Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Food Cravings...and a New Week!

The Big Red Bold Burger

It's been exactly one week, since yesterday that I had to part from my sweet kitty, Prince...things have not been the same. I have been just in a state of "disbelief" that I actually made that decision to have his life ended, feeling guilty...yet relieved!

I am so thankful, and grateful to all of you who have commented, comforted, and shared your heartfelt stories about your beloved pets that you have lost, as well. It is such a sad feeling, an emptiness in your heart, in your home, that you feel for a long time to come...yet, knowing that this is the "cycle of life" that our pets, just like us have to endure. Just as we will be called to pass through those golden gates to heaven...our pets are also called to their final resting homes...this is an assurance that I know, and that we will all be together, someday!

Some of you have noticed that I've been pinning a lot on PINTEREST, working on my board, to add more. I love PINTEREST; did not think that I would get so hooked on it! I do have a board on it, called; Food Cravings, and this amazing burger called...The Big Red Bold Burger from amazing sandwiches, is one of my cravings!
Oven Fried Onion Rings

You can't just have a burger without fries and onion rings...so at least go for the healthier version...Oven Fried Onion Rings, courtesy of Pinterest  I will have to google the recipe for this, as well!

Sweet Potato Fries Baked

If you're going to have fries, might as well choose a healthier version, which is the Sweet Potato Fries, Baked, courtesy of natural noshing...yumm

Honey Almond Ice Cream




















Honey Almond Ice cream, courtesy of a sweet simple life and Caramel Espresso Bars?...a match made in heaven!

Finally, I would want to have a piece of the amazing Caramel Espresso Bars from my good friend Lizzy @that skinny chick can bake....now, we are getting closer to home, where you can actually find her recipe!


As you can see, this is not your Weight Watchers foods, or desserts, I have given that up a few months ago since my Prince has become so ill...although, I still know the points that I'm allowed; I also have the little WW calculator to figure the points...actually, did figure out how many points are in an all beef Hebrew National hot dog...4 points; and in a hot dog bun...3 points. Well, that's what I had yesterday...2 hot dogs, and a side of deli coleslaw. I declined my invite for the cookout at my daughter's...stayed at home all day...went downstairs, to check out the ocean, and went for a walk on the beach, and later went swimming in the pool...and read one of my old Bon Appetit cooking magazines from 1999!...So, all in all, it wasn't such a bad day.
Hope you all had a very nice Memorial Day weekend!

...Don't go away, yet... I have some awesome, and important thing to share with you!



Yesterday turned out to be a gorgeous, sunny, (partly cloudy) and breezy day, the high of 86 degrees F. in South Florida! (Palm Beach) I decided to take a little walk...hardly any people on the private beach...(snowbirds gone back north)...no vacationers, at least not around here!
As you can see, there's only one person up ahead in the distance, and this is at 1:00pm in the afternoon; not if like they have all gone to lunch!...just a quiet, and empty beach is what I needed to gather my thoughts and recite some prayers quietly to myself and the universe! 
As I'm watching the gentle waves...of course, not going into the water, in fear of "undercurrents" ...just the other day, they had to pull a few people from the ocean because they were stuck in the undercurrents, and that is very, dangerous where it could pull you under in a "snap of a moment" and ...be gone...washed away in the currents! (it happened in another part of the state)
Finally, as I was walking...I stumbled upon one flip-flop...not just an ordinary flip-flop, but what looks like an expensive brand...a mens' flip-flop that has been washed ashore. With all the time on my hands, I began to wonder? Where did this come from...is it local?...always just one flip-flop!...What happens to all these washed ashore items, as in plastic bottles, containers, and tons, and tons, of debris washed ashore. I know, in our area it get cleaned up...but what about, all the rest?...so; later I decide to google about flip-flops being washed ashore...and this is what I found!
This is an exhibition site of a fabulous art of several discarded debris...such as flip-flops, plastic, to design ART out of it!
Now isn't this so awesome, wonderful?
For more information, check out this website...absolutely, amazing!
Washed Ashore plastics, sea life and art Global Tour 

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Popovers...and Good Bye!

No...I'm not saying Good Bye...although, I wanted to take a break, which I did for a week, and then again, just recently, with all the stress and making my final decision to have my precious, and loyal companion, Prince, my beautiful Maine Coon kitty. On Monday, May 21st, we had to part and say our last "Good Byes." I will tell you more about it at the end of my post. After all, this is a blog about food, and thrift, and I should concentrate on these, but it's very, very, difficult to do so while my heart is weighing so heavy with grief!

