Thursday, June 28, 2012

Frozen Dog Treats


It is warm in Fairbanks.  I love it!  My husband, the Alaskan Man, starts to complain about the heat once it hits about 73ºF but I'm not warm until it hits 85ºF.  We have been having sunny, beautiful weather.  The dogs enjoy the sun too, but pretty quickly they move to the shade or inside the house where it is cooler.
A yellow lab and a golden retriever, can you tell which is which?

We shave the two golden retrievers for the summer.  It keeps them cool and rids the house of all the hair they shed.  We keep telling them how handsome they are, hoping if we say it enough they will believe it.  Lilly starts to think we have two new yellow labs like her.  They all are a little more frisky in the summer and play more, it's because of the haircuts.

I made this cool treat for the pups.  I love ice cream and juice pops so I thought the dogs might like a version of their own.  I saw two recipes on pinterest and adjusted for what I had at home.  This will be a cool treat that will be good for them too.  Such handsome dogs...
**Today is the last day to sign up for the Love with Food giveaway.  Just tell me your pet's name or what kind of pet you would like to have in the comments.  Drawing will be held Friday, June 29 at 4:00pm Alaska Standard Time.  I will contact the winner for an address to send the package to.

Frozen Dog Treats
This made 15 large dog treats and 6 small dog treats
2 cups yogurt, I used greek yogurt 'cus that is what I had
1 can (16 oz) organic pumpkin puree
1 banana
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
Dog  bones

Mix yogurt, pumpkin, banana, honey and peanut butter until smooth.  Portion into small bathroom size paper cups.  Top each cup with a dog bone, pushed 1/2 way into yogurt mixture.  Freeze.  To serve, tear paper off pops and serve outside (trust me on this).

Tips:
I threw everything into a bowl and used my electric mixer.  It worked like a charm.  Lilly wanted to lick the beaters but Dave would have had a fit!

I used a medium scoop (#40) and put two scoops in each cup for the big dogs, topped with a full bone and one scoop in each cup for the little dogs, topped with 1/2 bone.

Yogurt adds healthy bacteria to dog's digestive systems and pumpkin is full of fiber.  Don't go overboard feeding these to your dogs.  Give them one, wait a couple of days give them another to let their bodies get used to the beneficial bacteria and extra fiber (trust me on this one too).

Always check for dog food safety.  Dogs cannot/should not eat some foods safe for human consumption (like grapes, garlic, chocolate and onions). You can click here for a list from Web MD.

June 28, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  39 minutes     Current Temp.  63ºF

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grilled Thai Beef Salad

I am a mouth out of control.
 Dave bought two bags of potato chips, Ruffles, my favorite.  He left them in the house with me, alone.  O.K. I know you see where this is going.  Two days later he asked where the chips were.  The conversation went something like this...
D: hey honey, where are those chips I bought?
Me: what chips?
D: you know, those two bags of chips I bought at Sam's, for the picnic we are going to Saturday.
Me: I dunno.
D: Did you eat them?
Me: I dunno.
D: You ate them?  Both bags?
Me:  They were small, and they jumped in my mouth and the Nutella was open and begging for chips to be dipped in it, and I was alone in the house with those chips and the Nutella.  It's all your fault, you brought those chips home.

So you can see, it is not my fault and I am on salad from now until forever...Dave had to buy more chips for Saturday and then he had to hide the chips from me too.  I'm mad at him, it's all his fault, he bought the chips in the first place.

Flank steak, soy, butter lettuce and shallots.  This won't take the place of potato chips, but boy is it good.  It is one salad dinner Dave won't complain about.

Thai Beef Salad
Ellie Krieger, 2007
1 pound top-round London broil or flank steak, about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons red curry paste or chili-garlic sauce
1/2 head red-leaf lettuce, torn (about 6 cups)
3 shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup), divided, for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
1 cup basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
Directions
Rinse and pat the meat dry. Place in a sealable plastic bag or small glass dish. In a medium bowl combine 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red curry paste. Pour half the mixture into the bag with the meat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice to the bag. Seal tightly, and marinate meat in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Reserve the rest of the mixture refrigerated, to dress the salad.
Spray grill or grill pan with cooking spray and preheat. Grill steak until medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. Let rest until room temperature then slice thinly against the grain.
Combine lettuce, sliced shallot, cilantro, basil and beef in a salad bowl, reserving a few shallots for garnish. Add the reserved dressing and toss to coat. Divide salad among 4 plates and garnish with reserved sliced shallots.

