Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu and a Blog Hiatus

Post 400 at last. I feel I’ve created a large enough body of work that there’s a little something here for most everyone. Like a hefty living cookbook that embodies my blood, sweat, tears and soul.

Slowly over the past few months I’ve been weaning myself out of the blogging system by pulling out of clubs and websites, leaving cooking groups and discontinuing participation in blog stuffs preparing for this day.

I admit I’m anxious and not just a little scared to fly away from this project. This has been my life for years. It’s habit now that absorbs huge amounts of my time and emotional energy. It’s also my comfort and my way to express myself through food, photographs and words. Which is why I can’t just let it go or leave completely.

So this isn’t goodbye, but I’m taking a long overdue break from food blogging for a while. Oh, I’ll likely still pop on now and then when a recipe or story gets me excited and I’ll still take on special assignments, but I’m ready to start and finish a few nonfood projects I haven’t had time to work on.

This break is not something I take on lightly. Emotionally I’m tied to this body of work, as it’s the first time every creative process was my own. If I got an assignment, it was because I picked it. My own thoughts, visions and subjective views are all here. I’m intensely private by nature, but tried hard to put as much me in here as possible. It wasn’t always exciting, but it was always me.

However, I have a novel that's partially finished I’ve been promising myself I would tackle head on. I’m looking forward to much more writing time. I’m also gearing up to start a new trade I trained for and that job starts Tuesday. There will be a learning curve but I’m pretty excited and I get to work for a woman I sincerely admire.

I admit another reason for this break is I miss cooking freely without having to test and write everything down. Just fly by the seat of my pants kind of cooking. Doesn’t that sound nice? Plus I’ve been wanting to cook and taste other food blogger recipes and I can’t do that while I’m posting myself. It’s going to be fun!

Will you guys ever forgive me? I'll still be here, but I’ve turned the comment moderation on, as I won’t be checking this everyday. If you want to get a hold of me, add me to Facebook or shoot me an email please. Facebook is great as I’m always connected.

I also want to say thank-you, for everything over the years. Yeah I know I’m not capable of really leaving, but still, thanks. This idea for a food blog started more than four years ago when a group of MySpace friends and I took pictures of our meals and posted the recipes for each other. I’m still super close to those ladies and our inclusive group has grown into something wonderfully huge. Plus we have big girl blogs now and switched out MySpace for Facebook, which has been fun.

And after all these food blogging years holy crow do I need to go on a diet! Trust me, you don’t want to be around for all that boring food.

So here is that last recipe for a while. I thought I’d end with something wonderfully indulgent and an old time classic because tomorrow it’s lettuce for me!

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Print Recipe
This decadent recipe was submitted by Behr to and I think it’s probably the best Chicken Cordon Bleu I’ve ever had. Behr writes that it’s "The standard Cordon Bleu swimming in a creamy wine sauce." Sure it is, if standard means I’ve died and gone to heaven.

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices ham
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick. Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.

2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the wine and bouillon. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

3. Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a warm platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, and pour over the chicken. Serve warm.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: 6

Recipe submitted by Behr to Picture by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hotel Hot Chocolate and the Princesses of Pandemonium

Once upon a time there were five little princesses. Well, perhaps there were really five precocious 4th grade art girls who decided to pretend to be high society princesses.

They spent time practicing their British accents and sticking their pinkie fingers out just precisely so from their colorful little cups of hot chocolate. The loudest and most dramatic of the girls thought they needed ages. She would be 26 years of age and the rest chose to be 2, 7, 9 and 16.

As practice for their future years as members of the public these five princesses took turns talking in extra polite voices while sipping delicately from their cups, but soon enough pandemonium would come.

When girls aged 2, 7, 9 and 16 decided they wished to be heard above girl aged 26’s growing chatter, their calm politeness turn to shrieks of high society mockery.

Or perhaps it was all those refills of hot chocolate or the generous marshmallow to hot chocolate ratio. For it didn’t take long for girls aged 26, 9, and 7 to follow girl aged 2 into diving face first into their popcorn. Giggles and growls were heard among bites, chews and gulps.

Except for one. Girl aged 16 must have been more resistant to the effects of sweet warm hot chocolate than girls aged 2, 7, 9 and 26. For she stuck her pinky out as far as it would go, held her head high and delicately ate her snack. This of course made the other girls laugh and screech louder. For they decided behaving like animals was more amusing than life as high society princesses.

Maybe it would be best to limit real high society princesses to water and gruel. For common princesses are fortunate. When they wiggle and worm in their seats they get to jump up and run out the door to play in the dirt, trees and hills of kind neighbors who share their yard with excitable children.

Common high society imaginary animal princesses are very lucky indeed.

The Maidstone Arms’ Hot Chocolate
Print Recipe
Years ago, my friend Julie and mother of Princess aged 16 clipped this recipe out of "The Oregonian" newspaper. Julie remembers reading that this hot chocolate is served at a nice hotel, and from the title it might be The Maidstone in East Hampton. If you have details please let us know.

