Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bacon, Jalapeno and Onion Jam

A few years ago I clipped a recipe from the Martha Stewart magazine for Bacon Jam.  I have kept that recipe this whole time and drooled over it from time to time as I flip through my binders.  I have a few white binders filled with recipes that I clipped from magazines, newspapers and ads.

That sounds like such an old thing to do these days.  I rarely buy magazines anymore and the "clipping" that I did has changed to "pinning" on Pinterest.

On occasion I miss the feel of a paper magazine in my hand, the glossy pages and vibrant images; what I don't miss are the stacks and stacks of used magazines floating around in my home.

I was never one to keep a magazine for a length of time. I would take what I wanted and then share it with my neighbors and friends.

We went on a mini vacation this past weekend and I checked a book out of the library.  As I sat there reading my book, I noticed that I was one of the only ones with a real book in my hand.  Those to my left and right were using notepads or their phones.  I kind of felt old for the first time.

This recipe had me so excited the whole time I was away. I made it on Friday so that when I returned on Monday to the kitchen, I could photograph it and get started on my week with Isabella.

While she was at lunch I worked fast-I had maybe 20 minutes-to eat, I mean, photograph the jam.  I do have to add that by letting the jam sit for a few days in the fridge, it set up nicely.  The thick jam sat perfectly on each cracker.  I could taste the jalapeno in every bite and feel the chewiness of the bacon too.  Delicious is what came to mind with each bite.

This combination was so good!  If you don't want it to be spicy, then don't add the jalapeno's.  I think they are what make the jam but I understand that not everyone enjoys spicy food.

To temper the kick from the jalapeno's, I served this with a bit of cream cheese on a cracker.  In my mind I see this jam as the perfect companion to a hamburger, stuffed into meatballs or served warm on its own with a variety of crackers or veggies.

I could also see this being made as a vegetarian jam.  The flavor is sweet and spicy like a chutney and the bacon could be omitted and substituted with zucchini or carrots. Something that is firm and would add body to the jam.  I would cook the carrots and zucchini until al dente before adding to the final simmer stage.  I will make it this way soon and let everyone now how it turned out.

I can't wait to make this again, and it will be soon, and to experiment using it in a variety of ways.

Recipe: Bacon, Jalapeno and Onion Jam

9 slices of thick bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices, cooked until brown (not crispy)
4 tablespoons of bacon grease, reserved from frying up bacon
1 large red onion, diced into 1/4 inch squares (yielded about 2.5 cups)
1 tablespoon mined garlic
dash of salt
1/4 cup diced jalapenos (this amount makes it spicy, use less if worried about the temperature)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (don't use imitation or artificial syrups)
3/4 cup brewed coffee

NOTE:  I did not cook my bacon until it was crispy. I wanted it to be brown and chewy.  This allows the liquids in the recipe a chance to flavor and marinate the bacon.

In a medium size saute pan, add 2 Tablespoons of bacon grease.  Wait until it is hot enough to saute and add the diced onion and garlic.  Cook until the onions are clear-8 minutes- on medium heat, stirring every once in a while.  If they start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a bit more grease.

In a medium sauce pan, add the vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of bacon grease, coffee, jalapeno's and bacon.

When the onions and garlic are done, add these to the medium sauce pan too.

Bring the jam to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low--the jam should simmer for 45 minutes.  I would check the jam every 15 minutes and stir once.

You will know it is done because almost all of the liquid is gone when the jam is stirred.

Store jam in the refrigerator for one week.

I served the jam on crackers with cream cheese.

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tomatillo Cilantro Salad Dressing

This recipe is such a wonderful color of green.

I love how the cilantro and tomatillo work together to create a green that reminds me of something I imagine from the rain forest-possibly the feathers of a bird or the belly of a lizard.   Lime green is too bright, jade is too dark--according to Crayola, the color is granny apple green.

I can see that….it is similar to my bowl of green apples.

