Saturday, January 29, 2011

My New Etsy Store!

Dear Readers of my blog,

Finally, it is here! My new Etsy Store Just in time for Valentine's day. Please check it out, let me know what you think...any tips, suggestions, requests, etc...

Please consider buying your Valentine gifts from me! Then forward the link to all your family members, friends, co-workers, bosses, bosses wives, enemies, your doctors, dentists, car mechanics, and postal workers. The more business the better!

I make all my products 100% from scratch! I even make my own caramel for my heaven bars...which are FYI out of this world good.

Thanks for your support, encouragement, and business!


Happy Anniversary to Whisked Away and FREE Valentine Cookies!

A cupcake I did not make, but it was the only birthdayish picture I had : )

This month marks the 2 year anniversary of my blog! Has it really already been 2 years? Time sure does fly when you are cooking and then spending all that time working off all the calories you had to endure for the sake of the cause. I think all my readers should chip in and buy me a personal trainer, and my whole family for that matter. I really don't know how my Mother managed to loose 25 pounds over the last year with all of my food experiments lying around the kitchen. Will power, sheer will power.

I have often wanted to quit this blog. Just be rid of it and never write again. Things get busy, life overwhelms and the unnecessary things are the first to go, just like my gym membership and Starbucks know how it is. You also know what they say, "The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places." Then I remember that I love to write, I love food, and I keep going. I love that this blog challenges me to test more recipes and ideas then I did before. I love that people email me and facebook me telling me they tried recipes from here and loved them! I love that I see or hear from random relatives, friends, friends of friends, and strangers that they enjoy my blog. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE KIND WORDS! You really are what keeps me dedicated to this venture. So thank you and please keep reading!

Since my last give away went so well I decided it is time for another one! This time I am giving away 1 dozen of my traditional Conversation Heart Cookies!

This giveaway is just in time for the launch of my new Etsy store, so I thought it was an ideal giveaway! If you win you can choose to either have the cookies sent to you, or to someone you love.

So here is how it is going to work:

1) Respond to this post via the comments telling me your favorite couple and why...after all February is the month of love, so lets honor a couple that is a great example to us all of real love.
Plus, I loved hearing all your answers and stories to my last contest!

2) After 1 week I will put all your names into a secret highly secure undisclosed location and then send a baby in to pick a name.

3) I will send you, or someone you love 1 dozen Conversation Heart Valentine Cookies in a nice little gift box.

Contest ends 2/06/10, one entry per a person.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coconut Maple Pecan Muffins

Do you mispronounce certain words? Are people constantly correcting your strange way of saying things? If you know what I am talking about you must be part of my family. We are all well known for saying certain words in weird ways. I credit this to living in six different States while we were kids. I think all the different accents in each State really messed with our developing minds and what came out was this strange slew of words unique only to my family. Of course my Mom and Dad also say words strangely, not too sure what their excuse is. : ) Now some of these mispronounced words are just so skewed I have to share them with you.

You know what Hulu is right? Or as my Mom calls it, "You who". Or my Dad calls Donkeys, "Dunkeys"...really, really are you for real? The words that I am infamous for saying wrong, which all my friends will attest to are: "Poem", for the life of me I cannot say that darn word...instead it always comes out, "Palm". Being a Literature major in college this was a word I had to say frequently and always dreaded having to say it. The second word I say strangely is "Pillow", or as I call it "Pee-low." The word that my whole family is guilty of saying wrong is "Mrs.", or as we like to say "Miss-ers", which makes it sound like something you find inside a chicken and not a married woman. Oh boy, someone should do a study on my family, not sure what they would learn, but I guarantee it would be interesting and confusing.

Are there words that you say wrong? If so let me know, if only for the sake of knowing that my family is not alone in this convoluted affliction.

Now what may you ask does a coconut/maple/pecan muffin have to do with mispronouncing words? Nothing really, I just thought this muffin was this mash up of good things and in the end it turned out to be a really nice combination of flavors...kind of like yah. I made up this muffin because after making the coconut chicken I was left with 1/2 a can of coconut milk and decided the right thing to do was to make a muffin. I mean come on, was there really another option at that point? This muffin really is the embodiment of all things coconut...the only thing that would have sent it over the top was if I used coconut flour and then coconut sugar...which is something I just saw and the grocery store and am anxious to try. Have any of you used coconut sugar? If you have let me know, I am curious to know how it does in baked goods. This muffin has coconut oil, coconut milk, and unsweetened if you don't like coconut you should probably just go hug a tree...but can you not like coconut? Coconut is so awesome and great, and during the cold months eating it makes me feel as if the sun is shining, flip flops are flopping, and my skin isn't so pasty white after all.