June 26, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  42 minutes     Current Temp. 63 ºF

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp and a giveaway

Ahhh, dessert.  I love dessert, I dream of it, I plan for it and I eat a lot of it.  No day is complete without dessert.  One of my favorite desserts is rhubarb-strawberry crisp.  Rhubarb grows like a weed in Fairbanks and I have 5 plants so I have plenty to make this crisp and freeze enough to get me through the winter.
At least I used to have 5 plants.  I have my rhubarb in boxes next to the greenhouse so I am sure to give it lots of water.  Last year none of my 5 plants came back.  I even had a rhubarb I brought from our family ranch in Montana and it died too.  I was heart broken.  Why didn't they come back?  I usually have a green thumb.  I'll never know, but I set out to get more rhubarb so I could have my winter supply.

First, I went to the farmers market.  No rhubarb.  Everyone I asked said "No one can kill rhubarb, that stuff is like a weed."  Well I killed 5, so I guess I'm something special.  One lady took pity on me and said she would bring me a piece of one of hers.  I gave her my number.

Knowing that one would not be enough, I went to the greenhouses.  Not a single greenhouse had rhubarb!  How could this be?  I needed rhubarb and not a plant for sale in town.

I began planning sneak attacks on my neighbor's rhubarb.  As I would walk by I would think, "That house never pulls her rhubarb stalks, she won't notice if I come and take 1/2 her plant.  This house is empty, I could dig up this whole plant and split it into two."  My husband would not help me and in Fairbanks there is no dark in the summer to pull off a covert operation, so I was rhubarbless.
Thankfully, the woman from the farmer's market did pull through and called with a rhubarb plant.  I don't remember how much I paid for it, but it was worth it.  It came up this spring and is producing.  I did find a rhubarb plant at my favorite greenhouse this spring and I snatched it up.  I planted it against the house away from the other plant.  I'm hoping if I separate them they won't both die on me like the last 5.

I love the tartness of rhubarb and the strawberry sweetness adds a nice layer of flavor.  I make a batch and eat the whole thing (Dave doesn't like rhubarb, picky, picky, picky).  When it is dark and cold in the middle of winter, I pull out a package of rhubarb from the freezer and make this with frozen unsweetened strawberries and dream of summer days.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp
 for filling
4 cups rhubarb, cut in 1 inch chunks
1 or 2 pints of strawberries (depends on the price and what I need to use up)
1/2 cup sugar, or more or less to taste

 for topping
from Ellie Krieger 2006 
1/4 cup oat flour or whole wheat flour
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Mix rhubarb, strawberries and sugar in 13x9 pan.  Mix topping ingredients in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over rhubarb mixture evenly.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

Tips:
I use this topping over everything.  Peaches, pears, apples.  I love the crumbly oatmeal topping.

Sometimes I put 1 tbsp. of cornstarch in with the rhubarb to thicken it up a little.

Notice the daylight below.  We are losing daylight now, 1 second less today than yesterday. (major sad face here).

For my giveaway I have June's box from Love with Food.  It is a sampler box with several product for you to try.  If there is something in the box you love, you can order more from their website.  You can check out their website at Love with Food.  Love with Food also donates a meal for every box they sell so you are doing good while getting goodies!

Just leave a note in the comments about what your favorite dessert is.  I will have a random drawing on June 29 and contact the winner so I can mail your prize to you.


