Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shower Perfect

It seems that people everywhere are having babies, taking care of their children, adopting children, etc.  Well, I guess that would be an obvious statement! But really, there are many bloggers out there who are expecting, some quite soon!  :-)  Last year, the pediatric department had a baby boom of our own.  We like any excuse to have a party, so there were quite a few baby showers!  When I got the Southern Living Cookie cookbook, there were a couple of recipes that looked perfect for a shower. 

In May, I had the chance to make one of those when we had a shower for Whitney (who has now given birth to Mr. Hudson). These turned out great!  They were light and airy with just the perfect citrus flavor.  I love these kind of desserts simply because of the crust; unfortunately, I overbaked this one just a bit.  If given more time, I could have dressed these up a bit, but May was a busy month.  These would be perfect at any shower, but especially if the gender of the baby is unknown or is such a great neutral color!  Check this one out!

Key Lime Bars with Macadamia Crust from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
7 tablespoons butter, cut
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Key lime juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons Key lime juice
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
food coloring - optional, I did use it
2 1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped (pretty sure I used only 2 cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 13X9 pan with aluminum foil.  Blend flour, brown sugar, nuts, butter, and salt in a food processor until nuts are ground.  Press into prepared pan.  Bake for 18 minutes or until just golden.  Cool.

Place sugar and 1/2 cup lime juice in a sauce pan until sugar dissolves.  Remove and set aside.  Sprinkle gelatin over the 2 T lime juice and let sit for 3-5 minutes.  Combine these two and stir until gelatin dissolves.  Whisk in sweetened condensed milk.  If using food coloring add 1 drop green and 3 drops yellow (I think I ended up adding an extra green drop!).  Place the bowl containing this mixture into a large bowl filled with ice and whisk for 10 minutes or until beginning to set.

Whip cream.  Then fold lime mixture into whipped cream.  Pour this over the baked, cooled crust and chill in refrigerator for 8 hours.  When ready to serve, lift carefully out of pan and cut into desired shape.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Third Time's a Charm

When the Daring Baker Challenge was announced for this month, I thought it would be something fun to try...but I didn't have any "event" to take it to.  Then, I figured, why do I need an event?  I'll just take it to work and share with everyone there.  Um, by the end of the day, the whole thing was gone!  I think it was a success. 

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.  I used one of my days off to make this.  All in all it did not take that long...except that I had to make the pastry cream THREE times!  All of this was my fault, though. 

The first time, I uses WAY too much water (didn't realize there was a defined measurement) in the gelatin.  Yeah, that "cream" became SOUP!  The second time, I was ready to be done, and didn't wait for the hot custard to cool before adding the whipped cream.  That caused the cream to deflate and it was just too thin to hold up.  Third time, I followed the directions (almost) completely...I didn't use a double boiler!  It worked this time.  There is a REASON why certain things are done certain ways!!! 

Anyway, it ended in a beautiful frasier that everyone enjoyed.  I think I'd do something like this again, though I must favorite part of this is the VERY top part of the cake where it has soaked up the simple syrup and soaked in the cream.  Soft and sweet!  YES!  Thanks for a great challenge.

Basic Chiffon Cake:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks (save the whites!)
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).  Prepare a springform not spray the sides!

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla. Whisk thoroughly.  Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.

Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.  Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack. Unmold the cake by running a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper if used. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Pastry Cream Filling:

1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm)cornstarch
1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm) gelatin
1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml) water
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) heavy cream

Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine  Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.  When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.  Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.   Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.

Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.

In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.  Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.  Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches. (I acutally heated in the microwave!!!) 

In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

Simple Syrup
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.  Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Assembly of Frasier

Line the sides of a spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.  Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.

Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake. Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup. Dust the top with powdered sugar.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Changing Things Up

Today would normally be my Eat. Live. Be. post.  Outside of last Monday, I have posted every Monday since the first one of the year.  That is seven months of Monday posts.  I do like having some sort of event making me post.  However, I think all of us Eat. Live. Be-ers are running out of steam.  So, we're changing things up!  Instead of weekly posts, we will be doing monthly posts.  Hopefully, that doesn't mean my posts will be just means they will occur on different days. 