The fusion of two green ingredients create a woodsy and earthy flavor that also carries with it a hint of garlic, onion and a variety of spice.   This combination sets it apart from the others.  I like this dressing because it can be used on a variety of other entree's, not just for salads.

I especially like it over this recipe HERE.

While living in Utah we fell in love with a restaurant that served a very similar salad dressing.  Cafe Rio was unlike any place we had eaten before. Moving to the Provo area provided us with many new experiences and this was one of our favorites.  The ingredients were fresh, the flavors spicy and our portions were huge.  We new we could always split a meal and save a few extra pennies for our next great adventure by frequenting Cafe Rio.

The original recipe did call for a packet of ranch dressing.  I try to not buy too many packaged food items and so I have adjusted mine so that you can use the spices you have in your cupboard and not worry about wether you have a "packet" at home.

Enjoy this refreshing dressing for your next party, outdoor gathering or simply for your own simple pleasure.

Recipe: Tomatillo Cilantro Salad Dressing
Makes about 2.5 cups

3-4 tomatillo's, cut into fourths
1 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1/3 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of cilantro ( I use more for a stronger flavor)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of lime juice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon on onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients into a blender.   Blend until tomatillo's and cilantro are chopped into small and tiny specks.  (see pictures)

Taste you dressing.  Add more salt if needed.  The dressing should be allowed to sit over night or a minimum of 4 hours so the flavors have a chance to fuse and combine.

Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, January 4, 2013

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

This new year has brought several changes into my life.  I value change because it usually means that I am evolving, life is moving and my future is progressing.  

I tend to make very few New Year resolutions because with change can also bring uncertainty and I want to be open to all of the opportunities that come my way whether they are for professional or for personal reasons.  I think to myself, if I make a list then I am disappointed at the end of the year because I failed or that this list will cause me to be focused in one area of my life and I will miss out on something else.  It is probably my mind over thinking the simplest of things: a list.  

Lose weight.

Exercise more.

Learn a language.

Try yoga.

Play my flute more.

These are just a few things that I have had on my list in previous years, then again, these are things that I am always trying to work on and squeeze into my life.  

It's funny how in the process of not writing a list of resolutions, and chatting her about not having said list-that in turn, I have started a small list of goals, resolutions or ideas to improve my life.  hmmmmm

Some of the things on this list will be a little bit harder to find the time for than last year because of the changes I referenced above.

The one change that will affect me the most, is our decision to homeschool Isabella.  We hummed and hawed about this over the summer and opted to have her start at the elementary school near our home.  I needed those few months to work and to figure a few things out with Simply Gourmet, but once my work load eased up I  missed her.

I missed teaching her and spending the hours each day watching her blossom into a reader, a writer and the unrelenting desire, that she possesses, to learn.  Most kindergarteners are eager to learn new things and she is no different.  My Mom asked me if my 24 hour a day homeschooling was going well.  I laughed because she knows Isabella well---she never is not learning, or doing, or asking questions, or still---her little mind and body are a constant train of motion.

I love to learn and I hope that she never loses that desire.  Our week has started off well; I feel good about this change.  She is also enjoying the process of having more time to spend on certain subjects, more art projects and more reading.  

It has required that I change the way I work at home a bit, but to me it is worth every late night or early morning.  It may sound strange, but I am actually accomplishing more in one day with her home than I did before.  I am organized and on top of my schedule-two things I struggled with before Christmas.  

I could organize Simply Gourmet, but not the house work; or the house was clean but I had not cooked in a week.  I was concerned that if I added one more item onto my to do list, it would sink me-I learned that it was what tipped the scale and allowed me to strive and be organized.  I think before, I had too much time on my hands and therefore found reasons to not do things because tomorrow was always around the next corner.

As you can see, time management will be something that I should add to my list and that is where recipes like this one come in to play.  I have heard of making macaroni in the slow cooker before but wasn't sure if it was something I would find appetizing.  Not to mention, I was not sure that gluten free noodles would hold up under the heat of being cooked for so long.  

