Delicious Distractions to get us through the days.

Simple recipes for those with simple chef skills.

Frozen Fruit “Ice Cream” Cones June 28, 2011

Summertime is upon us and of course one of the best ways to cool down is with ice cream. But this isn’t your traditional ice cream cone of summers past.  Just select your favorite fruits, your favorite melon ballers and your favorite white chocolate for a quick and easy summer treat!

 

Ingredients:

Watermelon

Cantaloupe

Honeydew

Mini cones

White Chocolate (quantity will depend on the number of cones and the thickness of chocolate, maybe 1 chocolate melt per 2-3 cones)

Utensils:

Melon ballers in various sizes (I used a round measuring tablespoon and regular sized melon baller)

Small Silicone brush

Medium bowl

Directions:

Melt chocolate in the microwave until smooth. Quickly brush the insides of each cones making sure no gaps are present. This will insure the cones do not become soggy from the water content of the fruit. Let set until completely hard. This step can be done ahead of time and store cones in an air tight container.

When ready, use the regular melon baller to create two balls for each cone.

Using the round tablespoon, start to cut into the fruit at about a 90’ angle, curve into the fruit creating the main body of the ball. Go deep enough into the fruit so that a small portion of the handle is hidden. Turn the handle clockwise and just before you make a full circle pull up and pop the fruit ball out.

Place the first ball deep inside followed by the second ball on top making sure enough  is above the rim so the larger ball can rest on top of it. This will help the top layer not slide off.

20-30 minutes in the freezer and it will be perfect for a hot summer day.

Frozen Fruit "Ice Cream" Cone sample

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Fruit Tray Skewers Cut with Cookie Cutters March 1, 2011

This was one of the simplest dishes, but most importantly the cutest, I have ever made for a potluck. I am sure it would have only taken less than 30 minutes if my 2-year-old didn’t want to cut every piece or steal all of my grapes. I accented this dish with a chocolate ganache fondue. This combination was giving many raves!

Ingredients:

  • 1 vine of circular shaped grapes
  • 1 thick in diameter and long cucumber
  • 2 large red apples
  • 4 large kiwis
  • 16 skewers

Directions:

Rinse and wash your fruit as you normally would. Start by threading one grape almost half way down the skewer. The final distance will truly depend on the size of each item.

Due to the soft nature of the centers of the kiwi, using a cookie cutter shape did not work well. Therefore, I cut the skins off and shaping them in to hexagons or heptagons for a geometric shape. Slice  the kiwis about  ¼- ½ inch thick.  Thread the kiwis just off center, this will help them to not split or become damaged (see 2nd kiwi from the right above).

Using the red skins of the apples for accent colored flowers, cut 4 to 5 slices ½ inch in diameter at the thickest part in each apple.  Using a small flower cutter (or the small gum paste blossom cutter as I used) cut as many flowers per piece as possible.

Slicing the cucumber ½ inch in diameter. Use a small star cookie cutter to shape the cucumber slices. Be careful to not cut through the cucumber skins, this will allow you to reuse the leftovers later with a small apple flower threaded inside (see picture below).

Now your fruits are ready for threading. The grapes will be placed as spacers in between each fruit piece and make for a nice jewel like feature.

Enjoy!

 

Cherry Blossom Cupcakes and cake January 28, 2011

Here in Okinawa, we have the distinct pleasure of being the first place in Japan where cherry blossom trees blossom. Thousands and thousands of delicate pink flowers are everywhere. One castle ruin has 70,000 trees to feast your eyes upon. The freeway toll booths are decorated and lined with flowered branches. Even the used car lots put huge fake cherry blossom trees out front to celebrate this time of year. It is some serious business in these parts.

So in the honor of my friend’s baby girl to-be, a coworkers birthday, and this season I made some cherry blossom cupcakes and a cake.

What you need:

  • Bake your cupcakes as you normally would do, I made 73 cupcakes and had plenty of the supplies remaining
  • I cheated this time and bought about 2 pounds of bakery butter cream frosting
  • Pink, maroon, teal, royal blue, and black coloring
  • Gum paste, mix and prep about half a tub * Mini blossom cutter for gum paste
  • Gum paste small ball tool
  • 1 small tipped paint brush
  • A small dish with about a tablespoon of water
  • Yellow pearls for the center of the flowers
  • An airtight container
  • 2 hours of uninterrupted time or about 4 hours of normal life

Directions:

You can make these blossoms several days in advance. I would recommend this because they take a few hours to make and they need time to dry completely.

