Thursday, May 26, 2011

Red, White and Blue Strawberries: Memorial Day Rewind

Are you picnicking this weekend? Do you need to bring a treat?  I don't know about the temperature where you are, but here in VA it's hot, and heating up the kitchen doesn't thrill me. These strawberries, however, do. I posted them last year, but a treat as quick, easy and summery as this one deserves repeating.

I saw these red, white and blue beauties on Baking Bites a while back and immediately thought of all of the occasions they'd be perfect for. Memorial Day? Fourth of July?  Any holiday that calls for a festive touch of red, white and blue would benefit from these luscious berries.

Make some to share while strawberries are still in season- I guarantee they'll be appreciated.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend- have fun and keep safe!

Red, White and Blue Strawberries
recipe from Baking Bites
You'll need:
Strawberries- As many as you plan to dip
1 pkg.white chocolate chips or white dipping chocolate (bark)- found with baking supplies
Blue sanding sugar or sprinkles (The kind you decorate cookies with)
  •  Wash your strawberries and let them dry thoroughly. Pat dry if necessary. Set aside.
  • Line a baking sheet or tray with wax paper or nonstick foil.
  •  Pour about half of the sanding sugar into a small bowl.
  • In another small bowl, melt white chocolate according to directions on package. I usually melt it in small increments in the microwave on low power until about 80% of it is melted. I then stir it until it is completely melted. If it is too thick, add about 1/2 teaspoon shortening (like Crisco) and stir until melted and smooth.
  • Holding a strawberry by the leaves on the stem end, dip into the white chocolate to cover about 2/3 of the berry. Let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. (If there's a "glob" of chocolate on the end of the berry, scrape it off onto the side of the bowl.)
  • Dip the bottom third of the chocolate covered berry into the blue sanding sugar.
  • Carefully place each berry onto the prepared tray or baking sheet to set.  (They will set quicker in the refrigerator.) Refrigerate until time to serve. These are best served the same day they are prepared!

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Black Bean Enchiladas with Salsa Verde and Sweet Corn Salsa

         Ole! Can you pretend it's Cinco de Mayo? I can if these tasty enchiladas are concerned. They're filled with creamy cheese and black beans, and spiced up with chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Nestled in homemade salsa verde made from roast poblanos and tomatillos, they're baked with queso fresco and then topped with sweet corn salsa.

         Full of fresh flavor, these enchiladas are simple enough for a family dinner, but impressive enough for company. Pair them with a nice salad and some chips for dipping into either of the two fresh salsas, and you have a feast. Or should I say fiesta?

    Black Bean Enchiladas with Salsa Verde and Sweet Corn Salsa
    slightly adapted from Cuisine at Home, April 2004
    2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tsp. dried oregano (use fresh if you have it)
    1 chipotle pepper, in adobo sauce
    1 Tablespoon adobo sauce
    1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    1/4 cup chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
    1/2 cup asadero or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
    8 six-inch corn tortillas
    2 Tablespoons olive oil
    2 cups Salsa Verde (recipe follows)
    1/2 cup queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled

    • Preheat oven to 400F. Saute onion for 3 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and saute one minute more. 
    • Puree half of the beans, the chipotle, the adobo sauce and the salt in a food processor. 
    • Combine the onion mixture, the remaining whole beans, the broth and shredded cheese with the bean puree.
    • Assemble enchiladas: Put one cup of Salsa Verde in the bottom of a casserole dish. Fry tortillas in oil until flexible. Dip one side of each tortilla into the sauce in the bottom of the dish. Fill tortilla (un-dipped side) with a generous 1/3 cup of bean mixture, roll up and place into casserole dish seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. 
    • Top filled tortillas with an additional cup of Salsa Verde and the crumbled cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve with Sweet Corn Salsa (recipe follows.)

    Salsa Verde (This is also great with chips!)
    1 lb. tomatillos, husked and halved
    2 poblano chiles, halved and seeded
    1/2 cup onion, chopped
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
    1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 cup chicken broth (I used vegetable broth.)
    Place prepared poblano chiles and tomatillos on baking sheet. Broil for 10 minutes. The skin of the peppers will blister and blacken. Remove the peppers to a resealable plastic bag immediately after broiling. Let them steam in the bag for 10 minutes. Remove peppers from the bag and peel off the skin.
    Meanwhile, saute onions in olive oil for three minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
    Place tomatillos, peeled poblanos, sauteed onions and garlic into food processor and pulse until chopped. Add herbs, lime juice and salt. Gradually add broth and process until smooth.

    Sweet Corn Salsa
    1 cup sweet corn kernels (canned, frozen will work fine)
    1 avocado, diced
    1 tomato, diced
    1/4 cup red onion, diced
    2 tsp. jalapeno pepper, minced (Use less if you don't like your salsa spicy!)
    1small handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
    Juice of 1/2 lime
    Mix all ingredients, and serve with black bean enchiladas. (It's great with chips too!)

    This post is linked to Savory Sunday at Eating in Winnipeg.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Curried Turkey Wraps

        Are you in a brown bag rut?  I admit that I am. Peanut butter and jelly is always a quick and easy option for a workday lunch, but it does get tiresome after a while. I'm always on the lookout for tasty alternatives that are quick and easy to put together, and also satisfying enough to keep hunger pangs away all afternoon.

