Thursday, February 26, 2015

Toughest food critics

While writing several cookbooks, I have been searching google for the toughest food critics for a couple years and found the best video. If the kids receive my kids' cookbook the way they like this pizza, I will be thrilled:

Searching for cooking videos led me to this incredible treasure!

The video is great, I have to make pizza tomorrow, just as it is pictured with fresh basil, sauce, and cheese.

The kids are all great, but check out Jack and stay tuned for his last words in the taste test!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Baked Brown Bread

Easy Baked Brown Bread

This no fail recipe for baked brown bread is from the grandmother of my friend, Carolyn Turner. I have tried many brown bread recipes,this one is by far the best tasting, and the easiest to make. The brown bread is moist, baked in cans, and fun for children to make with you. Use melted butter and make the brown bread exactly as described. Trust me, if you like baked brown bread, this recipe is a winner. Thanks Gram Harcourt for passing this wonderful recipe to your granddaughter Carolyn!

The only issue I have recently discovered is that the large size soup cans, at least the ones that I tried, have a bottom that is hard to open and the top lip is narrower than the inside of the can as the cans now have tabs for easy opening.

Although the brown bread was completely loose in the can sprayed with cooking spray, I could not get the bread out of the can. My husband had no problem, but used an interesting technique. There is no suction problem he explained to me, the lip of the can is made too narrow, so he patiently and gently put his fingers in the can and gently gave the bread a slight touch, so that it would be a bit narrower for a second, and that portion would proceed out of the can. He continued to do this until the entire round brown bread was out of the can completely in one piece. As soon as he went on to the next section the first expanded back and the new section emerged from the can, all in one piece and beautiful. He did it so that the lip not cut into the brown bread --- truly remarkable. Next time I will study all the cans at the grocery to see if they are all now made this way. Worst case scenario, I buy cans of brown bread and save those cans for Gram Harcourt's fantastic brown bread, better than any you can ever find in a grocery store.

1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins
3 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups boiling water

Mix the above and let the mixture cool. When cool, add the ingredients below, but do not overmix.

2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar (3/4 white and 3/4 brown) (use 2 cups sugar for sweeter brown bread)
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup nuts (ground nuts may be used or nuts omitted)
5 empty "chunky" soup cans sprayed on the inside with Pam

Fill the five cans, which have been sprayed with Pam, 1/2 full and smooth the tops. Don't try to fill four cans as the mixture will overflow -- use five cans and fill each 1/2 full. If the cans are smaller than "chunky" soup cans, more than five cans will be needed. Bake at 325 F. for 50-60 minutes. After the cans are baked and cooled, open the closed end of the can and push the baked brown bread through, slice and serve.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dairy-free Milk Pudding

I love non dairy puddings made with coconut milk (the 45 calorie version) or almond milk (the 30 calorie version). I use 2 cups of milk and one small box of pudding and add 3 tablespoons of Kraft Minute Tapioca. Sometimes I skip the box of pudding mix and add sugar to the tapioca and dairy-free milk. I never add the eggs or include beaten egg whites as stated on the tapioca pudding but might try it one day with pasturized eggs.

What Birthday Cake to Make for Me?

I am really stuck on what birthday cake I should make for myself? Carrot cake sounds great as do many others. I am really stuck and my birthday is this Friday. I would love to make a bunch of cakes, but not sure if my energy level is up to my usual self. It would be fun to see if I can still do it or have to go down to one item per day? Boomer having had so much energy and some of it was lost, but I have some really easy recipes that I made for those too tired to bake from scratch and consider them "almost homemade" like using a great angel food cake mix and adding lemon and pineapple to it or taking a regular cake mix and adding just a can of condensed milk and a can of fruit in its own juice to the batter. They are all easy, but what do I really want for this "first birthday"? Then there is a fantastic brown bread recipe from my Grandmother Harcourt, my friend Carolyn's incredible baked brown bread in cans and my Cousin Yetta's incredible "library bownies" that are the best in the world. The problem with banana cake is I will eat he entire thing, same for macaroons. I am also addicted to a million other cakes --- as long as they do not have too much whipped cream, I can handle, but too much makes me ill. I ended up making a carrot cake the day after as my sister brought me a wonderful angel food cake and Cleveland coconut bars that were out of this world! I used coconut in the carrot cake in lieu of nuts, but next time I will make sure to pack the carrots in the 2 cup measuring cup!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day, February 14, 2015

For Valentine's Day this year I made heart-shaped palmiers, my favorite cookie as a child growing up in Germany as a toddler. They were not too sweet and just right. The ones I find in the U.S. are too sweet, so I finally decided to make some for my husband for Valentine's Day and also try a few Lady Locks (Ladylocks, Cream Horns) as they use the same flaky puff pastry as the palmiers. I will detail the steps in my upcoming cookbook, but until then, herein are some photographs of the final little hearts and Ladylocks filled with only marshmallow cream.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cleveland Today, Feb 2, 2015, GroundHog's Day

I made homemade pizza yesterday for the Superbowl -- schools and restaurants maybe closed, so best to know how to make what you want from scratch. Pizza recipe was fantastic -- crust the best - had a bit of a crunch yet tender on the inside, never soggy. We hate soggy pizza crusts. I made 2 so we have one for today.

Here it is in the refrigerator covered with Saran Wrap, it has canned mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, onions, and vegan hot dogs on it, but no cheese as my husband is sensitive to cheese and it makes the pizza have fewer calories for me! I always precook the onions.