Friday, May 28, 2010

Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

These blackberry cookie bars are great for lunch boxes, see the action shot of a blackberry bar prepped to pack below. I bet omitting the blackberry and adding sprinkles of mini-chocolate chips would have good results too. These were very good.
Blackberry Jam Almond Bars

1 cup butter (room temperature)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 eggs
3 cups unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup blackberry jam

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a jelly roll pan then cream butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Add flour and salt (don't over mix). Spread batter into pan. Drop teaspoonfuls of jam evenly over the batter. Take a butter knife and cut through jam to create swirls. (I wasn't too successful at the "even" distribution of jam - the swirls were pretty and looked like I meant to bake the bars that way.) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool, then cut into squares.*

Recipe Source: (Complete recipe with drizzle) Blackberry Jam Almond Bars from Elissa at 17 and Baking

*I edited the recipe down to how I cook. The recipe (with drizzle recipe and instructions), fabulous cookie bar photos and the story of college letters rolling in are a snapshot of life and a good post.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"The Cupcake Tree"

I'm having a wheat free week, so Cocoa Krispies, while good, are not exactly home cooking to blog about. Here's a little poem I wrote instead.

Updated 2015 - This little poem is part of a collection available on the Kindle.

Teapot from the Cupcake Tree illustrated by Suzanne Nikolaisen
Teapot from The Cupcake Tree collection
of poems written and illustrated by
Suzanne Nikolaisen - $2.99 on Kindle

The CupCake Tree & Other Silly Poems for Silly You

The sweet and magical cupcake tree, branches loaded with ripe cupcakes, is one of the silly poems in this delightful collection to read with your children. Colorful illustrations of lollipop flowers, cuddly bears, a snowman in the sun, and more highlight the collection. Some poems are pure silliness while others like The Cupcake Tree are simply sweeter. Join the tickety-tockiting clock, razzleberries, the singing roosters, and crickets cricking softly in a book of poems perfect to read at bedtime or on the go. 

The Cupcake Tree
I love you
Like a cupcake tree
A rainy day
A summery sea

I love you like
A hug hello
A good night kiss
A skipping stone

I love you like
A chocolate kiss
A kiddie pool
A starlight wish

I love you like
The morning sun
Barefoot toes
& on and on...

If you want to see an illustration of the mythical "Cupcake Tree" on page 9.

The Cupcake Tree & Other Silly Poems for Silly You
Written and illustrated by Suzanne Nikolaisen
Kindle $2.99

(Note: If you're looking for cupcakes you might want to read up on The Sweet Tooth Fairy.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garlic Baked Potatoes

Yesterday I dusted off an old cookbook Recipes for Diabetics* (10th printing from 1981) and looked up baked potatoes. They're simple right? "Marge's Stuffed Potatoes" on page 124 sounded good, but I found myself wondering who would want to "spoon out" the center of a hot baked potato? Am I the only one thinking "Painful?!" Scanning the ingredient list, I realized I didn't have the necessary "diet margarine" or "imitation sour cream" the recipe called for. (Whew!) I wanted to make "baked" potatoes anyway.

When I bake potatoes they're usually coated in butter. After finding inspiration from "Mama's Cooking 4_3" I kicked the potatoes "up-a-notch" using olive oil instead or butter. MC43 uses garlic salt which I don't like at all, but see that cute little garlic slice peeping out from the side of the potato? That made all the difference. The flavor was really good. Really good. And your house will smell amazing. You will be the wonder cook. If only every recipe I tried was this good.
Garlic Baked Potatoes
3 Russet Potatoes
1 T Olive Oil
1/2 t kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1-2 garlic cloves (very thinly sliced)
3 pinches of dried celery

Set oven to 375 then scrub the potatoes with soap and a vegetable brush, rinse well. Poke holes in the potatoes all over with a fork (2-3 times on each side and on the ends). Cut off blemishes. Mix olive oil, and salt together and give it a minute to rest. Slice up the garlic as thin as you can while still missing your fingers. Pull off enough foil for one potato and place the potato on it. Spoon on oil and rub onto potato evenly. Add pinch of celery, fresh grind or two of pepper, then nestle 3-4 slices of garlic around the base of the potato and wrap it up and place the potato on a cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Cook until the potato is soft (about 1 hour). You won't believe the aroma coming from the kitchen. Whoooo-whee!

Recipe Inspiration: All Recipes: Garlic Baked Potato

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blackberry Cobbler

My sister, my Dad, me (at the bottom), and my Mom.

My mom makes a really good cobbler and has just the right dish to bake it in, a clear glass casserole dish with a glass lid (probably Pyrex). 360 degrees of goodness visible to the naked eye. Cobbler layers cooked to perfection; berries or peaches, a fruit sauce, topped off with crunchy sweet biscuits. My mom has type 1 Diabetes which means she didn't go crazy with desserts, but she's a good cook, and when she makes, them they're good.

My family stopped on a quiet road in Oregon while on a family road trip to pick blackberries and put them on our cereal; Kellog's breakfast boxes my mom would pack for our road trips. My dad would take his pocket knife and cut open the box and we'd pour the milk right in. Those blackberries were so sweet and good! I tried picking one years later while walking from an Oregon beach to a lighthouse and that little dude was so sour, sea-salt in the air? Maybe it wasn't really ripe. Woah! Fast forward again a few years and I tried the Pioneer Woman's Blackberry Cobbler recipe and it was indeed good, so why was I still looking for a recipe? Good question, but I think I have found the recipe I'm going to stick to. Here are the photos, the recipe is at the bottom.
Indiana Blackberry Cobbler 
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
4 cups blackberries (1 only had 2 C so I used blueberries for the remaining 2 C)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Combine flour,sugar,baking powder & salt, then cut in 1/4 cup butter till mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In another bowl combine milk and slightly beaten egg. and add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring just to moisten.
Combine juice from berries with water to make 1 cup liquid.
In a medium saucepan, combine berry juice,cornstarch and sugar; cook till thickened then add berries and butter and cook till hot.
Pour filling into a buttered 8" square baking dish and immediately spoon on biscuit topper in 6 mounds. (I sprinkled the tops of the biscuits with sugar.)
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe Source: Recipe Zaar Indiana Blackberry Cobbler by BakinBaby

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Orange Smoothie (Similar to Orange Julius)

Cookbook Bites: Orange Smoothies
Creamy Orange Smoothies
Have you ever had an "Orange Julius" at the mall? Click here to learn more about them. It all started with an OJ stand in 1926...