Since this Monday, I don't know how I functioned...well, not so good! I'm glad I had my guest post ready for Ping by last Sunday evening, and another 2 guest posts for the month of June for Lizzy, and Veronica. You know how it is with some people? When they are stressed and under pressure, they shop, and shop!

I also do that...did that in the past, spending money needlessly for some things that I didn't need. The only difference for the last 10 years, I have learned how to budget, save money, and shop wisely.

Thrift shopping is such a fun thing to do, especially when you find useful, expensive, sometimes practically all new items, for fraction of the cost that you would pay full cost. Just take a look at this cool popover separated cups...very heavy duty, and non-stick...it really was brand new, but I only paid $2.99 for it at my local Goodwill. I think you can even make mini cakes, or muffins in them...very, practical, and useful! I also found a great Bread Book, a soft covered 1983 HPBooks that has amazing yeasted breads and rolls, just don't know how the Popover recipe ended up in this book. It certainly does not have any yeast, and it oh, so easy to make.I love the breads, rolls, and biscuit recipes in this book. The cost?...$1.49 for a beautiful book with photos, instructions and great bread recipes! I also order amazing books from Amazon.com...just love, love all the things they have on Amazon!


Popovers
adapted; from HPBooks Breads

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Generously butter (I used cooking spray) 8 (5-to 6-ounces) custard cups, or 10 muffin cups, or 6 popover cups. Place custard cups on a heavy baking sheet. Place muffin cups, popover cups or baking sheet on center rack of oven.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. (230C) Combine all ingredients in a BLENDER. (seriously, a blender.) You can use a food processor or small bowl of electric mixer. Blend until batter is smooth, scraping sides of container, if necessary. Remove hot baking cups from oven; spoon in batter until 2/3 full. Immediately return filled cups to oven. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. (175 C) Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until browned.

Run a knife around edge of baking cups to loosen popovers.

Note: After batter is prepared, it can be stored at room temp.. for 2 to 3 hrs. before baking. Keep oven door closed during the first 30 minutes of baking.  A draft will collapse popovers. Popovers have a moist interior. It's important that you have the milk and eggs at room temperature, and the popover, or muffin pans preheated.

My beloved kitty, Prince has ended his life on Monday afternoon, on May 21, 2012...after a long illness that he has endured for the last 2 years. He was my constant companion for the last 15 of his almost 20 years. My daughter is the one who originally had him for the first 5 years, after finding him at her apartment, during her early college days.
Prince has been  a loyal companion to all of us...a very sweet, intelligent kitty. He has literally wasted away at the end, and I insisted that I will not have him put down as long as he is able to eat, and be able to walk. A sudden change came over the last weekend...on Monday, he refused to eat, and his poor legs gave out after a few steps. I knew right there that I have to quickly make the choice. I was able to comfort him, and say my last Good Bye...as did my daughter, and grandchildren, when I brought Prince over to Dr. Eric, as instructed. He will surely be missed by all of us. I did all I could to keep him comfortable, and prolong his days...but there's a higher power, who decides the end is here!

IS THERE A PET HEAVEN?
While there is no decisive answer to the question, “Is there a pet heaven?” a few things are clear indeed. First, pets bring tremendous joy to their owners, and can teach them a great deal about compassion, kindness, and mercy. Second, many pets live their whole lives in the service of their owners, trying to please them, make them happy, and cheer them up when they need it. Third, if there is a heaven, then there is a God, and they are His creatures. All of these things give tremendous plausibility to the idea that.... yes, there is a pet heaven, waiting for all of the good animals, after they die!

Photo of my beloved Prince...at the young age of 5, when he came to live with me...nearly 15 years ago! May you rest in peace...you will always be in our hearts!



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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pudding...a Guest Post

It's beautiful spring, everywhere...although here, in South Florida we do not know the difference, because for us, as they say "spring has sprung"...and it sprung quite early which we consider a truly spring weather, was back in February, and March. Even April is very nice, but soon as May is around the corner, our summer has begun, just like for all you folks up north. I hear it's about in the upper 80's in Cleveland, my old home town...less than what we have here today, in the low 80's.

