Sunday, August 13, 2017

Meringue Cookies

I finally made beautiful vanilla meringue cookies.  It has taken me several attempts to get these to turn out looking and tasting great.
          (These were the not-so-pretty ones)

 My mom, as always, was right.  A little cream of tartar helped to form stiff glossy peaks.

4 medium egg whites let sit until room temp
1/4 tsp. Cream of tartar
1/8 tap. Salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar extra fine
1 cap full of vanilla


Preheat oven to 250°.
Add cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt to the egg whites and beat until light and frothy.

Next SLOWLY add sugar, allowing the sugar to fully incorporate while mixing on high before adding more sugar.

Once sugar is added, continue to mix until stiff shiny peaks form.  Mine looked a bit like marshmallow cream but not as thick or sticky.
Spoon into piping bag that has been fitted with a Wilson 21 tip.

Either on parchment or a silpat mat pipe a "kiss" shape.  Mine were roughly the diameter of a lemon.
I had to bake for an hour, but your oven/ altitude may differ.  Turn off oven and leave cookies inside for 30 minutes to an hour to cool.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lemon Curd

I am more than ready for summer.  This past week I've been eating all the foods that remind me of summer, and what tastes more like sunshine than lemons?!

This weekend I made up a batch of lemon curd.  The silky texture and bright flavor was enough to convince me I needed to shave my legs and get ready for bikini season. Just kidding! Nobody who eats curd by the spoonful cares about prepping for swim season.

Speaking of preparing, there are only a few steps you need do to prepare this tantalizingly tart treat.

You may or may not use 3 lemons.  It worked out for me that my 3 lemons produced enough zest and juice for this recipe.  If you use less, no worries make lemonade.

Sugar! This little devil has quite the reputation, and if you are on a diet plan that keeps you from using processed refined sugar try it out with honey or agave.  *Check the Internet for amounts on the sweetener you decide to use.  Typically you would use less honey than sugar (2/3 to every 1 cup).

This recipe calls for unsalted butter; however, you can use salted. Just don't add the pinch of salt or add less of it.  What's less than a pinch?  Maybe a titch?

Separate the whites from the yolks, This recipe only calls for the yolks.  The whites can be whipped as a meringue to use for a topping if you decide to use your curd as a tart or pie.

After you have assembled all your ingredients, you'll need a heavy bottom pan over medium heat to make your curd. Start by melting together your butter, sugar, lemon juice, and zest.

If you are using unsalted butter, don't forget to add your pinch of salt. I almost did and you really do need just a little bit of salt in the recipe to round out the flavors.  NOT TOO MUCH!

Once the butter has melted down and the sugar has dissolved, slowly whisk in your egg yolks.  I stir constantly!! This is to keep me from getting distracted and leaving the mix too long or letting it burn on the bottom.  Once you add the egg it should thicken within 5-7 minutes. It's like a brand new puppy. You can't take your eyes off it.

 Don't let it boil. Once it has a pudding consistency, and it starts to slightly bubble you will want to pull it off.  This cooks up fast and if you let it go unattended you will have lemon crud not lemon curd.

Pull your thickened mix off the heat and strain into a fine mesh sieve.  This step separates the zest from the rest and is essential for a silky smooth finish.

You'll want to press the liquid through the strainer so that you are left with a pulpy lump in your sieve.

Discard pulp and allow your curd to cool  to room temperature.  While it is cooling, stir a few times so that the result is a smooth texture.  Once cool you can transfer to the refrigerator or use right away.

I used this curd as a filling for strawberry lemonade cake.  Feel free to share with me how you use yours.

3 Lemons:

  • 3 Tablespoons zest (I give it a nice rough chop after zesting)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

4oz unsalted butter
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
6 Large egg yolks
Pinch of salt.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Pie crust 
9 inch pie pan
Pre-bake crust and let cool.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
Pinch of salt
4 eggs (use yolks only can reserve the whites for topping if you don't want to use whip cream)
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
1tsp vanilla (can omit if you don't have any or substitute maple syrup)
3/4 cup of bitter chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
In a heat proof dish put butter chocolate and vanilla...You'll add the hot custard later.

Sift sugar, corn starch and salt together into a medium saucepan pan.

Whisk milk and eggs together then add to sauce pan. Cook over medium-high (depending on your stove. I usually opt for the lower end so as not to burn the custard)

I stir almost constantly, as it goes from thin to pudding to scalded fast.  Should take 6-8 minutes depending on your stove, but as soon as it gets pudding thick and just starts to bubble remove from heat and add to the choco-vani-butter mix and stir until smooth and so silky.

