Buttery Goodness at Every Course

Last weekend I had a wonderful time with some ladies from the neighborhood.  They were kind enough to sample some Fleurty goodies and take some butter home to test out in their own kitchens.  We all know it’s way more enjoyable to have a nibble and a glass of bubbly while you chat on a Sunday afternoon; I was more than happy to provide the nibbles and some of the other ladies were kind enough to come through with the booze.  I promised my Sunday afternoon drinking buddies (I joke) that I’d get these recipes up and I’m three days late with them already!  So, without further adieu, here they are:

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Bacon Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Bacon Frosting

Cupcakes (this is an Ina Garten recipe – I am NOT a baker and will very rarely take credit for baked goods recipes posted on this site!):

1C all-purpose flour
1t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t kosher salt
1t ground cinnamon
1/2t ground ginger
1/2t ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1C canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2C granulated sugar
1/2C light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2C vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I used mini-muffin tins, spraying with non-stick spray and lining with paper muffin cups.

2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.

4. Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 1T ice cream scoop) and bake for 10-15, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.

Frosting:

1/3C butter
1/4t salt
1lb (3 1/2 cups) sifted confectioners sugar
3-4T milk (again, I used skim)
2 slices bacon*

1. Cream softened butter in mixing bowl. 
2. Slowly add the sifted confectioners sugar. 
3. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time, making sure not to add too much or the frosting will be too runny.  If this happens, try adding a little more sugar.

*The flavor of the frosting is surprisingly subtle, especially when compared to the strong pumpkin flavor of the cupcake.  To play up the bacon texture and salty flavor, I added a small, fresh piece; well-cooked to ensure a good crunch when you chew it!  Makes for a pretty, edible garnish!

Roasted Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes

6 large potatoes, peeled
4T Fleurt Roasted Garlic Herb Butter
Kosher salt
Milk
2TGreek yogurt

1. Cut the peeled potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place them in a large pot, covering the potatoes with water.  Add 2T kosher salt.

2. Bring the water to a boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes – or until the potatoes fall apart earily when pierced with a fork.

3. Strain the potates in a colander and cover the colander with a pot lid to keep them warm while you soften the butter in the pot you used to cook the potatoes.

4. Once the butter is melted, add a few tablespoons of milk (I use skim).  Add the potatoes to the butter/milk mixture, using a ricer or masher to mash the potatoes. 

5. Stir to incorporate the butter/milk into the potatoes.  Add the greek yogurt and a few pinches of salt.  Stir.  Add milk at your discretion to get the potatoes to the preferred consistency.

Chipotle Meatballs

1lb lean ground beef
1lb ground pork
2 1/2T softened (but not melted) Fleurt Chipotle Lime Butter
1/2C bread crumbs
1 egg
2T dried oregano

Sauce:

2 chipotle peppers
1T adobo sauce
1 28oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
2C beef stock
3 whole garlic cloves, peeled & crushed

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix beef, pork, butter, bread crumbs, egg and oregano.  Take your rings off and get your hands dirty!

2. Use your 1T ice cream scoop to make the meatballs; place them on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.

3. While the meatballs bake, put chipotle peppers, adobo, tomatoes, and garlic cloves in a food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Put the puree and beef stock into a pot and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat and simmer, adding meatballs when they are finished baking.  Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and leave to cook for an hour, stirring occassionally.

Sundried Tomato Cornbread (this is a Bon Apetit recipe with Fleurt substituted in for

Sundried Tomato Cornbread

plain butter)

1 1/3C coarse stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1C all purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
2t baking powder
3/4t coarse kosher salt
1Cp plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
9t Fleurt Sundried Tomato Butter, melted
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend

1. Prep mini-muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

2. Mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and coarse salt in large bowl. Add buttermilk, melted butter, and beaten eggs. Stir with wooden spoon until well blended. Let mixture stand 30 minutes to absorb liquid. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F.

3. Using 1T ice cream scoup to put batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake until browned around edges and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let rest in pan 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

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Pork Cook-Off Abroad

Pulled Pork Sandwich

My kids and I are just back from a month in the UK. The highlight of the trip? A pork cook-off with my father-in-law. Giddyup! I should clarify that there were lots of awesome adventures during the trip (aquarium, horseback riding, playgrounds, time with family and general outdoor fun we aren’t able to have in desert), but this pork cook-off was MY bit of fun.

Pulled pork is something which I have always enjoyed eating, with no specific region garnering favor. This, however, is my first time attempting to create this mouth-watering delight at home. And, I should clarify, not even my home. Not even my home country.

