Friday, May 30, 2014

Grilled Corn Salad and the Eating of the Flowers

It is planting season in Fairbanks.  I am busy getting all my plants outside, hardened off, and planted.  I love this time of year.

I have 4 pots I plant for the backyard deck.  I put some lovely flowers in the pots, and left them lined up for my husband to move to their corners for me.  Big mistake.  It was the perfect line for one of the dogs to eat the flowers, just grazing walking down the line.
Tucker checking out the flower boxes to see if there is anything to eat!

I thought it was Lily who ate all the flowers, but when my husband discovered this

he did the back teeth check (I never would have done that.  I would just yell at all of them).  Lobo, the oldest, best behaved (and Dave's favorite) had yellow petals stuck to the back of his teeth, Lily did not.  So who is the good dog now? (Lily!)

Well, warmer temps also mean more grilling (yea!  Go Dave) and meals outside.  I love it.  This salad is terrific for a quiet dinner on the deck or is so easy to double (or triple) for a potluck barbecue!  Dinner on the deck happens quite often now, we have to keep an eye on those flower eating dogs.

Roasted Corn Salad

4-5 ears of corn
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 avocado
1/4 cup cilantro
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Grill corn until cooked and slightly charred.  Remove from grill and cool until easy to handle.

While corn is cooling, rinse and drain beans, add to small saucepan.  Warm beans with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, do not bring to a boil.  Cut corn from cobs, chop cilantro, cut tomatoes in half, dice avocado and add to a large bowl.  Pour bean mixture over corn and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature.

1 year ago:   Um, I'm out of posts for May...and last year's June doesn't look too promising!
2 years ago:  Individual Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

May 30, 2014   Daylight  rises: 3:38 am  sets: 12:03 am (tomorrow)  Temp H 73/ L 52°F

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Scary Stories and Nutella filled Cinnamon Sugar Muffines

Everyone who knows me knows I don't like scary stuff.  I don't read scary books (I tell people I'm not allowed), I don't watch scary movies (in college, my date and I had to leave Gremlins because it was too scary...and no, we didn't have a second date), I don't even like the movie trailers on t.v. that are scary.  I believe that it is because I have such an active imagination, which is a sign of a high IQ (at least that is what I tell myself so I can feel better about it.)

Well, I was cruising Facebook over the weekend (when I was home alone and not washing the walls) and I came upon a shared post called Terrifying two sentence horror stories.  Now really, how scary can two sentences be?  Here is the link, see for yourself...

Um, yea.  I was home alone and had to sleep with the lights on, with Hershey on Dave's pillow (and keep in mind right now it never really gets dark outside, just kind of dusky)...the one about the closet was especially scary since my side of the bed is right next to the closet.  At 2:37 am, I had to go get Tucker (a golden retriever) out of the living room and make him sleep on the floor between me and the closet so he would bark before something tried to get me.

So, yes, I am a big fat ol' baby.  And my gun is in the closet so how could I get to it if the monster was coming from the closet?  I had to have a treat to calm my nerves in the morning.  And nothing clams nerves better than chocolate.  It is a scientific fact that the antioxidants in chocolate are good for you, and dark chocolate helps relax your blood vessels so helps lower your blood pressure and reduce your chance of strokes...or something like that.  I read it on the internet so I know it is true.

So, here is a great recipe for you to make yourself, after you read those scary two-sentence horror stories.  You might want to mix them up and have them in the oven when you read them, and don't say I didn't warn you.

Nutella Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction Blog


· 1/3 cup (5 Tablespoons or 75g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

· 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

· 1 large egg

· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

· 1/2 cup (120ml) milk (cow, almond, soy)

· 1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour

· 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

· 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

· 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

· 1/2 teaspoon salt

· 8 teaspoons Nutella


· 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

· 2 teaspoons cinnamon

· 3 Tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 425F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed. Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Do not overmix - stir until *just* combined.

Spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of batter into muffin cavity. Layer with 1 teaspoon Nutella in the center and spoon another heaping Tablespoon of batter on top. If the muffin tins are completely full, that is ok. They will not overflow. Repeat layering batter and Nutella into each muffin tin. I got exactly 8 muffins.

