Saturday, June 29, 2013

Homemade Donuts

Today I would like to share a recipe handed down by my grandmother and mother-in-law (between the two, I think I got it right) that I make with my daughters.  We also use the recipe for donut making at the Monadnock Center for History & Culture (where I work) for Harvesting History Day each year.  You can smell them from the street!

It's for homemade donuts.

Incredibly yummy, fresh from the shortening, honest to goodness donuts.

Yes, you too can do this!  Please DO!

Here's how...

Fried Donuts

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp melted shortening
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • shortening to fry donuts in
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat shortening to 370 degrees.
  2. Beat the eggs. Then slowly add the sugar.
  3. Once mixed, stir in milk and melted shortening.
  4. Sift flour before measuring and resift with baking powder, spices and salt.
  5. Mix the wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Flour your cutting board and roll out the dough to about 1/4" (thicker the dough, thicker the donuts!).
  7. Cut out the donuts. (I have a vintage donut cutter from my memere. It cuts the donut and hole at the same time. I have also done it with a glass and an apple corer. You can ALSO shape them by hand.)
  8. Once the shortening is up to 370, drop donuts in one at a time. I do 3-4 at once. ** BE CAREFUL of the hot fat...yup...even after all these years I tend to get burned... I drop mine in by hand and turn them with a long handled wooden spoon. I use that to remove them, as well.
  9. When you remove them, place them on a paper bag to absorb excess shortening.
  10. Once they cool a wee bit, you can drop them in a bag of sugar, shake and EAT!!! Or, like my hubby, eat them right off the plate! 

What do you think, guys?  Willing to give it a try?  Let me know how they come out! BTW... just for the record, there is NOTHING low fat/low cal about these - just WICKED GOOD!
Happy cooking!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Potato Leek Soup

The mighty leek is a member of the onion and garlic family - no surprise if you've ever eaten or cooked one. I find they have an onion-like taste and a similar consistency when cooked.  

Historically, according to Wikipedia, dried specimens were found in ancient Egyptian archeological sites and were concluded to be a part of the early Egyptian diet. (History geek alert!!)  Personally, I find them at the grocery store and purchase them several times a year.

After a recent trip to Trader Joe's, I found myself staring at a bag of frozen, chopped leaks at dinner time.  I also noticed a bag of shredded potatoes.  It occurred to me that between the two, this would be easy-peasy to prepare.  I decided it was time to make them part of an evening's meal.

The result: some mighty tasty soup.  At one point in it's creation, it was a mere clear soup - the sudden urge to make it a cream soup was masterful, if I don't say so myself!  I had purchased the powdered milk to make a cream soup base mix, but hadn't gotten to it yet.  That will be an upcoming blog post, for sure.  Have a gander at the resulting recipe.

Potato Leek Soup

Serves 4

1/2 onion 
1 rib celery
6 mushrooms (more or less to taste or what you have available)
dash of each, salt & pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 bag Trader Joe chopped leeks (equivalent of 1 leek. by my eye, at least)
1 1/2 cups Trader Joe shredded potatoes (about 1/3 bag)
1 cup dry, powdered milk (No powdered milk?  Use milk or cream instead)
32 oz container chicken or vegetable stock (or your equivalent)
1/2 tsp dill
1/4 tsp rosemary

  1. Pour olive oil, salt and pepper in pot.
  2. Chop onion and celery.  Slice mushrooms.  Add to the pot and saute on medium heat for about 4 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
  3. Put in leeks (chop first, if you have fresh) and 1 cup of stock, continue stirring.  Cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the stock, shredded potatoes and herbs, cooking for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Pour in powdered milk (or your other milk) and continue cooking for 3 minutes.

I brought this out to Bri to try (first course, I told him...being fancy).  He wanted to know what it was.  I said, "Try it first."  He did.  He loved it!  Yahoo!  Score one for me!

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cream of **** Soup Mix: Quick, Easy & Healthy!

Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the back of a can of soup?  Don't.  Well, actually, do, but it might frighten you.  The number of things we can't pronounce and don't grow naturally are, well, scary.

To that end, there is less and less processed food finding it's way into our kitchen.  I say "less and less" - I am not the canned food police - I used what I need to.  But I am trying to make more informed choices.  That means NO cream of blah-blah soup.  Period.  That one I can control and replace with a super easy mix.

I did a bit of searching and found several recipes.  I tried some out and made up something that works for me.  Take a gander and then get yourself some powdered milk and give it a try!

Cream of  *** Soup Mix

1 cup powdered milk
1 tbsp dried onion
1/8 cup chicken bouillon granules
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp Italian Seasonings
1/4 tsp pepper

  1. Pour all ingredients in a bowl and still with a whisk to combine thoroughly. 
  2. Store in a glass jar or other marked container.
To use:

For one can of cream soup, combine in a saucepan, 1/3 cup of mixture and 1 1/4 cups of water and cook over medium heat.  Stir continuously until thick.  You are ready to go!

NOTE: This is NOT thick and gooey... but works well mixed in with other things.

Want cream of mushroom?  Slice, dice & saute several fresh mushrooms in olive oil.  Add to above mixture.  How about cream of celery?  Chop a stalk of celery and saute in olive oil  Add to cream mixture.

Get the idea?  What a delicious, simple way to cut out some of the additives and such in your diet!

Any more ideas?  Let me know.

Have a great day,

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Strawberry Topped Cinnamon Cheesecake

 Hello, all!

With strawberries in season here, I wanted to share a guest post I did for Seduction in the Kitchen recently.  As you might know, some recipes are born of mistakes.  This is one.  It was communication, or the lack of it that led to the error.  The good news?  It was all just fine in the end.

We were whipping up a cheesecake for hubby's birthday while trying to watch our grandsons, 3 & 2, at the same time.  Between making this and having their "help," I didn't get a chance to tell my daughter NOT to put cinnamon in the mix (as the recipe called for) and to make it plain.  So... we had a cinnamon cheesecake to work with.

The strawberries were a part of the plan from the get-go, all cut by my almost 4-year-old grandson using my Pampered Chef strawberry slicer.  Great way to get his help, safely.  He was pretty excited to be making a "strawberry cake" with me.

Some how, the tastes worked!  The strawberries blended with the creamy, cinnamon-y cheesecake for a tasty new dessert.  How wonderful!

Take a look:

Strawberry Topped Cinnamon Cheesecake

1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed (approximately 5 oz worth)
1/4 cup of butter, melted

3 packages cream cheese (8 oz each), softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

sliced strawberries, soaked in sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  2. Slice strawberries, put in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar.  Refrigerate.
  3. To make the crust, put graham crackers in a food processor and pulse till fine crumbs.  Pour into a small bowl and stir in melted butter.  Press mixture into the bottom of a spring form pan (perfect job for 3, almost 4-year-old!).
  4. To make the filling, in a large bowl cream the cheese, sugars, cinnamon and vanilla.  Then beat with a mixer till creamy.  Add your eggs one at a time, incorporating each one.
  5. Pour the filling into the spring form pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until the center is set.  Cool and then remove from pan and refrigerate for several hours. 
  6. When ready to serve, top with strawberries and share!

This was one of our best "accidents" so far!

Have fun in the kitchen,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Flavored Water - Citrus Style

I saw several ideas on Pinterest for flavored water and thought "I can do this..." so I gave it a try.  The jist of it is, we all NEED to drink plenty of water.  I am a coach and am encouraging my players all the time to be sure they stay hydrated.  I am the WORST at taking my own advice.  So, I thought this might help.

The idea is to add fruit to water.  Period.  No sugar.  Nothing artificial or unpronounceable to it.  Just fruit and water.  I'm in!

I've tried a citrus water and one made with pineapples.  I am a HUGE fan, so far!  They are really easy to make and good for us as it's just fruit and water - nothing added.

