Monday, June 15, 2015

Tips for Making Curds & Cobblers

I want to take a minute to re-visit one very important, and sometimes over-looked step when you're making homemade curds or cobblers.  Part of the basis of your unique and quality, really creamy curds (or cobblers) is that you want to have absolutely NO LUMPS, whatsoever.  And the key to getting that super smooth and silky texture is going to happen when you're prepping your dry ingredients.

Before you ever even add your liquids or strained fruit juices to your thickening agent (which in our case is either going to be a flour/sugar mixture or a cornstarch/sugar mix), you have got to make sure that the flour agent and the sugar have been completed mixed, a thoroughly blended like it is in this pic, below.

Now, I need you to pinkie-swear me, that you will not, absolutely not, by any means, skip this step and allow a lumpy curd to be served on your table.

Do we have a deal?

If so, please take a minute to go back over this recipe, and practice the curd part of it, and see how smooth and delicious your curd comes out when you have slowly but surely stirred each and every part.

Okay, Mama is done.  Have a Happy Monday friends!

xo- Bakie

Monday, June 8, 2015

Chicken Kabobs & Ribbon Zucchini

So much of cooking is doing some that is innovative for your very own family.  I am a firm believer that when we put our best foot forward, that it should be to our family first, and then to everyone else, out from there.  That is where I prepared this meal for dinner for my little bunch.  It was literally a regular week night where the chicken was up, and I did want to serve something that we had, had before.
One of the easiest ways that I find to take your meat (or any veggie) to another level is to #1- change it's shape.  So here we go.  We're just starting off with your standard chicken breast.  I find that I like the breast meat of the chicken served best on skewers.  As you'll notice, the standard skewers that you find in your local grocery store may not fit on the inside of all of your pans.  In my case, it didn't but on an outdoor or stove-top grill, you have a safe bet.  For indoors, and pans with a rim, you will have to break a portion of the skewer off to measure down to the size of your pan.

*Note:  You might be wondering why I did not choose to cut the skewer down before starting with the meat?  The reason is because, I still wanted to use the pointy part to pierce through before they were ready to go into my pan.

I took my chicken kabobs to the next level by implementing one very simple trick:

Changing the flavor.

If you always use salt and pepper, or salt, pepper and a little bit of garlic that switch things up a bit.  For this particular meal, I went with powder garlic and dried oregano.  If you have fresh, that is great too, but it is not always the most convenient that have handy.  No fresh herbs on hand, have no fear.  You're just going to hit your "creativity" button into play and come up with something awesome.  Sound good?

They tasted as good as they looked and everyone was surprised to see that we were having this fun dish literally in the middle of the week, and...just because. :-)

Now, I added another fun element to our dinner: zucchini.  And not just any zucchini.  Again, like I said, switch it up!  Cooking for your family is supposed to be fun and invigorating.  What greater joy in the kitchen should one have then to know that the meal that you have placed before your family was nourishing and that the time and energy that you have put forth was a sincere expression of your love?  (Okay, maybe I am just super-passionate about food but there is a science to it, I tell ya!)

My zucchini has a similar creative flair to it.  Again, something different.  We eat zucchini from time to time, but never like this.  (I think that I may be on to something).  This night, I peeled all of the skin off of it, and then for the part that remained, I just ran my peeler down each side in vertical strokes leaving me with medium-thickness zucchini ribbons.  It was AWESOME!  (Alright, there I go again, getting too happy about food but I can't help it!)

The moment of truth: my family LOVED it!  My girls loved most that the chicken was on a stick and the my husband was just please that we were having a meal like this, again, in the middle of the week and for no special occasion.  He LOVED the way the zucchini turned out.  It really was something special!

So what are you doing with dinner this week to change things up?  Are you going to grab one of those spices that you've never even used?  Or how about family pizza night?  Rather than making that same old pizza crust, why not through some herbs into it?  Or even make a up a compound butter to go with bread at dinner?

Bon Appetit!

xo- Bakie 

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Orange Juice Breakfast Donuts with Strawberry-Blueberry Curd!