Bake at 425F for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 13-17 minutes until batter is set. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes.

While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping. Melt the butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir and stick back in microwave if not fully melted. In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Swirl them around in the cinnamon-sugar a bit to make sure you get a thick coating. Set upright on cooling rack.

Muffins stay fresh in an airtight container up to 1 week. Muffins freeze well, up to 3 months.

1 year ago:   Quinoa Salad
2 years ago: Mudslide Brownies and Ruckus in the Muckus

May 28, 2014   Daylight 20 hrs. 10 min. 53 sec.   Temp. H 66/ L 45°F

Monday, May 26, 2014

Potato Chip Marshmallow Treats

I really like my alone time.  Dave always goes into moose camp for the month of September, and for the last 6 years or so, I have had the house to myself.  Now, I love my husband, but I love him so much more in October than I do in August.  This year the Baby Boy and the Chick will be here so I won't get my alone month....not too happy about that.  So, when everyone had plans for the weekend-away from home, I was thrilled, even though it left me in charge of the 7 4-legged friends.

I had great plans for my long weekend.  I always plant my yard and garden over Memorial Day weekend.  We are almost certainly safe from over-night freezes, or you can cover what you have planted if it is going to frost (yes, I have a set of blankets just for covering is like tucking them in to bed for the night).  This year Memorial Day was a little early, so planting was iffy.  Saturday was sunny and beautiful, even if it was only 58°.  I went to my favorite green house and purchased my plants (at least I'll tell Dave I'm done, I have to do it in a couple of trips because I can only fit 10 flats of plants in my Jeep at one time).  I got them home and unloaded, and as soon as my back was turned, the dogs ate most of the lettuce and the cabbage plants...crap.

I did get a few things planted and decided to leave the rest for Sunday...only to wake up Sunday to clouds, wind, and it's-too-damn-cold-to-work-outside weather.  I did have a backup plan, I was going to wash the walls in the living room, and bleach the kitchen.  I like to do that every once in a while - for fun- 'cus I'm fun like that and have a full social life.  So I sat and drank coffee, read a few magazines, colored my gray roots (because, who can wash walls with tacky gray roots?), and then made these cookies.  Yes, I great for having a plan but I don't always follow it.

I saw these on Pinterest.  I guess I didn't pin it because I thought, who can't make rice krispy treats and just sub out the cereal for potato who ever I stole this from, THANK YOU.

These are beyond awesome.  They are sweet and salty, gooey and crunchy, a little taste of heaven.  And, because I am home alone, I had to eat them all.  So much for the shake cleanse I was going to do...along with the living room walls.  Nope, I sat watching movies (my niece taught me how to find movies on my cable!) and eating these.  I'm planning on making another batch to take to work sometime this week, they are so freaking good.

I guess the walls will get done on the next long weekend.

Potato Chip Marshmallow Treats

 3 Tbsp. butter plus more for preparing pan and for hands
1 16 oz. bag mini marshmallows
6 cups ruffled potato chips, slightly crunched (crush then measure)

Heavily butter a 8" x 8" pan.  Keep some softened butter handy for using on your hands.

Melt butter in large, thick bottomed pot.  Add marshmallows and stir until melted.  Pour in crushed potato chips and stir until completely covered.  Spread into prepared pan with buttered hands, pressing lightly.

Let cool completely.  Cut into squares.

1 year ago:   Discipline in an Elementary School and Jalapeno Poppers for the Grill
2 years ago:  Beginning of Summer and Individual Peach Pies

May 26, 2014   Daylight 19 hrs. 57 min. 45 sec.   Temp. H 66/ L 46°F

Friday, May 23, 2014

Apricot Crumble and Hail

Some of my co-workers and I walk during lunch.  We hoof it down to the corner and back in about 30 minutes.  That is pretty good for 2 miles.  I feel very accomplished and usually reward myself with chocolate when I get back to the office.

Last Monday, there was just two of us, walking and talking about as fast as we could.  We were about half way back and the skies opened up and it began to rain and hail.  Yes, hail.  And it hurt.  My co-worker had her hair in a pony tail and she kept getting hit in the ears, and it hurt.  I just got a bunch of ice down my cleavage...nice.

