I miss my old Kitchen

and I am heading back home. I promise to post more regularly. I hope you’ll follow me back! And thanks for bearing with me!

hello CUPCAKE!

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I know it is super cheating to have this post here as well as on The Entertaining House, but I just lovelovelove these cupcakes. I got the idea from the Hello Cupcake cookbook. If you have any interest in baking and like to create fun, whimsical things this book is an absolutely must have.

Now They didn’t come out quite as perfectly as they are in the book, but I am happy with the results none the less. Because I was making these for the entire 4th Grade Class for Rebecca’s 10th Birthday (which is today!) I used Betty Crocker cake mix and frosting.

Ingredients:

1 box of cake mix (or your favorite cake recipe)
2 cans of white (vanilla) frosting
1 can of chocolate frosting
1 bag of small Jelly beans
1 bag of Starburst fruit chews
1 small bag of mini Oreos — chocolate, if necessary
1 small bag of mini goldn Oreos or mini Nilla wafers
1 small bag of Teddy Grahams

First we baked the cupcakes per the directions on the box and frosted them with vanilla frosting (which we also used as glue to secure the bears and slippers)

I had extra vanilla frosting that I colored using food coloring for additional decoration. I used small ziplock bags and snipped a hole in the bottom where I attached the pastry tips, using only those with the smallest openings.

The little children’s heads are miniature Oreos — we were racially correct as you can see.
The blankets are made out of Starburst fruit chews that we microwaved for a few (10) seconds and rolled out with rolling pins.
The body lumps under the blankets were constructed by using a large marshmallow and cutting it in half.
The slippers (or socks) poking out from under the blankets were created by inserting small Jelly beans beneath the blanket. (I used Starbust Jelly beans)
The little bears are mini chocolate Teddy Grahams
I used chocolate frosting for the brown chair and brown eyes
I used yellow frosting for the blond hair and blanket decorations
I used blue frosting for the eyes and blanket decorations
I used pink frosting for the lips and blanket decorations

I took the cupcakes a step further by having every child’s monogram on their own cupcake. Apparently this was a huge hit.

Creamy Potato Asparagus Soup

This soup is rich and creamy and intensely satisfying with just a trace amount of fat. As we start off the New Year we all make promises to ourselves that we will be healthier. We will eat our fruits and vegetables and we’ll cut back on sweets and all things not so good for us. Well, OK I do! This recipe was adapted from one I enjoyed years ago from Williams Sonoma. I have left out the dairy (fat) as I really found it was not needed.

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Soups are the perfect health food. A full day’s serving of vegetables packed into one small bowl. But you will want more than one small bowl!

Ingredients:

 

2 bunches of asparagus trimmed and steamed for 5 minutes

5 medium potatoes – I used baking – peeled and cut into large cubes
1 onion sliced

32 oz chick (or veg,) broth

2 tbs. olive oil

Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

 

Boil potatoes in water til soft, about 10 minutes.

While potatoes are boiling sauté onions lightly in 2 tbs olive oil till lightly brown

When potatoes are done remove the potato from the water and place in food processor or blender
Drain water from potato pan
Add onion and asparagus
And gradually add broth at room temperature
Add salt and peppers to taste
Pour soup back into pot and warm to taste.

Serve with croutons or a dollop of whipped cream.

 

If you happen to have an immersion blender you can cook the potatoes in the broth and then add the rest of the ingredients and blend right in your soup pot. But I don’t.

Shrimp Po Boys

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Sometimes a hearty sandwich makes a perfect casual dinner.

Shrimp Po boys are delicious, fun and quite filling. They couldn’t be any easier to make either. You need just 4 ingredients:
Frozen popcorn shrimp
Tartar sauce — I prefer Ken’s if using jarred. (Recipe for fresh below)
Cole Slaw
1 loaf of good bread — I prefer to use a baguette.

Directions:
Heat the shrimp as indicated on the package
Warm the bread, slice accordingly
Spread tartar sauce on either side
Place generous amounts of shrimp on one half of the baguette
Place generous amount of cole slaw on the other half.
Serve with salad of field greens. 
Fold together and dig in!

Tartar Sauce:
3/4 cups of light mayonaise
1/4 cup of pickled relish
1/2 to 1 tsp of Old Bay seasoning.
Stir all ingredients well.

