Saturday, March 30, 2013

Recipe Corner: "Easy Hot Cross Buns"

A beloved Easter treat, hot cross buns are a popular during Lenten season and a Good Friday tradition to many. The preparation process with the rising of the yeast, mixing and all-around hoop jumping to get the dough just right can leave some frazzled and tired. This year, I tried a shortcut method by using Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls and my trusty candied fruit that I use to make fruitcakes during the Christmas season. My family and I were happy with the results. 

I discovered some fun facts about the history of hot cross buns along the way. Marking crosses on baked goods such as breads and buns dates back to pre-Medieval times and was meant to be a visible sign that the bread was “blessed” and had the power to ward off evil spirits and help the longevity of the bread by stopping it from molding or becoming stale too quickly. One story says hot cross buns origins date to the 12th century when an Anglican monk placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honor Good Friday. I came across a fun old rhyme about hot cross buns that says, "Half for you and half for me, between us two good luck shall be".  

Rather than serve them on Good Friday, I choose to make my own Easter tradition with this sweet delight and I serve them the following day, the day before Easter, which means we enjoyed ours today.  

"Easy Hot Cross Buns" 

1 can Pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing

1/2 cup candied fruit 

Egg Wash Glaze: 

1 egg
1 tablespoon milk 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare egg wash glaze by whisking together one egg and one tablespoon of milk. Set aside. Remove each roll from can and place each on wax paper. Take each roll and gently knead dough together to form a ball of dough. Place each back on wax paper. Make a well in the middle of each ball of dough. Place 1 tablespoon of candied fruit in the middle of each ball of dough. Gently knead candied fruit into each ball of dough just enough to combine candied fruit into dough. Place back on wax paper. Place each one on baking sheet. Coat each with glaze. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown in color. Remove from oven and cool. When cooled, drizzle icing in cross shape on top of each. Enjoy!   

Disclaimer: This post is not a sponsored post by the Pillsbury company. I was not financially compensated by the Pillsbury company for this blog post. All opinions stated in this blog post are my own.    

Friday, March 29, 2013

Recipe Corner: "Aim to Please Potato Salad"

My Grandma Cleva would dazzle with her potato salad everywhere from potlucks to picnics. Exploring the ins and outs of everything potato salad was a fun kitchen adventure for me. This is my take on her potato salad recipe. Maybe you will take this recipe and embark on your own kitchen adventure and share it with your family or loved ones at a gathering. Most of all, I hope this Easter season finds you creating some treasured memories of your own with friends and loved ones! 

“Aim to Please Potato Salad”

6 medium potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled, cubed & cooked

1 cup light mayonnaise

1 heaping tablespoon yellow mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup sweet pickles, chopped 

2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and chopped

Optional: 1 teaspoon parsley 

1 teaspoon paprika

1 egg, hard-boiled & chopped 

Peel potatoes, dice into cubes. In large pot, bring water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook 25-30 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place cubed potatoes in large bowl. Stir in mayonnaise. Add mustard and salt to mixture. Add onions, pickles and eggs. Toss gently to combine well. Transfer into serving bowl. Garnish, if desired, with parsley, paprika and chopped egg. Serve warm or cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving. Serves 10-12. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Recipe Corner: Easy Spring Cupcakes

I was honored to recently work on a baking project with Pillsbury and when it came time for springtime activities, I looked to them for inspiration in creating some easy and fun treats. I used their yellow cake mix as the base for spring green cupcakes and my annual task of making green frosting was made so much easier by Pillsbury's pre-colored green frosting. I added some favorite Easter candies on top and served up these fun cupcakes to family and friends.