Citrus Water

1 each: orange, lemon, lime (or combination = 3)
1. Slice each fruit and place in pitcher.
2. Fill pitcher half full with ice.
3. Fill rest of the way with water and put in the refrigerator.
4. Leave for at least 2 hours and then enjoy!

We found that this was only good tasting the first day, at which point it was delicious.  On the second day, it became very bitter from the rind of the fruits.  Downright nasty, actually!  So, drink it up on day #1!
Pineapple Water

1/2 bag of Trader Joe Frozen Pineapple Tidbits (16 oz bag, so 8 oz)

1. Pour 1/2 of the bag of pineapple into the pitcher.
2. Fill pitcher half full with ice.
3. Fill rest of the way with water and put in the refrigerator.
4. Leave for at least 2 hours and then enjoy!

This seems to last better.  No bad taste on day #2.  Really enjoyed this one.  It was fresh tasting and refreshing!

We will be experimenting with more flavors over the summer as fruit comes available.  I've also   read about people adding herbs and such, like mint to pineapple flavored water.  Sounds like something I'll need to try!

Have you ever tried this?  Did you like it?  What flavor/flavors did you try?

Happy creating,

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Menu #8

We were off in PA visiting our daughter this weekend (made the YUMMY Sweet & Sour Chicken with them!  LOVED IT!)

We are back and ready to rock another weird week!  So be it... Life is Good!  Click on the links to head to sites with great recipes for the meal pictured.

Sunday - Breakfast for dinner (we can finish off some Dunkin' Donuts) - My goal with this one is whatever I have available!  It's an 8 hour drive home.... might just be cereal!!

Monday - Pepperoni Pizza

Tuesday - Lasagna (Says it's World's Best...guess we'll give it a try!!)

Wednesday - Sandwiches & Pasta Salad

Thursday - Taco Salad (use rest of burger from Tuesday's lasagna - that's I'd cooked up and then frozen till today)

Friday - Salad night: Tossed Salad, Pasta Salad and Potato Salad - What's your best recipe for these??

Saturday - Dinner out to celebrate our 30th Anniversary (which was Tuesday... but hubby was at Wrestling Camp in PA!!)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Super Easy, Super Sweet: Caramel Sauce

While having a sweet attack the other day, Shauna decided she NEEDED some caramel sauce.  In particular, to add to some iced coffee to try and replicate Dunkin' Donuts.

We found a quick and easy version that tastes great over at The Lady Behind the Curtain.


Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Add the brown sugar, half and half, butter and salt to a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat.  Whisk for approximately 6 minutes, until it gets thicker.  
  2. Add the vanilla and cook another minute.  Turn off the heat, cool and pour into a jar or other container. Refrigerate. 
Tuck this in the frig and it's ready for whenever you need want desire it.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Corn on the Cob

Seriously?  When I saw this video I thought there was no way to improve on delicious corn on the cob.  Hmm....might have to rethink that.

This video shows you how to make bacon wrapped AND brie corn on the cob.  Two things I would NEVER have thought of on my own.  Wow...

Take a peek:

What do you think?  It's all about the bacon!  :O)

Happy eating,

Friday, June 21, 2013

Polenta & Sausage Casserole

Remember that "Johnny Cake" I made the other day?  Well, I came home with what was left and cooked it in the skillet.  Then, I had a bit of a quandry - what to do with what there was?  Nibbling on a bit with maple syrup for breakfast is all fine and good, but there was a bit of the sausage/beef mixture left from the pizza I made that made up a dish!  Yes fans, I am getting creative in the kitchen!  It's a scary thing...

It was a bit, well, interesting to look at, but it got 3 rave reviews!  One from myself, one from my boss and the last one from the toughest person I cook for: my husband!  He also said the folks at work all wanted to know what it was because it smelled GREAT when he re-heated it!

Here's my recipe for Polenta (AKA Johnny Cake) & Sausage casserole - give it a try!

