Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Had A Dream

A couple nights before Thanksgiving I had a dream about a turkey sandwich. Not just any garden variety turkey sandwich, but a turkey sandwich recipe that I had created.  I was so excited about this jolt of food creativity.  Not only was it this amazingly creative recipe but in my dream I had also envisioned a blog entry.

Now here is the thing.  In the light of day I knew I hadn't created this recipe.  Who hasn't heard of a Turkey, Avocado, and Bacon sandwich before?  But in my dream, it was a slider on a leftover dinner roll, and I had given it a terribly creative name:  TAB. 
No not this Tab.  My new and amazing sandwich was going to be called the TAB and everyone would be clamoring for it.  I think I need to get a life.  This food blogging has really taken me "around the bend" as a dear old friend once said to me about my blog.

Well, not being the most clever person in the world, I just knew when I awoke I couldn't let this burst of inspiration pass me by.  So today, two days post Thanksgiving with a Tupperware full of turkey leftovers, I decided to make my "dream sandwich."  May I present the TAB.
Ingredients:  Turkey, avocado slices, bacon slices, small dinner rolls, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.  Put it all together and enjoy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Homemade Pretzels

I've never had an Auntie Annie's soft pretzel.  I have certainly been enticed by the wonderful aromas of those shops in the shopping malls, but it's just not something I've ever tried.  Recently, while watching Good Eats with Alton Brown on the Food Network, he made soft pretzels and they looked so darn fun to make, I just knew it was something I had to try.

These were fairly easy to make, though the shaping took a few tries to come up with the classic pretzel shape.  Like the bagels I made recently, these most be boiled first before baking. If when boiling, they lose there shape, they can easily be rearranged when you set them on the baking sheet.  The toppings I chose were sesame seed and salt, using a large grained salt as opposed to kosher or table salt.  I read about brushing them in butter when they come out of the oven and then dipping them in cinnamon sugar. That would be good too.

If you're a fan of the soft pretzel, this is a recipe you'll want to try for a fun day in the kitchen!

Soft Pretzels


1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.   Makes 8.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lucky Winner

There are a number of added benefits to writing a food blog besides getting to cook and experiment in the kitchen.  One of these benefits is getting exposure to and enjoying the hard work of other dedicated food bloggers.  Early when I started blogging I stumbled upon the wonderful blog of Debby called A Feast for the Eyes.  As I read her blog, I realized I had found a fellow home cook I could really relate to.  Her down to earth recipes, wonderful photos, great tutorials, and delightful writing style had me hooked.
Recently Debby had a giveaway contest for a gift basket from a famous bakery in Southhampton, New York called Tate's Bake Shop.  This is a bakery frequented by the likes of Ina Garten, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rachel Ray.  Recently Consumer Reports listed their chocolate chip cookies as the best of 18 store-bought and fast-food chocolate chip cookies.
Well lucky me!  I won the giveaway and what a lovely package showed up at my door.  In it were two packages of hearty, delicious granola, a very generous coffee cake absolutely loaded with pecans, and a Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook.  I can't wait to try to make some of these famous baked goods in my own home.  Thank you Debby for the opportunity to win such a lovely prize and I look forward always to reading your blog.  And thank you Tate's Bake Shop for your divine baked goods.  Much appreciated!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Soup's On!

I'm ready to admit it. It's Fall.  The leaves appear on fire on all the trees here in my town, labeled a Tree City, USA.  It's gorgeous. It's also frosty in the mornings and chilly at night and the furnace is up and running. 
All of this means only one thing; it's time to make soup.  I have it in my mind that this winter I am going to experiment with more soup recipes.  I have been clipping and bookmarking recipes like crazy.  We'll see if my enthusiasm continues throughout the cold months ahead.

This is a great recipe that I have been seeing on fellow food bloggers sites for some time now. It sounded so warm and substantial for a soup dinner and it was that.  Served with a piece of Texas garlic toast, it was a wonderful meal.  This would be a great meal for after work if the potatoes are baked ahead of time.  Enjoy!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

4 baking potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1/2 chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4  cup chopped green onions, divided

Preheat oven to 400°.
Bake potatoes at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Cut up two of the potatoes into bite size cubes, skin on.  Scoop out the flesh of the other two potatoes and mash well. Discard skins. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, fry bacon until crisp then take out of pan. Reserve 1 Tbsp. bacon fat in pan. Add butter and melt.  Add onions and garlic and saute until soft. Do not brown.  Add milk, chicken broth, all of the potatoes, seasoning. Heat until hot but not boiling. Add 3/4 cups of the cheese and cook until melted.

Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir into a slurry.  Add to soup and cook until soup thickens.  Add bacon bits, reserving a few for tops of soup bowls.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with green onions, cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and a dollop of sour cream.  Serves 4.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thank you Mother

                       Sister Peggy and Blog Author's 6th and 7th Birthday Cakes
                               (We share the same birthday a year apart!)

This blog is dedicated to my amazing mother.  I recently had a wonderful visit with her and we were discussing a project she had begun to tackle; that of organizing the zillion old family photos in many, many photo albums and shoe boxes.  I offered to take the project on and scan important photos to share with my siblings so we can all enjoy them and pass them on through the generations.
                           Sue and Peggy's Shared 7th and 8th Birthday Cake

While going through them, I found the following photos of birthday cakes my mother made for us when were were young and I was quite flabbergasted and in awe of how she was able to tackle such cooking projects in those days.  I must explain that my parents had five children with the oldest one only being five years old when the baby of the family was born.  Imagine having that many children so close in age to feed, bathe, clothe, tend to when hurt or sick, and most importantly of all, love.  She and my father did all of that and more.  I think my siblings would agree, we grew up in a pretty remarkable household. 

Sister Linda's 7th or 8th Birthday Cake

Back to the cakes.  I wanted to share these photos and also a web site called Animal Cut Up Cakes that I found.  This site shows the exact cookbook these designs came from and how to make these very cakes. It was a free advertisement cookbook from Baker's coconut, circa 1959.  These family photos are all taken in the early-mid '60's. As noted in the photos, coconut is a prominent feature on all of them.  Aren't they wonderful?  And wasn't my mother amazing?  Oh, by the way, she still is!!  Thanks Mom for all you did for us to make our birthdays so special.
Brother Frank's 5th Birthday Cake

                                          Brother Mike's 3rd birthday Cake