Monday, January 17, 2011

Pizza Party!

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that I love to play with my food. I try things. I experiment. I have fun!

And tonight, I played.

I may have expressed in the past my fear of yeast, so I bought a crust at the supermarket. It was fine. And maybe, one day, I'll try my own crust. But for now, the pros can handle it for me.

Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Fig Pizza

1 pizza crust
4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 large onions, halved and sliced thin
1/2 cup dried Mission figs
1/2 c red wine
4 oz goat cheese
1 Tbs fresh chopped rosemary
olive oil
salt & pepper
Balsamic vinegar

Slice figs and place in wine to rehydrate.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Roll out crust to fit and brush with olive oil.

Melt butter in a saute pan; add onions and cook until they begin to brown. Add 1/2 the rosemary and continue to cook until caramelized.

Drain figs. Crumble goat cheese over crust and cover with onions and figs. Sprinkle with remaining rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven until crust is golden brown--about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and drizzle with Balsamic vinegar.


You can cut this into small slices for appetizers or in dinner sized portions and serve with a salad.

Note: Whenever I have left-over wine, I freeze it and use it at times like this. I think I used a Shiraz, but I could be wrong.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Black Forest Pie

I've entered a cooking contest at for an original dessert using a Kellogg's product. So I converted one of my favorite desserts, Black Forest Cake, into an easy pie. Basically, I hit all of the key ingredients--chocolate, cherries, whipped cream, and Kirsch--just without the layers of cake!

So, if you're out there and feel like it, please vote for me here.

If you feel like giving it a try, please do.

Black Forest Pie
by Moi!

1 chocolate Ready-Crust
1 can sweet dark cherries in heavy syrup
1 slice orange
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbs Kirsch
2 c whipping cream
3 Tbs sugar

Drain cherries and set aside. In a small saucepan, add orange slice to cherry syrup and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1 Tbs Kirsch.

Place chocolate and 3 Tbs syrup in top of double boiler to melt chocolate. Remove from heat.

Place whipping cream in cold bowl and add sugar; whip to firm peaks. Mix half of whipped cream with chocolate mixture.

Pat cherries dry with paper towel and place in pie crust. Cover with chocolate mixture. Add remaining 1 Tbs Kirsch to whipped cream and cover chocolate mixture.
Shave chocolate on top and place cherry in center. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Serves 6-8.


Not a very pretty picture, but a tasty pie.


Note: I have cherries in a syrup of vodka and honey tucked under my sink that I put up myself. I think that pitting these and using this syrup would be great and would not require the Kirsch. But then it wouldn't be a Black Forest Pie, would it?

Monday, January 10, 2011

When I Get Bored

I get into trouble. We had about 6" of snow and I stayed in today. This is not totally unusual. I don't like driving in the snow and ice; I will when necessary, but it hasn't been necessary.

So, I got bored. And I made a chocolate cake. As a matter of fact, I made Hershey's Perfect Chocolate cake. I didn't make layers, I made it in a 9 x13 pan. And I iced it with the Hershey's Chocolate Frosting.


It seems to be calling out for a tall, cold glass of milk, huh?

The thing is, I don't want it and I really don't need it. But I have it. And I'm trapped here with it. Thinking about it. Smelling it. Dreaming about it.

This is not good!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Soup Weather

According to the meteorologists, we are in for some serious weather. They are predicting 3 to 6 inches of snow in my area. Yes, I know there are those out there that laugh, but this is truly incapacitating here in the south. There is no sign of snow yet, but schools are already closed, and some businesses.

My friend Susan calls this "french toast weather" because everyone runs to the store for milk, bread, and eggs. Me, I went for kitten chow and cat litter. I also pulled together the ingredients for a soup I'd been wanting to try, and I am sooo glad I did. It is fabulous!

Sweet Potato, Chicken, and Barley Soup
The New England Soup Factory Cookbook
p 114


3 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Spanish onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 parsnips, peeled and grated
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
10 c chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and gut into chunks
3 c cooked, chopped chicken
1/2 bunch fresh dill
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a stockpot over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery and carrot. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsnips, barley, stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes and chicken and simmer for 20 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove from the heat and stir in the dill, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Makes 12 services.

*Note: I could not find pearl barley, so I used quick cooking and added it with the chicken and potatoes.

This soups is hearty and bright and sweet. The dill adds something indescribable and this is perfect for a snowy day.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Surprising Use of a Hostess Gift

I woke up this morning with a huge eruption on my forehead...big, red, and sore. And I remembered hearing that you can make a paste of ground nutmeg and milk and it will reduce the swelling and pain.

My problem? I have whole nutmeg in my spice cabinet and the thought of grating enough to create a paste was daunting. Then I remembered that my friend Ginny had given me a box of spices from Penzey's as a hostess gift on New Year's Eve. Viola! I now have a crusty brown poltice covering the massive zit on my forehead.

Which is better? Well, the pain is gone. I'll have to let you know about the rest. But if it works, this little trick will join the olive oil and brown sugar body scrub, and the orange juice and salt exfoliant and the oatmeal mask in kitchen skin care.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Holiday Review

I can finally reveal the home-made goodies I gave to friends and family this year.

First, I made marshmallows and gave them with a lovely peppermint mocha hot cocoa mix. I used the Martha Stewart recipe for the marshmallows and I can honestly say, the flavor was well worth the effort!


I also made bottles of limoncello. I actually adapted a recipe by combining the many I found online.


1 1.75 liter bottle vodka
the peel of 22 lemons
4 cups sugar
5 cups water

Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler, being careful to not get the white. Place in a sealable container and add vodka. Cover and place in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Strain the vodka into another sealable container and add cooled simple syrup. Store in cool, dark place another 21 days. Pour into sterilized bottles and keep refrigerated.

I headed into the deep south with my girls for Christmas with my family and had my first, ever, WHITE CHRISTMAS!

It was perfect! The roads never really got bad but we had 2" of snow.




For those of you who are used to this sort of thing, please accept my apologies for my exuberance.

I hope that you all had a peaceful, joyous holiday!