Tuesday, February 25, 2014

More Comfort Food

My sister who lives in Austin, Texas, sent me a "care" package with stone ground grits. The best grits I ever had in my entire life was at the Monument Cafe in Georgetown, Texas. Not only is this a wonderful place to eat, they are so helpful as to how to prepare their foods. No secret recipes here and knowing how to make the foods oftentimes increases visits to the restaurant as one does not always want to cook. Believe me, I will not visit Georgetown, Texas, without stopping in at the Monument Cafe!

My sister purchased the grits at the market adjacent to the Monument Cafe and the Cafe's cook most kindly shared how they cook them. They boil them in water until tender. Since I do not want to watch over a pot of boiling grits, and with my luck I will burn the pot, I decided to cook them in my slow cooker:

See how creamy the grits are getting with water as their only solvent? I set the slow cooker on high, used 1 cup grits to 3 cups of water, and stir about every hour.

We will eat the grits tonight, not tomorrow morning for breakfast, thus, the high setting on the slow cooker.

The grits will accompany salmon burgers and stir fried vegetables, we love them when the onions get a bit caramelized, yummy! Wish I could send this dinner from Cleveland to my Texas family!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower - Comfort Food and Sweet Treat

My sister who lives in Austin, Texas, asked me how I prepare roasted cauliflower. On busy days like today, I want to put everything for dinner into the oven. In fact, I talked to my sister while preparing dinner tonight, cooking it, eating it and I need only throw the parchment paper on the cookie sheet away -- few pots or dishes to clean.

As a treat, we have literally eaten roasted cauliflower as if we were eating potato chips! Easier to make than kale chips, which only take ten minutes in the oven but can get overcooked very easily, no one can over or under cook roasted cauliflower! Under cooked it remains crunchy, but we prefer the tendency to overcook and enjoy the caramelized goodness and softness of this wonderful vegetable, which I purchase when on sale at our local market. It is one of the few vegetables in our part of the country in the winter that says USA!

One of our favorite winter vegetables is this roasted treat. My husband and I can eat almost an entire head for our side dish for dinner or as a fun evening snack. It has a beautiful color, roasting brings out the sweetness, notice the dark sweet spots on this delicious vegetable!

Kids love finger foods, don't we all! We eat it completely plain, but one can spray the head with cooking spray and put on preferred spices, serve with ketchup, or just plain per its natural sweetness
and caramel color and flavor.

Notice the green leaves, don't throw them out as they become tender on roasting and have nutritional value. I only cut off the first, outermost leaves and slice up the entire head into thin long pieces. Some of the long pieces break up on their own and others break up after baking in the oven.

I usually roast the sliced up head of cauliflower on a 9" x 12" cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, which I buy in bulk from COSTCO! I set the temperature to 425 F or the temperature needed for the rest of my dinner baking in the oven. I put it on the bottom baking rack in my oven as other items are baking on the racks above!

Enjoy this sweet, warm, and comforting treat, especially wonderful in our cold and very long Cleveland, Ohio winters!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beautiful Happy Birthday Flowers to Adorn the Monster Cake

If you have baked a "monster" cake for your birthday, don't judge the cake by its external looks!

Just as we don't judge a book by its cover, don't judge your monster cake until you have taken a bite!

The "monster" cake is delicious. I will include the recipe in another post, but look at the flowers which appeared at my front door this morning in Cleveland (which seems to be like living in the North Pole this winter)!

The colors of the roses include my mother's favorite, the peach colored ones, which remind me of "tea roses." The roses are beautiful and decorate the table. I had the table adorned by my mother's life-like daffodils, in a vase I had once made for her covered with her favorite flowers, Margarites.

No wonder my dear Mom named one of her daughters, Margaret Ann, after her favorite flower and her most beloved Aunt Margaret.

The cake looks and tastes better surrounded by the flowers Margaret Ann sent to my house this morning; flowers appeared with a knock on my front door, after I cut a slice of the cake and was on the phone ordering medication. My husband has a regular dentist appointment today! Does everyone go to their dentist on their spouse's birthday? If the roads are clear (heard there was black ice out this morning) we will make it to his appointment -- if he can not eat pumpkin bread or cake per dental work, at least he can enjoy Margaret Ann's flowers!