Polenta & Sausage Casserole
  • 2 cups Cubed Polenta
  • 1/3 pound Hamburger
  • 1/4 pound Chorizo Sausage - casing removed
  • 1/4 pound Pork Sausage - casing removed
  • 1 1/2 cups Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese
  • Olive Oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Grill Polenta in a skillet with olive oil before cutting into cubes.
  2. Remove from skillet and pour into a baking pan, coated with oil.
  3. Cook hamburger and sausage in another skillet (or the same one, if you are saving on washing...) till cooked through.
  4. Pour meat mixture over the Polenta.
  5. Pour spaghetti sauce over the meat.
  6. Sprinkle cheese over the sauce.
  7. Cook in a 400 oven for 25 minutes. 
  • You could definitely make a larger pan of this - say, a 9" x 13" and increase the Polenta and meat, accordingly.
  • This visually resembles lasagna.
  • The amounts listed filled the round pie pan you see above which was good for 3 servings for us.  
  • I made my own sauce (watch for the next posting on our meat lovers pizza with it), but you can just use a jar of spaghetti sauce.
  • I had cheddar in the 'frig, so that's what I used on it.  I think mozzarella would taste great...okay, just about ANY cheese!  

BTW: hubby, the picky eater, thought the cubes were bread crumbs....muahahahaha!!  He ate Polenta and LOVED it!!!

Okay, back to the kitchen for more goodies!
Have a GREAT day,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Open Hearth Cooking: Johnny Cake AKA Polenta

Last week I shared one of my recipes with Dominque over at Dominique's Desk for making Johnny Cake.  I thought you folks might like to see it, as well.  We cook this over the open hearth with students and families who visit our 1800's Mill House at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture.  I have another recipe, applesauce, that I shared earlier that you can see HERE.  

I hope you enjoy this glimpse back in to cooking from New England's past.  Thanks!


New England women had a difficult job before the electric/gas stove.  Long before the wood stove,  they cooked over an open fire.  Not only was it difficult, it was dangerous.  Imagine the clothing they wore: the large, layered skirts, swishing around them.  Then think about a roaring blaze, contained only by the hearth that held it.  Getting burned was one of  the most common causes of death for women in the early days.

Before we talk about making Johnny Cake, the recipe I would like to share with you, I thought you might like some thoughts on cooking on the open hearth.

About the fire... if you've never cooked on an open flame (camping counts - we talk about that all the time here) you take for granted several things: timing and amount of heat.  Timing means several things to me: how long it takes to GET the fire going and then to have coals to work with and then how LONG it takes to cook something!  With hearth cooking you can find both of those things a challenge.  Let me just say that you will appreciate the ability to walk over and turn your oven on after you've experienced this!

When I am cooking for demonstration purposes, I start the fire 45 minutes before my group arrives.  That seems to give me sufficient coals to work with by the time we need them.  If you've never tried cooking this way, you might not realize that COALS are what you are looking for - flames, tend to scorch and burn, we need the steady heat of coals to warm the cast iron cookware and properly cook our food.

This is important with Johnny Cakes as we cook them in a spider pan, over coals. You can see the coals building at the bottom of the photo.

This is a two step process.  Here's how we do it:

Johnny Cakes
Ingredients for Day #1
3 cups of water
1 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal

Ingredients for Day #2
Johnny Cake loaf
maple syrup

I do THESE steps the night before:
1. Spray a loaf pan with oil and set aside. (I was preparing this for a group who had some gluten intolerance and since I bake bread in that pan I lined it with aluminum and sprayed that.)
2. Bring your water to a boil.
3. Add salt.
4. Add cornmeal.
5. Stir constantly at this point.  You will watch the mixture go from water and dried cornmeal to a mush and then a semi-solid VERY quickly.  (GREAT for kids to watch!)
6. Once it's mixed together (this happens pretty quickly) pour into the prepared pan.
7. Let it cool.  Once it's cool enough to do so, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.

