Thursday, January 31, 2013

How to Make Wonton Cones

Wonton Cones are just a cute party addition to any table.  They look fun, they are easy to use and they can be made up in advance.  I like that.  I made these three days before I used them and stored them in an air tight bag.  They were still fresh and crispy as the day I made them.

The cones can be filled with any type of filling:  mousse, salads, cheese, etc....

I have filled mine with an Oriental Salad Mixture (recipe will be shared on Sunday for Sunday Supper and Super Bowl Sunday).

These Wonton Cones are easy to make.  The tricky part is making sure the oil is not too hot and that you have the right tool to work with.

What is the right tool?  Well, I have seen a carrot used, a medal cylinder and a piping nozzle used for decorating cakes.  Hmmmmm.  Well, I decided to use the end of my wooden spoon.  It was an easy decision--I already had tons of wooden spoons, they would not get too hot in th oil and burn me and it made the cones exactly the same each time.  Perfect!

I have put together a step-by-step pictorial so that you can see how they are made.  The list of ingredients needed to make these cones is easy: oil, small amount of water and wonton wrappers.

Make sure the oil is 3 inches deep and the temperature is around 350 degrees (use a thermometer to insure the temperature is correct). If the oil gets too hot, the cones will get very dark.

Please be very careful.  You will be working with hot, hot oil.  The spoon is used as a tool to help you mold and retrieve the cones from the oil, you may be tempted to use your fingers here and there--use caution. 

The cooking time for each wonton is quick.  Maybe 30-45 seconds depending on how hot your oil is and how dark you want them to be.  Once you make a few of them, you will find the timing and rythmn of making the cones and it will move along quickly.  If you have a helper, some one who can make them while you cook them, that would be even better.  I did not have that option.

Place napkins near by so that you can let them cool before transfering them to an airtight container or bag.

The pictures below all contain wrappers that are not gluten free.  I have not made the cones using a gluten free recipe.  If you would like to try a gluten free version, this seems to be the best recipe out there from, Gluten Free on a Shoestring.  You will find the recipe here.

Place each wonton wrapper on your work surface.  The wonton's are more pliable if they are at room temperature.  Let them set out on the counter an hour before you make the cones.

Dip your finger in the water and start in the left corner.
While your finger is wet with water, drag it up one side and return to the corner.
Drag your wet finger down the other side.  Two sides are now wet with water.

Fold the corner so that the tip makes a trianle ontop of the wonton wrapper.

Take the one side of the wonton wrapper and fold it over the meet the other side (you want the two wet sides to overlap and seal the cone).
This is what you should have when the steps above have been followed.

Using the end of a wooden spoon, place it inside the wonton wrapper.  Make sure your oil is hot.  

Add the wonton to the oil, pushing it under the oil and rotating the spoon in a circle in your hand.  You are twirling the handle so that the oil is able to get to all of the sides of the cone.

The cone will start to bubble and you can see that it is turning a light brown.

At some point the cone may fall off of the spoon.  This is okay.  Push it under the oil to cook the inside.  Take the spoon handle and slip it inside the cone shape and pull it out of the hot oil.  You can also use a wire mesh frying spatula to retrieve the cone.

Tip the cone slightly so that the excess oil can drain out.

Let the cone cool for a few minutes and then you can handle them.  They can be filled right away or saved for a later date.

You can see some of the cones are darker than the others.  As long as they don't taste burnt, they are still good.  I found that the cones will continue to darken and cook once they are removed from the hot oil so keep this in mind.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Purple Potato Soup #Superbowlfood #Ravens

Football has been in my blood from the time I was a kid; sitting on my grandfather's knee watching the game every Monday.  My grandmother in the kitchen and the family planted in front of the TV. It was tradition.

When I married Cory he was not a sports fan and through the years I drifted away from watching the sport.  I played a lot of tennis and so we were drawn to the Grand Slams of the tennis world.  I would read the sports page and try to stay up to date with coaches and players but I soon ran out of time once my kids came to read the paper, much less the sports page.

We have lived in some pretty awesome cities with great teams:  Seattle and the Seahawks, Denver and the Bronco's and the Dallas Cowboys in Texas…ever hear of these teams?  Sure you have.

It was not until me moved to Maryland that my husband, after 25 years of marriage, decided to watch football.  Last year our first game together was the Patriots vs. Ravens.  We were bummed they lost but since it was our first game we did not have too much invested in to their loss.

This year though was a totally different story.  We became bigger fans--face paint, purple hair and even purple food managed to get into our line up.