If you'll remember, my goal was to cook at least twice a month.  I did a pretty good job through May, but last month just caught up with me...and this month, well, let's just say that I finally had a day off where the whole day was a "me" day.  I have made a yummy looking veggie/pasta salad that I'll be sharing with you's just too good to keep to myself!  Maybe I'll even make something else a little later before I go to my church's prayer conference.  THAT is a refreshing thing in the middle of my busy NICU LAST NICU month.  I'm kind of sad about that, will miss those sweet babies.  I've had several people say maybe I should just do NICU, but I feel like I'd miss those sweet toddlers and five year-olds, too.  Guess I like to change things up! 

Anyway, I made this dish a couple of months ago.  It was pretty good but I didn't have any curry paste; so, I changed things up and just used dried curry powder.  Unfortunately, the tomatoes that I used were spicy, so I couldn't really taste the curry.  Overall, it was a tasty dish.  Miss Rachael Ray did a good job on this one.  She served it with lemon rice, but I used couscous. 

Eggplant Chickpea Curry adapted from Rachael Ray
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped
1 squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 (14-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, drained
Salt and pepper
1.5-2 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup chicken stock
2 green onions, sliced

Heat a deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Add onion, garlic, eggplant and bell pepper. Cover and cook stirring occasionally 7 to 8 minutes until tender. Uncover and add the tomatoes, chick peas, salt, pepper, curry powder and remaining 1 cup chicken stock. Simmer 6 to 7 minutes longer. Top with green onion and serve over rice or cousous.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blueberry Banana Bread

Wow!  Sorry I missed my last Eat. Live. Be. post.  I just couldn't post.  I left work late because I had to stay and put a chest tube in one of my patients and then compile some information for research I'm doing.  Then I had call Tuesday night...super busy!  There were FOUR deliveries requiring NICU attendance between 1230 and 4am.  Needless to say, on Wednesday, I crashed.  And now, it is Thursday!  A couple of weeks ago, I had some leftover bananas to use.  I saw this recipe for a while wheat, blueberry banana bread and decided to try it.  Oh, and did I mention that it uses olive oil? 

Little did I realize that this recipe was from Ari, formerly of Baking and Books!  Such fun to find an old favorite in a new place.  :-)  The bread was great.  Not overly sweet but just perfect.  Also a plus was that it COOKED through. I have issues with banana bread in my oven but this one worked.  The only advice I would give is to eat it quickly, share it, or freeze if you can't finish in a few days.  I think the addition of the blueberries makes it get sticky/friendly more quickly than usual.  Thanks for a great recipe, Ari!

Whole Wheat Banana Blueberry Bread adapted from Ari at Sweet Happy Life
Makes 1 loaf
■1/2 cup olive oil, I used about 1/3 cup
■1/2 cup light brown sugar
■1/4 cup granulated white sugar
■1 cup whole wheat flour*
■1/2 cup all-purpose flour
■2 large eggs
■1 teaspoon baking soda
■1 teaspoon salt
■1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 1 large banana)
■1 cup yogurt, I used fat free
■1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
■1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen but fresh is better)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine the olive oil, sugars, eggs, bananas, yogurt and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix until just combined, then fold in the blueberries.  (If you REALLY want to be good, mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before mixing into the we ingredients.)

Pour the batter into your pan. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, mine took full time. Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on a rack to cool.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

That is SOOOOO good!

As someone who loves to share my cooking, this is something that I LOVE to hear! I think everyone needs to hear compliments every so often. It helps us to feel good, confirms we are doing what we should, and, in a way, helps keep us humble. Today, for Eat. Live. Be., we are supposed to talk about compliments were have received.

One of my favorite compliments, one I will probably always remember, was a simple one that occurred on my birthday of my freshman year in college. I was in the cafeteria and one of the guys I knew from church, a senior friend saw me. He just simply looked at me and said "Claire, you look beautiful today." Now, people will say, "Awww, you look so pretty," or "Your dress is so cute," etc.; but for some reason, hearing "beautiful" made a big made my day! And this guy is one of the most genuine people you will meet; his comment was simple a superficial one, it meant more...and it has stuck with me!

