Saturday, December 29, 2012

Here We Come A-Wassailing

For those of you who don't know, wassailing was a tradition wherein people would walk from house to house singing Christmas carols.  Scholars believe the practice started as an Anglo-Saxon pagan ritual based of an Old English salute - "waes hael" - which basically meant "good health."  In addition to walking along and singing, carolers or wassailers would "beg" for some sort of charitable gift and perhaps a warm beverage as well.  Wassailing traditionally occurs on "Twelfth Night", January 5th or 6th, rather than before Christmas. So if you haven't gone wassailing yet, you still have time.

I managed to start a new Christmas tradition last year when I found this delightful recipe for wassail at the Jane Austen Centre's online magazine.  (I do love trying out historical recipes.)

I did some fiddling and adjusting this year based on how last year's wassail turned out, and everyone agreed it was better than before.  To make this "stronger" you can also mix in brandy while the wassail is heating, but I always serve it on the side, as there are some in my family who prefer to leave out the alcohol.

And yes, we did sing before we drank it.  No, no one got it on video.  Thank God.

Traditional Wassail

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 3 small (6 ounce) cans of pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup of hot tea (I used English Breakfast, but you can use any black tea you like)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • French brandy (optional)
  • Orange slices (for garnish)
  1. Measure out the spices into a coffee filter, and securely twist and tie the filter with thread or string to prevent anything from leaking out.  This creates a spice bag.
  2. Pour the cider, pineapple juice, and tea into a 4 quart pot and stir to combine. Add the spice bag.
  3. Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Then reduce the heat to low to keep the wassail hot.
  4. Offer orange slices for garnish - and a slightly stronger citrus flavor.  Offer brandy on the side if anyone wants to add a splash to their cups.
Notes:  This can also be made in a slow cooker.  Combine all ingredients and heat on low for 4-6 hours.  In place of ground cinnamon, a cinnamon stick can be used, and you can also add allspice.

And with that, "may God bless you and send you a happy New Year!"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Savannah Sponge Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote (OXO Product Review)

One of my coworkers celebrated a birthday a couple weeks ago, and I tasked myself with making her birthday dessert.  It was a small challenge, because she can't have anything with dairy in it, even if it's baked. Fortunately, this sponge cake recipe from The Savannah Cookbook has no dairy.  In fact, it's so simple, it has only four ingredients.

It would be beautiful topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, but I wanted to be a bit more festive.  So I decided to whip up some strawberry-rhubarb compote (you might remember me mentioning in when I made the meringue cupcakes - a.k.a. Cupcakes of Doom - in May).  And since I had some strawberries and rhubarb tucked away in my freezer from this summer's crop, it seemed the perfect combination.

And it was.

What was even more fun is that I got to use my new Mini Measuring Beakers from OXO.

Aren't they cute?  They come in four sizes - 1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon, 2 ounces and 1 ounce.  Plus they next together for easy storage.

The fill lines are well below the top of the beakers, which means no spills, and if you overfill, it's very easy to pour the liquid back into the container.

Aside from using them to measure the lemon juice for this sponge cake, I've also used them to measure flavor extracts while baking my Christmas cookies this year. I love them.

Anyway, would you like to learn how to make the cake and compote?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Be a Good Cookie (OXO Promotion)

Are you a good cookie?  Want to be one?

This is OXO's "Good Cookie" Spatula, a special product designed in conjunction with Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a non-profit organization started by two OXO employees dedicated to raising funds for pediatric cancer research.

You can be a good cookie and help in two different ways.  The first, possibly the easiest, is to buy one of these adorable little spatulas for yourself.  It's available directly from OXO and also on Amazon, and 50% of the proceeds from each spatula's sale goes toward pediatric cancer research.

But helping doesn't have to stop there.  Cookies for Kids' Cancer has a way you can get directly involved in the fundraising efforts.  All you have to do is host and register a bake sale!  What's particularly cool is that, up through the end of 2012, OXO is going to match the funds raised and/or donated through registered bake sales which mention OXO, up to $100,000.  (And there are lots of other corporate sponsors too.)  Your bake sale doesn't have to be huge.  It can raise as little as selling 2 dozen cookies at your school, office, or church.