Place a small amount of pink coloring in the small dish with water. I did not bother dissolving the coloring completely because I found the right shade of pink I wanted. Follow the instructions for the gum paste. Once the gum paste has set add a little pink coloring and kneed the color in. Add a small amount of color at a time because these flowers are a very faint and are a delicate pink. Working with part of the gum paste at a time, roll a very thin layer out. Use the small blossom cutter and cut out about 60 per group. The left over cut outs can be balled up and placed back in the sealed container with the rest of the gum paste until needed later. Using the small ball tool, lightly press the center of each blossom making a small indentation in the center for the pearl. Dip the paint brush in the pink water, starting at the center of the blossom brush outwards. Do not go all the way to the end of the petals but rather about 60% of the way. Do 5 to 7 brushes per blossom. At about 20 painted blossoms, add the pearls and gently press them into the flower. Be careful not to press through the gum paste. After you have finished the set of 60ish, scoop them up with a tiny spatula or frosting scissors, and place them face down in an airtight container. To help give them a more uniform 3D look, I gently pressed the blossom cutter over them again. This helped to center the pearl and slightly wrap the blossom petals around the pearl. Let a little air circulate in the container until the blossoms dry completely.

Upside down and drying.

Get the cupcakes baking and prepped for frosting. Once your cupcakes are cooled they are ready for frosting. I wanted a smooth finish for my background. Separate into two bowls, 1 cup of frosting and another ¼ cup of frosting and set aside. Tint the remaining frosting pink with the pink coloring. To start, I placed about 2 cups of pink frosting in a bowl and heated in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Stir and heat it up again for another 10 seconds. Keep stirring and heating until heated through. This should only be 2 to 4 times. Once heated through, spoon the frosting on to the cupcake and gently spread to the edges. Each cupcake should take about two spoonfuls. Do this quickly because the frosting will start to set again. Reheat as necessary.

Now to create the branches with the 1 cup of frosting. Well, you would think that brown branches would be nice, right? But brown coloring and the amount of white frosting I combined made for a color that is just not pleasant looking. I’ll just leave it at that. So I opted for black branches. Apparently, I forgot my kindergarten color wheel because I combined black coloring with white frosting thinking that would do the trick. But black coloring and white frosting makes a very dull gray. Oh ya, duh, so please don’t make this same mistake as I did (but that is why I am telling you this side of the story). Now that I had run out of all my white frosting, I needed a miracle and I needed it NOW! I did what any little sister would do, I panicked, looked at the clock, did the time change subtraction thing, thought “Ya, it’s not really that late in California for me to call with this oh-so important emergency” and so I called my big brother (aka my color expert). Who says a college Art degree doesn’t have it’s advantages? Please!

And out of some left field I had no idea existed he told me to mix red, some unknown shade of green, brown, and something else and not in equal ratio amounts either. I told him “What?!?! I don’t have have those colors! And I need specific quantities mister.” So he settled for the colors I had on hand- maroon, teal, royal blue, and black. And viola, I had a very dark midnight blue which once dried looks very black. Now I was back on track.

Pipe the branches on the set pink frosting. Add white dots (from the ¼ cup) to the branches where you are going to place the cherry blossoms. This will help anchor the blossoms and help separate the flower from the branch.

Do the exact same for the cake.

 

Bunch Worthy Lasagna December 18, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Holiday,Pork,Summer,Themed Post — christinedel @ 7:20 pm
Tags:

As much as I like to experiment with cooking and learn new dishes, I am not a fan of watching cooking shows. So for me to actually watch a cooking show there must be something to the dish that completely intrigues me.  Normally, when I think of lasagna I picture a lump of food sitting my my belly. But this version of lasagna is light enough to serve at a brunch or luncheon with your friends. I figure, if my Japanese hosts liked this version of lasagna, then there must be something to it. I made a few changes because, well, I live in Japan and I don’t like their tomatoes (sorry Japanese tomatoes, I’m from California).  And the salsa is good enough to stand on its own and eat with chips.


Here it is Sunny’s Latin Lasagna from Food Network:

Ingredients

  • 1 (16-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used less because I think it smells and tastes horrible)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tomato Salsa, recipe follows
  • 18 “oven ready” lasagna noodles, about 1 (16-ounce) package (I used only 12)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl stir together ricotta, spinach, egg, cumin, salt and set aside. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat add 3 tablespoons of oil and 3 tablespoons of butter and saute ground pork and cayenne pepper until meat is brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove meat from the pan to a bowl and add mushrooms to the pan. Cook until tender, another 5 minutes. Add meat back to the pan, stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, to taste, then transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside.