Now take off your shoes, change your cardigan, and come with me as we learn a few fun facts about the coconut...brought to you from Wikipedia and me.

1) Every single part of the coconut palm tree can be used in some way. Talk about creating a efficient thing...good job God, way to be, way to be.

2) Polynesians can be credited for first bringing the coconut to the Hawaiian let us all take this moment to thank a Polynesian...thank you, thank you.

3) Kerala, the Indian state is known as the Land of coconuts. Apparently there are coconut trees everywhere! When can I go? Sign me up!

4) Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, brought coconuts to Europe. He said the hairy and brown shell of the coconut reminded him of a ghost named "Coco." Is he sure it wasn't his girlfriend?

5) Coconuts trees require warm weather to grow, so you won't find many of them in the North Pole...thank goodness, seeing Santa shirtless and in shorts would be traumatizing.

6) There is a legend that some coconuts have pearls inside of them...this is yet to be proven as no pearls have yet been found.

7) You can buy coconut if you were lost on an island and got hungry you could just eat your shirt.

8) The parts of the coconut that can be used are: flower, husk, shell, water, milk, nectar, sprouts, coir, leaves, copra, trunk, and roots.

Coconut Maple Pecan Muffins

Whisk together the following in a medium/large bowl:

3/4 cup finely ground pecans or walnuts (pulse in food processor)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 TBS baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

In separate bowl mix together the following until smooth:

2 eggs
4 TBS melted coconut oil, slightly cooled
1 cup coconut milk, or buttermilk
3/4 cup maple syrup

Mix the dry with the wet just until combined. Scoop into lined muffin pans. Sprinkle a little bit of unsweetened coconut, and light sprinkle of cinnamon on top of each muffin.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until tops spring back when lightly touched.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Easy Coconut Chicken

Not the best picture, but really it is a nice tasty chicken!

Are you a chicken during the week kind of family? Coming from a family that often has someone on a diet we find ourselves eating chicken for dinner more often then not. By the time the weekend has arrived all I want is steak, ribs, or fish...please Lord, please. Our go to meal usually consists of grilled chicken and green salad. Hey it is Wednesday, guess what we are having for dinner...grilled chicken salad! Joy and glee all around!

The other night I sat there looking at those darn boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs that I had been tasked with to cook once again. I decided to take my uninspired self to the pantry and find some kind of creative idea. There on the bottom shelf sat two forgotten cans of unsweetened coconut milk. Who on earth bought those, and how long had they been hiding there? I have often wanted to make coconut chicken, but always forget that is my plan and end up coming up with something else instead...grilled chicken salad anyone? : ) What I came up with was a nice, light, and very pleasing coconut chicken recipe. The only thing that would make it better was a pina colada in one hand and a palm tree.

Easy Coconut Chicken
recipe by me, myself, and I - we work as a team on these things : )

In large bowl combine the following and Stir together:

1 1/2# boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 T lemon juice

1 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1 tsp minced garlic

1 TBSP coconut or olive oil

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Allow mixture to marinade at room temperature for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile cook the following over medium/high heat until soft and caramelized in some olive or coconut oil, 5-7 minutes stirring often:

1 large onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced

Once cooked remove from pan and pour marinaded chicken into pan. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked, and no longer pink. Return the onions and peppers to pan and stir. Serve over rice.

You may have noticed...or not...that the appearance of my blog has changed. I really wanted to work on making it more pleasing to the eye while reading. I also added an index bar under my header with some additional information...good restaurants, cook books, and stuff about me. Check it out! Please let me know if you have any thoughts about the changes!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sea Salt Pretzel Bites

Taking a water and baking soda bath, splish splash.
All nice and foamy, yeast activated...check.

Once upon a time many many moons ago I traveled with my family to Colonial Williamsburg. I think we were stopping there on our way down from a New England Wedding...there are so many weddings in my family I just can't keep track of them all. I remember 3 things from that visit. One, were grown ups really walking around in period costumes and getting paid for it? Two...where could I sign up for that? The third thing I remembered was the snack we ate...these incredible, salty, chewy pretzel bites. Ever since then every time I see or eat a pretzel I always think back to that day in Williamsburg. I have made soft pretzels many times before, but I always forget that I want to make them into bites. Finally today, a day that will go down in history among pretzel lovers everywhere, I made pretzel bites. (Insert choirs of angels singing)

I looked at a bunch of recipes and then came up with my own variation. I am super pleased with the results! If you are hosting a super bowl party this year you should make these and serve them alongside some dip.