"Easy Spring Cupcakes"
* makes 24 cupcakes or 12 large cupcakes

1 box Pillsbury classic yellow cake mix
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup oil
3 drops green food coloring
1 can Pillsbury "Funfetti" green frosting
1 package candy Easter eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, prepare cake mix according to package directions. If not using the Pillsbury mix, make sure to pay attention to preparation directions for the cake mix you are using. When batter is mixed, add 3 drops of green food coloring. Mix until well-blended. Pour batter evenly into 2  12-cup baking pans OR 1 large 12-cup baking pan. Bake 18-21 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool on heat-safe surface before frosting. Stir frosting well in can before frosting cupcakes with Funfetti frosting. Top with several candy Easter eggs. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This post was in no way sponsored by Pillsbury. I was not financially compensated by Pillsbury for this blog post. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Recipe Corner: "Spring Fling Carrot Cake"

I am excited that Easter week is here! With the spring awakening all around me here in the North Country, I enjoy serving up this lightened-up carrot cake to my friends and loved ones.

"Spring Fling Carrot Cake"

  • 2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons Rodelle pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots (5-6 large carrots)
Optional Garnish: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup chopped pecans  

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat two 8-inch round baking pans with cooking spray. In medium mixing bowl, add flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine well. Set aside. In separate large mixing bowl, add pineapple, oil, eggs and vanilla. Gradually add dry flour mixture to pineapple mixture in thirds, stirring well between each addition, until all of flour mixture has been added. Fold in carrots and mix well. Pour batter evenly into baking pans. Bake 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on heat-safe surface such as a wire rack to cool. Frost, if desired, with cream cheese frosting and garnish with cinnamon and chopped pecans. Enjoy! 

"Spring Fling Cream Cheese Frosting"
  • 1 (8-oz.) package 1/3 less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon skim milk 
  • Place cream cheese and vanilla extract in mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth consistency. Gradually add powdered sugar to cream cheese mixture in thirds, mixing on low speed between additions, until all of powdered sugar has been added. Add 1 teaspoon of milk and mix on low speed 5 minutes. If consistency is thicker than desired, add an additional teaspoon of milk and mix on low speed until it reaches your desired consistency. Frost cooled carrot cake.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Recipe Corner: "Light n' Lively Deviled Eggs"

To me, deviled eggs are wonderful year-round, but they seem extra special served this time of year with all of spring’s awakenings around us. They are both an ideal and economical appetizer or side dish. From parties to potlucks, you will see a number of different types of deviled eggs made in a number of different ways. I prefer not to use a pastry or sandwich bag to pipe my yolk mixture into the egg white. I prefer to spoon the mixture into the egg white. The deviled egg recipe I am serving up for you today is my lightened-up take on this classic. I love garnishing my eggs as a finishing touch. I hope you enjoy!

    6 Eggland's Best large eggs- hardboiled, peeled and cut lengthwise
    1/4 cup Chobani nonfat plain Greek yogurt
    2 teaspoons yellow mustard
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    Garnish: 1/2 teaspoon McCormick paprika, 1/2 teaspoon McCormick parsley flakes, 12 green olives

Boil eggs. When cooled, peel and cut lengthwise. Place the egg whites on a plate. Set aside. In mixing bowl, place egg yolks, Greek yogurt, yellow mustard and salt. Sprinkle eggs with paprika and parsley. Place olive in each egg. Transfer eggs onto serving platter. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Recipe Corner: "Raspberry Oat Delight Bars"

I make a quick and easy cookie bar with lightened-up ingredients that makes a fun treat. You can easily change it up using different flavors of fruit preserves.  

"Southern Fried Bride's Raspberry Oat Delight Bars"

1 cup quick-cooking oats 

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup Smart Balance buttery spread

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1 (12 oz.) jar low sugar red raspberry preserves  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13” x 9” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In large bowl, combine oats, flour and brown sugar. Mix well. Add softened butter, cut into pieces and vanilla extract. Stir together until mixture forms a moist texture. Pour half of oat mixture into baking pan. Lightly press mixture into the bottom of the pan until it forms a layer of crust. Spoon jar of raspberry preserves over layer of oat crust. Gently spread over the mixture to form layer of preserves. Sprinkle remaining half of oat mixture over preserves and lightly pat with spatula. Bake 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Serve and enjoy. Store remaining bars in an airtight container. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

