Monday, July 20, 2015

Always-Ready Red Peppers

It is no secret that I put red peppers in just about every savory recipe I make.  Red peppers can add a lot of color and nutrition to a dish.  Here in my area red peppers sell at anywhere from $1.00 to $2.00 each.  This can make them somewhat expensive to use.  That is the bad news.  The good news is, that most summers, I can get them at produce stands for as little as .50 each.  That is when I stock up and freeze them.  Since we are in a drought situation this summer, I don’t know if I will be able to get red peppers for .50 this year, but I hope so.  If I can, I will be stocking up again.

Freezing red peppers is very easy and requires no additional work beyond chopping them up.  I chop mine into about 1/2-inch pieces, place the pieces on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze them overnight.  I then transfer the pepper pieces to a zip-top bag and remove whatever amount I want for the dish I am making.  This makes it so quick and easy.  I even toss a handful of the frozen red pepper pieces into salads just before serving.  They will thaw just enough to remain crunchy when the salad is eaten.

If you have never tried freezing red peppers, give it a try.   Of course, you can freeze any other color of bell pepper this way, too.  I just happen to love the red ones.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cornflake Marshmallow Cookies-Secret Recipe Club

Every month I look forward to getting the email with my blog assignment for Secret Recipe Club.  It means that I can go and secretly check out someone’s blog, choose some terrific recipes to try and post one here on Reveal Day.

My assignment this month was Sarah's Kitchen.  Sarah is a gal from Kent, England who now lives in Texas.  She became an American citizen in 2010.  Sarah has been blogging since 2008 so there were lots of wonderful recipes to choose from

Since we are great fans of cubed steak, I had to make Steak Fingers.  I made them with both beef and pork cubed steak, and we like them very much.

Always looking for new potato recipes, I found Fresno Potatoes and Greek Lemon Potatoes.  I also found No Knead Bread, Processor Danish Pastries, and Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes.  All of these recipes have something in common, and that is that they require baking in an oven.  Unfortunately, we have hade 100+ degree heat for some time now, and I certainly didn’t want to use the oven, so I won’t be making these until the heat cools down.

However, even though it is hot, the Cornflake Marshmallow Cookie recipe kept calling my name, and I finally succumbed even though it, too, requires the use of the oven.  I decided that I could make the Cornflake Crunch early in the day and bake the actual cookies late in the evening, which is what I did.

I had about 1 1/2 c. more Cornflake Crunch than I needed for the cookies.  It was very good just to munch on, but I have an idea to use it up which I will post later.  I was a little concerned about the amount of salt called for in the cookie part of the recipe so I reduced it to 3/4 t.

I used a 1/4 c. ice cream scoop to form my cookies so they were probably a bit smaller than Sarah’s cookies as she used 1/3 c. for each one.  I formed all my cookies and put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put that in the fridge to chill.  I put 4 cookies at a time on another parchment-lined baking sheet to bake.  The cookies spread a lot, so more than 4 cookies spread into each other.

It may have been my oven, but 375 degrees was too high, and the first pan of cookies burned.  I reduced the heat to 350 degrees, baked the cookies for 15 minutes and they came out perfect.  The cookies do need to sit a bit before they are removed from the pan.  I just very carefully slid the parchment paper with the cookies onto a counter, lined my baking sheet with a new piece of parchment paper and continued baking.  These are very BIG crispy, crunchy somewhat delicate cookies.  I suggest that they be served with a napkin to catch the crumbs.  They will certainly satisfy any cookie cravings you mightbe  having.

Go visit Sarah’s blog and find yourself some great recipes.

Cornflake Marshmallow Cookies
From Sarah’s Kitchen
Cornflake Crunch
5 c. corn flakes
1/2 c. dry milk powder
3 T. sugar
1 t. salt
9 T. butter, melted

1 c. butter (2 cubes), softened
1 1/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 to 1 1/2 t. salt (you choose)
3 c. Cornflake Crunch
2/3 c. mini chocolate chips
1 1/4 c. mini marshmallows

To make the Cornflake Crunch, place cornflakes in a large mixing bowl and crush well with you hands. Add the milk powder, sugar and salt.  Pour in the butter and stir until well blended. Spread mixture onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Then break up with your hands.

To make the cookies, put butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Cream together for 2 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat for 8 minutes  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir to blend.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.  Remove bowl from mixer and stir in Cornflake Crunch, chocolate chips and marshmallows with a spoon or spatula.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop 1/4 to 1/3 c. mounds onto the baking sheet.  Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350-375 degrees.  Remove 4 cookie mounds from fridge and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.  Let cool for at least  5 minutes before removing from baking sheet or carefully slide parchment paper onto a counter, cut a new piece of parchment paper and continue baking.

The cookies will be big-5 or 6 inches in diameter.  They are somewhat delicate so handle carefully.  Makes about 18 cookies.

You can find all the details about joining in the fun of Secret Recipe Club here.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Creamy Carrot Soup-Secret Recipe Club

Time again for Secret Recipe Club where I get to visit someone’s blog, pick a recipe from there and share it here.  This month the blog I visited was Why I Am Not Skinny.  Isn’t that a fun name?  This blog is written by Maxie, who is a South African living in Belgium.  She shares great recipe and fun restaurant reviews with really awesome photos that make you very hungry.

One of my favorite restaurants where I live is Black Angus Steakhouse so I thought It was interesting that there is a Dale’s Black Angus Restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa.  Although my Black Angus is quite upscale, it appears that the Cape Town Black Angus may be even more so.

The challenge with picking a recipe from a European blog is that matter of recipe ingredient conversion which I am not very good at.  Maxie does have imperial measurements for at least part of many of her recipes.  I am anxious to make the 137 Year Old Dutch Apple Cake and love the idea of Banana Chocolate French Toast for breakfast.

The recipe I picked to make and share is Carrot Soup from Maxie’s post 6 Carrots, 1 Onion Soup……Close Enough.  I love cooked carrots (hubby does not) and have thought about making carrot soup from time to time, but had never actually done it.  I liked this recipe because of the added potatoes, and it looked simple and easy, which it was.

Since I was making soup just for myself, I halved the recipe but am giving Maxie’s full recipe.  I used my immersion blender to blend the soup right in the saucepan.  The soup was very good “as is”, but would also make a great “jumping off point” for the addition of some spices ( I am thinking curry powder next time I make this) and some cooked, crumbled bacon or diced ham for a heartier main dish.  I loved the wonderful orange color, and will be making this again from time to time.

Creamy Carrot Soup
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
a blob of butter (I used a heaping tablespoon)
10 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 to 5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in large saucepan.  Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add carrots and potatoes.  Cover with chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 20 minutes until carrots and potatoes are tender.  Blend until smooth using an immersion blender or carefully pouring into a blender jar (this may need to be done in batches).  Season with salt and pepper.  Maxie suggests serving this with fresh bread slathered with butter.  This seems to make 4 or so generous servings.

If you think that you would like to join in the fun of Secret Recipe Club, you can find information about it here.

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