February 23, 2011

Peanut Butter, Apple and Bacon Sandwiches

The first time I saw this recipe, I was not to sure. I mean, it sounds like something Elvis would eat. But I was a little intrigued and I like to try new things. I also like to get my kids out of their pb and j rut every once in a while. Ever add bananas, cinnamon, apples, or shredded carrots to their normal pbandj? Sometimes we eat them on bagels, raisin bread, Hawaiian rolls, pita, or even rice cakes. So, in our house, unusual is good and celebrated. But this sandwich was strange even by our standards (someday I'll share the craziest sandwich recipe of all with you. We use it to haze and thereby induct in-laws into our family).

Anyway, I made this delicious sandwich one day and we all loved it! Well not the hubby, he thought it was a little too far fetched for his taste. I think I liked it because it was creamy with the peanut butter, crunchy with the apples, and salty with the bacon. I culinary trifecta! Try it for your next lunch - I dare you.

PB, Apple and Bacon Sandwiches

wheat bread
peanut butter
tart crisp apples, thinly sliced
cooked bacon, preferably applewood smoked
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

I like to cook my grilled sandwiches in my cast iron skillet, but whatever pan you start with, heat it up. The rule in the pro kitchen is.. "the pan waits on you, you never wait on the pan". So put your skillet on a med heat.

Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread. Sprinkle a little of the cayenne pepper on if you want some heat. Layer the bacon strips on top. Close the sandwich together and spread the top with some margarine. Place in the skillet, buttered side down. Carefully spread some margarine on the top of the sandwich while it's cooking in the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and crispy on each side. After you get it out of the skillet, carefully pull it apart and insert the apple and lettuce.

It sounds crazy, it looks strange, but it tastes wonderful!


February 19, 2011

Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

Cupcakes! They are such fun and the perfect way to celebrate any occasion. Since I'm celebrating my 40th *gasp* birthday tomorrow, I wanted to share these little beauties as a way to celebrate with you all. I actually made them for my Grandmother's 90th birthday party! She is an amazing lady with so many friends I had to make 96 cupcakes for her party. I only hope in 50 years I have that many friends to celebrate with. You rock Gran Gran!!
Here's how you take a plain little old cupcake from a box mix and turn it into a presentation worthy treat.
First off bake, your cupcakes adding a little of this or that to change the basic cake mix if you like. For instance I added some ginger spice and a orange juice instead of water to this vanilla cake mix. When you fill your cupcake liners with batter, aim for about 3/4 full in the muffin tin. This will give you a cupcake that sits even with the liner and avoids the muffin top. (Dreaded words for cupcakes and moms everywhere!) After you bake them, let the little cakes cool completely. While you are waiting, whip up some buttercream icing (or open a can of icing from the store). Again, here you can go crazy, change the flavor to suit whatever your cupcake flavor is.

Buttercream Icing
Makes 3 cups
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 stick soft butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (or other flavor)
4 c sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
2 tbsp milk
In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
If you want color, tint your icing with solid paste food coloring so it doesn't make the icing runny. To make the cupcakes look professional, you want a number 1M piping tip. Put that tip in a piping bag or cut off the corner of a ziplock baggie and stick the tip in the baggie. Then fill it with some icing. Squeeze out the icing in a swirl design on top of the cupcake. Be sure to leave some cake showing so people get an idea what flavor it is.

Looks good - right? But if you want to really take it over the top you need one more step. This is where the real magic happens. It's jewelry for cupcakes. You can pick almost anything that compliments the flavors you've chosen. Sprinkles, chocolate shavings, pulverized nuts, granulated sugar, a dusting of cocoa powder, anything small to sprinkle over the folds of the icing. Then you need the crowning glory, a small piece of something to set on the top.

On my orange-ginger cupcakes, I've used pearlized sprinkles with a small piece of ginger set on the top. In the background of the photo above, on my chocolate-almond cupcakes, I've used chocolate shavings with slivered almonds set in the top. Below on carrot cupcakes, I've used vanilla beans in the icing and a shaving of carrot on the top. Use your imagination. For Easter you could use jelly beans on the top or how about a big old peep sitting nestled in the icing? After all it's only a little cupcake...enjoy!!


February 7, 2011

Publix Gift Card Giveaway -closed

CLOSED - winner Alana G. Congratulations!!

I really love shopping at Publix, it is a pleasure. I have to say, I go where the deals are, but when they are Publix I'm very happy. They are nice to my kids and always help me out to the car. The stores and clean and well stocked. Their produce is wonderful. I also love the discounts I get with their two clubs. One is for baby's (Baby Club) and the other for preschoolers (Preschooler Club). If you haven't signed up, you really should. They send all kinds of great coupons and fun things for the kids. Just yesterday Sausage Boy got a birthday card in the mail from the Preschool Pals Club - how cute is that?