I thought that the whole dish would turn to mush.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the cheesy macaroni and cheese turned out creamy, cheesy and full of whole elbow macaroni pasta pieces---not mush.

I do believe if you over cook the macaroni and cheese this could be the case, so be careful to not over cook the pasta.

I will be honest, if you are looking for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese--this is not the recipe for you.  The flavor is mild, the texture creamy and the ingredient list is not long.  

Using a variety of cheese can change the flavor of this dish so I do encourage you to change those every now and then so that you can find the best blend of cheese for your family.  We love combining these types of cheese into ours: cheddar, jack, swiss, fontina, cream cheese and cottage cheese. Not necessarily all at the same time, usually choosing three of the six listed.

I can't wait to see what doors will open this new year and how my family and I will respond to the changes that are sure to come.  I hope that we will embrace them with open arms, open hearts and with a diligence to persevere--I may be optimistic but I know that not all change can be what we seek or want at any given time.  Life can be challenging, that is a given.

Recipe:  Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

1.5 cups of whole milk
1 (12 oz) can of evaporated milk
1/4 cup of melted butter
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of small curd cottage cheese
3 cups of  grated cheese: cheddar, swiss, jack, etc (see note above)
1/2 pound of elbow macaroni (I used gluten free)

1/2 cup of parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the top

Boil a large pot of water and cook your noodles for 5 minutes.  Do not over cook or cook until tender.

Drain and add to the bottom of the slow cooker.

In a bowl, combine milks, butter, salt, eggs and cottage cheese.  Add cheese and mix.

Pour over the elbow noodles and stir.

Cook on high for 30 minutes.  At the end of the 30 minutes, stir a few times and lower heat setting to low.

Cook for 2 hours.

NOTE:  During the two hours I usually stir it one more time.  This is because my slow cooker has a tendency to over cook things around the edges.  After the two hours you may see a little bit of the milk liquid still on top.  Turn heat off, stir this in and let sit for 15 minutes.  The mac and cheese will get thicker.  If you choose to let it continue cooking, the noodles will get very soggy---still taste good just not texturally pleasing to some folks.

I like individual portion sizes and this is how I served mine.  See below.

I portioned the mac and cheese into white ramekins, added a bit of parmesan cheese and broiled until the cheese started to brown and melt OR you can add the parmesan cheese to the slow cooker during  the last 30 minutes and let it cook into the macaroni and cheese.

Written by Sherron Watson

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wasabi Cucumber Salad

Our favorite Sushi restaurant in Annapolis is not downtown, but up by the Annapolis Town Center.  Yama Sushi is amazing!  The restaurant is long and narrow with bright orange walls.  The staff are all young and greet you with a smile.

It used to be that we could go in and find a seat without little delay.  It seems each time we go that it is seeing a greater rush of business.  I am happy for them.

This wasabi salad is something I came home and made after visiting them one night last month.  I love the flavor of wasabi and vinegar together.  If you enjoy spicy and sweet then these cucumbers will fit the bill.

In my opinion, the longer they marinate the better they become.  The slices will loose some of the bite and crispiness that the first few days have to offer, but throwing a spoonful of them onto a salad or over an avocado---is wonderful--no matter how crispy or not, they are.

Recipe: Wasabi Cucumbers

1 English Cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoon of wasabi powder
2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
dash of salt
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds

In a container, add all of the above ingredients.  Cover and let marinate for a minimum of 4 hours.  I think they are best after 24 hours.  They will last a good month in your fridge.

This recipe has a lot to do with taste.  I have used the Japanese rice wine but find it not sweet enough and this is why I like to use the red wine vinegar---but please try your favorite wine vinegar.

Wasabi powder is strong---start with the recommended amount and if you want it stronger, please add more.

Sugar is the sweetener and again--is a starting point for the recipe--if you need the cucumbers sweeter, then add more sugar.