I love a good homemade doughnut.  And since it is National Doughnut Day, we're making our own.  The ingredients are simple and delicious and it's probably stuff that you already have on hand.  We'll start with:


2 sticks of butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 cups of self-rising flour*
1 cup of orange juice
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Optional: Confectioner's sugar

Now this is actually an Orange Cake Recipe that I adapted from a cookbook that we received some years ago.  If you'll note, that my recipe above adds 3/4 cup more flour that it calls for.  That will hopefully give us a more rounded doughnut than mine turns out to be.  Also, using Crisco shortening can give you a bit more "airy-ness", if you will. :-)

Tip #2: Always make sure that if there' flour, salt, or baking powder that is needed to be added to the mix that you have fully added it, and blended it together before added it to your battered mix.  With all of that being said, let's go!


Cream together the butter and sugar.  

Add the eggs one at a time and beat for two minutes after the third egg is added.

Now once you begin to get that pretty yellow color mixed in there from your eggs, you're going to begin adding (alternatively) your flour and your orange juice.  Starting and ending with flour.  (So, flour, orange juice, flour, orange juice, flour).  That's simple enough, right? :-) 

And when you're done, you should have a yummy, creamy looking batter that is ready to go into your greased doughnut pan.

Just like with cupcakes, one full ice cream scoop, does the "do".

And all you need is one to fill the cavities on your pan.  Doughnut pan found at Target. :-)

Bake for 12 minutes on 350 degrees and your good to go.

Now for our delicious curd!  

You'll need:

2 cups of fresh berries
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup of sugar
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
4 tbsp of butter (chilled & cubed)

 Bring the berries and water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Turn down the heat to low and simmer until the berries are soft and separate easily, (about 5 minutes).  Transfer the mixture into a sieve and pass through using a spoon to help mash the berries.  Discard the pulp and reserve the juice.

Place the flour and sugar (already blended) into a clean saucepan and slowly pour in the berry juice.  Whisking constantly.  When thoroughly combined, add  the whole eggs and egg yolks and continue to cook until thickened.

Once the curd has formed (after about 7 minutes) remove from the heat and stir in chunks of butter.

Allow about ten minutes to for the curd to cool and in the mean time, go & sprinkle your doughnuts!

Flaky, butter, orange, doughnut cake goodness.  Oh, I'm not telling stories here, people.

I mean, I figured, that I just take one more bite, I know, for the camera, and all. ;-)

Well, I'm guessing that if I had just one more bite before lunch, it wouldn't hurt anything...

I mean breakfast, breakfast that's right.  So let's do one bite for breakfast, and one bite for lunch. and a bite for snack.  And...ut oh, what just happened, here?

Err...I think that you had better go ahead and make (and eat) these!

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Happy National Doughnut Day, Y'all!

xo -Bakie

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The things we do for love....A Mulan-themed Birthday Party!

So my little girl, who is actually my "biggest" girl now, is turning 7.  And what does she want for her birthday?  Mulan.  Mulan it is!  She wanted a Mulan-themed birthday party held at one of her favorite restaurants.  So, the first thing that I had to do in my game-planning for this sweet girl, is to bring in Mulan in every shape and form possible without doing a table set up which is something that I would normally do at home.  So, for starters, we went with: 

Mulan cupcake toppers...

Printed pictures of Mulan in frames.  (You'd never know it but kids go absolutely crazy by just seeing random pictures of their favorite character in frames at their birthday parties.  Not to worry, I won't charge you for that tip. ;-)

The girls also made little Mulan-themed fans, if you will.  (Really just simple 10-inch fans made from 12x12 scrapbooking paper that they got to embellish beforehand).
I had them put these nifty labels on them, too. 
 In addition to her cake pops, she wanted chocolate cupcakes, frosting with purple icing to match everything else Mulan.  Don't mind the Hello Kitty paper there.  It had to work, I mean, it just had to work.  (Hey, I needed something pink and was short on time, lol!)

All in all, I would say that the girls, especially the birthday girl, had one incredible time.  I hope that I have inspired you with some really simple ideas to love on your little one(s) for his/her next birthday!

xo- Bakie