Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

 "When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another , “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”And they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger."  Luke 2:15-16


 Grinch tree pops (Cake pops formed in tree shapes). Structured by the industrious hands of my two hardworking elves. Just had to share.

The star was God's biggest gift that night, pointing us toward the Way, the Truth, the Life, His son, Jesus. He is the Light, the very embodiment of love and all we'll ever need for true peace, true joy and honest goodwill.
"May He fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Asian Style Pork and Peppers

On flipping through my prior 70+ entries, recipe rotation dictated that it was over and above that time for a substantial protein intervention. Baking marathon characteristic of any given December had me parading through and vast, scrambling to scribble in the insane cookie recipe here and a confection series there, with not much being done for proper sustenance. Am I right? You know, the kind of meal making that's done daily (in my case, several a day basis) and never gets jotted down. Realizing I had to break off the perpetual sugar high this family was on, in addition to bring in check my ever expanding midsection (ugh!), I was desperate to find an answer for some good plated fare. And with due diligence, my poor pondering head came through.

The inspiration here most definitely came from the innards of my freezer box, wherein it's dark depths was found a tightly bound pack of pork tenderloin. Yes, it helps that it is so totally JZ's favorite white meat and it regularly occupies space back there. This hero has been previously showcased in my sis- in- law's spicy vindaloo, ground into an epic cannelloni, breaded and baked, chops style, to colossal meal status. So forth I knew, the One coming up would be much needed therapy for our Lollie ambushed souls.

And how cinchful it was! Since bottled condiment provision duly rested on the sides of my refrigerator door. The ultimate scavenger hunt, focusing on Asian flavors was completed in an effortless and very craveworthy, like- takeout meal. Asian style pork and peppers seemed the end of all white boxed blah and scooted it's way to being The Absolute Awesome. An incomparable one at that, be it side or main.

A great attribute of pork is that it adapts incredibly well to its surroundings. Roast nuggets of perfect seasoned pork, get part braised into a rich bed of flavor. These wonderful cuts then go on to sponge up a lovely pepper thickened sauce. This same gravy may seem a bit oil-heavy at first, but it is just right on spectacular, cradling and permeating every juicy edge and fiber of meat.

An element that deserves honorable mention, here is the tablespoon or so (I am of the or so set) of fermented soybean paste,which took this whole pork and pepper profile into a wonderfully umami-fied experience. Let me tell you, locating Doenjang will be your next Ta- Da To Do, the task which will steer you from humdrum cooking, straight to fierce, bonafide fabulous Asian cuisine.

Incredible, excellent and easy. Need I say more? Requiring less time than a batch of cookies, consider it my present to you.
Merry Christmas, my friends!

Ingredients:
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1 "cubes
  • 2 onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 green peppers, sliced lengthwise in slivers
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp fermented soybean paste
  • 1/4 c rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt ( according to taste)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Pour 2 tbsp oil in a foil lined baking sheet. Mix together cayenne, ginger, black pepper, salt and sugar. Toss in pork cubes and coat completely with the ingredients. Loosely cover with foil and bake pieces for 20-25 minutes, or until done.
  • In the meantime on medium high flame, heat remaining oil.
  • Stir in onions, ginger, garlic, and saute till wilt and slightly crisped.
  • Add green peppers, saute for a couple of minutes. 
  • Add soybean paste, chili garlic paste and stir to combine .
  • Add in vinegar, soy sauce. Mix well and allow sauce to come to a boil. Add in water if you need thinner gravy.
  • Taste and if needed add salt.
  • Spoon in pork mixture and sesame seeds, cook with sauce for an additional minute. 
  • Serve warm piled on a bed of white rice/ cooked noodles.