The key to this recipe is finding YOUR favorite balance of sweet, sour and spicy.

I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, December 28, 2012

Chicken/Tuna Melts

December is coming to an end and with that we must face a New Year.

2013 almost did not happen-according to the Mayan calendar or those that predicted the end of the world in previous years.  Personally, I never believed any of the dates or calendars.

I won't judge, though if you did.  We are each entitled to our own belief.

I will have to share a funny story with these events in mind.

On December 20, my family and I were enjoying our 12 Days of Christmas celebration (we each were given a white shirt and asked to decorate it).  Having just finished and restoring the caps to the markers, the lights began to flicker.

We live in a very wooded community and so this is not unusual.  We roll our eyes and jokingly say, "not again?".

This time, it was different.  The lights flickered off and on at least 10 times-fading in an out-not the usual on and then off again motion of previous outages.

Eventually they were out.  I mean OUT OUT-for 6 hours OUT!

We looked outside and the darkness was so black.  Usually when we lose power you can see a glow in the distant and we know that the big city is still bright and merry.  Not this time.

It was silent, dark and very cold.

We decided to light our candelabras and sit around the table.  I have had these candles since we were married.  They are silver and have been used for every Christmas and important holiday.  They are showing their age and yet I cannot depart from them.  As I watched the wax roll down the side of each candle, heard the laughter of my children and saw their smiles--I knew that I was being given a very special memory to archive for future story telling opportunities.

Little did I know that our night would get even better.

We thought it strange that we did not hear any fire trucks or sirens.  When the power has gone out before we hear these in the distant and this will sometimes give us a clue as to why we may have lost power- a fire, a car accident or something else.

What we did hear was a hum.  A low hum coming from outside.

Drake walked to the front door, opened to find a green glow over in the direction of the high school.

We all quickly ran to the windows and peered outside.

For the first time, I thought the Mayan's might have been right.  I know it's funny but when you see something that you have only seen in movies before your eyes, your mind does strange things.

Mine did.

I really said this, "Cory, are those aliens?"  Silly, huh? For a few seconds I thought the Mayans had predicted the end of the world and it was going to be at the hand of little green men.

It made me anxious, Isabella was in tears and the big kids thought they were in for the ride of their lives.  Dad was just cool and sat there working on his shirt, by candlelight and taking in the conversation at the table.

We mentioned more than our fair share of Zombie and Apocalypse type jokes through out the rest of the night.

To end the night we brought out our Tarot cards and had some fun.  This is something that we enjoy doing as a family.  I know that many don't understand the cards, don't believe in them or may even think they are evil.

To us, they have been a fun way to see our lives, think about the possibilities of our future, help understand the past and refine things in our present day.

It's not for everyone, but our family, on this night, drew comfort from being together and doing something that sparked great conversation and a memory that none of us will soon forget.

I awoke the next day thinking to myself, that I had just partook of the best day of my life for the year 2012.  My Christmas gift came a few days early and I can still feel the gratitude I will forever hold to; that for a few hours, the lights went out, technology turned off, the candles were lit and we enjoyed each other uninterrupted.

With the memories of 2012 still close to our hearts and our future before us,  my goal to simplifying my life is one that I will take with me into 2013.  This recipe is an easy one that I hope will lighten your load on a busy night.

I am sharing with you a biscuit idea that I first tried for my family a few years back.  I am pretty sure I found the recipe on the back of a Grands biscuit tube.  You can use tuna or chicken to make the salad.  My family prefers chicken.

If you need to use gluten free biscuits, HERE is an easy recipe that I make.  They will need to be precooked as the recipe below suggest.

Recipe:  Chicken/Tuna Melts

1 (13 oz) can of diced chicken, drained
1/4 cup of green onions, diced
1 celery rib, diced finely
salt/pepper to taste, usually just a dash of each
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon of red pepper, diced finely
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese + more for topping
1 can of Grand's biscuits or a batch of Gluten free biscuits

Preheat oven according to directions on biscuit can.

