Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sausage Cheddar Balls

 
Stop the clocks!  Hold up!  You still have time to squeeze in one more unhealthy recipe before the New Year!  My goal was to post this a week ago, but of course my schedule did not free up like I thought it would...of course. : )  Another goal I have, and of course plan to keep this time is to only post healthy recipes for all of January 2012.  This should help you all in your month long commitments to getting healthier in the New Year.  I will of course continue posting sugar filled recipes as soon as February rolls along...of this I am sure.

I don't know about you, but I am ready for a New Year.  A fresh start, a clean slate, and a new beginning!  The beginning of the New Year is always so full of hope for things to come, and a renewed commitment to living a better life.  Whats not to like?  I would share my New Year's resolutions with you, but I have yet to come up with any.  I have no flaws, so I have nothing to change.  Yeah right, not even close.  The list is long, so I am working on revising it and coming up with attainable goals.  

One of the things on the list is to improve my blog.  Starting with a new camera!  I am in the process of figuring out which one to buy.  This will hopefully improve the appearance of the food I make and make your reading experience more enjoyable.  I am also going to try and be more consistent with my posting and try to post at least once a week. 

Now onto the recipe.  These wonderful little appetizers are quick to make, and sure to please.  You can make them ahead of time scoop them out and freeze them.  Keep them in a ziploc bag and just pop a few in the oven when you want them.  I recommend using high quality cheese and  sausage, of course this will improve the taste immensely  You might be familiar with these as there is a version that calls for bisquick baking mix.  I admit that version is tasty, but in keeping with my "box free" cooking philosophy these stand up to the test and even surpass in my opinion.

Sausage Cheddar Balls
from Martha Stewart
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups grated cheddar (1/2 pound)
  • 1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and baking powder. Add cheddar and toss to coat. Add sausage, onion, and butter. With your hands, mix until well combined and roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls, 1/2 inch apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until balls are golden and cooked through, 25 minutes. Serve warm.

 
 

Monday, December 19, 2011

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones

 

In case you live in a cave and aren't too aware of what is going on around you...I am here to tell you
Christmas is only a few days away!!!! 
 Of this I am sure.  How do I know this you may ask?  Because I haven't resurfaced from my kitchen in the last 2 weeks.

Life?  Hum...what is that? 
Gym...where are you located again? 
Sleep...why do you taunt me so?


Some of my Chrismas 2011 cookie boxes

Last Christmas was the first time I started accepting orders, and in all honesty I didn't really have too many.  Last Thanksgiving however I was swamped with pie orders.  Keep in mind baking from home was my only job last year, so keeping up with the orders wasn't a problem.  This year on the other hand I am working a full time 8-5 day job plus keeping up with 5x as many orders as last year!!!  This means my bedtime has gotten pushed waaay back...as in I can't find it. : )

The only reason this has been possible is because I started drinking coffee again and because my Mom is helping me...my Mom is awesome by the way!  She has been grocery shopping for me, helps me ice cookies into the wee hours of the night, and then helps me package cookies at cockamamie hours early in the morning.  She supports my dream...or my addiction...whatever you call it.  I would turn orders down, but I want everyone to have what they want for Christmas this year, and if getting a box of my cookies as a gift helps accomplish that goal of happiness then I too am happy.

One thing I made for an order this month were these delicious scones.  Let me tell you folks, they are incredible!  Let me tell you something else, 3 days later they still tasted delicious and not dry...I didn't even realize that was possible for a scone.  Did I mention they have fresh cranberries in them?  Did I mention fresh cranberries are awesome and that you should all join my club to keep fresh cranberries on the shelves year round...join, your life will never be the same again.

Another thing that makes these scones awesome is that you can make the dough ahead of time, scoop it, freeze it, wake up in the morning and bake them in under 30 minutes...then offer people fresh hot scones...this is what I did and suddenly I am class president and I don't even go to school.

Hot scones.  This recipe is a gift.  Use it and make the world a better place.  With great things comes great responsibilities...make a difference one scone at a time.


