Yum Peaceful Cooking: April 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Apple Craisin Turnover and a Margarita

Have you ever read a book just because it was associated with cooking in some form, even though the plot was horrible?

I don't advise it. It can tend to be mentally painful.

My neighbor gave me a book to read. She thought I'd enjoy it because after each chapter there's a recipe. Sounds like fun. I've read books like that before that were enjoyable.

I'm really having a hard time getting through 'Apple Turnover Murder'. But I'm enjoying some of the recipes. (looking forward to trying watermelon cookies in the near future....just because it sounds so .... odd).

At least the book has some fun, interesting and rather tasty recipes. These apple turnovers were simple, easy and very good!

And just because I like you so much, I'm going to share the recipe with you so you are not forced to suffer through the book just so you can enjoy a good turnover.

Apple Craisin Turnover
Printable Version

1 - 17.5 oz package of frozen puff pastry sheets
4 1/2 cups apples (about 4, I used Gala and Fuji),  peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1 TB lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamon (if you don't have cardamon, don't stress...you can leave it out.)
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 TB water

Preheat your oven to 400' F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Thaw the puff pastry sheets according to the instructions on the box.

Meanwhile, prepare your apples. In a mixing bowl, combine the apples, craisins and drizzle the lemon juice over them. Toss to thoroughly coat.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/3 cup sugar, flour, spices and salt. Add to the apple mixture and toss to coat.

When your pastry is ready, on a lightly floured surface, roll one of the pastry sheets into a 12" x 12" square (you can put the other sheet in the fridge for now). Cut vertically and horizontally to create 4 equal squares (6"x6")

Now to prep the assembly line. In a small bowl or cup, beat the egg and water to make your egg wash. Have a slotted spoon, fork and sharp knife handy as well as a small bowl of sugar for sprinkling.

With a pastry brush, dampen the edges of a square with the egg wash.
With a slotted spoon, scoop about 1/4 cup of filling onto the center of the square.
Pull one corner over the filling to the opposite corner to create a triangle.
Press the edges together to seal. Using the fork, press along the edges to make it pretty (and to make a better seal).
Make 2 slits in the top with your knife to ventilate
Transfer to your prepared cookie sheet and repeat with the remaining 3 squares.

When all four squares are ready and on the cookie sheet, brush the tops with some egg wash. Sprinkle with some sugar.

(every time I see this photo, stingray comes to mind)

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

While those are baking, prepare the second pastry sheet into 4 more apple turnovers.

Allow the turnovers to cool for 5 minutes and enjoy while warm

And there you have your own little miniature personal take along pie. I think I'd like to make a blueberry-lemon version. Or cream cheese and strawberry. What kind would you try?

Speaking of strawberry. Let's get a little more adult here. Have you tried strawberry and pink lemonade together?

As a margarita?

I'm one of the co-contributors for Cocktail Puppy. If you'd like to try this wonderfully refreshing margarita (my latest adult beverage contribution) then head on over for the Strawberry Pink Lemonade Margarita recipe. If margs aren't your thing, I'm sure you'll find something there that is.

Unless of course all you want is plain beer.

This is my entry into Hearth and Soul this week....make it from your hearth and feed your soul

Hearth and Soul Hop at the Hearth and Soul Hop Hub

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rainbow Cupcakes to dye for

Happy Easter!

And Thank You Clarissa for introducing me to these adorable cupcakes :)

If you're not a Skittles fan, don't worry.....you can still Taste the Rainbow!

Rainbow Cupcakes
Printable Version

White cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
Red, Blue, Green and Yellow food coloring
Favorite white icing

Preheat the oven according to box instructions. Prepare 16 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

Mix the cake mix according to box instructions and evenly divide the batter between 6 small bowls. Color the 6 bowls as follows:

Purple - 9 drops of red and 6 drops of blue
Blue - 12 drops of blue
Green - 12 drops of green
Yellow - 12 drops of yellow
Orange - 12 drops of yellow and 4 drops of red
Red - 18 drops of red

Combine well

Keeping the colors in the same order as listed above, divide each color between the muffin cups, starting with purple, then blue, then green....etc etc

Until you have finished with red.

Bake according to the instructions on the box.

Allow to cool completely and then frost with some white icing....making a cloud on top of your rainbow. (awwww)

Take a bite and experience the rainbow inside

Funny thing...the only reason I took the time to make these is because a while ago I bought the cutest little Easter cupcake liners and I needed to use them, right?

The sad thing is.....once baked, the liners don't look so cute anymore.

It's a good thing the cupcakes are so fun to make.