The next day (it's good and solid then...much like a roll of Polenta) here's what you do:
1. Cut the loaf into slices 1/2-3/4" thick.
2.  Pull out a pile of coals and set your spider pan on top.  Allow it to heat the cast iron.
3.  Once the pan is heated, add a tablespoon of butter - it should sizzle, then add 3-4 slices of Johnny Cake.
4.  Let it cook about 8-10 minutes (keep an eye on it!) and then turn.  It should be golden brown.
5. Repeat for the other side.
6.  When cooked to you liking, remove and eat with maple syrup.

Like the applesauce recipe we did, you can do this on the stove as well.  Method is the same and I found the taste similar.
Finishing the loaf on the stove at home.

Those of you who buy Polenta, if you've never tried making your own, YOU SHOULD!  It's so easy and costs pennies to make!  I can't wait to try again and see about adding some interesting ingredients...stay tuned, we'll see how it comes out!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Have you made your own before?  How did it come out?  What do you add?  We'd love to hear.

Enjoy your day,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Okay... I live with carnivores.  There's no other way to put it.  This is for them.

We saw several recipes for bacon wrapped meatloaf, but we decided to take it a few steps further and jazz it up.  How can you go wrong with barbeque sauce, bacon, cheese and hamburger?  For carnivores, it's heaven.

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paper
  • 2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup 
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup crushed crackers
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley 
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (we like Mexican blend)
  • thin sliced bacon, enough to cover meatloaf
  • 1 bottle barbeque sauce
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet and add onions and garlic.  Saute about 5 minutes and let cool.
  3. Mix eggs with Italian Seasonings, salt, pepper, ketchup, Worchestershire sauce, and Greek yogurt. 
  4. Add this mixture to the meat in a large bowl. Add crackers, cheese, parsley, onions and garlic, mixing until everything is combined.  The very best way to do this step is with your hands.  It's icky (just saying) but it works.
  5. At this point we decided to make two of these, rather than one very large one.  We thought it would cook faster and if there was only 2-3 of us, it would be the perfect size.  Put the meat mixture onto a work surface - I laid out a piece of parchment paper to work on. Form the mixture into a loaf (or two, in our case).
  6. Set loaf in a roasting pan.
  7. Brush loaf with half of the barbeque sauce and then lay the bacon slices over over the loaf.  
  8. Cook for 1 hour and then let cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
  9. Use the second half of the sauce for when serving.

Be ready to fall in love, if you enjoy a good meatloaf.  We even got DD to try it and we all gobbled it up!

Have fun in the kitchen,

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guest Post: Fried Green Tomato, Ham & Goat Cheese Salad from Carolina Heartstrings

This is the next in a series of guest posts by blogging friends.  Alessa from Carolina is one half of a blogging duo and she agreed to share one of her southern treats with us: a fried green tomatoes recipe!  

I am excited because, like her, I am a wee tiny itsy-bitsy bit impatient.  Being able to use some tomatoes EARLY is exciting to me and plays right into my need for quicker gratification.  This way I can have some while the rest finish maturing!  Sounds like a win-win to me.   So here you are, friends - a wonderful set of recipes to create a delicious meal, from a gracious blogging buddy.  


Tammie and I are very appreciative of Carrie's offer to guest here on her great blog, "What's to Eat?". I love Carrie's idea of a week of menus. We do things a little differently at Carolina HeartStrings, though. We pick a theme for the month and I do Monday's recipes and Tammie does Thursday's. We both love to cook and love our Carolinas and Carolina HeartStrings is a way for us to share with y'all AND keeps us connected across the states. Here is a recipe from a few years ago and is appropriate for this time of year. 

Thanks again Carrie for the opportunity to visit with your readers.

 Fried Green Tomato, Ham & Goat Cheese Salad

Patience has never been my virtue and maybe that’s why I love fried green tomatoes. While everything else in the garden must really ripen to maturity, not tomatoes. I can go out and pick some green ones and get right to cooking! What I really love about this salad is the flavor of the goat cheese with the tomatoes and peach vinaigrette.  This salad can serve 6, or 4 generously.