Bake the biscuits according to those directions.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

After the biscuits have cooled for a few minutes, cut in half.

Turn oven to broil.

Put a small scoop of chicken salad on top of each biscuit halve with a bit more cheese.

Place each halve on a cookie sheet and broil until cheese has melted.

Remove and serve.

Written by Sherron Watson

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gluten Free Cornbread

Some days I just want comfort food.  Something warm, and filling.  I want to feel and taste my blues away.

Why does food have the ability to offer comfort when sometimes a hug or a kind word does not?

I think of corn bread as comfort food because it reminds me of days spent with my family growing up in California.   It stirs a memory of my family being snowed in to our home in Utah during a winter storm.  I am instantly thinking of the chili recipe that my brother n law shared with me last year.  He was so proud that he created a dish that won first place.  I was able to recreate it for my family and make this cornbread to go with it.

This past week we have, as a nation and country, felt great sorrow and pain.  We see ourselves in the shoes of those parents that lost loved ones.  We remember a time that fear was felt in our spines.  I, for the first time, thought about my safety and that of my family, in greater detail.

I became more aware of my surroundings.  I noticed every person in line.  I watched with an uneasy eye as I entered the grocery store.

I cried.  I tried to reason in my mind why something of this nature could and would take place.  I was at a loss for words.  It hurt to my core.

All this emotion and I was someone on the outside looking in through the media, internet and personal stories being shared with friends.   I cannot even begin to understand the emotion and loss that the town in CT felt or those affected by the Clackamas Town Center shooting in Oregon.

Clackamas Town Center is a place that I worked when I graduated from high school, I sat numerous times on Santa's lap, I enjoyed ice skating with my family and friends on weekends, I visited See's Candy more than was necessary; this was my neck of the woods growing up, and yet, I have not lived there for many years and the shock of what happened still confuses me.

I never heard of Sandy Hook Elementary before Friday but I can guarantee to you that I will never forget the school or the poster of those that lost their lives.

This week has left me questioning everything.

With this questioning I know some things for certain.  I know that I love my family.  I know that there are many many good people in this world.  My hope is that I and my family will not live by the fear that is so easy to feel at times like this.  I want my kids to understand that bad things happen but from them we must learn and see the good.  I know that the loss and heartache will ease with time.  Never forgotten, not buried but put into a special place that can be visited with fond memories and joy deep within our souls.

Our world is changing.  I would hope for the better but I don't know.

Words are hurtful and mean or they can be comforting and caring.

I have seen the hurtful words a few times this past week and it makes me sad especially during such a sorrowful time.  We all have opinions and ideas of what should be the change to come and how it should manifest itself; we all have varying ideas that make discussing these items challenging.  We all come from different experiences and lives.

So it is because of the events of the last few weeks that I needed some comfort food.  I wanted to escape for a few minutes into a few memories that brought a smile to my heart.

Enjoy this easy cornbread recipe the next time you make chili or beef stew.  It would also make a great brunch item served with honey and butter.


Recipe:  Gluten Free Cornbread

1 cup of corn meal
1/3 cup of sorghum flour
1/3 cup of tapioca starch
1/3 cup white rice flour
1.5 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of milk
1/3 cup of oil, I used sunflower oil
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup of corn, drained

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  If using a cast iron pan, put into oven now with 2 tablespoons of butter.

While your pan and oven are preheating, combine the dry ingredients in one bowl.  Whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, fold in the corn.

Remove hot pan from oven and add cornbread batter.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly brown on top.  the middle should be firm to the touch.

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, December 17, 2012

Almond Orange Cookies, gluten free

Sometimes  I have failures in the kitchen.  At times, it is devastating, and then other times, it's not.  Like THIS one time (at band camp).  <----- I couldn't help myself.  This is the one movie quote that is used over and over in my house….. I digressed, sorry.  Back to the story now.

I had set out to make an Almond Florentine Cookie that was gluten free. It was my first attempt and I was excited.  