June 22, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  49 minutes     Current Temp. 72ºF

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shrimp Cakes with Tomatoes on Solstice

Solstice, or the longest day of the year, is cause for celebration in Fairbanks.  Everyone celebrates the fact that we all lived through another long winter and we have extra daylight and warm weather.  The town celebrates in force and all week.  There is a street fair all night downtown, the Gold Panners, Fairbanks minor league baseball team, plays a game at night without the need for lights, the Midnight Sun Run will happen this weekend and everyone gets out and celebrates.
We will go to the street fair and eat our way through the vendors.  The antique cars will be on display and music will be playing.  You see old friends, visit and move on to the next treat to eat.  Since there is so many treats I want to start our evening off with something light and healthy.  These corn cakes on spinach salad is the perfect thing.
The cakes are sweet with corn and shrimp.  The tomatoes on top add a nice acidity to counter balance the sweetness and the greens brighten it all up.  I like to eat this with a little lemon juice squeezed over the top, Dave eats it with blue cheese dressing (he eats all salads with blue cheese dressing).  It will be a healthy start to our longest day of the year night.

Shrimp and Corn Cakes with Tomatoes
adapted from Cooking Light, June 2012

  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 1/2 ounces masa harina (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels, divided (about 4 large ears)
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • large egg
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 12 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Preparation

  1. 1. Combine first 8 ingredients; set aside.
  2. 2. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into measuring cups. ­Combine flours, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a bowl.
  3. 3. Place 1 1/2 cups corn and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth. Combine pureed corn mixture, remaining 1 1/2 cups corn, bell pepper, shrimp, green onions, and garlic in a large bowl. Add flour mixture, stirring gently until moist.
  4. 4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 4 (1/4-cup) batter mounds to pan, pressing each with the back of a spatula to slightly flatten; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden and thoroughly cooked. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure twice with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and batter. Serve with salsa

June 20, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  50 minutes     Current Temp. 61 ºF

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pizza on the grill

I thinks summer is really here.  We are having beautiful sunny days, and then as soon as I walk out of my office, it starts to rain.  We always joked that if you don't like the weather in Fairbanks, wait 15 minutes and it will change.
We've been waiting to try pizza on the grill for a clear night.  We finally gave up and made these pizzas in the rain.  Pizza is one of my favorite foods.  I believe you should be able to live off ice cream and pizza, and for a few years I think I did!
I made the dough, Dave and I shaped it, he did a better job than I did, and then put the crust on the grill.  Cooked the first side, turned it over, added toppings and finished cooking the whole thing.  I really meant to take pictures of the plain crust on the grill, but it was raining and I am made of sugar (I didn't want to melt).

Dave kept the middle burners on and the side burners low and we cooked the pizza over indirect heat.  Can you tell which two are mine (my crusts were thinner and crisp, the way I like.  At least that's my story).  This was easy and fun.  We are going to have a backyard party and have everyone create their own pizzas.  I'll have the dough ready, they can shape their own crust, Dave will cook and then each person can add toppings from a topping bar.  I think it will be fun.  As long as it isn't raining.

Pizza on the Grill

Crust
1 1/2 cup flour plus more for kneading
1 tablespoon yeast
11/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm water
3 tablespoons oil

Toppings
pizza sauce, store bought or homemade
cheese
meat and veggie toppings of your choice (living with a meat lover we had moose sausage and pepperoni)

Preheat grill, once heated turn off half the burners.
Combine 1 cup flour, east, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add water and oil.  Mix together until well blended.  
Add 1/2 cup flour until soft dough ball forms, it may be slightly sticky.   Add additional flour as needed to form dough ball.  
Kneed on floured surface adding additional flour until a smooth elastic ball is formed (about 4 minutes).    Cut dough into 4 equal pieces (I weighed my dough to get equal amounts).  Shape dough into circles (or odd oblong shapes if you like that).  Place dough on grill over indirect heat and cook until crust is browned nicely and has good grill marks (about 4 minutes depending on the thickness of your crust), turn crusts over using tongs.  Top crusts with pizza sauce, cheese and your choice of toppings.  Cook until crust is browned on bottom and cheese is melted.
Honey bees and lady bugs in the flowering tree in my yard.  It really is summer.
June 18, 2012     Daylight  21 hours, 49 minutes     Temp.  70ºF

