Snacks for My Swimmers

Today is our official “end of season” party for my swim team, The Front Range Barracudas.   I had to really fight the urge to make things fancy, but I had to keep telling myself I am cooking for kids, and they don’t like fancy stuff, nor do they really care about presentation so much.  Anyone who has ever cooked for kids knows it is full of challenges.  Then there are all kinds of food allergies to think about as well, and I want their snacks to be healthy too, which makes things even more challenging.   Swimmers, just like all other athletes, need foods high in protein and low in fats.  Peanut butter and cheese are great snacks for all athletes.  As you can see, I was faced with many different dilemmas, but I decided on a couple of “kid friendly” items that I hope go over well.  They were all super easy to make, and all they needed was some assembly.  One of the best things to remember when cooking for kids is “to keep it simple”.  Making it fun, and using fun names doesn’t hurt either.

These are “Ants on a Log”.

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There are only three simple, healthy ingredients used for “ants on a log” – celery rinsed and cut into “logs” about 2″ long, raisins and peanut butter.  I piped the peanut butter onto the celery logs and placed the golden raisins or sultanas on them.  You can use any kind of raisins and either crunchy or creamy peanut butter (or any other type of nut butter).

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I had to come up with something else as well, because unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don’t eat nuts or have nut allergies.  So I also made cheese and pretzel squares and some “spiders on a string” or string cheese with pitted black olives.

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You can use any type of cheese you like, but I used a mild cheddar that I cut into small squares that fit perfectly onto the square pretzels, and then I sandwiched them together.  I baked them for about 7-8 minutes at 350* F, or just long enough to melt the cheese so they would stick together and make a pretzel sandwich.

 

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Chocolate Nutella Banana Brownies

Gianduja, or Nutella as we know it today, has a very long history, dating as far back as 1806 in the Alba, Piedmont region of Italy, during the times of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Continental Blockade in Europe.  The Piedmont region of Italy was known for having the world’s best chocolate at that time, and chocolate was very difficult to obtain and was also very expensive even when it was attainable because of the blockade.   So with a shortage of chocolate, another plan was conceived that would still satisfy the world’s ever increasing sweet tooth and its desire for chocolate.  Piedmont had an abundance of hazelnuts and the ingredients for cocoa were very difficult and expensive to obtain.   The original gianduja was created by an Italian pastry chef by mixing hazelnuts, that were very prevalent in the Piedmont region, with just a hint of chocolate.   Once Napoleon’s Continental Blockade ended and chocolate once again became easily obtainable, gianduja lost it’s popularity.  It became popular throughout Italy and the rest of Europe once again after World War II, when once more, chocolate and the ingredients necessary for making chocolate, were in short supply.  The gianduja was mixed with cream to make a creamy, more chocolatety texture and was called Supercrema Gianduja, by an Italian pastry chef named Pietro Ferrero; yes, the same Ferrero from the world famous chocolate hazelnut concoction known and loved by the world as Ferrero Rochere.  But this was a mouthful. and in 1964, the name was changed from Supercrema Gianduja to Nutella.  Nutella has been an Italian and European staple ever since.  It has only recently started gaining a lot of popularity in the United States, but I think it is a staple here too, and is now here to stay.  Today, Nutella is used in many different and delicious recipes worldwide.

I paid tribute to my love of Nutella by making Nutella banana brownies.  Yum!  Brownies are a beloved tradition here in the United States, and by making them with Nutella, they took on a little more of an international and European flair.  Adding bananas just made them even more exotic.  They are full of flavor and full of personality.  You are going to love them; I promise.

 

These ooey-gooey brownies just melt in your mouth and are like a little bit of Heaven with every bite.  Make sure you have plenty of napkins, because they are very messy.

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When you have bananas that look like this, don’t throw them away.  They are just perfect for baking.

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Mash the bananas into chunky pieces and mix with the Nutella and chocolate chips.

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Layer the brownie mixture and the Nutella-banana mixture, ending with the Nutella-banana mixture on top and bake.

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Once the brownie mixture is set and no longer wiggles and jiggles, the brownies are done.  Remove from them the oven and let cool completely before cutting.  They will be very soft and very ooey and gooey.  This is exactly the texture you are looking for.