Orange Smoothie

12-14 ice cubes
1 C Vanilla Silk or organic milk (Note: regular milk is fine, but if you're whipping up one of these beauties to fight a headache,* you might try avoiding milk with hormones in it, it's possible that could be part of the problem.)
1 C Water
1/2 Can orange juice concentrate (to taste)
1/2 t vanilla (optional)
1 T sugar

Add ingredients to the blender, and blend, then pulse the blender until mixed. Allow to blend for a few extra seconds to smooth out the ice chunks. This makes enough for 2 generous servings.

Recipe by Suzanne Nikolaisen

Note: If you like fresh orange juice, my husband, Eric, created a recipe to use with a juicer: Apple, Carrot, Orange Juice. It's a great blend of flavors and fresh juice is so good! Have you ridden the Soaring Over California ride at Disneyland when they spritz orange in the air as you go over the orange groves? Or zested an orange? Wow... orange-y!

*Update 8/19/15 - This is one of our go-to's to fight migraines. Not medical advice by any means, just something that seems comforting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Champignons Sautes au Beurre on Toast

Sauteer Mushroom Toast
Version 2 of Sautéed Mushroom Toast

Have you ever had "Mushroom Toast?" It's seriously wonderful. I got the idea from the recipe for "Mushroom Toast" on pg. 36 of The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham, but she used lemon, which I wasn't in the mood for. I think the pan-toasted bread added a lot to the "yum" factor! This is what I did:

Sauteed Mushrooms on Buttered Toast v.1
1 Can mushrooms
Good toasting bread
Swiss Cheese

Heat a non-stick skillet and add 1 T butter and allow to melt and heat to the "foam" on the butter stage. Drain mushrooms and add to pan. Allow to heat and cook on low to medium heat. Cook for about 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally. When done remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. Butter bread on one side and place butter-side down in pan. Cook until golden brown. Flip and toast other side. Place bread on plate, and spoon mushrooms over bread. Serve with sliced Swiss cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 3

Recipe Source: The Breakfast Book, and me

Tonight, I sauteed fresh sliced mushrooms. The movie "Julie & Julia" and the cookbook (Page 513 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1) were spot on. "... the mushrooms must not be crowded in the pan." If you crowd them, they won't cook evenly or brown. So like they said "Don't crowd the mushrooms!" (Version 2 listed below is closer to the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, but I didn't use oil, or add the optional garlic or shallots.)

Sauteed Mushrooms on Buttered Toast v.2 
2 Pkgs fresh sliced mushrooms, rinsed and drained
Good toasting bread
Swiss Cheese

Heat a non-stick skillet and add 1 T butter and allow to melt and heat to the "foam" on the butter stage. Add half of the rinsed and drained mushrooms to the pan. Try to distribute the mushrooms so they are flat against the pan. Cook on medium for about 5-10 minutes then toss or flip and redistribute so the mushrooms are flat against the pan. Add 1 T butter and cook for 5-10 minutes until brown. When they're browned, remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Next butter bread on one side and place butter-side down in pan. Cook until golden brown. Flip and toast other side. Place bread on plate, and spoon mushrooms over bread. Serve with sliced Swiss cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves 3

Recipe Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, The Breakfast Book, and me

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pancakes - Plain, Simple, Good

I didn't catch any pictures of the pancakes before dinner so I'm sharing a photo of an early-blooming Iris. Do you ever make "breakfast for dinner?" It's fun to switch things up once in a while and these pancakes are a good option. The flavor was compared to the waffle cones made at ice cream stores. (I add vanilla to the recipe.)

1 C flour
1 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 egg
1 C milk
2 T corn oil
1/2 t vanilla*

Mix dry ingredients, then add in wet ingredients and mix with a whisk (don't over mix). Add a dollop of butter to pan on medium heat and use a measuring cup to drop a couple of pancakes into the pan. When bubbles appear on pancake flip it over to cook the other side. Repeat. Dollop of butter... etc. until you've used all of the batter. Keep the pancakes on a oven safe plate in a warm oven until the rest of the meal is ready.

Recipe Source: Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book, "Pancakes," pg. 72

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Finn's Restaurant

Today Em and I met some family at Finn's Restaurant in Sugarhouse. I met this bird at the gas station on the way.
This is Finn's. One of my friend's tweeted that Finn's was a good place to eat. I spread the word to my family and we decided to try it. I think the pictures tell it better than words.
Cloth napkins and the doily was charming!
A beautiful silver tray? "Why gee, yes I would like an onion roll and round of butter." They must think customers are pretty special!
A fresh yellow rose and I think it's Edelweiss. Some of the servers had beautiful white dresses and my water was always full. No "Lawrence of Arabia" thirst for me while at Finn's.
My Dad had the Norwegian Waffles with cardamom. Em and I had tomato soup. Thank you Finn's and staff for lunch!

Finn's Restaurant
1624 South 1100 East


Finn's on Urbanspoon


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