I was hoping to get my own little bake sale up and running - the faculty room at my school is a great place when it comes to fundraisers and baked goods. Combining them would be brilliant.  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to set anything up, so I'll have to hold off until after New Year's.  But that doesn't mean I don't have some cookie ideas!

For starters, I have my quick sugar cookies that I can whip up in 45 minutes.  There's the old standby, the original Nestle Toll House cookie recipe.   Bakerella's chocolate peanut butter cookies would be brilliant.

And how about this recipe?  (I sorta made it up.)

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Cream butter and sugar together until light. Beat in vanilla.
  2. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Blend in oatmeal, cranberries and white chocolate chips to create a stiff cookie dough.
  4. Drop by heaping teaspoon (or by cookie scoop) onto either an ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown.  (You may have to adjust for your oven.)
It's not too late to register a bake sale with Cookies for Kids' Cancer and mention OXO.  Get out those baking tools and cookie sheets, and be a "Good Cookie"!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Skillet Okra Gumbo

I'm really starting to think I was born in the wrong part of the country. I'm just in love with my copy of The Savannah Cookbook.  Southern food, in general, just seems to make me happy.

When my husband and I went to Georgia during spring break, I ate okra for the first time.  It happened to be fried and had this really tangy mustard sauce to dip it in, but I enjoyed it, much to my own surprise.  Okra isn't particularly prevalent in my corner of the U.S., but this summer, one of the vendors at our local farmer's market had some for sale.

It was adorable and delightful, and I made this delicious skillet okra gumbo with it.

Now, you can buy okra at the grocery store, but it's not always a given and probably isn't nearly as good as what you'd buy at the farmer's market (or anywhere in the South, for that matter).  But I would imagine that, if you're like me, you're willing to do with what you have available.

Served over steamed rice, this recipe is enough to serve as a main course for up to six people.  It can also be used as a side dish without the rice, or if you need to stretch it over more than six plates.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Almond-Hazelnut Cupcakes (Cupcake of the Month Series #11)

It figures that November, one of my busiest months as a teacher, would also happen to be the month of the most time consuming, labor intensive cupcake of the year.

These almond-hazelnut cupcakes weren't actually that difficult to make.  There were just a lot of steps, so the whole process took me a good three hours start to finish.

Now, the recipe card said I should get 24 cupcakes from this recipe, but the online recipe says only 16. I actually got 18 cupcakes total.  So who knows.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Alas, poor Twinkie, I knew thee well...

The big news today is that Hostess, makers of the ubiquitous Twinkie, are liquidating their company and selling off their brands.

Including everyone's favorite cream-filled oblong cake.

Now, it's probably been at least five years since I last partook in Twinkie and Hostess Cupcake goodness.  Maybe longer. But the thought that I may soon not have access to these little bundles of yumminess (and whatever it is that keeps them fresh for, like, decades) makes me really want a Twinkie.

My guess is that some company out there will buy up the Twinkie brand, and probably a few other Hostess goodies as well.  Recall the case of Zingers - little chocolate cakes filled with cream, with a layer of fudge spread across the top.  I don't know what company originally owned Zingers, but Hostess bought them a while back.  I maintain that the original Zingers were better - probably because they were bigger.  But I therefore expect to see Twinkies remain on the shelves at stores, or at least return after a certain time period, made by another company.  

Will they be the same?  Maybe, maybe not.  

Will people buy them?

You bet your buttons!  Come on, have you met America?

Anyway, on the off chance that Twinkies do end up going the way of dinosaurs and Bonkers candy (remember Bonkers?), I think I may have to experiment with a homemade Twinkie recipe.  There's probably more than a few out there on the internet. But wouldn't that be a fun food experiment?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chicken Wing Dip

There are two really good reasons why you should try making this chicken wing dip, if you never have before.

Reason #1 - Football
Reason #2 - Holiday Parties

Somewhere between those two occurrences, you will discover how awesome this chicken wing dip is, will be asked to make it in copious amounts for every gathering, and even those copious amounts will prove inadequate to handle its life span of 2.76 seconds.

I wish I could take credit for creating this recipe, but I can't.  It's the good ol' Frank's RedHot Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip recipe.  Probably the only thing I sometimes do differently is use an alternate hot sauce, based on availability at the store, and I generally have to double or triple the amount because - as I mentioned - I'm often asked to make "vats" of this stuff.