So, I decided I needed more than just chocolate.  When I got home I made these apricot crumbles.  They were easy, warm and just the right size for a nice little treat.  They are easy to pop in the microwave to warm them up for tomorrow.  Let's just hope it doesn't hail at lunchtime.

Fresh Apricot Crumbles

9 med. to large apricots
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
3 biscotti cookies - crushed (I used the almond kind)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
pinch of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray or butter 6 ramekins.

Cut each apricot into 8 slices.  Place in a medium bowl with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir and let sit while you make the topping.

Mix crushed biscotti, butter and nutmeg.  Toss until well mixed.

Mix the apricot mixture again.  Divide into prepared ramekins.  Divide topping between the ramekins.  Bake for 20 minutes or until apricots are soft and bubbling.  Top with whipped cream or ice cream.

1 year ago:   Tornado Shelter and Family
2 years ago:  A letter to my Hero

May 23, 2014   Daylight 19 hrs. 37 min. 37 sec.   Temp. H 57/L36° F

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Nothing really spectacular is going on.  It is getting warmer, the Baby boy finished his first semester and has started on his summer classes.  The Chick is going to work every day, Dave is going to work every day, I'm going to work every day...same stuff another day.

Not that I find daily life boring or tedious.  Exactly the opposite.  I love routine, sameness, and schedules.  It does give me a sense of control.  And just about the time I am comfortable and moving along that is when it hits the I'm waiting.

While I wait, I bake.  One of my friends is having about 30 people come stay at her house.  They are from India and she makes wonderful Indian treats but not so much for American Treats.  Her friends are making their first trip to the U.S. and want to experience the joys of our country.  So I mixed up a batch of Chocolate Chip CookiesMolasses Spice Cookies, and these Snickerdoodle cookies.  I just mixed them up, made the cookie balls and froze them so my friend can bake them at home.  Her house will smell delicious, everyone can try warm cookies, and she can take all the credit for them, I told her to.

The Chick and Dave helped with the rolling of the Snickerdoodles, you roll them into balls and then into the cinnamon sugar mix, so I made a second batch for home, as a reward for them...the Chick and I will eat them, Dave doesn't like cookies so I'll have to eat his share!


1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar (divided)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (divided)
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

For topping: mix 1/c cup granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp. in a small bowl.  Set aside.

For cookies:  In a large bowl using a mixer, cream the softened butter for about 1 minutes on medium speed.  Add 1 cup sugar and mix on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until light in color and fluffy.  Mix in egg and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, 2 tsp. cinnamon, and salt.  Add dry ingredients into the creamed butter in three parts.

Using a small scoop, or two teaspoons, roll dough into balls (about 2 tablespoons of dough), then roll balls into cinnamon-sugar mix.  Place on prepared cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes until edges set and begin to brown.  Let sit on cookie sheet for one minute them move cookies to rack to cool completely.

1 year ago:    Barbie Shots - Drink of the Week
2 years ago:  Meet the Pups and Homemade Dog Biscuits

May 21, 2014   Daylight  19 hrs. 23 min. 58 sec.  Temp. H 57/ L 36°F

Monday, May 19, 2014

Black Forest Cake

Summer is upon us and so the student workers in our office are leaving.  We had a little farewell party for them and enjoyed this cake.  I really think they should make a cake for us, because now we have no one to pass work off to and we have to rehire student workers for the summer, which is more work for us.  But then you think about cake made in a dorm room...yea, not so much.

Black Forest Cake
adapted from Sweet and Savory by Shinee blog

For Cake
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup sugar
• ½ cup cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1/3 cup warm water
• 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
• 1 egg
• ½ cup milk
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
• ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For White Chocolate Mousse
• 1 ½ teaspoons (60gr) powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons water
• 12oz (340gr) white chocolate
• 2 cups heavy cream

