Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bark Candy

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When we lived in the Boston area, I worked for Jordan Marsh department store as a bridal consultant. I worked at the Burlington and Peabody (pronounced PEE-ba-dee) malls.

It was a tumultuous time for the store, as well as the retail world. Federated Department Stores finally bought out May Company, their long-time rivals, and in the coming years closed many stores. It seemed as though they turned nearly every major department store into a Macy's. Jordan Marsh was one of the first stores to change to a Macy's and it was a BIG TO-DO.

The Jordan Marsh folks were loyal and proud. Jordan Marsh was founded in Boston in 1841, and though it was part of Federated Department Stores when I went to work there, it had always been Jordan Marsh. In 1996, all the Jordan Marsh stores changed to Macy's. It was a gradual change that had customers and employees up in arms. They did not want Macy's...not one bit. The day that the "MACY'S" lettering went up on the stores was a somber day. I'd only lived in the area for 18 months at the time, but I knew how the locals felt.

I really loved this job and worked with some interesting personalities. There was L*** (ya's a small world, and you never know who's reading your blogs!), a tough older woman who thought she was the boss of everybody. She did her best not to lift a finger, to make others (me) do her work and take credit for things she did not accomplish. There was Marsha, an older Jewish woman who was like a grandma to me. She was fabulous and a dear, dear woman who had been in the business for years and taught me everything she knew. Barry was a large, gruff, outspoken man who was exactly what you'd think of when you thought of a stereotypical Boston area local. With Barry the customer was never right, and he wasn't afraid to tell it like it was. (He was usually spot on...but in the mid-west where I'd just come from, no employee would dare say the things he did to a customer!!)

Then there was Susan who was a quiet, shy, and kind woman. We weren't friends outside of work, so I was especially surprised when she threw a surprise going-away party for me when I left (to move to Myrtle Beach). Honestly, in all the places that I've lived or worked at, no one has treated me nicer than Susan did. At my going away party she decorated the office, had a cake made, and presented me with a huge basket of gifts from my co-workers. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness. As an outsider coming to work with long-time locals, they truly included me in my short time there. One of the gifts in the basket was a handmade recipe book, with their favorite recipes. It's the only part of the gift I still have. My favorite recipe from that book is a simple one that Susan used to bring into work: Bark Candy.

Bark Candy

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and butter it.* Line it with saltine crackers.

In a small pot, boil for one minute:
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1 C sugar

Pour over the saltines.

Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips.** Let sit until soft and then spread the chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed nuts. Refrigerate one hour. Break into pieces and peel off foil.

*I made it this way for years. Now that I have a well-seasoned, dark brown stoneware bar pan from Pampered Chef, I skip the buttered foil, and place the crackers right on the bar pan.

**When I went to make this recently, I found myself without chocolate chips. Instead I melted 4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate in a double boiler. I added about 1 cup of sugar to the squares. If doing this, I'd recommend putting 3/4 cup in, then adding a little sugar at a time, until it's to your liking. The chocolate was kind of grainy, so at my 11 year old daughter's recommendation (she's gonna' be a great cook someday!!) I added a bit of milk to the mixture...probably about 1-2 TB. That made it a bit creamier and helped with the texture. Once it was all melted, I poured it onto the butter/sugar crackers and spread it around. I liked doing it this way, as I had more control over the sweetness of the chocolate.

These are great little treats to bring to any event. As Susan said in her notes to me, they're "very easy and so good"!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cilantro Dip

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I discovered this dip at the Meads' Civil War party. The Beavers (their team) may have lost , but I found this winning dip that was brought by their neighbor, Shannon. Shannon made two new dips for the first time, the recipes coming from a friend of hers. This friend told her that of the two dips, the cilantro one would be gobbled. The friend was right. The other one would have fared well on its own...but sitting next to the cilantro one, it never stood a chance! The dip has a bit of sweet and sour, with a little kick of spiciness that hits you toward the end of your bite.

So for our annual "Stragglers" Christmas Night party, I decided early on to make the dip. It's a definite keeper as it's so simple, and has proven to be a crowd pleaser at two events. Last night, the first brick of cream cheese was quickly eaten, but there was still enough "gunk" left to scoop over a second brick. So mid-party, I placed a second one on the platter, and spooned the dip over the cream cheese. What I'm getting at, is that there is definitely enough dip for two bricks of cream cheese.

Cilantro Dip

Mix together:
3/4 bunch of chopped cilantro
1 bunch of chopped green onions
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped*
3/4 C dried cranberries**
2 tsp sugar
1/4 C balsamic vinegar***
1/8 C olive oil***

Let the mixture sit for a couple of hours. Then pour over a brick of cream cheese and serve with crackers.