One more thing....I used the recipe listed on Familyfun.go.com

Saturday, April 16, 2011

White Cheddar and Cauliflower Soup

This soup is dedicated to winter....who refuses to let go and let it be spring. To the hopes of warmer weather and comfortable nights. This soup is dedicated to everyone who does not live in Southern California.

We're pushing 90'F here today. Although in my defense, when I made this soup is was in the mid 60's (just last week)....and for us, that's still winter (unless one lives in the high deserts or mountains).

White Cheddar and Cauliflower Soup (adapted from Fine Cooking)
Printable Version
Serves 8 cups

1 lb cauliflower, cut into 1 1/2" florets
2 TB butter
1 medium onion, diced finely
1 garlic clover, minced
2 TB flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken broth (if you want this to be vegetarian, of course use veggie broth)
1/2 cup cream or milk
2 cups water
3 sprigs thyme
4 cups (about 14 oz) sharp white cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

3 TB Toasted pecans
1 TB chopped basil
2 tsp lemon zest

In a large pot, bring enough salted water to a boil to cover the cauliflower. Boil the cauliflower for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside to cool. Remove 18 florets and trim the stems and cut the crowns so that you have little mini florets that are about 1/2 inch. Set the florets aside and return the stems back to the rest of the larger florets.

In a 4quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add your onions and 1/4 tsp of salt and saute until soft, stirring often. add the garlic and continue sauteing for an additional 2 or 3 minutes.

Turn the heat up a bit to medium and add the flour, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Continue cooking, stirring constantly for 3 minutes (this is your roux).

Whisk in the broth, cream and water. add the thyme sprigs (keep them "whole" cuz you're going to end up removing them). Bring to a simmer. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the thyme sprigs and toss 'em out (they've done their job....toodles). Add the larger (1 1/2") cauliflower florets along with the cut stems. With an immersion blender, puree your soup. If you don't have one, work in batches and use a blender....being careful not to puree too much at a time. You don't want it to explode everywhere.

Season your soup with salt and pepper to taste. add the mini 1/2" florets to the soup and over a low heat, reheat your soup.

Garnish and serve immediately.

The flavor is smooth and tangy. The garnishments are a must! They add additional flavor, especially the lemon zest which adds a nice, fresh zing!

Here's to warmer weather to come and the last of the winter soups!

I have submitted this soup to Deb at Kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com to be included in Souper Sundays. If you need more inspiration for soups, salads or sammies...I highly recommend that you pop on over and look around.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sourdough Bread from Starter to Finish

Tangy, soft, chewy.....sourdough bread is wonderful. For as long as I can remember (almost) I've been eating sourdough bread. Of course the best kind is San Fransisco Sourdough. I mean...honestly! That stuff totally rocks! Now I know I will never be able to make a loaf that can even be seen in the same room as that yumminess but that's not going to (and didn't) stop me from making some good ole homemade sourdough.

Starter and all.

If you "like" my Peaceful Cooking fan page on Facebook, then you may have seen my daily posts of my starter adventure. For those of you who didn't see it, or who do not have a Facebook account, no worries...I'm going to give you a semi quick (because there is nothing quick about sourdough) version of how to make a sourdough starter and a loaf of bread. I'm going to share with you what I know (which isn't much) about the process. If you want more details and specifics (and I mean....scientific type specifics) then I highly highly recommend a wonderful series of e-books called Discovering Sourdough by Teresa L. Hosier Greenway. You can purchase the e-books (for a modest price...and I highly recommend each book. Soooo worth every penny) from http://www.northwestsourdough.com/discovering/

And without further ado....lets get to it!

Keep in mind that this is a process. It's not labor intensive. It's time intensive. It's a "labor" of love and worth every single minute and day. 

Sourdough Starter

Day 1
1/4 cup bread flour
1/4 cup rye flour (or whole wheat...I used rye cuz I had some)
1/2 cup pineapple juice (or apple juice...I used pineapple juice)

In a very clean, non-metallic 32 - 48 oz container with a lid, mix thoroughly. Cover lightly and let set at room temperature.

Day 2
Stir. Cover lightly and let set at room temperature

(pretty complicated, eh?)

