1950s Era Roquefort Olives

     We just prepared a 1950s themed dinner and, of course it began with an appetizer course. Bite-sized tidbits were all the rage back then -- olives, pickles or a few crunchy veggies were typical offerings on a “proper” cocktail tray. These “dressed up” olives were made from a 50s era recipe.

Roquefort Olives
Large (unstuffed) olives (or remove pimiento from stuffed olives)
Crumbled Roquefort (or other blue cheese)
Walnuts
Toothpicks

1.     Drain olives; dry well on paper towel.
2.     Add Roquefort and walnuts to a food process and process to blend. Spoon or pipe mixture into olives.
3.     Crush additional walnuts and dip the top of the olive in the crushed nuts
4.     Chill until party time. Spear with toothpicks to serve.


Nutritional Analysis for 2 olives (6 g) : Calories 20, Fat 1.6g (Saturated fat 1.1g, Cholesterol 4 mg), Sodium 70mg, Carbohydrate 0.1g, Protein 1.2g, Vit. A 1%, Calcium 3%.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

     I found a basic vanilla ice cream in the leaflet that came with my Cuisinart® countertop ice cream maker and then adjusted it to create the recipe below. It contains no eggs and does not need to be cooked so it's quick to assemble.
     The original recipe calls for ¾ cup granulated sugar – I think ½ cup is enough and I prefer to use brown sugar. 
     In the photo, our niece is using a Donvier® ice cream maker as she makes ice cream for her grandmother’s birthday.


Cinnamon Ice Cream   Makes ten 1/2-cup servings
1 cup whole milk, well chilled
½  to 3/4 cup granulated  or lightly packed brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, to taste
My additions . . .
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
1 teaspoon (or more) ground cinnamon

1.     In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in heavy cream, vanilla and other flavorings. 
2.     Add to ice cream machine and follow manufactures directions for freezing.

Mom’s Chocolate Cake - Happy Birthday Mom!

     My mother, Phyllis Newell, first made this recipe in the 1970s. The moist, chocolatey cake with the decadent nutty cream cheese frosting was an instant hit and has been a favorite ever since.
    Don’t know the origin of the recipe but the cake seems to be reminiscent of the war era when eggs and dairy products were somewhat limited. Obviously, that is not the case for the frosting.
     Since this recipe came from my mom, it seems only fitting that her only granddaughter, Erin, and I made it in honor of her 86th birthday! We left the nuts out of the frosting and then garnished the cake with chocolate shards.

Mom’s Chocolate Cake w/ Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting & Chocolate Chards
Cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sifted flour*
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. Line two 9” cake pans with parchment paper and spray with pan release.
2.  Combine sugar and cocoa in a large mixing bowl; whisk to thoroughly mix. Add flour, salt and baking soda and blend all dry ingredients thoroughly.

3.  Add the liquids and mix until completely blended.
4.  Pour batter into prepared pans. Use a knife to cut through the batter to release air bubble, or drop pans lightly on counter.

5.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes – toothpick inserted in center of cake should come out clean
6.  Transfer cakes to cooling rack. When cool, run a knife along the sides of pan and turn upside down to release.
7.  Frost cakes with Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting.




Nutty Cream Cheese Frosting: 
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
¼ lb. (1 stick) butter, softened
About 1 lb. (3 ¼ cup) powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
1 cup chopped nuts (we like pecans)
2 teaspoons vanilla


1.     In a mixing bowl, cream (mix)  softened cream cheese and softened butter. 
2.     Add enough powdered sugar to make a spreadable frosting
3.     Blend in chopped nuts and vanilla.
4.     Spread frosting on cooled cake (I prefer to freeze or refrigerate cake prior to frosting). For cake frosting tips, go to eHow Food – How to Frost a Cake or watch U Tube’s video – How to Frost a Cake  

Variation: Add Chocolate Shards to the top and sides of the cake . . .

Chocolate Shards
3 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate

1.  Melt chocolate in microwave or in a pan on top of the stove.
2.  Pour the chocolate onto a large sheet of wax paper; spread it into a thin layer, forming a 10x10” square.
3.  Cover with a another similarly sized piece of waxed paper on top of the chocolate; press and smooth to release most of the air bubbles
4.  Roll waxed paper tightly into a cylinder.  Chill until set. At least 2 hour or up to 5 days.
5.  Peel back the top layer of waxed paper.