Below is a slice of the wonderful cake, it is not too sweet. I like cakes made in the German tradition, and this marble cake tastes like a German one, hardly sweet, but has a wonderful texture, but I think I will put a bit more sugar in it the next time I make it. If my Mom were here to share this birthday with me, and how I wish she were here, we would be whipping up homemade whipping cream to add to this wonderful cake -- I might add a few fresh strawberries in her memory.

Mommy, can you see the cake and smell the roses? I know you can wherever you might be!

The pumpkin bread looks better with the flowers too, it makes the raisins look wonderful!

Love to Mommy from your daughters, grandchildren and great-granddaughter! I know you had the hardest time giving birth to me, and I know I owe you my life!

Birthday Cake

For my birthday today, I defrosted a pumpkin bread as always bake extra and keep the loaves in the freezer for times when I need a cake or feel in the mood for some healthy pumpkin bread!

After taking the pumpkin bread out of the freezer, I decided to bake one of my mother's favorite cakes for my birthday, a marble pound type cake.

I have never had a loaf cake rise this high up! I can not imagine that I over mixed the cake, but I have never experienced such a high topped cake. My husband says it has a high top to better show off my single candle which I hope to light later in the day!

When I cut into this cake, I hope it has an incredible taste and marbled pattern as it sure looks like a bit of a monster at the moment!

The pumpkin bread that I defrosted is much lower in height!

Again, what a cake for my 66th birthday -- maybe I should cut it up quickly after blowing out the candle so no one notices what a monster cake with a very fat tummy?

I guess there is a first time for everything and at least the cake batter did not overflow the loaf pan!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Snow, Snow, and More Snow

Wow, what a winter! My husband keeps reminding me of what the weather is like in Hawaii, thus, I think I better come up with food to warm us up today and give us a bit of a feeling like   .  .   . catching a wave?

The photos of Hawaii look so heavenly, maybe I should make an angel food cake for my birthday this week?

Maybe a pineapple angel food cake? I made a strawberry angel food cake when my Texas nephew requested a "strawberry" cake, on his visit to Cleveland in 2011. I substituted the water required in an angel food cake mix with pureed strawberries --- the cake had a light pink color and tasted yummy.

Angel food cake made with a can of crushed pineapple is wonderful, just dump the entire can plus liquid (natural juice) into the mix as the exchange for the water designated on the box of the cake mix.

My great-niece loves "purple" and blueberries -- for Emma, I would take a box of angel food cake mix, instead of water I would use pureed blueberries, and drop the batter into cupcake tins!

I bet one could use puree from any fruit from apples to mango -- as a substitute for the required liquid in cake mix for angle food cake. I used to make angle food cake from scratch - using many egg whites, but why bother per the convenience, quality, and fluffiness of an angel food cake mix can not be beat -- just make sure your mixer is in working condition on the highest speed!

As Ina would say "How simple is that?"

Emma loves cupcakes, don't we all?  Two year-old Emma would say, "O.K.!"

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Birthday Party to Remember

The weather in Cleveland has not improved, but we made it to Austin, Texas, for a few days for our great-niece's 2nd birthday party. My niece Julie made some wonderful foods for the children (and adults) attending the party at the Austin Dog Alliance. Compare the photographs of Cleveland, Ohio, to Austin, Texas, on approximately the same day in February!


One child filled his plate with a selection of very healthy and colorful combinations of fruit, cheese, and crackers.


For easy to handle food for children, and adults, Julie made some doggie's in a blanket (a small piece of hot dog embedded in dough,) which can be made from most any kind of pastry that can be wrapped around a small piece of meat. Per my former life in intensive care units, hot dogs can be very dangerous food for young children, so always be very cautious in this respect. Small pieces of multi-colored cheese and cut up fruit were most colorful on the buffet table.

Cupcakes on a cup-cake-tree were a wonderful addition and my niece had the most fluffy cupcakes covered in white icing with multi-colored sprinkles. Lemonade was available for the guests and the hosts were two very well-trained dogs, both named Max.