Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"IT IS A GOOD DAY" with Homemade Garlic Bread in the House. . . .

It is a '"GOOD DAY!" Why? Because, my Chinese horoscope said I should start everyday from here on out saying, "IT IS A GOOD DAY!" I actually like that advice!!

It is also a good day because there is homemade garlic bread in the house. By homemade, I mean homemade, start to finish.

Gin's Garlic Bread
(by Once Upon a Gourmet Gin)
2 cups warm water ( I shoot for 115° F)
2 packages active dry yeast
2 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoons honey
5 to 6 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup pesto (preferably homemade)
10 cloves of garlic, very very very thinly sliced
2 cups Italian Cheese

(1) Mix together yeast, sugar and honey and let sit five to ten minutes until foamy and active. (2) Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture, olive oil and melted butter. Knead by hand or in mixer for no less than 15 minutes. (3) Shape dough in to a ball and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch dough down and divide in half. Cover again and let stand for 20 minutes. (4) On two well greased baking pans place the dough that you have shaped in to loaves. Cover and let rise until doubled again. (5) Preheat over to 425 degrees. Bake bread for 25 minutes or until bread sounds hollow. If bread is getting to brown during baking process cover with foil. (6) Cool 30 minutes or longer. (7) Preheat broiler. split each loaf in half horizontally. Brush with pesto, top with garlic and Italian cheese. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes. (7) ENJOY!!
Frankly, if you are looking for a light dinner, a slice of this bread and a nice Caesar salad will do the trick.

My son found my "expensive" bottle of balsamic vinegar and has claimed it has his own. He treated us to a bowl to dip our bread in and it was tantalizingly good. (I might have a Chef in the making!!)

If you are lucky enough to have leftover bread, you can cut it into cubes, toss with olive oil and bake at 450 degrees until crispy and crunchy. HOMEMADE CROUTONS!

PS I have a new camera and clearly do not know how to operate it. Pretty much every picture I take is blurry which can be just a little depressing but "IT IS A GOOD DAY!"
Have a great week. . . . . . . . :-)

PSS The fresh garlic on this bread is enough to chase any Vampire away but why would you want to do that??

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gin Versus Magic Mayonnaise AND the winner is. . . .

With it getting to be that time of the year (HOLIDAYS!!) my freezer is slowly filling up with home baked cookies for my holiday treat trays.

I know what you are thinking; "Gin if you are blogging about holiday cookies, why am I looking at a veggie tray?"

Yesterday started out innocently enough as I was looking for some new holiday cookie recipes. If you are like me, you have 100's of those recipe booklets that are right by the check out at the grocery store.

In my many stacks of these recipe booklets, I came across this one and started to browse through it.

This is where the trouble starts!! Right dab smack in the middle of this booklet is a recipe for Magic Mayonnaise. I was intrigued to say the least. Magic Mayonnaise is one of those recipes where you would hope that one of your fellow food bloggers would try first, but seeing that I can't imagine anybody making mayonnaise from Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk, I pressed forward.

Lucky for me, right there on the center shelf of my pantry were all the ingredients for this unique concoction.

Magic Mayonnaise

2/3 cup Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice (I used apple cider vinegar)

1/4 salad oil or melted butter (I used canola oil)

2 tablespoons refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed (I used refrigerated)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 salt

Dash cayenne pepper

The directions were as followed:

Place ingredients in a pint jar. Cover tightly, then shake vigorously for 2 minutes. If desired, ingredients may be place in a mixing bowl and beat with a rotary blender until mixture thickens. For a thicker consistency, chill for 1 hour before serving.

I went ahead and doubled this recipe because 2/3 cup of Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk is approximately 1/2 of the can. What the heck was I going to do with the other half?

To say Magic Mayonnaise in incredible just would not cover how good it is! It is sweet and savory with a kick of taste from the vinegar. To be down right honest, it is frightfully addicting! It is one of those things that you just can't stop eating, trust me!

I took my Magic Mayonnaise and made a veggie dip. I mixed half of the Magic Mayonnaise with one packet of ranch dressing, 1 8-ounce carton light sour cream (figured I should save the calories where I could,) 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, two green onions that were finely chopped, and garlic pepper to taste. It was YUM and like no other veggie dip you have ever had before!