3 med or 5 small Green Tomatoes
1/3 cup Milk
½ cup Flour
2 Eggs, beaten
¾ cup Corn Meal
1 t. Salt
½ t. Pepper
½ cup Olive Oil

1.   Slice Tomatoes ¼” thick, salt both sides and let sit ½ hour
2.   Heat Oil in skillet
3.   Set up Milk, Flour, Eggs and Corn Meal in separate bowls
4.   Add Salt & Pepper to Corn Meal
5.   When the Oil is hot dip each Tomato slice in Milk, then Flour, then Egg, then Corn Meal
6.   Fry on both sides until browned


2 T Margarine
2 T finely Onion, minced
½ cup Peach Preserves
1 oz Apple Cider Vinegar
1 oz Water

1.   Melt Margarine in small pan and brown Onion
2.   Stir in and melt Peach Preserves
3.   Stir in Apple Cider Vinegar and Water
4.   Let cool


2 heads Romaine Lettuce
4 oz Goat Cheese, crumbled
1 lb Ham, diced

1.   Tear Romaine Lettuce and divide between 6 plates
2.   Top with Ham, Tomatoes and sprinkle with Goat Cheese
3.   Drizzle with Peach Vinaigrette or serve separately

I hope you enjoyed Alessa's recipe.  I know that now I am very eager for those green tomatoes - how about you?

Happy cooking!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Menu #7

Hi, Everyone!
It's Monday and time to plot out this week's menu.  It's going to be a particularly crazy couple of weeks here with family members going here and there, usually at dinner time.  Some weeks are like that, right?

That being said, I am working on quick, easy, on-the-go-type meals for this week and next.  If any of you have suggestions for next week, do tell!

Happy Father's Day wishes out to everyone for yesterday!

Here's the plan:

Sunday (Father's Day) - Grilled Steaks & Country Style Ribs
This recipe uses maple syrup - you know... my favorite!

Monday - Pulled Pork Sandwiches    I like this recipe - but will do mine in the crockpot, starting first thing in the morning.
A bit of the lovely coleslaw from a couple weeks ago would go nicely, too.

Tuesday - Pulled Pork Day #2 - Re-heat pulled pork and have with potatoes (hey, sometimes you just have to repeat, right????)

Wednesday - Macaroni & Tuna Salad (our recipe is VERY simple: boil elbow macaroni, drain & cool, add Miracle Whip and tuna fish)

Thursday - BLT's

Friday - Dinner Out

Saturday - Sweet & Sour Chicken (making AT DD's house when we visit!!)

Okay - this is just a week of reality!  I decided it was best NOT to make myself crazy and shoot for something good to eat each day, but go for portability.  I think this will work.

What's your "go to" when you are out on the road like this?  What do you bring along so you DON'T have to eat out every night?

Have fun in the kitchen,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day ---> Mustache Cupcakes!

Okay...these are so adorable!  My hubby doesn't have a mustache, but my son does, so maybe these would be for him?  No idea, but I HAVE to try this!

One of the great things about this super quick video is learning how to make the mustaches!  I can't believe how simple she makes it!  The bow tie and the eyes are too sweet, as well.

Take a peek:

I'm off to give this a try!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries and Chocolate Sauce

Summer, that means time for strawberries, yummy, sweet ones.  Here's a great recipe you might want to try: strawberries, filled with sweet, creamy, cheesey goodness.  Oh, and a bit of chocolate added in for good measure.   You can use store-bought sauce, but don't let the idea of making your own scare you - it's not that hard!

