Friday, November 26, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Odds and Ends

We survived another Thanksgiving, lol.    Actually we were lucky enough to be invited over to a friends house, and had a wonderful dinner over there.      We couldn't accept every invitation but were very appreciative of those we got.
Along the way, I took this picture.    Viv and Dotti made these centerpieces for the Thanksgiving dinner at CO.   Aren't they lovely?   Simple,  inexpensive and eco-friendly.   The base is lettuce, a nice butter lettuce from the looks, a pillar candle in the middle, a few cut mums and astralagus, a few mini peppers and grapes, equals perfection.      You can recycle the peppers and use them later as well as the grapes.   Plus, if you have a wide shallow bowl, nothing says you can't float the flowers in that and enjoy them as well.  And the lettuce, well, got any ducks or chickens or other livestock handy, they'll be glad to munch those up.

I made a couple of recipes from the Pioneerwoman website this year and brought them to a friends house.
Cranberries bubbling away in Pomegranate juice
Sauce ready to be served.
I have to say it was a little more tart than I expected and I added more sugar than Ree had in her recipe, but it was still very tasty.   Here's the link to the full recipe;
The second recipe was her green bean recipe, this will knock your socks off.    If you are looking for something a little more than the standard green been casserole with mushroom soup and onions on top, you need to try this.    I only made one pound of green beans, but over half the dish was eaten, and there were only six of us eating on it.   This picture is all that was left.  I forgot to take pictures of it bubbling away in the oven, or just after it was taken out.     I did dot the breadcrumbs with a little butter, and I think it helped with the richness of the dish.  But when you think of all the other food served, we did the beans justice.
Here's the link to the Green Bean Casserole from the Pioneerwoman website.
All I have to say is this, anytime you can put bacon, onions, butter, cheese and green beans together in such a sublime concoction, well, YUM.     I will make this again, but I may add some sauteed mushrooms to it the next time, and will probably cook it just a tad longer.   The beans were still a little al dente, if beans can be that way.  

And if you look at the pictures below, the green beans are right there in the middle of the table.    And to the lower left, the cranberries in all their glory. 

 A good time was had by all and we were stuffed by the time we got up.   Didn't leave much room for dessert, but we still managed to do justice to the pumpkin cheesecake and the sweet potato pie.

I hope you and yours also had a good Thanksgiving and had as good a spread as we did.

Now to get back to the Christmas baking...

For more recipes please check out   

All about food. *giggle*

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Easy Peasy Microwave Caramels

My fruitcake is done, and is being fed on a regular basis as I speak, well, today's the day it gets anointed with a little bit more bourbon, and then it will be re-wrapped and left to rest a week or more.   Okay, so it's getting an extra shot today, as I'll not be able to feed it next week, but it should all even out. 

I was thinking about making cookies next, but realized I really don't eat a lot of cookies, and everyone else bakes a whole bunch every Christmas.  And since I do live in a confined area, I really don't have room for all the cookies I used to make every year.  So, this year, I'm doing candy.   Some tried and true recipes, and will also try a couple more that look good.

My favorite go-to, tried and true candy recipe is Microwave Caramels.   Honestly it takes more time to set it up and clean it up than it takes to make this.    And the end result, pure and simple deliciousness.

Microwave Caramels
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light Karo syrup (I used dark since that's what I had on hand)
1/2 cup Eagle brand milk (sweetened condensed milk)  *

In a large glass 2 quart container melt butter.

Add the sugar, Karo syrup and milk.

Cook two minutes on high and stir. Cook two more minutes on high and stir.
As you can see, it gets really bubbly and hot.   Please be careful removing it from the microwave at this point,  as you can get some severe burns if you spill it.   Stir it down well, and return to the microwave.

If you want your caramels to be soft, cook an additional minute. For harder caramels, cook for an additional two minutes. ( When I make these, I do cook an additional minute or two, I like my caramels a little harder and find they are too soft for my taste otherwise.)

This year I tried something a little different.   I toasted some Pecans, added them to the bottom of the buttered dish, and poured the slightly cooled caramel over top.   After taste-testing a few, I've decided to do this again and again, I have too, I just ate half the pan.   

Pour into a buttered small glass dish and let them set up. (I poured them into a buttered rectangle-shaped pan and then cut them in squares) 
After they have cooled, you cut them into little squares or rectangles or ...   and take them out of the pan.
At this point I wrap them in little squares of parchment paper.

I like doing it like this as it makes it look festive, and most important, keeps the caramel from oozing together back into a big lump.    I keep these in a bag in my fridge until it's time to give them away.
Unfortunately for me, they are also within reach and I feel the need to sample one or two every day to make sure they are still edible.  hmmmm  So it means I make at least two batches, or more each year. 
* You can get two batches out of one can of sweetened condensed milk. 

Enjoy and have fun with your cooking experiences as well. 

