05 May


Port Wine Chicken

Port Wine Chicken

May 25: National Wine Day

We previously posted recipes for Marsala Chicken and Champagne Chicken. Something similar is Port Wine Chicken. These recipes involve common cooking techniques, such as browning the chicken in butter or oil, sautéing onions and mushrooms, adding seasonings and/or herbs and pouring in some sweet wine to make a sauce or gravy.

Whereas Marsala wine is from Italy and Champagne is from France, Port is from Portugal. The fortified, sweet red wine enhances the flavor of the food in which it is cooked yet does not make the meat taste too alcoholic or acidic at all.

Instead of Marsala or Champagne, try putting Port in a braised chicken with mushrooms dish in observance of National Wine Day. Saúde!

Recipe

(Adapted from Chef Ponzio)

  • 4 large chicken thighs (with bone, with or without skin)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 container (8 ounces) button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 ½ cups port wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Salt and pepper the chicken thighs. In a large pan, brown them in the olive oil. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Drain off any oil.

Port Wine Chicken

Chop the onions and parsley and quarter the mushrooms. In the same pan, sauté the onions with the parsley.

Port Wine Chicken

Add the mushrooms and cook until brown. Put the chicken back in the skillet. Pour in the port wine. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Watch that the wine is not reduced too much and that there is still a little liquid left for some sauce. Remove the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Melt the butter into the sauce and stir until smooth. Ladle the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken. Garnish with parsley leaves. Serve with rice or pasta.

Port Wine Chicken

Notes

  • If you like a lot of mushrooms in this dish like we do, double the amount and add half a cup more of Port.
  • Check out more chicken recipes by searching our blog.

Pretzel Lightsabers

Pretzel Lightsabers

May 4: National “Star Wars” Day

Celebrate “Star Wars” Day with some geeky goodies, such as Pretzel Lightsabers. They are quick and easy to make and are popular playthings at parties with a “Star Wars” theme. Simply dip pretzel sticks/rods into colored candy melts, let set and wrap in our lightsaber labels (PDF provided in this post!). May the Force be with you on May the 4th!!!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Candy melts (red, blue and green)
  • Pretzel sticks/rods

Directions

In a tall container, such as Wilton’s dipping box, microwave candy melts according to the package directions. Or microwave candy melts and pour into tall glasses for easier dipping. Dip the pretzel sticks/rods ¾ deep into the candy melts, coating well.

Pretzel Lightsabers

Set onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate to set. Remove from the baking sheet. Print out our lightsaber labels HERE (set color printer options and resize as necessary). Cut and wrap around the non-coated end of the pretzel sticks/rods. Use transparent tape to secure the edges. Set the pretzel lightsabers on a decorative tray and serve.

Pretzel Lightsabers

Notes

  • Add a little vegetable shortening to the candy melts to give it a thinner dipping consistency.
  • Sprinkle  matching colored sugar on the coated pretzels after dipping to give them a little “Star Wars” sparkle (optional).
  • Search our blog for other “Star Wars” themed foods, such as Yoda Soda, Princess Leia’s Danish ‘Do’s, Wookieee Cookies, etc.

Bacon Cheddar Scallion Scones

Bacon Cheddar Scones

May 30: National Scone Day

Our typical tea time tray includes sweet treats. But we decided to try something savory and substantial, such as bacon cheddar scallion scones, instead. Similar to bread-biscuits, they add balance to the sweet scones we normally have with our tea. For a fuller and formal tea time, add finger sandwiches, desserts and scones—sweet and savory—and make this meal a big deal! Or for a simple snack, bake bacon cheddar scallion scones on National Scone Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ¼ cup scallions, finely chopped (green part only)
  • 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or milk

Directions

Grate the cheese, cook and crumble the bacon and chop the scallions. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder.

Bacon Cheddar Scones

Add the sugar to the flour mixture. Cut in the butter pieces and mix until they resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in the grated cheese, bacon and scallions. Gradually add the cream or milk (more or less may be needed, depending on your kitchen temperature and humidity). The scone dough should be able to stick together. If it is too dry, add a little more milk. If it is too wet, add a little more flour.