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Chocolate Nutella Banana Brownies

3/4 cups butter, melted

3/4 cups brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cups cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup Nutella

1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350* F

 

Spray cooking spray into a 9×9 baking pan

Mash the bananas and mix with the Nutella and chocolate chips and set aside.  Mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside.  Then mix the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and sugar.  Add the egg and butter mixture to the brownie mixture.  Pour 1/2 the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Add about 1/2 of the Nutella mixture and repeat.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the mixture sets and the brownies do not jiggle.  Do not over cook.  You want the brownies to be soft, ooey and gooey.  Cool completely before cutting.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemony Tomato Zucchini Tart

A good friend of mine gave me some zucchini from her garden that were absolutely HUGE!  I am still coming up with some good zucchini recipes that do them justice.  They are so delicious!  Fresh is always best, and even better when they have been grown with love.   I make tomato tarts quite often, and I use a wide variety of tomatoes.  I  especially love using the heirloom tomatoes.  This was the first time I decided to make them with zucchini though.  I don’t know why I never tried this before because I love both tomatoes and zucchini, as well as almost all other vegetables, but there is a first time for everything I guess.  Now I know I will definitely be doing this again; real soon.  Adding lemon to dishes really seems to make them perfect for spring and summer, and it just seems to make them really fresh and brings their flavors to life.  I served it with my Andouille sausage and black-eyed peas.  (See Cooking From A to Z ).

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These few simple and basic ingredients turned into this colorful and delicious tart.

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I used my basic go-to tart dough, only I added black pepper and lemon pepper to the dough while I was making it, to make it more of a savory tart.  (Have No Fear, the Queen of Leftovers is Here ).  The best way to get your dough into the pan you are using is to lightly coat your rolling pin with flour and just roll your dough over the rolling pin, then place it on top of the pan.  Roll your rolling pin over the edges to cut the excess dough away.  Press the dough firmly into the pan and around the edges of the pan to set it in place.

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Once the dough is set in place, brush it with a light mixture of garlic, olive oil, basil, lemon verbena (optional) and salt and pepper.  Then add some grated Parmagiano cheese.

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Once this is done, starting from the outside and working your way around to the center, start alternating thin slices of tomatoes and zucchini until finished.  I sliced both the tomatoes and the zucchini about 1/4″ in thickness.  Because my zucchini was so large, and so wide, I cut the slices in 1/2, making them 1/2 circle slices.

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Once all the tomatoes and zucchini are placed, brush them with the remaining olive oil and garlic mixture and top with more Parmagiano cheese.  Then bake until done.

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Lemony Tomato Zucchini Tart (filling)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh basil or a combination of basil and lemon verbena (optional), cut in a chiffonade, or thin strips

1-1/2 heaping TBSP garlic

1/3 cup grated Parmagiano cheese

1 lb Roma tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 ”

1 lb zucchini, sliced about 1/4 ”

salt and pepper to taste

 

Jeanne’s Master Dough

1 1/2 cups flour

6 TBSP COLD butter, cubed

a pinch of salt

1 egg

about 6 TBSP heavy whipping cream

 

Mix together the flour, butter and salt in a food processor until everything is well incorporated.  Then add the egg and the cream and mix everything together until the dough forms into a ball.  Remove from the food processor and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.  The dough will keep up to about 3 days in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to use your dough, let it come to room temperature before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface.  I usually add a little flour to my rolling pin as well.  Then roll to your desired thickness and and shape it however you like.  I use this same recipe for my tarts as well.  If I am making a sweet tart or dough, the only difference is that I also add about 3 TBSP of powdered sugar.  This is called a pate sucre.  Sometimes, when I am making a savory dough, I add black and/or lemon pepper and other spices to my dough as well.  Again, be creative and use your imagination.

Bake at 350* F for about 30 minutes or until done.  If the edges start to get to brown, cover the tart with aluminum foil until done.

***This recipe is completely vegetarian.  To make it vegan, you will have to alter the recipe for the dough, by substituting vegan butter, soft 2 oz of soft tofu for the egg, and a vegan cream/milk alternative or water.

 

Cooking From A to Z

We love sausages of all kinds.  Our local Sprouts Market makes their own, and they are all very tasty.  When they put them on sale, I usually stock up and I buy quite a few different varieties at a time.    I think we have tried them all at some point.  One of the types I recently purchased was Andouille, which is a spicy Cajun style sausage.  We love it and eat it quite often.   I get tired of eating and cooking things the same way all the time, so I am always on the lookout for new recipes and ideas.   I found a recipe that was with black-eyed peas and Andouille sausage that looked really good, and of course, I had to give it a try.  It is very similar to red beans and rice.  The Andouille sausage is the “A”.  I covered the “B”, “E” and “P” with the black-eyed peas.  I served all this with a tomato-zucchini tart, which gives me two “T’s” , one for the tomatoes and the other for the tart.  I ended with a “Z” by using zucchini.   In my house, you can always add a “W” to anything I cook and serve as well, since I always have wine.  I did not set out to cook the alphabet, but it was a fun, tasty way to cook.  It just kind of happened.

