Pork Carnitas are a favorite while dining at local Mexican restaurants. This recipe, made in the Crock Pot, made the work easy. I chose to skip the final step in the recipe and it was delicious. If you love the crispy pork, go for it. The pork is great in tacos, burritos, bowls, nachos….your choice!
Crusty Bread that I don’t have to knead? Just what I needed to go with the soup I was making. Honestly, the recipe seemed too easy but it worked perfectly. I baked the bread in my Lodge Dutch Oven and I baked it according to directions. The crust was a little too brown, but the interior of the bread was perfect and tasted great!
It is wonderful served with soup and also wonderful as a sandwich. As long as I plan a day ahead, I can make this bread any time!
CRUSTY NO-KNEAD BREAD
3cupsall-purpose flour 1 ¾tsp.salt ½tsp.active dry yeast 1 ½cupswaterroom temperature
Form the dough: In a big bowl mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Pour water into the bowl and using a spatula or a wooden spoon mix it until well incorporated. You do not need to activate the yeast before, even though we’re using active dry yeast. The slow rising process will do the trick.
Allow it to rise: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter or inside your unheated oven for 12 to 18 hours.
Preheat your oven: Preheat oven to 450°F. Add your cast iron pot to the oven as it’s heating and heat it as well until it’s at 450°F. Usually when the oven is done preheating your pot should be hot enough as well. Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid from it. Use oven mitts, as to not burn yourself.
Shape the dough: Flour your hands really well and also sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough. With your floured hands gently remove the dough from the bowl and roughly shape it into a ball. Sprinkle some extra flour directly into the bottom of the pot. Take the ball of dough and drop it into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place it back in the oven. Alternatively, you can also place the ball of dough onto a piece of parchment paper, then lift the parchment paper and drop it in the pot, with parchment paper and all. This could also ensure that your bread doesn’t stick at all to the bottom of the pot. I have found that if I use parchment paper, the bread doesn’t brown so much on the sides, but otherwise it’s still crusty and delicious.
Finish the bread: Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, after which remove the lid and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove the bread from the pot, it should fall out easily. Let cool completely before slicing into it and serving.
French Macarons are such a light, sweet delicacy. I never would think of making them, yet, one day, my oldest daughter, Megan, called to say she’d had a dream about making Macarons and was going to bake them that very day. Megan is the dessert maker in our family, always coming up with something new and delightful. Even so, I thought they would be extremely difficult, especially at Denver altitude.
Never fear! The results were stunning and delectable. The only change Megan made to the recipe was reducing the vanilla and adding almond extract to both the cookie and to the frosting. I’ll leave the Macaron making to Megan and praise (and enjoy) the results!
For the Cookie
100gegg whitesroom temperature or 3 large eggs
140galmond flour or 1 1/2 cups
90ggranulated sugarjust under 1/2 cup
130gpowdered sugar or 1 cup
1tsp.vanilla5mL (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
1/4tsp.cream of tartar800mg
For the Buttercream
1cupunsalted butter softened226g
1tsp.vanilla (Megan used 3/4 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract)
For the Macarons:
Sift the confectioners sugar and almond flour into a bowl.
Add the room temperature egg whites into a very clean bowl.
Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites. Once they begin to foam add the cream of tartar and then SLOWLY add the granulated sugar.
Add the food coloring (if desired) and vanilla then mix in. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Begin folding in the 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
Be careful to add the remaining dry ingredients and fold gently.
The final mixture should look like flowing lava, and be able to fall into a figure eight without breaking. Spoon into a piping bag with a medium round piping tip and you’re ready to start piping.
Pipe one inch dollops onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this should be glued down with dabs of batter). Tap on counter several times to release air bubbles. Allow to sit for about 40 minutes before placing in oven.
Bake at 300F for 12-15 minutes, rotate tray after 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing from baking sheet.
For the French Buttercream Filling:
Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan. Heat over low heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium- high and bring to a boil
Put egg yolks in a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until thick and foamy.
Cook the sugar and water syrup until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat. With mixer running, SLOWLY drizzle hot syrup into bowl with yolks.
Continue mixing until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
Add in butter one cube at a time allowing each piece to incorporate before adding the next. Add vanilla and salt. Continue mixing until buttercream is smooth and creamy. (About 5-6 minutes.) Add food coloring if desired.
Pipe your filling onto the back of half the shells. Form a sandwich and repeat. Macarons should be aged in the fridge for 1-3 days for best results. This allows the filling to soften the shells inside.
THE MERINGUE!!!! That meringue HAS TO BE STIFF! I had no idea French meringue could be whipped to such a thick marshmallowy consistency but all it takes is a bit of extra whisking. You’ll notice the meringue start to fill the whisk when you’re getting close to the right stage.
