|As China prepares for the biggest festival of the year, I find myself a little homesick. The Lunar New Year is all about being with your family, your loved ones. Even though this is my first Lunar New Year, the realization the my loved ones are an ocean away pulls at my heart and mists my eyes.
I also struggled with homesickness during the Mid-Autumn Festival, another festival with friends and family at its center. I struggled with the internal war of being so far from home until a friend pulled me away from the food, games and people. We stood at the window and she spoke to me in a combination of broken English and Chinese.
Allow me to summarize for you. She told me of a legend of two lovers. One is trapped on the Moon and the other is trapped on Earth. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, a flock of birds form a bridge, allowing the lovers to meet and spend one night together. She said “Think of the Moon as being a modern bridge for you now. You may be on the other side of the world, but you and your loved ones can always look at the moon. You may be far apart but the moon brings your hearts close.”
It was a wonderful and mesmerizing way to ease my homesickness. She hadn’t scolded me, told me to make myself busy or that it would go away. She reminded me that it is okay to be homesick and miss things from home. As I am suffering from a new bout of homesickness, I thought it would be fun to make something that reminded me of home and I wanted to share it with you. Especially if you consider the fact that today is the full moon.
The thing that reminds me so much of home is shortbread. It also happens to be the perfect tea time cookie! I remember when my mother would make shortbread when I was little. She has these beautiful shortbread pans that are made from brown clay. Some of them are elegant and dainty while others are cute or silly. One of my favorites had a lace like pattern and I also really like the pig with wings. I remember when my mother would make shortbread, I would pull out all the little dishes that belonged to my tea set and we would have to together. Why don’t you join my mother and me for some scrumptious shortbread and tea? I would love for you to join us!
Beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in the flour. The mixture may seem a little dry at first; keep beating till it comes together. If it absolutely won’t come together, dribble in up to 1 tablespoon of water, until it does. This is a stiff dough. Divide the dough in half, and press each half into one of the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with your fingers, or with a mini rolling pin. Use a fork to prick the dough all over; this allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes. You can prick the dough in a random pattern, but it looks nicer pricked with some kind of symmetry. Bake the shortbread until it’s a light golden color, about 35 minutes. Remove it from the oven, and immediately turn the shortbread out onto a clean work surface. Using a sharp knife cut the shortbread into pieces. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; if you wait until it’s cool, it won’t cut easily.) Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool. Enjoy!
Note: If you don’t have powdered sugar on hand, you can use the same amount of sugar as listed above and a tablespoon of cornstarch. It will work just fine. In fact, that is what I had to do!
Archive for the ‘Food and Recipes’ Category
|Today I have a fantastic recipe for everyone. It is so easy that even I did it right the first time! I am not a baker by nature, I am a cook, and I tend to have issues with killing yeast in my breads. This recipe does not contain yeast. It whips up quickly and you can bake it while you make the rest of your dinner. My husband saw me making this recipe and commented that it looked like a giant biscuit and asked where the gravy was. Yum! This bread is meant to be served hot and fresh. It tastes great slathered in butter or dipped in soup. Traditionally this bread is eaten with soup or stew and meant to sop up the leftover liquid in the bowl. It is a very hearty, thick bread. Waiting to eat this bread even 1 day after it is made can be a detriment to the quality of the bread. Let’s make this together!
Recipe: This recipe yields 1 loaf of bread.
Separate the egg white from the yolk in a separate bowl. Whisk the egg white until just frothy. Brush half of the egg white over the top of the dough. At this point you can discard the egg white or use the other half for a second loaf of bread. You will not use the egg yolk for this recipe. Bake bread at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Cut, serve, and enjoy hot out of the oven!
