Friday, September 29, 2006

Spicy Nuts

Watch out. These spicy, New Orleans-style, cocktail nuts are highly appealing. Mrs. Finbar from our church in Buffalo would bring these quite often, and I would munch handfuls into disappearance. When she visited us this past weekend, she brought a large bag for us, which I munched into disappearance the day before yesterday. She kindly shared the recipe with me. (Compliments to Emeril Lagasse.)

1 large egg white
1 teaspoon water
4 cups assorted, shelled nuts (I've only had it with a walnut/almond/pecan mixture)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Essence (recipe below)
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (or tin foil).

In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and water until frothy. Add the nuts and toss to coat. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, Essence blend, cayenne, and salt. Add the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Spread the nuts on the prepared pan and bake until dry, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to separate. Let cool on the baking sheet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning)
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container. Yield: About 2/3 cup.

Eat A Dozen in One Sitting Cinnamon Rolls

Well, maybe not a dozen, but I made 32 of these for our small congregation last week, and I came home with two empty pans. (Pastor Jones polished off a fair share, and I unsuccessfully struggled against doing likewise.)

This is the best cinnamon roll recipe I've yet come across, bar none. I'll have to post a yummy sticky bun recipe sometime, too, now that the weather outdoors calls for warm bellies.

First things first, you MUST make the cream cheese topping.  I highly recommend you double it.  The rolls would not be the same without it.

1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margerine, melted
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (bread flour can also be used)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp yeast

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast, salt, and a few tablespoons of the sugar with the milk. Let sit until foamy. Sift remaining sugar into the flour and lightly mix the eggs and melted margerine. Mix all ingredients together and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, cover, and let rest for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 1 cup brown sugar and 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon in a small bowl.

Roll dough into a 16" by 21" rectangle and spread with 1/3 cup softened butter. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar mixture. Roll up the dough, pinch the seam shut with your fingers, and cut into 16 rolls. (I use a small length of dental floss to easily cut the dough into rolls. Simply wrap the floss around the roll and pull the floss ends together. This cleanly cuts the dough without any fuss.) Place the rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled (@ 30 minutest) while preheating oven to 400 degrees. Bake about 15 minutes, until golden brown on top.


Mix 3 oz. cream cheese, softened, 1/4 cup softened buter, 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together until a smooth consistency is reached. After taking the rolls out of the oven, slather them.

1. I usually make these rolls the night before and, after shaping them and placing them in the pan, I let them finish their second rising overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, I pull the rolls out of the refrigerator about 15-30 minutes before I need to pop them in the oven. Voila! Sleeping in and fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast can be achieved.

2. DON'T OVERBAKE THESE. The first three times I made them, I thought that they looked too gooey in the middle even though they were golden brown. I ended up with dry rolls. If you don't overbake them, they have a similar texture (and taste) to Cinnabons.

3. The frosting for these is so darn tasty that I usually at least double the amount it calls for. Then I top the rolls with as much as I deem appropriate and save the rest for people to slather on their individual rolls.
Soooooooo good.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fruit Pizza Variations

Use a graham cracker, gingersnap, or chocolate cookie crust instead (Mix 1/3 to 1/2 cup melted butter, a bit of sugar, and the crumbs together, press into pizza pan or pie plates, and bake for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees).

Fold some whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture before spreading it on pizza.

Pair a chocolate cookie crust with sliced strawberries and bananas layered over the cream. Drizzle with melted chocolate.

Or anything else your tastebuds dream up.

The Usual Fruit Pizza

Cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and one egg. Mix in 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. cream of tartar, and 1/2 tsp. baking soda.

Press dough into pizza pan (or into two pie plates) and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Mix well 8 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons lemonade or pineapple juice. Spread over cooled crust.

Arrange fruit of your choice on top of filling.

If the pizza won't be eaten immediately, brush this glaze on top to keep the fruit from browning.
In a saucepan, mix together 3/4 cup pineapple juice and 3/4 lemonade (or 1 1/2 cups lemonade or pineapple juice) with 2 tablespoons corn starch. Bring to a boil while stirring and boil one minute until thickened and clear. Spread glaze over top of pizza and refrigerate until ready to gobble.

Sweet Squash Pickles with Red Pepper

The following quantities only make two pints, so definitely double, triple, quadruple, etc., the recipe. I almost quadrupled it, and had no trouble fitting it all in a large pot.

3 cups yellow squash, cut 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large sweet, red pepper, sliced in strips

Combine these in a large, non-metal bowl, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over it, and stir. Cover and keep in the refrigerator for one hour, then drain off the juice.

Meanwhile, in a pot combine:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 teaspoons mustard seed
3/4 teaspoons celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

Heat to boiling, add the veggies to the pot, and reheat to boiling. Spoon into two pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for one minute. Turn off the heat and let stand in the hot water for five more minutes before removing to cool on a rack or towel.

Soft Pretzels

Today I made these to scare some of the chill from our house, but since I haven't made them since long before our move, I only just realized that I may have accidentally discarded my usual recipe for them as I sorted through cookbooks. Oops! This recipe sounds similar, so I gave it a whirl. We gobble up salty, soft pretzels like nobody's business, and I bet eating these will remind John that I haven't made bagels in about as long a time. (Let's hope that recipe hasn't been thrown out.)

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour (may use regular flour; just add 4 tsp. wheat gluten to make a full cup)

4 cups water
2 tablespoons baking soda

one egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
coarse salt, sesame seeds, etc.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar, and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Punch dough down and divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape and secure edges, using a bit of water to seal if necessary. Cover pretzels and let rise about 20 minutes, until about doubled in size. Meanwhile, combine 4 cups water and baking soda in a pot and bring to boil. Drop pretzels singly or in pairs into the boiling water and boil for about 30 seconds on each side. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon, drain, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Before baking, brush with the egg/water wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, sesame seeds, or pretzel salt.

Bake in 450 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Best eaten warm and fresh.
If desired, skip the salt, brush with melted butter after baking, and roll in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.
Or, keep the salt, and dip in honey mustard. (We just ate some with honey mustard for breakfast. Mmm.)