6.  Transfer the chocolate shards to the top of the cake (or add them to the sides, too, as Erin did).


Sifting How To’s
Flour – I seem to have an aversion to sifting flour! Sifting aerates the flour and removes lumps. Truthfully, I have never seen lumpy flour and since I know that 1 cup of sifted flour contains 3 tablespoons less flour, I simply measure 1 cup of flour and then remove 3 tablespoons! Very easy and it simplifies my life!

Powdered (Confectioner’s) Sugar – Since it tends to be lumpy, I always sift it but not in the traditional way. I simply place a fine wire sieve over the mixing bowl, add the measured sugar and push it through the sieve with a silicon spatula.

Versatile Spaghetti Risotto

     Creamy spaghetti that begins in the skillet rather than a pot of boiling water — it’s a novel idea and very tasty. And, since the spaghetti is cooked like a risotto, the creamy texture of the dish comes from the extracted starch instead of lots of added cream and butter. We’ve also used whole wheat or whole grain pasta which lends a nutty flavor and added nutrients.
     Make it plain or “dressed up with veggies” and serve as a side dish or turn it into a main dish by adding cooked meat.   
     Vegetarians can use vegetarian broth as the cooking liquid and a sprinkling of toasted nuts or the addition of  beans would boost the protein content of the pasta.

Versatile Spaghetti Risotto  . . . meaty or vegetarian / with or w/out veggies
About 2 to 3  main dish serving or 4 to 6 sides
1 quart broth or stock (chicken, beef or vegetarian)
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a drizzle
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti, broken into small pieces (whole wheat or whole grain boosts the nutritional value)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or use extra broth is you prefer)
½ to 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh herbs – parsley, basil, sage, rosemary or thyme leaves

1.  Place broth and water in a sauce pot and heat, keep warm on low.
2.  Heat a medium sauté pan or low Dutch oven with 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic to pan, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sauté until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and toast until it’s a deep golden color and smells nutty, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in wine and cook 1 minute. Ladle in broth every minute or so, stirring for a couple of minutes with each addition of stock -- evaporate almost all of the liquid before each addition of broth. Pasta will cook up quicker then rice so start tasting (mainly to check texture – should be tender) after about 8 to 9 minutes of cooking time once you begin to add stock.
3.  When pasta is cooked to al dente, stir in the cheese, drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh herbs.

Nutritional Analysis per serving (405g in ¼ serving): Calories 335, Fat 15.8g (Saturated Fat 4.1g, Cholesterol 11mg), Sodium 1543mg, Carbohydrate 34.4g (Fiber 5.7g, Sugars 2.7g) Protein 16.2g, Vit A 8%, Calcium 18%, Vit C 12%, Iron 13%.

Variations:
·      Sliced mushroom, diced carrots,  red or green pepper slices – add with onions and
·      Frozen peas – throw in a handful near the end of the cooking process
·      Cooked & chunked chicken or ham – add with onions and sauté or throw in at the end.
·      Canned beans – drain and add near the end of the cooking period.
·      Toasted nuts – use as a garnish on top of the ready-to-serve pasta.

Sweet Potato Stacks



Photo from Southern Living site.




     My sister. Marla, found this recipe in the April 2011 issue of Southern Living magazine and we made them for Easter dinner. They were a nice addition to our springtime menu of baked ham, steamed asparagus, and Spinach & Strawberry Salad.
     Southern Living added this explanation in their recipe header, “Each muffin cup flares slightly, so place slices from ends of potatoes in the bottom and use wider slices from the middle of the potato at the top.”
     These were so good that we think you should allow 2 stacks per person . . . or, use jumbo muffin tins to make larger portions. And, we think this would be good with white potatoes too.

M
Scalloped Sweet Potato Stacks    Makes 12 stacks
HANDS-ON:25 MINUTES / TOTAL:1 HOURS, 5 MINUTES

1 1/2 pounds small sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 cup (4 oz.) freshly shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (Gruyère cheese may be substituted
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Garnish: fresh thyme

1.  Preheat oven to 375°.
2.  Layer half of sweet potatoes in a lightly greased 12-cup muffin pan. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp. thyme and 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining sweet potatoes. (Potatoes will come slightly above the rim of each cup.)
3.  Microwave cream, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1/2 tsp. thyme at HIGH 1 minute. Pour cream mixture into muffin cups (about 1 Tbsp. per cup).
4.  Bake at 375°, covered with aluminum foil, 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden.
5.  Let stand 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around rim of each cup, and lift potato stacks from cups using a spoon or thin spatula. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish, if desired.
Easter dinner 2011 in Texas

Make Ahead Egg Soufflé Casserole

    A  great brunch recipe from my sister, Marla Newell Payne. Not only is this egg dish really good,  there is no last minute assembly – make it the night before and it’s ready to bake in the morning. The layer of bread makes this hardier than most traditional soufflés and the chilies add a little kick.

