Substitutions or Additions

Eyes on the Pies
In case you haven’t decided on your dessert menu for Thanksgiving, here are some classics – each with a slightly different approach. These are the finalists in GMA’s contest, Pie of Emeril’s Eye: ”The Elvis” is a peanut butter cream pie with bananas! While the recipe doesn’t call for it – perhaps rightly so – if I made this, I’d sprinkle candied bacon bits over the top wink This Custard Caramel hails from the Great Depression and has a love story attached to its history – you can’t beat that. We’ve all had, or at least heard of sweet potato pie and pecan pie - this recipe combines the best of both. Now THIS one is something new – a pear pie with an almond streusel. Gotta say, just from the description, this is my “must try” of the bunch. Now, Thanksgiving (at least in Upstate New York) wouldn’t be complete without an apple pie. This Drunken apple pie sounds perfect for an adult crowd. If baking a pie isn’t your “thing”, you can still contribute a fabulous dessert – check out Pecan Pie Trifle - you’ll still look like a pro wink

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 19 November 2011 - 16:47:18
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Guilt-free Munchies
A few years back my brother was on a salt bender, and devouring roasted peanuts way too much for his wife to accept. Anita put Jeff on a roasted chickpea option, and both were satisfied. Along the way, they learned how to roast their own – so simple! Cecis, Garbanzo Beans, Chickpeas – they’re all the same animal (uh, vegetable wink ). Incredibly cheap whether dried or canned, they are full of protein and fiber, low in calories, and a wonderful alternative to roasted nuts. Alton Brown’s recipe is delightfully illustrated by Cast Iron Therapy. It starts with dried, but you can easily pick up the recipe at the seasoning stage if you prefer to use canned. As far as flavor, we’re about in the middle of the road here. I’ve seen recipes with a lot of cayenne, and some simply with salt. Make with as much or as little heat to suit your liking, but make them! They’re definitely a good munch.

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 12 November 2011 - 00:03:25
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Too much Candy?
Okay, you won’t know for sure until later tonight, or even tomorrow... and I do realize that some of you are muttering something like “no such thing” – but there sometimes is such a phenomenon. So here are some ideas on how to “recycle” your Halloween loot: For starters, there’s this Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Butterfinger frosting - more of that same goodness, just in a different form. This one is worthy of a bake any ole time - Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake. Can you tell what my favorites are? Sticking with the chocolate and peanut butter theme, how about Peanut M&M Blondies? Sorry, I couldn’t find any recipes using coconut bars (with or without nuts) – maybe those just get devoured too fast. You can always freeze them and chop up for ice cream toppers… And as for that ubiquitous substance known as candy corn – there are tons of recipes for marshmallow treats, “bark” made with pretzels and chocolate… but this chart from GraphJam sums it up for me:
Candycorn
Happy Halloween!

Posted by Linda :
Monday 31 October 2011 - 16:37:28
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Okay – this is shameful of me…
I haven’t even TRIED P. Allen Smith’s Great Grandmother’s recipe “as written” for Blackberry Jam Cake - and I fully intend to… but I had everything on hand except the blackberry jam? And, I DID have a can of pumpkin puree. OMG! Using the recipe, with that “minor” substitution – okay, while I was at it, I thought craisins and pecans went better with pumpkin than raisins and walnuts… But the point is - it is AWESOME! Especially when you glaze/frost it with Ma Smith’s Caramel Icing wink
Pumpkinjam
The icing is deceptively simple – butter, cream, and brown sugar. You’ll want to bring it to a slow boil, stirring constantly else it will be slightly gritty from the sugar that hadn’t quite dissolved. I turned off the heat then, and stirred until the bubbles stopped (hot sugar sort of generates its own heat). I used about two thirds right away to glaze, and then did another layer after some of that had soaked in and the balance had cooled a little, making it thicker. If it gets too thick, just warm it up a little. Worked for me… A great recipe is reborn! I promise you, Great Grandma Smith – I WILL try this again with blackberry jam – just as you intended.

