Friday, September 17, 2010

We've moved!!

We've moved!!

Now you can find us at
In The Kitchen With Polly

Please stop by and check out our newest recipes:
Gingerbread Biscotti,
Veganized! Banana Chocolate Chip Coffeecake,
Zucchini Pasta and
Yummy Crock Pot Pizza Sauce!!

You'll be glad you did! Honest!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Peach Crumble Bars

There's a new recipe posted on my new cooking blog, In the Kitchen with Polly..., come on over!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hershey Bar Cupcakes

These are good! Do you remember the depression era recipe for Chocolate Cake, or Wacky Cake as it was sometimes called? I think the base of this cupcake is based on that recipe. There's no egg in the cake and no butter either. The surprise ingredient is white vinegar! It works. Wacky cake is good. It has a good chocolate taste, great color, not overly moist, but definitely not dry either. It's a good cake! This cupcake recipe has two OTHER bonus points. One, filling. All great cupcakes have a filling, right? Two, a no-work, one ingredient frosting! Need I say ANY more?!

Hershey Bar Cupcakes

For the Filling

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 oz. HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bars chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (use any sized bars, get whatever is cheapest at the store. You'll need about 1 cup of chopped Hershey Chocolate for the filling)

For the Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons plain white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Frosting

2 large (4.4 oz.) bars of Hershey Chocolate (again, you can use any size bar...but I found one section of the 4.4 oz bar to be the right amount of frosting for my preference. Each bar has 12 portions, 2 bars frosts 2 dozen cupcakes)

1. Prepare the filling. Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and salt in small bowl until smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped chocolate bar pieces. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners.

3. Prepare the cupcake batter. With an electric mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt to combine. Add in water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fill each cupcake pan 1/3 of the way with batter. Spoon 1 level tablespoon of the reserved filling into the center of each cupcake. Top with more cake batter until cupcake pans are full. (I had some excess batter, but not excess filling or I also made 6 plain cupcakes.)

4. Bake the cupcakes. 18-20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake portion comes out clean. Remove from oven to wire rack.

5. Frost the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with one section of the large sized Hershey bar. Let chocolate melt (5-8 minutes) and then spread with spatula to ice the top of the cupcake. (How easy is that?!)

5. Let cupcakes cool completely. Chocolate will harden (You may need to put cupcakes in RF for an hour or so to finish the hardening process).

Yummy! Wonderful cake, creamy filling, and a hard chocolate frosting. One of the best cupcakes in the I've ever tasted, actually. My poor daughter (the one on Weight Watchers) is usually very good about ignoring the baked goods I often have hanging out on the counter...but she's having a very hard time with these....

The original recipe was found here

Thanks for visiting my kitchen today!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fresh Blueberry Lemonade

Thought I might like this...and I was right! Loved it. The blueberry taste is not pronounced, but the color they give to the drink is fantastic. Bbbb...b...bbut...the lemonade is pinkish RED, not blue! Surprise! Our delightful 4 year old guest, who was dressed as a doggie AND a superhero (yes, at the same time!) drank 10 cups of this (at least), and she called it Pink Lemonade.  I was going to follow her lead, but that would be even MORE Blueberry Lemonade it remains!

I found this concoction to be more refreshing than straight up lemonade. It's not as harsh, not as much acidity, I think. Yep, this recipe is a winner, a keeper. Be sure to make a batch for the July 4th picnic. Make several batches as once, in "concentrate" form, so you can serve it up when it is most needed and wanted without any fuss or bother.

This recipe was pulled together from two sources. My original long-relied upon lemonade recipe from "Too busy to Cook" (from the 80s or 90s) and a recipe from Family Fun Magazine attributed to Anne Coleman.

1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
grated zest of two lemons
1 sliced lemon
extra handful of blueberries (for garnish, if desired)
Additional water, about 6 cups.

Combine blueberries, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until blueberries soften and release their color, about 5 minutes. Strain liquid and discard solids. Let cool. Stir in lemon juice,lemon zest, and sliced lemon along with enough water to have liquids measure 2 quarts. Flavor from lemons develops over time. Let mixture sit for a few hours or overnight. Serve over ice with a slice of lemon and a float of 5 or 6 blueberries.

Make your own Blueberry Lemonade Concentrate!