Make Ahead Egg Soufflé Casserole    Serves 6 to 8
8 to 12 slices of French Bread  -- trim crusts
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained
8 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups whole milk

1. Trim crust from bread, brush both sides with butter and arrange in a 13x9x2” baking dish.  Sprinkle with cheese and chilies.
2. Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until stiff. 
3. In another bowl, beat egg yolks until lemon colored. 
4. Fold whites into yolks; add salt, pepper and milk.  Mix well.  Pour egg mixture into prepared casserole (spread well). 
5. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.  Bake at 300° for 60 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Tips for Egg Whites 
The following  information comes from -- http://www.baking911.com with some modifications. 
q  Separate your eggs for whipping when they are still cold from the refrigerator because the yolks will not break as easily. 
q  Separate the egg whites into a grease-free bowl. Also make sure beaters and utensils are free of grease. To insure grease-free equipment -- wipe with lemon juice or white vinegar, rinse in warm water, and then dry. Don't use plastic containers because they tend to absorb and retain fat even if washed.
q  After separating, make sure you do not have one speck of egg yolk or fat in with the whites, as fat interferes with the whipping process. Use the broken egg shell to scoop out any trace of egg yolk or start again (saving the broken eggs for scrambled eggs, etc.)
q  Warm egg whites will produce the greatest volume because the egg’s protein is more elastic and will create the most tiny air bubbles at this temperature. Simply let the egg white stand at room temperature for no longer than 30 minutes before whipping. You get approximately 6 to 8 times in volume if the egg whites have been at room temperature for 30 minutes before beating. Egg whites will beat when cold but it will take longer and the mixture will be diminished in volume and texture. Note:  If it is humid or raining outside, sometimes you won't get the proper volume no matter what you do.
q  When whipping egg whites, always start your mixer on medium-low to medium speed. Beat whites until foamy and increase the speed to medium-high and then to high. This is a very important and underestimated step in the process. If the egg whites are beaten too quickly at the beginning, the structure of the foam will not be as strong, and later the egg whites will not beat as high as they should. If egg whites are overbeaten, they can separate or weep. Sometimes overbeaten whites can be rescued by adding an extra egg white and beating again. Stop when the egg white is just beaten. An extra one will not disturb your recipe proportions. But, it doesn't always work!

How Beaten Egg Whites Work: When you whip egg whites (albumen), you are really stretching the protein in them. As a result, they unwind and join together loosely, making them unstable. The liquid albumen forms elastic films around the air bubbles beaten into them and essentially trap them, which you can see as a foam. When the foam is heated, the trapped, tiny air cells expand from the heat of the oven and/or carbon dioxide released from baking soda or baking powder, if used, causing a batter to rise. During baking, the egg protein coagulates around them, giving permanence to the foam. Egg whites have a great ability to expand and give volume.

Cheese Straws — Add a “Special Touch” to Salads!

    Cheese Straws are kind of like a homemade version of Cheese-it® Crackers without the preservatives. Great for snacks but I like to serve them with salads. Perch a stick on the side of a salad plate or pass a basket full with the salad course.
   Cut them thick or thin or even push the dough through a pastry bag for a frilly appearance.

Cheese Straws   Cutting straws into ¾ to 1” strips that are about 5 ½ to 6” wide yields about 3 dozen straws
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Wax paper
Kosher salt for sprinkling

1.     Preheat the oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.     In a food processor, add the butter, cheese, flour, salt and cayenne and process until the dough balls up – be patient as this does not happen instantly.

3.     Transfer dough onto a board or marble surface – I like to divide it into 3 balls.
4.     Sandwich one of the balls between two sheets of wax paper and press down to flatten.
5.     Use a rolling pin to roll out dough in a thin rectangle (as thin as possible; about 5 ½ to 6” wide or whatever size you prefer). (Manipulate the dough with your hands to create a free-form rectangle as you go.)

6.     Remove the top piece of wax paper and cut dough with a knife of a decorative pasta cutter – I usually cut strips that range from about ¾ to 1” in width.

7.     Transfer strips to parchment lined pan and sprinkle lightly with Kosher salt.
8.      Bake cheese straws for 15 minutes. Check and add another 5 minutes if not a golden brown (sometimes I flip them before the last 5 minutes of baking to insure even browning).
9.     Remove to racks to cool.