Day 3
Stir, pour 1/2 of your starter out and add
1/4 cup bread flour
1/4 cup rye flour (or wheat)
1/2 cup pineapple juice (or apple juice)

Stir will (a whisk works great! Incorporates a lot of air which is a good thing), cover lightly and let set at room temperature

Day 4

Stir, pour out half of your starter and add
1/4 cup bread flour
1/4 cup rye flour (or wheat)
1/2 cup pineapple juice (or apple juice)
Stir, cover and let set at room temperature

Day 5
Stir, pour out half of your starter and add
1/2 cup filtered water (do not use tap water)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons bread flour or unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons rye flour (or wheat)
Stir, cover lightly and let set at room temperature

At this point, we're done with the pineapple juice and are weaning the starter off the rye / wheat flour. You may notice a layer of liquid at the top....that is called a hooch. Stir it in...don't pour it off. If the hooch is in the middle of the starter or at the bottom...somethings wrong. You'll probably want to start over. If you see mold....somethings wrong. If your starter turns pink or orange....somethings wrong. As long as you use clean utensils, filtered water and fresh flour....you should be good. If you want more details or explanations, I suggest getting the e-books or visit the authors website. You can email me too but keep in mind that I am by no means an expert. This was the first time I had ever attempted this whole "science project" in my kitchen. I will do my best to answer any questions you might have, though.

Days 6 - 14 (yes...it takes 14 days for a starter to be ready for bread making)
Stir, pour out half of your starter and add
1/2 cup unbleached flour or bread flour
1/2 filtered water
Stir, cover lightly and let set at room temperature.

You will be doing the same thing for the remainder of this process. You may notice some odd smells coming from your starter....it's normal. Sometimes it probably won't smell too good at all. But by the time you get to the 14th day, it should smell tangy and yeasty...in a good way. Below are a few pictures at various stages....

Day 8:

You can see my hooch (that doesn't sound right does it?!) in the pic on the left as well as in the middle. These were taken before I stirred and "fed" my starter. The picture on the right is after the "feeding".

Day 9:

This was taken before the feeding.

Day 12:

Taken after the feeding

Day 14:

Before the feeding....

After the feeding....

I did my feedings in the morning. No particular reason. On the 14th day, I fed my starter as usual. That night I poured out some of my starter so that I had about 1 cup left and added
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup filtered water

When I woke up, this is what I had.....

Me and my starter were ready to bake (I hoped). If I'm not mistaken, that is what is called a "vigorous starter".

I was nervous....not confident or secure in anything that I had going on here. Not even sure if I knew what I had and if it was what I thought hoped it was. Even with all the information I had read (some of it I didn't and still do not understand)....I felt like I was in way over my head. But I decided I'd go for it. Besides, it was Sunday morning and if I didn't do it then...I'd have to wait another whole week.

Sourdough Bread (this takes several hours.....start early in the morning)

1 cup vigorous starter
1 cup tepid water
2 teaspoons oil
4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt

In a mixing bowl, combine the starter, water, oil and flour. Stir until well incorporated.
Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle in the salt, stir for a couple of minutes (I used my hands).

Cover with cotton towel and allow to set at room temperature for 5 hours.

After the 5 hours is up, stir the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
Fold the edges to the middle, sprinkle a little flour on the dough and continue to fold in the edges, rotating until you have the dough in a ball. (Sourdough doesn't not need to kneaded heavily).
Turn the loaf over so that the "seam" is facing down. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Cup the sides with your hands and jiggle it back and forth a couple of times as your rotate it in a circle. This will give the loaf a little "lift" and make it more of a dome shape.

Prepare an oven proof bowl or baking dish by greasing it will and sprinkling it with cornmeal. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with more cornmeal, cover and allow to rise for 2 hours.
1/2 hour before the 2 hours is up, preheat your oven to 450'F.
When the 2 hours is up, take a sharp knife and slash the top a couple of times about 1/4".

Here's a little trick I learned from the author here.....part of what makes a good sourdough loaf is humidity in the oven. So...I have a baking stone. If you don't have one, use a baking sheet. This is placed in the oven on a low rack. I got a deep, large roasting pan and a small ramekin dish. I placed my loaf on the baking stone with the ramekin next to it. I then covered them both with the bottom portion of the roasting pan....keeping it completely on the baking stone so that it sealing everything inside....steam and all.

I let the bread bake under the roasting pan for 20 minutes. Then I carefully removed the pan and ramekin, turned the heat down to 425'F and continued to bake for another 10 - 15 minutes. You're suppose to turn the loaf once so that it browns evenly but I forgot.

I then removed the loaf from the oven, careful removed it from the bowl and placed it back in the oven so that the bottom and side could get brown (since they were being shielded by the bowl). This took another 10 minutes. Your bread is done when the inside temperature has reached 200- 210'F. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing. I know...it's hard but you really don't want soggy bread...especially after all the work you've put into it!!!

I mean....when you slice into this baby....isn't this what you want to see?