Cranberry White Chocolate Scones
yields 28 scones

1/2 cup granulated sugar (4 oz)
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour (1 # 14 oz)
1 3/4 tsp salt
4 TBS Baking powder (1.75 oz)
4 sticks cold unsalted butter (16 oz) cut into small cubes
1 1/3 cup cold milk
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
3 eggs cold (5 oz)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and cut in half

Sift together the sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder.  Place these sifted ingredients in a standing mixer and turn on with paddle attachment.  While mixer is running add cut up butter.  If you don't have an electric mixer you can always cut the butter in with a handheld pastry blender, 2 knives, or your fingers.  Once butter is small and pea sized...but before it all clumps together add the cranberries and white chocolate.  Once mixed in add the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, and vanilla)  Mix only until just combined.  The key to tender scones is to not over mix them.  Using an ice cream scoop portion out onto parchment lined pan.  If you don't have a scoop it is about 1/2 of batter for each scone.  Be careful to not press the dough tightly into the measuring scoop or cup...DO NOT OVER WORK THIS DOUGH.  At this point you can either freeze the portioned out batter or proceed with the baking process.  Brush the top of each scone with some egg white.  Then sprinkle with some coarse sugar or raw sugar.  Bake in 350 degree oven until golden brown.  The baking time varies depending upon the size you make the scones...1/2 cup sized scone will take from 15-20 minutes.  Cool slightly and enjoy!

Eat your heart out,

Dagny


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Breakfast Stirfry and the runner inside me

I adore cooler weather.  Maybe it is because the baggier wardrobe I get to wear.  Maybe it is because I get to eat more cookies to fill up those baggy clothes.  You know how it is...don't deny it.

The cooler weather also inspires me to run more outside...why do you ask.  Well. probably because I get to wear the baggy sweatshirts and sweatpants and somehow it makes me look less lame when I attempt to run.  Just ask my niece.  I often go on walks with her...she rides her bike and I run/walk...she has a tendency to laugh hysterically at me and my weird running skills.  At first I was hurt, but then I realized how weird I really do look when I run and I had to join in with the laughing.

Do you look weird when you run?  Honestly, who doesn't?  Unless you are a stick person with no jiggle to be found anywhere on your body...and you look good in spandex (FYI nobody looks good in spandex)...then trust me, you look funny when you run.  Don't let this discourage you from running...by all means run, run like the wind, run like Forest, run.

Another thing that has me running a little more is the addition of another dog to our house.  My sister and her husband are currently in transition from NYC to Santa Monica and during the process we are housing their toy Australian, Diesel, for a month.  Flopsy loves having a friend around and they chase each other around all day long. 

Now usually Flopsy can only walk about a mile or so with me and then she gives up and sits down.  Then I have to carry her the rest of the way.  She isn't lazy, just small and her little legs can't go that far.  With the addition of Diesel to our walks the two small dogs challenge each other and now we can go 2 miles!  Don't worry, we stop take breaks and get water often.  If the dogs look tired and can't go on Emma bean wears a backpack while riding her bike and then we just rotate the tired dogs from riding in the backpack.  It is actually really funny looking, but I think they love it. : )  Then when we get home they go right to sleep.  Poor little pups. : )

Not only do the dogs make me go faster they also make me work on my coordination and strength as I try to not trip on their leashes as they run in circles around my legs.  So really I am playing jump rope while running...quite the challenge, and very amusing to watch I'm sure.  Just waiting for that face plant to happen, I know it is coming so I need to practice my falling techniques and make sure I don't break any wrists or ankles in the process....please Lord, no!

Now in order to have energy to run like a pro you should start your day with this high protein breakfast stir fry.  This recipe is open to interpertation, add what veggies you like, and whatever meat you like.

Breakfast Stir fry for one:

2 links organic turkey breakfast sausage
2 egg whites
1 cup packed fresh spinach
1/2 cup cooked short grain brown rice
1/4 cup salsa

If the sausage isn't cooked, cook according to packaging.  Cut sausage up into pieces.  In oiled pan add sausage and spinach.  Cook until wilted.  Add rice and egg whites.  Stir and cook over medium heat until whites are cooked.  Add salsa and stir.  You can make this ahead of time and just reheat it in the mornings for a great healthy breakfast.

You can always add cooked onions, the egg yolk, black beans, and cheese to jazz it up even more. 

 Make this.  Run a few miles.  Breathe in the clean icy cool air. 

Eat your heart out,

Dagny  


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No knead English Muffin Bread


I keep seeing recipes for English Muffin bread and decided it was about time I made some.  This was a simple bread, and a huge success!  Egg's Benedict Sandwiches anyone?  French Toast?  A yummy sanwhich perhaps?  Darn...I said that word..."perhaps"...everytime I hear it or say it I immeditely start singing Doris Day's song "Perhaps, Perhaps" in my head.

