Sunday, December 30, 2012

Beef Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy) - Pressure Cooker Style

 During Spring/Summer, our Weber grill gets quite a workout. Alas, our outdoor grills are tucked in for our California winters. Our tomato plants are spent, and our small herb and vegetable garden is looking a bit sparse.  Sigh. 

Our thyme and marjoram are still hearty, this time of year, and they don't go to waste in the kitchen. It soups & stew season, and I'm ready!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Perfect Kettle Corn

Week #1 of our school's Winter Break will official end in just a few hours today. My husband returns to work on Monday, but I have the luxury of one more week of sleeping in, catching up on recorded shows, reading and-- of course-- cooking and baking recipes to photograph with natural lighting. It's all good!

I'm starting to buy cookbooks in the iPad version-- and I have to say that I'm loving digital books. I redeemed my iTunes gift card on "Joy the Baker's" new cookbook.   I "met" Joy at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in 2011 (along with a few hundred other bloggers) and found her to be approachable, personable and I couldn't stop admiring her shoes! (Ah, to be young and able to wear those kinds of heels.)  The book won my heart, because Joy writes with humor and made me feel like we were friends.  She shares great baking tips, and the intro to each recipe is fun to read.  I found myself bookmarking most of the recipes-- except for the "Goat and Whole Wheat Honey Drop Biscuits".  I-just-can't-stomach-goat-cheese.  

I read the entire book in one night.  The next day, I knew the first recipe to make was the Perfect Kettle Corn.  Next to Rice Krispie Treats, Kettle Corn is a very dangerous thing to have in close proximity to moi.  I need an intervention, or I can guarantee I'll eat the entire batch of these treats.  Freshly popped kettle corn, with the perfect combo of sweet and salty--  it makes me want to visit all the county fairs, just to buy a big bag all to myself.

Now, thanks to Joy Wilson, you can make it at home. It's easy. It's perfect. Love.

 Start with 1/2 cup of yellow corn kernels

Heat 2 Tablespoons vegetable and 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat. You want to use a pot with a tight fitting lid.  One with a glass lid would be idea, but I'm fond of my non-stick Dutch oven. (Cleanup is a snap.)

Spread the corn kernels in an even layer, and then evenly spread 3 Tablespoons of white sugar over the popcorn kernels. NOTE: Next time, I might want to kick up the sugar by one extra Tablespoon.

Place the lid on the pot and turn up the heat to medium high. You want two pot holders, handy, because hot sugar can do some serious burning!  Listen for the first "pop" and hold each side of the lid, securely to the pot, using the pot holders.  Pick up the lidded pot, and shake-shake-shake, off the heat. Return to the heat about every 20 seconds or so, so the sugar doesn't get a chance to burn.

Listen for the sound of popping to cease, and turn off the heat and remove the kettle. Carefully remove the lid (away from you) to release steam and then sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.  Be careful, as the sugar is very hot.  Turn with a wooden spoon, or silicone spatula.

Pour into a bowl and add about 1/2 teaspoon more of salt. Enjoy hot and fresh.  Snuggle with your sweetie, and enjoy the movie at home!  There you have it-- Kettle Corn, made at a fraction of what you pay for the commercially made bagged ones at the grocery store. 

If you love to bake, as much as I do, I think you will find recipes in Joy's Cookbook that you will enjoy.  This morning, I made her Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes.  Mercy! These were good!

In case you're wondering, no, I was not paid to endorse this cookbook. I just love to share things that I love-- and I hope you do, too.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Marshmallows


Yes, it's December 27th and I'm late for the Christmas recipe party. It's a miracle that I managed to pull off making  all of  the traditional German recipes that my Mutti would serve her children for decades.  Just an hour before our traditional Christmas Eve dinner was to begin, I was cleaning powdered sugar off my kitchen floor, I had  bowls of leftover melted white chocolate and dark chocolate and I had just finished making these cookies:


I had carefully cultivated several Christmas cookie and candy recipes on my Pinterest boards,  a few weeks before Christmas. I had a game plan. I was going to make cookies dough each weeknight, after a long day at the office. I had a box of full of Christmas recipe ingredients-- chips, nuts, coconut, sprinkles. I was all set to go!

