Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Saturday, November 5, 2011

sugared elephant ears or palmiers

another one of Ina garten's basic recipes is for sugared elephant ears or palmiers.  from her barefoot contessa in Paris cookbook, she shares her recipe which uses frozen puff pastry which has been thawed to room temperature.

2 frozen squares of puff pastry allowed to come to room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

in a bowl, mix the sugar and salt.  place one cup of the mixture on a sheet of waxed paper.

after 40 minutes of allowing the dough to come to room temperature, open the dough and place one of the squares on the waxed paper and sugar mixture. add 1/2 cup of the sugar to the top of the dough and roll into the dough.  cover the dough with the sugar mixture.  this is not about sprinkling with sugar, but covering the dough with sugar completely.

fold the dough to the center and then to the center again.  then, fold in half, like a book.  slice into pieces and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  repeat with the second square of dough.

baked in a preheated 450 degree oven for 9 minutes, watching carefully so the sugar will not burn.  then, remove the sheets from the oven and turn each palmier over.  return to the oven and bake again for 3-5 more minutes.  again, watch each of the trays as the sugar can burn very quickly.

these cookies are delicious served with ice cream, pudding or even just with coffee or tea.

soft cooked eggs

to prepare perfect soft cooked eggs every time, i often use my Cuisinart egg cooker.  however, if i plan to only make one egg, i have developed a perfect every time technique for making this recipe.

bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.  lower the egg into the water with a slotted spoon. cover the pot and remove from the heat and allow to stand for 4 to 6 minutes.  the egg will be perfectly soft cooked every time.

remove from the water and crack open the wider end of the egg.  using an egg slicer, remove the top of the egg, place in an egg cup and serve for breakfast.

soft cooked eggs are delicious will toast fingers for dipping.

roasted red pepper dip

for a great football game day appetizer, check out any of Ina garten's cookbooks.  today, i selected a dip from one of her earliest books, and adapted the recipe to ingredients in my pantry.

i adjusted her sun dried tomato dip into a roasted red pepper dip for use on pita crisps. 

1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar
8 ounces low fat cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup low fat canola mayonnaise
1/2 cup light sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
chopped green onions for decoration

in a mini food processor, mix red peppers, cream cheese, mayo, sour cream and seasonings to taste.
process until smooth about 30 seconds.

the beautiful pink color is very attractive and complements the delicious taste of the dip  spoon the dip into a small container and top with sliced green onions as a garnish.  serve with homemade toasted pita crisps.

soft tacos with toppings

as an easy weeknight meal, prepare soft tacos and offer dinner guests their choice of toppings.  to begin the process, place the soft taco shells on a baking sheet and allow guests to choose their cheese for their shell.

a selection of cheeses can be offered along with cooked ground sirloin and various vegetables and condiments.  a standard taco bar usually includes chopped tomatoes, chopped black olives, sliced green onions, shredded lettuce, chopped cucumbers, sauteed mushrooms and green peppers, a salsa selection and sour cream.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then heat the taco shells with cheese for about 5 minutes.  remove and serve on dinner plates, allowing guests to choose their toppings.  these soft shells can be served with Spanish rice or white rice.

dried American bittersweet in a nantucket basket

when the Halloween door decoration was taken down, the Nantucket door basket was filled with dried American bittersweet for November.  the American bittersweet is a native vine that becomes woody with age, climbing trees and fences.

using dried plant materials for decorating is fun and allows for changes each year due to the ease of cutting, hanging and drying plants in the garage.  dried arrangements can be large or small, and the materials can be made into wreaths, swags or other door decorations quite easily.

American bittersweet is a perfect plant material for the fall season and can be used for decorating from Halloween through thanksgiving. 

when planting the bittersweet vine, it is important to have both a male and female plant vine to make certain the vines bear berries for drying. the berries are often eaten by birds and squirrels during the winter