Have you heard it?  You should.  You should also go watch "That touch of Mink" starring Doris Day and my personal favorite, Cary Grant.  I just read an article that said Doris Day, 88 years old, is going to release an album on December 2nd.  Curious to hear how her voice sounds after all these years.


We grew up watching all the classic old movies.  Back then I was mad we couldn't go see all the new release movies that other kids our age were watching, but now I am grateful that we watched all the oldies instead.  I keep telling myself I need to start watching the old ones again, but they just aren't as accesible as they used to be.  I think we should start a new tradition that on the eve of every holiday we watch a classic from our childhood.  Sounds like a plan.


Did you grow up watching old movies?  Come on, I know you did...especially if your name starts with an "M" and ends with a "W" or an "F...previously an H"...you know who you are : )  What was your favorite movie from the good old days?  Who was your favorite actor/actress?

I would have to say my favorites are Tammy, Eldorado, Gone with the Wind, Operation Petticoat, To Catch a Thief, and basically all Hitchcock movies are awesome.  Favorite Actor...Cary Grant...Favorite Actress...Doris Day/Greer Garson


English Muffin Bread
(Please note I partially included the metric amounts for this recipe)

1 TBSP yeast
1 TBSP granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 pound 8oz unbleached all purpose flour (5 1/3 cups)
1 pt. (2 cups) milk
4fl oz (1/2 cup) water
Cornmeal

Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Stir together the yeast, sugar, baking soda, salt, and 12oz of the flour (which is 1/2 of the flour).  In separate bowl stir together the milk and water and heat to 120 degrees.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry mixing until combined,  Then slowly add the rest of the flour while mixing.  The batter will be stiff.  Divide the dough in half and portion out into the pans.  Stretch dough out to fit pan.  Sprinkle with cornmeal.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size...this depends upon how warm the weather is...the colder it is the longer it will take to rise.  Bake until golden brown about 25 minutes.








Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


Is it possible to be over swamped?  Do you have to be an alligator to qualify for that?  If it is, then I am that...swamped that is, not an alligator.  I have been back to a full time job for about a month now.  In that short period of time I have had my work load at work increase ten fold, buried a grandpa, filled many cookie/pie orders, and somehow by the grace of God been able to exercise most nights.  Needless to say by the time I reach my bed at 9:30pm I pretty much fall asleep instantly...goodbye my usual midnight bedtime!

I must admit though, I do love a full schedule.  Having most of my minutes filled up for the day when I wake up keeps me going and motivates me to do more, and accomplish more.  Does anyone else have that problem?  The less free time you have the more you do?

I also have to admit that having a regular paycheck again is so awesome...really awesome...I missed it. : )

Now that I am busy I know that it is about to get a heck of a lot busier.  Here come the Thanksgiving pie orders...the boxes are ordered, apple peeler/corer/slicer ready to go, pie pans acquired.  Last year I cranked out 65 pies in 2 days, and my grandma passed away somewhere in between that chaos and madness.  This year I have high hopes of being more organized and efficient...of course I know the best laid plans always go astray in my case.  Thus when Friday at 5pm rolled around the making of the pie crust weekend commenced.  BRING IT ON.

Thank goodness little brother is coming home from boarding school for the week...little does he know that he has the job of assistant pastry chef this year...this is why it is good to have lots and lots of siblings...cheap labor baby. : )  Good thing I can pay him with biscotti and coffee cake installments over the next few months.

These whoopie pies are exceptionally good.  The whole wheat flour adds a nice substantial texture to the cookie, while the maple syrup adds a nice richness and depth of flavor.  The filling is also not as sweet as most traditional cream cheese fillings, and really counteracts well against the sweet cookie background.  Do I sound like a food critic here...kinda think I do : )

"I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean."
- G.K. Chesterton


Pumpkin Maple Whoopie Pies

(Adapted from adventures in cooking blog)

In mixer cream the following until smooth:

1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cup cups granulated sugar

Add the following and mix until smooth:

1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Cup Oil
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Eggs

Whisk together the following in a separate bowl and stir into wet ingredients:
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup White Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Cloves
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Stir just until combined.  Scoop out by the tablespoon onto parchment lined pan 3 inches apart...they will spread when cooked, I use a small ice cream scoop to get more evenly sized cookies.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until they spring back to the touch...I call this the scared cookie effect.

Cool completely.  Make the filling.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:

2 sticks soft unsalted butter
1 pound soft cream cheese
1 pound powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  If you over mix cream cheese it will get runny, so mix just until clumps are gone.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Mix until smooth and combined.

