Saturday, December 18, 2010

Candied Orange Peel

So, I'm usually WAY too busy to attempt the Martha Stewart-ish kind of holiday razzle-dazzle this time of year. However, there was no way I was going to allow another Christmas to pass without tucking a new skill or recipe under my belt. And THIS was my year...
Well, I humbly stuck my toe into the kiddie pool of: CANDIED FRUITS - those glistening, succulent, sugar coated fruit gems we pay $$ for at the local designer Farmer's Market.
My husband requested a fruit cake, (not one of my favorites) so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to experiment with at least one personal contribution - Candied Orange Peel.
I've never attempted this before, so I went to a trusted source, Epicurious. Boy, I'm glad I did. :)
Yes, I tweaked it...you know me ~


Simple Candied Orange Peel makes approx. 4-5 ounces
3 large oranges, 1/4 inch of the top and bottom cut off
*(original recipe called for only 2 oranges, but 3 worked perfectly!)*
4 cups white sugar, divided
2 cups water
1 cup of Grand Marnier Liqueur
*(original recipe calls for only 3 cups of water)*

Slice 1/4 inch off the the tops and bottoms of each orange.



Score peel on each orange into 4 vertical segments. Remove each segment (INCLUDING the white pith) in 1 complete piece.



Cut segments into 1/4-inch wide strips.



Cook in large pot of boiling water for 15 minutes; drain, rinse and drain again.



In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar, water and Grand Marnier to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar.



Add peel, and return to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain.
Toss peel in 1 cup of sugar on a rimmed baking sheet, separating strips.



Lift peel from sugar and transfer to a sheet of foil. Let stand until coating is dry, 1-2 days. *TWEAK ALERT* (to speed things up, I used a fruit dehydrator for 1 1/2 hours. It worked perfectly!)



You'll notice that nowhere in this recipe does it mention the need to remove the "pith" of the orange. At first I was skeptical, understandably, but trust me - it isn't absolutely necessary. Yes, on the first day the peels will have a slightly bitter bite - but on day two it's virtually gone.

So after the fruit cake is made...I will take the left over candied peels and dip them half way into dark chocolate. THEN...remember the leftover Grand Marnier/Orange simple syrup I simmered the peels in for 45 minutes? It's coming with me to a Holiday Party tomorrow night, as it will help to make the perfect margarita! (wink!)

Have a beautiful Christmas and Holiday Season...I look forward to sharing with you in 2011!!

Oh, and thanks for the QUICKIE (wink!), I'll see ya next week!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Hamburg, Germany ~ October 2010

Now, I could go on and on about this trip....because it meant so much to me personally.
To have my feet touch the actual ground of a place I've heard so many stories about (grandparents, late-mom...) - well, people, it was an overwhelming experience.
My grandfather (Opa) was born and raised in what was then, Prussia - my grandmother (Oma) from near The Black Forest..and my mom, Amberg. Their experiences, lifestyle and circumstances resulted in travel all across Germany. So for my first visit, I decided to start at the "top," in Hamburg.
To take my two young boys along on this adventure was an absolute - as I'm nearly the last connection to their German heritage.
My mother was young when I was born, so I was primarily raised by my grandparents in Los Angeles...soley, until kindergarten. As I stated, they were originally from Germany (hello, very German) so as one can imagine, I learned to speak the language of the "household" along with muttled English. In addition to living under their roof came the privilege of exposure to German culture - nursery rhymes, marzipan, food, music, family flow, etc.
Those were the, "treasure," years for me - to this day, I can recollect almost every second of them.

(yes, that's me a million years ago)

Unfortunately, after moving in with my mother, I learned quickly that she did not promote the fact she was German. I was expected to speak English only, and "move-on."
Sure...I moved on...but never forgot my start in life, who I was inside and how proud I felt to have German roots.
So...without further adieu...a few shots of my first trip to Deutschland!

I gave my 11 year old son the task of recording our trip via digital camera..some are fuzzy or off center, but I wouldn't have had it any other way (wink!).