8 ounces of high-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
6 to 8 cups milk (or half & half or, what the heck, whipping cream)

Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine water, corn syrup and sugar. Bring just to a boil and pour immediately over chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted and completely integrated, then whisk in butter. (At this point, the mixture can be refrigerated for up to a month.)

Place chocolate mixture and milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until very hot but not boiling. If desired, top with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. Serve immediately.

For individual serving, stir 2 heaping tablespoons of the chocolate base into 1 cup milk, or to taste.

Julie's Notes:
I usually use Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips and grind them up in the food processor so they melt easily.

I use more like 1 heaping tablespoon for an individual serving and even less for Adelia.

Laura's Notes:
For the kiddos, I like to use low-fat milk, 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, a 1.55 ounce Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. I grind the chocolate and cocoa powder in a food processor because I'm lazy.

Story and picture Copyright Laura Flowers 2011. The Maidstone Arms’ Hot Chocolate might be from the Maidstone Hotel.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Better For You Pumpkin Orange Quick Bread

I tried making this bread with whole-wheat flour but it came out gummy so I don’t recommend trying it. Here the sugar is reduced by a whopping 1 1/3 cups and oil by 3/4 cup from the original recipe.

You’ll find this bread is not as richly dense, but it’s so much better for you.
Print Recipe

1 cup honey
1 ripe banana, mashed well
1/2 cup juice sweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Zest from 2 oranges

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree or 15-ounce can 100% pure pumpkin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups all-purpose flour
Butter and flour for loaf pans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour two loaf pans. Tap off excess flour from pans.

2. In a large bowl, beat together honey, banana, applesauce, oil, orange zest, vanilla extract and eggs. Beat in pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Mix in baking powder, baking soda and flour until combined.

3. Divide the batter equally between the two pans. Smooth the surface slightly and tap pans on the counter to release air bubbles.

4. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Glass and thick ceramic pans may take up to 65 minutes.

5. Cool loaves for exactly 10 minutes in pans before removing. Finish cooling on cooling rack.

Makes 2 loaves. 24 servings.

Nutrition Facts 24 Servings Amount Per Serving Calories 146.6 Total Fat 3.4 g Saturated Fat 2.0 g Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g Monounsaturated Fat 0.4 g Cholesterol 30.8 mg Sodium 183.7 mg Potassium 106.0 mg Total Carbohydrate 27.2 g Dietary Fiber 1.3 g Sugars 12.9 g

Copyright Laura Flowers 2011.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Creamed Peas and Baby Potatoes

I first tasted this side dish at my Dad’s table. He harvested the potatoes and peas from the garden that morning for this simple farmers dish and it was so good I ate all the leftovers.

Now it's one of my most favorite side dishes, even if I don’t grow my own potatoes and peas.

Creamed Peas and Baby Potatoes
If you use fresh peas you’ll have to boil them for several minutes until tender. Print Recipe.

1 pound baby potatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
Salt & pepper, to taste

1. Gently boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 to 25 minutes.

2. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and peas to the sauce and bring to simmer. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Recipe adapted from source unknown. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Garlic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Yesterday morning I scored a ginormous pumpkin. Boxes of pumpkins sat in front of the local grocery with big fat FREE signs.

Of course I grabbed the biggest monstrosity available and lugged it home for seeds. These garlic roasted ones are so simple and tasty my family gobbles them up before they’re cool.

So why do I feel a sudden urge to go dumpster diving?

Garlic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Every year Clara begs me to make these same toasted pumpkin seeds. Print Recipe.

Fresh pumpkin seeds
Bowl of cold heavily salted water
Cooking spray
Popcorn or any fine salt
Garlic powder

1. Place pumpkin seeds in the salted water bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

3. Strain and rinse pumpkin seeds. Place wet seeds on baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Season well with salt and garlic powder. Toss to coat.

4. Bake until dry and toasted, stirring every 10 minutes at first and every 5 minutes near the end. Cool and store in an airtight container.

By Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shortcut Butternut Squash Soup

It’s over. It’s actually over. October come back I miss you! I don’t want to take down all my Halloween decorations yet.

Sigh… Well at least I have yummy soup.

Shortcut Butternut Squash Soup

Can’t find canned butternut squash? This soup works equally well with a can of 100% pumpkin puree. Print Version.

14-ounce can chicken or veggie broth
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
15-ounce can Butternut Squash (Found at Whole Foods type stores)
2 cups half & half

1. In a large pot add broth, onion, carrots, butter, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & pepper. Bring to a high simmer, cover and cook until the vegetables are soft. About 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Puree the soup in a blender. Pour it back in the pot. Add squash and half & half. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes while whisking occasionally. Season with a little salt if needed.

3. Spoon into bowls. Drizzle with a little half & half if desired.

Serves 6.

Recipe adapted from the “Farmer’s Market Organic Butternut Squash” label. Picture by Laura Flowers.

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