Make the sugar-blueberry-water syrup. Strain. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Freeze. When needed just add 1 sliced lemon and enough water to made 2 quarts of drink, stir briskly to dissolve the concentrate. YUM. How impressive would that be to pull out on a Tuesday night?!

Thanks for visiting!

Cookie Cups (For Ice Cream Sundaes, of course)

Want a REALLY good ice cream sundae? Ice-cream, fresh fruit, whipped cream, chocolate shavings, maybe a few sliced a Cookie Cup! The Cookie Cup transforms a familiar, really good dessert a to a special, really GREAT dessert. People swoon. People moan. People linger.

This recipe has been in my files since I was a newlywed in 1981. I have only a photocopy of a page from a cookbook, no notations. I am pretty sure the photocopy is from a Sunset cookbook from the 1980s, but I am not certain.

Use any nuts you want, but I have specified my favorite combination. Other than that, I have made no changes to the original recipe.

Cookie Cups

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (Light or dark brown sugar was not specified. I've used both, and prefer the dark)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
7 Tablespoons flour
1 cup finely chopped nuts (I use half pecans and half sliced almonds--both chopped finely)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add in brown sugar and corn syrup and bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. When liquid boils, remove from heat and stir in flour and nuts until well blended. Stir in vanilla.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie pan with Pam for baking (or any other method you prefer). Make 2 cookies on one cookie sheet. For each cookie, pace 2 Tablespoons of batter in a puddle on the cookie sheet.
 Batter  before baking, above.  After baking, below.  See how it spreads?  Only bake two cookies on one sheet!
Cookies will spread A LOT. (you can bake 2 sheets at one time, if you move the sheets around after 5-6 minutes). Bake in 325 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are lacy and have a rich golden brown color. Remove from oven and let cookie cool on the tray for a minute or two (but not much longer).

Turn a glass or very small bowl, with a flat, 2-inch diameter bottom, upside down onto counter. When the cookie edges are firm, but the cookie is still somewhat stretchy, with a wide metal spatula, transfer cookie from sheet to OVER the upside down glass on the counter. With your fingers, quickly press the cookie into the shape of the glass. The cookie will harden almost immediately. Leave the cookie there to cool a minute or two (while you get the next batch in the oven).
One cookie cooling over an upside down glass, one cookie completely cooled and removed from glass and standing straight and firm.

Remove cookie cup from glass. Cookie cups can be stored in "rigid" (I use tin) container for up to a week, or frozen for longer storage....but they are delicate, so be careful.

Just before serving, place ice-cream, fresh fruit, whipped cream...whatever your hear desires...into the cookie cups and serve. You'll see joy in your guests eyes.

Thanks for visiting my kitchen today.  Stop by again for some homemade ice creams, sherbets, and sorbets to put in the ice cream cups!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chicken Tortellini Soup

This soup is delicious, hearty, and very, very easy to pull together. It's a staple around here. Everyone likes it. You could leave out the chicken, I often do now (I seem to want to eat less meat as I get older), but don't skip the leek or the fennel seeds because, working together they crank this soup up from good to GREAT.

Chicken Tortellini Soup

1 T. olive oil
1 leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 small onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 T. dried basil
2 tsp. fennel seeds
6 c. chicken stock (homemade is best)
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 (9-oz.) pkg. cheese tortellini
1/2 bunch spinach, coarsely chopped (no stems)
1 1/2 c. diced cooked chicken or turkey
Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add in leek, onion, garlic, basil, and fennel seeds and cook until onion is tender, about 10 minutes. Pour chicken stock into pot, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and carrot, cover and simmer for 5 more minutes. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Stir tortellini into boiling soup cook until tender, uncovered, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and cooked turkey, heat through. Season to taste with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 main dish servings. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Toasted Coconut Rice Krispie Treats

I looooove coconut so I HAD to make these. Had to. I am glad I did, too. This recipe is a keeper! I have coconut loving friends that are going to want to me to make these. I'll offer to bring them to their parties. I could offer to bring a trio of Rice Krispie treats...these, salted brown butter, and peanut butter. I could get a lot more invitations to a lot more parties!

I found this recipe here but had to change it up a bit.

Toasted Coconut Rice Krispie Treats

3 tablespoons butter
10 ounces mini marshmallows
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut*

3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips, melted (optional)

* To toast coconut, spread shredded coconut in an even layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 300F, stirring every few minutes, for 10-15 minutes or until coconut is golden brown. Don’t walk away from the oven! The coconut will brown very quickly, so keep an eye on it. Set aside to cool.