For Cherry Sauce
• 4 cups pitted sweet cherries, fresh or frozen
• ½ cup sugar
• 4 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Spray 9-inch springform pan with a cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a small cup, dissolve the instant espresso powder in water. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract on medium speed until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until everything is incorporated. Stir in mixed espresso. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5. Cool the cake on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let it cool completely.
6. To make the white chocolate mousse filling, in a small cup sprinkle the gelatin over cold water. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
7. In a small saucepan, pour ½ cup of heavy cream and bring it to simmer over low heat. Don’t boil. Remove from heat and add the gelatin mixture. Stir until gelatin is fully dissolved.
8. In medium bowl, pour the warm mixture over white chocolate and using a silicone spatula mix until the chocolate is completely melted.
9. In a large mixing bowl with whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 ½ cups of heavy cream until hard peaks. Fold in the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture.
10. When the cake is cooled completely, divide the cake horizontally into two equal layers with a serrated knife. Put the bottom layer into the springform pan and add half of the white chocolate mousse filling. Spread evenly. Place the top layer on a separate plate and pour the remaining white chocolate mousse over it. Place both layers in the freezer for an hour to let the mousse set.
11. Meanwhile, make the cherry sauce. In a medium saucepan, bring the cherries to boil over medium-high heat.
12. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add this to the boiling cherries along with vanilla extract and lemon juice. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and cool completely.
13. Pour half of the cherry sauce over the bottom layer with white chocolate mousse, then place the top layer of the cake with white chocolate mousse and pour the remaining cherry sauce. You may serve right away.
1 year ago:   Pork Sandwiches
2 years ago: Lemon Meringue Pie

May 19.2014   Daylight 19 hrs. 10 min. 12 secs.   Temp. H 50/ L 30°F

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bacon Wrapped-Cheese Stuffed Hot Dogs

In the quest to find things for my husband to grill, and for things he will really enjoy, and to get distracted that he is doing all the cooking, I found this on Pinterest.  (By the way, Dave said I often write in run-on sentences and that sometimes one paragraph will be one really long sentence, with way too many comma's, when it really should be several sentences.  I don't know what he is talking about!)


Do I really need to say anything else?

I worked hard on Saturday.  I sanitized the dishwasher, worked in the yard, got a pedi, took a nap, made coffee, set up a table for my mosaic (I told Dave I would finish it two years ago so I think I should get it started).  And caught up on The Black List.  I deserved a treat.  So for dinner - Dave grilled.

I saw these on Pinterest.  How did we ever get along without Pinterest?  My friend Heather showed me a couple years ago and now I am slightly obsessed.  I used to read in the morning with my coffee, now I scroll through Pinterest at all the perfectly designed homes, fantastic weddings, picture perfect meals...I can never live up to all that.  But my boards are awesome!

So I found these hot dogs on Pinterest and decided we needed to try them ourselves.  I made with cheese for Dave and me, and without cheese for the dairy-free kids.  We also had some cheese and bacon wrapped corn on the cob to get a veggie in there! (My poor dairy free kids don't know what they are missing!)  This was a perfect meal after such a hard day of work!

I cut my cheese sticks in half, next time I won't do that.  

Grill over low heat and turn often.

Bacon Wrapped - Cheese Stuffed Hot Dogs

8 hot dogs
8 sticks of cheese, cheddar, mozzerella, pepper jack...
8-16 pieces of bacon
8 hot dog buns

Heat grill.

Make a slit down the center of each hot dog leaving the end uncut.

Stuff hotdog with cheese stick.  Wrap completely with bacon, overlapping the bacon and securing with toothpicks. (I pre-cooked the bacon for 3 minutes in the microwave before I used it for wrapping.)

Grill hotdogs over low heat until bacon is completely cooked and cheese is melty.  Serve on buns.

1 year ago:   Butterfinger Martini
2 years ago:  Bar-B-Que Chicken Salad with Corn Bread Croutons

May 14, 2014   Daylight 18 hrs. 35 min. 25 sec.   Temp. H 61/ L 39 °F

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cheese and Bacon Wrapped Corn on the Cob

I love corn on the cob.  When I was a kid we had a corn field next to our farm and my mom would have the water boiling before she would send us out to pick some corn for dinner.  It was so sweet and tender it really didn't need butter (but we slathered it on anyway)!  Unfortunately, the fresh corn we get in Fairbanks isn't that fresh, and it is a difficult thing to grow in our cool, short summers.  So, we put up with what we can get and we need to dress it up a little.