My inlaws were kind enough to tolerate my kitchen antics for the tenure of our visit, and this day was no exception…other than the fact that it was their 40th wedding anniversary. Happy days! Nothing says ‘Happy Ruby Wedding Anniversary’ like a kitchen covered in spices, liquids, measuring cups, bowls and huge hunks of pork!

The benefit of going on this adventure in the UK was that I could utilize a local butcher for fresh, local meat. My father-in-law, Adrian, grew up in the same village where he currently resides, with parents and grandparents also growing up in the surrounding area. So when Adrian said he was going to take me to the butcher he likes, I practically ran to the car. Ten minutes later (I should mention here that it takes 25 mins to get to the nearest grocery store) we were at a little butcher shop. Better still, this butcher shop was also an abattoir! I was giddy at the thought of animals being processed (sorry, that’s the nicest word I could think of) on the premises and that my pork shoulder was from a pig that had lived just down the road.

My request for a bone-in pork shoulder was received with a funny look from the butcher, but I’ll chalk that up to my accent – which must have been as hard for him to understand as it was for me to understand his very thick black country twang. My father-in-law ordered pork belly with the skin trimmed off (but saved) and most of the fat trimmed. Watching the two butchers prepare these cuts of meat was incredible and confirmed for me that I could never be a vegetarian!

We returned to the house with our large plastic bags of meat and got to work. Here is my recipe:

Pulled Pork

Preheat oven to 280.

8lb bone-in pork shoulder

Rub
3T sweet paprika
2T chili powder
2T ground ginger
2T rosemary (bashed to pieces with a mortar & pestle)
2T garlic powder
1T onion powder
1T salt
1T black pepper
1T white pepper

Sear in a hot, dry pan on all sides.
Place in dutch oven. Cover with cooking liquid (see below).

Cooking Liquid
1 C beef stock
1 medium onion, rough chop
1-1/2 C of favorite bbq sauce (it’s kind of cheating, but oh well!)
1/3 C cider vinegar
1/2 C brown sugar
2 T paprika
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T yellow mustard (I used Coleman’s English because I wanted a little extra zing)
1 t salt
1 t black pepper

Cook covered for 8 hrs at 280.
Hand or fork shred.
Strain cooking liquid and reduce by 1/3 to create sauce.
Serve on a roll with coleslaw and corn on the cob. Serve sauce on side.

I will say that I looooved mine (of course), but also that my father-in-laws pork belly was delicious. He used a Jamie Oliver recipe which you can find HERE.

In spite of this being a cook-off, no winner was officially declared but I’d like to think that my super tender, spicy, sweet pulled pork was the winner. We did, however have a re-match a few nights later…this time I prepared entree & main, Adrian prepared desert. He was the clear winner; I think making Crêpe Suzette from scratch (and they were DELICIOUS) earns him the trophy.

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Obsessed!

It’s summer in the desert now and I find that it’s the little things that keep me going…

1.  Tiny Wings: this app has been distracting me for weeks now and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.  Seriously.  [It’s taken me an entire week to write this blog post because I keep pausing to play a game of Tiny Wings.]  So pathetic.  And yet I can’t stop!

2. Trader Joe’s:  I know most of you have heard of, and probably experienced, Trader Joe’s and will agree that it’s one of those stores that has great products and an incredibly helpful staff.  A few of the things I love about Trader Joe’s right now?  The mini-shopping carts.  Georgie (my 2 year old) is fighting me on riding in the cart seat so the mini-carts make it waaaaaay easier to get through a grocery shop.  Of course, I usually arrive at checkout with a few extra items but it’s worth it!  I’m also enamored of the Vacuum Fried Pineapple which is a fabulously crispy snack.  And, as the perfect cocktail hour munchie, Soy & Flax Seed Tortilla Chips with Fat Free Spicy Black Bean Dip.  ‘Nuf said.

3. Spinning: it’s been a decade (or so) since I finished college and my Division I athletic career.  Since then I’ve struggled to find a workout that I could be passionate about and stay interested in for more than one week.  I tried spinning years ago and HATED it; it made my butt so sore I couldn’t sit at my desk the next day.  Recently a friend of mine convinced me to give it another shot and I’m so glad he did.  My achy rear dissipated after 4 classes and I was hooked.  Never have I sweat like this before – and I played field hockey in the hot, humid South in August!  It’s an hour of burning muscles, an instructor telling me what to do, my phone is off and my kids are looked after by someone else.  Ahhhh….