Sift, Sift, SIFT! Those larger pieces of almond flour will mar the surface of your macarons. Best practice is to sift then whiz in the food processor and repeat two more times. Discard the larger particles, don’t try to press them through the sieve.
Use a scale if possible, accuracy helps with this recipe.
The mixing will take some practice, you will fold and fold the batter and then use the spatula to GENTLY press the batter against the bowl. You want to remove some of the bubbles but not to many… Continue this until it reaches a thick “lava” consistency. It should slowly fall off the spatula in ribbons and be able to form a figure eight without breaking.
Pipe the macarons perpendicular to the surface. If your tip is pointing a bit in any particular direction when you pipe the macarons might be oblong or malformed.
Add your coloring to the meringue after it reaches the soft peak stage.
When you are finishing the piping motion stop squeezing the bag and pull up with a circular motion.
The macarons will be best after 2-3 days resting in the fridge.
If you over-bake the shells and they’re too crisp, brush the bottom with some milk before assembly to soften them up.
Snickerdoodles have always been a family favorite. What do you do when you want a Snickerdoodle but too lazy to make individual cookies? You find a Snickerdoodle Bar recipe. I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment paper. This recipe is easy and uses ingredients that are in most pantries. Another recipe that will be made over and over again.
1/2 c.Butter, room temp. (can use Vegan butter)
3/4 c.Granulated Sugar
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
3/4 tsp.Cream of Tartar
1/4 tsp.Baking Soda
Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
Allow butter and egg to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined.
Add vanilla and egg and stir until fully mixed.
Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl. Fold into the butter mixture until combined. Evenly spread the batter into the baking dish.
In a small bowl stir together sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle on top of the cookie batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing and cutting into 16 squares.
Juicy, fresh pears are such a treat! For the past few years, I’ve treated myself to Harry and David pears. The grandkids beg for sliced pears like it is candy.
In addition to enjoying the pears by themselves, this Pear Salad is to die for. The combination of blue cheese and candied, or spiced, nuts it wonderful. The dressing is light and a perfect compliment to the salad. My pears are almost gone but I’ll savor every remaining bite!
ROYAL RIVIERA PEAR SALAD
1 head Butter or other lettuce, washed and dried 2 Pears, peeled, cored and sliced (or diced) 2/3 cup blue cheese (if you despise blue cheese–replace with a cheese you like) 2/3 cup candied nuts (I use my homemade spiced pecans)
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard 1 Tbsp. honey 1/2 tsp. sea salt 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper 3/4 cup walnut oil (or canola)
To create dressing, whisk together the first 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil.
Gently tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Arrange on four chilled plates.
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham in comfort food for the soul. My Mother often made a version of Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and I have made in in the crock pot for years. I wanted a new version, and loved this recipe.
While perusing the reviews, several people added additional seasoning to the sauce, parboiled the potatoes, added broccoli, etc. This is a solid base recipe that you can use to get creative. In the photos below, I did not cover the dish while baking and it took a solid hour to cook. It is delicious ad comforting…just what we all need!
SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH HAM
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
12 ounces 1/4 inch sliced baked ham, cubed
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish.
In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in milk. Return pan to heat and bring to a simmer while stirring. When sauce has thickened remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a skillet, cook onions in melted butter until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread 1/3 of the white sauce in bottom of baking dish and top with half of the potatoes. Spread out half of the onions, ham, cheese and another third of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Continue layering ingredients, ending with the remaining cheese on top. Bake, covered, for 45 mintues. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
We made it! At 12:01 am on Jan 1, for the first time ever, Hindsight will actually be 2020. Hindsight means it is easier to evaluate situations when we are looking back at them, and with perfect vision (20/20).
2020 was a year filled with isolation, fear, skepticism, loneliness, tragedy, depression, addiction, brain fog, strife, injustice, sacrifice, and much more. We learned so much about ourselves and the tremendous strength and perseverance we hold in times of difficulty.
Turning the calendar to 2021 doesn’t change everything, but what it gives us HOPE. Hope, by definition, is a feeling of expectation and desire for certain things to happen.
Which brings me to my favorite bible verse from childhood, Hebrews 11:1 (KJV), memorized in the southeast Sunday school room of our church in rural central Iowa, the Carlton Brethren Church
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
It’s as if this verse was ingrained in my mind for hope then and for this very moment. As we begin this year, my wish and prayers for 2021 are:
To experience peace
To be gentle with ourselves
To be kind and gentle with others
To be grateful for all we have
To see the beauty around us
To stay connected
To remember what matters most in our lives
To experience rest and joy
To have good health and an end to the pandemic
To continue to see humor in the everyday things
Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with many blessings!
