July Fourth Junk Food YUM!

A plate of Fairy Bread. 
There are certain days that I am without doubt going to consume lots of junk food: hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, brownies, sodas.  The menu on July Fourth would not be complete without junk food.  This year I am adding two Aussie junk foods to the menu.  My Aussie friend Jeanette is currently vacationing in Australia, and she recently shared a link entitled 9 Australian Junk Foods That Are All National Treasures For the children or adults who crave sugar I'm making Fairy Bread.

Fairy Bread needs only three ingredients:  white bread (I broke down and bought some potato bread which is almost white), butter, and sprinkles.  Apparently, the bread must be white for this truly to be called Fairy Bread.  This reminds me of something I sometimes made as a kid.  I would spread white bread (the only kind we had, probably Sunbeam or Bost) with butter or margarine or Crisco (ewuh!!) and then sprinkle with white sugar.  I'm not sure my Mama knew I did this, but I called it my sugar and butter sandwich.
Lavish soft butter on white bread. 
Add sprinkles.
Cut into triangles. *

But I digress. The Fairy Bread name apparently comes from a Robert Louis Stevenson poem:    
                                                   Fairy Bread
COME up here, O dusty feet! 
  Here is fairy bread to eat. 
Here in my retiring room, 
  Children, you may dine

This year I'm making Sausage Sizzlers another Aussie junk food instead of the requisite hot dogs.  Afterall, I need to use the remaining loaf of white bread.  
Brown cooked sausages in frying pan. 

Place sausage on a piece of white bread.  Add condiments. 

Ready to serve.  

Of course there will be baked beans, slaw, potato salad, watermelon, canteloupe, and brownies.  Lemonade, sweet tea, and sodas to drink. One of my favorite junk food days.

* It is a good idea to freeze the Fairy Bread until ready to serve.  In this hot weather, it will thaw very quickly.  

Cooking Aboard the Viking Ship Alsvin

The Viking Cruise Ship the Alsvin.

On the Viking Cities of Light Cruise another passenger Kathy and I had the honor of cooking with the Chef in a demonstration on how to make  Ofenschlupfer, a bread pudding from southern Germany.  It is layered with apples and  raisins and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  It is best enjoyed straight from the oven and topped with ice cream or custard sauce.
The Executive Chef and Pastry Chef. 

We enjoyed a serving right out of the oven that had been previously cooked.

As a souvenir Kathy and I were each given our Chef's Hat signed by both the Pastry Chef and the Executive Chef.  Fun !!!
Signed Chef's Hat, a wonderful memento of our trip. 
Here's the recipe:

Raiding the Freezer and the Pantry

Danish bars using ingredients I had on hand.
I've been trying to use things that are in the freezer and the pantry, so this afternoon I noticed a package of Puff Pastry, and I thought oh I'll make something with that.  In the pantry a can of cherry pie filling was just what I needed to make Danish bars.  And yes I had cream cheese in the fridge.

It's possible to find almost any recipe online when you indicate the ingredients you want to use, and I found just the one I needed.

  • 1 sheet Puff Pastry dough, thawed
  • 8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup canned  Cherry Pie Filling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface roll out thawed puff pastry into a 12×9″ rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, yielding 2 4-½” strips. Cut those two strips crosswise into thirds, to yield six 4×4 ½” pieces.

With a knife, score ½” border around the edge of each piece of puff pastry. Use a fork to make pricks into the dough within the border of each piece. This will help keep the middle of each piece from rising.

In a bowl, stir together softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of mixture into the middle of each piece of dough and spread around evenly, ensuring the mixture stays within the borders.

In the middle of the cream cheese, add 4 or 5 cherries.

Bake for 20 minutes, on the middle rack and rotate the baking sheet half way through baking. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Cut into six rectangles. 

Prick center so that area won't rise. 
Fill the pricked area with cream cheese mixture and top with cherries. 
Out of the oven. 
Ready to eat with a bit of confectioner's sugar sifted on top. 

These will be perfect for breakfast, but I must admit, I had one for a snack almost as soon as they came out of the oven.  They are good!

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Shredded cabbage ready for the cabbage roll casserole. 
Not too long ago I posted on this blog a recipe for cabbage rolls.   Now I've found this recipe that combines the delicious flavors of cabbage rolls in this casserole with much less work.  I made this today, and it is quite good.
Saute onions.