I had gathered all of the ingredients, prepped the cookie sheet and preheated the oven.

My first batch was scooped and spaced equally apart.  The timer was set.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the door of my oven expecting to see a flat cookie to find these perfectly and evenly spaced scoops of almond orange cookie dough.

I scratched my head, pulled them out and thought, "what a waste of ingredients".  That is usually the first thing that comes to my mind when something does not go right, the waste of food.  

My kids could smell the cookies down the hallway and soon my kitchen was filled with teenagers all asking for a cookie.  With my pride, as a cook, in the palm of my hand, I handed them each a failed cookie.

Only to them, they had no idea of what the cookie should look or taste like.  In their minds, I had made a cookie.  Plain and simple.

I quickly made the second batch, as to not waste the dough, and turned around to find the first batch gone. 

They loved them.  NICE!

In the process of trying to make a classic gluten free cookie, I had made a new favorite among my kids and their friends.

I decided to get fancy and decorate the second batch with a bit of chocolate, ground almonds and orange zest.

Not only did they taste delicious (I finally got to try one) they looked beautiful too.

I have yet to figure out a good gluten free florentine cookie but these little morsels of orange and almond will do until I get around to the other recipe.  ENJOY!

Recipe:  Almond Orange Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies

4 tablespoons of melted butter
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of almonds, chopped finely
2 teaspoons of orange zest
1/2 cup of almond meal
2 tablespoons of coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of potato starch

To top the cookies:

Chocolate chips to melt (optional)
Orange zest (optional)
Ground Almonds (optional)

On the stove, add butter and sugar.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Cool slightly.

Add remaining ingredients to separate bowl and stir.

Combine the flour mixture and butter mixture together.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, scoop cookies.  They will not spread so they can be close together.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove and transfer to a cookie rack.

Dip each cookie into melted chocolate, garnish with almonds and orange zest.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Lasagna Cups

I am always on the look out for easy recipes to make for my family.  This is one recipe that I have seen a lot recently and thought to give it a try.

I write for a local magazine and for January my task was to come up with conventional recipes that have been given a make-over.  I thought this fit the tab perfectly.  When I think of lasagna I automatically see a huge 9X13 inch pan loaded with cheese, meat, sauce and noodles.  These little cups, baked in a muffin pan, give this already popular dish a sleek new look.

I don't have an original source to link this recipe to.  If anyone has that information leave it in the comments and I will give full credit to that person.  UPDATE: I was contacted by Connie from Smitten Foodie that she had made these cute lasagna cups toward the beginning of the year (THANK YOU for letting me know).  Please visit her site and see how she created her cups.  The ingredients that she used are different then mine so you will have two recipes to use the wonton wrappers for.

The cups were easy to throw together, even the kids could get in on the action and the best part was they were easy to eat.  

I went the route of using my leftover meat in the fridge and using an organic premade sauce.  If you want to make a simple marinara from scratch, I have this recipe that is delicious.  GO HERE.

If you would like to make gluten free wonton wrappers, this is a great recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoe String.  GO HERE for recipe.

Better Batter Gluten Free mix has a recipe too, go HERE.

Here is a video I found on the internet to show you how to make the a different gluten free wonton wrapper.  See below:

My kids don't have to eat gluten free, even though they do most of the time, so this is something I made when they had friends come over last weekend.

Sometimes it is  just nice to have options, and I like this option.

Recipe:  Lasagna Cups
Adapted from Smitten Foodie

Makes 12 cups

1/2 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1 cup marinara sauce or your favorite tomato based sauce
1 cup of mozzarella cheese, grated +1 cup for topping (see below)
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
24 wonton wrappers (link for gluten free wonton wrappers is above)

Topping: 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray your muffin tin with Pam.

Line the muffin tin with 12 wrappers.

In a small bowl combine the three cheeses and mix.  You can combine the meat and sauce too if you would like, I did not and they turned out great.