It was like a crazy woman was unleashed inside of me when we started watching this year;  I LOVE the game of football.  I know it's rough and not for everyone, but to me, it is exciting.  Getting to know the players and each of their weaknesses and strengths bonds a person to the team.  I missed it.  It did not take me long to jump right back into stats, coaches and team members.  The difference is that the coaches and players I watched as a child are now the sports announcers calling the play by play action for the viewers and those listening on the radio.  Names that I grew up with-- Jimmy Johnson, Mike Ditka and Dan Marino--just to name a few, are older and wiser, like myself.  I am a legend in my own mind, like the players and coaches then and now. 

It's electrifying to see how a quarter back can lob a ball and place it perfectly into the hands of the receiver, like Torrey Smith.  My favorite is watching Jones receive the ball from a kick off and run it down, yard after yard, passing the other team as they try and stop him.  I can't forget Ray Lewis and those short runs.  Flacco passes him the ball and he goes for the first down. Each time he finds himself at the bottom of the pile.  On more than one occasion I have had to even yell at the TV, thinking I was helping him run the yards down the field….run Lewis run!

I made this soup for a local magazine that is coming out in February, our wedding edition.  The soup is beautiful and looks lovely on the table; of course, this was before we beat the Patriots last weekend.

SUPER BOWL XLVII here we come!

I really wanted the 49er's to win.  I wanted these two brothers, Jim and John Harbaugh,  to make history and have their teams play against each other for what may be a great family moment for their parents, spouses and kids.  Can you imagine being the parents?  To have them win on the same day, to make the cut, must have been an exhausting and thrilling Sunday afternoon for them.

When making this soup, you need to remember that the color is found through out the potato but the skin will make the soup a deeper  purple it is also where the nutrition is found.  I chose to keep the purple skins on and you can see in the pictures the pieces of dark purple.  I asked my family if it bothered them and they said no.  If this is an issue for you, then go ahead and peal them just knowing that your soup may be lighter in color.  I would also suggest using a Vitamix or Blendtec (I don't own either of these machines);  they will puree the potato and skins.  I used a regular blender.

As the big day approaches I am planning out our party for February 3, 2013.  It will consist of grape jello for the 5 year old, grape soda for the teenagers, purple potato soup for the adults and a whole table full of finger foods.  We love dips and finger foods on game day.

I will list a few of our favorites that can be found on the blog:

Purple Potato Chips

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Pizza Dip

Steak Spring Rolls

Broccoli Bites

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Mushroom Caps

Avocado Fries


Puff Pastry Buffalo Appetizer

Caprese Salad on a Stick

Reuben Dip

Maryland Blue Crab Dip

The purple potato, it turns out, is quite good for you.  I did some searching and learned that the benefits of eating them can add value to your diet by adding valuable antioxidants.  I found this article helpful in learning about them a bit more, I hope you do too.   GO HERE.

I served the soup in a set of espresso cups that I bought at an antique store. They were the perfect size for a sip or two and the little handle allowed them to be consumed without a spoon.  I also served a cold asparagus spear in each cup along with a piped sour cream heart.  You may want to consider something other than the heart on game day, maybe #1 or and "R" for Ravens.

The final note about this soup is that it can be made thick or thin.  I used the water that the potatoes were boiled in to blend the soup, added the few extra ingredients and to thin the soup,  I added cream.  The more cream you add the thinner and lighter purple the soup becomes.  We preferred ours to be creamy and thick.

Recipe: Purple Potato Soup

1 small bag of purple potatoes, washed and quartered

2 cups of water

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup of red onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic

1/2-1 cup of heavy cream

Salt and pepper

Garnish: sour cream, asparagus top, chives, parmesan cheese, bacon, etc....

In a medium pot, add water and chicken broth.

Add purple potatoes and red onion. Bring to a boil and cook until tender.

Puree potatoes/onions with garlic and water/chicken broth until smooth. If using a blender, be very careful about adding hot liquid and sealing the lid. I suggest, tilting the lid, cover the top with a kitchen towel and slowly start blender.

While blending, add enough cream to achieve the consistency you desire.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. I always find it needs more salt than you would think.

Store soup, until ready to use, in an air tight container.  To reheat, simmer on the stove until warmed through.

Asparagus spears were easy to make. I added them to a microwave safe bowl with an inch of water and laid the spears on the bottom.  Cooked on high for 4 minutes.  Ran them under cold water, cut them to the size I needed, sprinkled them with salt and stored them in the fridge until I needed them.  Do not over cook them or they won't stand tall in the serving bowl.