I love all things pretzel. In college I would always have a trail mix in my room made up of pretzels, raisins, and peanut M&Ms...very versatile snack or breakfast in many cases. Here are some fun facts about pretzels that every pretzel lover should know:

1) Like all good things in this world pretzels have a Christian origin. Legend has it that an Italian Monk came up with the pretzel as a reward for children who prayed. The criss cross pattern of a pretzel is meant to look like arms folded over ones chest as if in prayer. These pretzels were first called "pretiola" meaning"little rewards".

2) Back in the day when Christians couldn't eat eggs, lard, milk, or butter during lent they would eat pretzels made from just flour and water.

3) The pretzel loops aren't only there to look pretty. Many say they are shaped like that for the practical purpose of being easy to hang onto things. I imagine they were present in the first Container Store ever built to show off cool ways to store things. : )

4) Germans have a thing for pretzels and also have many names for them: Brezn, Bretzel, Brezzl, Brezgen, Bretzga, Bretzet, Bretschl, Kringel, Silserli and S├╝lzerli. They are baked differently in the various parts of Germany, with different flours, seasonings, and herbs.

5) In Germany it is tradition to give people sweetened pretzels for good luck throughout the upcoming year. Also, on may 1st boys would paint a pretzel on the doors of the girls they loved.

6) Pennsylvania produces over 80% of the nation's pretzels...dang.

7) There is a pretzel museum in Philadelphia

8) April 26th is National Pretzel day

9) When I was a kid I used to microwave hard pretzels and cheese...what was I thinking?

Sea Salt Pretzel Bites

In mixing bowl mix together the following and let sit 10 minutes until foamy:

4 t yeast
1 tsp sugar

1 3/4 cup warm water (should be around 110 degrees)

Once foamy mix together with the following with paddle attachment until combined:

4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 TBS olive oil

Once combined switch to hook attachment on mixer and knead on medium speed 5-7 minutes. If you don't have a mixer you can knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for an additional 3-4 minutes. Sometimes when I make these they are too dry, so add a little water...and sometimes they are too wet and are sticking everywhere, so add a little flour.

After kneading set aside dough in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit and rise about one hour until doubled in size. Once the dough is risen break apart into little bites. I got about 60 bite sized pieces. Meanwhile, boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan and then remove from heat. Dissolve 1/3 cup baking soda in the water and mix.

Dip each pretzel bite into the water and then remove with slotted spoon. Place onto greased baking sheet. Once all pretzels have had their water/baking soda bath sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in 450 degree oven for 7-8 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush each bite with melted butter. Allow to cool slightly, if you can wait that long...and enjoy!Look ma, I finally found my hidden talent. : )

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dip Confusion

I almost went computer silent for the last week while I visited some dear old friends. It was so nice to take a break from the computer, I highly recommend it. Plus, it was 10 times as nice to see old friends!!! Now I am back home prepping for my Valentine cookie orders, so many ideas! Although I detest the color pink I somehow am able to tolerate it for one day a year...thank goodness it is usually paired with red and white that help tone it down a bit. Before I go into complete sugar overload drive again I decided to share with you a nice healthy recipe from the yeast detox diet we were on two years ago. This dish is weird. I can't decide if it is a salad or a dip. Honestly it works well as both. If you go the way of the dip you can dip veggies in it to keep it healthy, or dip pitas and chips to make it not so healthy. I usually make my own pico for this, but sometimes when the hours are short and my bed is vanishing from my sight I cheat and buy the premade pico...most grocery stores sell it in the produce section.

We acquired some really tasty recipes from the yeast detox diet, and I really should dig them up and make them again soon. I have been looking up inspirational quotes to keep me motivated in my exercise routine, which is actually really helpful when I wake up look in the mirror and then read a quote that actually makes me go to the gym. Darn little words are so manipulative...sneaky sneaky. Anyways, I came across this one which really has nothing to do with exercising, but I liked it anyways.

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." ~G.B. Shaw, Mrs. Warren's Profession, 1893

Right on Mr. Shaw, right on.

