This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes,
learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun! -Juila Child

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fondant Made Easy!

This is an extremely fun project and very simple! A good recipe to make a day ahead since the fondant has to refrigerate a while before using. Also gives you time to bake up any cakes or cupcakes! Have some regular frosting on hand to lightly frost your goodies before placing the fondant on them, the frosting aids as a glue to keep the fondant in place.

Marshmallow Fondant

1 (16 ounce) package miniature marshmallows
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners' sugar, divided
Food coloring if desired

Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on High for 30 seconds to 1 minute, melting the marshmallows but not scorching them. Carefully put the melted marshmallows into a greased stand mixing bowl. Stir the water and vanilla extract into the hot marshmallows until smooth. Beat in the sugar slowly, one cup at a time, until you have a stiff, sticky dough. Reserve 1 cup of powdered sugar for kneading.
Coat your hands with powdered sugar and begin kneading the sticky dough. As you knead, the dough will become pliable. Dust a working surface with confectioners' sugar and continue kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch.

Form a ball with the fondant, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. To use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature, and roll it out onto a flat surface dusted with confectioners' sugar. If you plan to use food coloring, incorporate it now by dropping color onto the fondant and using additional kneading.You may also need to add additional confectioners' sugar as the food coloring makes the fondant slightly sticky, especially if you are using liquid food coloring. Fondant should be smooth and shiny looking and able to roll out easily with rolling pin.
Kids enjoy helping roll out the fondant too, they can also assist in cutting out shapes with cookie cutters.
After rolling the fondant to desired thickness, lay over your previously frosted cake or cupcakes or actually any other goodies and smooth out any bumps or air bubbles with a spoon or knife.
Wrap any left over fondant in plastic and place in an airtight container. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Healthy, feel good food!

The recipes below came along when I had a good friend stay with us not too long ago. She decided to get healthy and take care of herself in a new way while she was here and inspired me to do the same. She brought with her many fresh, healthy items from the produce section that we used to make our meals. We created many healthy dishes and to our surprise we greatly enjoyed them. They were filling, satisfying and we felt instantly good about what we were eating, knowing exactly what was in each dish we made. Because we used fresh ingredients with no added, fat, salt, preservatives, we were able to actually taste the freshness and texture of the ingredients. You will be amazed at how tasty these recipes are without all the additives.

Kale is a vegetable we had with most every meal. A very hearty green from the cabbage family, kale is one of the most healthy green vegetables around, full of vitamin A and K, fiber, calcium and more. I recommend buying kale in bulk as it is fun to steam it, boil it and keep on hand to add to salads, have as a snack or add to soups like the Crock Pot Kale Soup below. Also unlike some other vegetables, Kale keeps most all of it's nutrients even after it's cooked! This is a nice fact since kale is very difficult to chew and digest in it's raw form.

Steamed Kale
Rinse and slice about 8-10 ounces of kale, place into steamer on medium heat, cover and steam for 15-20 minutes until tender. Serve any way you like.

Crock Pot Kale Soup Serves 6-8

1 cup sliced carrots
2 cups chopped raw or steamed kale
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
4 cups water
1 tbs original Mrs. Dash
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp Sesame seeds and flax seeds for extra vitamins and garnish
Also add 1 cup of lentils or 1/2 cup chopped beets to this recipe for a more hearty soup.

Place carrots, kale if raw, water, Mrs. Dash and bay leaf (and if desired the lentils and/or beets) into crock pot on low heat. Cook for 1 hour, then add the steamed kale, celery and onion and let cook an hour or until all ingredients are fork tender. Sprinke with sesame seeds, flax seed and serve. This soup is great for leftovers and keeps in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, freeze the soup in air tight containers too.

Baked Tilapia Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Tilapia Fillets 6-8 ounces each, 1 per person
1 tsp each of Mrs. Dash, original and garlic
Chopped Red Onion
Sliced Mushrooms
sliced lemon

Rinse each tilapia fillet and place in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash, chopped onion and sliced mushrooms. Place about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water in the baking dish so the fish doesn't stick to the pan when baking.
Place into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve with a slice of lemon.

Steamed Plantains

2 medium to large plantains
2 tsp honey

Slice the plantains in half, leaving the skin on. Place into a steamer on medium heat, cover and steam for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from heat and let cool slightly then remove the peel, slice them and serve. Drizzle with honey if desired.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Famous Tomato Soup

Growing up on Montana, a special treat was to go with Grandma and Grandpa to the 4B's Restaurant in Missoula. I remember so well, the piping hot tomato soup we had to order every time. It is a delicious, creamy, smooth soup with amazing flavor! Since then 4B's has gone through changes in ownership, some restaurants closed for good while others reopened again, but the menu remains the same. Click here to read an excellent article in the Missoulian Newspaper about the 4B's legacy. Now if only they would venture out to Portland!
My mom was browsing through her recipes and found the original 4B's recipe card of their famous soup that I believe we obtained from my grandfather who is always asking the restaurant cooks for their recipes!