I can't wait for the weekend to come back around so I can make another loaf!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sourdough Belgian Waffles

Would you like to know a little secret? Never in my life have I ever made waffles.

Until This morning.

For some reason they intimidated me. Something about that waffle iron made me think it wanted to screw with me. Make my waffles stick. Burn me. Laugh at me as I wrestled the waffles out of the grids.

I just looked like an evil little appliance.

Until I started wishing I could have Belgian waffles at home.

Then one lovely, fine day...I won a gift certificate for CSNStores.com from Michelle's blog....Bigblackdogs.net and ordered myself a super nice Presto Flip Side Belgian Waffle Maker. This thing rocks! Btw, if you've never been to Big Black Dogs, you're really missing out. Great recipes. Fantastic photos and just an all around super nice lady. I really have learned a lot from Michelle.

Actually.....Michelle was instrumental in my decision to dive into the world of sourdough. Michelle hosts HBin5 and it was one of the HBin5 members (Mary J) who offered to share an e-book about sourdough starters and bread. If anyone is interested in the Northwest Sourdough e-book, You can purchase the e-books (for a modest price...and I highly recommend each book. Soooo worth every penny) from http://www.northwestsourdough.com/discovering/

I began my sourdough started a little over two weeks ago (March 26th to be exact). I shared my daily experiences on my facebook fan page (if you wanna take a peak....Peaceful Cooking on Facebook)

Today, my starter looked like this

I have a loaf of sourdough bread rising on the counter at this very moment. I'll be giving more details about my starter and how my first loaf turns out later on this week. In the mean time, I had enough starter to not only make the bread and keep the starter going....but I had enough to make a stack of Sourdough Waffles.

Sourdough Waffles (adapted from Northwest Sourdough)
Printable Version
makes 4 Belgian waffles

1 cup sourdough starter (166% hydration recommended)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon barley malt syrup
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled slightly (or 1/4 cup neutrally flavored oil)
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large bowl, combine the sourdough starter, water, milk, eggs, malt syrup and butter. In a small bowl, combine your dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

 If the batter is too thick, add a little water, keeping in mind that the batter needs to be on the thin side (so I'm told....I'm not the expert here by any means. Remember....this is my first time ever making these things).

Heat your waffle iron and do whatever it is you're suppose to do with whichever waffle iron you happen have. If you have heat settings on yours (mine doesn't)....set it on high.

My waffle iron doesn't have settings. What it does have is a nifty little timer. It took about 4 minutes (or until the steam subsided) and poof....I was removing my waffle with ease. No fuss...no muss. And what a beautiful, fat little waffle it was....

 I did it! I had conquered my fear of the evil waffle appliance!

And....I made something from my sourdough starter!!

Aaaaand....it was easy. As a matter of fact, as I was standing there waiting to remove my next waffle...I was thinking to myself...'This is so much easier than pancakes!'

So what was I afraid of?

Ooooh ya....this...

The melt down. The overload. The mess.  Oh well...it's bound to happen. And it's really not all that bad. Way worth the results. And still much easier than pancakes. Seriously...if that's the only mess I end up with....that's nothing compared to all the drips and drizzles across the counter and stove when I make pancakes.

Now that I have a stack of these beauties, what would you put on them?

 Sure...I could totally go for the strawberries and whipped cream.

But I happen to have a thing for peanut butter and maple syrup.....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Strawberry Banana Bundt

Have you ever adapted a recipe from somewhere, albeit a cookbook, hand me down, internet, magazine....made your adjustments and then lost the recipe?

Ya...that's real fun!

I searched for almost 2 hours through the history on my computer....checked photo dates to make sure I was looking at the right history date....I googled what I thought I may have googled when I first thought of this recipe.

No where.

I started looking through magazines and cookbooks.


Then one morning as I was cleaning up my kitchen and removed the bread cookbook from the stand, I found some papers behind the book. TA DA!!!! There it was! Plain as day. Printed. I had found my recipe with my notes of what I had altered!!!


Although I feel awful because I have NO idea where I found the recipe, originally. Or even when I printed it out. Kudos are due to someone out there......somewhere. Someone out there went to some trouble to type up this recipe and share it. And I have no idea who.

Well....let's just give kudos to everyone one of you! (that way I've covered all my bases)

You know this has got to be good. If it hadn't turned out so delicious, I wouldn't have spent so much time looking for the lost recipe. It's a cross between a quick bread and a cake. It's not as light as cake but it's not as dense as quick bread. The original recipe called it a pound cake but I don't think it belongs in that category either.