Bacon Cheddar Scones

Form the dough into a ball. Transfer to a clean surface dusted with flour. Pat the dough ball into a disc. Gently flatten to ¾ inch thick. Place the disc on a lightly greased baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut into eight wedges. Spread them apart from each other so they do not stick together when they rise slightly while baking. Brush the tops with a little cream or milk. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F at 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Cool on the pan. Separate the wedges. Arrange on a tea tray. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bacon Cheddar Scones

Notes

  • National Scone Day is observed in Australia on May 30 but we join the mates Down Under by posting this recipe in the blogosphere and World Wide Web!
  • Bacon may be fried to a crisp, then chopped finely. We used fully-cooked bacon from the package and chopped it up. Real bacon bits (found in the salad section of the grocery store) may also be used.
  • Scallions/green onions may be substituted for snipped fresh chives.
  • Wedge-shaped scones are traditional but the dough may be cut in rounds as well.
  • Search our blog for other scone and tea time recipes.

Cactus Meringue Cookies

Cactus Meringue Cookies

May 5: Cinco de Mayo

When Islander and her brother were in Arizona for a work conference a few years ago, they took a break from some of the sessions and went sightseeing in Phoenix, Sedona and the Grand Canyon. They enjoyed the drive through the desert and imagined that the saguaro cacti were waving to them! The tour guide even stopped along the way and picked a prickly pear for us as a succulent snack.

Some cactus plants are edible and are characteristic of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. Below are a few nopales photographed outside of Islander’s brother’s house and some being sold at a grocery store in Texas.  

Nopales

However, it is the distinctive saguaro shape that inspired us to create cute cactus cookies for a fiesta. We also make cactus meringue cookies for Cinco de Mayo celebrations! Olé.

Recipe

(Based on our Meringue Skeleton Bones post)

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar (granulated white)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (we used Mexican vainilla)
  • green food coloring
  • green sugar sprinkles
  • pink fondant flowers (see a similar tutorial here or here)
  • pink tube frosting
  • yellow tube frosting

Directions

With a handmixer or in a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and pinch of salt until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until shiny.

Cactus Meringue Cookies

Stir in the vanilla. Mix in the food coloring. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip with the meringue. Trace the cactus pattern on top of a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Start tracing with the cactus’ left arm, then the right arm and finish off with a downward middle stroke.

Cactus Meringue Cookies

Remove the pattern from underneath the parchment paper. Sprinkle with green sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees F for an hour. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues to dry for another hour. Remove from the oven and carefully peel off the meringues from the parchment paper.

Cactus Meringue Cookies

Make the fondant flowers and let dry. Attach to the meringues with a dab of pink frosting. Finish by piping a small round center with yellow frosting. Seal in an airtight container in a single file. When ready to serve, arrange in single file on a platter. Avoid stacking them or the meringues might stick to each other. Yield: Approximately 2 ½-3 dozen cactus meringue cookies.

Cactus Meringue Cookies

Notes

  • Download our cactus pattern here.
  • Saguaro cactus flowers, when in bloom at night, are white and yellow. But we colored our fondant flowers in the shade of prickly pear pink.
  • Humidity affects this recipe. Leave the cactus meringue cookies in a warm oven for a dry, crisp dessert. Otherwise, our friends have told us that the soft meringues still taste delicious as they melt in your mouth like a marshmallow.
  • Muchas gracias to Phyllis S. for helping to make the fondant flowers for our cactus meringue cookies. For a review of making fondant flower cutouts, please see our posts here or here.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

May 31: National Macaroon Day

Islander is nuts about coconuts! After all, she grew up on an island surrounded by coconut trees. To feed the family with the fruit, her Daddy would use a long pole with a knife attached to the end of it and extract the young coconuts from the tree. He would chop off the top of a coconut, stick a straw in it or pour the liquid in a glass and the family would drink fresh coconut water. After that, he would crack the coconut open and we would spoon out the flesh to eat the soft meat. Daddy would also grate the older and firmer coconut meat so Mommy could transform them into a variety of tropical treats.

Coconut Macaroons

Islander misses coconuts from Hawaii and must make do on the mainland when she finds coconut products at the grocery store. Sometimes, she makes coconut macaroons because these chewy cookies remind her of a similar dessert her Mommy used to make back home. Try these tropical treats when craving coconut flavors, especially on National Macaroon Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups finely shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • ¾ cup sugar (we used C&H brand, granulated white)
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt (we used Hawaiian sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the coconut, sugar, egg whites, salt and coconut extract. Blend well until all the ingredients stick together.