I over ate Magic Mayonnaise yesterday and that is all I can say about that. When I do that, I TRY and make up for it by adding an extra mile to my daily runs. So, why are my shoes sitting on the computer room floor?

It is POURING RAIN :-( Even after an entire 24 hours of my Magic Mayonnaise eat fest, I still feel it in the bottom of my stomach! YUCK!! Now, am I saying YUCK to the Magic Mayonnaise? NO! I am saying YUCK to how much magic mayonnaise I ate!

In the words of a friend and fellow food blogger Sherri from Everything in Moderation ; moderation is exactly how I am going to eat Magic Mayonnaise from here on out.

Have a great day!

PS The Magic Mayonnaise WON!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Irresistibly Stupendous Salmon Salad Sandwich

Have you ever had one of those days that your body doesn't cooperate with you? You know, a pain here, a twist here or an abnormal cracking of your bones?

I guess that question is only for my friends in their forties and beyond. I am a runner and there are days where my body says "NO!"

"Gin, eat more salmon," said Dr. K.

Dr. K is a good friend of mine and that was his advice. He gave me all the health benefits and so on. . . . . Thanks Dr. K!

This week on the menu was poached salmon. Poached salmon is amazingly tasty. It is a great way to eat salmon. As far as the poaching liquid, you are only limited by your taste buds and imagination.

I had one salmon fillet left.

My goal is to get better at working with my leftovers, so I went to work creating some salmon salad.
Gin's Poached Salmon Salad

1 poached salmon fillet
fresh grated horseradish, to taste
1/4 cup fresh sour cream
1/4 cup light mayo
1 teaspoon sugar
fresh dill, to taste
fresh snipped chives, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
(1) Shred salmon fillet. (2) Mix the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate until ready to create sandwiches. (3) ENJOY!

Salmon salad is right up there with tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad or ham salad. The fresh grated horseradish gives a kick to the taste buds, and the sugar is the secret ingredient that brings it all together.

My sandwich was out of this world. I started with Arnold Select Sandwich Thins. I added two scoops of salmon salad, fresh sliced radishes, fresh sliced cucumbers, a pile of crisp lettuce and a drizzle of Lemon Pepper Dipping Oil from the Little Dipper Company. I am pretty sure this sandwich could find it's way on to a gourmet menu, it is just that good. The Lemon Pepper Dipping Oil was definitely the magic touch that led to the unbelievable taste. I have to say that I have tried a lot of dipping oils in my time and the ones from the Little Dipper Company are so superior in their taste that I will never waste my money on any other flavored oils. The company has an unique way of mixing the right amount of spices and oils to compliment almost any dish in your recipe box.

I am on way to drop a container of fresh poached salmon salad to Dr. K, and you should be on your way to making a side of potato salad to go with your salmon salad. ; -)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

POM Wonderful, Jalapeno Peppers and the University of South Florida

(This blog post is brought to you by POM Wonderful and yours truly, ME!)

Yesterday afternoon my phone rang and it was my Mother, "Gin, what the heck is going on at the University of South Florida?"

Usually, I would know because I am a news hound. If I am at home, I have the news on. Lately, I have tried to modify from that practice because I was either aggravated by politics or feeling bad at a sad story that I had just heard. So, I have been listening to music.

"I have no clue," I told my Mother. "Well, you better turn the news on and find out?" Which I did immediately.

Sure enough there was breaking news pertaining to the University of South Florida. There was a lock down, mayhem, arrests, a bomb squad, helicopters, and a cowboy allegedly carrying a black puppy along with a large hunting knife. Seriously, my best friend is an awesome published romance author, Cathy Liggett , and I am pretty sure not even her creative imagination could make this up!

I knew that my son was in class so I sent him a text and asked what was going on? He said that he was dodging bullets, which was his attempt at a joke. I have to say that he got his sense of humor from his father, not me. I am happy that he is on his way to feeling better and back to his normal self. All I could do is chuckle. I am over 800 miles away and my son is learning life lessons that I could have never taught him.

