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Friday, January 29, 2016

Valentine's Day Cooking Show!

We filmed an episode of the cooking show last week.

Valentine's Day is on a Sunday this year!  Wouldn't it be fun to stay home and cook something special together?  Spend time bonding in the kitchen with your husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend instead of going out?

My friends Amy & Kerry cooked with me, and we came up with a few things that are perfect for Valentine's Day!
We started off with a cocktail.  Whenever a certain one of my circles of friends gathers, we refer to this cocktail as "Karen's Drink," because Karen was the first one who served it.  There are 8 of us who regularly get together, and one of us will say, "I'll bring Karen's Drink!"

I googled the ingredients (Cran-Raspberry juice, Sprite and Stoli Razberi) to see if there is such a drink which already exists.  There were two that are close: Razberi Kicker, which uses similar ingredients in different proportions (regular cranberry juice instead of cran-raspberry and only a splash of sprite); and From Russia With Love, which I thought was a GREAT name for a Valentine's day cocktail!  However, the From Russia With Love cocktail uses opposite proportions (mostly 7-Up and only a splash of cranberry juice).

So Karen's Drink is going to become our Valentine's Day Cocktail.  Click on the title above to be taken to the printable recipe.

These were totally devoured.  When Dan the Awesome Camera Man arrived, he handed me a container and said, "I mentioned scalloped potatoes to my wife and she handed me THIS."

I'm so glad that I filled up Dan's container before we all sat down to eat!  There would have been nothing left for him to take home to his wife.

This requires minimal prep and about 5 minutes cooking time.  I think it took me longer to take this picture of the shrimp than it took to cook it.

And then it completely disappeared when we finished filming.   No leftovers.  It was thoroughly devoured.  

Next time, I'm making a double batch.

And finally, Raspberry Brambles, little fruity pockets of yumminess.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Herbed Scalloped Potatoes

In my mind, I call this recipe Christmas Potatoes.

I only make them once a year (care to guess when?), for many reasons, prep time and caloric content being at the top of that list.

When I made them last month (did you guess that I made them on Christmas?  Good guess, you're right!), I thought to myself that I needed to make this recipe on a day when I had time to take pictures and blog about it.

There's a good amount of hands-on prep time involved (about 25 minutes) and then there's at least an hour of cook time (more if you prep and refrigerate in advance).  I promise you, however, that if you serve these potatoes as a side dish for a special occasion, you won't regret putting the time in!

They are really good.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Raspberry Brambles

Last month, my husband came home with two dozen raspberry-filled little tarts, a gift from a client.  Two dozen.  For our family of five.

We pretty much polished off the first dozen in one sitting.  In between our exclamations of "these are so good!" and "I have to have another," one of my daughters asked, "What do you call these?"  My husband answered, "I can't remember the name...we used to get these from the bakery when I was a kid."

As soon as he said those words I had an AHA! moment.  My friend, Gayle, has been singing the praises of raspberry-filled brambles served with tea during her childhood visits with her grandmother.  Hmmm, could these little treats be what she's been talking about?

So I asked my husband, "Do you think these are called brambles?" Yep, that's what they are.  And I just HAD to figure out how to make them.

All of these pictures were taken one week ago during my first attempt to make these brambles!  

I've made them twice since then, tweaking as I go along: 
  •  I've decided that frozen raspberries make a better filling than fresh berries--they cook faster when you're making the filling (and cooking fresh raspberries just seems a waste, doesn't it?). 
  •  I've also tried making them with ready-made pie crust (from the supermarket dairy case) a word, yuck.  
  • I tried ready-made puff pastry (from the supermarket freezer), it tasted fine but puffed up worse than frizzy hair on a humid day.
  • I'm still trying to figure out a way to totally prevent the filling from leaking.  I tried poking a hole in the top crust, figuring it would let steam out, but those are the ones that really leaked!  Any suggestions?
This recipe needs prep ahead of time--the filling needs to be refrigerated to firm up, and I've decided that it's easiest to just prepare it the day before and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  

For those of you who may be thinking to yourselves that there could be too much effort to this recipe and it's not worth spending two days to make a few cookies:  I promise you, making the filling is very quick.  Throw it together, put it in the fridge and forget about it until the next day (which is when you'll make the crust;  unfortunately, the crust is not so quick to prepare.  But I promise you it's worth it).

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 Top 3 Most-Viewed Recipes

Today is going to be a soup day.

It's 38 degrees out as I am typing this.  The Patriots game is at 1 p.m. so we are going to light a big fire in the fireplace, hunker down, slurp some soup and watch our favorite team (hopefully) pull off a win and get themselves home-field advantage for the playoffs.  What team will you be rooting for?

Although there are five of us, I'm lucky that Broccoli Cheddar is the favorite soup of both my girls, because I only have four burners on my stove and all of those burners will be fired up as I prepare all of our favorites!

I scrolled through my blogposts to check the recipes and make sure I had all of the ingredients on hand, and as usual I got sidetracked.  I thought it would be fun to see which recipes from 2015 were the most popular!

Third Most-Popular:
Slow-Cooker Baby Back Ribs.  I admit, when I saw this it gave me pause and I momentarily rethought today's soup agenda!

I decided that I'll make these for the divisional playoff game instead.

Second Most-Popular:
Southwestern Chicken Soup  This is my favorite soup!  I'll be making it today!

Most Popular Recipe, 2015:
Cashew Chicken!  We made this during our "Cooking With Kids" show and it was a big hit.  It tastes fresher and better than any takeout chicken!

The best part: since it only takes about fifteen minutes to prep, cook and serve, it's at the top of my go-to list for those nights when I don't have a lot of time to spend preparing dinner.

Happy 2016!