Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dead Park images

So Michael and I went to this dead park just down the road from Messiah College. I was so happy to go ! We took 250 pictures just on the one side of the park. I discovered it because of good ol' Google maps, when I was looking for the speedway. I wonder now how many people know about this. We are planing to go back , we want pictures of the water side of the park. Enjoy these great photos.

Calendar !

Ok I wanted to share with you my fun craft that I made last month but never shared. I got this idea from a another blog to make a calendar out of images of numbers of letters. They used this little clip things (which I got one year from x-mas from my friend Aud) but because I didn't use a thick paper like they wanted I had to tack them up on the wall. At this point its not really a calendar since i'm not going to take the time to take it down and change it ever really it applies to like two months out of the year. Right now its just a fun graphics like thing we have on our very bare wall :)

Toasted Coconut Shortbreads

Ok so these cookies are probable the best tasting cookies i've made so far. They are crispy and butter and have a ton of flavor. I thought they tasted a bit almondy when I first tired them. I think next time when I make them i'm going to switch the vanilla with some almond to bring the flavor out more. Warning , one batch will not be enough to enjoy. I would say At least triple up on everything. My roommate and I ate all of them in a day.

Toasted Coconut Shortbread

What you'll need:

1/2 cup (about 1.5 ounces) unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (Updated: for unsweetened coconut, the smaller amount; sweetened, the larger amount)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( or almond)
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until coconut is light golden, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Cool completely, then grind in a coffee grinder, food processor or blender until coarsely ground.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Mix in salt and vanilla. Beat in flour in 2 additions. Stir in toasted coconut. Gather dough together, flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out. I needed to let it sit for about an hour before being able to do anything with it)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough disk on lightly floured work surface to scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1 3/4- to 2-inch-diameter cookie cutters, cut dough into rounds. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather dough scraps and reroll; cut out additional cookies.

What you can also do is make little balls and flatten them really flat on the pans, this is easier and faster then having to roll out. Don't forget that if you dip a spoon in warm water you can use to to smooth out and flatten batters. It prevents it from sticking to the spoon. This is something my mom showed me.

Bake cookies until light golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 1 week.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Snack time

Ok I'm going to share with you one of the best snacks to make. They are Dilly Ranch Pretzels of yummyness ! They are so good , that i just made a batch of these babies yesterday, and between my roommate and I they are all gone. They are very favorful and I don't know why any pretzel company doesn't make them ! I first discovered these over the christmas holidays , when a friend of the family gave them out as gifts ! I had to snag the recipe after just having a handful . So please make some , and I promise you won't go wrong.

What you need...

16 oz. bag of pretzels.
one stick of butter.
1/2 cup canola oil
Ranch Dip packet
1 tbsp. dillweed
1 tbsp. lemon pepper

The pretzels either need to be the hard pretzels that you break up into small pieces or the nuggets that have the tops open. That might sound confusing, but basically you need some part of the white inside of the pretzel showing for the oil to absorb in to. Pretzels that are dark brown all over won't taste as good because the seasonings only cling to the outside instead of absorbing into the pretzel.

What to do ...

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.

Melt one stick of butter. While that is melting, put your pretzels in a large bowl and sprinkle 1/2 of a packet of powdered ranch dip mix on the pretzels. Mix to coat pretzels with the powder.
Add to melted butter:
1/2 cup canola oil
rest of Ranch Dip packet
1 tbsp. dillweed
1 tbsp. lemon pepper

Mix thoroughly and pour over pretzels. Stir to coat pretzels evenly. Cover rectangle cookie sheet with foil and spread pretzels on the foil in an even layer. Bake in 275 degree oven for 25 minutes. Cool completely before stirring.

Enjoy !

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cookbooks !

Ok I wanted to share with you all my small cookbook collection. These are just some of the places that I find inspiration for a meal, I don't like following them most of the time. I love changing them since I feel I have a understanding of some simple flavors and such.

