Foodie Pen Pals!

It’s here!!

It’s Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day! This is such a fun program. I enjoy getting to know new people. This is only my second month, and I got lucky again because my box was AWESOME!

This month, my Pen Pal was Angie! She lives in Wichita KS and she sent me some local treats.

I got popcorn from the Nut House! That’s appropriate! LOL! Toffee Almond and Chocolate Caramel. A few of my favorite flavors. 🙂

There was the cutest bag of cookies and a packet of ranch dressing/dip mix. MMMMmmmm!

If you want to be a Foodie Pen Pal, check out “The Lean Green Bean” and their Foodie Pen Pal Link!

Have a delicious day fellow foodie pals!

xoxox~ Sara

Guest Post: Roasted Eggplant Hummus from This American Bite

Hi foodies! Let me introduce you to Yosef! Yosef is the author of the blog “This American Bite.His post has been patiently waiting in my inbox while I’ve been distracted with life and work! With my sincere apologies to Yosef for not getting this to you sooner, I think you will find it has been MORE than worth the wait! This recipe looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it! Without further delay, here’s Yosef and his Roasted Eggplant Hummus…

Let me share a little secret with you, a confession, a little part of me that I have never said out loud. I have an unhealthy relationship with making hummus. Once a week, I soak my chickpeas, roast my garlic and set about making this staple for our home, but each and every week, I second guess myself and wonder if I will enjoy it.
I always do!
Last night was no different. Chickpeas had been soaking for 24 hours, garlic was roasted, then re-roasted as I burned it all while grilling a brisket (by the way, charred garlic makes a delicious snack!) and as I moved an eggplant to make space for the food processor, it felt a little soft and needed to be used. One eggplant doesn’t go all that far when you’re cooking for 12 and the five years I spent living in Israel kicked in to gear.
Hummus is good. Babaganush (or chatzilim) is good. Roasted Eggplant Hummus had to be good, and let me tell you, it is.
• 1 lb bag of Chickpeas
• 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, roasted in olive oil
• 1 tablespoon of lemon juice , more to taste
• 1 Tablespoon Tahini
• Salt
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Water
• Cumin
• Paprika
You can use canned chickpeas for this recipe; I prefer to use dry beans and pulses wherever possible. To cook the perfect chickpea, I use a shallow Le Creuset pot and bring water to a boil. Then I add the chickpeas, make sure there is enough water to cover the chickpeas, return to a boil then cover and turn off the heat. Allow them to sit until they are cool enough to touch.
Dice your eggplant, sprinkle salt and allow to sweat for 30 minutes. Then put the eggplant on a cookie sheet, drizzle with cumin and olive oil and roast at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Put your chick peas in the food processor along with the garlic and the oil in which it was roasted. Add the rest of the ingredients, and for a little extra lemony flavor, add some lemon zest too. Let the food processor get to work, and taste along the way.
For a thinner hummus, add more water. For a nuttier flavor add some extra virgin olive oil. Serve with warm pita bread, or use as a bed for ground beef or sautéed mushrooms.

Living in Overland Park, KS, Yosef is a husband, father and a passionate cook. As a card-carrying foodie and an active “Weight Watcher”, Yosef loves to create in the kitchen with a keen eye on healthy, organic and local ingredients.  You can follow This American Bite on Twitter, Facebook, Online or by downloading the Android App for more home-cooked dinners. 

Bloggers Sunshine Award!

A few weeks ago, the lovely Ann from The Fountain Ave Kitchen blessed me with a Sunshine Award! The Sunshine Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. Recipients of the Sunshine Award are: “Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blog-isphere.” How cool is that? It is always nice to know other bloggers think you are positive and inspiring!

If you don’t know Ann, she is adorable! I wish I could give HER a Sunshine Award! She is always supportive, has a passion for salads and a deep love for her family! Check her out her blog (The Fountain Ave Kitchen)! Bonus! She has cookies!

Now, the rules for the Sunshine Award:
1) Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them. (Thank you Ann!! xoxox )
2) Answer 10 questions about yourself.
3) Select 10 of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and let them know they have been awarded the Sunshine Award!
4) Don’t forget to copy and paste the award on your blog!

So here are the questions and my answers:

1. Favorite color: Green! Emerald green to be specific. 🙂
2. Favorite animal: Puppies!!!
3. Favorite number: 21
4. Favorite drink: In the morning, Coffee. Afternoons, Iced Black Tea, no sweetener and no lemon.
5. Facebook or Twitter: Facebook! I have both though and they are linked together!
6. Good Book or a Good Movie: A good book, please! My imagination is often better than the movie version, plus I can read in my PJ’s. Movies frown when I show up in slippers…
7. My Passion: People! Teaching, sharing and learning new things every day!
8. Giving or getting presents: Giving!!! I love finding off-beat gifts to surprise people or remembering someone mentioning something little and being able to get it for them!
9. Favorite day of the year: MY BIRTHDAY! (Mark your calendars, it’s Feb 21st.)
10. Favorite flowers: All of them! I LOVE getting flowers and having them in my garden!

