Polish Goodness on a Sunday: Mazurki

Many decades ago, just writing that phrase makes one feel old, my little brother discovered a love for an incredibly rich and decadent Polish delicacy, Mazurki.    Growing up it was in his top two favorite cookies of all time, although it is much less of a traditional cookie than it is an indulgent morsel of goodness.  I remember fondly his face lighting up whenever we’d come home from school and discover a fresh pan of Mazurki waiting for us.

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Recipe:

2 sticks of butter softened

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 jar Strawberry preserves, 10 oz

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

8 oz walnuts

Powered sugar to taste

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Pre-heat oven to 350.  Melt butter and combine with flour and eggs.  Make sure they are well combined and then spread evenly in a 13×9 pan.  Bake until golden brown.

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Combine sugar eggs, and vanilla.  Gently fold in the walnuts .

Remove from oven and evenly spread the jar of preserves over the top of the cooling cookie crust. 

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Then cover the jam with the egg and nut mixture. 

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Place back in the oven until golden brown.

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Allow to cool completely, and then cut and sprinkle with a dusting of powder sugar.

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My husband doesn’t like walnuts so today I tried something new, I substituted lightly salted cashews for the walnuts.  I crushed the cashew before folding into the egg mixture.  Not traditional but it will be a sure fire hit with my husband.  I did keep it traditional and cut into diamond shapes, simply because that’s how Mum always did.

A couple of tips.  Resist the urge to spray the pan with cooking spray.  The is more than sufficient butter in the base of the cookie to prevent sticking.  It won’t necessarily harm the recipe if you spray the pan but it won’t help either.  These need to be refrigerated to keep them fresh.  They can be made ahead of time and frozen.  They keep well in the freezer and thaw nicely on the counter for a quick dessert when unexpected company arrives.

And here is my secret weapon, for any recipe calling for sprinkled powered sugar:

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It’s my loose tea holder.  It has a super fine mesh which allows for a perfect light dusting of powered sugar without it flying all over the kitchen in the process.

 

I just taste tested and the cashews are simply amazing!  The lightly salted cashews cut through the sweet nicely which my husband will appreciate.  It should be safe to substitute the favorite nut of your choice if you don’t like walnuts or cashews.

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Real Bread Campaign

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As you know, I routinely bake bread.  We as a family prefer the texture, taste, and quality of homemade bread to that over processed crap that you grab from the supermarket shelf.  Bread making isn’t difficult, in fact, it is nowhere near as difficult as professional chefs try and make it out to be.  Honestly, I throw the ingredients in the mixer, knead the dough, let it rise and bake it.  Not complicated, not time consuming and the end result is the wonderful smell of homemade bread baking and the incredible taste and texture of the bread as the ultimate reward.

Over in Britain there is an amazing campaign called Real Bread.  Focus of the campaign is to provide better quality bread products to residents and to teach residents how simple and easy it is to make bread themselves.  The campaign is striving for lofty goals of preservative free bread and bread that has ingredients that are pronounceable and everyone knows what they are.  Lucky UK residents can join the campaign for a mere £10 a year and get a large number of membership benefits.  The movement is open to non-UK residents but the quality of membership is much diminished because lack of proximity to events, classes, and sources.

We here in America need to start a grass roots movement like this and take back what good bread means.  Nothing quite beats a loaf of bread fresh from the oven.

Here is my husband’s favorite bread recipe*:
Ingredients:

4 cups of bread flour

2 eggs

Pinch of Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 teaspoon of sugar

One stick of unsalted butter, small cubes

Water or milk

Preparation:

Toss the ingredients in the mixer and kneed with the dough hook attachment.  Add enough liquid until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Separate into two loaf pans, cover and let rise.  Punch the dough down a couple of times just to let the air bubbles pop, and then cover and rise again.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown.  

Tips for Success

Milk will make a more tender loaf, but only if you use milk with a 2% or higher fat content.  The amount of liquid you need will vary depending on where you live, more humid climates will require less liquid than dry climates.  Bread prefers to rise in a warm environment, any house temperature above 75 should be sufficient.  Best tip, don’t worry about having a perfect looking loaf or trying to become a world class bread baker overnight.  Experiment, try what works for your tastes and your family’s preferences.  Add ingredients that sound like they’d taste good.

Experimentation leads to failure sometime and it also leads to amazing successes!  So join the growing movement of bread bakers and bake a loaf today.

*Not pictured above, the above loaf was Steakhouse Bread.

What to do with slightly dry smoked meat?

This weekend my husband smoked two large pork roasts and two beef tri-tips. The meat turned out beautifully and believe me, dinner Saturday evening was incredibly good with homemade BBQ sauce.

One of the tri-tips was a little over smoked, still tasty but a little dry. We solved that with BBQ sauce which made incredibly tasty sandwiches. Tonight, I shredded the other tri-tip and decided to make Smoked Beef Santa Fe Enchiladas. They were amazing and luckily they are incredibly simple to assemble and a great way to use up leftovers.

Smoked Beef Santa Fe Enchiladas

Corn tortillas

Enchilada sauce

Shredded Cheese

Smoked beef (any meat can be substituted simply)

 

Pre-heat oven to 350° and spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray. Take four corn tortillas and individually coat in enchilada sauce and place in pan. Place a layer of smoked beef, shredded into bit size pieces, and then cover with shredded cheese.