Add ground beef. 

Fry until meat is brown. 
Add tomato sauce to uncooked rice. 
Second layer of shredded cabbage over sauce layer. 
Meat layer over cabbage layer. 

Out of the oven and ready for the table. A one-dish meal. 
I'm keeping this recipe.

Cook For Good's Tomato Sauce With Kale and Raisins

I subscribe to Linda Watson's website, Cook for Good, where she gives recipes for healthful living along with other interesting advice on food and cooking.  She recently posted this as one of her go to recipes for sauce, and after I tried it, I absolutely agree. I'll be saving this one.

1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1 small bunch kale, collards, or chard (about 8 ounces or 230 grams), stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried ground chipotle powder (I used smoked paprika)

one 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if possible
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnut pieces, chopped (I used cashews.)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. In a large skillet or medium pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add chopped kale stems and onion. Stir to spread oil around bottom of skillet. Cook chopped onion and kale stems until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir garlic and chipotle powder into kale and onion mixture. Top with chopped kale leaves. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. (Water that clings to rinsed greens will add enough moisture to create steam.) Cook until greens are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring half-way through.
  3. Add tomatoes, raisins, walnuts, and oregano. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low. Cover skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes, until sauce is hot and flavors blended.
  4. Serve hot tossed with hot whole-wheat noodles or over quinoa or a baked potato. Refrigerate any extra for up to 5 days. Sauce freezes well for up to a year.

I recently made this and stuffed bell peppers with it, and I can envision using it for many different dishes.  She says that it freezes well, so it will be easy to keep a supply on hand for last minute meal preps.

Do check out her website.   I'm sure you will find it as enjoyable and helpful as I do.  And we are proud to have her right here in Raleigh.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Pimento Cheese

Yellow bell peppers ready to stuff. 
I saw these beautiful yellow bell peppers at the grocery and it reminded me I hadn't had stuffed bell peppers in a long time.  I had just made a delicious sauce from a recipe on Cook for Good, a blog I follow.  The sauce is great to have on hand for spaghetti, pasta, or in this case to use in stuffing the peppers.

To two cups of the sauce I added a cup of black lentils, the diced pepper that I had from removing the top of the peppers, and another cup of fresh thinly sliced kale.  I intended to keep this a vegetarian version of stuffed peppers so no meat. I like to keep on hand pouches of Simply balanced black lentils.  In just 90 seconds in the microwave they are ready to eat.

After removing the top and the inside core of the peppers, I steamed them for about 10 minutes so they would be more tender when baked.  If you like your peppers crunchy then you can omit this step.

To add some protein to the dish, I planned to add cheese to the sauce, but alas I had only pimento cheese.  So why not try that I thought?  I mixed 1 and a half cups of the sauce mixture and 1/2 cup of pimento cheese and stuffed the peppers.

They were baked in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.  The pimento cheese added a wonderful flavor to the peppers.

This is a vegetarian recipe that I intend to keep.

Cottage Cheese and Blackberry Salad

Cottage Cheese and Blackberry Salad. 
Jeanette and I watched the Duke-UNC basketball game together last night.  She  brought oyster stew and mussels from 42nd Street Oyster Bar, and I made a salad and a dessert.  While shopping at the Fresh Market I spied a container of luscious blackberries that I snapped up as an inspiration for my salad.  I had cottage cheese that I wanted to use and I googled for a salad recipe using those two ingredients.  I found just what I needed.

The recipe called for balsamic glaze that I easily made by adding 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and reducing it to about half over medium heat.  This took about 30 minutes.  This can be stored in the fridge for a week or two for future use.  It is much cheaper to make your own balsamic glaze if you have balsamic vinegar on hand.
Balsamic glaze.

On each salad plate I placed a cup of mixed greens and garnished them with the blackberries.
Mixed greens garnished with blackberries. 

I drizzled balsamic glaze over the berries and the greens.
 A scoop of cottage cheese was placed in the middle of each (about 1/3 cup) .

I happened to have both sliced almonds and dried cranberries that I used to garnish the final salad.

This salad made for a good first course that was followed by a bowl of delicious oyster stew and a side of steamed mussels in a garlic butter sauce.
Steamed PEI mussels from 42nd Street Oyster Bar.

First course of Cottage Cheese Blackberry Salad.  
And in case you haven't heard the Carolina Tarheels came through with a big win!!!!