Sunday, April 07, 2019

Raspberry Cheesecake Rum Chata Pudding Shots

Every summer, my favorite 4th of July activity in the Keweenaw is the Gay Parade in Gay Michigan, which is not to be missed.  Be sure to get to Gay early so you can partake in the Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary Bazaar and Rummage Sale where you can get hand crocheted dish towels, home preserved thimbleberry jam and other exotic flavors like fireweed jelly.   The fire department has a refreshment tent and raffle, and there are tours of the old Gay School House which is really neat.  The Gay Bar opens early for the event, and they even turn their whole parking lot into a bar, which pretty much makes the whole thing start to feel like New Orleans on Mardi Gras.   Last year, Andy road his bike from our place by Calumet Water Works to Gay and I met him there with the truck.   While I was waiting for him to arrive, I sat inside at the bar with the locals and noticed that the ladies were all raving about a featured special called "pudding shots".  I'm not the kind of person that would drink a pudding shot, but the Yooper ladies love them, but I filed the idea away in my mind for a potential tailgate party idea.

I'm also not the kind of person that would go on a bus trip to a casino, but anything is possible and yesterday, I found myself going along on one for a fundraiser,  I figured I needed to bring a dish to pass, so why not pudding shots?     A quick googling around showed rampant use of instant pudding, Bailey's Irish Cream and Cool Whip, but I decided to go a different path.  First, I am okay with using instant pudding mix, but I wanted my shots to be drinkable, so I ditched the Cool Whip.   Second, I wanted my shots to pack a punch, so vodka was going to be added.   Lastly, I wanted to find  recipe to use up some airplane size bottles I had of Rum Chata in the liquor cabinet.   Have you tried Rum Chata before?  It kind of reminds me of the milk left over in your cereal bowl after eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.   I like it better than Baileys but I am not a big fan of creamy liqueurs.   But I know lots of the ladies like it.   For example, everyone was drinking it at a scrapbooking weekend I once attended.   While touring the instant pudding shelf area at Meijer (which I never looked at before) I found they had cheesecake flavor!  Who knew?  So I got it. 

Raspberry Cheesecake Rum Chata Pudding Shots

1 box Jello Instant Pudding Cheesecake flavor
1 1/2 c. Rum Chata
1/2 c. Vodka
Fresh raspberries, for garnish

Mix up everything except the raspberries in a bowl, and pour into condiment cups.  You can get these at GFS.  Top with 3 or 4 berries and chill.  These will not set up like pudding, they are drinkable.   

For tailgating (or a bus trip to a casino) I highly recommend transporting them in  the Pampered Chef Cool and Serve tray  I am always a sucker for Pampered Chef parties.  (like a scrapbooking party, they are also likely to feature Rum Chata!)  If you wanted to make these with less alcohol, I suppose you could sub in a cup of milk for a cup of the more potent potables, I guess. 

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Salad Trio with Roasted Cauliflower Soup

This weekend, I created lunch for about 80 women at my church's "Growing in God" retreat, which I enjoy doing every year.    The only thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to make a curried chicken salad and a vegetarian soup.   I always like going to the deli at Arbor Farms for inspiration.  They have an outstanding selection of salads to choose from, and sure enough, I saw a southwest inspired vegan red quinoa salad that looked interesting. Also, there can often be a myriad of dietary constraints when you get that many women together.  This year,  it didn't turn out that way, only one dairy free and one no nuts.   In year's past, I have had to work with vegan and gluten free too.  I like to serve the ladies salad for lunch, because one of the best things about this retreat is the fantastic food served.   Need to keep it light!  For my other salad, I wanted a fruit salad that was lightly sweet.     Since I was already serving curry in my chicken salad, I couldn't use my favorite curried cauliflower soup, but I still wanted to use cauliflower so I came up with a roasted cauliflower soup  seasoned with lots of garlic and onion.

