so this isn’t vegan, but it is a lot healthier than my usual creations, and unexpectedly light and fluffy!

Use whatever fruit you like. I put chopped strawberries and blueberries in mine, but will also be trying these with raspberries and chopped banana in the near future. If you toast your pecans before adding them, it will boost the flavor factor immensely.

I also have a thing about toppings on muffins – more is better! For the sake of keeping these reasonably healthy, I toned that down a bit and just put a tiny amount on each muffin before baking. You can simply sprinkle them with finely chopped nuts and cinnamon if you prefer, or leave them plain. (Here I go…can’t help myself: a drizzle of simple powdered sugar icing would be lovely too!)

Gluten Free Berry Pecan Muffins
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Author:
Makes 12
Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup berries (if using strawberries, chop them coarsely)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • STREUSEL TOPPING (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flour
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Place foil or paper liners in 12-cavity muffin pan
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Add berries, orange zest, and chopped nuts. Stir to combine.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, honey, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
  6. Add melted coconut oil, whisking briskly, and immediately pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir just until combined.
  7. Divide between 12 liners. They will be generously filled.
  8. Combine all of the ingredients for streusel, if you are using it. Press gently onto each muffin.
  9. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of a muffin.
  10. Move pan to a cooling rack and let them cool a bit before eating.
Add fruit and nuts to dry ingredients

Add fruit and nuts to dry ingredients

add liquids to dry ingredients

Add liquids to dry ingredients

Add a little topping if desired, and bake.

Add a little topping if desired, and bake.

 



Vertical watermark3No, I haven’t exactly turned over a new leaf, but I have to admit I’m a little more open to the whole gluten-free idea after this success. For now, though, I have this idea. This truly decadent idea that is screaming to be made into reality, and will be posted soon. One step forward, two steps back I guess!

Lorinda

 

 

Taunee’s Blueberry Pancakes

 



bite

Pancakes for two, anyone? I’ve “done” pancakes before (see: The Real Scoop on Pancakes) but my sweet little granddaughter is working on a school project and specifically asked for a photo of blueberry pancakes. How can a grandma refuse?

So I changed my basic recipe a wee bit, making it a little richer (butter instead of oil), a little sweeter, and cut the recipe to make approximately 6 large pancakes. Pancakes just don’t get any better than this!

Mmmm. Ready to serve!

Mmmm. Ready to serve!

I used fresh blueberries, but if you want to use frozen, I suggest you sprinkle them on top of the pancakes once you’ve poured the batter on the griddle; that way your pancakes won’t turn a funky color.fresh blueberries

Here you go, Taunee. Pancakes from Eema’s kitchen:

Taunee's Blueberry Pancakes
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup milk (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (if using frozen, don't stir into batter - drop onto poured pancakes before flipping over.)
Instructions
  1. Heat griddle on medium high. Grease generously. (I prefer shortening, but bacon grease is good too.)
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, and milk together well. Whisk in melted butter.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients, mixing just until combined. I like my batter to be fairly thick, spreading it into circles on the hot griddle with a spoon. If you prefer a thinner batter, add more milk or water until it's the desired consistency.
  5. Spoon batter onto hot griddle. Lift and peek - when the bottom is a rich brown and the top looks a little dry and bubbly, flip the pancakes and cook until brown on both sides.

 

Whisk liquids into dry ingredients.

Whisk liquids into dry ingredients.

Spoon batter onto hot, greased griddle. Cook until brown on both sides.

Spoon batter onto hot, greased griddle. Cook until brown on both sides.



and...enjoy!

and…enjoy!

Hope you get an A+, Miss. Taunalee!

Tender Yucateco Pork

cinco de mayo collage
Links to all of the luscious dishes pictured in the collage above are at the bottom of the post. (They’ll be live by 8:00 AM on April 23rd.) Don’t forget to check them out.



Tender Yucateco Pork vertical watermarkedI’m sure we’ve all experienced a moment where a whiff of fragrance transports us back in time . I chased a woman down the mall once to find out what perfume she was wearing, because it was the same scent my preschool teacher wore! Our sense of smell remembers and teases us with quick trips to the past.

When I pondered what to make for a Cinco de Mayo roundup with my blogger friends, a dish my son and I prepared during my recent visit to California was the obvious choice (even though it has nothing at all to do with baking). At the time we couldn’t find achiote paste, so had to make a homemade version in our own freestyle way.  But this time (thanks to Amazon) I have the real stuff, and HOO BABY, does it smell delicious.achiote

When I opened the package I was instantly taken back to a family vacation in Cozumel when I was fifteen years old. That was a long, long time ago. There was a hotel/restaurant down the beach where we ate often, and this…THIS is the exact aroma I remember. Heavenly. (Wistful sigh here.)