I'm not kidding on the "vats" thing.

There are two ways to make this chicken wing dip. You can bake it, or you can use a slow cooker.  I'll give you directions for both.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Orange Almond Cupcakes (Cupcake of the Month #10)

My mom's birthday was last week, so I whipped up the October cupcake for her!

It's an orange almond cupcake, topped with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and orange marmalade.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pampered Chef Pecan-Crusted Chicken with Sweet Mustard Dressing

Are you stuck for a mid-week dinner idea? I know it's hard to come home from work and prepare something healthy and delicious for your family.  Here's a tasty dish that you can whip up in about a half hour.

It's the pecan-crusted chicken with sweet mustard dressing, from Pampered Chef's 29 Minutes to Dinner cookbook.  It's crunchy, sweet, salty, and easy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes (Cupcake of the Month #9)

There's nothing quite as delightful as a chocolate cupcake.  Except maybe a chocolate cupcake filled with marshmallow-y cream.

The September cupcakes are a delightful cream-filled chocolate cupcake, reminiscent of Hostess cupcakes (but without the chocolate frosting).

After a couple months' worth of rather labor intensive cupcakes, these were - pardon the pun - a piece of cake.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sauteed Baby Spinach with Garlic and Blue Cheese

There are times when I have leftover ingredients and need to play around in the kitchen to use them up.  A while back, I had about half a bag of baby spinach and perhaps half a cup of  crumbled blue cheese, and this is what I came up with.

It's very quick to throw together, and the amounts are adjustable depending on how many people you're serving.  Here's how I made it for two people.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cheese Pennies

I came across this recipe a while back.  I had been asked to provide a small appetizer-type item for an evening event at my church, and these seemed simple and quick.

The original recipe came from the Cookie & Biscuit Bible, and the only major difference between my cheese pennies and the Cheddar Pennies recipe was my choice of cheese and the amount of chili powder.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Homemade Mayonnaise (also known as, "Why didn't I try this before?")

I have never been a fan of mayonnaise.  It always skeeved me out, and I really can't tell you why.  I never put it on sandwiches, and the only food I would eat with any mayo-like product was macaroni salad.  I would buy small jars, as my husband will eat mayo, but they would sit in the fridge, half used, for months, until the next refrigerator-clean-out day.  Then I would toss them.

It's really a waste.

Recently, I decided to host a little dinner party and wanted to serve tomato sandwiches as an appetizer.  The recipe called for homemade mayonnaise.

I was a little skeptical.  But I would be mixing crumbled crispy bacon into the mayo before spreading it on the little finger sandwiches, and everything is better with bacon.  So I dove in.

And guess what?

I freaking love homemade mayonnaise!

Well, maybe love is too strong a word.  But I'll eat it.  And it's ridiculously easy to make just the right amount with my little food processor, probably better for you and definitely easier on the wallet (at least in terms of how much we actually go through).

There are a myriad of recipes out there for homemade mayonnaise, touting a variety of techniques.  The recipe I used came from The Savannah Cookbook, which offers directions for a hand method and a food processor method.  I went with the food processor method because there's less margin for error.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

I totally love the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer.  It does amazing things.

Like help me make peach ice cream.

This happens to be the ice cream I used when I made those mini buttermilk vanilla cupcakes for my uncle's birthday a couple weeks ago.  The recipe came from The Savannah Cookbook.

Now, I'm not an ice cream snob who's going to turn up my nose at the mere mention of store bought ice cream.  But this homemade stuff is pretty dang good, and if you have the time, it's worth making.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Buttermilk Vanilla Mini Cupcakes with Ice Cream (Cupcake of the Month Series #8)

*gasp* Two posts in one week!  Yes, I'm trying to catch up a bit, mostly to ensure that I share this month's featured cupcake.

It's a miniature buttermilk vanilla cupcake, topped with a tiny scoop of ice cream!

Now, the recipe card actually called for gelato, but that's not something easily found in my neck of the woods.  However, also didn't want to just throw any old store-bought ice cream on these baby delights, so I topped them with homemade peach ice cream instead.