Fill a piping bag with filling and pipe a nice dollop onto half of the pumpkin cookie's flat sides.  Sandwich with other half.  If you don't have a piping bag you can just spoon the filling onto the cookies.  Store in fridge until ready to eat.  They can be assembled ahead of time...they held up well in the fridge and didn't get soggy. 


Eat your heart out,

Dagny

Friday, November 11, 2011

Grain and Nut Pancakes for my Papa

In order to make the perfect pancake you need one simple ingredient.  Love.  I only have fond memories of making and eating pancakes with family, friends, and strangers.  How can you not be happy when you take the time to slow down and appreciate the day with people you love?  No where to be, just relaxing making a carb and sugar overloaded breakfast together.  What more could you ask for?

Nothing I tell you, nothing.

My hands down all time favorite person to make and eat pancakes with was my grandpa, my Papa.  This past weekend we sat with him, prayed with him, and cried with him as he took his last breathes in this world.  As you witness the last breathes of a person, you become very grateful for all the breathes they did have.  We are grateful. 

Papa lived a long and happy life filled with love.  He lived his life the way God intended him to...loving God above all, then his family, then his friends, and then strangers.  He was an even tempered man who remained calm and collected amidst the chaos that surrounded him.  He was a happy person who never complained, never whined, and used his words for good.  He loved food, history, telling stories, reading, working on and finishing crossword puzzles.  He was the father of 8 children, grandfather to 24 grandchildren, and great grandfather of 17 great grand children.

As long as I can remember every time we visited him we would wake up early together on Saturday mornings and start making pancakes for everyone else before they woke up.  He had a method, a system, and a beautiful rhythm to his breakfast routine. 

Put the coffee on to brew, a heaping tablespoon for each cup, plus an extra one for the pot...the darker the better.  Cook the bacon, only center cut bacon will do...don't burn it and don't under cook it...go crispy or go home.  Make the pancake batter...most important rule...do not over stir.  He was very adamant about this point, and would often remove the whisk from my hands as I compulsively wanted to keep whisking until all lumps were removed.  "Lumps are okay", he would always say.  The griddle must be hot.  Grease it with butter or oil, use a paper towel to spread it around the pan.  Ladle the batter into the pan, not too big, not too small.  Wait.  Wait for the bubbles to appear, only then can you flip the pancakes over.  Heat up the REAL maple syrup.  Heat up some blueberries in a little bit of water.  Serve others first, then make them do the dishes.  Eat slowly, savor each bite, finish your black coffee.

I already miss making and eating breakfast with him.

There are so many things I learned from him, and so many things I loved about him.  It feels like only yesterday I was that 7 year old curly blond headed, blue eyed little girl peering over the counter at him as he lectured on the art of breakfast.  I still remember the funny taste of "that syrup Papa always had at  his house" in my mouth, how curious it was...why wasn't it in a log cabin or Aunt Jemima shaped bottle?  Thank you for teaching me to love maple syrup.

Thank you for loving me.  I am forever changed because of your love.

Rest in peace Papa, you are finally home.

Grain and Nut Pancakes

Every time we went to IHOP my Papa would order the Harvest Grain and nut pancakes...these pancakes are a replica of those pancakes.  I usually make the whole recipe and then store leftovers in the fridge for 4-6 days.  The batter will thicken up after being chilled so just add a little more milk to thin it out again.

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

4 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans 
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar (or you can use coconut sugar, raw sugar, or honey)

Directions

1.Grind the oats in a blender or food processor until fine. Add nuts and pulse a few seconds until they are small pieces.  In a large bowl, combine ground oats, nuts, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2.In another bowl, combine buttermilk, milk, oil, egg, and sugar with a whisk until smooth. Mix wet ingredients into dry with a few swift strokes. DO NOT over mix : )

3.Lightly oil a skillet or griddle, and preheat it to medium heat. Ladle 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot skillet; cook the pancakes for 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until brown.


Stop running around in circles.  Relax.  Make these pancakes with people you love.

Eat your heart out,

Dagny





Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I done got myself published!

Dear Readers,

I done got myself published!!!  I am so excited and honored to have a one page article/recipe in the Holiday 2011 issue of Radiant magazine.  Check it out!  Radiant Magazine is a great publication that features Catholic news and articles that affect young women today. Also, a shout out to my sister Kirsten for taking the picture used in the article!