         I found the recipe for these wraps in an old Cuisine at Home magazine as I was browsing at my favorite thrift store. Thankfully, it turned out to be a delightful change from my usual lunchtime fare.  The curried cranberry-apricot cream cheese spread paired with thinly sliced turkey made the perfect sweet-savory combination, while the cucumber and lettuce gave it just the right toothsome crunch. Paired with an apple, it was just enough to keep me on my toes until the three o'clock bell.
          Wraps are definitely one lunchtime option worth further investigation. They're easy to customize according to your tastes, and also to what's in your refrigerator. What's your favorite brown bag lunch?  I'm always open to suggestions!

    Curried Turkey Wraps
    recipe from Cuisine at Home, June 2004
    4 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
    1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
    1/2 tsp. curry powder
    2 Tablespoons apricot jam (I used my habanero gold jam.)
    Juice of 1/2 lime
    4 (12 inch) flour tortillas
    6-8 leaves red lettuce
    8 oz. deli-style roast turkey, thinly sliced
    1 cup cucumber: seeded and thinly sliced (I used an English hothouse cucumber.)
    1/2 cup cilantro leaves (optional)
    • Combine cream cheese, chopped cranberries, apricot jam and lime juice.
    • Warm tortillas gently in a dry skillet until soft and pliable.
    • Spread 1/4 of the cream cheese mixture on one tortilla. 
    • Layer lettuce, turkey, cucumber and cilantro on top of lettuce. (To keep fillings from squeezing out, leave the top edge of the tortilla filling-free, then roll it up from the bottom.)
    • Roll up tightly, and then cut in half at an angle.
    • Repeat with remaining tortillas.

    Project LunchBox –

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Springtime Sugar Cookies

         Maybe a little late for Easter, but just in time for Mother's Day! These simple butter cookies in springtime shapes are a welcome addition to any celebration. My grandson and I made them last week, and they hardly lasted long enough to cool. Decorated simply with colored sugar, they were a snap to make and even easier to eat. A simple sugar cookie with a cup of tea (or a tall glass of cold milk) is a classic treat that never goes out of fashion!

          I made these with my go-to sugar cookie recipe from Betty Crocker. The dough is easy to work with and it produces a tender cookie that's flavored with a hint of almond extract. This cookie is not too sweet, and lends itself perfectly to being eaten either plain, frosted, or with a sprinkling of colored sugar.  You need to make the dough ahead of time to give it time to chill- I like to do this the night before I make the cookies. This dough freezes well, and is good to keep on hand for cookie emergencies. (You have those sometimes, don't you?)

         My grandson and his family have flown the coop and are back in Texas now, so I'll have to do my baking solo for a while. If you can find a willing baking assistant (or even if you can't) I recommend that you whip up a batch of these for your afternoon snack-time enjoyment. You can find the recipe here:  Ultimate Sugar Cookie Recipe from Betty Crocker.

    This post is linked to Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Bavarian Peach Torte

         Sigh. Bandwidth issues have been my nemesis for the last couple of weeks. It seems that we exceeded our maximum bandwidth allowance and our internet connection speed got slowed down to a c.r.a.w.l. until the bandwidth police decided we had been without it for a sufficient amount of time.

         As I was wondering whether or not I should make a trip into town to find some free WiFi so I could share this luscious torte with you,  I got the best birthday surprise ever! My son, daughter in law and grandson drove all the way from Texas to surprise me for my birthday! (Insert tears and an extremely happy Mimi here.) And since they've been here, I have to admit that I haven't missed my computer a bit. We've been spending time together and having loads of fun. I mean, who could miss their internet when they've got Sherlock Jones to hang out with? Seriously.

          My little baking assistant and I have been spending time in the kitchen though. We made this luscious torte not once, but twice. Why? Cinnamon and sugar coated peaches nestled in a dreamy cream cheese filling, all wrapped up in a nut filled crust, that's why!  This recipe comes from my friend/neighbor/colleague Kathy, who got it from her Aunt Betty, and it's been a birthday favorite in her family for years. It's good the first day, and even better the second. I can't attest to how it is after that, because it never lasted any longer!

          My bandwidth has finally been restored so I'll be cautiously catching up with everybody soon. I'm anxious to find out what everyone has been up to!

    Bavarian Peach Torte
    recipe from Kathy (and her Aunt Betty)

    Ingredients for crust:
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1/3 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup flour
    1/4 tsp. vanilla
    2/3 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped very finely (I bet almonds would be good too!) 

    Ingredients for filling:
    8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
    1 egg
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    20 oz. can of sliced peaches, drained

    Instructions for crust:
    In large bowl, beat butter, 1/3 c. sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until well blended. Gradually add flour until well mixed. Stir in nuts. With lightly floured hands, press mixture into bottom and 1" up sides of 10" springform pan.

    Instructions for filling:
    • In small bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. 
    • Beat in egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until just blended. Pour into crust. 
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
    • In large bowl, combine 1 tsp sugar and cinnamon. Add peach slices and toss gently. 
    • Arrange peach slices on top of cream cheese mixture. 
    • Bake 35 minutes, or until cream cheese mixture is set. 
    • Cool torte in pan 20 min, then carefully remove sides. Serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold. 
    I'm linking this post to Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies.
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