Prepare an 8 or 9 inch square dish by either buttering or spraying with cooking spray.

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add marshmallows and heat over medium-low heat, stirring until melted. Stir in shredded coconut and coconut extract. Remove from heat. Add Rice Krispies and stir until thoroughly coated. Spread Rice Krispie mixture into prepared pan. With the back of a buttered spatula or using a sheet of waxed paper, press mixture firmly into an even layer. If desired melt chocolate chips and drizzle over the tops of the treats. Spread slightly, if desired. Sprinkle toasted coconut and press lightly to adhere to the chocolate and the top of the treats. (In the picture above the coconut was put down first, then the chocolate.  Not a good idea.  The chocolate fell off...)  Cool at room temperature until chocolate hardens. Once cool, cut into squares and enjoy!

Thanks for being a fan,

Strawberry Cake (with Real Strawberry Puree)

The strawberry cake was a success! YAY! Abby took the cake back to college for the birthday boy, but left some cupcakes here for us to enjoy (and photograph). The cake is bright pink, made from scratch-with with real strawberries! The cake packs a good strawberry taste. Taste! Not the boxed cake mix perfumed aroma that is supposed to stand in for taste. Yummy!

I think the frosting needs work. We used a basic cream cheese frosting...and I think it is a bit too much for the cake. A plain buttercream would be better, but I think a whipped cream frosting or a milk chocolate frosting would be best...or maybe we should have tried the posted frosting, too. DUH!

I am hoping Abby will send a picture of her cake. She's going to decorate it with chocolate covered strawberries with a white chocolate drizzle. It should look spectacular. This boy had better now propose. He'd be the third. In a year. Until then though, here's a picture of the cupcake she left for me!

I found the recipe here... but had to change it a bit. I have included the strawberry frosting recipe from the site...perhaps we should have made that, too.

Strawberry Cake

2¼ cups cake flour (9 ounces)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), softened but still cool
6 large egg whites (¾ cup), at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups strawberry purée (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick baker's cooking spray. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed. Add in butter and continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining. Add all but ½ cup of milk-egg white mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of strawberry purée and beat for 30-45 seconds. Then, add remaining ½ cup of milk mixture, and beat 15 seconds more. Add another 1/2 cup of purée, and beat for 15 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed, and beat 20 seconds longer. Do not over-mix. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation OR bake them individually.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 22 to 24 minutes.

Let cakes rest in pans for 5 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Re-invert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1- 1½ hours.

For Strawberry Puree
2 cups fresh strawberries,sliced and stems removed
1/4 sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Place the cut strawberries in a blender. Add sugar and lemon juice. Purée the mixture until smooth. You will need 1 1/2 cups puree for the cake and 1/4-1/2 cups puree for the frosting.

Strawberry Frosting (did not test--but probably would have been better than the cream cheese frosting we did use)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup shortening (can sub more butter for a less fluffy frosting)
3-4 cups powdered sugar (to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/2 cup strawberry purée

Beat butter and shortening for 3 minutes. Slow down beater or mixer, and add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Once the mixture is well-integrated, add in the purée until desired consistency is reached.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas with Green Sauce

Mmmm...must have been the thought of Cinco de Mayo... but I've finally found a great green sauce for enchiladas.  Not spicy (although it would be easy to up the heat) but tasty and tangy, which it should be, having being made with 2 lbs of fresh tomatillos. I liked the flavor of the chicken poached in cilantro and mint, but I think that delicate flavor got lost when the sauce, cheese, and tortillas were added.  So you might just want to make your own enchilada filling, and use this sauce. Delicioso

Don't assemble the enchiladas until 10 minutes before you want to eat (but the the sauce, the chicken, and the filling can be made a day or more in advance). I made the mistake once of assembling the enchiladas in the morning and refrigerating until ready to cook.  The sauce soaked into the tortillas and by the time I had removed the casserole dish from the oven I knew that I had one horribly dry dish on my hands.  So dry, that all the sour cream in the carton couldn't help...

