Monday, April 21, 2014

Spicy Indian Curry with Country Style Pork



This dish is almost over-the-top with flavor, in my opinion, but my husband loves it and won't have it any other way.  You can cut the amount of the spices if you want to tame it down, or dilute the spice with coconut milk or additional yogurt.

I make an infinite number of variations on this dish for my family, based largely on what's in the fridge or the garden, and we always love it.  However you make it, you'll love how easy this is to throw together and how healthy it is for you!




Spicy Indian Curry
Serves 6.

5 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seed
8 ounces tomato sauce
3 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 pounds boneless country style ribs, cubed
One medium onion, diced
One large carrot, peeled and grated
Cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Heat oil with mustard seed in a skillet over medium heat until the seeds start popping. Stir tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a simmer. Add all the remaining spices and the yogurt to the pan and whisk until smooth.  Bring to a gentle simmer for several minutes while you place your pork, onion and carrot in an oven-safe crock with a lid.

Stir the sauce into the pork mixture. Cover and bake for 2 hours. Check meat for tenderness and cook up to 30 minutes more if the meat is tough. Top with chopped cilantro.  Serve warm with naan bread.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Eggs 2014!

We love coloring Easter eggs in my house!  I knew last year's eggs were going to be hard to top...After the fun we had with this year's eggs, there's talk of trying this project for other holidays.  We just might! 

Ladybug on a Leaf.  crayon, food colored water, food writing pen 


Nebula.  dipped in several shades of colored water with a splash of oil and vinegar in the water
Drippy Crayon.  crayon shards melted with a hair dryer, then dunked in colored water


Carnivore.  peeled egg, food writing pens, toothpicks, split with a mouth full of yolk
Grover.  crayon, colored water, using an egg that had burst while cooking (exposing the "nose")


A Garden of Eggs.  crayon and colored water
Goony Bird.  pencil, crayon, colored water


Mr. and Mrs. Egg.  crayon and colored water


Have a Happy Easter!



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thai Curry with Chicken and Sweet Potato




It's funny, but I rarely post recipes like this, even though this is the type of food that I cook almost every day.  I love curry, both Indian and Thai, because the recipes are so completely flexible.  I just ordered a block of tamarind paste (my first!) so we have been eating LOTS of Thai food this week.

Check in next week for an Indian Curry that is just as good and just as easy to make!





When you follow this recipe, feel free to add or subtract a few things, and I trust that you will be thrilled with whatever happens!  With that said, you should probably keep the ginger, coconut milk and something with at least a hint of spice...adding lemongrass would be a fantastic idea...and I highly recommend the fish sauce even for those of you that are completely repelled by the idea.  Just plug your nose when you open the bottle if you're squeamish :)


Thai Curry
Serves 6 to 8.

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 sweet pepper (red, yellow or orange), diced
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 cup coconut milk
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon green or red curry paste
2 teaspoons Thai chile paste or 1 teaspoon dried chiles
Green onions and cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Place chicken, potato and sweet pepper in an oven-safe crock with a lid.

In a small pan over medium high heat, warm the tamarind with a splash of water and use a fork to help break up the tamarind.  If there are pieces of shell or pits, press through a wire mesh strainer.  Add the tamarind and all of the remaining ingredients except the garnish to the pan and stir together until blended.  Pour the warm sauce into the crock with your meat and vegetables and stir it all together.

Cover and bake for 2 hours.  Serve hot, over rice or rice noodles, garnished with sliced green onions and chopped cilantro.

Enjoy!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

[Guest Post] Homemade Banana Beauty Mask


Hello Everyone!

I'm Penelope, Hannah's daughter, and she asked me to do a guest blog post.

Today I am showing you how to make a Homemade Banana Beauty Mask. It is all natural and is made from things right in your refrigerator!









Materials you need are:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons of  lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 egg white 
  • cucumber slices for puffy eyes (Very thinly sliced.)   
Put your banana, oats, lemon juice/apple cider vinegar, and egg white in a food processor. Blend it all together until it becomes a smooth paste. When you finish blending, smooth onto your face, in a thin layer. To top off the treatment, put cucumber on eyes. Wait until your mask is dry and wash off with warm water.  

This recipe makes 1 cup. Store in the refrigerator.   


Happy spa day!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Peanut Butter Crunch Nougat Candy





The March 2014 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.


Candy making definitely scares me!  It requires such precision to achieve the desired texture, and an error that results in a complete waste of time isn't out of the realm of possibility.  But I was excited at the idea of making something that resembled the center of a 3 musketeers bar.  You can see on the beaters, it kind of does, doesn't it?  I swirled dark chocolate, krispies and crunchy peanut butter through my nougat, and the flavor was awesome!

For as daunting as the task seemed, this project was not that difficult.  If I didn't have a few little nippers at my heels, I would definitely have covered this nougat with a layer of caramel and glazed little bite sized bars with tempered chocolate.  Let's not, but imagine we did :)  Yum!



Notes:
This project is kind of a big one, though certainly not out of your league as long as you have a candy thermometer and an electric mixer. And it doesn't really take that long to accomplish. It might go smoothest if you have a helper. Especially if you don't own a stand mixer.

Be sure to use a stand mixer with a very large bowl. Or use a hand held electric mixer with a large bowl and a second set of hands. A small or medium bowl won't do.

