Sunday, July 24, 2011

how hot is it? and sweet jalapeno cream cheese dip

It is so hot here in St. Louis, I wanted to write a little bit about more hot things...peppers!

Peppers can conjure up wonderful culinary rememberances of sweet and smoky cuisine, or it can terrorize your palate with flashbacks of runny noses, tears and an empty water glass and a waiter-in-hiding. How is it that so many things with the same name, can have such a range of flavors?

All peppers are members of the capsicum family. The amount of capsaicin in a pepper correlates with the amount of perceived hotness. A man named Wilbur Scoville developped a quantitative scale for ranking the capsaicinoid content in each pepper type. Here is the Wikipedia article regarding the Scoville scale.

Here are some common peppers, and their relative Scoville scores.

Bell peppers: 0
Pepperocinis: 100-500
Anaheim or Poblano: 500-2,500
Jalapeno and Tabasco sauce: 2,500-8,000
Serrano: 10,000-23,000
Cayenne: 30,000-50,000
Pequin: 50,000-100,000
Habanero or Scotch Bonnet: 100,000-350,000
Law Enforcement Grade Pepper Spray: 5,000,000-5,300,000 ;)

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip - Make at least 1 week ahead.

And now for a recipe that you're sure to love. You'll need just a few things:

Jar of jalapeno slices
Brick of cream cheese
Corn chips (think Fritos, or some other kind of cracker)

Don't knock yourself out shopping for those things. You may have some of them at home already!

  • Drain the jalapenos. (If you took them out to drain, put them back in the jar.)
  • Fill the jalapeno jar with sugar. Replace the lid tightly.
  • Let the sugar liquidize. (I know there must be a technically correct term for this, but I am unaware!)
  • Fill again with sugar in a couple of hours.
  • Keep repeating this filling process until there is no more room at the top of the jar.
  • Put this in the back of your fridge for at least a week. Yes, I said a WEEK - 7 days, unless you are a British Invasion-type...then it's 8 days.
  • Place a brick of cream cheese on a plate, and pour the contents of the jalapeno/sugar jar over it.
  • Enjoy with your corn chips or crackers.
  • Mmmmmm.....

Friday, July 22, 2011

peach bombs

If you like peaches, you will not be sorry for trying this recipe. It's the time of summer when the local growers have peaches ready for us to use. So here you go...

Get 4 yummy peaches and wash them. Pat them dry.

Quarter a pre-made pie crust, and wrap each peach in one piece of the pie crust. Make sure you cover all the peach, and press the seams together.

Place the peaches into a baking pan (with sides...just in case).

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a scrumptious little sauce to go with the peaches.

In a small mixing bowl, beat one egg until smooth.

In a small saucepan, melt one stick of butter.

Add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar to the melted butter.

Then add 1 TBSP Almond extract and the beaten egg.

Cook until smooth, stirring constantly. Set aside.

Serve peach bomb with sauce and (optional) vanilla ice cream.

What a delicious summer treat!

I will make these soon and take pictures to add to this post!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

strawberry semifreddo

Last week on the Today Show, I saw Donatella make a wonderfully inviting summer dessert in less than a minute. You know how everything is at warp speed when people cook on TV? Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could all have someone to wash, stem and quarter all of our strawberries?!?

Well, I do not have a sous chef (unless you count children who want to eat strawberries as you are chopping them), but this recipe took only slightly longer than the minute on TV. Maybe 15. Pretty quick.  Here's the recipe from the "Donatella Cooks" segment of the Today Show.

  • 4 cups of strawberries, hulled, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Tuaca or Grand Marnier (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Fresh mint, cut in thin strips, for garnish (optional)
Line an 8" or 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan, if using, with plastic wrap and set aside.
Combine the strawberries, sugar, and Tuaca (a golden liqueur made in Tuscany. It infuses the semifreddo with the subtle flavors of orange and vanilla) in the bowl of a food processor and puree. Reserve 1 cup. Pour the remaining puree into a large bowl. Whip the cream in another bowl using an electric mixer until soft peaks form when you lift the beaters out of the bowl. Fold the cream into the puree using a rubber spatula, working from the bottom of the bowl, until there are no signs of cream. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
Invert the semidreddo onto a serving plate. Remove the plastic wrap and, when slightly softened, smooth the top with a knife.
Cut into ¾ - 1" thick slices and garnish with the strawberries, mint, and some of the reserved puree drizzled on top.

The end result is a lot like a light strawberry ice cream. Only better! Let me know if you try it, and what you think.

and the winner is...(part 2)

The winner of the fabulous Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator is....



Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It's too darn hot! My car thermometer read 102* this afternoon. To think that not too many generations ago, air conditioning was unheard of...I can't even imagine.

Because I am just not a fan of uber hot weather, and will NOT be turning my oven or stove on for the foreseeable future, I thought something fun and lighthearted was in order.

I am giving away a new Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator. To enter,leave a comment about your favorite part of summer.
Here's mine...

My favorite part of summer would have to be swimming or fireworks.

Easy, right?

Click to leave your comments before Thursday (7/14) at 11:59PM, and you are entered to win!

Good luck!

Monday, July 11, 2011

in my daughter's eyes

My 4 1/2 year old was recently 'interviewed' at her pre-school as part of a Mother's Day project. The teacher, Miss Patty, recorded the children talking about their moms, and wrote a little report for each. Here is what my daughter said:
My Mommy is Special
She has dark brown hair and green eyes.
Her favorite foods are bananas and spiced stuff.
I don't know her favorite color. I think it's dark pink.
When I am at school, my mommy makes parties because she likes parties and I do too.
My mommy is prettiest when she is at the party. She probably will wear a dress. She's pretty when she wears dresses.
And here is the portrait my daughter created of me.
Yup...that's me all right. Yellow mullet, green googly eyes (sporting make up, no less), 5 very pointy fingers,
lipstick, a black dress and a pair of .... hmmm...hips?
Sotheby's might not have any interest in selling this artwork, but that's OK. They can't have it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

garden tablescape


Today we threw a little party for a little girl, and to celebrate God's goodness. We had a family luncheon and I decorated with a garden theme. Here are a few pictures from this afternoon.
please feed the birds!

We love you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

pink lemonade dressing...follow up

So, I made the pink lemonade dressing a few weeks ago. It was yummy! Very tart, but yummy. I will be making it again soon, and I'll have a photo to share...I promise.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

my kitchen friend

It would never take many tinkering sounds from the kitchen before I would be joined by my faithful companion, my first baby, my furry girl, Pocahontas.
She always had a knack for knowing when I would be dealing with food or clean up, which meant treats for her. She would position herself in such a way that I would have to step over her about 6 times every minute. This equated to about 6 treats a minute. I teased and called her my 'speedbump'. I think this was so I wouldn't forget to give her tastes of my projects. She would even stick her head in the dishwasher to make sure there were no tastes of yumminess left on the dishes before the wash cycle started.
Pokey was kind of spoiled. OK...she was very spoiled. We treated her like a person. We took her on our family vacations, took her in the car when we went for ice cream in the summer, and bought peanut butter and carob cakes from the doggie bakery for her birthdays.
She just celebrated her 10th birthday and last week, she went to doggie heaven. We will miss her dearly. Working in the kitchen without my helper is just not the same.