This is one of our favorite summer treats.  Corn on the cob smeared with a cheese spread and wrapped in bacon.  Then wrapped in foil and grilled.  It is a must for us during the summer and always makes an appearance at our Fourth of July dinner.

If I was living next to a corn field now, and had access to that sweet, tender corn from my childhood, I might not smear it with cheese and wrap it in bacon....who am I kidding?  Of course I would.
Notice the mayo with no artificial flavors?
That offsets the package of chemicals I used for cheese...really, it works.

Lay our your 4 pieces of tin foil and brush the cheese on the corn
while it is on the foil.  It saves a huge mess.
Grill over indirect heat, turning often.

Cheese and Bacon Wrapped Corn on the Cob

4 ears of corn
1 pkg. (1.5 oz) four cheese sauce mix (like Knorr or in a pinch use the cheese pkg. from a mac and cheese box like I did here.  Or for those into real food, used finely grated parmesan.)
3 Tbsp. mayo
4 slices thick cut bacon

Preheat grill for medium high heat.

Pre-cook bacon for 3 minutes in microwave between layers of paper towel.  The goal is to reduce the time needed on the grill, remove some of the fat, but not cook it enough to get stiff.

Mix cheese sauce mix and mayo in a small bowl.  Brush on the corn.  Wrap corn with bacon and wrap in foil.

Cook on grill, turning the corn often, until bacon is cooked through.

1 year ago:  Compound Butter and the Joy of an Airline Upgrade
2 years ago: Spinach and Warm Bacon and Mushroom Dressing

May 12, 2014   Daylight 18 hrs. 21 min. 24 secs.  Temp. H 72/ L 45°F

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bacon Burgers

Now that it is sunny and a little warmer (notice I didn't say warm), we grill almost every night.  My plan is to have easy things Dave can grill so I don't have as many dishes to do after dinner and I don't have to do most of the cooking.

We end up eating a lot of burgers, usually on a Friday night because I'm tired by the end of the week.  We have a bit of moose burger left in the freezer so it is easy to pull a package out to thaw and Dave does the rest.

A friend introduced me to something called 50/50.  It is 50% burger and 50% ground bacon.  Yes, you heard me right, ground bacon!  She made meatballs with it at Christmas, and I knew this would be a welcomed addition to our weekly burger night.  I didn't go with 50/50, I just couldn't face all that fat (well, I could, but my pants can't) so I went 75/25.  I ground some bacon, added it to the ground moose, threw in some Montreal Steak seasoning and Dave made the patties.  Now, we won't do this every week, but we will do it often!

Ground Bacon!  My Kitchen Aide grinder makes this so easy.

Bacon Burgers

3 lbs. burger
1 lb. bacon, ground
4 Tbsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning

Mix burger, ground bacon and seasoning together, lightly.  Shape into patties.  Grill!
Extra patties go in the freezer between wax paper for the next time.  Thaw before using.

May 7, 2014   Daylight 17 hrs. 46 min. 18 sec.  Temp. H 52/ L 34°F

Monday, May 5, 2014

Learning to like Dark Chocolate

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I LOVE chocolate.  This isn't just a crush, an affair on the side, this is true-all-in-can't-live-one-day-without-it LOVE.  I really believe that a day without chocolate is a day not worth breathing through.

I have a chocolate jar in my office, a chocolate dish in my house, I drink a chocolate shake every morning (it is healthy, I swear), and  I eat chocolate almost every night after dinner (and I wonder why my pants don't fit).

Being the health conscious person I am, I was aware of the heath benefits of dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate is not my favorite, but I was determined to make my daily treat something good for me.  I was going to like dark chocolate.  So, for one full school year, I only ate dark chocolate.  My candy dish at home had dark chocolate, my candy dish at work had dark chocolate, and I ate one every afternoon.  And I bought the good stuff, not the cheap stuff from the kids' candy aisle I paid top dollar for my dark chocolate fix.  I ate it every day for 9 months...and I hated it every day for 9 months.