Assemble three layers and then place one single layer of coated corn tortillas on the top of the third layer. Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and cover with aluminum foil. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and add one last handful of shredded cheese, return to the oven until melted.

Serve warm with a side salad and Ranchero Beans.

Sunday Goodies

It was a rainy, gray, thunderous morning here and we needed a good dose of morning sunshine to kick start the day. So I threw together an impromptu batch of what are now known as Sunrise Muffins. They were immensely good and we finished the muffins before I could take pictures. However, there was enough excess batter to throw in a small loaf pan to make one muffin loaf.

Hiding inside are fresh strawberries and nectarines which were marinated overnight in sugar and Kraken Spiced Rum. The fruit reminds me of an Arizona sunrise in July, brilliant reds peeking through oranges hues as the sun climbs over the horizon.

The muffins were moist and tender. The fruit was not overly sweet over so drunk on rum that all you could taste was the rum. Instead, the muffins, and by extension the loaf, were slightly sweet, nicely spiced, and light.

The perfect start to a Sunday was followed up with the perfect late lunch condiment, salsa! I love salsa, no seriously I love salsa that is fresh, homemade, and so spicy my mouth is on fire. Well, I succeeded in my last batch which included two small and extremely spicy peppers from our garden.


I made the salsa a week ago and put it in the refrigerator to marry the flavors. Any great salsa requires time to blend and become one and boy howdy, was the salsa blended perfectly. To be honest salsa is simple to make and healthy, and tastes nothing like the jars of salsa sold on supermarket shelves everywhere. Best part of homemade salsa is you control the heat and the ingredients. The recipe for mine is simple:

Roasted peppers – peeled and deveined

Onions

Tomatoes

Cilantro

Garlic

Lime zest

Lime juice

 

Dice the roasted peppers, onions, and tomatoes into small bite size pieces. Finely dice the garlic and cilantro then add it to the diced ingredients. Zest one lime into the mixture and lime juice to taste. Salt and pepper to taste (I never do).

 

Can be eaten immediately but for best results, refrigerate for at least a week.

 


Now you are set for the perfect accompaniment to almost any meal. Enjoy!


 

Cilantro Pasta Salad

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We slow smoked a couple of pork roasts and a brisket recently and needed something that would be light and slightly spicy to offset the delicious meat.  Thus was born the awesomeness that is Cilantro Pasta Salad.  We both love the Cilantro Ranch Dressing we get from Fresh and Easy.  It is the slightly spicy love child of ranch and green goddess salad dressings.  The result is the perfect salad dressing.

Toss warm pasta, dressing, sliced bell peppers. shredded cheese, and fresh pick cilantro together.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve with finely sliced green onions.  It is the perfect pasta salad for BBQ dinners, a light lunch, and a quick late night snack for those nights when it is just too hot to sleep.

Consolidation of Social Media

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I hereby admit the following, this exact posting will be reposted as a new post to a couple of blogs and I am horrible at managing a multitude of social media outlets for various projects at the same time.  I am consolidating the social media circles to one twitter feed, one facebook feed, one pinterest feed, and one Google plus feed.  Consolidation lets me manage all of my blogs, my Avon business, and the things that make me a complete human being more simply and concisely.

I decided to do this for a couple of reasons.  First, trying to manage and maintain multiple social networks was taking over my life and certain ones were neglected in preference to more active ones.  Secondly, a girl needs time to herself so that important activities like gardening, scrapping, stitching, gaming, or reading can actually happen!  It’s very difficult to write about what’s happening in the kitchen or the garden if I’m never making cookies or picking flowers and vegetables.  And lastly, having so many separate social feeds is beginning to make me feel like many one dimensional people all at the same time.  I am SO over that feeling!

So, please update your links or add links as necessary.  Existing separate accounts separate from the above listed sites will be deleted at the end of next week.  Hope to see all of you on the new sites!

Drunk berries, breakfast and margaritas

A week ago I promised to post about the delicious concoction that is drunk berries but, life has a way of intervening in our best laid plans. Drunk berries are nothing complicated or mysterious, fresh berries, sugar, and bourbon. Clean the berries like normal, sugar to taste, and a healthy splash of bourbon. Place in the refrigerator for several hours to allow the sugar and bourbon to work their magic on the berries. The end result are berries that are slightly sweet, fresh tasting, and will keep for much longer without turning into moldy mush.

When I was just a wee thing, my favorite food in the world was pancakes. I would request them every morning for breakfast and then Mum and I would walk to Knott’s Berry Farm where I would feed the chickens. This was a daily ritual we both loved. I still love pancakes although I no longer eat them on a regular basis. I will admit that I am a pancake snob, I really only eat pancakes made by myself or Mum to this day.

When I made pancakes for breakfast last Sunday, I warmed the drunk berries and poured them over the fluffy stacks of pancakes. The drunk berries, the real maple syrup, and peppery bacon made for the perfect accompaniment to steaming, dark cups of coffee. Hubby and I started Sunday off on the right foot thanks for the drunk berries and pancakes.

The perfect Sunday breakfast was capped off with grapefruit margaritas. Nothing like fresh squeezed grapefruits and tequila to put the perfect drink together on a lovely summer evening.