*I like things a bit spicy, so I did not seed my pepper. Friends who were at both events stated they liked the spicier version better. So, if you like a bit more heat (still mild enough for kiddos), leave in the seeds.

**I chopped the cranberries so they were smaller. Not a big change, but thought I'd mention it...

***The friend of Shannon's doubles the given amount of oil and vinegar as she likes more juice. So, you can play around with that as well!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lauren's Norwegian Pancakes

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Because of our snowfall this week, Katie's friend, Alaina was *stuck* here overnight. The roads were just too slippery last night, so doggone it....they had to have a sleepover! This morning, when thinking about what to make them for breakfast, I thought back to when I was in sixth grade. I had lots of sleepovers at my friend, Lauren's house in Tucson. What I remember most (other than that she always had to practice piano before we could play!) was that we would make Norwegian Pancakes for breakfast. It was a family recipe, and I still have it 30 years later.

Lauren’s Norwegian Pancakes

3 eggs
½ C milk
2 TB sugar
½ tsp vanilla
½ C flour

Mix ingredients. Pour a couple spoonfuls onto a heated non-stick pan. Pick up pan & swirl batter around in a circular motion. Turn over. Top with butter, brown sugar or powdered sugar. Fold in half, then roll. Serve immediately.

When making these, they are best eaten immediately. Not soon after...immediately...while they're piping hot! It works best to have one cook making them quickly with a few eaters ready with their plates.

As soon as the pancake comes onto the plate, spread a little butter on it. Then add a little brown sugar, and spread. Fold the pancake in half, and roll. Eat! This is how she taught me to make them, though you could add other yummies to the center...fruit or jam. I bet those would be good too!

My favorite pan in the whole wide world is this Magnalite Professional anodized aluminum frying pan. My mom gave it to us as part of a wedding gift. Sadly, they are no longer made, but are easily found on ebay (they've held their value and bring a good price) as there are lots of Magnalite fans out there. It is not a non-stick pan, but nothing sticks to it. It browns so nicely too. It's just a dream to cook with. All of their pans are! The pancakes swirl nicely in this pan!

For this recipe, I also love a newer gadget...this slim little flipper from Oxo. It's a flimsy, thin little thing that easily wedges under delicate items like these pancakes, crepes, cookies, etc. Definitley handy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Perfect Appetizer: Herbed Puffs

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These babies are pure appetizer heaven.

What makes them so perfect?
  1. FAST.
  2. and EASY to make.
  3. Can be made well ahead of event.
  4. Freezer Friendly!
  5. They are DELICIOUS little morsels!
Cooking tip: Have all your ingredients measured out, ready to go. Once you start dumping it in the pot, you need to work fast!

I've made these several times. They are always a hit. Next time I will probably triple the recipe, and flash-freeze them so they are ready to go when we have guests.

Something else to try with them: slicing them in half and adding a slice of thin cheese and prusciotto or salami. I got this from my friends, Nikki & John, who made a similar appetizer. Their recipe called for the slicing and addition of the meat and cheese inside. They were tasty!

Herbed Puffs (San Francisco Encore)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.
2/3 C water
1/3 C + 2 TB milk
1 stick (4 oz) butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

As soon as it boils, remove from heat and immediately pour in (all at once):
1 C flour

Using a wooden spoon, stir rapidly until all of the flour is incorporated and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Return to a low heat and cook for an additional minute.

Beat in, until the mixture is thick and smooth:
4 eggs, one at a time

Add in:
4 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
2 green onions, minced
1 TB minced parsley
1 tsp dried dill

Spoon the batter into 1 ½” mounds onto the prepared baking sheets.

Beat together:
1 egg
pinch of salt
and brush over the tops of the puffs.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from the baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

These freeze well and can be reheated. (Since we had freezing temps, I did my flash freezing on the patio!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Icebox Butter Cookies

Pin It We've had snow in McMinnville for the past few days. Snow isn't all that unusual, but snow that sticks for days is. And, boy, do we take advantage of it! We've been sledding (right down the driveway! Living on a hill has its perks at times....), making snow angels, and doing a bunch of holiday cooking...including baking.

The other day Katie chose this recipe to make, Icebox Butter Cookies from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food booklet. It's 2007's Holiday Baking Edition, and this is the first (though not the last!) that we'll make from this collection of recipes.

Icebox Butter Cookies

In a bowl of a food processor, pulse until it resembles course meal:
3 C all purpose flour
1 C powdered sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, lightly beat
4 large egg yolks (reserve one egg white for later)
1 tsp vanilla

With motor running, add the egg mixture to the dough. Process just until dough forms.

