Monday, April 30, 2012

Poking Fun Hot Cross Buns

What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?  A pit bull is delicious!

Poking Fun Hot Cross Buns
Makes 16 buns

Jesus would NOT approve of jokes told at somebody else's expense, but he'd give me a solid TEN for the buns!

3/4 cup warm milk 
2-1/2 tsp. dry yeast (1 pkg.)
1/3 cup sugar, divided
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) melted butter
3 eggs, divided
1/2 cup currants
1/4 cup diced candied ginger
1/4 cup diced candied orange peel
2 tsp. orange zest
6 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Whisk together milk, yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar in medium bowl.  Let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add remaining sugar, all-purpose flour, bread flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves to bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.  Pulse several times to combine.

Whisk butter and 2 eggs into milk mixture; add to dry ingredients in food processor.  Process 1 to 1-1/2 minutes or until dough forms and spins around the perimeter of the processor (add 1 or 2 Tbsp. flour if dough appears too shaggy; however, dough should be slightly sticky). 

Transfer dough to stand-up mixer with dough hook.  Add currants, candied ginger, candied orange peel and orange zest.  Run on low speed 1 to 2 minutes until fruit is evenly distributed in dough.  Place dough in large bowl sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Punch down dough and divide into 2 pieces.  Roll each piece into a log, then cut each log evenly into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and place on baking sheet lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Cover with a towel and let rise until double, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400°F.  Whisk remaining egg with 1 Tbsp. milk or water.  Using sharp knife, score tops of buns in a cross pattern; brush with egg mixture.

Bake 10-12 minutes on center rack of oven until buns are lightly browned.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Mix powdered sugar with 1-1/2 tsp. milk or water (mixture should be thick).  Spoon mixture in corner of small plastic sandwich bag.  Snip corner and squeeze bag gently to pipe frosting cross over score marks on buns.

You might be wondering, "Why am I using 2 pieces of equipment when 1 would do?"  I prefer to use a food processor to make dough.  I find that the quick process not only saves time, but uses the minimum amount of flour, which produces a superior, slightly sticky but never dry, dough.  I then use the stand-up mixer with the dough hook to gently incorporate the fruit into the dough, because doing so in the food processor would tear the fruit and muddy the color of the dough.  I don't mind using 2 pieces of equipment because I don't keep my equipment in a cabinet.  I have prioritized my kitchen setup to reflect my needs.  Since I use my equipment often, and I do not have cabinet space for these items, I keep them on my counter at all times, and I never pass up a good idea just because I have to take out equipment.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Youth Ballot Tomato Bruschetta with Shallots

OK, I get the OBAMA-Jimmy Fallon appearance appealing to young voters.  ROMNEY campaigned for the youth comparing the U.S. to Greece!  

Sounds like more mushroom clouds to me!

Youth Ballot 
Tomato Bruschetta with Shallots
12 servings, 1 slice each

An appetizer that is as fresh and colorful as today's youth (and they're not as susceptible to fear tactics).

1 demi-baguette (8 oz.) French bread, cut into 12 slices
1 large clove garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
12 fresh basil leaves
4 or 5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced, separated into rings
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 400°F.  Place bread slices on baking sheet.  Bake 4 to 5 min. on each side or until crisp and golden brown around edges.  Cool on rack 5 min.  Cut garlic clove on diagonal at one end.  Rub cut end of garlic on each toast slice. 

Mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in small bowl.  Brush half of the dressing mixture onto bread slices.  Top each slice with 1 basil leaf, 2 slices tomato and a few shallot rings.  Drizzle with remaining dressing and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan Cheese.

You should get 6 nice slices from each tomato.  If you do, you won’t need the last tomato and you can use it in a salad.

I prefer to slice the bread and tomatoes on a diagonal for a more dramatic shape.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Duncan Donut Holes

Duncan Donut Holes

These simple donuts are as sweet as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

1 can (16.3 oz.) refrigerated biscuits 
1 qt. hot (375°F) cooking oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon

Cut biscuits into quarters; roll into balls.

Fry dough balls in hot oil 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oil with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate.  Place hot donuts in paper bag filled with combined sugar and cinnamon.  Shake until coated.

Don't crowd the donuts in the hot oil.  Four at a time works best.

Dedicated to Beverly Underwood, my Girl Scout leader and friend, who taught me how to make these.

Friday, April 27, 2012

HUCKSTER Haystacks

Here’s Carville’s note written to raise money for the Obama “accountability fund:”

After Mitt tried to steal my line, you know I have to call him out. 

In Romney's speech bashing President Obama last night, he said, "It's still about the economy, and we're not stupid."

