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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Faith and Flour

Who would have believed it would be cookies?

A wise woman, my pastor, in fact, taught me that all believers are given dominion (Genesis 1:26).  At the time I was wrestling daily, if not hourly, with purpose.  It was agonizing, and I ended many days feeling empty, when my aim was to be fruitful.  I had experienced a heartbreaking change in my professional life.  I resigned the job, but it had not been my plan.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit pushes you, ready-or-not out, of a dangerous and deadly-to-the-spirit situation.   A year later, belief was strong, but my faith needed a giant boost.  Reflecting on dominion in a totally different way, thanks to Pastor Shelley, I could step one foot before the other not knowing the plan, but having faith that whatever God had waiting was unbelievable good.

With many, many unfilled hours stretching before me I decided to bake.  I had frozen paletas (Mexican style fresh pops) all summer, but it was cold outdoors with the coming of winter.  The oven was the more attractive option.

I had seen lovely cookies somewhere online, skimmed a recipe, and waded in softening the butter and measuring flour.  The cookies were simple for a girl who thought the best toy ever was an Easy Bake Oven.  But royal icing?  I was ignorant that it is tricky, taking knowledge and finesse.  This mystical icing is as fragile as fairy dust, and takes the bloom of the peony and the sweetest song of the lark to love it into a workable form.  

Upon finishing the cookies, my kitchen featured several hundred drips of royal icing in rainbow colors on the counters, floor, and sink, truly every surface.  I am not easily vanquished, even by meringue powder, so I kept at it.  But I'll be honest, though I was proud of those cookies, I still didn't see dominion.  I'll share more of the story in the next few posts.  If you struggle with purpose,  I hope you'll find something for your encouragement here.  

My First Cookies 
She's Come a Long Way, Baby!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Paradise Found in Pineapple Guacamole

Pineapple Black Bean Guacamole

Want a fresh treat that tastes like paradise?  This guacamole is it!  With a tropical twist of pineapple added, you'll be singing holy guacamole!  

Pineapple Black Bean Guacamole
2 medium avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1/4 cup salsa verde
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh or canned pineapple
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced*
2 T finely chopped red onion
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 T minced garlic
1-2 T lime juice to taste
1/4 t ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Cojita cheese, crumbled

In a large bowl mash avocados.  Stir in salsa verde until combined.  Add pineapple, beans, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper, and stir.  Cover and chill 2 hours.  Sprinkle with crumbled cheese.  Serve on warmed tostadas or with tortilla chips.  *Use kitchen gloves and eye protection when handling jalapeno seeds to avoid burns. 

Salsa Verde Ingredients

Now this is where it gets really fresh:  Make your own salsa verde with tomatillos, poblanos, cilantro and more!  Don't use the canned stuff.  It is easy to do and your taste buds will thank you!

Salsa Verde
2 poblano peppers
4 tomatillos, quartered
2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/4 bunch cilantro, leaves only
1 T white vinegar
Pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Put poblano peppers under preheated broiler on a sheet pan.  Cook for 8 minutes, turning every 2 minutes until skin is charred.  Remove from broiler and allow to cool for 10 minutes until skin separates from the flesh.  Core, seed and peel the charred skin from the peppers.  Place in food processor.

 Add tomatillos, avocados, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, vinegar and seasonings to the peppers.  Pulse until salsa is smooth.
Salsa Verde

Pineapple Guacamole Tostada with Fruit Salad and Black Beans

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Appetizer, Sans Bowl

Need a Super appetizer for that football-centric party a few Americans might be planning for Sunday?  Want something beyond the ordinary dips and chips served in a Bowl?  How about these sensational Chicken Jalapeno Poppers for a taste that will feed those with Giant appetites and people who declare themselves Patriots?  Serve these and your guests will cheer, declaring YOU the victor in the kitchen!

Chicken Tenders, Pepper Jack, Jalapenos and Bacon

Chicken Jalapeno Popper Recipe

1 package of Chicken Tenders
1 package thick-cut bacon
6 oz. package slice Pepper Jack cheese
40-50 pickled jalapeno slices
20-30 wooden toothpicks

Line a jelly roll pan with foil and place a baking rack on top, allowing bacon fat to drip off poppers.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   Place chicken tenders in a ziplock bag.  Pound with the flat side of a meat tenderizing mallet until tenders are slightly flattened.  Cut each tender in half.

Cut the package of bacon in half horizontally.

Prepare Pepper Jack cheese by stacking two slices together, and cutting into 1" x  2" pieces (each stacked slice should yield 6 parts).

Place one piece of bacon on work surface. 

Top with a piece of chicken.

Stack with Pepper Jack and 2 jalapenos.

Wrap in bacon and secure with toothpick.  Place in oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bacon browns and crisps.  Turn poppers over and bake 5-7 minutes more until bottom side browns.  Serve warm.