Divide the dough in half; form two 2-inch square log, each approximately 5 1/2 inches long. Wrap the logs in waxed paper; refrigerate until firm, at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice dough crosswise; 3/16" thick, carefully transfer slices to baking sheets.

If decorating with sugar, brush each slice with an egg wash (listed below), then sprinkle with sugar. Martha recommends sanding sugar. We did not have this, and instead used colored decorating sugar. Bake until edges are firm, but not brown, about 10 - 15 minutes. We had to go the whole 15 minutes. Cool 1-2 minutes on baking sheets. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Egg Wash
1 large egg white, beaten
2 tsp. water

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reindeer Cookies

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Upon looking at the picture, you may wonder why in the world these are called Reindeer Cookies. There is nothing to suggest reindeer, not even the shape of the cookies. Years ago, I think when we were living in Indiana (so 15-18 years ago), I received this little gift bag of spices, a recipe, and a reindeer cookie cutter. The cookie cutter is long gone, but I saved the recipe, as it's my absolute favorite spice cookie. I have no clue what they were actually called, but for the last 15-18 years, we've called them Reindeer Cookies!

Reindeer Cookies

½ C butter
1 C brown sugar

1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and add to creamy mixture:
1 ½ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Chill one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough to 1/8-1/4" thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut cookies. Bake 8-10minutes.

When we were first married, Brian and I used to make these with a little hole in the top (made with a straw). We'd hang them on the Christmas tree and the house smelled wonderful all season long. I'd love to do that now, but I fear (rightfully so!) that this sweet thing would trample the tree to get at each and every hanging cookie decoration....

I'm not a big gingerbread fan, and I truly think you could substitute this recipe for a gingerbread house or any other gingerbread type creation. It's a pretty sturdy dough, as long as it's not cut into thin, intricate shapes. Someday I will try it as a gingerbread house. As I'm typing this out, I'm thinking I have enough in the fridge to make a small cottage. As tomorrow is a snow day, I will attempt it. Should be fun! Stay tuned....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Have You Liked?

Pin It I love having this blog, because when asked for a recipe, I can simply direct people to the internet. It's sooooo much more efficient than copying it down, misplacing it, finding it months later in a pile, and completely forgetting to pass it on. This works quite well! But I often wonder if anyone actually makes any of these recipes. So, I'm asking, what have you made that you liked? (And, yeah, I can handle it if you made something from here that you didn't like!!)

If you haven't tried anything, might I suggest one of the following. After you make the dish(es), let me know what you think!

Twice Baked Potatoes
Cappuccino Cheesecake

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

Marinated Flank Steak
Cheesy Basil-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Barbequed Herb-Mustard Chicken

Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Chicken Tequila Fettuccine

Broccoli with Garlic Butter and Cashews


Lemon-Peach Fizz


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Most people have fancy names for this like, "Bacon-Wrapped Smokies" or even "Bacon-Wrapped Brown Sugar Smokies". But when you get right down to it, it's simply pig on pig. These are not the classiest of appetizers, but I promise if you bring them to a holiday party they will be devoured. Even before the meatballs simmering in jelled cranberry and chili sauce (another trailer park winner that will have everyone talking about what a great sauce you make...but that's for another post...) are half gone, the Pig-On-Pig platter will be empty. Guaranteed.

The secret? Take some pig (that would be Hilshire Farms Lil' Smokies) and wrap with more pig (1/3 - 1/2 piece of bacon). Secure with a toothpick and spread out in a baking pan. Cook in an oven at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, kick up the heat to 350 degrees, and generously sprinkle brown sugar over the smokies. Place back in the oven until the bacon crisps and the brown sugar is bubbly (another 10-15 minutes or so).

Once out of the oven, place on your finest serving platter, scooping some of the liquid grease (oh, I mean the melted brown sugar!) back over the smokies. Serve hot.

(1 pound of bacon cut in thirds is enough to wrap one package of Lil' Smokies.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lumpy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love garlic? I (and those in my immediate family, thank goodness!!) LOVE garlic. So much that my mom and sister constantly kid me about it, asking if it's possible for me to make anything without garlic. After thinking about this, there's not much. I don't do garlic for breakfast (though my husband recently revealed he does like it with his eggs) or for dessert. Other than that...if you're a guest for prepared for garlic.

I also happen to love mashed potatoes. I will eat them any way you prepare them (no instant flakes, thank you very much!), but my favorite way is lumpy with garlic. I also keep the skin on. That's one thing I got from my mom. So, if you want pure white smooth potatoes, you better bring your own. Mine are lumpy!