To assemble, layer bottom of 12 by 9-inch casserole dish with 1/3 of the salsa, then 6 noodles, overlapping to cover the entire bottom surface of the dish. Next add and evenly spread half the ricotta spinach mixture, half the pork mushroom mixture, and a layer of mozzarella. Layer another 1/3 of the salsa, 6 noodles, the remaining ricotta spinach mixture, and the remaining pork mushroom mixture. To finish add the last 6 noodles, top with the remaining salsa. Place the remaining mozzarella slices on top along with the remaining Parmesan. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and pepper, to taste. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F, uncover, and bake for 15 more minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Tomato Salsa:

  • 1 poblano pepper, stem removed, seeded and roughly chopped (didn’t use because the store didn’t have any)
  • 1/2 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, stem removed, seeded and roughly chopped (didn’t use because the store didn’t have any)and ta
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and roughly chopped (I used the large can of pureed tomatoes with basil)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until almost smooth. Adjust seasoning, to taste.

 

Stuffed Pork Chops in a Wine Sauce November 19, 2010

Filed under: 5 Ingredient/30 Minute Meals,Holiday,Pork,Themed Post — christinedel @ 5:22 pm

This is one of the best recipes I have for pork chops. Almost every pork chop recipe I come across calls for some sort of pan fry then 30 minute bake to pork chops. This cooking method seems to always make my chops over cooked, dry, and horrible tasting. So playing around with the cooking times and methods I came up with some so simple. So simple in fact, I can’t understand why so many other recipes call for so much cooking.  Hey, I figure I must be doing something right if I haven’t made us sick or killed us yet. So here is a pork chop recipe good enough to serve to company.

This recipe can stuff 4 medium sized chops decently. But since I can always only seem to find a pack of 3 chops to feed two of us, I over stuff those chops!

 


 

Ingredients:

  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 cup of your favorite herb seasoning bread crumbs (for variety mix in some Panko crumbs and stuffing mix)
  • ½ cup of finely chopped onion
  • 3 packets of sugar or about a teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • ½teaspoon  of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley
  • 3 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1/3 cup red cooking wine

Directions:

In a large sauce pan, heat on medium the beef broth and wine.

To cut a pocket in the pork chop, lay it flat on a cutting board.  With one hand, evenly press down on the chop with your whole hand to keep it secure to the cutting board.  Start by inserting the knife in the center of the chop and making a one inch opening. Make sure you do not cut through to the other side of the chop. This can be done by feeling the pressure of the knife as you cut. Continue cutting the pocket throughout the chop.

Mix the remaining ingredients thoroughly. Now stuff those pork chops full. If you have any remaining bread crumb mixture, shape them into balls.

By now the beef broth and wine should be simmering. Add the chops and the bread crumb balls and cover. Depending on the size of the chops, the cook time should be around 7 to 10 minutes per side.

Serve and spoon the remaining sauce over the chop. Our normal side is couscous.

Rating:

Husband- 3.75 stars

Me- 4 Stars

 

 

 

5 Ingredient/30 Minute Meals: Easy Pizza Braid July 28, 2010

Filed under: 5 Ingredient/30 Minute Meals,Dinner,Holiday,Kids,Themed Post — christinedel @ 4:06 am

This pizza braid is not only great for a quick and easy dinner but is the hit of poker night every time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 refrigerated no-seam dough
  • 1 jar of meat flavored pasta sauce
  • 1 container of pepperoni slices
  • 2 cups of mozzarella shredded cheese

Directions:

Pre heat oven to recommended temperature on dough container.  Unroll dough, using kitchen scissors cut 2 inches deep and 1 each across strips down the length of each side.

Along the center of the dough, layer meat sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella. Repeat these layers one more time.

Starting at one end, take the outer most  strip of the dough and pull it across to the other side. Take the opposite side outer strip pull it across to the other side overlapping the first stripe. Repeat this with the remaining strips. Tuck the center dough edges up and under the braided dough.

Cook to the directions of the dough. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 1 ½ inch strips and serve.

Enjoy.

 

Colorful Kabobs May 27, 2010

Filed under: Dinner,Holiday,Steak,Summer,Themed Post,Uncategorized — christinedel @ 12:29 am

This dish is as colorful as it is tasty and tender. And a great color addition to the table.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Rib Eye Steaks, cubed
  • 1 White Onion
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 1 Green bell pepper
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper
  • 1 Cherry tomato container
  • 1 zucchini, sliced

Alternative choices:

  • Shrimp
  • Limes, quartered

Directions:

Soak the skews while you are prepping the food.

For larger slices of onions, slice the onion in half then peel off the outer layers.  Slice the outer ring to desired size, about one inch wide.

For the red, green, yellow bell peppers quarter then gut the insides. Cut about one inch wide pieces.

Once all items are cut, start screwing them in desired order making a colorful rainbow across the skewer.

Cook on the BBQ until meat is tender and desired wellness is achieved.