Enough, about the weather. What I really would like to mention is my guest post for my dear friend Ping! Would you believe that when I first met her and we started following each other's blogs, which is almost 2 years for me...I was calling her blog Ping's Picklings...as in pickle?...she graciously corrected me that it's PICKINGS, and not the pickle kind!


I am so thrilled and honored to guest post for my dear friend Ping, whom I had the pleasure of meeting since we both started our food blogs, nearly two years ago... and have been supporting each other throughout the entire time. Ping has a meticulous food blog, and is very specific about her photos...no more than one, or two, and always a specific size...unlike my photos, which vary in sizes, and step-by-step directions when time permits. Ping has an amazing sense of humor, and always has the right thing to say, on any subject given...only in a "lighthearted" way! Her photos are always perfect, and immaculate, her choice of dishes, desserts, and baked goods are "dropped dead" gorgeous, and makes you want to see, and get more! She is kind, and caring, and you will feel blessed to have her as a friend...a beautiful friend, indeed!

Thank you Ping for asking me to guest post..."the second time around!" 


For my recipe...just click over to  Ping's lovely blog @ Ping's Pickings

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mango Jelly Roll...a Guest Post

I finally have the privilege of introducing my sweet daughter, Lora @ Cake Duchess ...who is so kind to guest post for me, which I have already mentioned about 1 month ago when I had my hand injury. She already had this wonderful jelly roll ready for me but we just could not get together on the same day to post it. Be sure to check out Lora's lovely blog...and probably know her and follow her blog!

She is so very busy...like all young moms with work, kids, school, and all her own cooking and baking projects.
Lora, I'm so thrilled, and honored to have you guest post for me, and taking time out from your busy schedule and your amazing blog. I'm so proud to have you as my daughter!
xoxo

I have totally forgotten about my mango jam, that I make every summer, and it lasts for several months the way I carefully can it, and to make sure that it's properly sealed. Without further hesitation, here is Lora, and in her own words!


It’s such a pleasure to be guest posting on my mom’s blog. She’s an amazing woman and she was my first cooking inspiration.  She still inspires me every day with her creativity in cooking and in baking. I owe my love of cooking to my sweet mom. She’s taught me invaluable lessons in the kitchen that I am now teaching to my children.

The jelly roll is a recipe that brings back many memories for me. My mother’s aunt from Hungary used to make it very often. It was light as a feather and filled with her wonderful homemade jams. She was an expert at baking delicious Hungarian desserts. I have sweet memories of baking alongside my great-aunt with my mom.

Every summer my mom makes the most wonderful mango jam with the mangos from our tree. I thought it was about time to bake with some of it as our tree is filled again with more glorious mangos. You can fill the cake with your favorite jam or even some whipped cream and fresh berries.

Thank you very much for having me guest post today, mom. It’s a joy to be a part of your delicious blog.

Elisabeth's home made mango jam


Mango Jelly Roll:
 
This recipe makes enough for one 18″ x 13″ sheet  or one 9″ cake. Here’s the formula:
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter (preferably clarified)
½ teaspoon salt
6 eggs
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Filling:
1 cup mango jam (or your favorite preserves)
Preheat your oven to 350. 
Set a saucepan big enough to hold your mixer bowl on the stove with an inch of water in it. Bring it to a simmer. Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together into a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside. 
Pour the sugar into the mixer bowl, add the eggs and whisk to combine. Set the mixer bowl over the pan of water and heat the mixture until it’s warm to the touch (no more than 120 degrees). What you’re trying to do is simply melt the sugar…don’t cook the eggs! It’ll only take a minute or so. 
Remove the bowl from the heat and, using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture on medium high until it’s very light and foamy, about triple its original volume (this will take up to ten minutes with a stand mixer). Add the vanilla and beat an additional 10-15 seconds. 
Pour a cup or so of the egg foam into the cooled melted butter and stir it until it’s completely incorporated, then gently pour the mixture back into the mixer bowl (this eases the incorporation of the butter into the batter). Next, sprinkle the flour mixture into the mixer bowl and carefully fold until the flour mixture and the butter mixture are completely incorporated. Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until the cake is a pale gold color and springs back lightly when touched. Bake cake until golden brown and springy to the touch, 6 to 7 minutes. Run a knife around sides of cake. Invert onto prepared towel, and remove parchment. 
While the sheet cake is still warm, gently roll, starting from one short side, into a log, incorporating the kitchen towel. Let the cake cool completely, rolled. (This will give the cake a "shape memory," so it will be easier to roll again with filling.)