Yeah, it still is about the economy, stupid. It's about how hucksters like Mitt crashed it, the middle class paid the price, and the top 1% got more tax cuts. 

Let's call out these Republicans on their downright hypocrisy.


BTW, do you not LOVE the word HUCKSTER? Keep it coming, Carville!

HUCKSTER Haystacks
Makes 32 haystacks

It isn't necessary to use showy, devious, or aggressive methods to sell your product; sweet treats are the best motivator!

1 bag (11 oz.) caramel bits or 32 caramels, unwrapped
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. water
4 cups (8 oz.) chow mein noodles
1 c. honey roasted peanuts
4 oz. semi-sweet, milk or bittersweet chocolate

Microwave caramel bits, butter and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 to 3 min. or until caramel bits are melted, stirring every minute.

Stir in noodles and peanuts.

Drop scant quarter-cupfuls of mixture onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet.

Microwave chocolate in separate microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min.; stir until completely melted.  Drizzle "haystacks" with melted chocolate.

Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

I prefer the caramel bits because you don’t have to spend time unwrapping caramels.  

huck·ster  (hkstr)
1. One who sells wares or provisions in the street; a peddler or hawker.
2. One who uses aggressive, showy, and sometimes devious methods to promote or sell a product.
3. Informal One who writes advertising copy, especially for radio or television.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

FAT LADY SINGS Grilled Chicken Wings

FAT LADY SINGS Grilled Chicken Wings

No more grilling from the pundits.  Time for some yummy grilled wings.  Peace be with you, Newtie!

1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1-1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilanto
1 tsp. salt
3 lb. chicken wings (12-15 wings)

Mix all ingredients except chicken in medium bowl until well blended. Reserve 1/3 cup marinade; refrigerate. Add chicken to remaining marinade in bowl; toss to coat. Cover. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight to marinate.
Preheat greased grill to medium heat. Grill chicken 15 to 20 min. or until cooked through, turning frequently, brushing with reserved marinade during last 5 minutes of grilling. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Knockout Punch

This round is just about over...

Knockout Punch
Makes 9 servings (8 oz. each)

...and the championship match has just begun.

3/4 cup silver tequila
3/4 cup white rum
1 bottle (2 liters) Hawaiian Punch

Combine ingredients in 3 qt. pitcher; chill.

To serve, pour into ice-filled glasses.  Garnish with orange slices and maraschino cherries.

Prepare some ice cubes using this mixture and your drinks will stay cold without being diluted.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Long Island Iced TEA PARTY Punch

Thank goodness the Tea Party isn't irrelevant yet...if only for this great party punch!

Long Island Iced TEA PARTY Punch

Makes 26 servings, 8 oz. each

The drink that defines the movement:  there is no deficit in the amount of alcohol here, though your hangover may be a little taxing.

1 bottle (750 ml) each:
        White rum
        White tequila
1-1/2 cups triple sec or orange liqueur
4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 liter chilled Coke (4 cups)
1 liter chilled lemon-lime soda [7-UP or Sprite] (4 cups)

Mix vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec and lemon juice in 3-gallon punch bowl. 
Chill overnight.  

Just before serving, stir in Coke and 7-UP.  Set up an ice bucket next to the punch bowl. Fill glasses with ice and add punch.

Plan ahead; if you start with chilled ingredients, you don't have to chill overnight.  Chill the vodka, gin, rum, and tequila in the freezer.

For a sweeter punch, substitute lemonade for lemon juice.

This punch is very strong.  Keep a close eye on your guests!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Terror Reign Green Plantains (Tostones)

Reign of terror?  REALLY???  Me thinks David Axelrod is channeling Fox News!

Terror Reign Green Plantains

No worries! This traditional Puerto Rican side dish is easy to prepare and updated to be healthier.
Makes 4 servings

8 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 ripe plantains
2 cups cold water

In a blender or small food processor combine 4 Tbsp. oil, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper.  Blend or process 1 minute or until smooth; set aside.

Cut ends off of plantains and peel.  Slice on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in large skillet. Place plantains in the oil and fry on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the plantains from pan to a flat surface like a clean cutting board.  Add 2 Tbsp. remaining oil to skillet. 

Flatten plantains by pressing down with back of spatula.  Dip the plantains in water, then return them to the hot oil and fry 1 minute on each side. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately with garlic sauce.

Great with grill chicken, fish or pork tenderloin.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hollywood Ham & Cheese Pull-Aparts

...the president is getting an especially warm embrace from Hollywood and the broader entertainment industry...

Hollywood Ham & Cheese Pull-Aparts
24 servings, 1 pull-apart sandwich each

As comforting as a big check, or a warm embrace.