Friday, June 15, 2012

Peaches and Basil with Almond Shortcake


My neighbor lost her dog the other day.  They were driving through the neighborhood searching, my husband and brother in law also jumped into their cars and were looking.  Everyone spent about 2 hours slowly driving up and down the neighborhood streets, calling for Theo and asking anyone they saw if Theo had passed by.
I stayed home and manned the phone.  When the neighbors got home they discovered Theo locked in the girl's bathroom!  They were so embarrassed that everyone was looking for the dog that was safely, but unhappily, locked in the bathroom.  She came over to apologize and we told her it was the kind of happy ending we like.
It also reminded us of times when we lost something and it was right under our noses, like the time I lost Zachary when he was three.  At the time, we lived in a house in the country, next to two different ponds.  I was very careful to keep tabs on Zach, especially if we were outside.  One day I needed to make a dessert, so I sent Zach to play in his room and I made a shortcake for a fruit topping.  I heard him playing and then got involved in what I was doing.  I put the shortcake into the oven and the house was really quiet, I mean REALLY quiet.  I went to check on Zach, he wasn't in his room, not downstairs in my room, not the playroom.  I started to feel a little nervous.  I went to the yard, he wasn't there, checked with the neighbors across the street and next door - nope.  Walked the three blocks to the sitter's house, not there.  By this time I was panicked and a little hysterical.  Everyone in the neighborhood was looking for Zach.  Finally, one of the neighbors said it was time to call the Troopers and report him missing.  I was just sick.
I called the troopers, explained what happened and mentioned the two ponds by our house.  Yes, he had been told never to go there by himself, but he was 3 and loved to fish.  I explained how the whole neighborhood was looking for him, and no one had seen him yet.  The Troopers quickly responded.  The first Trooper took my statement while the other Trooper talked to the neighbors.  I told the Trooper that I had been baking, went looking for Zach and couldn't find him.  The Trooper said, "Did you look in his room?"
WHAT, DID I LOOK IN HIS ROOM, ARE YOU KIDDING ME, THAT IS THE FIRST PLACE I LOOKED ABOUT 2 HOURS AGO!
"Why yes, that was the first place I looked." I answered politely.
The Trooper asked which was Zach's room and I showed him down the hall.  He walked in and in about 15 seconds walked out carrying Zachary sound asleep!  How on earth had he done that?  I searched the room, under the bed, behind the door.
 Zach had climbed into his laundry hamper, shut the lid and fell asleep.  I felt like an idiot.  Thankfully, the Trooper laughed and said it was the kind of happy ending he liked. I apologized over and over. He said he had young kids and this was better than the call he had earlier (he didn't elaborate).  There I stood sobbing like an idiot (did I mention I was about 81/2 months pregnant?) clinging to my sleepy toddler who didn't know what was going on and apologizing over and over.  Troopers don't get paid enough.

While this is not the same recipe I was using that day (it was such a stressful day I don't even remember if I ever took that shortcake out of the oven) this is a delicious combination.  The almond shortcake is the perfect base for the sweet peaches scented with basil.  Make the peaches first and let the flavors meld while you whip up the shortcake.  Serve with Greek yogurt and spoon some of the peach juice over the top.

Peaches and Basil with Almond Shortcake
Cooking Light

  • Topping:
  • 4 cups sliced peeled peaches (about 3 pounds) 
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup small basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  •  
  • Shortcake:
  • 9 ounces cake flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces 
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fat-free milk 
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

Preparation

  1. To prepare topping, combine peaches, 1/3 cup sugar, basil, and juice in a bowl; let stand 1 hour.  
  2. Preheat oven to 400°.
  3. To prepare shortcake, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, 7 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk with a fork just until combined (do not overmix). Spoon the dough into a 9-inch round metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Gently brush the dough with milk. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and almonds.
  4. Bake at 400° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove shortcake from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
  5. Cut shortcake into 12 wedges. Top each with 1/3 cup peach mixture and 1 tablespoon yogurt.