Faye’s Clam Dip

     This is Faye Potter’s signature dip. She makes it for family gatherings and it is always a hit. Aunt Faye, age 95 (as of 2/25/2011), still cooks, paints (her paintings are amazing), plays the piano, gardens and learns a new word every day! 
     Thanks Aunt Faye for sharing this recipe.

Faye’s Clam Dip
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
Aunt Faye @ her Home, April 2011
About 1/2 cup of cocktail sauce (we mixed about a tablespoon of horseradish w/ ketchup)
A little ketcup or taco sauce or salsa for color
About 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 small can clams, drained (save juice)



Mix all ingredients together and use a little clam juice to loosen the dip if needed.

Homemade Bread - “In A Hurry” Croissants


      This is a quick variation of the traditional French croissant recipe. Rather than the countless steps of folding in layers of butter, this recipe relies on a batter that must be refrigerated at least 4 hours before use. But it can remain in the refrigerator  up to 4 days . . . allowing for  freshly baked rolls days after combining the ingredients.
     Before you begin any recipe it is important to ready through both the ingredients and preparation steps so there will not be any surprises along the way. For example, the steps in this recipe reveal that you’ll need a food processer and that you’ll need to allow about 1 ½ to 2 hours rising time after the crescents are shaped.
     And, if you want to know how the French pronounce croissant, go to this dictionary link and click on the horn that precedes the definition: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/croissant

Croissants      Yield:  32 large croissants / 40 or 48 smaller rolls
5 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1 cup chilled butter (unsalted), cut into cubes
1 or 2 (1/4 oz.) packages active dry yeast,  or scant 1 or 2 tablespoons bulk yeast (I generally use the scant 2 Tblsp.)
1 cup warm water (110°)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted and cooled butter
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for brushing rolls prior to baking

1. Fit food processor with metal blade — add 4 cups flour and 1 cup butter (that has been cut into cubes) to the work bowl. Process in bursts (using the “pulse” option) until butter ranges from the size of peas to dried beans (make sure there are no big globs of butter). Transfer to a large bowl.
2. In the work bowl of the food processor — process yeast and water in 2 bursts. Add milk, salt, sugar, egg, remaining 1cup flour and melted butter; process until batter is smooth. Pour this yeast mixture into flour mixture. Mix with spatula until flour is moistened. Cover with plastic and refrigerate from 4 hours to 4 days.
3. When ready to bake, remove dough to floured board and press into compact ball. Knead about 6 turns to release air bubbles. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Shape one part at a time, leaving remaining dough wrapped, in plastic wrap, in refrigerator. To shape, roll one quarter of the dough on floured board into a 12” to 14” circle.  With a sharp knife, cut circle into 8 pie-shaped wedges (or cut into 10 to 12 wedges for smaller rolls). 

      For each croissant, loosely roll wedges toward the point; place on an ungreased cookie sheet with the point down. Allow at least 1 1/2” space around each croissant. Cover lightly and let rise at room temperature in a draft free place--about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Do NOT speed the rising by placing in a warm spot.  When almost doubled in bulk, brush rolls with egg and water. 

4. Bake in preheated 325° to 350° oven for about 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and blistered. Note: Baked rolls freeze well.



ABOUT YEAST
Yeast is a living plant that serves as a leavening agent. It feeds primarily on sugar which produces gas that makes the bread rise. However, this action must not occur too quickly, hence the addition of salt to slow and control the yeast action.
Temperature is also an important factor in the leavening ability of yeast. Either too hot or too cold temperatures can kill or inhibit the yeast.

Temperature Variables: Temperature is an important factor in the leavening ability of yeat. Either too hot or too cold temperatures can kill or inhibit the yeats. The optimum temperature for yeast actually depends on the activation method:
·      Traditional or Conventional Method. When yeast is added directly to warm water, the water temperature should be about 105° to 115°.
·      Rapidmix Method. When using the Radipmix method, where dry yeast is mixed with part of the dry ingredients, warmer liquids (120° to 130°) are needed. Note – be sure that the yeast is mixed in with those dry ingredients before adding the warmer liquids
·      When using Rapid or Quick Rise Yeast (“Fast-Rising or “Fast-Acting” yeast, follow directions on the package that specify heating the liquid to 130° and be sure yeast is mixed in with the dry ingredients.