Well...first day, setting out near Gänsemarkt. Our hotel (Marriott Hamburg) is right behind us...

Okay..before we go any further...I had such grand fantasies of looking so "model" like on this trip (high heels, large hoop earrings, nail polish). But as you will see, I look as if I have a grand HANG-OVER in each pic. Traveling to Europe with two active boys and fighting jet lag doesn't do a 40+ year old face any good...there, I've said it, let's move on ~

My son adores buildings, their design....Lord, cross your fingers we'll have an architect 14 years from now!



Everything in these next few pics was within walking distance of the hotel - a piece of cake of you don't mind hearing two less than motivated young men complain why we weren't using a taxi. Kids these days ~
Below are some select shots of the Binnenalster (Inner Alster Lake). So pretty, peaceful - but NO RAILS along the waters edge. Being an over protective American Mother, you can imagine how many times I screamed, "Hey boys, get away from the edge..NOW!"







Wow, the canals. Every direction you gaze is a perfect postcard picture. I'd have to tear the boys away from every bridge..all of us were simply amazed.




And of course, Rathaus (City Hall). The fountain in the courtyard was a sight of beauty.



And then we went shopping - whoa ~ Europa Passage

After a few days of exploring the city by day..it was time to hit Doris' Diner at night - yum!




Well...there you have it! So many wonderful pics had to be left out, as my fingers are currently numb from putting together this post. The fact is, I can't wait to go back - strangely I felt at home. We shall see what the future holds ♥!

See ya next week and have a fantastic Thanksgiving Holiday my friends!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BOO!!

Well....where have I been? A bunch of places - GERMANY for one :) Yes, I actually hopped over to Hamburg, Germany with my young sons the first week of October. No husband, just the kids and I. It was amazing...pics will come soon :)

Hang tight friends, I'm cooking up new blog entries...I haven't completely abandoned ship!

If we miss each other, hope you have a safe and fantastic-ly spooky Halloween 2010!

Sandy :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11



Today silently belongs to the many that lost their lives nine years ago.
My husband was part of a crew from Los Angeles County Fire that flew over to New York three weeks after the attacks. These guys escorted grieving Fire Families to funerals, held children, supported their "brothers" and families in any way possible.
When my husband returned from the trip, he was a changed person. Something was lost, part of that twinkle in his eye had gone. It was obvious he had left a piece of himself in New York City. To this day we still hold, in a sealed bag, the uniform he wore while walking the ruins of the Twin Towers. NO ONE in this house messes with that bag - some things are forever sacred.
Many people lost their lives, however, this is where it hits home for us -


"A total of 411 emergency workers who responded to the scene died as they attempted to rescue people and fight fires. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) lost 341 firefighters and 2 FDNY paramedics. The New York City Police Department lost 23 officers. The Port Authority Police Department lost 37 officers, and 8 additional EMTs and paramedics from private EMS units were killed."

One year later I boarded a plane with a baby and toddler and flew to New York City. The kids and I wanted to see "Daddy" march in respect for all of New York's fallen firemen at a planned memorial. During our short stay, we visited the Twin Towers site to pay our respects. I can be a pretty tough cookie at times, but will admit that I instantly burst into tears looking upon the site. My kids were too young to remember the visit, but rest assured, we will remind them of the day they indeed paid their respects.
Don't forget to love the ones close...


Please, please, please don't ever forget...see ya next week ~

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saturday Afternoon QUICKIE - Super Duper Sloppy Joes



Weekly Reminder: What is a "QUICKIE" anyway?...hmmmmm, found this online: "Very little foreplay, quick finish. Usually 5 minutes, start to finish.." Perfect! Since I've demonstrated how blog challenged I am this year, a speedy, once a week drop-in is JUST what the doctor ordered (wink!).
So clear your calendar, I'm all yours for 5 minutes every Saturday afternoon...rawr


Let's get sloppy!...