With Christmas being just a few short days away, I don't know if I will be finishing up my fruitcake post before the date. If not, I don't want to take leave without wishing you all a beautiful and truly blessed Christmas.
******
Isaiah said it nearly 700 years prior to Jesus birth~

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will  be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince Of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Homemade Lollipops

As you can imagine, everything does not go the way it's etched out, displayed all pretty in the back of one's mind. The other day, I had about 18 different things running through my head, unique ideas to post, creative models to click, conceptualizing the truckload of ingredients hauled from the store finding way into every corner of my kitchen, unable to reach any sort of palatable destiny (sigh.). Further to, there sits largely untouched the dried fruit bounty, those of which star in my greatest year end production ( read*bomb* referral that ended my last post). And while I'm getting there, yes, I will and shall, I thank you friends for the patience you possess, in coming over to page through and say hello. Who can deny, really life's rolls and dips? Where some months, more than not (the not's in December quite evident, right?) seem to ring in a tide and frequency of their own. But I assure, in these few weeks working to the holidays, all the stuff up there will download over to this hyperbright screen, typed and published to go.

So where shall we go? To two simple, sweet ingredients that get metamorphosed to translucence, and perched to sit atop paper sticks. Here it is, a most awesome, straightforward lesson in homemade lollipops.

At one point in my life I held major grievance on boiling sugar for confection's sake on the stove top in my own kitchen. With more misses than hits and dangerously so, my fifteen minutes of candymaking  would end in clunkers too hard, and so beyond chewy. Tough, sweetened mass which would inevitably lodge into the recesses of one's molars for several hours, either to melt or eventually resurface as choking hazard.

Indeed, it was Christmas of last year, that I knew I had arrived, on just the right amounts of sugar and  syrup mixed to certain confection perfection. The miracle of the candy thermometer was the sole essential, and my new best friend, that stopped me in my disastrous tracks from further designing nuggets of concrete, and instead pave the way to a new and improved lollipop structure. Here, be the wholesome candy (if there is such a thing) I so desperately wanted to eat make.

That being said, this is just about the easiest in terms of staple ingredients; one- sugar, two-corn syrup. Assuming the water you pour in is free, so, it has not been counted. Instructionally, your time spent will be stirring these few ingredients, boiling those to a melt, followed by that 10 or so minute simmer, pulling through to a faultless 295° F,  pre-hard crack stage. This syrup will then be poured to shape, set with a stick, finalizing in on 10 delightfully crisp lollipops.

Candy making is more like a sport. Deft hands and swift motions are musts, all to a tune of refined exactitude. Astuteness to reach the desired end product that best resembles molded glass creations will be your ideal goal. Pouring in right amounts of translucent gorgeous at breakneck speed into molds, maybe cookie cutters, even trying a hand at free form art requires NBA precision. Ready, set, go!

Say hello to your newly developed skill, and may the knowledge of the lollipop keep you fa-la-la'ing all season long.

Beautiful enough to be framed, instead theirs was a destiny of crunch destruction, all by some very happy mouths.

Ingredients:
(Recipe Adapted from here)
  • 1 c sugar
  • ½ c light corn syrup
  • ¼ c water
  • ½ tsp flavor extract of your choice (I used peppermint)
  • Candy thermometer, decorations, cookie cutters, lollipop sticks
Brilliant gift giver you will be to many a gleeful recipient with these enchantingly edible works of art.

Directions:
  • Prepare two or three cookie sheets by lining them with parchment. 
  • Combine sugar, corn syrup and water and boil over medium- high heat. Stir gently until sugar dissolves. 
  • Continue to boil without stirring until mixture comes to boil and reaches 295-300°F on  a candy thermometer.
  • Remove from heat. Let bubbles subside a bit, and pour in flavoring. 
  • Pour into either greased cookie cutters arranged on the parchment lined baking sheets or just free flow into circles of 4" diameter, (1/8 " deep)
  • Immediately top with sprinkles or other decorations.
  • If using cookie cutters, gently pull them out at this point.
  • Press sticks and slightly twirl into the bottom end of candy. Sticks can also be dipped in the melted sugar and glued on.
  • Let cool and take off parchment.
Notes: 
The candy mixture is very hot, having all intention for serious burns. So it's a barehands- no- no, trust me on this, I learned the hard way and numerous times.

