I was randomly checking the weather last night and I was surprised to find out that it was going to get down to 27 degrees in Atlanta overnight. (Georgians go into panic mode when temperatures drop below freezing.) I scrolled down the page to check the weather in Ohio as well and I realized that the high temperature for today in Cleveland is going to be 11! Yes - the high. Kind of puts our overnight low of 27 in perspective - don't you think? To all of my Ohio family and friends - this recipe is dedicated to you. Stay warm friends.
Texan Chili is one of my family's favorite chili recipes. Oddly enough, I did not learn to make this chili while I lived in Texas but I discovered this chocolate laced chili recipe while I was living in Pennsylvania. This was one of the 6 chili's that I served at our Halloween get-together.
1 pound roast 1 teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon oil ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ onion, chopped 1 teaspoon oregano
1 clove garlic 14 ounce can peeled tomatoes
1 ½ Tablespoons red pepper ½ ounce bittersweet chocolate
1 bay leaf ½ teaspoon sugar
½ Tablespoon coriander sour cream
Cook onion and garlic in oil.
Add seasonings and tomatoes.
Boil. Simmer, uncovered for 1 hour.
Cook 15 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf and serve with sour cream.
Don't be afraid of the chocolate. You really won't taste any added sweetness in the chili but it adds a nice depth of flavor and richness to this hearty chili. It's okay with me if you want to keep your "secret ingredient" a secret - I won't tell.
Heavy hors d'oeuvres - they're all the rage now. You'll find them served at informal gatherings, parties and even wedding receptions now in place of a formal dinner. Personally, I love it and I'm all for it. As a guest, I like having a variety of foods to choose from and as a chef, making hors d'oeuvres gives me the opportunity to express my creativity. Bites sized portions of food can be just as filling and satisfying as a big "sit-down" meal. I made these Beef and Blue Crostini to take to a Christmas party last month and they were a bit hit. They are more appealing to men than a chicken salad croissant and they pack a lot of flavor into two delicious bites.
Beef and Blue Crostini
12 (1/4-inch-thick) French bread slices
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons horseradish
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
7 ounces Deli Fresh Shaved Roast Beef, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.
Meanwhile, stir together sour cream and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Spread sour cream on each toasted baguette.
Top with a slice of roast beef.
Sprinkle each crostini with a teaspoon of blue cheese and a couple of chives.
It's easy to make a whole tray of these delicious hors d'oeuvres. I popped them into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes before serving just to warm the beef and melt the cheese.
Heavy hors d'oeuvres - it's what's for dinner.
There's a reason that I am not a meteorologist. Just 2 days ago I blogged about the fact that there was no snow in the forecast for Atlanta. (Shows what I know about weather.) Last night we were under a winter storm warming with the threat of actual snow in the Atlanta area. I wish I would have taken a picture of the pure joy on my daughter's face when she realized that there was even a remote possibility of having a "snow day" today. I had my doubts that we would see snow at our house but again - I know nothing about the weather and I certainly didn't want to squash her dream of a "snow day." We decided to make the most of our cold evening and relax with a mug of hot cocoa. I had seen this idea for cool whip marshmallows on pinterest (thesweetestoccasion.com) and I had been waiting for a night exactly like last night to use it.
Spread cool whip in a shallow pan. (I only had 1/2 a tub of cool whip so I used an 8 inch square pan.) Freeze for at least 1 hour.
Cut shapes out of the frozen cool whip using cookie cutters.
No running out to buy bread and milk for this family. We're hunkered down with our mugs of hot cocoa instead. Even if there isn't any snow.
I normally reserve my bread making for spring and summer - taking full advantage of the Georgia humidity. I also had a bad winter bread making experience a few years ago which makes me even more hesitant to make bread in the winter. I was making a little more than a hundred yeast rolls for an order that I needed to fill in the middle of January a few years ago. I made my never-fail batch of roll dough and set it on the counter to rise. The dough rose slightly but not nearly to its normal pillowy fullness. I decided to go ahead and divide my dough into rolls and I set them on the counter to rise. An hour later - nothing - no rise. Two hours later - still no rise. At that point I started to get a little nervous so I brought 2 small humidifiers into the kitchen. I was trying to pump as much humidity into the air as I possibly could. Another hour later - my rolls were barely starting to rise so I started to boil pots of water on the stove in a last ditch effort to produce steam. Short of turning my kitchen into a tropical rain forest, I tried EVERYTHING to get some humidity into my kitchen so that these rolls would rise. Unfortunately, this story doesn't have a very happy ending. After 5 hours of waiting for the rolls to rise, I ended up with yeast rolls that were lifeless and flat. My rolls were a disaster and because of that, I'm somewhat hesitant to make bread during the very dry Georgia winters. I saw this recipe in Taste of Home though and I decided to break my no-winter bread rule and give them a shot. Luckily, this story has a much happier ending.
Whole Wheat Potato Rolls
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup mashed potato flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups flour
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Cool on wire racks.
I have renewed confidence that I can make yeast rolls even on the driest of winter days now. These rolls were really good and they froze well too.
I've gotten myself into more than a few sticky situations - trying to recreate Martha Stewart recipes and crafts. I specifically remember trying to make what seemed like a very simple bulletin board for my son's room from a project that I had seen on her website. The instructions appeared to be very simple and somehow had me convinced that absolutely anyone with even an ounce of common sense could put this bulletin board together. Apparently, I was NOT one of those people. The first red flag went up when I took my bulletin board supplies to the checkout counter at Lowes - $40.00??? (And that was only the first of several trips!) Ever the optimist, I was not about to give up on this idea so I brought my supplies home and got to work. To make a long story short, Ben and I spent no less than 2 frustrating weeks putting together a VERY expensive bulletin board that only slightly resembled the one that I had seen on the website.
I've gotten myself into similar situations with Martha Stewart recipes as well - hard to find - expensive ingredients, terms that I had to look up and cookware that I had to relearn how to use. It's no wonder that I'm hesitant to use Martha Stewart recipes. I've learned my lesson the hard way that sometimes Martha Stewart ideas can be way more trouble than they're worth. When I came across this recipe for snickerdoodle cupcakes on her website, I was understandably hesitant. They looked so good though and I found myself coming back to this recipe time and time again. After reading through the recipe several times, I decided that I could simplify it to fit my needs. Let's face it, I'm no Martha Stewart - but I can modify a recipe like the best of them.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
Cool cupcakes on a wire rack.
Top each cupcake with a dollop of seven minute frosting.
To finish these Snickerdoodle cupcakes, I added a mini snickerdoodle cookie to the top of each one. (Who needs Martha Stewart?)
The cupcakes were a big hit. I have renewed confidence that I CAN make a Martha Stewart recipe - with modifications. Check out my recipe for Snickerdoodle cookies for a delicious garnish for these yummy cupcakes.
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