Also featured in this issue is young singer Jamie Grace.  She sings a great song called "Love the way you hold me"...my niece and I turn it up every time we hear it. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Eat your heart out,

Dagny

Monday, October 31, 2011

Roasted Harvest Butternut Squash and Kale soup

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace

As I have seen in one autumnal face.

~John Donne

I love when someone holds the door for me.  It reminds me that kindness, manners, and generosity still exist.  I love when I hold the door for someone, I feel like I am reminding the world that kind gestures still exist and matter.

All kindness aside, there is also an element of awkwardness present in the "door holding protocol".  Every time I walk through a door I check behind me to see if someone is following through behind me.  Here enters the awkwardness.  There is a person, but they are not super close to the door, but clearly headed to the door...do you a) ignore them, and decide they are too far away and let the door close...or b) hold the door and wait looking like a crazy person, and the person you are holding the door for feels sorry for holding you up and they speed up their pace.

What do you do?  Are you a door holding person?  Are you a guy?  If you are a guy and you don't hold the door, don't tell me, because I might have to lecture you on chivalry...it is not dead...hold the doors...it is a good thing to do...and make this soup, it is also a good thing to do.
I visited my sister and her husband in MA last year and they made a pumpkin soup with kale for dinner one night.  It was delicious and when I was faced with butternut squash and kale I decided to play around with the concept.  I was very pleased with the end result, and highly recommend making this healthy soup for dinner this week.  I made mine with chicken broth, but you could also use vegetable broth and make this a vegetarian meatless dish.  This is the perfect soup to make before a night of trick or treating, or to enjoy while the snow is falling down around you.
 


Roasted Harvest Butternut squash and Kale soup
adapted from simply recipes

2 butternut squashes, peeled, seeded, and cut into small/medium chunks
4 medium carrots, peeled, cut into chunks
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1 onion, cut into 8 pieces
6 cloves garlic, peel on

Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 bunch of Kale, washed and chopped finely
1 can Northern White beans, rinsed and drained

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.  Arrange carrots, squash, tomatoes, onion, and garlic on sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast vegetables until they are brown and tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.

2 Pick out squash and carrots and set aside. Peel garlic cloves; place in food processor. Add tomatoes and onion; puree until almost smooth. Pour 1/2 cup broth onto the baking sheet; scrape up any browned bits. Transfer broth and vegetable puree to large pot. Add 6 cups broth, kale, thyme and bay leaf to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until kale is tender, about 30 minutes.

3 Add carrots, beans, and squash to soup. Simmer 8 minutes to blend flavors, adding more broth to thin soup if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
Serves six.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Homemade Lara Bars

This week I started my new job.  I cannot tell you how excited I am to have a steady pay check again...the list of things I need to buy/fix/save for is extensive, and I plan on using every last penny.  I also plan on banking and saving my money like crazy!  My new plan is to work, work, work, save save save, and then revisit my bakery plan.  Financial stability is something so many of us take for granted, and I really missed it.  I am hoping that after getting a nice chunk of money into savings I will be fueled with courage for the self employment route.

Until then I am back to the 9 to 5 schedule and  am back to packing lunches.  I decided that now was as good as ever to try making my own Lara bars.  I can't believe I waited this long to try them out!  They turned out stupendously!  I made the traditional cashew version, and then made a coconut version...of course I like the coconut version better...it is encoded in my DNA to do so.

I am completely enamoured with the simplicity of Lara Bars.  The original cashew version has 2 ingredients: cashews, dates.  Boom.  Enough said.  I am happy to see Lara Bars becoming more and more available to the general public.  It is basically the only thing I will eat at airports, so I am glad it is available to me. : )

Apparently making Lara Bars is a heck of a lot cheaper then buying them...about .75 cents a bars if you make them, and 1.50/bar if you buy them.  I didn't check the prices of the ingredients and figure it out, but it seems like it would be cheaper, and I honestly really like the addition of salt that I put in my bars.  Lara bars are famous for being a raw food bar, but next time I plan on toasting the nuts and coconut before making them...doesn't that sound divine? : )

FYI: If you have kids and are looking for something to send them to school with...this is it!  I haven't met a kid yet who doesn't like Lara Bars!

Fun Facts about Lara Bars:

1.  The lady who invented them is named Lara Merriken and is from Denver

2.  General Mills now owns the Lara Bar brand, but they were originally owned by Humm Foods

3.  There are 20 Lara Bar flavors...including Cocoa Mole...which is no longer on the market

4.  If you move fast you can order Lara Bar minis to hand out to your trick or treaters this year...beats the raisins my mom used to hand out when we were kids : )  Sorry Mom.