4B's Old Fashioned Tomato Soup Serves: 8 Yields: 1/2 gallon

32 ounces tomatoes , canned and diced
9 ounces chicken broth
1 ounce butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 TBS onion , chopped
1/4 tsp pinch baking soda
2 cups cream

Mix tomatoes, chicken broth, butter, sugar, onions and soda.
Simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
Heat cream in a double boiler.
Add cream to hot tomato mixture and serve!

Photos: and

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Superbowl XLVI

One of my family's favorite recipes for Superbowl Sunday!

Dill Shrimp Salad
6 ounces of small shrimp either fresh or frozen
2 Tbs chopped fresh dill plus 2 tsp for garnish
4 Tbs Mayonnaise or Greek Yogurt or Plain Yogurt
1/8 tsp salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
8-12 Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, or Roma Tomatoes

Defrost shrimp by placing in a colander and run cold water over it, drain well and then pat with paper towel to dry slightly. Place shrimp in a mixing bowl, add mayo or yogurt, salt, pepper, dill, celery and mix together well. Cover and place the shrimp salad into the refrigerator while preparing the tomatoes.
Cut tomatoes in half, using a small spoon, scoop out the middle making a bowl, place on a plate or platter,  if tomatoes are rolling around on the plate, you can do a tiny, thin slice on the bottom of them so they stay put. Discard any of the inside of the tomato. Fill each tomato with the shrimp salad and sprinkle with the 2tsp of fresh chopped dill. Keep chilled by placing the plate on top of a bowl or larger platter, filled with ice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We finally have snow here! After about an hour of playing in the snow with my 3 year old, I remembered that I have always wanted to make snow ice cream. So we ran inside grabbed some huge mixing bowls, wooden spoons dashed back outside and began scooping snow into the bowls (only the very tippy top layer of snow). And no yellow or discolored snow!
I really don't know how to make snow ice cream, besides what I saw on Paula Dean's show a long time ago. So I thought we could just wing it, how hard is it to gather up some snow and put some goodies in it? So very easy.
After we collected the snow into our bowls, we actually just left them there outside to accumulate more snow while we made a snow man and snow angels. When I began to get extremely chilled I said we are going in! Despite the whining and pleading to stay outside, we came in.
You really have to hurry with this recipe,  I decided to leave the bowls of snow outside in the cold while I came inside to gather all the ingredients together, otherwise the snow would melt as I did this. Plus it gave us a chance to get out of our many layers of clothing. You will also want to have your ice cream bowls, spoons, freezer containers w/ lids all ready to go as well as all ingredients so you can go back out grab the bowls of snow, mix, enjoy and freeze it immediately.
Laura & Lily's Snow Ice Cream
5 cups snow
1/2 cup half and half or cream
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate syrup- optional

Add sugar, vanilla and chocolate syrup if desired to the snow in the mixing bowls and stir until it is all incorporated and the snow has becomes the consistency of ice cream. That's it! You will now want to hurry and scoop it into bowls to eat and/or place into freezer containers to have for later! Also add any other ingredients you like such as peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate chips, strawberry jam or whatever else!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pork Loin Fillets with Apple Stuffing and Cider Sauce

I felt the urge to post this recipe; but then hesitated because I felt I had to keep it as my own,  a kind of secret, a recipe I receive endless compliments on whenever I make it; and a recipe that I have made my own and perfected so well.
Then I remembered the words of my very first chef instructor in culinary arts school, he said; "There should be no secrets in cooking, no secret ingredient, no secret sauce, no secret recipes; we should be open in sharing what we learn, what we cook, what we bake, in order for others to reap the benefits of it also."
How wise! And really, that is what being a cook is all about!
Actually the Pork Loin chops are really no secret, the original recipe is from a wonderful cookbook from Williams Sonoma called American Cooking. But as with most all recipes I change them completely around, create my own twist to them and add or remove ingredients, sometimes this is just because I'm just being creative or because I don't have the ingredients on hand and am forced to improvise with what I do have in the kitchen. In this case it was both!
When I first made this everyone was just fell in love with it; a tender stuffed pork loin fillet, dripping in a flavorful creamy sauce. I just cooked these up last evening for dinner and they were once again a big, big hit. I hope they are with your family too! Serve with brown rice, mashed potatoes and with any veggie you like.

