Monday, December 29, 2008

Week 14: Hot Buttered Rum

Okay, winters in California are not that cold, but it has been getting down in the 40's and we were eager to try a hot buttered rum. I am not sure if I had ever had one, but we thought it would be fun to make it for the holidays. So off to the internet we went to try and find a recipe. Well we found quite a few and found out that you can make a "batter" ahead of time or just use some butter and spices for one cocktail. If you are not worried about calories, this is a great and easy drink to make on a cold winter’s day! We liked making up some batter and having it around to make a drink anytime. Have fun and enjoy a wonderfully comforting winter hillbilly drink!

Hot Buttered Rum Batter

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 4 oz unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Mix all batter ingredients together in a bowl.
Step 2: I put the batter on a piece of plastic wrap and shaped it into a log, so it would be easy to slice when chilled. Refrigerate in a sealed air-tight container for up to 2 months.

Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail

  • 2 tablespoons hot buttered rum batter (1/8 slice from your batter log)

  • 6 oz boiling water

  • 1 ½ oz dark rum

  • 1 tablespoon light cream or ice cream

  • Nutmeg to garnish

Step 1: In a hot beverage mug, combine 2 tablespoons of hot buttered rum batter with boiling water and stir well.
Step 2: Add rum and cream.
Step 3: Garnish with nutmeg

Special items needed: none, just rum

Makes 8 servings. Calories 301 per serving!!

If you don’t want the temptation of having batter around, then just put a dash of each of the spices and a few tablespoons of butter in a mug and add hot water and rum. You can also skip the butter and basically you are making a hot toddy! Less calories too and still good. If you want a non-alcoholic version of the recipe, just add about 1/3 cup ice cream in replacement of the rum. Super Yum! Enjoy!

Recipe credit to: Stephanie Jolly

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week 13: Mr. B Dog Biscuits

I got a dog almost two years ago and his name is Byron. Due to a change in my work schedule, I was working out of my home a lot and thought it might be nice to have a dog. My boyfriend really wanted a dog, but couldn’t have a dog in his apartment complex. We decided to look online one day for fun and came across this pretty "funny" looking photo of Byron. He was all shaved down and had the longest tail on the planet! We called up the rescue group to see if we could stop by and see him. The next thing I knew, Byron was at my condo with all his stuff and "spending the night" to see if we got along. I was floored! What do I do with a dog? Byron just sat there looking at me, asking what’s next? Help!! I got soooo lucky, with a wonderful, sweet, and even tempered dog. His hair has grown out and I think he is the cutest dog on the planet! (Okay dog lovers, I know YOUR dog is the cutest dog, but hands down, Byron wins!!) We have had people say they were going to bump us off, so they could get my dog! Byron has been amazing and I can’t imagine life without him. If you have a dog, you know they love walks (Thanks Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer!) And treats. Byron has a pretty sensitive stomach so I decided to make some homemade dog biscuits that were good and healthy. Well, as an early Christmas present, Byron got a dog bone cookie cutter and some recipes for homemade dog biscuits, so I decided to make some and also give them as gifts to the rest of the dogs on the block! Merry Christmas Dixie, Miho, Flur, Esmay, Ruby, Herbie, Tammy, and rest of the Pasadena dogs!

There are hundreds of recipes out there and I was looking for an easy recipe that I could make up with just ingredients I would always have in the house. Below is the first I have tried and they came out nice and pretty tasty too. It is really just a human biscuit recipe. Byron seemed to like them, so I guess we are good. Enjoy doggies and Happy Holidays!

Easy Dog Biscuits

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup wheat germ

  • ½ cup dry milk powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt (love the Kosher salt)

  • 6 tablespoons margarine or shortening

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

  • ½ cup water (more if needed)

  • Optional ingredients: 1 teaspoon: grated carrot, garlic powder, or grated cheese

Special items needed: none

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Step 2: Combine flours, wheat germ, powdered milk, salt, and margarine/shortening. Mix until it resembles cornmeal. I love getting my hand messy and your dog will love your scent!

Step 3: Beat the egg and brown sugar together. With a fork is fine, no mixer needed. Stir into the flour mixture.

Step 4: Slowly add water to the mix and stir until it makes a stiff dough. I needed to add more water since my flour is always dry. You basically want the dough to stick together, but not too sticky so you can roll it out.

Step 5: Knead a little and roll it out to ½ inch thick. Cut biscuits with cutter (dog bone shape preferred and loved by dogs. You don’t want to get them mixed up with other cookies in the house.)

Step 6: Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool and store in a sealed container.

Have fun and enjoy your hillbilly treats!

Recipe credit to: Michelle Jordan, Treat Cookbook.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Week 12: Homemade Marshmallows

Okay, I love sugar! Cotton candy was my favorite treat as a kid and I loved making so’mores over a camp fire. I came across a recipe in the July issue of Bon Appetit for homemade marshmallows by a great blogger, Molly Wizenberg and her award winning blog, Orangette. Check it out! I guess I just never thought of making marshmallows and decided I needed to try them for the holidays. Oh, my gosh!! How amazing are homemade marshmallows! I don’t think I can ever buy store bought marshmallows again. This simple recipe is really good and loaded with sugar, so how could you go wrong?