This version will look a good bit greener than the store bought varieties, but this version is immensely better!

Double Chocolate Cookies with m&ms

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Rebecca was adamant that Santa should have m&m cookies this year. With a glass of peppermint milk. Yep, peppermint milk. It was a discovery we made at Tarjay one day. I saw the container and it the pink milk looked rather enticing. You all know my deep and abiding love for all things peppermint-stick-ish! We purchased a small carton. It tasted like a peppermint milkshake. Wow! The milk didn’t last terribly long. I don’t think it was in the house for 24 hours! And, according to Christopher, would partner perfectly with the m&m cookies that Rebecca wanted. It wasn’t until the last moment that I decided that we should have chocolate m&m cookies. I was having a craving! I used Martha’s recipe. And the result was, as always, nothing less than spectacular!

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 pound good-quality milk chocolate, 4 ounces coarsely chopped and 4 ounces cut into 1/4-inch chunks — instead of the chunks I used the m&ms.
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Melt 4 ounces coarsely chopped chocolate with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; let cool slightly.
  2. Put chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in m&ms.
  3. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are flat and surfaces crack, about 15 minutes (cookies should be soft). Let cool on parchment on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Cherry Almond Linzer Tarte

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A slight twist on the old favorite. I love raspberry jam but it is quite sweet. A really good cherry jam (Hero, Bonne Mamman) with a slightly sweet-tart flavor is the perfect topping for the basic shortbread crust. If you wanted to dress it up you could melt some white chocolate (about 1 cup) and pour it into a pastry bag and using a fairly small pastry tip pipe a pretty pattern over the top. As with my Tarte au Chocolat et Marmalade below this can be cut up into bars for easy handling at a party, or cut into thin slices for a more elegant look.

Ingredients:

1 stick, plus 2 tbs of butter
2 cups of flour
1 cup of confectioners sugar
3/4 cups of almond meal (can be done by pulsing almonds in food processor)
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 jar of high quality cherry jam
1 cup white chocolate chips for melting, optional.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a mixer blend together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla, flour and almond meal. Mix well
Pour dough into tart pan and spread evenly.
Place in oven for 15 minutes,
Meanwhile in a small saucepan heat jam until it becomes soft and spreadable
When the 15 minutes is up remove the tart pan from the oven and spread the jam over the top as evenly as possible, leaving about a half an inch at the edge
Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Remove and let cool.

(Pipe with white chocolate if desired. Then set in fridge of freezer to set)

Tarte au Chocolat et Marmalade

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My friend Line (pronounced Lina) loves the flavors of orange and chocolate. She also loves shortbread. A few years ago I created this treat and it is something she looks forward to during the holidays. (Or the summer days!) The flavors and texture are wonderful together. I used to make these as cookies, but I found it much too labor-intensive so I make, and present it as a tarte and the dessert can be served in bars (as pictured above)or in lean slices. I also found that it is easier to make this in a tarte pan as you can pull the sides apart and then slide the pastry right off the base on to a pretty plate. The shape of the tarte makes a perfect presentation at the dinner table, dessert table or as a gift.

Ingredients:
1 stick plus 2 Tbs. butter
3/4 Cup of confectioners sugar
2 cups of flour
3/4 Cups of ground almond meal
2 tsp. of vanilla
2 tbs. of orange zest (optional)
1 Jar of good quality marmalade
1 Cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a mixer beat together butter and sugar until well blended, add vanila, orange zest, almonds and flour. Blend well.
Place dough in a tarte pan making sure to push dough into all corners and that surface is as evenly covered as possible.
Place in oven for 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan heat jam so that it gets soft enough to be able to spread with a spoon.
When the 15 mimnutes is done, open the oven and pull out tarte. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula carefully spread melted jam evenly over the dough — leave at least 1/4 inch around the edge so the crust will not stick to the sides.
Place back in oven for 15 more minutes.
In another saucepan create a double boiler if you don’t have one, and melt chocolate.
When chocolate has melted pour into a pastry bag with small tip attached and pipe chocolate on to the marmalade mixture on the tart.
Place in freezer to cool and set.
Remove sides from tarte pan and slide onto a pretty serving dish when ready to serve!

Bon Appetit!