Want to see how to make them?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mixed Berry Pie and Turnovers (OXO Product Review)

Wow, I've kind of fallen off the wagon with posts over the last couple weeks.  I apologize to my loyal readers.  To make it up to you, let me share a delicious new pie recipe and tell you about OXO's new cherry pitter design.

To make this pie...

...which involves delicious homegrown sweet cherries, blackberries, and blueberries... need one of these.

But the design of the above pictured cherry pitter is awful.  I'd been using it for about three years now, and I never liked it.  The grip was too far apart to be comfortable for my hands, it wouldn't really come clean in the dishwasher and was a slight pain to wash by hand. Plus it splattered cherry juice everywhere - on my counter, down my arm, across my (apron-clad) front...

You get the idea.

But fresh cherry pies are so awesome, so you need a decent cherry pitter to make the pitting part easy.

I received OXO's newly designed cherry pitter recently and I have to say, it's pretty awesome.

For one thing, the distance between the hand grips is far, far smaller than on my old cherry pitter.  It's more ergonomically designed and thus more comfortable for pitting quart upon quart of cherries.  The overall design is a lot smarter too.

The prong (the thing that pushes through the cherry, I don't know if it has an actual name) is made of metal - probably stainless steel.  The little "cradle for the cherry is also a little more secure - I had no fears of the cherry falling out, which was a bit of a problem on my old pitter.  Plus, see that little plastic sleeve on the bottom there?  That's a splash guard.

So you don't spray yourself and your kitchen with cherry juice.

It works like a dream.

Plus, that little plastic guard comes off for easy cleaning - and like most OXO products, the whole thing is dishwasher safe.

And perhaps my favorite part (aside from the dishwasher safe thing) - there's a little locking mechanism that lets you lock the pitter closed for easy storage.  Takes up way less space in my drawer!

So, armed with this awesome OXO cherry pitter, what did I decide to make?

Well, that mixed berry pie, of course!

It was one of a dozen pies I made for a friend's wedding recently.

(This, by the way, is one of the reasons I haven't blogged much in the past couple weeks.  The other reason is getting my classroom ready.)

Anyway, the mixed berry pie was amazing, if I do say so myself.  Want to know how to make it?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nectresse Sweetener

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of NECTRESSE™Sweetener. All opinions are 100% mine.

In our increasingly health-conscious world, many people are constantly on the lookout for alternatives to sugar for their favorite recipes or just to sweeten their coffee.  The makers of Splenda have recently come out with a brand new, all natural product - NECTRESSE™Sweetener

Nectresse is the only 100% natural sweetener made from monk fruit extract (which I learned is a type of melon), and it seems to be a pretty simple sugar substitute.  The primary ingredient is erythritol, a sugar alcohol that has been approved as a food additive and is a natural sugar substitute.  Now, before you start thinking that science is messing with you, erythritol occurs naturally in some fruits and was discovered in 1848 - so it's not particularly new.  It's just being used in a new way, I guess you could say.

If you want some quick facts about monk fruit, you can read some tidbits on the individual packets.

LIsa Ling has endorsed Nectresse as a suitable substitute for sugar for people with diabetes.  I imagine it would also be good for people who are otherwise trying to watch their calorie and sugar intake for general healthiness, but are seeking something all-natural.

I had the opportunity to give this sweetener a try.  It's 150 times sweeter than sugar, so you use much less of it.  One packet of Nectresse is equal to two teaspoons of regular sugar.  They look surprisingly similar, except I found the Nectresse had a bit of a green tint to it.


Nectresse comes in individual packets, perfect to take with you when you're on the go, as well as in canisters for shaking, pouring, and scooping.

Nectresse product family.jpgNectresse product family.jpg

Nectresse can be substituted for sugar in cooking and baking. You can find lots of yummy sounding recipes at the Nectresse website. But I decided to give one of my recent recipes a bit of a Nectresse reboot, to see if it's really as sweet and versatile a sugar substitute as it claims.

A couple weeks ago, I posted my first foray into making Southern sweet tea, a beverage that by trade requires a lot of sugar.

lot of sugar.