2 packages heat and serve pull-apart rolls (24 rolls)
1 pound shaved deli smoked ham
6 slices sharp Cheddar cheese, quartered
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. poppy seeds

Heat oven to 350°F.

Separate rolls; fill evenly with ham and cheese. Place in 13x9-in. baking pan (sandwiches will be touching).

In a small bowl, combine butter and mustard; brush rolls with butter mixture. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake 10-15 minutes.


Substitute deli smoked turkey breast for deli smoked ham.

Make ahead: Prepare as directed up until baking point; store, covered, in the refrigerator.  When ready to serve, bake as directed 5 to 10 min. longer. 

Hawaiian Rolls, sold in most grocery store delis, are perfect for this recipe, and you can pick them up while you're waiting for your meat to be sliced.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chocolate Turtle Cookies (Good Enough for the Rest of Us)

The links below provide highlights to the Cookiegate scandal.  The first is a general article describing the incident.  The second is a funny video put out by the Pennsylvania Democratic party in response to said incident.  

Now that you have the information, check out the last link - it's the cookie menu from the bakery that Mr. Romney did not know enough to acknowledge.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies 
(Good Enough for the Rest of Us)

Inspired by Bethel Bakery, and much better than 7-11!

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 caramels
2 Tbsp. milk
48 pecan halves
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Heat oven to 375°F.

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in combined flour, cocoa powder and salt.

Roll dough into 1 Tbsp.-size balls.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly with bottom of drinking glass dipped in sugar.  Make small indentation in center of each cookie using index finger.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are firm.

Transfer cookies to cooling rack set over waxed paper.  While cookies are cooling, microwave caramels and milk on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.  Allow caramel sauce to cool 5 minutes, then transfer to a small freezer-type bag.  Push contents into corner of bag, then snip a bit of the corner and gently squeeze bag to fill centers of cookies with caramel sauce.  Press a pecan half into the caramel sauce on each cookie.

Microwave chocolate 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds.  Let chocolate cool 2 minutes, then transfer to small freezer-type bag.  Push chocolate into corner of bag, then snip very small bit of bag’s corner and drizzle chocolate over cookies.

You can substitute 2/3 cup caramel bits for 16 caramels.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Slick Willy Dilly Dip

Two democratic presidents, so different in their respective demeanor.

  • Slick Willy Dilly Dip
  • Makes 16 servings, 2 Tbsp. each

  • A perfect dip for spring,  when young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (1 or 2)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Beat cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise until well combined. 

Stir in remaining ingredients; chill 1 hour to blend flavors.

Serve with assorted fresh crudites.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Endorse NOT Apricot Granola Bars

Rick Santorum will not yet endorse Mitt Romney.,0,7454869.story

Endorse NOT Apricot Snack Bars
Makes 16 servings

Not only will you approve of this recipe, but you'll have no reservations recommending it to your friends!

2-1/2 cups crisp rice cereal
1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey

Line 9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides.
Gently toss first 4 ingredients in large bowl.
Microwave almond butter and honey in microwave-safe bowl on HIGH 1 minute; stir. Add to cereal mixture; mix well. Press onto bottom of prepared pan.
Refrigerate 30 minutes before lifting out of pan with foil handles and cutting into bars.
Substitute peanut butter for almond butter and chopped peanuts for almonds

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

States in Play Créme Brulee

There are nine truly swing states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — where the election will be decided. Those states will hand out 110 electoral votes in November, roughly 41 percent of the 270 votes President Obama or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney need to win.

States in Play Créme Brulee
Makes 4 servings

Playing with a torch is fun, in contrast to the expected fireworks in these hotly contested states!

2-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar, divided
5 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. Irish cream liqueur (e.g., Bailey's)
1-1/2 qt. hot water

Heat oven to 325°F.

Bring cream and vanilla to boil over medium-high heat; let cool 15 minutes off heat.

Whisk 1/3 cup sugar with egg yolks in medium bowl until well blended.  Gradually add combined cream and liqueur, whisking continuously.  Pour mixture into 4 (8 oz.) ramekins or small glass bowls.  Place ramekins in 9x13-inch baking pan.  Pour hot water into pan until it is halfway up sides of ramekins.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until just set but still jiggly in center.  Remove ramekins from pan and refrigerate at least 2 hours to cool.

Allow crème brulee to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding further.

Sprinkle remaining sugar evenly over tops of desserts (about 2 tsp. each).  Use a torch to melt sugar and create a crispy layer on top.  Allow 5 minutes to cool before serving.

Substitute white chocolate liqueur for Irish cream liqueur, or omit liqueur, if desired, and increase heavy cream to 2-2/3 cups.