I jazzed up the Xni-pec topping, adding carrots and red cabbage for more crunch. It’s similar to cole slaw, only spicier. A dollop of sour cream on the top cools it down a bit.

pork7

Speaking of cooling it down a bit, you know you should always wear gloves when working with peppers, right? I know this too. I do. But right now I’m housesitting at a friend’s place and didn’t have access to disposable gloves – and it was just one little jalapeno pepper, right? From experience I can tell you that if you rub your eye after cutting up a jalapeno pepper, you will need to wash it out thoroughly with milk. ‘Nuff said.

Tender Yucateco Pork
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 4-5 pound pork shoulder blade roast
  • 2 ounces achiote paste
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • ½ red onion (save the other half for the Xni-pec)
  • Juice from one lime
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 10 whole cloves (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
  • 8 whole allspice (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped - or more to taste
  • XNI-PEC:
  • 2 cups chopped red cabbage
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely (optional)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • chopped cilantro, if desired
Instructions
  1. Place pork in a large crock pot.
  2. Put in a blender: achiote paste, garlic, onion, lime juice, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, cumin, chili powder, pepper, salt, and oregano. Blend until smooth. Pour over the meat.
  3. Sprinkle with cloves, cinnamon stick, allspice, and chopped pepper..
  4. Cover and cook on high for one hour. Turn heat to low and cook for 5 hours, or until meat is fall-apart tender, turning the meat over once during the cook time. Remove the pork to a platter or baking dish and shred, using 2 forks. Remove and discard any large pieces of fat or whole spices. Strain the juice from the crock pot to remove whole spices and return the juice and meat to the pot, keeping it on warm until you are ready to serve.
  5. Combine all of the ingredients for the Xni-pec. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
  6. Serve the pork in hot corn tortillas. Top with xni-pec and a little sour cream.

The leftover juices in the crock pot make a wonderful base for a spicy Mexican soup! Trust me – you’ll want to freeze this for later. Just ladle off the fat from the surface, or chill in the refrigerator to make it easy to remove the solidified fat and freeze in an airtight container.

Put  goodies in blender.

Put goodies in blender.

Blend until smooth.

Blend until smooth.

Pour over pork in crock pot.

Pour over pork in crock pot.

Sprinkle with peppers and whole spices.

Sprinkle with peppers and whole spices.

Separate meat with forks and strain the sauce.

Shred meat with forks and strain the sauce.

Return meat to sauce. Keep warm until ready to serve

Return meat to sauce. Keep warm until ready to serve

As always, feel free to change this recipe to suit your taste. I’m kind of wimpy when it comes to hot, spicy foods, so I kept the heat down to a reasonably fiery level. You may want to add more peppers to your batch. I’m also thinking of adding a bit of dark chocolate to the crock pot next time for another layer of flavor.

Pile the pork on a tortilla, top with Xni-pec and a little sour cream (chopped tomatoes are nice, too) and enjoy!


Tender Yucateco Pork watermarked

For five other delicious Cinco de Mayo recipes, please visit these amazing pages:

From Tampa Cake Girl: Margarita Cheesecake

From Hun, What’s For Dinner?: Dessert Chimichangas

From Crumbs in my Mustachio: Easy Taco Salad

From Cooking from a SAHM: Easy Salsa

From Moore or Less Cooking Blog: Chicken Fajitas

Brownies for a Crowd

brownie croppedThe other day I needed to make lots and lots of brownies…enough for 60 women. And because “good enough” just doesn’t cut it for our Homemakers’ Club annual spring tea, I also felt the urge to gussy them up and make them pretty.

brownies for tea watermark

I usually use a mixture of oil and butter in my brownies, but I wanted these to be rich and decadent, so I skipped the oil and used lots of butter. They turned out even better than I’d hoped, with enough height to look impressive, and a density somewhere between fudge brownies and cake brownies.

If you don’t have a crowd to cook for, you could cut the recipe in half of course. But I’d go for the full recipe and freeze some if I were you; they’re that good!