June 15, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  44 minutes     Current Temp.  72 ºF

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Friendship Bread Almond Joy Muffins


About mid April my friend, Louise, gave me and Anita a starter for Friendship Bread.  You know the kind, you get a baggie full of "starter" and you have to squeeze it every day, day 7 you add milk, sugar and flour, and by day 10 you are ready to bake, with starter for three friends and another batch for yourself to start again.  Meaning you will have to bake again in 10 days, and give away 3 more bags.
  I was not a good starter mommy and let mine die not once, but twice (one time was not really my fault, it was Dave's, I was out of town).  Anita was kind enough to bring me another starter both times.  It makes a very delicious bread, but with just two of us at home now, I don't need to bake two loaves of sweet bread every ten days, and what to do with three extra bags of starter every 10 days?  My friends were starting to avoid me, and I wait until zucchini is overabundant to leave bags in unattended cars.
I was looking through a bookstore and I came across a book called Friendship Bread by Darien Gee so I picked it up.  It was a sweet story of how important friends are, grief and overcoming it, forgiveness and a positive look at reinventing yourself throughout your life.  The end of the book had several recipes for using the Friendship Bread starter, and a website with over 200 recipes for the starter! (Find the website here)
I was very excited to try the sweet and savory recipes, and share the book with Anita.  If you haven't been "blessed" with a starter there is even a recipe to start your own (or just leave me a note, I can send you some since I'll have 3 more bags in about 4 days).  Just keep in mind, friends will stop all eye contact with you after you go through several 10 day cycles.


Ingredients 1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1-2 small boxes instant chocolate pudding
1 cup coconut
1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
mini almond joy bars

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F (165° C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add ingredients as listed.
  3. Line muffin pans with paper liners
  4. Scoop batter into muffin pans to fill 2/3 full
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Cool about 10 minutes
  7. When muffins are just warm top each muffin with unwrapped mini almond joy.
  8. Cool completely.
  9. ENJOY!
Tips:  
This makes 24 large muffins or I often make 12 muffins and a loaf of bread.  Butter the loaf pan and dust with cinnamon and sugar before adding the batter.  Bake a loaf for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I seldom have instant pudding so I used cook and serve, it works just fine.

June 13, 2012     Daylight  21 hours, 38  minutes     Current Temp.  65ºF

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tiramisu Cupcakes with Mascarpone Cream


The goal was a dozen cupcakes to Heather for her birthday.  I had the perfect cupcakes too, tiramisu cupcakes with mascarpone cream topping. They are delicious with a good coffee flavor and a light creamy topping.  The perfect cupcake for my coffee loving friend.
I made the cupcakes the night before, cooled them, soaked them and put them in a Tupperware for the night.  The next morning I made the mascarpone cream and topped them with the cream the chocolate shavings.  They were beautiful with the delicious cream topping and all on the tray in cute flower papers.
 I set them on the second shelf so Tucker, the cookie thief and counter surfer, wouldn't get to them.  I went upstairs to get ready for work.  I wasn't upstairs 5 minutes and I heard a loud crash.  I was sure the whole platter of cupcakes was on the floor.  Running downstairs and screaming at the top of my lungs (I know, nice way to wake your husband up), I found only the telephone had hit the floor.   I also found two of the flower paper liners from the cupcakes on the floor.  He got two.  So I put the last 10 cupcakes in the car, with the car door closed, in the closed garage, with that door closed, and I locked the car (o.k. I really didn't, I don't think Tucker can open the car door yet). 
I went and got ready, now running a little behind, so I rushed to the car (I forgot my lunch) and hurried to work.  Well, I set the tray on top of a sweater I keep in the car and the first corner I went around (yes, I was going a little fast) the tray slid off the sweater to the end of the seat, sending cupcakes rolling everywhere.  Luck would have it, I hit all green lights to work and didn't have the chance to straighten the cupcakes until I got into the parking lot.  I walked around to the back of the car to assess the damage.  One cupcakes was completely smeared on the tissue box and the seat, the rest were saveable.  I was down to 9 cupcakes for Heather's birthday (at this point I am hearing Count from Sesame Street counting backwards "9 chocolate cupcakes ha, ha, ha...).  I cleaned up the tray as best as possible, wiped up the seat (I wonder if anyone saw me licking the mascarpone cream off the tissue box?) and headed inside to deliver them to the birthday girl.  I guess 9 is better than none, but boy was that a hard delivery.