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Eggnog Cookies (even for the unbelievers)

Eggnog. Does the thought of it give you the willies? I get it.  I'm not enamored with  drinking the stuff-- unless it's homemade.  It's been years since I've made Southern Comfort Spiked Eggnog. The commercial stuff is too thick, for me, and doesn't feel right as it slides down my gullet. However, I do like the flavor of eggnog.  I do like adding eggnog to recipe, like Eggnog pancakes.

My work schedule, and coming home to no natural light has made work night cookie baking unmanageable.  Since Thanksgiving ended, the UPS truck has been making regular stops at my house.  I've been shopping on Etsy and it's helped me with Christmas shopping. I managed to find time to decorate the house, and I've been making a few cookie dough recipes.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Recipes from my Kitchen - and a brief blogging hiatus

I can't believe it! It's been over a week, since I've shared a new recipe post! I'm disappointed, because I look forward to posting at least once a week.

The truth is-- I haven't been cooking or baking very much all of this week.  The few times I have, it's already dark outside and I've been too lazy tired to drag out the photographer's lamp stand-- it's cumbersome and I much prefer shooting photos in natural light. 

Plus-- I'm busy working on a remodel of my blog.  I hope that it will be finished by Christmas,and I can't wait to see it and then share it with all of you. As a result, I've got nothing new to share with you, this week.   I've been busy, sifting through various Christmas edible gift ideas that I hope to make-- this weekend.  Hopefully, I'll be able to make a few new recipes, and share those with you.

Forgive me, as I dig into recipes from Christmas Past, that you might want to consider for your holiday entertaining:

I created these Eggnog & Vanilla Bean Pancakes could bring your family to the Christmas morning table, after all the gifts have been opened.

Or, make these Cinnamon Rolls a day ahead and bring them to room temperature and bake them hot and fresh.  They'll disappear fast (and if you've never made them, I'll show you how to it).

These Gingerbread (Pumpkin) Waffles are also a family favorite-- served with a Vanilla-Bean Butter. Oh my! 

This Salmon Wellington with Mushroom Duxelles is one of my most viewed recipes.  I'm not too thrilled with the photo-- but I'll be making these for Christmas Eve, and I hope to re-shoot this delicious meal with improved photography.  This recipe is easier to make than you might think, and I can make it a day ahead of time.

One of the side dishes that I'll be making, again, is this Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Molasses and Vanilla-Pecan Butter.  I'm not a big fan of Brussels Sprouts, but this dish changed my mind.  There are notes of citrus, and a drizzling of Pomegranate Molasses that looks so festive and is delicious. 

Oh, you don't have a jar of Pomegranate Molasses in your pantry? No problem! I'll show you how easy it is to make it yourself.  This molasses makes a beautiful poultry glaze.  You can use it to make a citrusy-zingy salad dressing, too.

For a cookie exchange, these Nanaimo Bars will be my contribution-- a graham cracker-chocolate-nut cookie bottom, sandwiched with a Custard Buttercream filling and topped with a chocolate ganache-- easy to make and always a big hit. 

I'm already making these Cranberry-Almond Biscotti as gifts, and for my family. 

I'll definitely be making some of this peanut brittle for my husband. I'm sure I'll sneak in a few bites, myself.

This weekend, I'm planning on doing some serious Christmas baking and candy making.  I'll be sure to share the fruits of my labor with you.

In between that, I'll be cooking some healthier fare-- because I don't want to gain any extra weight.  That's the beauty of making edible Christmas gifts-- I can nibble, and give it all away!

At least my house is decorated and all of my Christmas shopping is finished.  Whew!

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cream and Chocolate Fluff Frosting - And Four Years of Blogging!

November 29th came and went, just like the rainstorms we've been experiencing for most of this past week.  My four year anniversary for "A Feast for the Eyes" is on this day, and I really wanted to write a special post.  But, mid-week blogging this time of year, is a rare occurrence.  I have become a weekend food blogger, so I am celebrating my anniversary with a new cake recipe.

In four years of blogging, I'm so thankful for the community of fellow food bloggers, and followers, who take the time to visit my virtual kitchen. I especially appreciate those of you who take the time to leave comments.  If you're following me on my Facebook Fan Page, I do appreciate it.  I use that Fan Page to interact, more personally, with you. I don't use Twitter as much, except to tweet new posts.  Instagram is fun for me to use, and I wish I had more time to check my feeds there.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Simple Grilled Turkey & Stuffing Muffins (Yes, Virginia, you can still have your gravy, too.)