So, armed with a calculator and the internet (so I could figure out how many teaspoons of sugar are in a cup of sugar and then figure out how much Nectresse I needed), I developed a Nectresse version of Southern sweet tea.  I didn't go "full strength" on the sweetness because I didn't know for sure how the Nectresse would "behave" once I mixed it in.  But here's how I made it.

Nectresse Southern Sweet Tea


  • 1 quart boiling water
  • 2 Luzianne tea bags (the large size specially made for iced tea)
  • 12 packets NECTRESSE™Sweetener (it works out to be a little more than 1/8 of a cup - double the amount for "full test" sweet tea)
  • 1 quart cold water


  • Pour boiling water over tea bags in a 2-quart pitcher.  Let steep for 3-5 minutes, longer if you want stronger tea.
  • Stir in NECTRESSE™Sweetener until dissolved
  • Pour in cold water and stir to combine.
  • Chill completely before serving

And the verdict?  Well, even though I had only done half-strength sweetness, it was still pretty dang sweet.  My husband said he thought there was a slight after taste - he could tell the tea wasn't made with real sugar.  But that didn't keep him from drinking most of the 2-quart pitcher.  I personally couldn't tell much of a difference between Nectresse and sugar in the sweet tea.

The best news? Diabetics can now enjoy real Southern sweet tea!  (Not that I think there are hordes of people with diabetes necessarily lamenting the lack of sweet tea in their lives, but now they have the option.)

Southern Sweet Tea made with Nectresse instead of sugar!

If you think you might like to try it, you can get a FREE sample of NECTRESSE™Sweetener through their website.  It's also available in stores.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cherry Chip Ice Cream

We all like ice cream, right? I mean, I like ice cream.  I don't eat it often because, well, it's not the best choice when you're trying to watch your diet.  But homemade ice cream far outstrips every store-bought ice cream brand out there.  At least, it does in my experience.  

A little over three years ago, I received the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer, but I never got around to using it until this week.  Like, it literally got stuck in the back of a cupboard, relegated to collecting dust.  But I really wanted ice cream, and I really wanted it to be homemade.  So I dug out the attachment and whipped up a batch.

I decided to modify Emeril Lagasse's recipe for "old time vanilla ice cream" because it didn't involve using eggs, which is a plus on a 90 degree day.

As far as the ice cream maker goes, whatever type you have will work.  Just make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions for the machine you have.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes (Cupcake of the Month Series #7)

A couple weeks ago, I hosted a rather large-ish dinner party to celebrate a family birthday, and aside from the tomato sandwiches, butter roasted pecans, lowcountry boil, cream rolls, watermelon salad, and chicken kebabs, I served the July cupcake.

This lemon meringue cupcake really topped off our meal and provided a degree of entertainment for some members of my family.  You will notice that, despite the picture on the Martha Stewart website, I decided not to pipe the seven-minute frosting, which is just meringue with a deceptive name.

I have already learned my lesson when it comes to meringue and pastry bags.

This was not a quick cupcake, and the various elements were made over the course of two days.  The lemon curd was made the night before (literally, at about 10:30, which is why there are no pictures of the process), the cupcakes the morning of and the meringue/frosting about ten minutes before serving.

I apologize in advance for the quality of most of these photos.  My SLR camera was missing in action through most of the baking process, so I used my Canon Powershot instead.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Southern Sweet Tea

You're going to find this completely ludicrous, but up until this past Saturday, I had never attempted to make Southern sweet tea.

I don't know why. I love it.  Every time I've traveled to the South, I pretty much drink nothing else. I always make some comment along the lines of, "I really should figure out how to make this."  I probably have sweet tea running through my veins.

Duh.  It's so easy.  I feel like a complete idiot for not doing this sooner.  For some untold reason, I thought it was hard to make sweet tea.  For years I've been buying iced tea mixes and believing sweet tea to be some mythical nectar I could only procure on my travels south.

No more, I tell you!  For it is beyond easy to make sweet tea, and here is how you do it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lemon Sponge

Ah, lemon sponge!  I never know if I should classify this as a dessert or a side dish.  It's a type of gelatin salad, the likes of which are usually served alongside a main course item.  But it's sweet enough for a light dessert.  It's a family picnic favorite. Whenever we're planning to fire up the grill for some serious summer festivities (okay, or turn on the stove for some serious winter festivities), the question always comes up - who is making lemon sponge!