Green Sauce (Salsa Verde)

2 lbs tomatillos (about 15), husks removed and washed
2-3 Serrano chilies or 1 Jalapeno (I'm a wimp, I used 1 Anaheim)
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small while onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil (divided use)
1 1/2 tsp. salt (more or less to taste)
1 cup chicken broth (saved from poaching the chicken)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Char the tomatillo and chilies. Do this over an open flame on your stovetop, on the grill, in the frying pan, or in a hot oven.  I grill over the gas burner on my stove.  You are looking for the tomatillos to soften slightly and have a few charred spots.  Remove tomatillos to a large bowl or platter to cool.  Put the charred chili in a brown bag to cool.  When cool, remove all the charred skin.  Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil to a frying pan.  When hot add onion and saute onion until soft, add the garlic, and saute about 2 more minutes.  Put the tomatillos, peeled chili, onion and garlic in a blender and process until smooth.  Heat remaining 2 Tablespoons olive oil in the frying pan.  Add in sauce from blender and cook for about a minute. Stir in salt (to taste), chicken broth, cumin, and cilantro. Simmer for about 4 minutes and set aside.

For Chicken

1 small chicken, cut into 3 parts (or all thighs, or all breasts, or combo...about 2 lbs meat total)
8 cups water
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped (skin still on)
6 garlic cloves
2 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, divided use
8 springs cilantro
3 large sprigs fresh mint
1/2 tsp. black pepper
salt, to taste

Place chicken in pan with water, yellow onion, garlic, 2 tsp. salt, cilantro, and mint.  Poach chicken until done, 20-45 minutes depending on cuts of chicken and thickness of meat.  Let chicken cool in broth. Remove chicken from broth and shred.  Season with salt and pepper. Add chicken bones back into broth and simmer for an additional 30-60 minutes to make a richer broth. Strain 1 cup of broth from pan and add to the green sauce above.

For the enchiladas

shredded chicken from above
2 cups monterey jack cheese (or mexican blend cheese), divided use
1 can sliced black olives, optional
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup salsa verde
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
12 corn tortillas
Queso Fresco, crumbled (or additional shredded cheese)
Sour cream or Mexican Crema
1/2 red onion, finely chopped, optional

Combine shredded chicken, 1 cup shredded cheese, optional olives and onion along with 1/2 cup salsa verde.  Stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Just before it's time to eat...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat vegetable oil over high heat.  Lightly fry tortilla in oil for about 5 seconds on each side or until soft. Drain on a paper towel.  Repeat until all 12 tortillas are cooked.  Dip tortilla into salsa verde, add in a scant 1/4 cup of chicken mixture, and roll.  Place into baking dish, seam side down.  Repeat until all tortillas and chicken are used.  Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas in pan. Top with remaining 1 cup shredded cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Finish off in a hot broiler for 2-3 minutes if you want nicely browned cheese.  Garnish enchiladas with crumbled Queso Fresco and sour cream or Mexican Crema.  Servir y disfrutar.

Ooops.  Almost forgot to tell you where I found this recipe.  In the San Jose Mercury News last month (don't have the date on the clipping)  and it's attributed to Agustin Gayton.

Thanks for visiting!

Strawberry Oatmeal Scones

My daughter Abby insisted I post these.  She said they are delicious.  She's a wonderful girl, but unfortunately suffering from dormfooditis.  Nevertheless, these scones are good, and they do look pretty.  They'd be good with a mother's day cup of tea, don't you think?

Scones are not supposed to be sweet, and not supposed to resemble a muffin, and these don't.  They have the right texture for a true Englsih scone. Next time though, I will put a bit more sugar in them, and a bit less nutmeg.  (I love nutmeg, so I was a bit overgenerous, and the scones ended up with a bit of an unappetizing yellow tinge.)

Here's where I found this recipe...Adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Strawberry Oatmeal Scones

1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar (next time I might use 1/2 cup)
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 T unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Whisk together the egg and buttermilk and set aside. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Add the cold butter pieces and cut in with a pastry blender or your hands, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in the chopped strawberries. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together in one hairy ball (be careful not to squish too many strawberries). Place the dough on an ungreased baking sheet and pat into a disk about the size of a dinner plate and  1 1/2 inches thick. Cut the dough, like a pie or a pizza, into about 8 or 12 wedges.  Pull wedges apart, so there is about 1 inch between each slice.

At this point scones can be refrigerated to bake later, or frozen to be baked much later.  Place in preheated 400 degree oven  and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown (25 minutes if frozen--do not defrost before baking). Transfer to a wire rack to cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Thanks for visiting!