Up until he got Mono, he like most young adults, felt like he was invincible. Shortly after we got him back to school in August, we got a phone call from him saying that his car had been stolen. Long story short, his car is gone forever and in Tampa they don't even send a police officer to take the report, they do it over the phone! Now in the middle of campus mayhem, 800 miles away, I had to take some deep breaths. You send your babies out in the world and hope for the best. You realize that they are young adults experiencing their own life lessons, lessons that will undoubtedly have a big impact on their lives. As a Mother, you hope for the best and if your a foodie you head for the kitchen. Cooking, creating and baking are most definitely stress relievers for me.

This brings me to POM Wonderful, jalapeno peppers and one awesome tasting-barbecue sauce recipe. The people from POM Wonderful were kind enough to send me a case of 100% Pure Pomegranate Juice. I really can't say enough about their Pomegranate Juice. The fresh tart taste and proven health benefits make it a drink sensation. Once you realize it's versatility in cooking and baking, then your only problem is that you won't have enough! As far as the jalapeno peppers, that was the only thing in my garden that could stand up to my inattentiveness. So, I have a bountiful crop of peppers just waiting to be used.

Gin's Spicy Barbecue Sauce

1 cup whiskey

1 cup POM Wonderful juice

2 bottles of your favorite barbecue sauce

10 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped

4 tablespoons cayenne pepper (you read that right!!)

1 cup honey

(1) Get a saucepan and put on high heat. Pour whiskey and POM Wonderful juice in hot sauce pan and reduce by half. (2) Add barbecue sauce, jalapeno peppers, cayenne pepper, and cup of honey. (3) Simmer at low heat for approximately one hour, stirring frequently, until sauce is thick and fragrant. (4) ENJOY!

I am going to suggest that you don't deviate from this tried and true recipe. Yes, it is spicy (actually right down habanero hot) but it's like nothing that you have ever tasted. It is thick, rich, sweet, and fresh all bottled up in one terrific tasting multi-purpose sauce.

Serving suggestions are as follows: chicken wings, mixed with oil and vinegar for a unique marinade, spread on sandwiches, brushed on grilled meat, as a dipping sauce for pretzel sticks, and so on. . . . .

I would like to say how happy I am with the way that the University of South Florida handled the mayhem on campus yesterday. I feel that my son is completely safe and that the administration is incredible at keeping it that way. When the lock down was over my son headed to the grocery to get a "Butworst to put in the crockpot to make sandwiches." (CHUCKLE)

I said, "You mean a pork butt?" "Yes, that," he proudly said. (CHUCKLE AGAIN)

Have a great day everybody!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pumpkins, Pumpkin Muffins and a World Famous Foodie Speaking Tour

It is October, which means PUMPKINS!! One of my best memories as a young child was visiting the pumpkin patch. Back then, it was about painting the pumpkins, with very little carving. This is my first carved pumpkin of the season. I am about to expose the one trick that will make you a Master Pumpkin Carver, patience. Pumpkin carving takes time, and a lot of it.

My pantry is stocked with cans of pumpkin and I am ready for the pumpkin season. This weekend I made pumpkin muffins with strudel topping for my nieces and nephews. There is one thing that I have learned about muffins and kids, they love the strudel topping. This batch of pumpkin muffins comes with a double batch of strudel topping.

Gin's Pumpkin Pie Muffins with Rich Strudel Topping
1-2/3 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 cup plain pumpkin
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips

Strudel Topping
1 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp. flour
4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. melted butter

(1)Heat oven to 350. (2) In medium bowl mix flour, sugar, pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. (3) In another bowl mix eggs, pumpkin and butter. Whisk until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. (4) Pour over dry ingredients and fold in. Scoop batter evenly into muffin cups half way full. (5) Top with Strudel topping and bake 20 to 25 minutes. When muffins come out of the oven gently push a pumpkin candy in muffin top. (6) Let cool slightly before serving. (7) ENJOY!

It is hard to believe that fall is here and the holidays are right around the corner. The saying "Time Flies" is losing it's meaning with me. I blink and it is months later! This brings me to my absence from food blogging. I would like to say that I have been on a world famous food blogging speaking tour, or that I have been working on a cookbook that is already on the best seller list. The truth of course is a little more boring, but equally important, I have been a mother. As some of you might know my son was diagnosed with Mono last November. He came home from college for the summer and I spent the last months nursing him back to health. I am happy to report that he is much better and back to the University of South Florida to start his junior year in college.

Happy Fall everybody!!