I decided to package these up this year and give marshmallows as gifts to friends. My first batch I decided I was going to make peppermint flavored marshmallows since I had a little peppermint extract left in the pantry. A word of caution, take it easy with peppermint flavoring! It is pretty strong stuff compared with vanilla extract, so go light and mix it with vanilla. I used about 1/8 teaspoon and I swear my sinuses clear with this batch of marshmallows. Experiment and have fun! Almond extract is my next experiment. Enjoy!

Homemade Marshmallows:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray

  • 1 cup cold water, divided

  • 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin, 1/4-oz envelopes

  • 2 cups superfine sugar (regular white sugar is fine too, but this melts really quickly!)

  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or any other flavor)

  • ½ cup sweet rice flour or potato starch or corn starch

  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Special items needed: candy thermometer

Step 1: Line 13x9 metal pan with tin foil. Spray foil with non-stick spray. I lined the tin foil so it went over the top edges so I could use it as handles to take out the marshmallow slab later.

Step 2: Pour ½ cup of cold water in your heavy-duty mixer (I love my orange Kitchen Aid mixer!) If you have a whisk attachment use that. It seems to work well. Sprinkle your 3 envelopes of gelatin over the water in the mixer. Let stand for about 15 minutes while you are mixing up the rest.

Step 3: Now the fun part, making candy! How scary! Okay, this part is actually pretty easy. I was pretty frightened about HOT molten candy and getting burned, which seems to be a trend of mine lately. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining ½ cup cold water in a medium saucepan.

Step 4: Over medium heat stir until sugar dissolves and then raise the heat. Now place in or hold your candy thermometer in the saucepan and just let the syrup come to a boil. Boil, without stirring until the syrup reaches 240 degrees (soft ball measurement), about 8 minutes. Be sure not to touch the tip of the thermometer to the bottom! We already broke one thermometer and got mercury all over our dish, so out that one went!

Step 5: Remove syrup from heat. Turn on mixer with the water and gelatin on stir/low speed. Now the tricky part, just slowly pour the syrup into the mixer. I would go really slow and careful. This liquid is pretty hot and you will notice steam starting to come out of the mixer as it cools. Pour all the syrup in and slowly begin to raise the speed to high or 10 on the Kitchen Aid.

Step 6: Mix until very thick and stiff for about 15 minutes. It will really start getting white and fluffy! Don’t be tempted to touch the beautiful fluffy stuff while mixing!

Step 7: Add in your vanilla extract or any extract flavoring you would like. I noticed by adding a little liquid to the fluff, it really would move around so pour in the extract slowly and let it mix for about 30 seconds.

Step 8: Scrape marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth top with a wet spatula. Let stand at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours.

Step 9: I know there seem to be a lot of steps, keep going you are almost to the sugar coma finish line. Now stir together the rice flour and powdered sugar. I found sweet rice flour at Whole Foods, which was pretty reasonable and has a nice flavor. (Other recipes I saw used potato starch or just plain old corn starch.) Now you will sift a good amount of your sugar-starch on your working surface. I put down a cutting board since I was going to cut into the marshmallows. Turn the marshmallow slab out onto your sugar-starch surface and peel off the tin foil. It is pretty sticky so you can put some of the sugar-starch on your hands as you are working with it. Sift more sugar-starch on the top of the marshmallow slab to coat.

Step 10: Coat your knife with the cooking spray just this once and cut into pieces. Bon Appetit has you cut them into 24 pieces the size of 2 inches, but these seemed a bit big, so we cut them into about 1 inch size. Up to you and how big your want the marshmallows. Try mini-marshmallows! Toss each marshmallow in the remaining sugar-starch mixture and coat. Much easier to handle now that all the stickiness is gone.

Step 11: Eat! If you don’t finish them right there and then, you can store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. I put mine in a big zip lock bag and that seems to be working fine.

I checked out a few other web sites and blogs online about making marshmallows and they are all pretty close with ingredients and methods. Some people put in food coloring or cocoa for a chocolate marshmallow. You can also use cookie cutters for fun shapes for the kids in all of us! It’s easy and they are sooooo yummy! Enjoy a little hillbilly cookin'. Happy Holidays!
Calories: 52 calories each if cut into 24 pieces. It’s nothing compared with the calories in your cocoa!

Recipe credit to: Bon Appetit, July 2008 Issue

Family Cookbook Update

Okay, I just got my printed copies of my family cookbook that I discussed in Week 6. It turned out Amazing!! Thank you!