Yeast Enhancers – When yeast and water are mixed, these enhances will aid in the initial rising action
·      Granulated Sugar – add a pinch or simply use a little of the yeast called for in the recipe.
·      Ground (powdered) Ginger – add a pinch or two will not affect the taste but will aid the rising.

Types of Yeast —What is the difference between Active Dry Yeast, Instant Yeast,  and, Rapid or Quick Rise Yeast?
·      Active Dry Yeast is activated shortly after being hydrated or combined with water (sometimes referred to as “blooming”). It works slower but eventually catches up with the instant.
·      (Active Dry) Instant Yeast becomes active the “instant” it contacts moisture. It is ideally suited to the Rapidmix method of yeast dough preparation (where the yeast is added directly to the flour) but will not be harmed if added directly to water in the Traditional mixing method. Instant yeast does make the bread rise a bit faster than plain active dry yeast. THIS IS WHAT I PREFER. It is interchangeable with Active Dry; both can be used in recipes that don’t specify the type of yeast to use.
·      Rapid or Quick Rise Yeast (“Fast-Rising” or “Fast-Acting”) is more granulated and can cut the rising time in half. Like instant yeast, it is ideally suited to the Rapidmix method and can shorten the rising time of traditional recipes by as much as 50%. To adapt a recipe that calls for either of the above two types of yeast — mix the “Fast-Rising” yeast with dry ingredients and heat liquids to 130°.

Click on Yeast Bread Baking Tips on our blog for additional tips and information.  

Springtime Salad - Fresh Spinach & Strawberries w/ Strawberry Vinaigrette

     Springtime and strawberries just seem to go together. This salad combines the best of springtime produce that just happens to be packed with vitamins and minerals.
    I prefer the mild and slightly sweet taste of rice vinegar in salad dressing but you can use whatever you want. Vary the salad using raspberries instead of strawberries . . . and then you could even use raspberry vinegar. This salad is quite adaptable.

Fresh Spinach & Strawberry Salad w/ Strawberry Vinaigrette    8 servings
Strawberry Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons white rice wine, white wine vinegar, or white vinegar
2 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam (use sugar free if you prefer)
1/3 cup canola oil

1.  Combine vinegar and jam in blender, food processor or small bowl.
2.  Add oil in a thin stream, blending well.

Salad
8 cups spinach, rinsed, stemmed & torn into pieces (or use baby spinach leaves)
1 to 1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, cleaned & sliced
About ½ cup+ almonds, slivered or sliced – toasted*
8 whole strawberries for garnish, if desired

1.  Toss spinach with half of the fruit. Place a handful of this mixture on each salad plate.
2.  Sprinkle remaining strawberries and toasted almonds on top of each salad.
3.  If desired, make a strawberry fan to use as garnish for each salad.  To make a strawberry fan: Using a small knife, make vertical slices about 1/4” from the leaf, all the way to the bottom, leaving strawberry intact at the top. Spread out in fan shape. (Watch a video on You Tube for the specifics.)
4.  Drizzle with dressing or put it in a pitcher and serve alongside the salad.

Nutritional Analysis per serving (72 g): Calories 130, Fat 12.2g (Saturated fat 0.9g, Cholesterol 0mg), Sodium 24 mg, Carbohydrate 4.5g (Fiber 1.9g, Sugars 1.7g), Protein 2.3g, Vit. A 56%, Calcium 5%.

Toasting Nuts
Toasting crisps and brings out the flavor of nuts. To toast: Place nuts in a 350° oven for about 7 or 8 minutes (time varies according to nut size and oil content). Watch carefully as nuts can burn or scorch in a matter of minutes due to their high  oil content – when you first detect a toasted nut smell, they should be ready to come out of the oven.

Eggs à la Golden Rod

A former student recently reminded me of this recipe we prepared in Home Ec. years ago. She made it for her kids and now whips it up for her grandkids.
My mom made the same thing but called it Creamed Eggs. We had it for special occasion breakfasts and sometimes even for supper.
This recipe comes straight from my old Betty Crocker Cookbook. The base is the ever-versatile white sauce (sometimes referred to as béchamel sauce).