OK, I don’t have a photo of this item as a finished product because it was already cut when I returned with the knife! So… please send in your photos! The blog team will give you credit, my blog will be saved and everyone can see what a gorgeous loaf this recipe produces.
|I am glad we have finally made it to today so we can finish these truffles. I kept losing the dough to other staff members and myself. What can I say? Besides it is really yummy! Shall we head to the kitchen to finish these truffles? Sounds good to me!Collect Needed Items:
Place the milk chocolate into a microwave safe container. Heat in 15 second incraments until the chocolate appears glossy. Stir until fluid. [Note: Heat the chocolate slowly and gently. You do not want it to burn. It is a waste of perfectly good chocolate. ] Pull the chilled Oreo truffles from the refrigerator. Using either chopsticks or a slotted spoon, dip the truffles into the milk chocolate and place on the pan with the wax paper. Allow the truffles to harden. Gently heat the white chocolate until liquid. Pour a small amount of chocolate into a zip bag and snip a small hole in the corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the truffles. Refrigerate the truffles and ENJOY!
|Whew! We made it to the second day. I don’t know about you, but I kept losing my truffles. Everyone kept sneaking into the kitchen and filching my truffles. I even started to worry that I might not have any truffles to photograph! I don’t know about you but I think that means they are really good. I highly suspect that I will find a package of Oreos and cream cheese waiting for me on the blog kitchen counter. Even Mitch who told me I was ruining the Oreos when chopping, said I could make these again. :lol: We really need to head into the kitchen so we can finish these up. Otherwise we won’t have any left! Let’s go so we can at least have a few completely finished truffles. See you in the kitchen!Collect Needed Items:
Place the white chocolate into a microwave safe container. Heat in 15 second incraments until the chocolate appears glossy. Stir until fluid. [Note: Heat the chocolate slowly and gently. You do not want it to burn. It is a waste of perfectly good chocolate. ] Pull the chilled Oreo truffles from the refrigerator. Using either chopsticks or a slotted spoon, dip the truffles into the white chocolate and place on the pan with the wax paper. Allow the truffles to harden. Gently heat the milk chocolate until liquid. Pour a small amount of chocolate into a zip bag and snip a small hole in the corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the truffles. Refrigerate the truffles and ENJOY!
|I am a chocolate fanatic. I love chocolate that is: dark, milk, white, hot, cold, liquid or in bars. Don’t even get me started on chocolate with chilies, cinnamon, orange, caramel, toffee, mint and even nuts! I love it all. (95% of my candy drawer is chocolate. Surprised?) While browsing on the Dish Forum, I ran across this recipe for Oreo truffles. The name really caught my attention. Oreos have claimed plenty of attention during my life. I have a little story for you that I hope you enjoy.
I remember as a little girl, celebrating Christmas with my family. One year my aunt gave us a jar of Oreo Cookies with a ribbon tied around the top. Now this wasn’t a small pint jar. It wasn’t even a quart jar. It was one of those 4 GallonBall canning jars with the wire flip top to hold down the glass lid. This was before I was seven! That jar was almost as big as I was and it was filled to the brim with Oreos. My sister and I had cookies in our school lunch boxes, for snacks after school and even for dessert after dinner! LOL! Can you IMAGINE how many truffles that would make? Come join me in the kitchen for some yummy and easy treats.
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In a food processor, grind up the package of Oreos into a fine powder. Make sure there are no lumps left. Add the 8 oz package of cream cheese. Blend until smooth. There should not be any streaks of cream cheese. It should be blended thoroughly. At this point form the dough into balls and refrigerate overnight. Tomorrow we will coat these in chocolate.
|I love harvest season. I love seeing the acorn squash, zucchini, pears, nectarines and cucumbers pile up on my kitchen counter. It is just so satisfying. The one problem is that I run out of room very quickly. One fast way to make some counter space is to make refrigerator pickles. They are a great way to perk up sandwiches, burgers and salads. Why, they even make a tasty snack! We have a large jar in our refrigerator for the staff to enjoy at lunch. Yummy! Come join me in the kitchen this harvest season to make some refrigerator pickles.
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Measure vinegar, sugar and salt into pot. Heat gently until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Allow the solution to cool. Cut cucumbers and onions and place into jar. Add turmeric, mustard and celery seeds. Pour cooled syrup over the cucumbers and onions. Place jar in refrigerator. Start sampling in 1 to 4 days. When you run out of pickles, but still have syrup, just cut more cucumbers and onions and add them to the jar! Now isn’t that easy? Enjoy!