 

Brownies for a Crowd
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Makes approximately 72 brownies, 1½-inch by 2-inches each.
Ingredients
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2¼ cups (4½ sticks) butter, melted
  • 9 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup "Special Dark" cocoa powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (more if desired)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Lightly grease two 9-inch by 13-inch baking pans, line with parchment, (the grease will hold the parchment in place) and spray lightly with an oil/flour combination spray like Baker's Joy.
  3. In a very large bowl, combine the sugar and melted butter. Stir well.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla until frothy. Add slowly to the sugar mixture, stirring well.,
  5. Add the cocoa powders, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir just until combined.
  6. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  7. Divide evenly between baking pans, spreading with a dough scraper or offset spatula.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of the brownies comes out clean. If it has batter on it, bake in 3 minute increments until done. Don't overbake.
  9. Cool COMPLETELY in pans on cooling racks. Remove the brownies by lifting the edges of the parchment. Mark and cut as desired. Since they are thick and rich, I found that 1½-inch by 2-inch pieces were perfect.

Spreading batter. (I used one huge pan, 13" x 18")

Spreading batter. (I used one huge pan, 13″ x 18″)

I was so busy slam-dunking this project, I failed to take pictures as I went. But the decorations were pretty simple for the most part. A swirl of chocolate buttercream icing (ganache would be great, too!) a few buttercream roses and leaves, and nifty little edible flowers and butterflies I got from Sugar Robot. There is no sugar in them, so they were perfect as decorations for the batch of sugar-free brownies I also made.

jelly bean beeThe little bees were simple and fun to make. To make a bee I used two jelly beans – a yellow one for the body and a “ginger ale” jelly bean for the head and wings. (White would do nicely, too.) I melted a little white chocolate in a small dish to use as glue, then cut the end off of one of the lighter beans for a head and glued it to the end of a yellow bean, using the white chocolate. Then two more thin slices of the light bean were attached to the sides for wings. You will need to hold them in place for a few seconds to let the white chocolate dry.

Melt a small amount of dark chocolate in a plastic zipper-type bag and snip a teeny tiny bit of one corner off. Dot eyes onto the head and then stripes on the back of the yellow bean. (The reason my stripes look a little wimpy is because I thought I’d try painting them with black paste food coloring. Not recommended!) That’s it. Let them dry for a few minutes before moving them onto the brownies.

Here’s how I know these brownies are the best I’ve made: usually, I prefer them with lots of chocolate icing, but I had some leftovers that didn’t get decorated, and I actually preferred them plain. Irresistible!

Happy spring…

Lorinda

Triple Cheese Ham Bake

broads april collage
Once again my five favorite cohorts and I have gotten together to bring you some delicious recipes. This month, we’re digging into our favorite pasta meals. (Yum….pasta!) Here’s a comfort casserole from me, with links to the other dishes at the bottom of the post.

Triple Cheese Ham Bake: the ultimate comfort food!

Triple Cheese Ham Bake: the ultimate comfort food!

Pasta is one of those comfort foods that we Baby Boomers were fed often, especially when times were tough and budgets needed to be stretched. In my family, pasta was usually cooked in the form of spaghetti, tuna casserole, goulash, or macaroni and cheese.

Pasta came in a bag and was boiled until it was almost falling apart. We hadn’t heard of cooking it “al dente”, buying or using fresh pasta, or – heaven forbid – making it ourselves.

This is a basic casserole, perfect for using up leftover ham. You can jazz it up with peas, broccoli, or asparagus tips if you’d like, to make it a complete meal. You could also use leftover chicken instead of ham.

Here’s the beauty of this casserole: you don’t have to boil the pasta! I mentally rate recipes by bowls and pans that will have to be washed. By using this method you will save the effort of washing a large pan and a strainer…a big plus in my book!

 

Triple Cheese Ham Bake
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Author:
An easy casserole that's a perfect way to use leftover ham. Serves 8.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Rotini pasta (uncooked)
  • 2-3 cups cubed ham
  • 1 small can sliced olives (more to taste)
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 3 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar, mozzarella, and three-cheese Italian)
  • 1½ cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • TOPPING:
  • 1 cup Panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Pour the dry pasta into a large casserole dish. (I used a 13x9x2" rectangular casserole.).
  3. Sprinkle ham over the pasta.
  4. Sprinkle olives and chopped onions over the ham.
  5. Cover with cheese.
  6. Heat milk, cream, chicken broth, garlic salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons butter in a small pan until butter is melted. Pour over the cheese.
  7. Cover tightly with foil. Place pan on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove foil. Combine Panko and melted butter. Sprinkle over casserole and return to oven for 30 additional minutes.
  9. Allow casserole to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Cover the dry pasta with ham.

Cover the dry pasta with ham.

Add olives and onions and smother with cheese.

Add olives and onions and smother with cheese.

Pour liquids over the cheese, cover, and bake.

Pour liquids over the cheese, cover, and bake.

Let it sit for 15 minutes and serve!

Let it sit for 15 minutes and serve!

Here are the links for everyone’s pasta recipes. Hope you’ll check them all out!