Kitchen Victory!  YAY, you!  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Peas Please for New Year's Ease

Texas Caviar

I've never been a superstitious person.  I love black cats and I'm not afraid to walk under ladders.  The only reason I don't open umbrellas indoors is because, seriously, if I need an umbrella indoors I obviously already have bad luck!  In the South, most people eat black eyed peas to bring good luck in the new year.  If one waits until after Christmas to purchase a couple of cans, she may find the grocery shelves empty.  I'll proffer that for me, eating black eyed peas is a tradition, rather than a way to stave off difficulties in the new year.   But how could I not feel fortunate?  I'm from Texas and have a New Year's ritual of consuming a spicy relish featuring the legume that brings good luck!

Peas, Pimientos, Jalapeno, Green Onions, Dressing
Texas Caviar Recipe

2- 15 oz can black eyed peas
4 ribs celery, diced
1 bunch green onies, diced
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced*
1 small jar pimientos
1 small bottle Italian dressing

Drain and rinse peas in water.  Place in bowl and add the diced celery, green onion and jalapenos.  (Be sure to wear protective gear for hands and eyes when seeding jalapenos; the seeds will burn your skin!)  Add the pimientos to the peas.  Pour just enough dressing over the peas to coat relish; toss all ingredients.  (To reduce the fat content and calorie count without affecting taste, pour oil off the top of the Italian dressing.)  Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  If you don't live in Texas, where fresh jalapeno is available year-round, use fresh green bell pepper and add 1/2 t of cayenne pepper.

If you're still not convinced, I'll put it plain talk for those of you not blessed to hail from Texas:  Pardner, we don't need none of them fancy fish eggs around these parts.   Just give us some peas, green onions and celery with fresh jalapeno for kick!  Now that's what Texans call good eatin', good luck caviar!

Good Luck for the New Year and Delicious, to Boot!

Serve with Tortilla Chips Texas Style!

Monday, December 19, 2011

French Chicken Fantastique!

Poulet Provencal

If you, like many hostesses during the holidays, are pressed for time, yet require a delicious meal lovely enough  for guests, preparing Poulet Provencal will be providential!  Coating the chicken with olive oil and herbs, crisps the skin and leaves the meat succulent.  The tomatoes, onions, garlic and olives baking alongside create a savory stew which serves as a side dish. The aroma of this roasting chicken will scent your home with herbes de Provence, transporting your guests to a colorful table in the South of France.  C'est magnifique!

Poulet Provencal Recipe
3-4 medium tomatoes cut into wedges
1 large onion, cut into wedges, leaving root ends intact
1/2 cup brine-cured pitted black olives
4 large garlic cloves sliced, plus 1 t minced

3 T olive oil, divided
2 t herbes de Provence*, divided
1/2 t fennel seeds
1 whole chicken 3 1/2 to 4 pounds

Kitchen string

Toss together tomatoes, onion, olives, sliced garlic, 2 T oil, 1 t herbes de Provence, fennel seeds, dash of salt, dash of pepper in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  Push vegetables to sides of dish to make room for chicken.

Stir together minced garlic, 1 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, remaining teaspoon herbes de Provence, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Remove excess fat from chicken and pat dry, then rub inside and out with seasoning mixture.

Tie legs together with string and place chicken in baking dish.  Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 170 degrees, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  Let chicken stand 10 minutes before carving.  

*herbes de Provence can be found at most gourmet groceries and kitchen shops or follow this guide to mixing:
2 T dried savory,  2 T dried oregano
2 T dried rosemary,  2 T dried basil
2 T dried thyme,  2 T dried marjoram
             2 T dried fennel seed
Mix all together and store in an air-tight container.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ginger Gives Truffles Snap

Gingersnap Truffles

I have to confess, I'm a certified choc-o-holic!  I do not have a yen for just any old chocolate; it must be the darkest of chocolates.  Forget that sugared up, weak, chalky, barely-there milk chocolate.   And white chocolate?  That's an insult to name!  Until I tested this combination, I believed there was no way to improve on a dark truffle besides simply providing a dusting of cocoa.  This recipe piqued my interest because it substituted ginger snaps, a childhood favorite, as a coating, adding a taste of Christmas to a classic chocolate candy.  It compares to nibbling a few ginger snaps while downing a cup of cocoa, which gives this chocolate lover cozy comfort while satisfying my cravings!

Gingersnap Truffles
(recipe adapted from

1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate pieces
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup chopped ginger snap cookies (about 10)
1/3 cup finely crushed ginger snaps (about 7)

In medium bowl combine combine chocolate, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and chopped gingersnaps.  In small microwave-safe bowl, heat cream on 100% about 70 seconds, or until boiling.   

Pour cream over chocolate mixture and allow to stand 5 minutes.  Whisk cream/chocolate mixture until smooth.  Refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours or until firm, but soft enough to form into balls.

Scoop a scant tablespoon of chocolate with spoon and form into a ball.  Roll in crushed gingersnaps.  Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.  Store in airtight container in refrigerator.  Makes 25 truffles.  

Truffle Treats with Gingersnap Goodness!