Pork Loin Fillets with Apple Stuffing and Cider Sauce
Serves 4
Preheat Convection to 400°F or Standard Oven to 375°F
For the Apple Stuffing:
1 Tbs Butter and 1 tsp vegetable oil1/4 Cup chopped onion3/4 Cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs1/2 Cup fresh chopped apple1/2 Tsp Salt free seasoning
4 Tbs Low sodium chicken broth for stuffing
For the Pork Loin:
4 Thick cut, boneless pork loin fillets
2 Tbs vegetable oil1/4 cup Low Sodium chicken broth for before going into the oven
1/3 Cup apple cider, even apple juice or sparkling apple cider will do
1/4 Cup white wine, I use any brand of Australian Chardonnay, usually $3 or $4 a bottle1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
3/4 Cup Low sodium chicken broth for sauce
1/4 Cup Half & Half
To make stuffing:
In a medium to large oven proof skillet or frying pan, melt butter and vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped apples, salt free seasoning and bread crumbs and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth and stir until all is incorporated and sticks together a bit. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
Meanwhile, prepare the pork loin fillets for stuffing:
Beginning at the meaty end, cut a deep wide pocket into each fillet. I like to use a small paring knife and use small, smooth, strokes when cutting so not to cut through the fillet or make a hole in them. Divide the stuffing into 4 equal parts and place into each fillet, packing it down slightly so it stays inside. You may secure each stuffed fillet closed with a toothpick if you like. In the same skillet as you cooked the stuffing, add vegetable oil and butter over medium heat, add the stuffed pork fillets and cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes each side. Add the 1/4 cup of chicken broth to prevent sticking and place the entire skillet into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until meat is 160°F in the center. Transfer the cooked pork fillets to a platter or dinner plate and cover with foil while making the sauce. Save the skillet with all the juices and place over low heat. Add the apple cider, half & half, chicken broth and white wine, stir. Dissolve the cornstarch in a small bowl with 2 tsp cold water and stir then add to the skillet and stir with a whisk. Turn up heat to medium and continue to stir until the sauce thickens to your liking, about 1 to 2 minutes; make and add more cornstarch mixture to the sauce if you want a thicker sauce. Remove skillet from heat when sauce is as thick as you like, then serve pork fillets with sauce.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Windy Day Hot Cocoa

During the chilly winter months it's so comforting to sit and sip cup of strong, soothing extra hot cocoa! I like to make an easy Mexican Hot Cocoa on the stove top using the Abuelita or Ibarra brand Mexican Chocolate, it comes in a cute round box with 6 disk shaped chocolates, individually wrapped. This wonderful tasting chocolate is infused with cinnamon which gives it an extra kick on a cold day. You can easily find either brand in the ethnic foods or baking section of most supermarkets.

Windy Day Hot Cocoa
Serves 4
1 disk of Mexican Chocolate
1/4 cup Chocolate Syrup
1/4 cup Half & Half
1 1/2 cup milk
Mini marshmallows or whipped cream
Ground cinnamon
-In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook on low to medium low heat. Stir with a whisk constantly until all the chocolate is melted and all ingredients are incorporated smoothly and it's steaming slightly. Turn off heat and using a ladle pour the hot cocoa into drinking mugs, top with whipped cream or mini marshmallows and sprinkle a tiny amount of ground cinnamon on top. 
-To make an easy Mexican Mocha; fill drinking mug half way with hot coffee and the other half with the hot cocoa mixture. 
-For those of us watching our figures: make a low fat version of this hot cocoa by omitting the half and half and chocolate syrup; use low fat milk and a smaller amount of whipped cream.

It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about-enjoying things. Julia Child

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Freebies for Foodies

Try the new Splenda Sweetener-Splenda Essentials
Try GasX for free-GasX thin strips
Food Storage Sample-Daily bread storage solutions
Recipe Booklet-Jiffy Mix Recipes
Vitamins! Heroes Nutritionals
Kids Eat Free at Ikea Dec. 26 to Jan. 1
Go red for women Red Dress Pin
Meow Mix Toppers Kitty Food
Doggie food sample from Nutrish, Rachel Ray
Sample of Benefiber
January 1st CVS/Albertsons will have Skinny Cow Candy Chocolate 6-count on sale for Buy One Get One FREE, plus there is a Buy one get one FREE Skinny Cow Chocolate Candy Printable Coupon.
Like Backyard Farms on Facebook, get some coupons and enter to win a lifetime supply of Backyard Farm Tomatoes!