The end of Summer Vacation also marks the beginning of the Football Season....
We're all currently sweating in near 100° degree weather, but the first sight of that "pig skin" gets our family looking for any excuse to consume chili, beer-n-cheese soup, chowder of any type and of course, SLOPPY JOES! Whether it's in a slow cooker on a beach camp-out, or straight from your kitchen...it's a delicious and QUICKIE meal.

The "base" recipe for my Super Duper Sloppy Joes is from Food Network, courtesy Rachael Ray.
I'm the ultimate recipe tweaker so my version bends toward our family's preference for mega flavor...



No need to ever open a can again! Do it yourself and do it better :)

Super Duper Sloppy Joes serves 8-10
1 TBL. extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs. ground Bison (lean ground beef or turkey will work also)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (green or red), chopped
2 TBL. red wine vinegar
2 TBL. Worcestershire sauce
1 29 oz. can of tomato sauce
4 TBL. tomato paste
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
pinch of salt to taste

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil. Add the meat, break it up and begin to brown.
Combine the brown sugar and steak seasoning. Add this mixture to the skillet and combine with the meat. When the meat has browned, add the onions and peppers to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and add the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to the meat, cook for 5 minutes.
Now, add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, BBQ sauce, ketchup, garlic powder and onion powder to the pan. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes (or until desired thickness). Season with salt to taste ~
Using a large spoon, pile Sloppy Joe mixture onto a crusty roll or onion bun..add shredded cheese and enjoy!

Thanks for the QUICKIE (wink!), I'll see ya next week!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Afternoon QUICKIE - Crochet Cable Hat



Weekly Reminder: What is a "QUICKIE" anyway?...hmmmmm, found this online: "Very little foreplay, quick finish. Usually 5 minutes, start to finish.." Perfect! Since I've demonstrated how blog challenged I am this year, a speedy, once a week drop-in is JUST what the doctor ordered (wink!).
So clear your calendar, I'm all yours for 5 minutes every Saturday afternoon...rawr


Let's make some head gear - YIPPY!...


Let's do a craft this week!
Okay, please forgive the horrible photo quality above...the important factor here, however, is that the pics here are of a crochet cabled hat that I actually made. The WONDERFUL WEBSITE that I discovered this pattern at last year has a MUCH better pic...however, I'm against stealing...so for now you'll be forced to suffer looking at mine. :)
Trust me, it is NO EASY task creating the cable effect via crochet..but it can be done. What pushed me through this pattern you ask? The fact that I was making it for a gal at my church who was suffering from cancer (her cancer is in remission as I type, yes!!) and this beautiful-fashionable woman deserved to look fab and stay warm at the same time.
So.....I know we're all sweltering while reading this entry, but guess what is around the corner, my friends ~ F-A-L-L!!! It will be here before you know it..so grab your crochet hooks and get ahead of the pack - you can do this! You too can be a Hooker, like me (*smirk*) ~

**NOTE**
In the spirit of blog respect, I've decided not to post the actual pattern in this week's SAQ (Saturday Afternoon Quickie). This LINK (same as above) will lead you to the most updated and printable version of the mentioned FREE pattern AND many other clever patterns.
I will, however, offer you a tip from my experience with this hat...using a "J" sized hook created a very generous sized hat...so if you have a large head or plan on tucking your long hair underneath, then no worries. When I begin my new hat this week, I'm going to try an "I" sized hook to start - then graduate to an "H" when the pattern asks me to size down. I tend to crochet a bit tighter than most...so we'll see if my new creation is the perfect fit!
Also..I used a "G" hook for the last two rows of the brim, as I wanted to give it some "grab" around the face.
Please, please, please send me pics if you try to make this hat! I would love to see your creations ~

Thanks for the QUICKIE (wink!), I'll see ya next week!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Saturday Afternoon QUICKIE - Fresh Apple Pie



Weekly Reminder: What is a "QUICKIE" anyway?...hmmmmm, found this online: "Very little foreplay, quick finish. Usually 5 minutes, start to finish.." Perfect! Since I've demonstrated how blog challenged I am this year, a speedy, once a week drop-in is JUST what the doctor ordered (wink!).
So clear your calendar, I'm all yours for 5 minutes every Saturday afternoon...rawr


Let's make a pie - YUM!...