Black-eyed peas are a Southern staple.  They are a member of the legume family and are rich in protein and nutrients.  They are very healthy for you and are very low in calories.  Eating black-eyed peas is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity to all those who eat them, especially if you eat them on New Year’s Day.  It is a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.  My mother was from Southeast Texas, and I grew up with this tradition, and still continue it every New Year’s Day.  Anyone from the South can tell you the same thing.   Black-eyed peas are known by a few names all throughout the South.  Some of the other names they go by are purple hull peas, the Southern pea and a cowpea.   They were introduced into the Southern menu back in the days of the slave trades from Niger and the rest of Africa.  At first, they were food only for the black community, but soon became very popular with everyone, and then became a regular part of the diet.  They were also used to feed the livestock, and hence the name “cowpea” came about.

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It only takes a few simple ingredients to make this delicious Southern recipe.

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Cook the beans according to the directions on the package.  I brought them to a boil and let them boil for 3 minutes, then in the same water, I turned off the heat and let them sit for about 1 1/2 hours.  Then I drained and rinsed them before cooking them again with with everything else.

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While the black-eyed peas are “resting”, cook the sausages and prepare all the other ingredients.

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Once everything is cooked and ready from the initial cooking phase, then it is time to cook them all again together.  Add 1 1/2 cups of rice and the cooked black-eyed peas to the sauteed vegetables, along with 3-4 cups of chicken stock.  Carefully place the cooked sausages on top of the liquid, cover and bring to a boil.  Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue to cook until the liquid is all gone, or about 20-30 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure it does not stick.

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Black-Eyed Peas and Andouille Sausage

1 1-lb bag of dried black-eyed peas (you can also use frozen peas, and skip the initial cooking phase for them)

1 1/2-2 lbs Andouille sausage or any other spicy sausage

3/4 onion, chopped fine

1-2 heaping TBSP garlic

1-2 jalapeno, chopped fine

1/2 each red and green bell pepper, chopped fine

salt & pepper to taste

Tobasco or other hot sauce to taste (optional)

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

3-4 cups chicken stock

cilantro, chopped fine

 

Cook the black-eyed peas according to the package directions.  Cook your sausage.   Saute the vegetables.  Once the vegetables are cooked, add the cooked black-eyed peas the seasonings, hot sauce (if using) and the chicken stock.  Carefully place the cooked sausages on top of the liquid, making sure to cover them as much as possible.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the liquid is gone.  Stir occasionally.  Before serving, add the chopped cilantro.  Y’all are goin’ to like it.  I gare-un-tee it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve Been Nominated for The Blogger’s Recognition Award

WOW!!!!  This is an honor.  This is my second nomination for a blogger’s award.  Thank you all so much.  I have only been doing my blog since March.  I must be doing something right.  This would not be possible without all of you and your support.  I am glad you like my blog, my recipes and my fun food facts.  I cook because I love to and I love to share what I cook with others.  Food is best when shared, even if only sharing through recipes and pictures.

Blogger Recognition Award

I started my blog almost as a dare from a dear friend of mine, but now it has become so much more.  I am really enjoying it, and enjoying the journey.  Who knows where it will lead or where it will take me, but I am definitely enjoying the ride so far.

My advice to fellow bloggers is to speak from your heart.  Write about something you know.  Be yourself.  Your passion will shine through and make you sparkle.  Enjoy what you do.

I would like to thank mencanmakehomes for the nomination.  Thank you so much.  This is quite an honor.

And in keeping with the idea of paying it forward, I would like to nominate these fellow bloggers as well:

  1.   sasegirls
  2.   Snapshotsincursive
  3.   The Little Mermaid
  4.   miakouppa
  5.   adventures of a foodie mom/ auroramac
  6.  dray0308
  7.   a little Swiss, a little Canadian
  8.   PlantsandBeyond
  9.    GP Cox
  10.    Pique Images
  11.   kmwhitaker – Just Borking Around
  12.   BallesWorld
  13.   SaltyBiscotti
  14.   Quotes, Blogs and Rad Tech
  15.   Building The Love Shack
  16.   indianeskitchen

 

I wish you all the best of luck.  May the best blogger win the award.  You are all great inspirations.  I enjoy and learn so much from all of your blogs.  Keep up the good work.