I used a small cookie scoop and added a scoop of the cheese mixture to the bottom of each wrapper.

Add a small spoonful of meat and then sauce.  Added the second wonton wrapper.

Repeat with cheese scoop, meat and then sauce. You should have two layers in each cup.

I topped each of my cups with more shredded mozzarella cheese.

Baked for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and wontons are brown.

Remove from oven and let set for a few minutes, run a plastic knife around the cup and remove to a serving plate.

See pictures below:

Written by Sherron Watson

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Boozy Fruit Cake #TwelveLoaves

Fresh out of the oven...

…and soaked in Cherry Brandy for two weeks.

Why the two photos?

They show you the difference between a fruit cake without age and brandy and with age and brandy. Two things I think are important to your experience with eating fruit cake.

I relate fruit cake to sushi. You either like it or you don't.  I know lots of people (especially my family) that swear they don't like sushi.  WRONG.  They don't like bad sushi.  There is a difference.

I think the same can be said of fruit cake.  Most people will turn their noses up because they have tried it before and found it to be undesirable, too sweet, too this or too that.

Buying a fruit cake from a mail order company or the grocery store is like buying sushi from, well, the grocery store in the prepackaged containers.  It's a different experience than eating it fresh or homemade.

My Mom now loves sushi and now she loves fruit cake.  I believe when trying something as unique as these two items are that you really need to give yourself several chances to say if it is liked or not.  Of course, this is just my opinion, but I do feel that there are  right and wrong ways of preparing lots of food dishes and sometimes we experience the bad before we get the experience of trying something at its best.

I asked a few friends why they don't like fruit cake and their was one fashionable answer and that was the fruit that was used.  Many preferred dried fruit to the candied fruit.  I personally don't have a preference and since this cake does not have any sugar added to it I used candied fruit.  The sweetness from the cake comes from those sweet pieces of candied yumminess.

It worked perfectly!

My husband was one of those that said, YUCK, when I went to make the fruit cake and to his amazement when he tried the cake after a few weeks he smiled.  He loved it!  WHY?  I have to assume it is because he was finally introduced to a fruit cake that tasted like it should: moist, flavorful, sweet and boozy.

I participate in a wonderful group of food bloggers that encourage and share homemade recipes each month, Twelve Loaves.  Our theme this month was "boozy" breads.  I had actually made this fruitcake, which is considered a quick bread, a few weeks before learning of the theme.  To learn more about the group and to participate see below:

We would love to have you join our #TwelveLoaves group; it’s easy!

  1. Make sure that your Bread this month is inspired by this month’s theme of Bread and Booze. Knowing some participants might not imbibe, it is acceptable to submit an entry that uses a juice in your bread recipe in lieu of booze. Including either booze or juice in December is obligatory if you would like your link to be included!
  2. Have your #TwelveLoaves bread that you baked during December, 2012 posted on your blog by December 31, 2012.
  3. When you post your #TwelveLoaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the#TwelveLoaves challenge in your post and include links to the leaders:  Creative Culinary, Lora atCake Duchess who has a beautiful Christmas yeast bread and Jamie with LifesaFeast who has also done a quick bread with orange and cranberry. I want them ALL!
  4. Make sure you include a link to the bread that you bake this month using the link tool at the bottom of this post.
  5. Feel free to promote the Twelve Loaves group by proudly displaying the Twelve Loaves badge in your Twelve Loaves post as well as in your sidebar!
Not mandatory but you can follow @TwelveLoaves and/or #TwelveLoaves or chat with your hostesses onTwitter: Barb @CreativCulinary, Lora @cakeduchess and Jamie @LifesaFeast.

C’mon – Join us and Get Your Bread On!!

I hope that you will feel inspired to participate as we head into the new year.  Baking bread is fun and the term "bread" can be applied to lots of styles as you will learn if you follow our group.

I know that I will not be able to persuade everyone to love fruit cake but I do hope that you give it more than one chance in your lifetime because it does comes in different qualities and flavors.