4. Online shops:  look, online shopping itself is no revelation but there are some awesome sites that have some great deals on a variety of things.  Ideeli, Hautelook, Ruelala and Gilt are membership sites (relax, membership is free) and offer super-discounted prices on everything from apparel to household items to vacations.  It’s how I do my window-shopping while the kids watch morning cartoons!

5.  Juicer:  I’m no Jack Lalane but I am trying to beat the summer heat in a healthy fashion and take advantage of some of the gorgeous produce at local farmer’s markets by juicing.  It helps that the kids get into it and love making up their own drink combos.  At the moment we’re really into a tangy and tart apple/lime juice and peach/strawberry/lemon juice. 

6.  Pumas (not the animal, the shoe): my very sweet husband bought me some new kicks

Puma's Faas 250 Women's Running Shoe

for my birthday (see pic).  Never did I think I would be so psyched about new sneakers; I fancy myself a bit more of a Manolo Blahnik/Christian Louboutin/Brian Atwood kind of woman.  But it’s really an apples and oranges situation, so I’m quite happy prancing around in my new sneakers all day long and slipping into my platform stilettos for the occassional night out! 

7.  Oakleys: my husband is going to sound like a saint at the end of this post, as well he should.  He does a wonderful job of remembering the little comments I make about clothes and accessories.  He did me proud on Mother’s Day when he handed me a new pair of sunglasses, the exact pair I’d pointed out a few months before.  Check them out on the Oakley site.  Ah, bless. 

8.  Pitbull (not the animal, the artist):  I’m always late jumping on the music bandwagon, but I can’t go through this whole list without a mention of an awesome summer song: Bon, Bon.  It’s $1.29 on iTunes.  Buy it.

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Cheap & Easy: Summer Salads

Summer for my family and me is about spending long days in the pool, returning to the cool of our air conditioned home, eating a refreshing meal, and then doing it all over again. Summers in Arizona are bright, sunny, dry and, ummm, oppressively hot. I know I bangon about the desert heat, but when it’s 115 everyday for months, what else do you

Poolside tea parties are a daily occurence during summer!

expect me to talk about?

With hot temps and bathing suit season in mind, I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite summer salads. All are delicious when paired with grilled meats or fish. Maybe even with smoked proteins?? I’ll let you know…my new smoker box arrives this week so I’m going to be doing some experimenting!

Also, you’ll note that I haven’t included any measurements for these recipes. When it comes to salads, I feel like you should put in as much of the ingredients as you like…more nuts? Sure! Less cucumber? Alrighty! So bung it all into a bowl, mix it around and then spill it out (neatly, of course) onto a serving dish and dig in!

CHOPPED

Quinoa
Arugula
Raw Almonds, slivers
Manchego
Jicama, diced
Craisins
Champagne Vinaigrette

Look, this salad is not meant to be fussy. It’s a chopped salad, for Pete’s sake! cook the quinoa according to the package instructions, cool to room temp. Toss with arugula, almonds, manchego, jicama*, craisins and a light drizzle of champagne vinaigrette. When it comes to the vinaigrette, I rely on store-bought. There are some dressings I am happy to make, but this is an easy summer salad, so take shortcuts where you can get them!

TWEAKED GREEK

Couscous
Watermelon, small cubes
Cucumber, seeded & diced
Feta, crumbled
Fresh Mint, minced
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

As in the Chopped Salad, cook the couscous according to package instructions, making sure to toss with a fork when it’s finished cooking. Cool it to room temp. Toss with watermelon, cucumber, mint, and feta. Splash with balsamic vinegar – go lightly at first, you can always add more and you may find that the couscous soaks up the liquid pretty quickly. Drizzle with olive oil, just to add a touch of smoothness. A pinch of salt and sprinkling of pepper and you’ll be good to go!

A variation of the Tweaked Greek that is also a nice, quick dish is to leave out the couscous and toss the watermelon, cucumber, feta and mint with red onion (thinly sliced), balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.

CLASSIC PASTA SALAD

Rotini
Carrots, diced
Bell Peppers (red, orange & yellow), diced
Grape/Cherry Tomatoes, halved
Brocoli, trimmed into small florets
Sharp Cheddar
Italian dressing

Not to sound like a broken record, but cook the rotini according to package instructions, making sure to add a good palmful of salt to the boiling water before adding the pasta. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water and cool to room temp. Mix pasta, carrots, peppers, brocoli, tomatoes and cheddar in a large bowl. Add enough Italian dressing to coat the noodles and vegetables. Chill in refrigerator briefly before serving.