Southwest Red Quinoa Salad
serves 12 as a side or 6 as a main dish

Quinoa Salad
1 1/2 cup dried red quinoa
1 15 oz can corn, drained
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onions, diced
2  jalapeƱo, seeded and sliced

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
juice of 2 limes
2 teaspoon cumin
salt, to taste

Rinse quinoa and set aside. Bring 2 3/4 cups water to a boil. Add quinoa and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until water has evaporated and quinoa is cooked. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.  Allow to fully cool. 

Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients in a canning jar and shake until well combined.     After quinoa is cooled, add vegetables and dressing and mix well. 

Creamy Fruit Salad
serves 12 as a side

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar

2 Golden Delicious apples, diced
2 Red Delicious apples, diced
2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
2 cups green seedless grapes, halved
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 cup chopped  toasted pecans

Combine dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.   In a large bowl, combine salad ingredients and dressing to serve.

Curried Chicken Salad

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 T. kosher salt
1 t. pepper
1 large onion, unpeeled and cut in half
½ c. mayo
¼ c. hot mango chutney
2 T. curry powder
2 T. Zante currants
1 green onion, sliced
¼ c. toasted sliced almonds, toasted

In a small crock pot, add onion halves and chicken breasts and cover with water.   Add salt and pepper and cook on low for 3 hours.    Remove chicken, allow to cool and dice it.   Prepare dressing by combining mayo, chutney and curry powder in a small bowl.   Combine with chicken, onion and almonds.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
serves 8

2 heads cauliflower, sliced in 1/2 in slabs
3 T. olive oil
2 T. kosher salt
1 t. pepper
1 large onion, diced
3 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T Better than Bouillon vegetable stock base
5 c. water
1/2 c. heavy cream (optional)
Croutons and parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 F.   On a baking sheet, drizzle cauliflower slabs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until browned.   Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, soften onion in olive oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes.   Add garlic and stir.   Add cauliflower, water and stock base and simmer for 30 minutes until cauliflower is really soft.   Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth.   Add heavy cream and blend until combined.  Serve soup garnished with croutons and parsley

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Pot Scrubbing Alternatives

I recently read a post online about a magical way to clean a scorched pan, and so I had to figure out if it would work or not.   My friend Paula, a chemist, said there was scientific merit for it, saying " The quat surfactants used as fabric softener have an affinity for the carbonized food particles. The amphoteric surfactant commonly used in most dish liquids attenuates the cationic quat."  Huh??? I'll have to trust her.  I've forgotten most of the chemistry I ever learned.  She is a smart lady!    I have tried the other two alternatives, baking soda and Bar Keepers Friend and have not been pleased with the results in the past, but thought I'd add them to the experiment.  I had more hope for Bar Keeper's Friend, because it's pH is 2.1 (which is fairly acidic) vs the mildly alkaline baking soda, which has a pH of about 9.   I was at Whole Foods the other day when a hipster dude gave me a sample of "alkaline water" which was supposed to do something magical when I drank it.   It's pH was about 8.1.   I am still waiting for the magic to happen. 

The subjects were my much abused sheet pans, I used them as the subject a few years ago when I myth busted  other popular internet pan cleaning theories.  I came to the conclusion that the only thing that really works is steel wool, which is always a solid choice, but I can't stand the way it feels in my hand.   I completely adore Norwex Spirinett  for scrubbing.    So I decided to use that as my scrubber just to see what works best. 

I made a paste out of the baking soda and the Bar Keepers friend using hot water and smeared it on. For the Dawn/dryer sheet one, I put a couple drops of dish soap and added hot water and the dryer sheet.   I set the timer for 1 hour....

After a minimal amount of scrubbing with the Spirinett, I think that the dryer sheet/dish soap is the clear winner.   That pan was the worst to start with!  Bar Keepers friend was okay, not great.   And baking soda just took way too much product to do the minimal.  My paste required 1/4 of a box for half the pan.     In the future, I will go with the dryer sheet plan and more elbow grease!