I want to share the Publix love for Valentine's Day. I'm thrilled to let you know Publix (through My Blog Spark.com) have given me a $25 gift certificate to giveaway to one lucky reader. You can have up multiple chances to win! Please leave separate comments for EACH entry and be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. All of them are easy…you ready?…

•Simply leave a comment on this post (on the blog, not on facebook)
•Share this post on Facebook by hitting the FB button at the bottom of the post
•Follow Chickenville on Google Friend Connect – be sure to leave your GFC name.
•Subscribe to Chickenville by RSS or Email
•Add a link to our blog on your site (in blog roll etc.)
•Add our blog button to your site
•Tweet this giveaway with button on bottom of post

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only. All entries must have a valid email in blog profile or leave email address in comments. This giveaway will close Sunday Feb 13th at midnight, in time for purchasing a romantic Valentine's Dinner for two!
The winners will be chosen by random.org and notified by email.


February 3, 2011

Valentine's Day Fun Wreaths

This beautiful wreath is insanely easy and very inexpensive to make. It's the perfect Valentine's Day decoration for an indoor spot. And you'll never guess what it's made with....cupcake liners!

A friend of mine (who puts herself firmly in the "not crafty" camp) asked me if I could help walk her through making one. She saw it on Tatertots and Jello. We made our wreaths the other night and it only took about 1 hour of work, which was really spent chatting and laughing. ANYONE, and I really do mean it this time...anyone can do this super cute craft.
  • cupcake liners, mine were patterned, but you could use any solid color
  • a foam wreath form, mine was 18" and  I used around 150 liners, but my friends made 8" wreaths and they used around 50 liners
  • ribbon
  • hot glue gun
First you need to wrap the wreath form with the ribbon. I overlapped a satiny hot pink color on mine and sealed the end with a dab of hot glue. Then you need to put a dot of hot glue on the top of the wreath. Scrunch up the bottom of a cupcake liner and press it carefully into the hot glue (warning: insert burn liability waiver here and best medicine for burns).
After it cools just a second, you can move to the next section. Working in sections ensures the liner has a chance to harden before you add more hot glue and loosen all your work. See the photo below, I have started in different places to give it a chance to cool. Then I went back around again and again, each time adding another liner to my original.

Finally filling in all the gaps and ending up with magical fluffiness!

After I filled in the whole top of the wreath, I flipped it over and checked to make sure I had filled it out far enough over the edges. You could fill in the sides if you like a fuller looking wreath.

Then I hot glued a patterned ribbon to the back. My friends each attached their ribbon differently. I think the smaller wreaths could just use a strip of ribbon or a small loop.

Ta-dah! Now the only problem is my 5 year old wants the wreath in her room because it is cute pink and fluffy.

This is the other wreath I made this year was during our big snow. I had a ton of leftover candy canes from Christmas. {I buy them when they go on sale after Christmas because my animal loving husband takes them to the horses. Apparently horses like peppermints - who knew?}

I saw a cute candy cane lollipop idea in Family Fun Magazine and decided you could make this into a wreath. I hot glued the candy canes and added a centerpiece of chipboard and a felt flower. It's very fragile, but the canes are still in their wrappers so if they break, at least the decoration will still hold together. A friend who saw it jokingly said I could use it for Christmas and just leave it up for three months. Now that's what I call multipurpose.

February 1, 2011

Amazing Three Onion Soup

I'm a huge fan of soup. I really only started making my own in the past two years. I learned a ton from the Salud Cooking School and by trial and error. I learned quickly it's all about the base stock. You can't start from watery broth and expect it to turn heads. Most soups I make don't take very long, they are fast and warm and often creamy like Pumpkin soup and Corn Chowder. This one is clear beef broth based and takes a little while to make, but it's ohhhh so worth it. You can even take it over the top and serve it like french onion soup with a little piece of toasted bread and a sprinkle of cheese. This recipe makes a ton of soup, but then you can easily freeze the extras for another day without any of the work!

Three Onion Soup
(makes 10 c of soup, can be easily halved)

2 tbsp butter
5 large Vidalia onions
2 red onions
1 bunch green onions
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 c brandy
1 c sherry
8 c beef stock
2 tsp minced thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
french bread, thinly sliced
white cheese slices: monterey jack, provolone, muenster, or swiss (don't use cheddar)

Slice onions into thin strips and chop green onions. Melt butter over med heat in large dutch oven, add onions. Cook onions until browned and sticky. You will have to stir your pot from time to time to keep the onions from burning and rotate them around in the pot as they cook. This will take a good 20-30 minutes. You don't want to rush this step because browning the onions is what brings out their flavor and makes for the best soup. Once they are browned, add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add brandy and sherry (you may be tempted to skip these, but they add so much flavor and all the alcohol will be cooked out). Add beef stock and seasonings. Bring the whole mess to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Take a little taste, it may need more salt and pepper depending on your stock and I usually add a tablespoon of sugar at this time for a little sweetness.

Toast your bread slices very crispy to create a crostini. Pour the steaming hot soup into a bowl and float a crostini on top. Add a slice of cheese. If you want it more melted, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds (real restaurants will put the bowl of soup under a broiler to brown it, but I don't have any super cool oven proof serving bowls.)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...