The sour cream was placed in a bag with the corner snipped and piped onto the hot soup right before I served them.

Written by Sherron Watson

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ambrosia Salad #SundaySupper #RetroRecipe

Ambrosia Salad was a childhood favorite.  I just never realized it.

The salad I grew up with was referred to as fruit salad with whipped cream.  Maybe amongst the adults the real title was shared but for those younger than 10 pretty much used the title already stated.

It varied from year to year.  I honestly don't recall having coconut or marshmallows too often in our fruit salad.  I am sure this was because of a personal choice made by my grandmother.  In general, we did not each much coconut.  I can only assume it was not a family favorite.

I was delighted to learn that for our Sunday Supper group we were going to explore the recipes that focused on Then and Now.

I very much remember the Then of my life and relish in the Now every day.

My own little family does not love this salad as I did whilst a youngster.  It may be the nuts or the whipped cream, who knows.  On rare occasions I do make this in a much smaller size and devour it over the course of a few days.

Can you blame me?  Nuts, mandarin oranges, pineapples, bananas, coconut, marshmallows and bananas...ooh la la.  How could I have forgotten the maraschino cherries (the best part in my opinion).

I took the liberty of using the ever coveted color scheme of the 70's--orange and avocado-- to shoot my pictures this week.  I simulated a Lazy Susan by using my pizza stone.  I have not, in my lifetime, ever owned a Lazy Susan ( I always felt bad for Susan).

We all have different idea's of what--Retro or Then and Now-- are in our own lives.  From my point of view if was the 70's and to others it could be as far back as the 40's, 50's or 60's.  Only you can decide which decade you want to revisit in terms of Then and Now and Sunday Suppers.

Below you will find the list of our group along with their selections.  I cannot wait to see which point in time they selected their dishes from, and to learn if they updated the recipe or kept it as is.

Recipe:  Ambrosia Salad

1 can of mandarin oranges, drained and diced
1 can of pineapple chunks, drained and diced
1 jar of maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of mini-marshmallows
1/2-1 cup of heavy whipped cream
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

In a large bowl combine first 7 ingredients.

In a small bowl combine the last 3 and beat until cream is thick.

Combine the two bowls.  Store salad covered and in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

NOTE:  The size of can's I used for the mandarin oranges and pineapple were between 10-10.75 ounces.  The cherries, I purchase the smallest bottle I could find.

All of the listed amounts can be adjusted or omitted on what your family likes or does not like.  I actually enjoyed the marshmallow and coconut after years of not having it made this way.

NOTE:  If you would like to use whipped coconut milk in place of the whipped cream here is a link to how to do that:   GO HERE.

Join us Around the Family Table this Sunday at 7pm Eastern Time and share your favorite Retro Food Memory with us!

Sunday Supper Retro Appetizers:
Sunday Supper Retro Salads:
Sunday Supper Retro Breads and Sandwiches:
SundaySupper Main Dishes:
Sunday Supper Retro Sides and Veggies:
Sunday Supper Retro Desserts and Cocktails:

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun. Follow the#SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here → Sunday Supper Movement.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Homemade Sloppy Joe #Dinner/Faster #Blogher

Some weeks are busier than others in my family. With kids in school, my husband and I working, dance lessons, swimming, and life in general, we are busy. Because we both work from home, and we home school our youngest daughter, there is a misconception among family and friends that we have lots of time.

Needless to say, there is never enough time to get it all done. I hear this from many of my friends, so I know it is a common thought for most families. Quick and fast meals are necessary when you are plowing ahead at full steam.

When I think of quick and fast dinners I am reminded of my childhood. My idea of what is quick and fast is very different from the way I grew up. For my mom, it meant a can or a box, and involved the microwave. For me, it means homemade and less processed.

This is the tricky part when you want something fast. How do you achieve speed without sacrificing good, wholesome food?

A few years ago, while living in Utah, I belonged to a dinner group. Our group of four ladies met once a month, and on that day we cooked and cooked and cooked. During our long day of prepping, preparing, and packaging, we laughed and got ourselves caught up on each other's lives. It was time to bond and forge friendships in an environment that we loved, the kitchen.

Our group's goal was to make 20 freezer meals in one day for each family, for a total of 80 meals. I know it sounds impossible, but we were organized and prepared to start early, knowing that our day would be long, but at the end we would have 20 fast and easy dinners for our families to enjoy for the month.

On a side note, what I loved about these meals in my freezer, is that if a friend was in need, I had something ready that I could drop off for them to enjoy. Usually it was the birth of a baby, or a family with the flu, but every once in a while they were for a family enduring the loss of a loved one.