One year ago, we were all hustling and bustling without a virus care in the world. Stress was high because we put so many expectations on ourselves for the perfect Christmas experience.
Fast forward to Christmas 2021 and our lives are vastly different. It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but for a moment, I’ll focus on the positives of the COVID experience and a sheltered Christmas.
My family and I are COVID free. Every day I take the time to reflect on this blessing and pray for good health for all.
My family and I have shelter and food. We have the opportunity to help others in need.
We are blessed with doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel who are working tirelessly to provide services during this challenging time. They have my complete gratitude for going above and beyond on a daily basis.
Vaccinations are on the way giving us hope of control of Coronavirus for the future.
Family and friends are even more precious. I love and appreciate each and every one of you!
Handwashing and mask wearing are second nature. When I watch a television show or movie where people are in close proximity, and not wearing masks, I get a little anxious. Do you? Wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing is the least I can do for the good of our country.
Home has never felt so good. I’ve always enjoyed being home but I’ve found peace and comfort in my own space.
Christmas ornaments are full of memories. Each year, I think of the moment or the year I acquired each ornament. Decorating the tree in 2020 was a reflection on a blessed life.
Christmas magic abounds with young children. My four young grandchildren are filled with wonder and awe for the holidays .
My hair is gray. If you haven’t seen me in a picture or on Zoom, you may not know that I have gone totally gray. Gray hair symbolizes the accomplishments and stress that I have lived. It has given me new found freedom.
I’m cooking more. Cooking has always been a passion and with more time at home, I can experiment. Curbside pickup of groceries is a new service offered that reduces my risk of exposure to COVID and makes quick work of shopping.
I’m posting again on Fork-Lore. I’m cooking; therefore I’m posting.
Technology allows me to catch up with family and friends to stay connected and enjoy social interaction. Our ancestors didn’t have this luxury during other lockdowns, such as the Spanish (ie., Kansas) flu.
Journaling this COVID experience for future reflection started in March and goes on to this day. Truly, I thought I would only be journaling for 3 or 4 months…Silly me!
Podcasts, audio books and long walks are saving me. My favorite podcast list has more than doubled and the number of books read in 2021 is far beyond any previous year.
Humor sustains me. There is nothing more humorous than reflecting on the silly things I do and see each and every day.
This Christmas let us find joy, peace, and good health. Sending virtual love and hugs to all!
Cranberry relish for the holidays is a tradition. I’ve made cooked and raw cranberry sauce, but the addition of raspberries, is a nice change. Cranberry relish is great with the big meal but also great on a leftover turkey sandwich.
Wishing everyone a wonderful, safe, healthy Thanksgiving in this difficult 2020. Let’s take the time to count our many blessings, thank our medical and essential workers, hug (virtual and real) those we love, help those in need, take care of ourselves, and breathe!
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a saucepan, combine ALL ingredients.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
After 10 minutes, mash up berries using a potato masher or fork or something to mash up the berries. You can mash up all the berries, some, or none, depending on how chunky you like your cranberry sauce.
Easter 2020 will be like no other. Most Americans will be home, distanced from family and friends. Our family will be doing the same but plan to share food and get together on Zoom for a short visit. Saturday we will be doing porch pickups of 1) homemade rolls, 2) Fresh Peach Cobbler…summertime favorite (using frozen peaches from last summer), and 3) Scotcheroos…Easter tradition. We will each cook our own dinner and enjoy a bit of what the others have made. It won’t be the same, but it will be an Easter to remember.
Today is the 26th day of self isolation and I am so blessed to be doing well, keeping in touch with family and friends and checking items off my ‘to-do’ list. Cleaning closets and recalling memories is part of the experience. While selecting books to read to my grandchildren, I found one of my childhood Easter books now very tattered but well loved. One of my daughter’s remarked that the bunny’s red eye creeps her out…I never even thought about that!
The pictures and stories are charming and would spark my childhood imagination. Here are a few pages:
‘Helping One Another’ is something we need to do all of the time, but especially now. ‘Jack In The Pulpit’ takes me back to springtime in Iowa and wandering the timbers with my Mother gathering Morel mushrooms and seeing Jack In The Pulpits, bluebells, Johnny Jump Ups, and many other wild flowers.
This week I also rediscovered my childhood bank, a bunny so sweet and tender. She was manufactured in the 1950s by Knickerbocker Plastics in North Hollywood, California. My mother saved her for many years, but why have I stored in the basement all these years? It’s time for her to shine her pretty little face again.
Memories are a wonderful thing…to be treasured and shared.
May your Easter be joyful…May your blessings be many. Happy Easter!