Time to fill: Unroll cake.
Spread filling over cake leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Carefully roll cake to enclose filling (without towel), starting at a short end. Refrigerate 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours). Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Spicy Red Bean Stew

Do you sometimes just browse through blogs, from other blogs, by just clicking over to a blog with s "shout-out?"...well, I do that quite a lot lately, and get so distracted with what I was originally set out to do.
I was recently commenting on a blog...trying to comment on a blog, that did not happen, and I got "sidetracked" to another blog, that caught my eye...such as this Spicy Red Bean Stew!

I'm linking the recipe to the blog, where I have spotted this wonderful spicy Israeli Red Bean Stew, that actually reminds me of chili...a vegetarian version...and oh, by the way, I just found this awesome small "bean crocks"...set of 2, at Goodwill for a ridiculous 79 cents each!
Without any further ado, please check out this blog for the recipe, all the way from Israel!
 Mimi, @ Israeli Kitchen
The only adaptation I made...was, that I chopped 1/2 of a green pepper, and used 2- 15 oz. cans of Red Gold diced tomatoes. I also thickened the bean stew, as I usually do, with removing 3/4 cup of the liquid from the stew, and adding 3Tbsp. of flour, mixing it smooth, and adding it back into the pot! I must say this is as "good as it gets"...
Do Not use canned beans, as Mimi suggested not to, as well. You don't want to miss out on the special nutrients, that only comes from the dried beans.
For the recipe; click here>>>Spicy Red Bean Stew
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Thank you for all your good wishes, about my hands injury...it's been about nearly one month now, and I'm just about all healed now. You all have been so kind and caring, and I do appreciate your thoughtfulness. No fun getting a nasty bite from your own pet (cat)...but you have to be understanding of the situation, and take care of the bite immediately, because infection sets in right away...which in my case it did, but it's all good now, and Prince is still around, 90% blind, from cataract, and almost deaf, but still is eating, and has not other issues other than being very, very frail and thin...still a trooper, still getting around, amazingly knowing where his food is, and his favorite lounging places (sometimes missing the jump to the bed, and sofa)...other than that he is still around, being guided by the younger little Persian kitty, that entertains him and sits by him when I'm not home! That's what I call a real "buddy!"

Happy Mother's Day!

To all mothers, grandmothers, step-mothers, and soon-to-be-mothers...may you have a lovely day full of sunshine, happiness, and much love... that you so, deserve!
Cheers!

My Mango Daiquiri recipe ...(with, or without the alcohol)
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Monday, May 7, 2012

Whole Wheat Focaccia...for #Breaking Bread

I love to bake a nice focaccia every now-and-then; but this time I was eager to bake an entirely different one than my usual simple rosemary focaccia. Just did not have my own recipe for a different focaccia, and I'm sure you are the same way as I am, that at that very moment, you are not going to go through all your cookbooks to look for a certain recipe...so in my case...just go to the "heart of the matter" which is get a trusty library book on the certain item you want to make. Internet is always helpful, but borrowing a beautiful book with pictures and plenty of recipes is much more helpful!
Linking to: Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage 

Now that I finally baked this delicious and healthy whole wheat focaccia, Lora formed the group Breaking Bread Society with her friends Shulie, from Food Wanderings and Marnely from Cooking with Books. What a fun baking with yeast ventures! I'm proud and happy to link it to the
#Breaking Bread to Lora (daughter) @Cake Duchess who is this month's hostess.
Just look at this lovely coarsely chopped walnut, and caramelized onion infusion with fresh rosemary nestled in the little pockets along with the extra virgin olive oil, bake to a crispy-crunchy top, and a soft delicious texture on the inside!
As you know, focaccia is associate with Liguria, Italy and its capital city of Genoa. There are many ways to top focaccia, as there are to top pizza...but because focaccia takes (to bake than pizza, it is important to follow the topping guidelines to protect against burning.