Here's my recipe:

Lumpy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Wash up a bunch of baking (Idaho) potatoes. Cut them into quarters (or sixths if they're large), discarding any bruised spots. Fill a large pot about 3/4 full with potato chunks and then add water so it barely covers the potatoes. Add a few (4-6) cloves of peeled garlic. Put the cloves in whole; no need to press or chop them. Boil until a fork can easily pierce the potatoes.

Drain the potatoes and place back in the pot. Add 1-2 sticks of butter, and put a lid on the pan. Let the pan sit for a few minutes until the butter has melted. Add some milk, to make them a little creamy. I would guess that I put in about a half a cup for a 6 qt. pot of potatoes.

Start mashing with a potato masher. Add salt and pepper to taste (this is the best part...tasting as you go...with a clean spoon each time, of course!!).

Keep mashing until it's all mixed and then serve hot. Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


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Flaky, tender crust. Much more complex flavoring in the pumpkin custard than your run-of-the-mill pumpkin pie.

This will be made again, and again. It knocked our socks off. Truly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey: Herb Seasoning Rub for UNDER the Skin

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A few years ago I came across a novel idea: to flavor the turkey under the skin. For nearly 20 years I'd been seasoning the top of the turkey. In hindsight, that was plain silly as I don't even eat the skin! I remove it, then I'd simply season my cooked meat with salt and pepper. So much for the flavor!

Somehow, somewhere I came across a recipe that came from the Food Network's site that gave a recipe for seasoning under the skin. Two years ago I tried it for the first time. The turkey was unbelievably amazing! Boy, had I been missing out for all those years!

If you're a skin-ripper like I am, you might want to try this simple seasoning method.

Herb Seasoning Rub For Turkey

Mix together:
1 TB dried sage
1 TB dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground marjoram
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
4 bay leaves
1/4 C olive oil
3/8 C canola oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed

Before I get the turkey out, I get out all my supplies, so that when I have "poultry hands" I don't need to open drawers and spread germs around.

  • four plain gallon baggies (I use these like gloves for handling the turkey)
  • sharp thin knife (paring, boning)
  • basting brush (can use hands too...they actually work better)
  • herb mixture in a small bowl
  • bleach water (for clean up)
  • paper towels (I use lots of these when I'm prepping turkey)
  • dish soap pump container
  • trash bag out for turkey gunk
  • roasting pan
  • foil: two long pieces to cover turkey in the end
First, prepare your turkey by removing the neck and giblets. Place the guck in the garbage bag that you got out. Thoroughly rinse inside and out of turkey and then place it in your roasting pan. I use the baggies as gloves for handling the turkey. After touching it, I place them open in the sink, so I can easily put my hands back in them again for touching the turkey (told you I was anal about this...).

Find the large opening (where you'd put stuffing), and carefully slide your knife between the breast and the skin. Try not to nick the breast, but it's not that big a deal if you do. What you're trying to do here is lift the skin, opening it up as much as possible. You should be able to easily reach across the top and sides of the breast from this opening.

Next, create 1-2 slits through the skin on the other end of the turkey. This is so you'll be able to reach down along the sides and all over this area. Again, once you cut through, you'll have access to the whole breast area.

Using your basting brush, dip it into the herb mixture and start spreading it under the skin. I started with the brush but gave up and used my hands as it was a lot easier to spread the herbs that way. Place the bay leaves in a couple spots (you'll remove them after cooking).

Once your rub is under the skin, it's time to close up the slits you made. The easiest thing to use is a small metal skewer, but toothpicks will do in a pinch! (Also use the skewers/toothpicks to hold down your wings so they don't get burned.)

If you're like me, this won't be a tidy process. You will probably have the herb rub all over the turkey, under and over the skin! I just spread the drips out evenly over the top, in case there are guests who actually do eat the skin. And, yes, I usually have drips on my counter too!

Onto the clean up! I am anal about prepping poultry and the clean up. The first thing I do is thoroughly clean and clear the counters and sink. Next, I make sure to carefully contain my mess. As mentioned above, I have all my stuff out, ready to go so I'm not opening drawers and touching stuff in the kitchen. After the turkey is safely in the fridge, I wipe down the counters/sink with paper towels. Then I give the whole area a hot soapy bath. Once dried, I spray with a fresh and cold 10% bleach water solution. (1 part bleach to 9 parts water).

Now, it's ready for cooking. At this point, you can baste/not baste, use a foil tent/roasting bag...whatever you're preferred method is. The key is, you've sealed in the flavor!!

So...if you try this, let me know what you think!

Happy Turkey Day!