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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