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

Friday, November 23, 2012

sweet potato puree

from Ina's most recent cookbook comes this recipe for sweet potato puree.  i decided to try these potatoes for thanksgiving this year, and the recipe was delicious.  i use a vegetable steamer for most vegetables, but had not tried this technique for potatoes.  i must say that the sweet potatoes cooked perfectly without becoming mushy in boiling water.

to make the puree: cook the potatoes over simmering water for at least 25 minutes, stirring them to change their level in the steamer.  i used two large sweet potatoes for four to six servings of puree. be certain to cover the steamer and frequently check the pot for a boil over under the steamer.

when done, transfer to a bowl and mix with an electric mixer.  slowly add about one teaspoon of orange zest, either grated or dried, 1/2 cup or more of orange juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  i used blood orange juice.

next, add margarine and half and half, a tablespoon or two at a time to make a creamy puree of the sweet potatoes.  at first, the potatoes will be stringy and of a thicker consistency.  keep adding ingredients to suit your taste and desire for appearance. serve hot and enjoy.

cornbread madeleines

for thanksgiving, i always make sure to have an offering that includes corn, as a tribute to the pilgrims.  this year, i made cornbread madeleines.  this was a twist on the traditional sponge cakes that are light and airy and not too sweet.

the best madeleine pans are shiny and made from heavy gauge tin.  i would not use some of the newer nonstick darker colored pans, as they will brown your madeleines too quickly in the oven.

to make the cornbread:  preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  use a cornbread mix or make your own cornbread from your favorite recipe.  lightly grease the madeleine pans and fill with batter about three-fourths full.  bake for about 15 minutes, checking to make certain the muffins do not overcook.  remove from the pans and cook on a wire rack.  cornbread can be frozen very nicely for up to one month.  leftovers can be frozen to use for a cornbread dressing at a later date.

serve the madeleines with bee butter, sometimes called honey butter.  mix 1/2 stick of margarine or butter with 2 tablespoons honey.  blend well and serve in a small dish with the madeleines. to the left in the above photo is pictured herb butter, which i also prepared to serve with four seed rolls at the meal.  find the recipe for four seed rolls also on this blog.

green bean bundles with bacon and brown sugar

this year, williams sonoma featured this recipe in their thanksgiving brochure. i served the green beans alongside of Ina's sweet potato puree, which was also delicious as a thanksgiving vegetable.  i would recommend these green beans to those members of your family who don't like green beans.  they are sweet and delicious.

to make the bundles:  preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook the bacon half way for about 7 minutes. drain and blot on paper towels, chill in the refrigerator until ready to prepare the green beans for the meal.  next, clean and trim the green beans.  mix about 3-4 tablespoons of margarine with salt and pepper to taste.

about 30 minutes before mealtime, arrange about 5 to 6 beans in equal portions on a parchment lined baking sheet.  wrap each bundle with the bacon sliced to fit the bundle as needed.  drizzle the butter and using about 1/4 cup of brown sugar, sprinkle the sugar on top of each bundle.

roast the bundles until the bacon is cooked through and brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.  serve as a side vegetable with beef, poultry or pork.  these green beans were excellent and looked very attractive on the plate.  this recipe was easy, delicious and very attractive on the plate.


instead of cranberry relish this year, i served a bowl of pomegranate arils.  their ruby red appearance is perfect for a holiday garnish, and the sweet tart taste is outstanding.  pomegranate is packed with polyphenols, one of nature's most potent antioxidants.

pomegranates are grown in california and once opened will stay delicious in the refrigerator covered for 10 days.  normally, i eat pomegranate on oatmeal or in a fruit salad.

to open a pomegranate:  cut one inch off the top and bottom of the fruit.  score each section similar to what is done for an orange.  next, in a bowl of water, separate the sections to loosen the arils in the water.  scoop out the floating white membrane and strain.

serve chilled and enjoy as a relish, garnish, or melt for a glaze to use on poultry.  to learn more about pomegranate, view a video at http://www.pomwonderful.com/fresh .  enjoy !

praline pecan french toast

for thanksgiving breakfast this year, i tried a new twist on baked french toast.  this was a recipe that was made ahead, the day before, and then refrigerated overnight.  the baking time the next morning was only 35 minutes, which allowed for preparation of the other breakfast items.  this was a very tasty french toast recipe that i would highly recommend for your next morning meal.

i used a softer crust french bread which made the toast just perfect after baking.  a hard crust bread would not soften enough during the baking process.

to make the french toast:  cut ten to twelve one-inch slices of french bread, and save the remaining loaf for another purpose.  stir together 1 cup brown sugar with 1/3 cup melted margarine and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.

lightly grease a 13 by 9 ceramic dish and pour the brown sugar mixture in the dish.  add 3/4 cup chopped pecans.  next, whisk together 4 eggs with 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  arrange the bread in the dish, and pour the egg mixture over the bread.  cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight or at least 8 hours.  preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.  when serving, invert the bread on the plate for the praline pecan topping to serve as the syrup for the toast.  sprinkle with powdered sugar.

reece's candy cookies

one of my family's all-time favorite cookie recipes has to be the classic m and m's cookie recipe. in fact, i think the recipe is in the great american home baking cookie collection.

i have changed the recipe a bit over the years, and this year made the fall cookies with reece's candy pieces.  the colors of the candy are perfect for fall and i love the peanut butter flavor added to the great cookie taste.  this recipe can be adapted to include many different ingredients based on your family's taste.

to make the cookies:  preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  in a medium bowl, mix 2 1/4 cups flour, with 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt.  set this mixture aside.

next, in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream 2 sticks of softened margarine, 1 cup brown sugar, with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. with the mixer on low, beat in one egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  add the flour mixture, a small amount at a time until the dough forms.

then add, 1/2 cup peanuts and 1/2 cup reece's candy pieces.  here is where the choices can be made to taste.  instead of the candies or unsalted peanuts, add dried fruit, such as cherries, or cranberries.  or, instead of peanuts, add hazelnuts, yogurt covered raisins or m and m's.

using a small cookie scoop, scoop out dough and place on ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  sprinkle the tops with additional candy pieces.  bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes and cool before eating.

michigan maple cream

especially this time of year, i look to american spoon foods for a variety of terrific products to use in recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  this delicious maple cream from Michigan's upper peninsula is the product of a special cooling and churning technique that gives pure maple syrup a creamy, spreadable consistency. no cream or butter is added to the product.

last week, i used this maple cream on steel cut oats for oatmeal, as well as sweet potatoes.  it can be spread easily on toast or english muffins and is terrific on fresh cut carrots.

maple cream could be also used on pancakes, waffles or used in place of honey or brown sugar for fresh baked granola.  i really can't say enough about this product, as it is unique and very tasty.  it just reminds me of the best of autumn and the fall holidays.

if you haven't heard of american spoon foods, check out their website at:   http://www.spoon.com/home  they have stores in petoskey, harbor springs, charlevoix, traverse city and saugatuck michigan.