Pour into pie pan.  Depending on the depth of your pan you may have a little left over.  Don't throw it out!!! Eat it or put it in a jar and save for later.

Make sure you lick the spoon and bowl before's called "pre-wash" ;)

I let the pie cool before I cover with cellophane wrap and place in refrigerator to chill for 2-3 hours until set.

Top with whip cream and serve, but don't tell my Mom! This is a mortal sin.. remember the egg whites?!  You should whip those up with some sugar until stiff peaks form then mound on top of your chilled and set pie, place under broiler (or use one of those super cool chef torches if you have one) until the top of the meringue is golden. 

 (My pops called meringue "calf slobber" feel free to impress your dinner guests with that little nugget).

I can NOT get my meringues to whip up correctly in our altitude so I've given in and use the cream...

Enjoy enjoy. We always had this pie at our family Thanksgiving, and after you have a taste you'll be thanking me :)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Skillet Brunch

 Frittata Friday!  Had a very late start to the morning, and breakfast was quickly turning into lunch. What's better than quiche for brunch?  Crust-less skillet bake of course!

 Notice how I've managed to say frittata, quiche and skillet bake all in this opening what exactly did I make?  According to Kevin: "The BEST breakfast you've ever made!".

 I was hungry. I had a lot of breakfast meats in my fridge and a carton of eggs, so I did what I do best Experiment.  Really how could I go wrong with this list of ingredients.

1/2 tube of sausage
Several Strips of bacon
1/2 tube of chorizo
3 small sweet peppers
1 shallot
1 small yellow onion
3 small potatoes or 1 HUGE one
3 cloves garlic
1 cup cherry tomatos halved
6 eggs
Barely Buzzed by Beehive cheese

Directions: Pre-heat oven 450

I used this deep skillet

Brown sausage then drain, and in the same skillet chop and brown bacon then drain, or maybe you brown then chop...what ever works.

Dice peppers, shallot, onion and potato (make sure it's a small even dice on the potato so they cook quickly and uniformly. I make my peppers and onion a little bigger so they don't burn since I'm doing them all together with the potato) cook in the skillet with the bacon fat until the potatoes or soft (not mushy) then drain.

At this point I just had a pile of deliciousness on a plate with napkin for draining.  Next brown the chorizo.  I use very little spices since the chorizo is packed with flavor.  I did add a sprinkling of salt pepper and paprika to the eggs.  Once the chorizo is ready, dump all the meat, veggies and potatoes back in the pan.  Add the tomatoes, and in a separate bowl whisk your 6 eggs and add whatever additional spices you use.

Poor egg mix over skillet ingredients and give it a little shake so it settles evenly over the top.  Pop it in a 425-450 degree over for about 20-25 minutes.  You are just cooking the egg through since all other ingredients are precooked.

Remove from the oven and shred your cheese on top.  I love the Barely Buzzed by Beehive cheese.  It has a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company's "Beehive Blend" coffee beans encrusted on the outer part of cheese.  It has a mild nutty flavor.

I plated with the cherry tomatoes, Cilantro micro-greens and my house made basil vinaigrette.  It would have been awesome with avocado, but I live in Montana so a good aguacate is hard to find at the Columbus IGA.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 2

It is day 2 of 2014, and I'm sitting here yet again vowing to write more on my blog.  Most of my resolutions are tied to writing, as I don't really go in for those soul shaking change your life resolutions.

So for 2014,  I resolve to document the following things either here or in an actual paper journal (yes they still have those):

Travel - I have lots of travel planned for 2014 and several of those trips are to places I've never been before. I am most excited about my trip to Prince Edward Island with my folks.

Reading - As an avid reader I am constantly growing my library but I have sorely neglected making any sort of notes or reviews of those books.  That shall change and I've even purchased a small journal to keep next to the bed (where I do most my reading)

Camping/Hiking/Outdoor activity - I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world (statement of fact. I dare you to challenge me!!!) and I have been so caught up in the day to day living that I have not been exploring to my full potential.  When I do, you all will read about it

Photography - When I first started this blog, I was really good at documenting things with my little camera and it seems that even though I now have a camera phone I never take any meaningful pictures much less record them for posterity.