I meant to post this earlier, so people would have time to acquire the ingredients and whip up this delightful dish for tomorrow's Independence Day festivities.  Because it's so easy and delicious, and screams summer. In fact, if you're willing to get up early and run to the store, you can get this made in plenty of time for your afternoon barbecues. As long as you have four hours between the time you finish assembling and the time you plan to eat, you're golden.

We always considered this a family recipe, but a few months back we were rifling through my nana's old recipe box and discovered a recipe for ORANGE sponge clipped from a newspaper.  Granted, said newspaper was likely from the thirties or forties.  Maybe the fifties if we're feeling generous.  But I think it's safe to say that this has now become a family secret.

And I'm sharing it with all the interwebz.

So the original recipe called for orange flavored gelatin, and we use lemon.  You could use any citrus flavor you like, really, but the lemon is particularly refreshing.  Your barbecue guests will rave and ask for the recipe, just like everybody at our choir picnic last week.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken and Black Bean Chili

Normally, people think of slow cookers as an easy way to create warm, delicious meals in the middle of winter.  There's nothing quite like the smell of hearty beef stew or chicken soup filling your house on a cold winter day, and knowing you'll get to dig in after those luscious flavors have simmered for up to ten hours.

So why am I blogging about a slow cooker recipe in June?

Well, just as slow cookers are life-and-dinner-savers in the wintertime, they are great for summer as well.  Think about it for a minute - sometimes you just don't want to grill (hold off on the horrified gasps for a minute, friends), but you want a hearty meal.  Now where I live, we don't usually get super hot summer days until, oh, end of July (this past week's heat wave notwithstanding).  So even though my dear husband likes to fire up the grill, I usually have no qualms about stirring something up on the stove or baking in the oven.

But slow cookers are great for summer.  Minimal fuss, you're not heating up a single element on your stove top, and they don't add much heat to your kitchen.  Do I recommend them for a 95+ degree day?  Not unless you have central air.  (Which I now have, and I'm looking forward to a summer of baking and canning in cool, air-conditioned comfort.)  On the hottest of hot days, a spinach and tomato salad alongside a couple hot dogs is as fancy as we'll get around here.

But I'm digressing terribly.

Chili is definitely a winter food.  But thanks to your slow cooker, you can enjoy it in the summer with minimal fuss and discomfort.  This particular chili recipe has the added bonus of being low calorie and low fat, thanks to the use of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

And your hands-on time is maybe ten minutes, tops, depending on your dexterity with two forks.

This recipe doesn't have to be made in a slow cooker.  You can make it on the stove as well.  Use a large (three to four quart) pot, and simmer for about a half hour before shredding the chicken.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Chinese Chicken Salad with Honey-Sesame Dressing

Up until about six months ago, I'd never heard of napa cabbage.  Sometimes it's called Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage.

When I read the recipe for this Chinese chicken salad in my Turbo Fire recipe book, I was leery.  I don't care for cabbage in the least.  But I figured it was worth a shot.  If nothing else, I could pick out the chicken and other ingredients, and leave the cabbage for my husband to eat.

But napa cabbage isn't terribly cabbage-y.  It tastes a lot like celery, which is probably why it's sometimes called celery cabbage.

Isn't that a pretty salad?  

I thought so too, and it's so easy to make. Here's how I made mine.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ginger Cupcakes (Cupcake of the Month Series #6)

I thought you all deserved a cupcake post riddled with success instead of frustration.  Luckily for you, I made the June cupcake of the month last weekend to celebrate my cousin's twentieth birthday.

These cupcakes are based on Martha Stewart's rose and ginger cupcakes, but I omitted the rose part for a few practical reasons.

First of all, my cousin is a guy.  I don't think he would've been thrilled to have sugared rose petals on top of his cupcakes, regardless of how nifty the idea is.  I also was a bit pressed for time. I baked the cupcakes at 9:30 at night and iced them before we left for church the next morning.

Second of all, the rosewater flavoring is only added to the icing.  And a tiny bottle of rosewater (which isn't available at my local Price Chopper or Walmart, by the way) costs like $4.  Remember my chagrin at the price of ground cardamom?  

Yeah, we weren't going there with the rosewater.