Tiramisu Cupcakes with Mascarpone Cream
 adapted from Cupcakes Galore, Gail Wagman


1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup very strong coffee (I used hot water and expresso powder)
1 tablespoon Marsala or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar, divided
pinch of salt
extra Marsala for soaking cupcakes, optional

Mascarpone cream
2 egg yolks
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Kahlua, optional
1 cup mascarpone
Kahlua for drizzling
Grated chocolate for decoration


Preheat oven to 350 ºF.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Beat egg yolks with cooled coffee and Marsala until very thick and creamy.  Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar, beating continually.  Set aside.
Beat egg whites with salt until they start to form moist peaks and gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar.  Continue beating until egg whites are stiff but not dry.  Stir 3 tablespoons of the whites into yolk mixture.  Gradually fold dry ingredients into mixture, using a whisk.  When the dry ingredients have been absorbed, gently fold in remaining whites.
Spoon batter into 12 cupcake papers, filling about 2/3 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool.
When cupcakes are cool, poke tops with a fork a few times and sprinkle a tablespoon of Marsala over each cupcake.
To make mascarpone cream: beat eggs yolks with sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Beat in Kahlua, if desired.  Gradually add mascarpone, beating continually.  Pile cream on cupcakes, drizzle with Kahlua, and sprinkle with chocolate.


Tips:  If serving these to adults, and not in a school district office, pour a little Kuhlua over the top of each.  I pour some Kuhlua into a tablespoon to control the flow over the cupcake.

Sometimes I double the mascarpone cream and pipe some cream into each cupcake before I top them.  Just push the tip of the pastry bag into the cupcake and gently squeeze some cream into the cupcake, then top.  If you aren't using a pastry bag, just cup a little circle out of the top center of the cupcake and fill it with the cream.

June 11, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  31 minutes     Current Temp.  75 ºF

Friday, June 8, 2012

Peach Lemonade for the start of summer


Summer in Fairbanks has officially started, according to one of our local radio stations.  This particular radio station claims we have 98 days of summer, can you guess their call number?

On the first Friday of every month, Fairbanks businesses and art galleries open for the evening and showcase artists.  Many businesses open a part of their store to showcase an artist, like the glass shop or the wood stove place, many places have snacks and always lots of art.  It really encourages everyone to get out, mingle, see some friends and get around town.  Well, the first Friday of June was also the kick off to our 98 days of summer.  There were musicians everywhere and downtown was supposed to be a buzz of activity...I say "supposed to be" because it started raining about 5:00 and by 6:00 it was a downpour that lasted until about 9:00 that evening.  All the musicians had to move indoors, the radio event moved indoors, and the street vendors just went home.

My friend, Donna, plays in a steel drum band.  They were planning on playing at Golden Heart Plaza, but those drums fill up with water when it rains and it messes the sound all up, so they played in their practice room instead.  People came and went all evening, at one point there was a Conga Line (I thought Dave was going to get in a fight with the woman who kept trying to pull him into the dance, I think she thought he was good looking), and overall everyone enjoyed the music and the energy.
video

I sure hope that "first day of summer" was no indication of what our summer will be like.  We don't need another rainy, cold summer like last year, and our winter was a long and cold one.  We are ready for  a hot dry summer without smoke from forest fires and I know it is about to start (Yes, I do live in a fairytale land of my own, thank you).

By Sunday it was better.  The afternoon was clear and warm and the perfect day for some lemonade  I got out my summer glasses and we sat on the deck while Dave grilled dinner.  I hope we really do have 98 days of summer.

Peach Lemonade
from Cooking Light
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped peaches
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
  • 4 cups ice
  • 1 lemon cut in slices for garnish
  • 1 cup light rum 
Preparation
  1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Place peach mixture in a blender; let stand for 20 minutes. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid. Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  2. Press peach mixture through a sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid; discard solids (I didn't do this, I just blended it thoroughly). Stir in lemon juice and rum. Place 1/2 cup ice in each of 8 glasses. Pour about 2/3 cup lemonade into each glass; garnish each glass with a lemon slice.
June 8, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  18 minutes    74º Current Temp.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cheater French Onion Soup