Dip Salad Confusion

1 - 15oz can garbanzo or black beans drained
2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 c lemon juice
1 - 4oz can black olives
1 1/2 cups pico
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix together and eat or chill until ready to eat.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Peach and Cranberry Upside down cake

Ahh, the Christmas and New Year's festivities have come to an end. Goodbye lovely Christmas traditional food, goodbye all my excuses to just eat one more bite...come on, anything goes at Christmas. Not so, Not so. Goodbye fridge full of lovely leftovers. The only thing left in the fridge from Christmas I could find were a few bags of fresh cranberries I forgot to use. My bad. In the past I have made fresh cranberry sauce, but since the family standard is so low, they all demanded the canned jellied stuff back. Really, are you sure I'm not adopted? What to do with these sweet tart cranberries I held in my hands? Maybe a nice quick bread? Some cookies perhaps? Or no, how about a cake? Do I dare? Yes I do dare.

I really love pineapple upside down cake, but if I am faced with deciding between pineapple upside down or something chocolate...I will always choose chocolate. Needless to say I don't usually make pineapple upside down cake. Okay, um what does a pineapple upside down cake have to do with all my leftover cranberries? Well I decided to use a pineapple upside down cake recipe and just swap out the fruit. I imagine you can use many fruits instead of the pineapple and get equally as delicious results. Next time I am going to try apples or pears. I was going to try a full on Cranberry upside down cake, but really wanted to mix it with another fruit. This ended up being a clash of the seasonal fruit...peaches in the summer, cranberries in the winter...not usually found together in dishes. So I went with canned peaches on this one...not my first choice, but I had them on hand. I was extremely pleased with the results and plan on making this again, and soon...oh wait it is diet month...maybe I will make it again in February...ahh, what the heck, maybe for dessert tonight instead. : )

Peach and Cranberry
Upside-Down Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes. Remove from heat.

3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar

Pour melted butter/sugar mixture into a parchment lined 8x8 or 9x9 pan.

1 can drained, sliced chopped peaches, juices reserved for cake batter
2 cups rinsed fresh cranberries

Sprinkle fruit evenly on top of mixture, set aside.

In mixing bowl beat the following until smooth:

3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar

Scrape down bowl and slowly add the following, mix until smooth:

2 large eggs

Then beat in the following until combined:

1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS dark rum or Bourbon
, optional
1/2 cup reserved peach juice or milk

Batter will appear slightly curdled, don't worry that is fine. Scrape down bowl and add the following:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix until combined and pour over fruit/sugar/butter mixture. Spread out evenly to completely cover the fruit. Bake 45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from center of cake. Cool 5 minutes and then flip cake over onto a platter.

Serve cake warm or at room temperature with fresh whipped cream.

Cake may be made one day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

In other news I am recently obsessed with Masterpiece BBC series...Foyle's War, Inspector Lewis, Wives and Daughters Love it, watch it. Eat this while you watch them, now that sounds like a winning combination on a cold winter's eve. Count me in.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Red Quinoa and Paprika Chicken

See the white rings around the seeds? That means it is cooked.

My wrist is injured. I believe the technical term is "Rollingouttoomanypiesisitus." So I am giving it a rest the next few weeks. This just in. I do actually make things without sugar. Shocker, I know. I find myself overwhelmed with sugar, cookies, and pies these last few months. Of course I am not eating them all, just selling them. Still, being surrounded by sugar all the time makes me want to eat meat and vegetables. Someone should invent a vegetable awesome would that be? Just imagine..."Pea Puffs", "Leek Loops", "Carrot Jacks", "Honey bunches of spinach". Yum, and high in Omega-3's and antioxidants. Um yeah, about that.

On a more desirable note a recipe just in time for the 12 days of Christmas, Red food...yum! I saw red quinoa at the store and just had to buy it. I couldn't decide what to make with it, but then decided to go with the "Red" theme for my dinner. Whenever I make chicken to go on top of pizza I usually make it with paprika. Not sure why, but I like it, so I will keep making it that way. So I made my usual Paprika Chicken and tossed it with some veggies and quinoa, and voila...healthy satisfying dinner accomplished!

Red Quinoa and Paprika Chicken

2 cup red quinoa
4/12 cups water

Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until tender. You will know the quinoa is cooked when a ring appears around each seed. Set aside

Mix together the following and cook over medium high heat in oiled pan until chicken is cooked through.

2 chicken breasts diced
1 TBS Paprika

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS lemon juice

Remove chicken from pan and saute the following in same pan over medium high heat until nice and caramelized 5-7 minutes:

1 large onion diced
1 yellow bell pepper diced
2 yellow summer squash diced
4 cloves diced garlic diced

Toss the chicken, quinoa, and vegetables together garnish with fresh sliced green onions and serve.