Hello Cupcake ! This one is full of fun cupcakes to make. My room mate has already busted this one open a few times to make some of the crazy ones. I'm personally waiting for April Fools cupcake party that we are throwing. Why April 1st ? Well there are many in this book that look like other foods, such as popcorn, pasta, meat and veggies, sushi , ect.... oh the joy.

This is my favorite one. Because my mom made it up for me ! All my favorite family meals are pact into this one.

This one I got at a goodwill a few months back . I've yet to really use it , though I've used it to compare recipes to mix and such

This is just for fun. My sister got this one for my two years ago for my b-day. I have used it more the once :D

ummmm you can't live without this desert. So I have a whole cookbook on how to make them. I loved the day I got my little cooking flamer.

This is just one of many Rachael Ray cook books I have. I love her stuff , but my body does not ( fatty foods ) These books are staples though, really helps you understands some basic cooking terms and skills

Ah the Robuchon. It might not be Julia Child but its all about French Home cooking. This is not for the basic home cooker. I warn you , things will get messy from this one. I can't wait to make my first duck :D

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Brandy and orange chicken topped with stuffed shrimp

Ok guys , here is one post I promised for this weekend ! The brand and orange chicken topped with stuffed shrimp. I got this out of my handy Rachael Ray book . I made it with frozen veggies in a herb sauce , rice and smashed garlic potatoes ( my favorite ) Now after making it we all agree the the chicken needed some else. The brandy made it dry and bitter , so what I would do ,if your planning on making this, is scrapping the sauce it wants you to make and instead take some orange marmalade ( 2 parts ) and grey poupon mustard ( one part ) and fry that up in the pan. Keep the rub on the chicken and pour that over. I do something close to this with pork all the time ( I use different marmalade ) So keep that in mind. The stuffed shrimp was to die for ! Its really hard to stuff shrimp to :D It turned out more of a crab cake on top of shrimp . Alright so this is what you need to do to make a yummy dinner. By the way this dinner only close about $35.00 and it feeds 4 , so it you are planning to have a dinner party and want something special that will wow people but don't want to go crazy with money, this is perfect.

What you'll need ..
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces (drained weight) lump crab meat
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme or poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 thin slices good quality white bread, toasted and buttered, then diced
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast (6-8 ounces each)
  • 8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme or poultry seasoning
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 jiggers brandy
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large navel orange, zested
  • Parsley sprigs and sliced navel oranges, for plate garnish

What to do ...

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.

To a small skillet over moderate heat add EVOO, about one turn of the pan, and two tablespoons butter. When butter melts, add celery, onion and red bell pepper. Sauté vegetables five minutes. Add crab to the vegetables and season with thyme or poultry seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper. Fold a few handfuls of diced toasted bread into the stuffing to combine. The stuffing will take 1 1/2-2 slices of bread. Add parsley to the stuffing and remove from heat.

Brush a baking dish with melted butter. Butterfly shrimp by cutting along the deveining line, into and almost through the shrimp. Place the butterflied shrimp in your hand, butterflied side down. Dab the shrimp with melted butter and place a rounded spoonful of crab stuffing onto each shrimp. Set the shrimp upright on the baking dish with the stuffing exposed and the tail upright. Place the baking dish in the pre-heated oven. Bake 6-8 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm and stuffing is browned.

Season chicken breasts with poultry seasoning or ground thyme, salt and pepper. In a second skillet over medium-high heat, add the EVOO and cook the breasts five minutes on each side, then remove to a serving plate.

Add brandy to the pan and cook alcohol off, about one minute. Add butter and orange zest to the brandy. Spoon brandy orange butter over the chicken and top each breast with two stuffed shrimp. Garnish the platter or individual dinner plates with parsley sprigs and sliced oranges.

Friday, February 13, 2009

school ....urgh

So school started and that is why this place is bare with new post ! So this is what is up coming this weekend . I will be making my vodka pasta again so I will be able to take photos of it. I will be also making toasted coconut shortbread cookies and I will be making Brandy and Orange Chicken topped with stuffed shrimp ( that happens to be the v-day meal for my hunny ! ) I would also like to post about the cookbooks that are in my kitchen ! So please stay tuned !