The recipes included: spaghetti sauce, enchiladas, chimichangas, potato casseroles, chili and sloppy joes, just to name a few.

I enjoy the Sloppy Joe recipe because it was a family favorite, made from scratch, and incorporates lots of veggies. My kids love the homemade version better than the one served in a can. It is not as sweet and I think they prefer that too. I know I do.

I won't lie, this recipe makes a ton! For this reason, it is a great meal to make for a large crowd, or to store in the freezer in smaller portions for the weekend, busy school nights, or lunch at the office. And don't forget, Sloppy Joes are messy!

This recipe can be made in about 30 minutes, but to absorb the liquid and allow the flavors to come together, it should be allowed to simmer for about an hour, but remember you will have 3-5 easy dinners, lunches, or snacks for the next few months.

Freezing meals is a quick way to achieve a fast dinner in our busy lives. Many recipes can be frozen with great success. You also don't have to make 20 meals at one time. Start off small and prepare a few each week. Plan your menu, buy a few extra ingredients while shopping, purchase the containers, and have a permanent marker available to label. When labeling your freezer meals, you should write the name, date prepared( with year) and approximate portions of each item. This makes it easier down the road as you are sorting through containers in the freezer to know what you have and to keep them rotated properly.

Recipe: Homemade Sloppy Joe's
Makes 20 individual servings

2 lbs ground hamburger, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of diced carrots, small pieces
1 cup of diced celery
1 jar of roasted red peppers (7 oz), diced
1 can of crushed tomato's (14.5 oz)
1 can of tomato sauce (14.5 oz)
1 cup of ketchup
2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey (add more if you want a sweeter flavor)
1 cup of cooked white rice
1 cup of chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add oil. Once oil is hot, add the cut celery, onion, and carrots. Cook until tender.

Add the remaining ingredients.

The temperature should be set to medium-high to allow the mix to reach a boil. Once the bubbles appear, turn the temperature down to medium-low and allow mix to simmer until much of the liquid is gone-roughly 45 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immediately or package for later use. If stored in the freezer, recommended shelf life is 3 months.

This post is part of BlogHer's Dinner, Faster editorial series, made possible by Land o' Lakes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chorizo and Black Bean Nacho's

I cannot resist a good cheesy nacho.  In my quest to find things to eat at restaurants I tend to lean towards nacho's because the chips are made of corn, the cheese and meat are gluten free and it's a meal that my kids will usually help me eat.  I have a hard time eating a full meal the older I get. To be honest I am not quite sure why that is.  I noticed with my Mom that she also found her appetite decreasing the older she became.

Last year was the year I discovered Chorizo and we have been eating it ever since in a variety of prepared ways.  I had the clever idea of incorporating it into a nacho blend when I was struggling to find a quick meal for dinner.

I had purchased the chorizo to use in another dish but quickly reached for it when my time was hastily escaping me due to an appointment I needed to keep.  I find chorizo sausages fry up quickly.  I added a can of black beans and a few diced red onions.  The meat mixture was done in a matter of minutes.

This meat mixture also freezes well.  I recommend adding a bit more meat and beans and have the storage containers on hand for you to quickly bundle it up for a later date.  I know that my kids enjoy nacho's after school and this makes an easy snack for them to reach for when they return home.

Nacho's can be customized by adding additional ingredients to the mixture.  Jalapeno's would be a great addition to simply bring some heat to the dish.  There are a number of combinations to use for the toppings.  We enjoy lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, olives and Mexican Cheese that can be crumbled on top.  A huge dollup of sour cream usually doesn't go unnoticed either. 

With the fixings or not, this will remain a family favorite not only for the ease of the dish but also because the spicy bean combination that the black beans and chorizo offer the dish.

I would love to hear what your favorite types of toppings are when you prepare your nachos.  Do you have a secret ingredient that sets your nacho's apart from the rest?

This was my plate (see picture below) last week and it disappeared right before my eyes into my hungry belly.


Recipe:  Chorizo and Black Bean Nacho's

4 Chorizo Sausages, uncased and fried up
1/2 cup of red onion, diced
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Combine the three ingredients together in a fry pan and fry until hot.

The sausage adds a lot of flavor simply because it is Chorizo.  If you would like to add your own combination of spices, go right ahead.  I would suggest garlic and cumin as a place to start.

Serve meat over a bed of corn chips with melted cheese .  Finish the dish with your favorite toppings.

Written by Sherron Watson


Donut Breakfast Casserole

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