P.S. Is it just me or is the tune “I got a pickle, I got a pickle… I got pickle hey hey hey!” playing? I love that song! Good and fun.
|Can you believe it? It is the Friday before Labor Day Weekend. Ack! Where has the summer gone? Just before the break, I wanted to share one of my favorite fruit punch recipes that will be just in time for the last big BBQ weekend of the year. This punch is super easy and always a bit hit. Be prepared for this to be a summer favorite. Come join me in the kitchen for a refreshing drink.
Collect Needed Items:
Fruit – I used nectarines, pineapple, grapes, watermelon, cantalope, honeydew and pears. You can use any fruit you like, including what is in season.
Lemon Lime Soda – I used Diet 7UP. I like the tangy contrast it has to the sweet fruit.
Ice – Gotta cool down in this hot weather!
Cut the fruit into bit size pieces and mix together into a bowl. Scoop some fruit into a glass and top with ice and soda. Kick back, relax and sip your own delicious fruit punch. Enjoy!
|I love chocolate and once in a while I run into a recipe that finds a permanent location in my cookbook. One day, while I was browsing The Dish Forum, I discovered this Chocolate Italian Ice recipe posted by Subway Haiku calling to the chocolate lovers of the world! Yum. As I read more, I discovered that many people recommended using coffee in place of some of the water. I will have to try that. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can add nuts or even chunks of brownie. Your imagination is the limit. In the mean time, let’s head for the kitchen for some good chocolate flavored fun!
This Dark Chocolate Italian Ice really gave me some relief from my chocolate craving. I keep having to walk past Andee’s scrumptious chocolate soaps and my chocolate craving has become dangerous. (It is even scarier than my desk monster!) This Italian Ice has a permanent place in my freezer now! Mmn. I am thinking of heading to the park with some Chocolate Italian Ice and sitting on a park bench, enjoying the birds, the running stream and a glorious summer sunset. Come join me in the evenings until Sunday the 3rd. This would even be a great treat for the chocolate lovers who will be coming to join you to celebrate Independence Day!
Important Note: The types of chocolate you use in the recipe will affect the bitterness and intensity of this frozen dessert. If you like strong, dark, bitter chocolate, use dark cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate. If you like more mild forms of chocolate then use light cocoa powder and a light baking chocolate or even a milk chocolate bar. The recipe below is extremely dark and potent. For most people, 1 tablespoon of the Dark Chocolate Italian Ice was pushing too much.
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Combine cocoa, sugar and salt and whisk in 1/2 of boiling water to make a smooth thick paste. Slowly whisk in the remaining water and bring to a bare simmer over low heat. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Chill the mixture in a metal bowl set over ice water. Stir occasionally until thoroughly chilled. Churn in an ice cream maker until thick. Enjoy!
|I had such a fabulous time making all of these Lemon Poppy Seed Cookie themed products, I just had to share a Lemon Poppy Seed Cookie recipe. This cookie recipe is from the cookbook Baking Illustrated from America’s Test Kitchen. These cookies are soft and chewy with a fabulous lemon flavor to them. Mmm. Don’t miss out on these cookies. Perfect if you want to have a tea party! You can even send your guests home with their own Lemon Poppy Seed Cookie inspired line. What a great way to be the perfect hostess and the talk of the town!
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Preheat oven to 325° F. Prepare a baking sheet by using parchment or nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, egg and vanilla to the mixture. Blend well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. In a separate bowl place the 1/2 cup of sugar. Fill a second bowl with cold water. Dip your hands in the water and shake off the excess. Roll a heaping tablespoon of cookie dough into a ball. Roll the ball of dough in the bowl of sugar and place on a baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. Take a drinking glass and spread a little butter on its base. Use the glass to flatten the cookies until they are 3/4 inch thick, dipping the glass in the sugar to prevent sticking. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool. Enjoy!