Whole Wheat Focaccia
adapted from;Whole Grain Breads by: Peter Reinhart

4 cups (510g.) whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt (I used 1 1/2)
1 1/4 teaspoons (4 g.) instant yeast (I used 1 envelope)
2 cups +2 Tbsp. (482 g) water. at room temperature
1 1/1 teaspoons honey, or agave nectar or brown sugar
(I used 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar)
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil  (I used 2 teaspoons)
extra whole wheat flour for adjustments



If using the stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.
Place all of the ingredients except the extra flour and the olive oil in the mixing bowl of your mixer, on low speed for 2 minutes. With the machine off, drizzle the olive oil over the dough for another 30 seconds.

Turn of mixer and let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again, on medium speed for another 30 seconds. The dough will be smoother and stronger, but it will be sticky. If it is too wet and not enough structure, add a little flour.



This method is the standard method I used, rather than the overnight method that the book recommends.

In an oil lined glass bowl place the dough ball, turn over to get it oiled on the opposite side, cover with plastic wrap and a clean dish towel, and let it rise double for about 1 hr.- 1 1/2 hrs.








On a parchment lined baking sheet, carefully shape the dough to a rectangle. Cover loosely with a clean dishtowel, and let it rest for another 30-35 minutes.











In a large skillet, with 2 Tbsp olive oil, start sauteing one sweet onion, sliced. About halfway through, add 2 teaspoons light, or dark brown sugar, and keep sauteing until it gets nicely caramelized. Add about 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts and fold it in.









After about 45 minutes, you can start poking the dimples in the dough with your thumb. It's ready to top when you see the indentations stay down.












In a small bowl, pour about 1/2 of olive oil, and brush lightly with a pastry brush, making sure you fill the indentation, and you can add some fresh rosemary right into the holes. You can sprinkle coarse salt over the top, and also add the walnut-onion mixture into the indentations.






Bake in a preheated 450 degree F. (232 C.) oven bake for about 10 minutes, and lower the temperature to 425 degrees F. (200 C.) for another 20 minutes; being careful
not to burn the topping. (If any burns a little bit, you can just scrape the charred layers off. I added too much topping, but you don't have to!)







The result...a perfect crunchy, and golden brown top, ready to transfer to a cutting board, after cooling on a metal rack.









Now, you see what I mean? Look at the little pockets of the filled walnut-caramelized onion, the fresh rosemary, and the light sprinkling of the coarse sea salt I used!
Superb! Whole Wheat Focaccia that is amazingly healthy, and delicious. Using my method, I promise you will not go wrong!

Buon Appetito!





Last year's mangoes...star fruit is also home grown, as well!

Aren't these mangoes gorgeous?...from my daughter's mango tree! They will be fully ripe in another month for sure!
Hugs,
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Friday, May 4, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken...and Cinco de Mayo!

What does a spicy Sechuan Chicken have to do with Cinco de Mayo?...absolutely nothing!

 The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, The 5th Of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico, and especially in U.S. cities with a significant Mexican population. It is not, as many people think, Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16. 
Kung Pao, also translated as Gong Bao Chicken, a spicy, stir fry made with chicken, peanuts, and snow peas. My version with the bone-in chicken thighs...a healthier Sechuan version baked, instead of stir fried!

Kung Pao Chicken 
adapted from; Cooking Light magazine
Dec, 2010 

2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 medium chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch piece
I used 1 package-4 pieces chicken thighs, with bone-in
3/4 cup water
3 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced ginger
I used 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 to 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
I used 2 fresh red chile peppers thinly sliced
1 cup snow peas, trimmed
Tbsp chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts


Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; saute 3 minutes or until softened. Add
garlic; saute 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken, saute 3 minutes until chicken begins to brown.

My method:
I baked my chicken pieces, bone-in in my toaster oven on a foil lined baked oven pan...you can bake in a conventional stove oven as well, 350 degrees F. for about 30-45 minutes. Just add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, salt, pepper, to taste, and your favorite spices, such as paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic salt with parsley is what I added.

Combine 3/4 cup water and the next 5 ingredients on the list...up to the crushed red pepper...stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves.
Add water mixture to pa; bring to a boil. Add bell pepper and snow peas to pan; cook for 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and sauce thickens. Sprinkle with nuts
Yield 4 servings.
I added the peanuts with the chicken, at the last 10 minutes of baking!



Serve over Jasmine rice...cook according to directions!

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Venison Stew with Potato Balls

After a long absence from my blog, I decided to return or just leave thing the way they are...which is the wrong choice. Eight years have...