Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Feta Puffs

I always love simple and delicious appetizers.  These Caramelized Onion and Feta Puffs are always a huge hit.  Usually I always have vegetables and dip, or lots of good cheese and crackers for appetizers.  But I remembered those delicious Trader Joe’s appetizers we used to get years ago.  If you are ever in a crunch for appetizers and need something quick, try these out, Trader Joe’s Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese and Caramelized Onions. You can find them in the freezer section of Trader Joe’s.

I decided to make these from scratch during a party and they were a huge hit.  But I needed to find an easier way to make them also, and decided to try the frozen puff pasty – they were awesome and so easy.

On top of that today Monika at Splendid Willow is featuring some great simple appetizers for her 2 cent series and she is featuring these Caramelized Onion and Feta Puffs.  There are some other great appetizer ideas from other bloggers too, if you are looking for some great ideas.

If you want to make these Caramelized Onion and Feta Puffs you can either buy the dough or make it yourself. They are both good but one is a bit quicker.

Caramelized Onion and Feta Puffs

Makes: 24 puffs | Thaw: 40 minutes | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake: 15 minutes

1 box (17.3oz) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets or use recipe for Galette Dough
2 large yellow onions
4 tbsp of butter
8 oz feta cheese

Thaw the pasty sheet at room temperature 40 minutes or until easy to handle.  Heat over to 400 F.

Slice your onions and caramelize them with 4 tbsp of butter in a pan.  It should take you about 15 minutes to caramelize your onions.  Remember to keep the onions on low temperature and stirring constantly.

Once the puff pastry has thawed cut the sheets into 2″x2″ squares and place into a tartlette pan or muffin pan.  Fill each pasty with onion and then feta.  You should use abut 1 tsp of onion in each and about 1 tbsp of feta in each pasty.

Once done seal each pasty by combining each corner together. Place in the over for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Galette Dough
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup and 1 tbsp  ice water

Using a food processor add the flour, sugar and salt together and pulse.  Then cut butter into flour mixture and pulse again until the butter is completely incorporated.  Add ice water and continue to pulse until mixture comes together to form a mass.Add more ice water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time. Gently form mass into a ball and divide into two equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight. (Dough can be frozen, too.)

One Year Ago: Rhubarb, Strawberry and Blueberry Crumble

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Bread

I am always looking for things to do with my old bananas.  When I saw this recipe Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Bread recipe I knew I had to try it out.  I had both items going bad and this was perfect timing.  I ended up doing two loafs.  One with Chocolate Chips and one with dates and walnuts.  I do have to admit that the chocolate one was slightly better.   And don’t forget to wrap your bread in a towel.  It makes a huge difference.  This bread will not only be gummy but it will dry out quickly.



Print Recipe

Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Bread

Yield: 1 Loaf

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes


2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup brown sugar (or double the honey to omit brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (Optional Gluten Free Flour)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (Optional Gluten Free Flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 cup chocolate chips, raisins, dried fruit, nuts, or a mixture of any of these


Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a standard-sized loaf pan.

Beat together the eggs, honey, banana, brown sugar, and vanilla until well-combined.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Mix into the egg/banana mixture just until combined.

Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips, just until combined.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let rest for 20 minutes before removing from the loaf pan.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

For best results, store loosely draped with a kitchen towel. Wrapping your bread in plastic or foil will result in gummy texture.

Adapted from: Marcus Samuelsson

One Year Ago: Summer Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pear Rosemary and Goat Cheese Foccacia

Add some goodies on top of flat bread, put it in the oven and out comes deliciousness.  It’s that simple.  You can either make your own bread or you can get some in the store.  If you get foccacia in the store it comes in different thicknesses.  If the bread is more than an inch thick I usually slice it in half and then sprinkle with olive oil and add my toppings.  But if you want to make foccacia from scratch it is very simple and all you need is a little time for it to rise.  You can really use your own imagination of what you want to put on the bread.  I love the combination of salt, rosemary and olive oil and you could leave it at that – but adding cheese and pears gives it a little sweetness and creaminess.  There are so many options, just use your imagination.

