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.