All about a truly Daring Pairing from ABC's "The Taste"

I recently shared with you a review about my newest favorite TV show, ABC's The Taste. I love the unique format of this cooking competition, which makes it a truly fun view.  I was already a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain and I have enjoyed getting to know about the food philosophies of the other three judges: Ludo Lefebvre, Nigella Lawson & Brian Malarkey

Last week's episode was a food pairing challenge called "Daring Pairings", where contestants had to create a dish to pair with Alamos Malbec, a bold Argentinian wine known for its flavorful and food-friendly qualities. It is  available throughout the US. This challenge was won by contestant and executive chef, New York's own Gregg Drusinsky of  Team Ludo. Gregg won the challenge with his short rib recipe that paired wonderfully with Alamos Malbec. Gregg is blazing a trail as a contestant in this competition. His culinary skills have won him immunity on three episodes in a row! 

I'm excited to have the opportunity to share this exclusive and winning pairing from the show, courtesy of Alamos Wines.  

Five Spice Crusted Short Rib with Eggplant and Miso Black Garlic Jus 
Paired with Alamos
® Malbec
Recipe by Chef Gregg Drusinsky, ABC’s “The Taste,” Season 1

2 small eggplants 
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Salt to taste

Miso Jus:
10 small shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup sake
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cluster maitake mushrooms
4 oz. smoked eel
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 head black garlic, sliced

Short ribs:
1 lb. boneless beef short ribs
2 teaspoons five spice powder
2 teaspoons smoked salt
3 tablespoons grape seed oil

2 teaspoons ground bonito flakes
6 green onions, white end sliced, green tops cut in chiffonnade
½ bunch cilantro, small leaves picked

Char the whole eggplants over a flame until black and soft. Scoop out the insides from the skin and pulse in a blender with sesame oil; season with salt.

To prepare jus, sautĂ© shallots and garlic in canola oil in a large saucepan until soft and aromatic. Add sake and reduce by half.  Add chicken stock, soy sauce and mushrooms and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce heat and add eel; simmer for 10 minutes more. Pour mixture through a fine strainer to remove solids. Place miso and black garlic in a blender. Slowly add the mushroom broth, blending until smooth.

To prepare short ribs, season meat with five spice powder and smoked salt. Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat.  Sear meat on all sides; reduce heat and cook until medium rare. Set aside for 5 minutes then thinly slice.

To plate, arrange sliced short ribs over eggplant puree then drizzle jus around short ribs. Garnish with bonito flakes, scallions and cilantro. Serves 4-6.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Introducing Sail to Sable Spring and Summer 2013 Collection

My celebration of Women's History Month continues as I highlight a clothing line that came about as the dream of a woman who is one of my favorite fashion visionaries. Jennifer Stocker is the founder of Sail to Sable and with a successful career at Conde Nast Publications, has been recognized for her distinctive style-fusion of preppy, classic and chic. Those qualities are truly encompassed in the Sail to Sable line. 

Her goal was to create a lifestyle brand that is connected to the sun and sand, and that she has certainly done with the fabrics and delightful colors designed to coordinate by mix and match. I immediately noticed that the STS models emanate warmth and poise in their showcasing of the collection. The Spring and Summer 2013 collection has wowed me with the bright colors, fun designs and beautiful detailing in the trim. I love that each piece has detailing that allows for both casual and evening wear.  I also love their sizing system. Sizes start at 00 and are grouped together in size ranges through size 4. 

Their take on the classic maxi dress took my breath away. This is the Wanting Watermelon style.   

I love this stripe design with perfectly-placed detailing.

For my favorite color combination of pink and green, I have seen the color done well in clothing and then I have seen it done not so well by some companies. Sail to Sable does pink and green so right with their elegant trims and classic styling.