Strawberry Banana Bundt
Printable Version

1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup mashed, overly ripe (aka brown) bananas
1/2 cup mashed strawberries
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350' F. Grease a 12 cup bundt pan.

Cream the butter in a large bowl with your electric mixer. Gradually add the sugar, beating at low speed. Once the sugar has been fully incorporated, increase the speed to high and beat until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each egg. Once all the eggs have been added, continue beating until smooth and even more pale.

Beat in the strawberries and bananas.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and nutmeg. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Turn the electric mixer down to low. Alternating between the flour and the buttermilk, add 1/3 flour, then 1/3 buttermilk until all the flour and buttermilk are fully incorporated.

Stir in the lemon zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted, comes out clean.

Allow to cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to continue to cool completely.

While your bundt is cooling, make your favorite glaze to pour over the top. I chose a chocolate glaze.

There's something extremely satisfying about a strawberry, banana, chocolate combo.

If you want to really take this baby over the top....get out some frozen strawberries.

Yes!!! I said frozen strawberries. There is a time and place for them. Like...now. When you want all those yummy juices to be soaked up by something sweet....pound cake, angel food cake, shortbread. This is the perfect time and place for frozen strawberries.

And....wait for it.....

Wait for it.....

WAIT for IT..................

Whipped Cream!

Now you're talkin' MY language!!

This is my entry for this weeks Hearth and Soul Hop-Volume 42!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Wannabe

You've been working all day. You have the kids to deal with....homework....practices. The dogs barking, the cat's walking figure eights around your ankles and someone is blowing up your cellphone with texts. And your version of Sir Sportsalot is asking if his favorite shirt is clean.

In the middle of all this....you have dinner to think about. You don't have a lot of time or energy but you'd still like to make a home cooked dinner for your family (because no matter what....a home cooked meal is better for you than any fast food drive-thru. Say no to the urge). You need something quick and easy.

Before you get started, put your phone on 'silence'....put the dog outside and feed the cat. Tell Sir Sportsalot that his shirt is in the dryer (even if it's not. It'll hush him up for a while) Then pour yourself a glass a whine. Oopps...I mean wine (there will be no whine before it's time). Take a deep breathe....close your eyes and relax those shoulders.

This recipe calls for very basic ingredients. This isn't a fabulous, knock your socks off recipe. It's just good. It's satisfying and it's quick. Adjust the seasonings to your own taste. If you or little Johnny don't like broccoli...use a different veggie.

The recipe as written calls for boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks. If you want to really speed things up...use chicken that's already been cooked. 

Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo (adapted from a soup can like the one in the picture)
Printable Version

8 oz of linguine (or what ever pasta you have in the pantry)
1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli flowerets (or your favorite veggie)
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized chunks (quicker if it's pre-cooked)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or more!!)
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, minced
Pepper to taste

Prepare the linguine according to the package directions. During the last 4 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli to the boiling water. If you'd rather not....then just steam the broccoli while you prepare the sauce. Drain the linguine and broccoli and set aside.

(take a sip of wine and continue to breath and relax)

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned (or heated through if using pre-cooked chicken), stirring often.

(don't forget to sip your wine in between stirs)

Add the garlic and stir for about a 30 seconds or a minute....you just don't want it to burn and get bitter in taste.

Stir in the soup, milk, cheese and black pepper...

Add in the linguine and broccoli. Heat, stirring (and sipping wine) occasionally, until hot and bubbly.

Guess what?! Dinner is ready. You survived. Garnish each serving with a little more Parmesan cheese and ring that dinner bell!

Fast forward an undetermined amount of time and the kids are in bed. The dishes may (or may not) be done. The dog's asleep, the cat's outside hunting for god knows what....and Sir Sportsalot has forgotten about his favorite shirt. (the phone can wait until tomorrow).

You need a treat. A little side trip to paradise maybe? Even if it's just a mental trip...a daydream. Right? So let's put a little, slight reality to that daydream. Let's treat ourselves to a tropical cocktail.

Who's ready for a Loco Loco Mocha Mocha?

I don't know if I've mentioned it before....but there's this really cool little blog out there called Cocktail Puppy. It was founded by Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. One fine day, I received and email from Natashya, asking if I'd like to be part of Cocktail Puppy. Which meant I could write about alcohol and be part of a really fun blog. How could I possibly say no to that?!!

I've posted a few recipes....this one's my most recent. It's delish...its tropical...and it's just what the doctor ordered when winter is taking a bit too long and your days are crazy and you are in desperate need of a mental vacation. For this (and many many more fab recipes) click HERE 

Chill....and Cheers!