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries and Chocolate Sauce

1 pound of strawberries
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
chocolate chips

Chocolate Sauce:
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 water
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract

  1. Rinse and then dry strawberries (helps the cream cheese mixture to stick!).
  2. Cut off the stem and hollow out a bit of the fruit to make a tiny bowl for the cheese. Prepare all this way and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl cream, mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla till creamy.  Put the mixture in a piping bag (or ziplock with the corner snipped off) and fill each strawberry.  NOTE: If the mix isn't warm enough, it can be difficult to squeeze out, so use a large tip.  Also, be sure the strawberries are as dried off as possible, or the mixture will pop right out!  
  4. Top each berry with a chocolate chip (or 2-3) and refrigerate till serving.
  5. To make the chocolate sauce,  start by adding all ingredients except vanilla to a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until all ingredients are combined.
  6. Simmer while stirring for about 3 minutes.  Let cool for a bit and then add vanilla.
  7. Set a bowl of it with the strawberries and have at it!

What do you think?  Ready to run out and get some?  You just pop these little buggers in your mouth and go!

Have fun in the kitchen,

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook ... Recipes for Wizards & Muggles

I found a copy of this cookbook in the Juvenile Non-Fiction section of my local library.  Leslie always has oodles of fun things to read, this one caught my eye.

"The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook makes dining a la Hogwarts as easy as Banoffi Pie!  With more than 150 easy-to-make recipes and a guide to where the foods can be found in the series, you can create perfect Potter meals straight from the pages of your favorite stories."

The book itself in TOTALLY unofficial and unauthorized, unapproved, etc by J.K. Rowling, but it's right up her alley (Diagon, that is...).  Dinah Bucholz definitely knows her Harry Potter and references just about every possible food mentioned in the entire series - identifying where in each book the food came from.  

Along with the references to the story, the book is a British history lesson and an introduction to a great deal of British cooking, unknown or at least relatively unknown to many readers on this side of the Atlantic (well, at least to me!).  From Vol-au-Vents (a puff pastry tucked full with various tasty fillings) to Chiddingly Hotpot (a stew made with chuck or roast), or the classic Bangers and Mash (sausage and potatoes) to a series of wonderful sweets called Honeydukes Treats (how about Fizzy Sherbet Pouches?) there are all sorts of new tastes to try.

This image came from Muggle.Net but the recipe is right out of Dinah's cookbook.
Bangers & Mash

Being an organized, overall type A person, I struggled with the structure of the book.  Within each chapter, many of the recipes fall into various categories.   Several of the chapters do have a specific food theme - for example Chapter Six is breakfast and Eight is desserts and snacks, but many of the other chapters are a bit more random.  That being said, I think the book is best digested from cover to cover - reading the introduction for each recipe, the historical information and then the recipe itself.  

Another option would be to scan then book (what I did when I brought it home from the library at first) and then focus on recipes that catch your eye - if you are looking for recipes for a Harry Potter themed meal for family and friends, for instance or perhaps you are throwing a HP party and want to keep the foods completely based on the books?  This would be PERFECT!  There is every type of food at your fingertips.  Perhaps you want to focus on foods from a certain book?  This is a fantastic way to figure out what to serve.  Just scan the descriptions and book references, make a list and head out to the grocery store.

As I mentioned, this book is marked "Juvenile Non-Fiction", meaning you won't find it in the recipe section of the library or bookstore.  It would be easy to miss and not realize it exists.  Thanks to the most incredible librarian in the world (**No joking, really...she is!) this copy was right there on the shelf, ready to drag into my kitchen.

Here's a rendition of Pumpkin Juice, the recipe directly from the cookbook but whipped up over at Heed the Feed. Want to see how they did it?  Click HERE.  They assured us it is a very delicious fruity drink, so don't let the pumpkin puree scare you!
One other piece I missed while reading it was photos.  I am one of those very visual people, so I like to SEE what I am attempting to re-create.  There are no photos of any kind in the book - as a matter of fact in many ways it resembles a book in the Harry Potter series, which, I am guessing, is what the author was shooting for.  That being said, my copy of The Joy of Cooking doesn't have photos either and it's my bible for the kitchen so, there you go.

Want to check it out?  Head on over to and you can take a look at The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory--More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Muggles and Wizards

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