For more recipes please check out   

All about food. *giggle*

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Time for Fruitcake

Oh that much maligned symbol of the Christmas season, butt of jokes, harbinger of doom when someone is presented with a commercial or dry fruitcake.   But for me, the start of the holiday season is when I bake my fruitcake so that it has time to ripen.   And even though, by my internal clock, I'm a little late, at least I'm done before Thanksgiving, which is a plus.

Last year, in the interests of expediency I elected to bake my fruitcake in the crockpot.  Well, either I'm not as good at using as crockpot as I thought I was or it was a stupendously bad idea, or I just didn't do the math.   Either way, I ended up with something that wasn't even edible, even with the addition of a bottle of rum.   And this was after cutting off the outside where it had been really burnt.

So after the Christmas season, I bought up my preserved fruit, the 'neon green' cherries, the 'smack you in the face red' cherries, and the mixture of cherries and pineapple.    They were on clearance and at less than half price, and with a sell by date of 2011, how could I miss.

I put them to use today.    I'm new to this business of taking pictures while I'm creating something in the kitchen, so these pictures were taken on the fly.    At least they will show you some of the process and hopefully the finished, (almost finished product).

Mixed fruit and nuts in bowl, with some of the batter on top.
 I always start my fruitcake by roasting whatever nuts I'm going to use a day or so beforehand, I've found that the richness of the roasted nuts adds a nice nuance to the finished fruitcake.   Today I used a mixture of pecans and walnuts, but in the past I've used walnuts and almonds and had a lovely result.

I forgot to take a picture of the fruitcakes before they went into the oven, so had to hurry up and take this just after they'd been in a few minutes.   As you can see the heat of the oven has already started to melt the butter in the batter, and it is glistening. 

Fruitcake in the oven
 One thing to remember, baking fruitcakes is a long slow process, you bake them in a low, slow oven.   I baked these for almost 3 1/2 hours at 275-300 deg.   My oven isn't calibrated very well.   But then again, I am baking everything I post here in an RV gas oven and I have to make allowances all the time.   One of which is to have an insulated baking pan underneath anything I bake, otherwise the bottom gets burnt and the top is raw.  
After baking, this was how many I got. 
 Here are the finished fruitcakes.   I had a regular loaf pan, a casserole dish, and a small (very small) loaf pan.
I did take the small loaf pan out about an hour or so into the baking process.    I use the very scientific method of poking a toothpick into the dish, and pulling it out.  If it comes out clean, then the dish is done, if there are any crumbs, then I keep baking.  
Close up of the loaf pan.
 As you can see on the last picture, there is a slight cracking in the top, which was my signal this one was also done.

I did cheat and taste the smallest loaf, and it was yummy, and that was before I started the marinating process.
Here is the recipe;

Sid's Fruit Cake
8 oz brown sugar
¾ lb butter
2 oz brandy (I only had a couple of ounces of brandy or I would have added more)
3 oz marzipan   (this was a last minute idea and addition to the recipe, and adds a nice nuance)
6 eggs
12 oz flour + 1 tsp. Baking powder sifted together with
1 tsp. (approx) ground cardamon  ( I decided to try Cardamon this year as I had a bunch on hand)
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt

Put all the nuts, fruit and mixed peel in a large bowl.
Toss all together with a couple tablespoons of flour.
This helps to keep the fruit and nuts from sinking to the
bottom of the pan.

8 oz pecans (toasted)
8 oz walnuts (toasted)
5 oz chopped pecans
8 oz candied red cherries
8 oz candied green cherries
8 oz mixed cherries, pineapples
8 oz candied mixed peel
6 oz craisins
8 oz dates
8 oz golden raisins
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the brandy and the marzipan, beating well.
then add the eggs,one at a time, beating well after each egg.

Add half the flour mix, mix well, then add the second half.
Pour batter over nuts and fruit and mix together.

Place in greased and parchment paper lined pans and bake in a 275-300 deg. Oven for 3-4 hours
until a toothpick inserted in pan comes out clean.   Start checking for done-ness at the 2 1/2 hour mark. 

After taking them out of the oven, pour a couple ounces of bourbon over the top to start the marinating process.     I like to let them cool a little but do want to pour the alcohol over them while they are still warm.
Wrap them well in cheesecloth and then again in aluminum foil.    After that, place them in a cool, dark place and just 'feed' them every week with another ounce or so of bourbon once a week.    Not only does this add flavour, but it also helps to preserve them.   And in the unlikely event you have some fruitcake left over after Christmas, you can continue to 'feed' them every month or so until you've eaten them all up.
* I usually add currants as well, but didn't have any. 
This recipe made one loaf pan, a 2 qt. Casserole and a small loaf pan.

For more recipes please check out   

All about food. *giggle*

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It's just gorgeous out today and I've been outside enjoying the sun and the slight cool breeze.    Took a walk down the beach with the dogs, and they had a blast.   There were herons out there, enjoying the low tide and looking for a meal.

