Thursday, September 25, 2008

.grilled shrimp and mango salad.

A couple years ago I was in Chicago for a scrapbooking event. It's a big thing for the craft and hobby industry and I was along for the ride with a company I was designing for at the time. I shared a hotel room with three other ladies and one night while out to dinner, my friend Bek ordered this grilled shrimp and mango salad. It looked FABULOUS! Since I'm all about salads, I thought I would try remaking it here at my house.

It's quick and easy and so deliciously refreshing. A light cilantro lime vinaigrette tops this off. The dressing can be made ahead of time and held in the fridge for future use.

Begin by taking however many shrimp you want and rinsing them well. Pull of the tails if they still have them on.

Season with seasoned salt.

Skewer up the shrimp and turn on the bbq.

Grill each side. When they're pink, they're done cooking. Don't let these overcook because the shrimp will be tough.

Peel and grate a couple carrots.

Seed and dice a tomato (or two).

Peel and slice a mango. If you're making this for a crowd, then dice the mango so it stretches further.

Slice some red onion.

Thinly slice some cucumber.

And finally, grate some cheddar cheese.

You can mix all these things together in a bowl with some lettuce (I used iceberg and romaine), or you can plate it like I did in the photo at the top. Drizzle lightly with cilantro-lime vinaigrette.


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (key limes are good)
1 small jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, coarsely chopped (leave in some seeds if heat is desired)
1 small clove garlic, halved
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon honey
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch salt, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

.apple streusel spice bread.

In 2005, around the fall holidays, I was trying to think of ways to make a little side cash. I had been teaching piano and voice for years, but having moved here to Georgia, I was looking for some change. I thought about what I could do and remembered when I was growing up, we would make pies and breads to sell to neighbors and friends. I had a lightbulb moment and said to myself, "Hey I could do that!"

So I started working on my baking menu and one of the breads I created was an apple streusel spice bread. My first baking holiday (Thanksgiving) I sold $300.00 worth of bread and pie. I quadrupled that for the month of December. I was baking almost non-stop!

This bread was made daily at the bakery and was loved by many. I have even had some calls since closing the bakery asking if I could make them a loaf. It's that good. I'm sure you'll enjoy it too!

In a large bowl, put 2 cups flour, 2/3 cup sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp allspice. Mix.

In another bowl, put 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/3 cup melted butter (do not omit this), 2 Tbsp milk, and 2 eggs. Whisk.

Peel, core, and chop 1 granny smith apple. You can use 2 if you want more apple. I think this is a good balance though.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry.

Mix with a fork until the wet are incorporated. Don't overwork. If the batter seems a little too runny, add a little more flour. If the batter seems too thick, add a little more milk.

Add the apple and fold in.

Pour the batter into a greased bread pan.

In a small bowl, put 1/2 cup flour, and 3 Tbsp brown sugar. Mix together.

Cut in 3-4 Tbsp butter. You want the topping nice and crumbly. If you want to add some chopped nuts, do so at this time.

Dump the streusel topping on top of the bread.

Put in a 425* preheated oven.

After 10 minutes, lower the temperature of the oven to 350*. The heat of the oven will force hot air through the batter, giving it lift, and then lowering it will ensure it's baked all the way through.

Continue to bake for another 50 or so minutes. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Pull from the oven. It will be nice and golden on top.

Carefully tip the bread out of the pan and onto a cooling rack. You will lose some of the streusel topping -- sorry. :)

Serve warm with or without butter.


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Monday, September 22, 2008

.vanilla bean ice cream.

There's nothing better than homemade ice cream. It seems the cartons at the grocery store are shrinking, yet the prices are increasing! And what you do find is ice cream made with all kinds of fillers, artificial flavors, and chemicals. Those aren't healthy for you. Making your own helps you control what exactly goes into your sweet treat and you can create whatever flavor you want! Sounds good to me.

This night I made vanilla bean to go on top of our peach cobbler. So delicious. If you don't have an ice cream maker, I really recommend getting one. It's a lot of fun for the whole family. I own a Cuisinart electric one. You put the bowl in the freezer, pour in your flavored cream, then turn it on. Pretty easy. I haven't seen a crank one in ages, which require a lot of ice and rock salt to get the ice cream frozen. Ice cream is very easy to make. Let me show you!