 

 

 

Sometimes It’s All About the Wine

We are wine members at InVINtions, A Creative Winery, in Greenwood Village, CO.  We have been for a few years now.  Part of our membership includes two free bottles of wine per month.  Last month, we were not able to make it, so we had four bottles to pick up on this visit.  We can only carry it over for one month or we loose it.  And of course, we are not going to let good wine go to waste.  InVINtions has a wide variety of wines from dry, semi-dry, light bodied-reds, all the way up to full bodied reds, with sweet and semi-semi varietals as well.  They also offer a wide range of ports.  All are delicious.  Over the years, and the many trips we have made there, we have tried most of their wines, though every now and then, they bring out some new varietals as well.  We are part of the InVINtions family now.   You should check them out at their website http://www.InVINtionsWinery.com, or better yet, go visit them in person.

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While we we there this last time, we picked up a South African white blend (a new wine for us, but very good), a cool climate Pinot Noir, a Mossofiota Rosso, which is my favorite full-bodied red, and a a Mocha Mint port.   The Mocha Mint port is especially good around the holidays, but you can enjoy it all throughout the year.  The other port is one of our favorites InVINtions has on their menu, and it is the Deux Creme Caramel, which is so smooth and flavorful.  (This one we already had at home).  It pairs well with just about any dessert or you can just simply enjoy it all on it’s own as well,  No matter what you sample at InVINtions, you will not be disappointed.    All the wines at InVINtions are ready to drink now.  No aging required or necessary.  You will enjoy your whole wining experience with Marcus, Cory and crew.  So raise a glass, salud, a votre sante and happy wining.

 

 

The Queen is in the Kitchen Again

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and I truly believe that.  The “Queen of Leftovers” originated many moons ago, and she has just grown and become so much more creative over the years.  She has become my alter ego while in the kitchen.  My parents were both Depression/ WWII babies, and food was often scarce.  That was something they never forgot, and so when I came along, I was always raised with the concept of “waste not want not”, and it has been with me throughout my whole life.  Thus, the “Queen of Leftovers” was born.  The Queen comes into my kitchen quite often and was in my kitchen again yesterday.  This time she made soup and quesadillas from some of the leftovers we had from our burger party The Burger Bar .  It wasn’t the perfect soup weather, but it was much cooler than it had been a couple of weeks ago, and I had everything to make corn chowder, so corn chowder it was.  We may not have more soup weather for another couple of months, and I took advantage of the “cooler” weather and made soup.   By “cooler” weather, I mean it was in the high 70’s as opposed to being in the high 90’s or above.  It was a “cold spell” for these hot days of summer we have been having.  It was a nice little reprieve.  But it is supposed to be hot again for the rest of the week, which means probably more salads.  When I cooked my corn on the cob the other day, I cooked it in milk, butter and water, and since I only used it to cook my corn, I used that for my soup base.  We also had some left over corn and I just scraped the corn off the cob and mixed it in with my other vegetables.   With a little of this and a little of that, before too long, corn chowder was created and the soup was on.  I also had some leftover sauteed mushrooms, peppers and onions that became the filling for quesadillas.  So dinner was chicken and corn chowder with vegetable quesadillas topped with guacamole, also leftover.  I served a cool, crisp chardonnay along side my soup.  Delicioso!

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Making my soup.

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Years ago, when I was in culinary school, and we were just learning how to make soups and chowders, one of my chef instructors told me the key to making chowder is the bacon and the potatoes.  OK.  I love potatoes, and you can’t go wrong with bacon.  When I make chowders, I love them nice and thick.  This same chef instructor had his own ideas about chowders, and he liked them on the thinner side.  When I challenged him, and told him I was going to make them how I wanted to, he punished me by having me cut 10 lbs of onions.  I am VERY sensitive to cutting onions, and I always “cry” up a storm.  My eyes just burn something terrible too.  Obviously, I still cut and use onions all the time, but that memory has been ingrained forever, along with the crying and burning eyes.  I will never “punish” anyone for making dishes their own way, and to their own liking.  In fact, I encourage it.  You are the one that is going to eat your food, so make it the way you like it.