And now, to pass this along to 10 other bloggers. Narrow it down to 10? Gosh, I wish there were about 50 spaces, then I could BEGIN to narrow it down a bit. There are so many fantastic people out there. Here are 10 folks you should check out! I follow all of them and I think they are amazing!

1. Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking
2. Sawsan @ Chef in Disquise
3. Mary @ Barefeet in the Kitchen
4. Casey @ Casey’s Confections
5. LJ @ LJ’s Gourmet Kitchen
6. Melissa @ Vegetarian Cooking Made Simple
7. Nettie @ Moore or Less Cooking Blog
8. Becca @ It’s Yummilicious
9. Danny @ In Danny’s Kitchen
10. Ellen @ Indigo Scones

Happy reading Foodie Friends! If you visit any of these folks, tell them I said hello! Hopefully you’ll discover some new favorites and let them share their Sunshine with YOU!

xoxox ~ Sara

Blackberry Yogurt “Half Pops”

Happy Summer Solstice everyone! It’s officially my least favorite season. I don’t like hot weather. As I live in Southern California, “Summer” actually started several months ago. Days that reach into the 100’s are common. Today is supposed to get into the upper 90’s. With that kind of heat, I need something cool to kick-start the season in style!

Nothing says “Summer” better than popsicles! Ok, maybe beer and BBQ, but that’s not what THIS post is about! This post is about popsicles! We’ll get to the BBQ (and beer) later. 😉

Since I am currently obsessed with all things blackberry, I made blackberry popsicles! I may not like summer but I LOVE berries! Blackberries are my favorite and they are in season right now, so I have to eat them while I can.

I call these treats “Half Pops” because most of the ingredients call for a 1/2 cup of something. The yogurt gives the popsicle a smooth, creamy texture and the honey brings a bit of sweetness to the party!

Blackberry Yogurt “Half Pops”
Makes 8 popsicles

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup blackberries*
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 TBLS honey
2 TBLS lemon juice

Dissolve the sugar and water in a pan over medium heat just until hot and the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. (This is a simple syrup and can be made days ahead. Just store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.)

Combine simple syrup and the rest of the ingredients in a blender.

Blend until completely combined. Pour into your favorite popsicle mold and freeze for eight hours.

Un-mold and enjoy!

*This simple and versatile popsicle recipe goes well with almost ANY fruit! You can swap the blackberries for strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, mango, or even banana! YUM!

Maybe Summer isn’t so bad after all…

A Joy-ful Saturday!

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, than making doughnuts? Well, you could have famous blogger and cookbook author Joy Wilson, of Joy The Baker, as your instructor!

You could also be pairing the doughnuts with five different sparkling wines! Hey… what’s a little alcohol among friends? Joy’s friend Whitney (who is a Sommelier!) gave us “Sparkling Wine 101” between batches of doughnut dough and frying!

While we were sipping the first wine, we made dough for a Yeast Raised Doughnut. Joy shared a great tip for measuring flour! She puts her flour in a large bowl and stirs it well, before measuring. She never uses a measuring cup to dig out flour. She gently scoops flour into her measuring cup with a spoon, then levels it off. This way the flour doesn’t get compacted down in the measuring cup and throw off your recipe. Baking is a science after all! Knowing this, we put together our first dough…

We let it rise in a 200 degree oven, then rolled and cut them into doughnut shapes! We used a biscuit cutter and then the large end of a large piping tip to make the holes in the middle. What a fabulous idea if you don’t have a doughnut cutter!

We let these doughnuts rise again so they will be light and fluffy!

After more wine and more great info from Whitney, we made Old Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts! These don’t need a mixer and they don’t need to rise! The dough does need to be refrigerated for about 20-30 minutes, but when it was ready, we rolled and cut them just like the yeast doughnuts!

You know what this means, right? More wine and then it was time to get frying!

When the doughnuts had sat for a few moments on the paper towels to drain, we dipped them into glaze and put sprinkles on them!

Some we rolled in Cinnamon Sugar! This was my favorite way to do the Doughnut holes. 🙂

They were delicious! I’ve already made the Sour Cream Doughnuts for my family and the next weekend I have off, we’re making the Yeast Doughnuts!

Joy is so sweet! She lives close enough to school that she rode her bike to class! How awesome is that? She was kind enough to sign my copy of her cookbook…

and pose for a picture…

Now all this is great and wonderful (It was for me!!) but I bet you want recipes too. Ok, foodie friends, here they are and they are fantastic!

Joy the Baker’s Yeast Raised Doughnuts
makes 1 dozen doughnuts

1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 TBLS warm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
pinch of granulated sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for sprinkling and rolling out dough
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 TBLS sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Vegetable oil for frying

Place warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and pinch of sugar over water. Stir gently. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, milk, butter, yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon and yeast mixture. Beat at low-speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium and beat 3 minutes more. Add about 2 to 3 TBLS more flour should the mixture be too moist. The dough will appear to be soft and wet.