Well, years ago I was searching for a decent apple pie recipe..and stumbled upon the baker's discussion forum for the Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest winners. Ummm..somehow I gained access to the forum (shrugging my shoulders, hands up)...and the recipes they were sharing with each other. Can I ask you, what's a young wife to do...who’s trying to impress her new husband? Take a freakin' peek, of course. Let's just say someone must have caught on to the "security breach", and the next day any further access was denied. That's fine, my brief visit was worth it. Hmmm, let's just say that one of the recipes I "accidently" skimmed over, plus some personal tweaking, inspired my apple pie recipe.
So, if I'm not hauled off to jail for this admission (hello, not my fault you webmasters!)...maybe you'll see more “inspired” pies and cakes here in the future - (wink!)

Fresh Apple Pie
Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
2 TBL. white sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup very cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 TBL. canola oil
5 TBL. heavy whipping cream
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
sugar for sprinkling

Apple Filling:
6 cups (approx. 7-8 apples) organic Granny Smith apples, pared, cored, and thinly sliced
3/4 - 1 cup of white sugar (depends on how tart apples are)
4 TBL. cornstarch
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 TBL. butter, cubed

In a small bowl mix the first four (4) ingredients (dry stuff). Dump into the food processor. Add the shortening and cubed butter and pulse until you see very small chucks.
In another small bowl mix together the vinegar, oil and heavy cream. Slowly add this mixture while the processor is on low speed. When the crust dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, stop the processor. You can add a TBL of water or more if the dough seems dry...just don't go overboard!
Form the dough into two disks, place between waxed paper..and refrigerate for one hour.
Flour your board and roll out one disk into a 10" round. Place it into a 9" pie plate. Prink the bottom 4-5times with a fork.

Now for the filling..
In a large bowl, mix together the first seven (7) ingredients for the filling. Place filling in the pie plate. Dot with remaining butter. Roll out remaining dough disk and place on top of the filling. Trim excess and seal the edges of the pie. Make four slits in the top crust. Brush some of the egg mixture on the top and sprinkle with sugar.



Bake in the center of the rack in a 400° preheated oven for twenty (20) minutes. Now reduce to 375° and bake for another forty (40) minutes or until the juices are bubbling inside and the crust is golden brown. Cover the edges with foil if necessary to prevent burning.
And POOF...you got yourself a pie!



Thanks for the QUICKIE (wink!), I'll see ya next week!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Afternoon QUICKIE - Summer Steak Marinade


Weekly Reminder: What is a "QUICKIE" anyway?...hmmmmm, found this online: "Very little foreplay, quick finish. Usually 5 minutes, start to finish.." Perfect! Since I've demonstrated how blog challenged I am this year, a speedy, once a week drop-in is JUST what the doctor ordered (wink!).
So clear your calendar, I'm all yours for 5 minutes every Saturday afternoon...rawr


Let's make some marinade - SIZZLE!...


**Look at my handsome boy helping peel the garlic...**

Summer Steak Marinade for 3-5 lbs. of meat
1/4 cup E.V.O.O - extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp. Grey Poupon Deli Mustard w/ horseradish
3 tsp. garlic gloves, finely minced
2 tsp. brown sugar
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a medium bowl, whisk to combine...



Now, I usually marinade my boneless Top Sirloin steaks for, um, about 4 hours. This is where you have to play with what works for you - I prefer a "stronger" hint of the balsamic...
I have marinaded meat as little as 2 hours, and though it was good...I think the longer the better!

Thanks for the QUICKIE (wink!), I'll see ya next week!

What a year!!

I'm still alive!  I realize I've been MIA...this is what happens when real life forces to be reckoned with. ;)  Hang tight friends, ...