I'm glad for the nice weather today, the past few days have been cool, and while I've enjoyed it, I like being able to put my shorts back on and soak up the sun.
The bananas are going great, we now have three babies, which is exciting.

Orinoco Banana

Steve's Three Story Plantain
Maybe next year we'll actually have bananas as well and some Plantains as well.    The Meyers Lemon Tree is doing very well also.   It has four nice sized lemons on it, and they are starting to turn color, so hopefully, it won't be too long before I can pick them. 

I guess you can take the girl off the farm but you can't take the farm out of the girl, cause I had to plant stuff this year.   Even if most of it was grown in pots, I had to have my veggies.   I had a nice bunch of tomatoes, some Green peppers, Anaheim peppers, Jalapeno peppers, as well as Parsley, Basil and Chives.   The basil took off and I had so many plants I was giving them away, but it was nice to be able to go out and pick what I needed.    The chives have done so well, I don't think I've ever had such success.   All in all a very satisfying season. 

For more recipes please check out    Sid's Sea Palm Cooking

All about food. *giggle*
All images are the sole property of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking and Sea Palm Treasures © 2010-2017, with all rights reserved thereof. They may not be used without the express permission of either Sea Palm Treasures or Sid's Sea Palm Cooking.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beef Bourignon

I made my version of Beef Bourignon for a Halloween party this past weekend.     I call it "Eyeball Stew" and finish it off with some pearl onions added at the end for the eyeballs.   But the basic recipe is a staple stew in our house and one I make whenever I need some stew.

Start by cooking some bacon until almost crisp, and then when it's cooked put it in the crock pot or large stew pot with an onion cut into quarters and then eights.  
Cut some beef into nice neat cubes, or buy some stew meat whichever one is easier for you.   Then brown them in a pan, with some of the leftover bacon grease or with a little olive oil.    I also cut up some mushrooms while the meat is browning, it saves time.

Make sure you don't crowd the pan as you want a nice sear on the meat.    As you can see the pan is nice and hot, and the meat is browning nicely.   You can add the mushrooms to the pan after searing the meat and let them brown a bit, it adds a nice layer of flavor to the finished stew.
I like to layer the beef, mushrooms, bacon and onion in the crockpot.   By the way, I've recently discovered Crock pot liners and have to say they are one of the biggest time savers when you've cooked meat in the crock pot.   It saves time in clean up.    Keep cooking the meat and layer them with the mushrooms in the pot until all the meat is browned.
Doesn't that look yummy?  Well it does if you're a meat eater.  Finish this off by adding some fresh thyme, about 3-4 sprigs, or 1 tbsp. dried thyme.     The recipe calls for some beef broth to be poured over the meat and left to simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender.     I use a packet of Au Jus gravy mix, mixed with about 4 cups of water, and just pour this over the meat mixture.    I don't add salt as the Au Jus is salty enough for my taste, but you can add some freshly ground pepper at this point.     When the meat is tender, thicken the sauce with a little flour and water mixture or some cornstarch and water.    Serve this with rice, mashed potatoes or noodles.    And the vegetable of your choice.      Leftovers freeze beautifully, in fact I usually make enough for two meals, and freeze it. 

3-4 slices bacon, cut into thirds 
2 lbs. Stew meat, cut into cubes
8 oz. Fresh Mushrooms
1 onion, cut into quarters, then eights
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme 
1 pkg.  Au Jus mix or
4 cups beef broth
8 oz. fresh pearl onions, peeled, and a cross cut into the stem end.  (this keeps it intact as it is cooking).
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Cook the bacon until almost crisp, remove from pan and take away all but a tablespoon or so of the fat, reserve the rest to use for browning the meat.
Brown the meat in pan, until all of it has been browned using the reserved bacon grease until it's gone or use some olive oil, the bacon grease adds some flavor.    Add the meat to the crock pot as you brown each pan full of meat.
Cook the mushrooms in the leftover pan grease, and add to the crock pot, with the meat and chopped onion.
Add some water to the pan when you've finished browning all the meat to get the fond off the bottom of the pan.  There's a lot of flavor in those little browned bits and you don't want to lose any of that yummy goodness.    Pour over the meat and add the Au Jus mix or the beef broth.   Place the thyme on top of the pot, and leave to simmer until the meat is done.  Add the pearl onions the last half hour of cooking.  They really don't take a long time to cook.    When the meat is tender, thicken the broth with a mixture of flour and water or cornstarch and water.     Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or noodles.   And don't forget your favorite vegetable as an additional side.  

For more recipes please check out   Sid's Sea Palm Cooking

All about food. *giggle*

All images and  recipes are the sole property of Sid's Sea Palm Cooking and Sea Palm Treasures © 2010-2017, with all rights reserved thereof. They may not be used without the express permission of either Sea Palm Treasures or Sid's Sea Palm Cooking.