Once I had completed all my photo edits and inputting the cookbook recipes, I just had my boyfriend proof read it (Thanks Scott!), and I submitted it for print. Pretty simple. The books arrived all individually wrapped in plastic for protection. I chose hard cover with a cover wrap so I could add additional photos. I also ordered premium paper for the book for a few dollars more per book. My cookbook was 62 pages and each book was under $30 each for the 6 I ordered. So, really did a good job and the print quality was really nice. I am really pleased and my family will love this special holiday gift.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Week 11: Forever Pork

Okay, my boyfriend has been reading cookbooks again! A friend of our’s discovered Adelle Davis’, Let’s Cook It Right, cookbook and I had never heard of her, but this woman was writing cookbooks back in the 1940's and knew her stuff. We realized after reading some of her book that we don’t know how to cook meat! Period. I think we all want our food cooked quickly and we are willing to sacrifice taste and flavor to get our food cooked in 30 minutes! Adelle has radically crazy ways of cooking meat and the key is low heat and cook it for days. We decided to try roasting, which is a dry heat method, and purchased a 4 lb. pork shoulder for $1.19 per pound, so our investment in this little experiment was low. We ended up cooking the pork shoulder in the oven for 19 hours! Yes, that is not a typo, 19 hours. One would think that just shoe leather would be left and we were a little worried about food poisoning, but Adelle could not steer us wrong. The meat was so juicy we could not believe it! The outside had a nice crust, looked like a smoked ham, and the inside was moist, tender, and full of flavor. We were amazed and realized we have a lot more to learn about cooking meat.

I would recommend picking up one of Adelle Davis’ books at a used bookstore or online. Most of her books are out of print, but if you can find one, you will learn more about cooking than just watching the Food Network. (Love that channel!) Try the ultimate way of cooking hillbilly, long and slow.

Forever Pork:

  • Picnic pork shoulder

  • Olive oil

Special items needed: lots and lots of time

Step 1: Place your pork shoulder in a roasting pan and brush on some olive oil. Put the fat side up.
Step 2: Insert oven thermometer in pork.

Step 3: Cook it forever. Okay, pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cook the pork at 300 degrees F for 1 hour to make sure you are killing any bacteria on the surface.

Step 4: After 1 hour at 300 degrees, turn the oven down to 200 degrees. If you can get it to 160 degrees, then even better. We started at 150 degrees and turned it up to 200 degrees after 10 hours because we were a little worried it would not be ready for dinner the next day. We just keep watching the internal temperature of the pork and it was slowly rising. We ended up turning it up to 250 degrees for the last few hours, just so we could have dinner. We started at 10 pm and had the pork for dinner the next day at 5 pm. Adelle says that the slower you cook meat the more tender it will be. If you can stand it, cook the meat at the temperature you want the internal temperature of the meat to be and forget about it until it is done. (Make sure you have new batteries in your cooking thermometer)

Step 5: Cook pork until the internal temperature hits 160 degrees. Take it out and let the pork rest for 10-20 minutes. You could even take it out at 150 or 155 degrees, since the internal temperature will rise about 10 degrees as it rests. We had almost no drippings in the pan, just some olive oil that dripped off. Just carve it up and you are good to go.

This recipe is not hard, actually the easiest thing we have ever cooked, but you should have seen my boyfriend’s impatience at how long it was taking to cook the pork! We are believers now, just cook on low heat and you will have juicy, tasty meat! We also did some research on trichinosis, which is the fear with pork. We found out that trichinae, (the evil worms), die at a temperature of 122 degrees F for an hour of cooking or at 131 degrees F for several minutes. So there are no worries of getting trichinosis. Live a little and try the hillbilly way of low and slow! Enjoy!

Recipe credit to: Let’s Cook It Right, Adelle Davis

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Week 10: Limoncello

I came across this recipe in Cooking Light this year and thought it would make great Christmas gifts for friends. My boyfriend had tried limoncello with some Italian friends of his and we thought this would be a fun gift. Limoncello is an Italian liqueur that is good over ice, a lemon drop martini, mixed with sparkling wine, or could be splashed over fresh fruit. (I always add a little alcohol to my fruit salad, usually an orange flavored liqueur). This recipe could not be easier, getting the lemon rind off was the most work. I looked up some other recipes on the web and there were variations of how much time to let the limoncello sit, but 2 weeks worked for me. Also if you can use a peeler and just take off the yellow part of the lemon, it might give the liqueur less of a bite. I was amazed on the color the vodka took on. The lemon rinds were pale and almost white when they got done doing their magic. I found some nice bottles at the Container Store with a lid that holds pretty well. I also peeled a long lemon rind into the bottle for effect! I am putting together a gift basket for a friend with limoncello, two martini glasses, and a few martini recipes to use the limoncello. Nothing is better than a homemade gift for the holidays and nothing is more hillbilly than bootlegged limoncello! Enjoy!


  • 4 cups vodka

  • ½ cup lemon rind strips (about 7 lemons)

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 ½ cups sugar

Special items needed: none, just time

Step 1: Combine vodka and rind in a glass bowl with a lid. Let stand at room temperature for 2 weeks.

Step 2: Strain through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids.

Step 3: Combine 3 cups water and 1 ½ cups sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Add to vodka mixture.

Step 4: Divide limoncello evenly among 3 sterilized (750-milliliter) bottles, and seal.

Yield: 7 cups (serving size: about 1/4 cup) Store in the refrigerator up to 1 year.
Calories: 125 per serving.

Recipe credit to: Cooking Light, November 2008