I was honored and elated to receive a dress from Sail to Sable from their newest collection to review for you on the blog. You will see me wearing this dress in the weeks to come, but today I would like to show it to you so gracefully presented by the STS model who so gracefully showcases it on the STS website.

This is the Patriotic Pride style, in a gorgeous red hue paired with a classic navy trim. It is such a perfect color pairing for me with my American Legion Ladies Auxiliary activities and support of other organizations honoring our nation's heroes. 
I must get ready to swoon now, over their absolutely gorgeous take on eyelet detail. This is the Eyes on Eyelet style.  

For more information about Sail to Sable, you can visit their website here and their Facebook page here.

Disclaimer: I received a dress from Sail to Sable's newest collection for the purpose of my honest review. I was not financially compensated for this blog post. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.      

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review: "Meanwhile, Back at Cafe' Du Monde"

March is Women's History Month and today I am sharing my review of a compilation book that came about as the vision of one of my favorite Southern ladies: Peggy Sweeney-McDonald. After a Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends several years ago, she tells of being inspired to bring people together to share their stories about Universal language, food, and how our lives revolve around it. From that vision came "Meanwhile, Back at Cafe' Du Monde". 

Peggy coined the phrase when she lived in New Orleans and her husband would say, “Everyone has their own “CafĂ© du Monde” as a metaphor for the place you always go to – your own comfort food place”. I count this amazing NOLA treasure among my favorite places in the world, so I was over the moon to see Peggy's homage to this one-of-a-kind place in the book title. What began as a series of stage monologue shows in 2010 and 2011 has become this beautiful book  from Pelican Publishing that is not only a wonderful cookbook, but an eye-catching coffee table book thanks to the photographic artistry of Troy Kleinpeter. I love that he captured many candid photographs that perfectly illustrate the spirit of the stories.

The book is filled stories of heartwarming and humorous memories, special times with family and friends along with the common bond of true comfort food at the heart of every story and there are 67 of them, each one just as delightful as the one before. I didn't read a single story without my dear late grandmother, Grandma Cleva coming to mind and one of our many precious memories together as I turned page after page of the stories. That sense of invoking precious memories with loved ones is a hallmark of this book. The recipes shared along with the stories are just as wonderful.  

During my recent trip to New Orleans, I saw this book displayed in a  French Quarter shop and I gleefully told the other customers in the store just how wonderful it is.

You can purchase the book through Amazon here.

Disclaimer: I was provided with an e-book copy of this book by Pelican Publishing and Peggy Sweeney-McDonald for the purpose of my honest review. I was not financially compensated for this review. All opinions stated in this blog post are my own.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Happy National Peanut Butter Lover's Day! "Pleasin' Peanut Butter Cup Pie"

Happy Friday! Did you know that today is National Peanut Butter Lover's Day? I learned some fun facts about this holiday from party supply website including the fact that no one actually knows who invented peanut butter but it became popular in the early 1900s. Today, it is an $800 million industry and brand names such as Jif, Skippy, and Peter Pan are common household names. Can you believe the average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he or she graduates high school?
This jelly girl loves peanut butter! Chunky is my personal favorite. I like to whip up this fun and easy peanut butter ice cream pie with some lightened up ingredients.  
"Southern Fried Bride's Pleasin' Peanut Butter Cup Pie"

1 quart vanilla reduced fat ice cream or frozen yogurt, softened

1 cup light frozen whipped topping, thawed

2/3 cup peanut butter, crunchy or creamy

1 (8 oz.) ready-made chocolate pie crust

Garnish: ¼ cup chocolate syrup

¼ cup peanuts, chopped

In large bowl, combine first three ingredients. Beat with mixer at medium speed until well blended. Pour mixture into pie crust. Cover pie and freeze at least 4 hours or until firm. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish, if desired, by drizzling chocolate syrup over pie and sprinkling with chopped peanuts. Enjoy!
Now you tell me: crunchy, creamy or neither?