The Pear Rosemary and Goat Cheese Foccacia is featured in the second issue of the amazing magazine by House of Fifty.  If you missed it you have to go and check it out, Janell of Isabella and Max did a fabulous job and all the recipes have step by step instructions.

Picture from House of Fifty

Pear, Rosemary and Goat Cheese Foccacia

Yields: 2 – 9 inch breads | Prep Time: 4 hours | Bake Time: 15 minutes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup (177 ml) warm water (105° to 110°F)
2 tsp (30 ml) milk, slightly warmed
1 1/2 tsp (6 grams) sugar
1 1/4 tsp (5 grams) active dry yeast
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (3 grams) salt
6 tbsp (90 ml) olive oil
2 Bartlett Pears (thinly sliced)
1 tsp fresh rosemary needles
8 ounces of goat cheese
2 tsp coarse sea salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the water, milk, sugar, and yeast. Let the mixture sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the yeast mixture and mix well on low. Attach the dough hook, raise the speed to medium-low and knead the dough for 8 minutes longer.

Brush a large bowl with a generous amount of olive oil. Scrape dough into the bowl and brush the top with additional oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a cool place until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Press the dough down with a floured hand. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into two balls. Brush a large baking sheet (or two small ones) with olive oil, place the balls of dough on it and brush the top with more oil. Set it aside for 20 minutes, lightly covered with a kitchen towel. After 20 minutes, dip your fingers in olive oil and press and stretch each ball of dough into an 8 to 9-inch circle shape. It will be dimpled from your fingers. Cover again with the towel and let it rise for another 1 1/4 hours in a cool place.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Brush tops of dough with remaining olive oil and top the sliced pear, goat cheese, rosemary, coarse sugar and coarse sea salt evenly over the dough. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and puffed around edges. Let cool before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

One Year Ago: Top Wineries in Walla Walla, WA

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rum Raisin Ice Cream

I have no idea why but Rum Raisin ice cream is not very common here, growing up in Sweden I used to love it as a kid and I have not had for over 10 years.  Soak your raisins in rum overnight and then make your favorite vanilla ice cream recipe and add them.  You will not be disappointed.  The ice cream is creamy and the cold frozen raisins pop with rum in your mouth. Delishhh!

Rum Raisin Ice Cream

Adapted From: David Lebovitz

Yields: 1 quart | Prep Time: 24 hours | Chill Time: 2 hours

1 cup (250ml) raisins
½ cup (120ml) dark rum
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Soak the raisins in rum overnight.

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

Remove the vanilla bean.  Drain the raisins from the rum and pour into the custard and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I made this delicious ice cream with Horizon Organic Dairy products.

Come visit me and the other Horizon Dairy Community Leaders on the Back to School Discussion boards where you can join the discussion and get some great back to school tips, on anything from time savers, to school lunches and lots more advice from moms. Don’t miss out on the discussions.

One Year Ago: Chicken Stock

Monday, July 25, 2011

Polish Cucumber Salad

This Polish Cucumber Salad my mother used to make for me as a kid and I have loved it ever since.  It is one of my favorite simple summer salads. Not only does it not require a lot of ingredients but it is quick and takes about 10 minutes to make.   You can use any kind of cucumber for this salad but I prefer to use an English cucumber since I think they taste better.  The salad is also very easy to adjust.  If it is too vinegary for you add some sugar, and add salt to taste. Enjoy!

Print Recipe

Polish Cucumber Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 10 minutes


1 English cucumber

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp sugar

1 tsp dill weed

Pinch of pepper

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp sour cream


Slice the cucumber into thin slices. Either us a cheese knife or a food processor to cut into thin slices.

In a separate bowl add all the other ingredients, salt, sugar, dill, pepper, vinegar and sour cream. Mix it together and then pour over the cucumbers and mix them.

This salad should be prepared just prior to serving, as the cucumber release a lot of liquid if allowed to stand any length of time.