Coconut Macaroons

Cover the bowl and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a small scoop to drop the coconut cookie dough about an inch apart from each other. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake in a preheated oven at 10-12 minutes or until they begin to brown a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove from the parchment paper. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Serve in mini-muffin/cupcake papers (optional).

 Coconut Macaroons

Notes

  • Macarons and macaroons? We have made both before for our blog. Although they are both cookies, macarons most often are referred to the Parisian-style almond meringue treats (see our Mac Attack page) while macaroons are known as the coconut cookies. Read about the different spelling and more about “macarons vs. macaroons” at The Kitchn site.
  • Coconut water and coconut juice? Unlike macarons and macaroons, coconut water and juice are one and the same. However, some companies that are selling them tend to add some unnatural preservatives in the drink. Learn more at the same Kitchn site.
  • Search our blog for more recipes containing coconuts.

Vanilla Pudding

Vanilla Pudding

May 22: National Vanilla Pudding Day

Our moms used to put pudding snack packs in our lunchboxes for a sweet school time treat. Sometimes, like us, they would also prepare pudding from a mix for a quick after-dinner dessert. But now we prefer pudding from scratch as it tastes so much better! And it is just as quick and easy to make as the Jell-O boxed brand. Below is a recipe for a basic vanilla pudding that is thickened with cornstarch instead of eggs. Try this tasty homemade version for a very good vanilla pudding on National Vanilla Pudding Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from The New York Times)

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups half-and-half, divided use
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract/flavoring

Directions

In a saucepan, combine 2 cups of half-and-half with the sugar and salt. Simmer over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, being careful not to burn the bottom of the pan. In a measuring cup or bowl, stir in the cornstarch with the remaining ½ cup of half-and-half and mix well to remove any lumps. Pour this into the main liquid mixture. Stir well until thickened. Remove from heat.

Vanilla Pudding

Add the butter, if using, and stir until melted. Mix in the vanilla. Pour the pudding into dessert cups or ramekins. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with whipped cream and/or berries, if desired.

Vanilla Pudding

Notes

  • Place plastic film/wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent the formation of a “skin” on top (optional).
  • Turn vanilla into chocolate pudding by adding 2 ounces (2 squares of Baker’s brand) of finely chopped bitterweet or unsweetened chocolate to the recipe after adding the butter. The chocolate may also be melted before stirring it into the vanilla mixture.
  • Or try the Mexican version of chocolate pudding. See our blog recipe post for pudín de chocolate for National Chocolate Pudding Day on June 26.

Montrose Tea Cakes

Montrose Tea Cakes

May 21: Death date of the Great Montrose

Besides scones and shortbreads, there are other Scottish sweets we like to eat, such as the delicately delicious floral-scented tea cakes pictured above. Montrose tea cakes, although disputed to be affiliated with Highlander’s ancestral clan chief or the historic city in Scotland, may have been named partly because of an essential ingredient in this recipe—rose water. Whatever the inspiration, these tiny treats are terrific for tea time as well as for honoring the memory of James Graham, the Great Marquis of Montrose.

Recipe

(Adapted from CeltNet)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 2 teaspoons brandy
  • ½ – 2 teaspoons rose water (to taste)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup flour (not self-rising)
  • pinch of nutmeg

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Add the currants, brandy and rose water. In another bowl, sift the baking powder, salt, flour and nutmeg.

Montrose Tea Cakes

Mix into the batter until smooth. Fill a greased baby bundt pan or mini muffin/cupcake tin no more than ¾ full with batter. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Montrose Tea Cakes

Notes

  • When we honeymooned in Scotland in 1997, we visited St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh where James Graham, the Great Marquis of Montrose, is buried in a regal memorial.
  • The tea cakes above are photographed on a modern Montrose tartan.
  • Rose water may be found in the specialty baking aisle of grocery stores or at Indian and Middle Eastern food markets. Its essence tends to yield a strong taste, so reduce the flavoring to half or one teaspoonful, if desired.
  • If using self-rising flour, omit the baking powder and salt in this recipe.
  • Search our blog for other Scottish recipes.

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 139 other followers