How's are your turkey leftovers doing?  Did you over-indulge? I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  Ours was low-key, with just my two brothers and niece.  My son works in the restaurant business, so he was MIA at our table.  Sigh. 

I believe I've roasted at least 25 Thanksgiving Turkeys in my lifetime.  I've made Butterballs, and graduated to buying free-range turkeys.  I've brined them and I've not brined them.  However, I've firmly resisted the idea of deep-frying a turkey-- not that I haven't heard rave reviews. I just don't want to be a State Farm Insurance television commercial statistic, as one of those unfortunate folks who caught their house on fire. (Plus, it doesn't sound cheap to buy the fryer and all that peanut oil!)  Overall,  I've been pretty lucky, in that I've never made a choke-dry kind of turkey. Amen.

My biggest challenge (other than wishing my bachelor brothers would invite their non-existent girlfriends to help me with the food prep), is that I only have one oven.  It's always been a challenge to get the stuffing and yams baked, and then the rolls.  So, when the Digital October/November 2012 issue of Cook's Illustrated was downloaded into my iPad, I was intrigued at the thought of grilling our turkey.

So I begged asked  my husband to watch the video with me and he agreed to set up the Weber. I assured him that this would not be as time-consuming as his famous grilled brisket or pulled pork. According to the recipe, I had to season the bird with salt & pepper, and then rub in a mixture of salt, pepper and baking powder (apparently this is key in making the skin turn out golden and crispy. Yum.


I didn't photograph the process of preparing the bird, because I didn't want to contaminate my camera with poultry bacteria.  Plus, I didn't really think that Blogosphere needs another turkey recipe (my excuse translating that I wasn't sure I'd need to blog this recipe).  Well, I was wrong-- and I will tell you that this was one delicious bird!  You should can prepare the turkey 24- 48 hours ahead. Somehow, I missed that and it was four hours until the turkey needed to go on the grill, that I discovered this. D'oh! Fortunately, as the photo shows, the turkey turned out fine-- big relief.

There is a printable recipe card at the end of this post, with some notes that I will follow the next time we makes this-- and make this again, and again, we will.  Yes, you can make this on a gas grill, and I will include those instructions as well.  So, you need 4 quarts of briquettes and a disposable pan with water.  The briquettes are placed on the side of each pan, so that the turkey is not set directly over the coals (unless you're making turkey jerky, I suppose.)

This is a 12 pound turkey, so if you are feeding an army of pilgrims, this recipe isn't for you.  I wouldn't recommend doing this with a 20 pound bird, but if you do-- and it works- please let me know!

Vegetable oil has been rubbed on the turkey, before being placed on the grill. Craig has been careful that the turkey isn't placed over the coals.  Good job!  Grilling time is said to be 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours.   I got busy making the Sweet Potato Casserole and making the Mashed Potatoes (updated version to be posted this week).

GRAVY WARNING: You don't get drippings for making gravy, with this method. Instead of resorting to package or canned gravy, I made "Make Ahead Gravy" the night before. I simply put the gravy into a small crockpot on WARM and that was ready to go.

For years, I belonged to the "stuff-the-turkey-with-stuffing-inside-the-turkey" Club.  Then, it was announced that this only invited bacteria and cooks were advised to always bake the stuffing separately.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, I admit that I do not care for stuffing.  (It's a texture thing, and I'm sorry.)  However, I oblige others who love stuffing and I've developed a few of my own recipes that my family loves.

Not this year.  I didn't have the strength desire to bake cornbread and make my famous stuffing. So, I resorted to -- gasp-- buying stuffing mix!  Yes, I took a shortcut and I will share a basic stuffing recipe at the end of this post.  However, this year, I did something I wish I had thought of a long time ago...

 Stuffing Muffins!

Why had I never thought of these before?  I wish I could say these are my idea, because they are all over Blogosphere.  I used an ice cream scoop to measure the stuffing into a muffin tin and set them aside as I made the rest of the meal. By the way, the One-Hour Dinner Rolls saved my day, as I was running out of steam in the kitchen.

Because my oven wasn't occupied by a roasting turkey, I even had time to make my first Pumpkin Roll-- and I'll share that recipe soon.

I made an oath that I was going to keep things simple, since I'm the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. Still, it took almost five hours for me to make all the side dishes, bake bread and clean up the kitchen.  At least I didn't have to worry about basting the turkey.

The turkey had been grilling for 2-1/2 hours and I suggested that we check on it.