Eggs à la Golden Rod
1 cup Medium White Sauce (click on name to access our recipe)
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
Toast, biscuits, crisp chow mein noodles, fluffy boiled rice or patty shells
Optional garnishes: grated or sieved hard-cooked egg yolk, sprigs of parsley or crisp bacon

1.  Hard cook eggs according to directions that follow. I use an egg slicer to chop the eggs – cutting the eggs both horizontally and vertically. If desired, reserve 2 of the yolks to grate or sieve over the top for a garnish.
2.   Prepare white sauce according to directions in linked recipe.
3.   Carefully fold chopped eggs into hot white sauce.
4.   Serve on toast (our favorite is made from Wild Rice Bread), biscuits, etc.
5.     Garnish as desired.
Possible additions to the white sauce: 1 cup chopped ham, 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms that have been browned in butter, 1 cup flaked tuna or salmon or add seasonings, such as curry (1/4 tsp.) or throw in some grated cheese.
Vist Chefs.com to find out more about the make up of an egg.

To Properly Hard-Cook Eggs: 
Boiling toughens delicate egg protein. Gentle cooking pays off, so the correct culinary term is ''hard-cooked,'' not ''hard-boiled.''
The most important rule is to use less-fresh eggs*. Have them in the refrigerator at least a few days before hard-cooking them to make peeling easier.
Follow these steps for properly hard-cooked eggs . . .
  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan.
  2. Add enough tap water to come at least 1” above the eggs.
  3. Cover and quickly bring just to boiling. Turn off heat. 
  4. If necessary, remove pan from burner to prevent further boiling. 
  5. Let eggs stand, covered, in the hot water about 15 to 17 minutes for large-size eggs. Adjust time up or down by about 3 minutes for each size larger or smaller.
  6. When time is up, immediately run cold water over eggs or place them in ice water until completely cooled.
  7. To remove shell, crackle it by tapping all over.  Roll egg between hand and counter to loosen shell and, then peel from the large end. 
*For additional details on why you should use older eggs to hard-cook, go to Wired.com http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/10/eggs-hard-to-peel/

Blender Chocolate Mousse

    We had some extra heavy cream on hand and I needed a dessert so pulled out my recipe box and grabbed a card my sister had sent several years ago (believe it or not, I still have do not have all of my recipes converted to computer files). The great thing about this recipe is that it is quick. However, it does rely on raw eggs. Used to be that we thought nothing of consuming them but these days there is always a possibility that they might put you at risk for Salmonella food poisoning. However, to be on the safe side, simply purchase pasteurized eggs.
Mousse divided among 4 martini glasses.
     Recipe is from my sister, Marla Newell Payne.

Marla’s Blender Chocolate Mousse     Makes 4 to 6 servings
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips / 6 oz. chips = about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons Kahlúa coffee liqueur (I’ve also used Bailey’s® Irish cream & crème de menthe)
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
Possible garnishes: Additional whipped cream, chocolate curls,  toasted nuts, fresh fruit, etc.

1.  In a saucepan, melt the chocolate, Kahlúa and orange juice over very low heat; set aside to cool.
2.  Pour into blender: eggs, yolks, sugar  and vanilla; blend for 2 minutes. Add cream and blend for 1 minute longer. Add chocolate- Kahlúa mixture and blend until smooth. (This creates a smooth mousse that is pudding-like in consistency. If you prefer a thicker version, I’d suggest that you combine everything, except the whip cream. in the blender; then whip the cream in the mixer and then fold the chocolate into the whipped cream.)
3.  Pour into serving dishes.
4.  Chill about 3 hours or make ahead and serve the next day. Garnish as desired.
Alternative – add the mousse to a graham cracker crust (plain or chocolate).

Pasteurized Eggs
Pasteurized eggs have been heated to a certain point to destroy and Salmonella bacteria that might be present in raw eggs. The process does not cook the eggs nor affect their taste or nutritional value.

The “Ultimate” Rice Krispie Treat: Scotch-A-Roos

   Gooey, full or peanut butter and topped with chocolate -- it's hard to eat just one! My mom made these quite often when we were growing up so I consider them to be dessert comfort food.

Scotch-A-Roos     Makes a 13” x 9” pan
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
6 cups Rice Krispies or other crisp rice cereal
1 (6 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (6 oz.) pkg. butterscotch chips

1.  Mix peanut butter, syrup, and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan; bring to a slight boil. Stir until creamy.
2.  Take mixture off the heat and mix with cereal.
3.  Spread mixture in 13” x 9” pan. (See tip for using foil or parchment lined pans – this will allow for easy removal of the bars for cutting.)
4.  Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together on top of stove over low heat (or in a double boiler). Or, microwave -- start with 1 to 2 minutes, then, stirring intermittently, 30-second intervals until melted.
5.  Spread melted chips over cereal mixture.
6.  Refrigerate until chocolate-butterscotch mixture hardens,  about 30 minutes.
7.  Cut into desired size bars – 2” x 2” is standard.