On the other hand, the compliments that have meant most to me recently relate to my job. When parents tell you that they appreciate the care that you have provided their child, that they would recommend you to their friends, it really humbles you. In a way, those are hard compliments to accept; it is my JOB to take care of children; it is what I'm called to do. I'm called to do the best I can and to do all to the glory of God. Yet, to the families of the children that I take care of, it is a BIG DEAL! I think that, in a way, I will always feel uncomfortable when I receive those compliments, and I don't think that is a bad thing. If I get used to it, I'm becoming prideful and (pardon the Souther phrase) "too big for my britches!" What compliments have meant a lot to you? Are there any compliments that remind you of what you are supposed to be doing?

On the other hand, when someone tells me that what I have made is SOOO does make me smile! I like it! This is another treat I made a couple of months ago for call. It's one of those yummy bars that uses sweetened condensed milk (YES!!!) and has a great oat crust (YES again!!!). Add dark chocolate M&M's to've got a winner. And, yes, it's from my Souther Living Cookie cookbook. Try it!

Oat Candy Bars from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups M&M's, divided
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 375. Combine oats, flour, sugar, pecans, soda, and salt - mix well. Add melted butter and stir well until mixed and crumbly. Resever 1 1/2 cups of mixture. Press remaining crumbs into a 15 X 10 jelly roll pan. I put aluminum foil in the bottom of my pan and then spray with cooking spray. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Cool. Reduce heat in oven to 350.

Place 1 cup M&Ms in bowl and microwave for 1 minute; stir after 30 seconds. Break candy with the back of a spoon. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Spread this over the baked crust with 1/2 inch border on the sides.

Combine the 1/2 cup M&Ms remaining with the rest of the crumbs. Sprinkle this evenly over the bars and press in slightly. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Cool completely and then cut into bar. Enjoy!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Freedom and Blueberries

Happy July 4th!  I hope that everyone has had a great day!  I came home from call and took a nap and then just relaxed at home.  I have a recipe for blueberry bread pudding to share,

 but first Eat. Live. Be.  Today for Eat. Live. Be. we are supposed to talk about what we can't live without.  There are a lot of things I could think of to say but, in reality, I could live without them.  Today we celebrate the freedom that we enjoy in our country, and I am SO thankful and blessed to be living here, for the freedom we have, and for those who serve to protect that freedom.  But there is a greater freedom that I am more thankful for...that I could not live without, that is the freedom from sin that we are given through Jesus Christ if we but believe that He is our only hope.  Yes, this is a great country and we are given many freedoms, but all of us sin. The cost of that, in the end, is death.  However, through the sacrifice Jesus offerred to ALL of us on the cross with His death, we can experience freedom from the cost of sin and have LIFE!  It doesn't come from anything I can do or you can do; that's not enough!  Freedom come through believing that Jesus lives and gave Himself so that we can live. 

A week ago, we had a going away party for one of my dear friends who is going to spend the next two years in Africa sharing that gift of life and freedom.  I will miss her SO much! 

As odd as it sounds...we had a fiesta for her (before going to Africa); but, she teaches Spanish, so it was appropriate!  I took a bean and avacado salad that was pretty good, but ended up getting a little grainy overnight.  I guess the dressing didn't work well with the beans; I think they burst open leading to the graininess.  BUT, in honor of our country's birthday I share with you the dessert that I took.  I had a lot of blueberries leftover from a visit to Sam's Club and decided to use them in a yummy blueberry bread pudding by Emeril. 

I have never made bread pudding in dessert form and decided that this was the perfect opportunity.  It turned out great!  I left with an empty dish...which is how I like it.  I was surprised how quickly it came together.  I only let it soak for an hour.  Most recipes I've seen have called for an overnight soak. 

The only thing that I noticed was that I could not tell there were white chocolate chips in the pudding.  They just melted into the dessert.  I feel like a white chocoalte sauce might have been better. All in all, though, it was great!  This is my entry for Lisa's Sweets for a Saturday.

Blueberry Bread Pudding adapted from Emeril Lagasse from Food Network
4 large eggs
1 cups half and half
3 cups milk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups 1/2-inch cubes day-old bread
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add the bread, chocolate, blueberries, and dried blueberries and stir well, then mix in the melted butter. Let sit for 30 minutes (I did it for an hours) so the bread will absorb the egg mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter or spray a 10X14 baking dish.  Pour into the prepared dish. Bake until firm when pressed in the center, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack until just warm, about 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Sarah Caron -
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