Take one vanilla bean and slice it in half lengthwise. Inside you'll find a bunch of little black things. This is real vanilla. Scrape out as much as you can with the knife.

In a pot, put 2 cups milk, 2 cups cream and the vanilla bean and all the scrapings. We want to infuse the cream with all of that good vanilla flavor. Let it sit for about 30 minutes on the counter.

In a bowl, put 3 eggs and 3/4 cups sugar. Whisk together.

Put the milk on the stove and heat over medium heat until a skin forms on top. This term is "scalded". Add a dash of salt.

Pour a little into the egg/sugar bowl while whisking. You want to temper the eggs. The eggs will start cooking the moment the hot liquid touches them so make sure you're whisking while adding otherwise you'll have clumps of cooked egg in your ice cream. Nasty.

Once you've added a little of the cream to the eggs and tempered them, add back into the pot. Whisk well.

At this point, strain all of the cream into a bowl. Cover with saran and put in the fridge. You want to chill this mixture before freezing otherwise it won't freeze at all.

Pour the cold cream mix into your ice cream maker. Put in the paddle and then turn on according to the directions on your machine.

Your ice cream won't be solid. It will be a lot like soft serve ice cream when it's done. What you do at this point is scoop all of your ice cream into a bowl or some sort of tupperware container. Put in the freezer and let it set.

After it's been in the freezer for 2-3 hours, it's ready for scooping. Serve with whatever toppings you like!

This makes 2 quarts. If you want more, double the recipe.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

.lime pie.

In my family cookbook there's a recipe for lemon meringue pie. It's a great recipe that was passed down to me from my mother, and to my mother from her mother. Who knows how many generations this goes back! About 8 years ago, I had a bunch of limes to use up and thought I would try making this recipe using the juice of the limes, instead of lemon. It turned out amazing. Sweet and tart. It is such a refreshing dessert, perfect for spring or summer.

This lime pie has become one of the traditional pies I make for Easter and has won over the hearts of many. One of our good family friends was over for Easter 3 years ago and Russ fell in love with it. I promised if we ever lived close to each other again, I would make him one.

So, whether you use lemons or limes, this is a great pie for your next family function!

In a pot, mix together 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup cornstarch. Set aside.

Take 4-5 limes (not key limes) and cut them in half.

Using a cheese grater, or zester, zest the limes. It would probably be easier to do this before cutting them. My daughter was helping me and I was trying to make it more manageable for her.

Then you want to juice the limes.

Separate four eggs. We need the yolks. You can save the whites in a bowl or jar in the fridge to use on something else at a later time.

Remember that pot of sugar and cornstarch? Add 3 cups BOILING water. Whisk well. Then put on the stove and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir constantly!

It will begin to thicken and get clear. That's when you know it's time to move on to the next step.

Add a spoonful of the hot liquid to the yolks, whisking with a fork or small whisk while you pour. This tempers the yolks.

While stirring, slowly add the tempered yolks into your pot. If you need to pull the pot from the heat, do so. You don't want this to burn and you don't want it lumpy.

Now add the lime (or lemon) juice.

Stir well.

Put back on the burner and let it thicken up more.

Once it's as thick as it's going to get, pull from the heat and add 1-2 drops of green food coloring. I don't like this neon green so I only add 1 drop.

At this stage, add 2 Tbsp butter.

And dump in the zest.

Now we need to cool the filling down. You don't ever want to put a hot filling into your pie shell because it will make it tough.

Fill a bowl up with ice water.

This is called an ice bath and will cool the filling down quickly.

Nestle the pot in the bowl. Make sure no water can make its way into the pot. Keep stirring every now and then to get it to cool quickly, and also to keep a skin from forming on top.

Now pour 2/3 of the filling into a BAKED
pie shell.
Pour the remaining 1/3 into a separate bowl.

Cover both with saran. Make sure the saran rests right on top of the filling to keep skin from forming. Put these in a fridge and chill for at *least* 4 hours, or overnight if possible.

Once chilled, add a tub of cool whip to the 1/3 lime filling.

Mix well and spoon onto the pie.

Spread the topping over the entire surface. Cover again and chill another hour.

Cut and serve!

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