5.  You can enter to win their sweepstakes for some cool prizes here






Cashew Lara Bars

  1 1/2 cups chopped dates
1 cup cashews
1/4 tsp kosher salt (optional)

In a food processor pulse the dates until they have turned into a paste...they will clump together in a ball.  Remove from processor.  Pulse cashews a few times until finely chopped.  Add date paste back to processor and blend with the cashews and salt until combined. 
Form into a block packing the edges tightly and wrap with plastic wrap, or scoop out into balls.  Cover and chill...if you went the block way cut into bars.  Store in refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap.


Coconut Lara Bars

1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
2/3 cup nuts (I used almonds and cashews)
1 tsp coconut oil
1/8 tsp kosher salt (optional)

Use the same process as with original Cashew Bar recipe.


Open the windows in your house on these lovely Fall days we are having, bake something with cinnamon, be thankful for what you have, and listen to this song.

Do you like my new tag line?  I spent many many moons trying to come up with something and then one day this just hit me.  

Emeril Lagasse already has "kick it up a notch" and "Bam"
Rachel Ray says "Yum-o" and "EVOO"
Paula Deen says "I send you best dishes and love from my kitchen to yours"

So I had to come up with something : )
Eat your heart out,

Dagny


Monday, October 24, 2011

Crunchy Brownies and Weathered Hands

 Texture is a beautiful thing.  It adds so much depth, so much character, and so much beauty to everything.  A pair of old withered hands with unending wrinkles holds so many stories.  Each line adding another dimension and another layer of history. 


My favorite hands are my Papa's.  He has had a hearing problem his whole life so in order for him to understand what you are saying you have to sit close to his good ear.  While doing this he always reaches for the hands of the person he is speaking with, and gently holds their hands in a loving grip.

His kind spirit and beautiful soul have been a gift to us all, and I pray everyone is as lucky as I am to have a grandparent as loving as him. 

I recently went to visit him in Louisiana, and was saddened to see his health so deteriorated.  When I entered the room and went to his side he reached for my hand, and said hello.  He had a confused look on his face and I could tell he was trying to remember my name...never before, had he struggled with this.  He was extremely distressed and angry at himself for not being able to remember my name.  I couldn't help but cry knowing that his mind may not remember me, but his heart surely did.  I reminded him of my name, and he reassured me he had not forgotten me.  Irregardless of his failing memory, his hands remained the same, and he held mine as we chatted about food and poetry.

I inherited many things from my Papa...including his poor hearing...but I also inherited his love of good food.  He has a great palette, and we have shared many meals together analyzing and being food critics.  After years of visiting him in Lafayette I know where he likes to eat, and what dishes he likes to order.  So when it came time to order Thai food, he couldn't remember what he usually ordered from there...so when I reminded him that his favorite dish was eggplant Thai his face lit up, and he was so happy that I knew what he liked.  I am grateful that we have been blessed to share so many meals together.

I hope to make these brownies for him one day, because like me he too likes to eat things with depth of flavor and texture.  These brownies are crunchy because of the turbinado raw sugar I used, and can be made even more crunchy by adding walnuts or pecans.  Make these brownies today and go visit an elderly person in your life, hold their withered hands, and share good stories and good food.  You won't regret it.

Eat your heart out,
Dagny


Crunchy Brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment or tin foil
In a double boiler melt together and stir just  until smooth:

6 TBS unsalted butter
8 oz (1 1/3 cups) semi sweet chocolate chips

Once butter and chocolate chips are melted remove from heat and add:

3/4 cup raw turbinado sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Stir until smooth and add 1 at a time, stirring after each addition:

2 large cold eggs

Once combined add:

1/3 cup plus 1 TBS all purpose unbleached flour
3/4 cup toasted and chopped (pecans or walnuts) (optional, I opted out)

 Stir until smooth and combined.  Pour into lined pan, and smooth out.  Bake 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs.  Cool.

 Look a leaning tower of brownies : )

 Guess what?  I finally caught on that having a print option for my recipes was probably a good idea!  So if you like a recipe and want to print it out just click on the printer icon at the end of each post.  Then you can delete any of the words and pictures you don't want printed.  Let me know if you have any problems with this new feature, and happy printing!

 Listen to this great song by JJ Heller - What love really means