Craig: No, the recipe says 3 hours.
Me:      Well, that's the suggested time.
Craig:  No, I don't want to lose heat!
Me:      What if it's already cooked, then it'll be dry?!
Craig:   (Dubious look on his face.)
Me:       Trust me, I always shorten the recommended time. We can always add more (smug look on my face)

I grabbed the camera and Craig lifted off the lid, and stuck in the instant-read thermometer.

Within seconds, the thermometer said 170F.  "Get it off the grill, now!" I shrieked.
Moral of the story:  Check the bird at 2 hours.  160F would be the ideal temperature.

That skin looks dry and crisp, because of the baking powder.  But, would the meat be as dry?
Truth:  No!  Had we waited a moment longer, it would have been "yes".

Y'all know the commotion that goes on, once it's time to get the Thanksgiving feast on the table, right? I had lost natural lighting, and was busy orchestrating the plating and serving of our meal. (That is my excuse for not having many finished shots.)

TASTING NOTES:  The turkey was still moist-- but, honestly, had we reduced the grilling time to 2 hours, it would have been even moister.  The flavor was different in a very good way. Yes, it had the flavor of grilled meat, and my carnivores loved it.  The skin was very crispy-- I'm not one to eat skin, but for those who do, it's excellent.  The stuffing muffins were a big hit, and easy to just serve one on each place.   Bonus:  At the end of the evening, I put the turkey carcass into a pasta pot and added celery, onion, carrots, Bay leaves and peppercorns and 10 cups of water. The turkey stock had so much flavor!  It's frozen for future recipes.

FOOTNOTE:  I was thankful to have my brothers and lovely niece at our Thanksgiving table.  However, I have made an oath for next year-- and I'm going to keep this one.  I'm going to either be a dinner guest (I will bring a dish) or I am making reservations.  For those of you who think I'll miss not having leftovers-- nah, ah, ah... we'll be grilling this very recipe for us to have as our private reserve.


Now, it's time to think of Christmas.   Once again, I'm the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. Well, I'll be cooking, but I'm going to hand every family member a dish towel and scrubbing pad. I'm finally catching on!

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of InternetExplorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here.

If you still can't figure out how to view the printable recipe card, please email me at and I am happy to help.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls With Maple Cream Cheese Icing - Oh, yes, I did!

What's not to love about freshly baked Cinnamon Rolls? When my son was little, we used to cruise the shopping mall. He'd excitedly beg ask me to buy him a Cinnabon.   How could I resist those baby blues?

 How can you resist that frosting?!

Thanksgiving has to be one of the busiest times to be poking around on Pinterest.   A Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Menu is something my family looks forward to me cooking eating.  Its no secret that I love pumpkin, and could eat it year-round. My husband? Not so much.  Except for pumpkin pie. For that, he's all game.  The problem is, I've bookmarked several bloggers who have made Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls-- and I held back, due to said husband's lackluster feelings about pumpkin. 

A few days ago, an idea hit me--

We all love sweet potatoes-- yams, to be specific.  Yams have a beautiful color to them, similar to pumpkin.  Potato bread is really moist-- so why not make Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls? Of course, once I searched for recipes, I realized this wasn't just my idea.  I borrowed a recipe from "Eat, Live, Run" (I recently won Jenna Weber's book "White Jacket Required".)   I made a few tweaks, and these turned out to be better than I expected.

So, you are yeast dough challenged?  The last time you tried to bake bread, it turned out like a brick? Worse, it turned out like a flat pancake?  I've been there, and it's disappointing. Fear not.  I'll share a few times from an unprofessional baker (that would be moi).  I promise you, these will turn out. Trust me.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bee Sting Cake - "Bienenstich" Kuchen

 Bee Sting Cake. Bienenstich Kuchen. 

 A brioche pastry dough cake, topped with Buttery Honey-Glazed Almonds...

...and filled with pastry cream.

What a sweet childhood memory, of living in Germany.

Coffee's ready.  I have a slice waiting for you--and the recipe.  I'm guest posting on "A Culinary Journey, With Chef Dennis", today.  Please click here to see how I made it. A printable recipe card is at the end of this post.

I always post a printable recipe card at the end of each recipe post. If you cannot view it, you might be using an older version of InternetExplorer. You should be able to view my recipe cards with Safari, Mozilla, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer.
If you still can't view the recipe card, all of my recipes are stored on Key Ingredient, by clicking here.

See you there!

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