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Cooking the bacon and the potatoes together.  Once they were cooked, I added the rest of the vegetables.  Cook until softened and translucent.

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While all the vegetables are cooking, I cooked the chicken, coated with some flour, separately.  Once the chicken was cooked, I added it to the vegetables and then poured in the chicken stock and my milk and butter mixture.  I brought everything to a boil, then reduced the heat to a simmer and let it cook down for about 1 1/2-2 hours, stirring occasionally.   Because I like my chowders thick, I added more flour while my soup was cooking.

 

Corn and Chicken Chowder

2 lbs chicken, diced and cooked (I coated mine in flour while I was coking it, but this is optional)

3/4 red onion, diced fine

1-2 potatoes, cubed small

1/2 lb bacon, diced

2-3 celery stalks, diced fine

1 large bag of frozen corn, or fresh corn cut from the cob (about 1 lb)

1 red bell pepper, diced fine

2 jalapenos, diced fine

1 heaping TBSP garlic

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp oregano

salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

olive oil/butter for cooking the vegetables (I use a combination of both.  Adding the butter adds a richer, creamier flavor and also helps lower the smoke point of the olive oil, so it won’t burn)

4-5 cups of chicken stock

2-3 cups of either milk or heavy whipping cream (I usually use the heavy whipping cream, but I had the milk mixture this time)

cilantro

 

Cook the potatoes and bacon until the bacon is cooked and the potatoes are softened.  Add the rest of the vegetable mixture and continue cooking until all the vegetables are softened and translucent.  Cook the chicken until fully cooked.  I coated mine in flour because I like a thicker chowder, but this is optional.  Once the chicken is cooked, add it to the vegetable mixture.  Add the chicken stock and the milk/cream and the seasonings.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for another 1 1/2-2 hours.  I added about 1 more cup of flour to my soup mixture while it was cooking, to thicken it up.  I topped it with cilantro, and a little crab (optional) before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

The Burger Bar

It’s funny, but once people find out I am chef, they always ask, “do you ever eat hamburgers and hot dogs too?”  Of course I do, quite often in fact.  I love burgers and brats.   I can take or leave the hot dogs, unless they are good ones.  I would rather not waste my calories on something that is mediocre, and save them for the good stuff.  Sometimes there is nothing better than a big, juicy, messy hamburger.  And that’s exactly what we had yesterday too.  We had friends over for an early supper, and burgers were the main course on the menu.  Now of course, I made them with all the fixing’s and then some, but big, juicy burgers were center plate and the main course.  We even had some salmon burgers too, for those that did not want beef burgers.  Everything turned out delicious!

I made gourmet burgers with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce and some steak seasoning.  Each burger was about 1/3 lb before cooking.  Then we turned on the grill and grilled them to perfection.

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I provided everything one would want on a burger, and then some.  Everyone could choose what they wanted on their burger, and so they could make it their way, unique way.   Our burger bar included guacamole, 3 kinds of cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms with red bell peppers and onions, 2 different kinds of buns. and a variety of condiments.   I made myself a burger with jalapeno Jack cheese, bacon, guacamole and the mushroom mixture.  It was very messy, but very tasty.  To go along side the burgers, I also made potato salad, fruit salad, and corn on the cob, along with chips and salsa.  My friends brought some delicious home-made baked beans and a decadent chocolate cake that we had for dessert.

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We were not sure if Mother Nature would cooperate with us, so we were not sure if we would be dining inside or out.  But in the end, Mother Nature decided to be kind to us, and we were able to enjoy our burgers al fresco, on our deck.  Once again, we had a successful, fun dinner with good friends.  After our gourmet burger feast, we all played some games, and the fun continued.  It was a good time had by all.  Life is good!