You can also mix in color, once it is taken off the heat. for a pretty kaleidoscope effect add bits of color right after pouring in the center of your candy and swirl with a toothpick.

Like I said, a lot happens in quick succession so keep your equipment on hand and ready to go - baking sheets, thermometer, extract, sprinkles, sticks, etc.

Beauties need to wrapped immediately on cooling to avoid picking up moisture. 

Unlike caramel making, sesame chikky and jam, I learned that simply winging it through with eyeball exactness will not reach you the right end. Hard crack perfection happens only when the thermometer reads so. 

******

“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.” Isaiah 43:13(NLT)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Perfect Egg Salad


This month couldn't be busier. So many year end activities, and enough crafts pinned from boards that will launch me from here, through to the next Christmas, and possibly beyond. Yes, it is the most wonderful time of my year, where I think I have enough vigor to take me through various channels, but in actuality, my pep gets dramatically curtailed. With trying to do all that has to be done, those that I wish done stay right up there in a conjured up ethos, desiring much to reach their manifested end.

Keeping in mind that your kitchens and heads will probably be busier than mine, perhaps not to the same ineffectual degree, I convinced myself to take it easy and bring you the one recipe that may cut you some serious seasonal slack. Introducing my lunch for the past five few days.
This is where the slicer makes for good egg salad. Pieces are textured, instead of forked up ugly mush.

Though not a salad in the quintessential sense, the only vegetables used in perfect egg salad are the one green onion and single celery stalk. The salad's magnitude comes from none other than six hard boiled eggs, with inflections from those few other handfuls I mention down there. Opulently textured, this is protein packed bliss. Not the one that is sectioned off your plate as the side, no, this could most definitely pose as meal.

Perfectly cooked and peeled, chopping the baldies are a cinch.The chunked nubs then get ribboned in with less than ten taste enhancing elements. A no fail method, distinctively overplaying it's major ingredient. When conveyed through a lightly rich, flavor packed vehicle, it is pure delight to even the pickiest, egg distressed mouth.

Whether for the healthful assurances within, or just the plain pining for some, this is an awesome plating to many a humdrum egg, taking it to quick meal potential, painless appetizer, and, oh, yes, the promise of a heartily pleasing breakfast. 
So without further ado, shal'st we begin?

Ingredients:
  • 6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • 1 green onion chopped, small
  • ½ c chopped celery
  • ¼ c mayonnaise (light olive oil mayo or low fat)
  • 1 pinch horseradish
  • 1 tsp whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp cayenne (or paprika)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Directions:
  • Cut up eggs either with an egg slicer or with a knife, keeping it slightly chunky.
  • Add all the ingredients from the onions to the pepper in a large bowl and mash well with a large fork or wooden spoon.
  • Add eggs to the dressing mixture and combine well.
  • Serve on bread or layered in a salad.
Intentionally prettied, the salad works well atop crisp french bread slices. A guest pleaser for sure, be it party, potluck, not to forget self serve.

Notes:
Mix and match, Curry powder (Madras), red onions, capers and dill, raisins and even crunchy seeds deliver punch and crunch to fit the occasion as well as your craving. Versatility, yes and yes!

Oh, Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how beautiful your filling. And you, naughty Ginger we did catch- all bundled up savory, and with three bites- shoo:) Cookie cutters put to good use. 

Sidenote~
Egg salad does not keep well (especially with onions), so make enough for the need and fridge up for no more than a day.

Stay tuned people, we're going to soak some fruit next week. "What for?" you ask?  A holiday staple in my house, believe me, it is the BOMB.
******

Let every heart prepare Him room! Celebrate and dwell, for He is the reason, Christ- our joy our peace, our hope.


~Psalm 104:24