One Year Ago: Pear Coffee Cake

Monday, July 18, 2011

French Potato Salad

This is the Secret Recipe Club “assignment!”  Every month you get a name of a blog and you need to choose ANY recipe from that blog and then blog about that recipe by a date.  It’s a secret because the blog owner does not know you are doing this until the reveal date.  My secret blog this month was  A Spoon Full of Thyme which is written by Kate.   Kate has a great food blog with a lot of delicious recipes,  I had a hard time narrowing down of what to make.  But it is summer time and lots of BBQ are going on, I wanted to make a new potato salad and Kate had this great French Potato Salad on here that I wanted to try.  I am not a fan of potato salads with mayo but usually just make mine with onion, olive oil and vinegar but this sounded delicious and needed to try it.  And it is definitely a keeper.  My only recommendation is use to use young potatoes.  To me young potatoes are the best, they are small, solid and they do not crumble.  Young potatoes were one of my favorite things growing up in Sweden.  Here you can usually find them during the summer time. And of course I keep the skin on, but you can always peel your potatoes if you want to.

French Potato Salad

Adapted from: A Spoon Full of Thyme

Yields: 6 servings | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 pound small white boiling potatoes
1 pound small red boiling potatoes
2 tbsp good dry white wine
2 tbsp chicken stock
3 tbsp Champagne vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
10 tbsp good olive oil
1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
2 Tbsp minced fresh dill
2 Tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp chiffonade of fresh basil leaves

Drop the white and red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.

Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.

One Year Ago: Croutons

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Frozen Chocolate Bananas with Coconut

Need a quick ice cream substituent if you have a craving?  Or just need a perfect quick summer recipe for your BBQ?  This could not be a more quick and simple recipe – Frozen Chocolate Bananas with Coconuts are just a very simple dessert to make any time. It helps with your Ice cream craving and your chocolate craving. You can make it the night before and just throw it in the freezer for a party any time.

I was watching the Food Network the other day and Paula Dean was making these things and i just thought it was a brilliant idea and started making them right away.  I had all the ingredients and it took me about 15 minutes to make.  I even had to have a few pieces before i put them in the fridge, delicious.

Print Recipe

Frozen Chocolate Bananas with Coconut

Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes


2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
3 large bananas cut into large bite-size pieces


Place the chocolate chips into a double boiler. Stir constantly, and when the chocolate is melted, stir in the vegetable oil.

Place the coconut in a separate shallow dish and break up any clumps with your fingers.

Cut the banana into bite-size pieces Spear each banana half with a cute wooden toothpick.

Holding on to the stick, dip the banana in the chocolate and turn to coat evenly. Roll the chocolate-covered banana in the dish of coconut and transfer the banana to a plate lined with waxed paper or aluminum foil. Repeat with the rest of the bananas. Place the plate in the freezer for at least 20 minutes and up to 8 hours. Serve cold, on the stick.

Adapted from: Paula Dean


One Year Ago: Creating a Fabulous Table Top Decor

Monday, July 4, 2011

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

I hope all my US friends had a fabulous 4th of July.  It was my anniversary weekend so we went to the place we got married – Whistler, BC.   I love it up there, it’s gorgeous during the summer, fabulous places to eat, and all kinds of outdoor activities.  I will promise to write more about it and share some photos.

But as you are aware I am a rhubarb lover and a few weekends ago I wanted to make something new with rhubarb and decided on a crisp.  Usually crisps to be are often too sweet, and also most folks will add a little rhubarb and lots of a 2nd fruit to cover the tartness.  I feel that you then loose the great rhubarb flavor of the whole dessert.

To me you should have equal amounts of rhubarb and 2nd fruit in this case I am using strawberries.

Also when you make a crisp I do not want the topping soggy, nor too much oatmeal, or too much flour.  I want it crispy and rich topping flavor and for this recipe I have added less flour, walnuts and graham crackers, but other cookies work too.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp

Adapted From: Kitchen Parade

Yields 8 | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time: 60 minutes

3 cups rhubarb chopped into ½” squares
3 cups strawberries cut into ½
¼ cup brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs or shortbread cookies
1/2 cup oatmeal (old-fashioned)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375F.