This pasta salad is one that my mother made for my family and that I make all the time for mine. It’s the one thing I request every year for my birthday (you thought I was kidding all those times I said I prefer simple things) and it’s DELICIOUS as a leftover.

TEXAS CAVIAR**

Black Beans
Corn
Bell Peppers (red & orange), diced
Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Cilantro, minced
Cumin
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
1 lime, zest & juice
Tabasco

I prefer canned black beans (again, simplicity reigns supreme), so rinse and drain the beans before chucking them into a large bowl. The corn should also be fresh (it’s summer…there’s no excuse). You can either boil the corn (once shucked, obviously) or grill it. Remove the corn from the cob and add to black beans. To the beans and corn add peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro. Add a palmful of cumin, large pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and add zest and juice of lime. Toss & taste. Add the Tabasco if you’d like a hit of spice.

*Jicama: this is one of my favorite summer veggies. It looks gnarly on store shelves, but it’s worth the minimal effort it takes to strip away the dirty brown exterior. It’s wonderfully crispy and adds great texture to salads of all kinds. Plus, it’s a good one to have on hand for crudite. And for the kids, too…even the pickiest (like my Georgie) will find the flavor and texture enjoyable.
**Texas Caviar: I am not responsible for this name! I made this salad when my sister’s in-laws were in town. After sizing up what I was serving, my sister’s mother-in-law informed me of the name. I think it’s kind of cute, so I’ve referred to it as such ever since.

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Kale Chips: Who Knew?

My 6 year old, Lily, is a bottomless pit. She walks in the door after school and rather than telling me what a great day she had, she asks me what she may have for a snack. And when the first snack course is finished, she asks for something else.  That cycle continues until I lose my patience and my ability to think logically: I give her something processed and filled with sugar (fruit snacks, candy, etc.) to buy her silence.  Yes, I am that mom. 

Clearly the current array of carrot sticks, apples, cheese and yogurt just are not cutting it.   Plus Lily’s younger sister, Georgie, is getting in on the act.

Kale chips are an attempt to provide something salty and crunchy (and healthy) for all of us at snacktime. I’m thinking these will taste really good come 5pm…a nice cold cider (on ice) and crunchy kale chips could considerably lower my pre-dinner stress level!

I pinched this recipe from Epicurious and tweeked it slightly. Enjoy! 

A surprisingly crunchy, tasty snack!

Kale Chips

12 large kale leaves
olive oil
salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 250.

Rinse and thoroughly dry the kale leaves.  Cut in half lengthwise and then remove the center ribs and stem.

Toss kale with olive oil, salt, and fresh ground black pepper. *

Arrange leaves in a single layer on two baking sheets.  Bake until crisp (30 mins for flat leaves, 35 for wrinkled leaves).

Transfer leaves to rack to cool.

*At this point I added Penzey’s Mural of Flavor for some added flavor (use only a pinch of salt & pepper in conjunction with the spice mix).  Delicious!

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Let Them (and by ‘Them’ I mean ‘Me) Eat Cake!!

Fabulous & fleurty cupcakes!

When it comes to cakes and cupcakes, I’m usually not one to try new recipes.  The potential for disaster is too great and I just don’t think I could handle the disappointment of my cake not turning out.  I am definitely not a baker – recipes are far too precise – but the promise of enjoying the final product is usually what gets me through the actual prep.

With Easter and my birthday falling on the same day this year, I decided to take dessert prep into my own hands and try out a gorgeous new recipe I found online.  PINK LEMONADE CUPCAKES sounded like the perfect springtime dessert so I gave them a go…

I should mention here that I got the initial idea for these cupcakes from @bitchinkitchen but found a fabulous recipe (accompanied by the most luscious pictures) on Sweet Tooth.  Bookmark this site because you will find yourself using it as your go-to dessert reference! 

PINK LEMONADE CUPCAKES (recipe courtesy of EricaSweetTooth)

For Pink Lemonade Cake:

1 box white cake mix
3/4 cup frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 egg whites

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffins tins with liners
– Combine all of the ingredients in an electric mixer and begin by mixing low for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium for another minute.
– Divide the batter evenly, filling the liners about 2/3 full
– Bake cupcakes for about 25 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean
– Allow cupcakes to cool before frosting

For Pink Lemonade Buttercream:

3 cups confectioners sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 tbsp frozen pink lemonade concentrate
Pinch of salt
Food coloring

– Combine all ingredients in an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment and mix on low until combined
– Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and to your desired consistency
– Color as you desire

I did make a few amendments to the recipe…  My local grocery store was out of pink lemonade (bummer!) so I used regular lemonade concentrate for both the cake and the frosting.  Also, Erica does a wonderful job of creating a two-tone frosting effect on her cupcakes (on her site there’s even a link to a video tutorial), but with two kids running around the house and a husband out golfing I chose to go the single color route. 