Scrape dough down sides of bowl into center, then sprinkle lightly with flour (to keep a crust from forming). Transfer dough into a lightly greased bowl. Top with a bit more flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let the dough rise in bowl in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.)

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out with a lightly floured rolling-pin into a 12-inch round (1/2 inch thick). Cut out as many rounds as possible with a 3-inch cutter, then cut a hole in the center of each round with a 1-inch cutter and transfer doughnuts to a lightly floured large baking sheet. Cover doughnuts with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes (45 minutes if dough was cold when cutting out doughnuts). You can re-roll the scrapes once, though those doughnuts will be a bit less tender.

Heat 2 1/2 inches oil in a deep 4-quart heavy pot until it registers 350 degrees F on a thermometer. Fry doughnuts, 2 at a time, turning occasionally with a wire or mesh skimmer or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 350 degrees F between batches)

For doughnut holes, fry for about a minute total, turning gently in the oil as they are more difficult to flip over than a doughnut. Toss them in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar straight out of the hot grease!

Joy The Baker’s Old Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts
Makes 6 to 10 doughnuts

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 TBLS baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream (or crème fresh, or full fat plain yogurt)
1 large egg
1 TBLS unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil for frying

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together sugar, sour cream, egg and butter. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the flour mixture. Stir to combine. The dough will begin to form. Mix until the flour disappears and a shaggy ball forms. Place dough in a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out doughnuts using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter. Cut out holes in the center of your rounds using the large end of a large piping tip or a 3/4 inch round cutter. You can gently re-roll any dough scraps.

Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a heavy bottomed pan until deep-fat thermometer registers 350 degrees F. With a metal spatula, gently place doughnuts in the oil. Fry for about 40 seconds on each side, or until light golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Let cool just slightly before glazing. Doughnuts are best served the day they are made!

Joy The Baker’s Chocolate Glaze
makes enough for one standard doughnut recipe

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 TBLS cocoa powder
2 TBLS milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, sift together the sugar and cocoa powder. Slowly stir in the milk and vanilla. Add a little bit at a time and whisk until smooth and pourable.

Dip slightly cooled doughnuts in glaze and allow to rest for 20 minutes to set the glaze.

Joy The Baker’s Maple Glaze
makes enough for one standard doughnut recipe

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
2 TBLS maple syrup
2 TBLS milk

Place sugar in a medium bowl. Slowly stir in maple syrup and milk a little at a time, creating a smooth and pourable glaze.

Dip slightly cooled doughnuts in glaze and allow to rest for 20 minutes to set the glaze.

Enjoy my friends!

Easy Panna Cotta with Homemade Blackberry Sauce!

I love Blackberries! When I came across this easy-peasy blackberry sauce and an even easier Panna Cotta recipe, I knew it would be a match made in Blackberry Heaven!

And you know what? It was!

I can hardly wait to share this with you, so let’s just get to it!

For the Blackberry Sauce, you will need:

3 cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBLS pure vanilla extract
1 lemon – zested and juiced (alternately you could use an orange, but I prefer the tart lemon to balance the sweet of the berries)

Dump everything in a pot together, bring to a boil over medium heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Didn’t I tell you this was EASY?!? Are you running out to buy berries now? You should be!

Pour the sauce into a bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Use a spatula to press the liquid out, leaving the seeds and any berry pulp behind. You should get about 2 1/2 cups of sauce out of this! If you still have some seeds and pulp in the sauce, simply strain it again through a cheesecloth. (If you do this, it will get stained so don’t use a cloth you want to keep!) Pour the finished sauce into a jar and let it chill out in the fridge.

Simple. Versatile. Fresh! You can use this sauce on so many things! Garnish a piece of pound cake with it. Use it over ice-cream. Substitute it for a thin pancake syrup. Or, you can use it for the Panna Cotta!

Honey Yogurt Panna Cotta

2 tsp gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 cup honey
1 cup plain yogurt

Pour the water into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the water. Let sit for 10 minutes.

While the gelatin is blooming, in a small saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the honey in the 1/2 and 1/2, stirring just until hot. Do not boil! Add the gelatin and continue to stir over very low heat until well combined. Take the pan off the heat, add the yogurt and whisk until smooth. Pour the mix into small custard cups and refrigerate for at least three to four hours. I used 1/2 cup custard cups and was able to make six Panna cotta with this recipe.

To serve, pour a small amount of blackberry sauce on the bottom of a plate. Gently unmold the Panna Cotta from the cups and place on top of the sauce. Top with whole berries and a bit of mint for some color!

This was so simple to put together and made a lovely summer dessert!

Enjoy foodie friends!

xoxox ~ Sara

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