My grandpa Tony was a Shriner.  He was a clown, he wore the red fez hat and, as a child, he loved to take us to his group, or den, or secret circle of knowledge (or keepers of the treasure..no wait, that was a movie).  He loved to show us off and I loved my grandfather.
After he passed away, my grandmother decided she didn't need is 1950 Ford F1.  My dad and uncle had first dibs, and they both passed.  I got to buy the truck from my grandma and I am so excited.  Right now it is sitting in the garage at Grandma's house and I am forever scheming on how to get it up to Fairbanks.  But I digress...
My grandpa Tony's group sold apples and sweet onions to raise money for the organizations they support, like the Shriner's Hospital for Children.  So every year, when our friend Carlton (also a Shriner) is selling onions I buy a couple of bags.
This is a total cheater recipe because it is so good but so easy.  Everyone is really impressed when you pull this little package of deliciousness off the grill, you don't have to tell them it is this easy.  We got this recipe from our friends Russ and Mary Anne one summer when we had dinner by their Koi pond.

Cheater French Onion Soup
From Russ and MaryAnne

4 sweet onions
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
4 beef bullion cubes or better than bullion paste
4 garlic bread croutons

Cut stem end off each onion and peel, leave root end intact. Cut X in each onion, careful not to cut through the onion.  Stuff one tablespoon butter into the cuts of each onion.,


Place one bullion cube in center of each onion or one good glob of the better than bullion paste (yes glob is a real cooking word and good is a real measurement).
Wrap in aluminum foil and tightly seal edges.  Place on grill over indirect heat for 45-60 minutes until onion is very soft.  Alternatively, place in oven at about 325ºF for 45-60 minutes.
Carefully open foil packages and pour into bowls.  Pull the root end out of the bowl.  Top with garlic bread croutons if desired.
Again, this is so good, and so easy.  The onions melt into the butter and bullion and create this amazing soup.  We eat this over and over in the summer when the sweet onions are at their peak.
June 6, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  31 minutes     Current Temp.  68ºF

Monday, June 4, 2012

Light Banana Cream Pie and a secret


I have a secret, I'm a bit paranoid.  O.K. if you  know me that isn't much of a secret. I'm afraid of the dark, the closet and things grabbing my feet from under the bed and burglars.  But I have a plan for burglars and, thanks to my husband, I got to practice that plan.

You need to understand a few things first.  My bedroom is upstairs.  Go up the stairs and turn to the right, you go into the family room, turn to the left and you go through my bedroom door.  My bedroom is attached to the bathroom and my bathroom is attached to the family room.  So it is one big circle.

Over the long weekend, my husband went camping with our son, niece and nephew and a bunch of friends.  I stayed home to plant my garden and flowers.  Dave called on Saturday to say he was staying an extra day and not to expect him until Monday afternoon.  That was fine with me, one more day to myself and cereal for dinner (my favorite).  Sunday night, I was fast asleep in my bed. At 1:30 a.m. I awoke with a start.  And then I heard it, a sound. There was no doubt someone was in my house.  I listened very carefully, and sure enough there was noise from downstairs.  I quickly and very quietly got out of bed.  I made the bed (so burglars didn't know anyone was home), pulled on a pair of sweat pants and a sweatshirt over my nightgown and went through the bathroom to the family room (no crossing in front of the stairs to give away my location) so I could go onto the top deck and jump off the roof to run across the street to the safety of the neighbors.  At the sliding door to the deck, I turned and saw a downstairs light go on, I was sweating bullets, my heart was beating in my ears and I was hoping I wouldn't break anything on my way to the ground from the second story (could I drag myself across the street to the neighbor's house?).  Just as I unlocked to the door, I hear another sound, dogs walking around on the hardwood floor.  What kind of burglar brings a dog?  I tentatively  called out "Dave."
"It's me, I came home early, the river rose and washed us out."  he casually called up the steps.
"It's one thirty in the morning, couldn't you have called ahead to let me know?" I practically screeched.
"Oh, I didn't want to wake you."
Well it was a good thing I hadn't taken my gun out and put it on my dresser like I usually do when he is in moose camp because I might have shot him right then and there.
So after a good cry, a dry t-shirt and some calming down with an extra piece of banana cream pie, all was right with the world again.  We headed upstairs about 3:00 for bed.
Dave walked into the bedroom.  "Why is the bed made, haven't you been to bed yet?"
"Yes, I was asleep when you got home, I made the bed.  It is part of my plan, so the burglars don't know I'm home and won't come looking for me," I replied smugly.
"When did we have burglars?" he asked as he crawled between the covers.
Again, it is a good thing my gun was put away...