From Tampa Cake Girl: Greek Pasta Salad

From Hun, What’s For Dinner?: Spring Pasta Salad

From Crumbs in my Mustachio: Caprese Pasta Salad

From Cooking from a SAHM: Ranch Pasta Salad

From Moore or Less Cooking Blog: Mexican Stuffed Pasta Shells.

Easter Recipe Collection

For several years I created recipes for my Food for Thought column in Yummy Northwest, and loved every minute of it. The website is in the middle of a transformation, so all of my past columns are archived for now, but you can still read them at any time. This Easter I’m posting photos of my Yummy Northwest favorites, with links to the recipes.

Easter hot cross buns watermark YNW
Easter Kulich Watermark YNW
Hot Cross Buns and Kulich were two recipes I created for an old-time Easter theme. This link will take you to both recipes:Old Time Easter Treats
easter egg clip art cropped


Easter bunnies watermark YNW



Easter Birds watermark YNW

easter lambs Watermark YNW

Easter sugar eggs watermark YNWLittle bread bunnies, birds, and lambs are fun to make, and kid-approved. Using the link below, you’ll find instructions for making bread critters and sugar eggs. Let your creativity loose on this project! I have a Rowdy blog about them, but there’s good info in this column too.
Bread Animals and Sugar Eggs

Who says you shouldn’t play with your food? Use your imagination and enjoy!

Lorinda

Savory Bacon Crackers



Savory Bacon Crackers verticalI can’t even begin to tell you how relieved thrilled I am to be posting this recipe for Savory Bacon Crackers. After countless tries, with results ranging from “marginal” to “close…but no cigar”, I finally produced crunchy, flavorful crackers that got gobbled up by the tasting crew.

I tried making them yeast-based (bleh), I layered the dough with butter (like croissant dough), I baked them hot and fast, and low and slow. I tried chilling the dough for days.

Meh.

In the end, it was just a matter of getting the proportions right and finding a way to make sure the crackers were crunchy all the way through. These aren’t flaky (like Ritz), but are delightfully light and crunchy, yet still sturdy enough for dipping. And did I mention they taste great?

Crushed bacon adds flavor and texture. Make sure you cook the bacon until it’s extra-crispy. I pan fry mine, then wrap it in paper towels and microwave for a minute or two and shake the bacon out onto another piece of paper towel to cool. Crush with a rolling pin or use a sharp blade – either a knife or an ulu – to make small crumbs.

Savory Bacon Crackers
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Author:
Makes almost 1 pound of crackers.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup finely crushed bacon - about 10 strips (reserve the grease)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ¼ cup oil (I use peanut oil)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup water
  • Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425 F.
  2. Grease two baking sheets with bacon grease (or you may use shortening if you prefer)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, garlic salt, onion powder, pepper, brown sugar, and crushed bacon.
  4. Stir in the liquid smoke, oil, buttermilk, and water. Mix until well combined. This will be a soft dough, but shouldn't be sticky.
  5. Working with half of the dough at a time, either roll between two pieces of parchment (flour dough lightly if necessary) or roll directly onto the baking sheet, dusting the top with flour as needed.. Try to roll the dough out as thinly as possible...less than ⅛-inch. You may cut round shapes out, re-rolling the extra dough, or simply cut into squares or diamonds, using a pizza cutter.
  6. Place pans in preheated oven for 4 minutes. Remove both pans. Brush the tops of the crackers with bacon grease (or butter, if you prefer) and lightly salt. Using a spatula, flip the crackers over.
  7. TURN OFF THE OVEN. Open the door for 20 seconds. Place pans back in the oven, close the door, and leave the crackers to cook slowly for 1 hour, as the oven cools down. Check one to make sure it snaps crisply when broken. If not, leave them in the oven for another 30 minutes.

 

Crush the crisp bacon or finely chop.

Crush the crisp bacon or finely chop.

This is a must! Add Liquid Smoke.

This is a must! Add Liquid Smoke.

Roll them THIN, and cut however you like.

Roll them THIN, and cut however you like.

Brush with bacon grease, sprinkle with salt, flip over, and return to oven.

Brush with bacon grease, sprinkle with salt, flip over, and return to oven.

Do you have any idea how good these would be with my Succulent Salmon Dip? I’d leave the bacon out of the dip (unless you’re a really hardcore bacon fan) and offer a knife to spread the dip on each cracker. Ham spread would be yummy too.

Okay – this was my obligatory savory recipe before I go into full-blown Easter mode. I’ve stocked up on powdered sugar, chocolate, and sprinkles…and will be putting it all to good use soon!
Lorinda