Put the Rhubarb and strawberries in a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients, stirring often so that each piece is lightly covered.

For the topping in a separate bowl, stir together all the ingredients except the butter. With your hands, work in the butter until small, even clumps begin to form.

Slightly butter an 9” round or square pan. Transfer rhubarb and strawberry mixture into the pan then top evenly with the topping. (If making ahead of time, stop here and let rest for 3 – 4 hours.)

Bake for 50-60, covering with foil or a baking sheet for the last 15 minutes if the topping starts to get a little dark. Let cool a bit.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bars

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

I can’t believe that I have not posted blueberry muffins on here. I love blueberry muffins and think everyone should have one good basic recipe; this one is a great basic blueberry muffins recipe.

As I started writing this I realized that I have not posted here for a week, time just flies. I have no idea where this week went. I was so busy with trying to get my yard organized for summer, my regular work, putting together midsummer celebrations, and life in general, that I had no time to post. But during the week I did make blueberry muffins with ricotta. This recipe you can use sour cream, yogurt or ricotta for your muffins and they turn out great with any of the variations. Even during busy times I somehow always have time for cooking.

I hope everyone had a great midsummer weekend.

Blueberry Muffins

Adapted from: Brown Eyed Baker

Yields: 12 muffins | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time 25-30 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1¼ cups sour cream, plain yogurt or ricotta
1½ cups fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin (or line with paper liners) and set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl untill combined. Whisk the egg in a separate medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until thick, about 30 seconds. Add the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the sour cream/yogurt or ricotta in 2 additions, whisking just to combine, and then add the lemon zest.

Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss just to combine. Add the sour cream, yogurt or ricotta mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed, 25 to 30 seconds. Small spots of flour may remain and the batter will be very thick. Do not overmix.

Using a large spoon or a cookie scoop sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, divide the batter amount the muffin cups. Bake until the muffins are light golden brown and a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time. Immediately remove muffins to a wire rack and cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mango Gazpacho

During a summer day nothing is as good as a cool gazpacho.  And, add some mangos to it and you are dreaming about sitting on the beach in Hawaii.   This recipe comes from Chef Nick Mastrascusa who works at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Hawaii.

For this recipe, I highly recommend selecting ripe mangoes.  Also yellow tomatoes, with their low-acidity, are used instead of the traditional red tomato. Make sure the mangoes and tomatoes are at their peak of ripeness for a big, rich flavor. Make sure to slowly blend in the olive oil so that the soup will have a velvety, smooth texture.  If you like your gazpacho a little less sweet, and slightly more tangy, use one mango versus two.

This soup is just not only delicious but also gorgeous with its yellow coloring. It is so easy to make, there really is no cooking required here.  And your guest will be astonished with how good this is.  Last, but not least, you can have a great time serving this soup: serve in bowls or martini glasses, use your imagination for decoration and enjoy!

Mango Gazpacho

Yields:  6 to 8 servings | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Chill Time: 4 hours

2 large ripe mangos (about 4 cups), peeled and roughly chopped
4 medium yellow tomatoes (about 4 cups), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 small shallots
1 cup roughly chopped European cucumber, plus 2 tablespoons additional, finely chopped, for garnish
1/2 cup roughly chopped celery
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Favorite hot sauce, for garnish

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients except the oil, the salt and pepper, and the garnishes, and process until smooth. Then, add the olive oil slowly so it blends into the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The thickness of the soup will be based on how ripe the mangos are. As there is no liquid in the recipe other than the vegetables, the riper the mangoes, the better.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Four hours before serving, chill small glass bowls or martini glasses.  You can store the soup in the refrigerator up to 2 days, if the soup is too thick after storage you may can put in some vegetable stock to thin it out.

When ready to serve, pour the soup into the bowls and garnish each one with some diced cucumber, a few drops of hot sauce and olive oil. Serve immediately and Enjoy!

One Year Ago: Thai Chicken with Plum Ginger Sauce


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