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Cookies for the Cudas

You all know me as Jeanne, from ajeanneinthekitchen, but that is only part of who I am.  When I am not in the kitchen, I can always be found somewhere in the water.  I am a “professional mermaid and dolphin”.  I teach a wide variety of water aerobic classes; I am an age group swim coach for the Front Range Barracudas, aka The Cudas; I am a Masters Swimmer (I was still competing up until a couple of years ago before I had my injuries, but am planning on coming back again real soon) and I am an avid scuba/rescue diver.  We travel and dive all over the world.  With that being said, yesterday was the end of our season for The Cudas, but it was also the end of an era for our home pool, so we had a “Bye-bye BCC (Broomfield Community Center) party for the team.   As well as being one of the coaches for the team, I am also the self-appointed food coordinator for the team.  Surprise, surprise, I know.  Our party was a potluck so everyone brought something, though mostly cookies and snacks.  I too brought cookies, but of course, I made my own.  No store bought cookies for this girl; no way.   Knowing that I was making cookies for kids who are all under ten years old, I knew I had to keep it fun and pretty simple.  I found some fun pastel colored mint chips that I used instead of chocolate chips, and made the team’s cookies with those.  They were a big hit, and by the end of the party, they had all completely disappeared.  I will take that as a major stamp of approval.  🙂   The party was a lot of fun, and all my swimmers had a blast, but it was also a bittersweet day, particularly for me.  BCC has been a part of my daily life for the past 15 years.  I still work, coach and swim at plenty of other pools, but that was my home pool.  The new pool will be phenomenal once it is built, but we won’t have it for about another two years.  Oh well.  Another day, another pool.  All of my Cudas and myself will still “just keep swimmin” no matter where we are.

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All it takes to put a few smiles on our kids’ faces.

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My Sous Chef and special assistant, Nicodemus, who was supervising and making sure Mommy did everything just right.

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Have No Fear, the Queen of Leftovers is Here

After our hockey party, The Celebration Feast we had quite a few leftovers.  You saw what I made with the left over chicken and linguisa Chicken and Sausage del Diablo but that only used some of our leftovers.  There were plenty more.  Being the “Queen of Leftovers”, I had to recreate and re-use more of the leftovers, and make them into something totally different than what they were the first time around, or my reign as Queen might just be in jeopardy.   Some of the other leftovers from the party were the smoked pork loin with cherry chutney, which I cut up and added to some leftover rice.  I also added some toasted almond slivers and made them into empanadas.  I make empanadas quite often.  Sometimes I fry them, while other times I bake them.  It really just kind of depends on how I am feeling at the time, and whether or not I want to turn the oven on.  This time, they were fried.  I actually prefer the fried version slightly more than I do the baked version, but essentially, they are about the same.  Although the baked version has slightly less calories than the fried version, so they are a bit healthier.

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I served the empanadas with my Spicy Southwestern Scallops and, of course a margarita especial.  Spicy Southwestern Scallops

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There are many different recipes that you can use for the empanada dough, but I prefer my tried and true basic go-to, master dough, that I use for so many recipes.  Just with so many of my dishes and recipes, there is no right or wrong way of doing things.  Use what works for you.  If you have a recipe that you like, and you are comfortable with, use that.  Like I tell my students and my swim team, just think of me as a guide, and do what works best for you.

Making the stuffing.

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The key to real light, crispy and flaky empanadas is to roll them out thin.  You want them to be thin, but not to thin where they break apart and do not hold your stuffing.  I rolled them out to about 1/4 ” in thickness.  I added about 1 1/2 heaping TBSP of filling per circle, then carefully pinched them together.  After tightly sealing them, I pressed them down with a fork to tighten the seal even more.

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Empanadas can be filled with anything you like.  They can be sweet or savory.  You can bake them or you can fry them.  Again, there are many different ways to make them.  Be creative, and try them many different ways.  If you are baking them, brush them with an egg wash before baking so they will brown up to nice golden brown.  I actually was planning on baking them, so I added my egg wash, but while I was at work, my husband fried them instead.  Oh well.  No need to fret about it.  They still came out delicious.

Jeanne’s Master Dough

1 1/2 cups flour

6 TBSP COLD butter, cubed

a pinch of salt

1 egg

about 6 TBSP heavy whipping cream

 

Mix together the flour, butter and salt in a food processor until everything is well incorporated.  Then add the egg and the cream and mix everything together until the dough forms into a ball.  Remove from the food processor and wrap in plastic wrap.  Let the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.  The dough will keep up to about 3 days in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to use your dough, let it come to room temperature before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface.  I usually add a little flour to my rolling pin as well.  Then roll to your desired thickness and and shape it however you like.  I use this same recipe for my tarts as well.  If I am making a sweet tart or dough, the only difference is that I also add about 3 TBSP of powdered sugar.  This is called a pate sucre.  Sometimes, when I am making a savory dough, I add black and/or lemon pepper and other spices to my dough as well.  Again, be creative and use your imagination.

I doubled my dough recipe for my empanadas.