Also, read the recipe all the way through before starting. Maybe read it twice.

And see here for the original Daring Baker's challenge recipes!

Peanut Butter Crunch Nougat

Recipe Source: Adapted from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard
Servings: one 10 by 10 inch slab

Ingredients:

For the syrup:
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup corn syrup

For the Meringue:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons corn syrup

Add-ins:
10 ounces unsweetened chocolate, very finely chopped
2 cups rice krispie cereal
2 cups crunchy peanut butter

Directions:

Spray a 10 by 10 inch baking pan with baking spray and line it with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper as well. Set aside.

Place the rice krispies in a heat safe bowl and put in a warm oven at 250°F until needed. Put the peanut butter in a small pan over low heat to gently melt the peanut butter so it is able to be poured.

Combine the sugar, water and ¼ cup of corn syrup in a 2 quart saucepan and set it aside.Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whip attachment but don't start mixing yet.

Combine the honey and 2 tablespoon of corn syrup in a small saucepan on medium-high heat. The honey mixture will foam up and grow to about 3 times the starting size so make sure your pot isn't so small that it will overflow. Attach a candy thermometer.

Begin beating the egg whites on low speed.

When the honey reaches 240°F (watch closely, this doesn't take long), raise the speed of the mixer to high and beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, watching the honey mixture until it reaches 248°F. As soon as the honey reaches 248°F, put the pan with the sugar mixture on medium-high heat as you remove the honey from the heat.

While beating the whites on high, slowly stream the hot honey mixture down the inside of the mixing bowl and into the whites. Do not pour it directly on the whites or they may collapse. Keep beating on medium-high speed.

As the sugar mixture starts to bubble, dip a pastry brush in water and brush the sides to remove any sugar crystals. Alternately, you can put on a lid on the pot for a couple of minutes once it’s bubbling and let steam do the job for you.

Attach the candy thermometer. When the sugar mixture reaches 310°F, turn the mixer back up to high and slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites in a slow stream down the inside of the bowl. Do not pour the syrup directly on the whites or they may collapse.

Once the sugar syrup is incorporated, continue beating for 3 to5 minutes until the whites feel warm, not piping hot (if your mixer bowl is metal, the bowl will still be hot even when the whites have cooled some).

Add the chocolate and beat on high until the chocolate is combined. The heat from the egg mixture will melt the chocolate. (At this point, I realized my mixing bowl wasn't nearly big enough so I had to mix in the chocolate by hand, which is why there are white streaks in my candy)

Stir in the krispies until incorporated. Then pour in your peanut butter and stir peanut butter throughout the chocolate without mixing it completely smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it in an even layer.

Let it sit for 24 hours at room temperature, uncovered.

Invert the nougat onto a cutting board and remove the parchment paper. Cut as desired.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. The texture of the nougat will soften a little after a couple of days.

Most nougat improves in texture after a day or two and will keep up to two weeks at room temperature in an airtight container. Nougat should be stacked in layers with parchment in between to prevent sticking on the cut edges.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

[Guest Post] Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes





I am Sophie. I am ten years old. My mom invited me to do a guest post on her blog! I made peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. I got the idea because I thought they might be good. And they were!


You need:

24 cupcakes  (Made from one box of chocolate cake mix and cooled.)

Jam or jelly  (I used blackberry jam)

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1 cup of unsalted butter at room temp
3 cups of powered sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of milk
2/3 cup of creamy peanut butter

First get a large bowl.  Beat your butter for 2 minutes using an electric mixer on medium speed.  Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on to the lowest speed for a minute until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter (to avoid a poof of sugar everywhere).  Increase the mixer speed to medium and add vanilla, salt and 2 tablespoons of milk.  Beat for 3 minutes on medium.  Add 1 tablespoon of milk and mix for a minute.  Now add your peanut butter and mix together.


Take your cupcake and cut a hole in the top so you have a hole to fill with jam.  Take the piece of cupcake that you cut out and set it aside because you will need it later on.  Fill the hole with jam.  Put the top of your cupcake back on.  Now squeeze your frosting on using a baggie with the corner snipped off.  Enjoy! 




Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sauerkraut Soup



I don't know why I thought this would be a St. Patricks-y recipe for you...I guess it's probably more German than anything.  But...maybe you'll have leftover sauerkraut from Reuben night that you are looking to use up?

I can pretty much promise that you have no idea how good this soup is.  The sweetness from the tomato, sour from the kraut and smoky kielbasa all go together beautifully.  The recipe is super easy.  My only complaint is that it makes a huge batch, and this soup is best eaten the same day.  It's still good left over, but isn't one of those soups to improve with age.  So you might want to cut this in half.  I'll write the recipe as is in my grandma's church cookbook, and you can do what you like with it.

Sauerkraut Soup
Serves 4 for several days.

1 pound smoked kielbasa, sliced into bite sized pieces
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, diced
16 ounces chicken stock
32 ounces sauerkraut, lightly rinsed and drained
6 ounces tomato paste

In a large pot, combine sausage, potatoes, onion and stock.  Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Add kraut and tomato paste and mix well.  Cover and simmer 30 additional minutes.  For a thinner soup, add more stock.

Yum!  I love this soup!  Elaine Pickett, who printed this recipe in the church cookbook, states "The taste of this soup surprises you."  And she's right, it does.

Enjoy!
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