Correspondence-  It is shameful to me that I have not written more than a few measly handwritten notes in the past 2 years.  I didn't even send out thank-yous from my wedding (what a breech in etiquette that was).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday's Munchies

Today's post is dedicated to Brenda Medina and Jessi K. Heimdal.  Brenda makes this fabulous pumpkin cake (and I'm not suppose to tell Cass it has mayonnaise in it).  Like cranberries and sage-y dressing this is a seasonal favorite of mine.  Jessie and I share a love for Cinnamon Sugar Toast.  I've taken both of those recipes and turned out one amazing plate of  Monday morning munchies.

This morning's weather forecast was calling for snow showers and a high of 36 for Columbus today.  I'm not really a fan of donuts, but I needed something warm and fuzzy to go with my hot mug of coffee.  I did some internet surfing in my bathrobe to discover that almost all donut recipes I found called for the stuff to be fried, and I didn't have any oil for that.  Plus, I'm in the middle of a small kitchen renovation and am missing my venta-hood for the moment.

I did find a recipe for pumpkin donut holes (from, and that reminded me of Brenda's pumpkin cake which led to this:  Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bites.

Now there are two ways to go about this recipe.  I tweaked the recipe from the donut holes, but you could follow the super simple Medina recipe.

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bites
1 3/4 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (or you could make your own using 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and ginger)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup oil or melted butter, etc..
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg and
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar

Super Simple Medina Recipe (SSMR)
1 box spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup mayonnaise

Preheat oven 350. Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately and then combine (unless you are going for the SSMR then just chuck it all into one bowl and mix.  I used a mini-square (bite size) pan with approximately 1 tablespoon of batter into each square. Bake for 20 minutes (you may need to do less time as my altitude calls for longer baking times)  Makes about 48 bites.

Now to add a little Heimdal flair to this recipe.
Melt some butter. I did a stick of butter since I had so many bites to do.
Mix superfine sugar and cinnamon together.  I didn't measure I just did it by looks, but the inspiration recipe calls for 2/3 cups sugar to 2 tablespoons cinnamon.  Mine was heavier on the cinnamon.

Once you have removed the bites from the oven and they are cool enough to remove from the pan without falling apart or burning your fingers, dunk them in the melted butter to coat all sides. Then roll in the cinnamon sugar.

I show a fork in the photo but that is not really how you eat these.  Shovel in with your grubby paws (well maybe wash your hands first) and then lick your fingers. Dunking into the coffee is not only allowed but encouraged.  The fork is to stab people who try and sneak a bite from your plate.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cranberry Duff with Orange Butter Sauce

I love winter for all its frozen brutal beauty, but what's more I love winter for the delictable food associated with the season.  It will come as no suprise to anyone who knows me that I often envoke those flavors in the summer in the name of June Thanksgiving.  I just can't get enough of sage and cranberry.

We have had our second major snowfall this season, and to celebrate I thought a nice steamy plate of Cranberry Duff would be just the thing.  It was inspiringly tastely.  I've not blogged in a while and thought this would be a good come back recipe.

I've also realized my food pictures do not usually do justice to the recipe.  Looking back on the last few posts the food looked kind of gross.  YUCK!  With that said, please know that this dish IS a complete flavor explosion AND you WILL want to make it this holiday season for your friends and family.

I know you are all jealous of my sauce drizzling skills

Cranberry Duff

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups whole raw cranberries (I had taken mine directly from the freezer without thawing)
1 cup milk ( I had to use about 1.5 cups due to the altitude)
1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add the cranberries, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into an 8-inch square buttered baking dish or muffin tin ( I used a deep round pie dish). Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. I actually had to bake for 55 minutes either my oven is not getting up to the right temp, my pan was too small, or just the altitude made the timing off.

When the Duff has about 15 minutes left you will want to start the Orange Butter Sauce.  The origional recipe I found was just for butter sauce, but I wanted that extra acidity and tang of orange zest and juice.

Orange Butter Sauce
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1tsp. vanilla extract
1/2tsp. cinnamon
juice of one half orange
1 teaspoon finely chopped orange zest

To make the butter sauce combine the butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, orange juice and zest. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve the duff warm drizzled with sauce.  Don't be shy with the sauce. Puddle it on there!