Light Banana Cream Pie
adapted from Ellie Krieger The Food We Crave

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 14 graham cracker squares (7 full sheets)
  • 1 cup Fiber One Original cereal
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sliced banana (3 medium bananas)
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 banana for topping
    fresh mint leaves, if desired

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. In a food processor, process graham crackers and Fiber One cereal until finely ground. Add butter and 1 tablespoon of water, and process until the crumb clumps together. Press crumb mixture into bottom of pie plate and about 1/2-inch up the sides. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then let cool.
    In the meantime, make the filling. Put the gelatin in a small bowl; add 3 tablespoons of boiling water and stir until gelatin is dissolved. In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/3 cup of sugar and the flour. In a medium bowl lightly beat the milk and eggs together. Add the egg and milk mixture to the saucepan and whisk so the flour and sugar dissolve. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes, until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened. Stir in the vanilla extract and gelatin. Set aside to cool slightly.
    Arrange the sliced bananas on the graham cracker crust and pour the pudding on top. Place in the refrigerator until the pudding has set, about 3 hours.
    Whip the cream with an electric beater. When it is about halfway done, add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, then continue whipping until fully whipped. Top each piece of pie with a spoonful of whipped cream, slices of banana and fresh mint, if desired.

    Tips:
    I buy my gelatin in a box with individual packets of gelatin.  This does not use a full packet.  If you put the full packet in, the filling gets a rubbery texture (not delicious, I speak from experience).  Measure the gelatin.

    I love adding Fiber One cereal to graham cracker crusts.  It adds a little more crumb mixture so it is easier to work with, and it adds extra fiber.  You need to adjust the amount of butter and water to make it a workable crumb.  I feel like I'm doing my body a favor by eating a piece of pie!

June 4, 2012     Daylight  21 hours,  3 minutes     Current Temp. 58º

Friday, June 1, 2012

Beef Fillet with Red Pepper Coulis and Avocado Butter


I really try to get my husband to eat a more healthy diet than Slim Jims (his favorite) and Cheetos.  I make him eat an entree salad for dinner at least once a week, he starts all other dinners with a small salad and has one or two veggies.  He doesn't like chicken, salmon or turkey, but he will eat it if that is what I cooked (which I don't do very often because why would I cook something I know he doesn't like?)  But every once in a while everyone deserves a treat and a big hunk of red meat is what he considers a treat.

Why, you ask, does this man deserve a treat right now?  Well, he did turn over all the soil in my garden boxes and greenhouse.  He does the laundry (I can't be trusted), I want a new lens for my camera, and he painted the family room while I was at San Antonio for a conference (really, I want a new lens for my camera).

I made him a wonderful filet with red pepper coulis and avocado butter.  It looks all fancy (if you do a better job plating than I do), it is delicious with the avocado butter and red pepper coulis and it is so easy, especially if your husband does the grilling and cooks the meat.  He was impressed and I got my new camera lens (o.k. so I was going to order it anyway, and he knows that, so we just feel better if we think we talked about it and agreed).

Beef Filet Mignon with Red Pepper Coulis and Avocado Butter
adapted from Sandra Lee Barbeque 
4 beef filets
salt and pepper
steak seasoning of your choice (I use Executive Chef)

Red Pepper Coulis
1/2 cup jarred red peppers
1/4 cup Catalina dressing

Avocado Butter
4 Tbsp. butter - softened at room temp
1/2 med. avocado, diced
1/2-1 tsp. franks red-hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Season beef as desired with salt, pepper and/or steak seasoning.  Let sit at room temp. for 30 minutes.

Add red peppers and Catalina dressing to blender, puree until smooth.  Pour into sauce pan and warm.

Mix softened butter, avocado, hot sauce, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Grill beef to desired temperature.  Place pool of red pepper coulis on plate, place meat in pool, top with avocado butter.  Serve.

June 1, 2012     Daylight  20 hours,  40 minutes,   seconds     Current Temp.  56 ºF