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 04 October 2011 - 12:54:20
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Ways to Encase your Roast
I watched Chef Ludovic Lefebvre prepare his Pork Shoulder, Carolina style. It looked delicious, and I’m sure that it is – but I can’t get my head to work with his “casing”. Wrapping meat and cooking it within dough is nothing new – the most famous, of course, is Beef Wellington, which I’ve never had a chance to devour. However, once I saw Chef Ludo’s actual recipe, his flour and salt mixture reminded me of that homemade playdough we used for “arts & crafts” in elementary school! His roast cooks in about an hour less time than other methods I’ve used, so maybe there is a reason to put your meat in a “cast” – it’s just not for me. So here’s the gist of a recipe I’ve used many times from the book “Italian Cooking in the Grand Tradition” that uses a dough that you can actually eat! Prepare or purchase your favorite PIZZA dough and set aside, keeping it at room temp. Line your roasting pan with foil, salt & pepper your roast, and cook at 375F for about 45 minutes – you can add a little oil and garlic to the pan if you like. Remove the roast to cool while you remove any fat from the pan (hence, the foil!). Roll out your dough, slice your meat if you desire (I found it more difficult to maneuver if sliced), and place the whole roast on the dough. Make sure that no oil gets near any of the edges that you are about to seal! Rub your desired seasonings, combined with non-fat pan drippings into the roast (the original recipe uses a ton of garlic and sage, with some rosemary) and then pinch all the edges of the dough all around, removing any excess dough, to make a beautiful loaf. Return to the pan and oven for about one to one and a quarter hour. To serve, you simply cut the lid of the bread off so you can see the meat to carve – making sure that you serve some of the bread to each person. Honestly, the bread is incredible with all the wonderful flavors it has absorbed! NOW – imagine Chef Ludo’s flavors with an equally delicious bread… Makes ME drool!

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 10 September 2011 - 00:05:50
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Are you prepared to become the reigning King/Queen of Dip?
Every now and again, if you're lucky, you come across a recipe that is great all by itself and at the same time provides a perfect background to highlight just about any ingredients you'd like to add. And I've found one. May I humbly present Hot Onion Dip. As I've found with many a great recipe, the name simply doesn't do it justice - especially since onion is NOT the star. "Parmesan Dip" definitely suits it better. Easy to prepare with just a few ingredients, it can be served in about 45 minutes. But the joy of this dish is that it can be adapted in so many ways! Add some spinach and maybe mushrooms, and you a have a Florentine Dip. Chop some tomatoes julienne some basil, add some garlic - Margarite Dip. Use Monterey Jack instead of Parm, toss in some green chilis, corn and/or black beans or even salsa - Southwestern! The list goes on and on... You can even take loaf of French or other hard-crusted bread; slice it in half lengthwise, scrunch down the fluffy dough and fill with your choice of blends - bake, using the loaf as your dish. Now, wouldn't that make an awesome presentation?!?! Please, please, please try this one - and let us know how you made it "your own"!

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 28 August 2011 - 21:01:54
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Looking for a new salad?
I was reminded of a great one a co-worker prepared for one of our many food-oriented fundraisers. Broccoli, bacon, a dressing much like Aunt Pat’s… In my search, I found this one, which is similar… I KNOW the one I had enjoyed did not have raisins (I don’t like raisins – I would have remembered wink ), and for SURE it had small cubes of sharp cheese… I’m pretty sure that was cheddar. I’d highly recommend tart apple cubes, if you’re like me and really want a fruit element – with cheddar, divine! If your family doesn’t like raw onions (mine doesn’t), do what I do and slice scallions instead – you’ll still get some onion flavor, but fewer objections. Please, please – follow the directions and make this at least a couple hours before you intend to serve it. It really gives it all a chance to blend and taste even that much better. Okay, it sounds a little like I’m creating an entirely new recipe, and maybe I am – but isn’t that half the fun of cooking?

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 14 August 2011 - 01:13:33
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I’m in a Pasta state of mind…
Not your usual summer fare unless it’s in salad form, but I’m still a little leery of standing too long, so my options are limited. Pasta is quick and easy, and it can be made in sooo many ways! I really enjoyed my Summer Spaghetti, and went looking for some ideas I hadn’t tried before. The networks were on my side!

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Posted by Linda :
Thursday 04 August 2011 - 16:39:55
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Can you boil an egg?
Several, actually, to soft-boiled? Then you can make an incredibly easy “mock” hollandaise sauce! Hollandaise - that decadent, rich, creamy delight - isn’t really that difficult… but it needs precise timing and can be quite temperamental.

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Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 26 July 2011 - 13:20:34
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Still need a Red, White & Blue dessert?
Ris and I are going to modify Cook’s Illustrated’s Strawberry Crème cake – by adding a layer of blueberries. It should look something like this…
4julycake
Enjoy the Nation’s Birthday Party!

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 30 June 2011 - 19:24:46
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