This recipe is for a gluten free version and honestly I like it better than the non gluten versions that I have tried.  It uses almond meal and fits great with the "nut and fruit" theme of all fruit cakes.

If you choose to not make this "boozy" you can use your favorite flavored extract.

 Recipe:  Boozy Fruit Cake

1 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 cups chopped pecans
1.5 cups of chopped almonds
2.5 cups of candied fruit,  I used: papaya, pineapple, raisins, cranberries
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, drained and cut in half
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon of brandy


1/4-1/2 cup of cherry brandy

NOTE:  When chopping the nuts keep in mind that the smaller you chop them, the easier the slices are to cut. I kept my almonds a bit large and noticed that each time I sliced it, I struggled to get clean pieces.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine all of the fruit and nuts into one large bowl. Mix.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well.

Use a bread loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper pushed into the pan.  This will help you to remove the fruitcake easier.  Spray the ends of the pan if your parchment paper does not cover them.

Pour mixture into loaf pan.  Using the back of a spoon gently push mixture down and the top is smooth.

Bake for 65 minutes.  The fruit cake should be firm to the touch and puffed up slightly in the middle.

Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove to wire rack to cool.

Once fruit cake is cool, prepare it to be wrapped in plastic wrap.  Before you fold the wrap around the fruit cake, slowly pour the cherry brandy over the top of the cake.  Let it seep into the cake.

Wrap the cake several times so that it will not leak and store in your refrigerator.  I like to let my cakes sit for at least two weeks, the longer the better.  

They say fruit cakes prepared this way can last a long time…ours never stay around long enough to find out.  LOL

Since we talked about Sushi, this is my cat, Sushi.  She loves to help me when I take pictures.  On this day she just watched my every move.  She is a Maine Coon and I love her wacky personality.

Authored by Sherron Watson

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes, gluten free

Bacon and corn, enough said!

I am pretty sure you already know my love and passion for this combination.  If you need a gentle reminder, check out this recipe I make with corn and bacon.

The two flavors just work and make my belly super happy.

I saw this recipe from Recipe Girl for her bacon and corn griddle cakes and fell in love.  

As is usually the case with most recipes, I have to convert them to a gluten free version and so for the original please visit her site.  To get to the original recipe go HERE.  The pictures that she has shared with this recipe are enough to make you lick your screen, or maybe that was just me…LOL

Do you remember as a kid having a glass jar under the sink that was layered with all different colors and layers of grease?

No? Yes?

I sure did.  It was bacon grease. My grandmother and Mom both saved the grease after every batch of bacon they made.  They would use it for everything.  I don't remember when my Mom stopped doing this but one day the jar was gone.

I have read recently where this is coming back into fashion.  I don't know how I feel about storing bacon grease for weeks and using it often BUT I do know that for this recipe having the bacon grease readily available to cook these cakes in, makes them that much better.

I don't mind using bacon grease in moderation.  

Oh the things we remember from our childhood.  I love the memories I have with my kitchen and the food I ate way back then and the memories I am making for my kids today.  

It makes me smile. 

I cannot wait to make these again nor can my family. ENJOY

Recipe:  Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes, gluten free
Adapted from Recipe Girl

4 slices of bacon, cooked crispy and cut into small squares
1 cup of corn kernels, drained
2 tablespoons of green onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of  brown rice flour
1/4 cup of corn meal
1/4 cup of tapioca starch
1/4 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup of milk

Bacon grease or oil to fry cakes 

In a medium fry pan with heat set to medium high, heat oil or bacon grease until hot.  

In a large bowl, combine all of the above ingredients and stir to combine.

I used a cookie scoop and placed 6 scoops in my pan.  Fry on both sides until golden brown.  (3-5 minutes).

Remove to a wire rack and let cool slightly.  Serve with your favorite sauce or eat as is.

See pictures below for steps to frying griddle cakes.

Written by Sherron Watson


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