I’m thinking I might try making these again with a variation on the theme using limeade.  Any excuse to make more cake, right?  Pretty sure my girls will also be more than happy to be taste testers!

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Chipotle Glazed Salmon

I’m out of breath and, admittedly, a little bit sweaty.  Don’t worry, it’s nothing lascivious; just a mind-clearing dance session.  Yes folks, I plugged in my iPod and cranked up my GO playlist this AM to get my creative juices flowing.  I needed to get unstuck…

Top of the GO playlist fave...Grace Potter & the Nocturnals 'Ooh La La'

…and now I’m writing.  It ain’t pretty, but it’s me getting over myself and my vanities.  Everything I write here doesn’t have to be amazing; I am the only one holding myself to that standard.  Lucky for you, if you don’t like what you are reading, you can ignore me.  My husband and kids, however, not that lucky. 

To continue with that whole ‘unvarnished’ theme, I’ll publicly announce a huge failure in the kitchen.  In an attempt to get the week off to a great start, I skipped the steaks and opted for salmon with asparagus and wild rice.  I did want to inject some spice – temps are soaring here and a good spicy warmth seems to cut right through the oppressive heat – so I created a chipotle glaze using Fleurt Chipotle Lime butter.  With no recipe on which to base the glaze, it was definitely an expirement.

I melted 4 tablespoons of Fleurt Chipotle Lime butter and then cooled it to seperate the milk fat.  I then reheated the clarified flavored butter, added a few tablespoons of soy sauce, honey, fresh lime juice and a pinch of cumin.  I let it simmer for a bit, until it reached a slightly syrupy consistency.

The salmon was simply rinsed, dried, rubbed with salt and fresh ground black pepper then grilled skinside down.  I like my asparagus grilled so I tossed it with a bit of olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper before grilling to bright-green-with-bite-left-to-it perfection.  The rice needs no explanation other than I luuuuv wild rice so I allowed myself this treat.  Plus, I felt like the flavor/texture stands up nicely to salmon.

All sounds good in theory, right?  In practice it was a different story altogether.  Had I pulled the salmon off the grill when I first thought of it, I would’ve been money.  Instead I got distracted and pulled it off 2 minutes too late and it was dry.  I thought the glaze might provide a little moisture, but true to form, it was too little too late.  Not enough glaze in the pan (or world) to make the salmon taste as delicious as I wanted it to be. 

The glaze itself wasn’t bad; a tad on the lime-y side, but that’s not altogether a bad thing when combined with salmon.  There was a nice latent warmth from the chipotle and a slight sweetness from the honey.  I probably could’ve used a bit more soy; the saltiness was virtually undetectable. And to be fair, the salmon could’ve used a little more flavoring pre-grill…perhaps some cumin mixed into the salt and black pepper. 

Needless to say, I was disappointed.  Had everything gone to plan, this would’ve been the perfect beginning for the week.  Did I mention that I prepared this for not just my family, but close friends also?  I doubt they’ll be taking me up on future offers to bring dinner over! 

No pictures of the meal…entirely too depressed to bother snapping pics after plating.  I will, however, indulge myself further and post my GO playlist in case you need a good dance party to get you going!

Ooh La La (Grace Potter & The Nocturnals)
Billionaire (travie McCoy)
The Cave (Mumford & Sons)
Dogs Days Are Over (Florence + the Machine)
Run This Town (Jay-Z)
Love Lockdown (Kanye West)
Human (The Killers)
Sex on Fire (Kings of Leon)
That’s Not My Name (The Ting Tings)
Suicide (The Raveonettes)
Get Up Get Out (The Rosebuds)
Out of the Blue (Julian Casablancas)
Not Fair (Lily Allen)
Little Lion Man (Mumford & Sons)
Shut Up & Let Me Go (The Ting Tings)
If Looks Could Kill  (Camera Obscura)
Ragged Wood (Fleet Foxes)
Why Do You Let Me… (She & Him)
Heartless (Kanye West)

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