Extreme close-up: Chock-a-block full o' cranberries

P.S this was the second round of photos, as I didn't like the first.  You would be incorrect in assuming it was my first or second piece of duff.  NOPE, it was my third. Now, I'm all jacked up on sugar and coffee.  I think I'll shovel the drive way and down into town. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Factory Cart Coffee Table

This weekend I made, and then remade a coffee table for the patio.  I liked the original, but thought it too big for the space. After much reassurance from Kevin that it was perfect, I decided to ignore his support and redid it to suit me anyway. I went back and trimmed the top pieces to be in line with the sides of the box and give it a more cart like appearance.  I took the plans from Ana White, and adjusted them to meet my needs.  The major difference in mine being the height of the table and the top is not inset: therefore, I didn't need the supports in the inside of the base to hold up the top.

The photo above is the table as it sits now and below is the original.  You can see how the top extended over the sides.  

If you look at the wagon wheel bench behind it you can see the darker weathered places in the cracks.  I had wanted to achieve that in the table using an ebony stain, but I had a tiny explosion of Minwax when I opened the tube.  There was no going back, I had to do the entire table (and my hands, arms and shirt good thing it was water based) in the stain.  I like how the darker color looks as there is so much wood in, around and on my house.

I think for the finishing touches I'm going to add  two two inch metal bands around the sides of the bench and maybe a handle like you would see on a red wagon to complete the cart like look.

I used cedar we had in the barn and bough four wheels from our Columbus Ace hardware.  I had some issues with the getting the screws in straight but you can't see it in the pictures. I've never been good at getting screws to go in nice and straight, but I missed the edges of the wood in a few places, oops! I'm a beginner what can I say.

I'm looking forward to getting the finishing touches on the table and then I am going to start on a bench cushion for the wagon seat.  I'll be doing a no sew project.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bagels and Lox Inspired Stuffed Pepperoncinis

I love all the flavors involved in a good bagel and smoked salmon sandwich: delectible smoked salmon, the crunchy-heat from the red onion, pickled sourness of the capers, and the creamy-silken feel of the cream cheese.  MMMMM. 

Last night I made these terrific little appetizers that are all those things sans the bagel.  If your favorite part is the bagel you won't be satisfied with these pepperoncinis, but all the other flavors are present and accounted for.  I even added a little extra something to make them special.

First, I mixed a package of chèvre with cream cheese, finely diced capers and red onion.  Then, I cut the tops off the peppers, deseeded, and drained on a paper towel. 

 To stuff, I placed the mix in a baker's decorating bag, cut the end and squeezed into the pepper.  That step made the process so much easier and less mess.  I wrapped the salmon around the outside of the pepper, but thought after that you could chop and add in the stuffing if you were inclined.  To top the creation, I drizzeld (not shown in photo) homemade honey mustard on the top. The mix made about 16-20 stuffed pepperoncinis amount will depend on the size of peppers used.  They were perfect.  I had the left overs for brunch today.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Hashtags Make Me Feel

I don't really understand hashtags.  I've only just begun to tweet around, and I'm fairly certain my 14 (almost 15) year old niece was laughing at me on twitter (instead of with me) the other day.  I have a vague idea of what they are for, and I get how the #cousinsoncall would use them to help people find their smoking hottness, but why would I use it?  Are there rules to this #?  I wish I could be like Joey and be blissfully ignorant, but I'm not.   Oh, Hashtag! why are you so #confusing?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Derby Day!

I've just spent 2 hours looking for leopard hot pants.  Not to be found in Billings, but that's okay.  I'm not sure my derby persona would wear them any way. Fuzzy tiger stripe pants yes!

I'm sitting here waiting on my lean protein, and pondering just who exactly Elbow Derek is.  Elbow Derek being my roller derby name for those of you who don't know. Does she wear fishnets?  Mmm. No.  War

In general, I think we spend to much time trying to define ourselves and fit in; therefore I'm not gonna do that.  Elbow Derek is Me.  We favor the athletic side of derby over the drama.  I've never been into sparkles anyway.

My teammates with flair look so cute when they dress derby, but I've a feeling I would look ridiculous, and you know my saying: "If I don't look cool doing it, I don't do it." So I'll leave the glitz and hot pants to those who do it so well,and I'll stick with under armour yoga tights.

I know one thing, despite my lack of hot pants.  I will be confident tonight.  It doesn't matter that I don't wear fishnets, or paint my face.  What matters is that I show up.  I'm there and my team can rely on me. I love those ladies and look forward to kicking ass with them tonight.

Meringue Cookies

I finally made beautiful vanilla meringue cookies.  It has taken me several attempts to get these to turn out looking and tasting great. ...