By the end of the school year I was so disappointed that my experiment didn't work I ate a whole bunch of milk chocolate to console myself.  And I haven't looked back.

To this day I eat chocolate every day and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.  I can appreciate a darker chocolate now and again, but my true love has been, and forever will be the sweet goodness of milk chocolate.

This chocolate bark can be made with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate (like that is real chocolate...), or you can swirl them for a beautiful effect, like I do here.  For the freeze dried fruits, just choose what you like.  I love the color of the strawberries and raspberries with the pistachios.  This would be a perfect Christmas gift, just know what kind of chocolate the receiver prefers.

Swirled chocolate bark

6 oz. good dark chocolate (as if)
6 oz. good milk chocolate
dried strawberries
dried raspberries
pistachio and almonds

In a small bowl add 3 oz. of the dark chocolate.  In a separate bowl add 3 oz. milk chocolate.  Melt in the microwave by heating for 30 second intervals and stirring between each interval.  When all the chocolate is melted, remove from microwave and stir in the other 3 oz. of each chocolate.  Stir until completely melted (I stir the dark chocolate and let the milk chocolate sit so the added chocolate melts a bit, then stir the milk chocolate and let the dark chocolate sit...)

Stir in a handful of the nut mixture and a small handful of each dried fruit into each type of chocolate.

Drop spoonfuls of each chocolate onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, making a checkerboard pattern.  Using an offset spatula, swirl the two chocolates together and spread mixture into an even thickness.  Top with nuts and dried fruit.  Cool completely.  Break into pieces.

Wrapped in a little bag and ready for giving.  A sweet spring treat.

1 year ago:    The night I thought I was going to get murdered and Manila Clams
2 years ago:  Meatloaf for two

May 5, 2014     Daylight 17 hrs. 32 min. 15 sec.  Temp. H 48/ L 36°F

Friday, May 2, 2014

Strawberry Mousse

This is the time of year I can buy strawberries.  I don't have to sniff them, put them down and head to the frozen food section to buy frozen berries.  They are starting to taste like real strawberries now and while they cost an arm and a leg,  I eat enough to be totally sick of them to last me through the winter.

So here is the beginning of, what I like to call, "the eating of the Strawberries marathon."

Right now, strawberries do need a little help with the flavor.  They are starting to taste like strawberries, but to eat them plain still leaves a little to be desired.  This recipe uses fresh strawberries, but gives them a little help in bumping up the flavor.
Reducing the strawberry juice to concentrate the flavor.

Straining the pulp to remove the seeds.

Beautiful pink strawberry mousse.

Fresh strawberries and whipped cream on top.  Delicious.
Strawberry Mousse
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 lbs. strawberries, hulled
2 Tbsp. berry liqueur
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cut enough strawberries into 1/4 inch dice to measure 1 cup.  refrigerate until ready to garnish.  Pulse remaining strawberries in food processor in 2 batches until most pieces are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, 6 to 10 pulses.  Transfer strawberries to bowl and toss with 1/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt.  (Do not clean processor) Cover bowl and let strawberries stand for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Strain processed strawberries through fine-mesh strainer into bowl, you get about 2/3 cup juice.  Measure out 3 Tbsp. juice into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over juice, and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.  Place remaining juice in small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 10 minutes.  Remove pan from heat, add softened gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.  Add berry liqueur and cream cheese and whisk until smooth.  Transfer to large bowl.

While juice is reducing, return strawberries to now-empty processor and process until smooth, 15-20 seconds.  Strain puree through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl pressing on solids to remove seeds and pulp (you should have about 1 2/3 cups puree).  Discard any solids in strainer.  Add strawberry puree to juice-gelatin mixture and whisk until incorporated.

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes.  Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk whipped cream into strawberry mixture until no white streaks remain.  Portion into dessert dishes and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours.  If chilled longer than 6 hours, let mousse sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.  Serve, garnishing with reserved diced strawberries and fresh whipped cream (if desired).
Serves 6

1 year ago:   Cherry Tart and the Weight Loss Challenge
2 years ago:  Bee Cupcakes and Hiving the Bees

May 2, 2014   Daylight  17hrs. 11 min. 12 sec.  Temp.  H 69/ L 41°F