The Rose Parade and Picnic in the Park

Back at it again after a busy weekend!  This past Sunday we celebrated the Rose Festival and attended the picnic in the park, this is a local tradition that started 59 years ago!  The Rose is our official flower, and the rose festival is a Spring/Summer event that celebrates all of the wonderful things that Jackson has to offer.  Jackson MI, is known for its abundant and beautiful parks, lakes and waterways,  recreational resources and of course roses.

A little more history for you… For decades, Ella Sharp Park, community and residential gardens have cultivated the rose.  In 1931, the rose was chosen as the official flower of Jackson and we became known as “The Rose City”.

Ella Sharp Rose Garden

In 1958,  The Jackson County Rose Festival was inaugurated with The Jackson County Rose Parade, followed by The Jackson County Rose Queen Pageant in 1960.  The Parade is a celebration for local organizations to honor and reward individuals and groups. The Parade allows schools, scouting troops, churches, civic organizations and businesses to promote a positive image of themselves and the Jackson area. The Rose Parade is one of the largest in Michigan with over 100 entries each year.Over the years, various Rose Festival events complement the Parade and Pageant including the Picnic in the park event featuring a good old fashioned pie eating contest!

Rose Parade Jackson MI              Pie eating contest 1962

The event has not changed much since it inception, the route changed slightly for a couple of years and reverted back to the original location in honor of the 50th anniversary. However the picnic in park, and pie eating contest have held strong and still take place today!

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So why the history lesson, well… our daughter Brianna was in the parade this year as Miss Teen JTV, proudly driven down the parade route with her Mentor Celia Napoletano, by none other that her very proud Dad, and big brother. It was truly an honor for one of our kids to be a part of such a wonderful community event.

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Creme brulee

I recently took the dive and decided to make my “white whale” desert; creme brulee! I had always heard that it was a difficult desert to master and so I decided finally to stop being so scared and gave it a try, I mean really how hard could this be?!

 This dessert is by far my number one favorite dessert I eat it at every opportunity I get, restaurants, buffets, vacations…I’ll look for it on menus everytime we go out to eat.  I have tried probably 7 different variations of creme brulee. I’m a little bit of a conesoire in this. 

 the desert itself dates back to 1698. Which is pretty amazing the idea that a recipe can last that long and have so many different variations and they can still take it back to its origins. It is one of these simplest desserts affordable by many and used in households and restaurants alike all through the seventeenth through eighteenth centuries it continued to become popular in fancier restaurants into the 19th and 20th Centuries. 

It consists of four main ingredients egg yolks, sugar,  heavy cream, and vanilla it’s topped with a burnt caramelized sugar that has been created in a number of different ways. Original recipes used to take the sugar and carmelize it separated from the desert and then used as a disc that would top it just before serving traditional methods now brulee the sugar on the top of the desert adhering it to the top so that the sugar must be cracked in order to access the creamy dessert below.

For me there is nothing better than the sound of cracking that sugar I just know that it means there are great things to come, and with that I am excited to share with you my recipe for creme brulee enjoy!

6 egg yolks separated

Two cups heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Two vanilla beans

3 cups boiling water

4 teaspoons granulated sugar reserved

Preheat your oven to 350F. Premeasure all of your ingredients, get the water on the stove to boil. 

Remove the vanilla beans from the pods using a sharp knife. See below

In a medium mixing bowl combine all of your ingredients except the boiling water stir well until the granulated sugar has dissolved completely.

Fill 4 small ramekins with your mixture and place them into a 9×13 pan. Place the pan on the oven rack but don’t slide the rack into the oven just yet.

Very carefully pour the boiling water into the 9×13 pan around the ramekins until 2/3 covered,  but do not get the water into the mixture or it will ruin the custard.

Carefully Slide the rack into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden brown.

Once baked remove each ramekin from the oven using tongues do not get the water into the custard and place them on a cooling rack for up to 2 hours or until cooled completely.

Once cool to room temperature cover each Ramekin with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator for at least 7 hours or overnight.

Just before serving blot any liquid off of the top  of each Ramekin, top with a teaspoon of granulated sugar. Using a kitchen torch brulee the sugar caramelizing it until it’s a dark brown color.

Allow the sugar to cool and serve immediately! 

I was so excited that this recipe came out perfectly and that we were able to get the caramelization just right it really truly was an accomplishment for me in my culinary experiment here.I just might make more tonight lol!  Thanks for reading! 

Garlic Honey Shrimp

I’ve been in a dinner rut lately. Life has been crazy as usual and I find myself cooking the same things in an endless loop of the same old things. I was literally dying for a change of pace this week and Friday was my only day that I didn’t have estimates and errands after work; a perfect opportunity to spend some time in my kitchen!

I love the flavors that come with Asian inspired cuisine. So tonight on the menu…Garlic Honey Shrimp! 

Here’s what you need.

1lb uncooked shrimp (I bought mine frozen this time, but fresh uncooked shrimp is awesome.)

2tbsp olive oil

1/4c. Soy sauce

3/4c. Clover honey

2tsp. Minced garlic

1/4tsp. Black pepper

3c. fresh broccoli

1c. Snowpea pods

2c. Long grain brown rice

Toasted sesame seeds

Cook your rice according to the package directions s and set aside. While the rice is cooking prepare your other ingredients.

Thaw, rinse, peel, and devein the shrimp. Chop broccoli, and cut the ends of the pea pods off. Measure out your honey, soy sauce , garlic and pepper into a small bowl. 

Boil water and blanch the vegetables do not over cook! 

In a large pan heat the olive oil and add the shrimp, once starting to turn pink add the sauce and cook thoroughly. Add the blanched vegetables and rice stir well and serve topped with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy! 

I served this with creme brulee for dessert, I’ll post on that soon! Thanks for reading! 

Green Beans with Almonds

Major holidays mean passing dishes! I was happy to meet up with our extended family today and made green beans with almonds as a passing dish. This is a nice fresh side dish dressed up a bit for the holidays, and super easy to make!

Here’s what you need

3c. Fresh green beans cleaned and cut

1/2c. Sliced almonds

Three cloves chopped garlic

3Tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 350F, cut and clean the beans and place in a large bowl. Add garlic salt pepper and EVOO, toss to coat the beans. 

On a baking sheet bake green beans for 15 minutes. Meanwhile toast the almonds. Once beans are cooked through place them in a serving dish and toss with almonds. Serve hot! Enjoy!! 

Sunday Dinner

Growing up Sunday Dinner was always sort of a better amped up version of everyday dinner. Something better than just your everyday casserole. I always appreciated the extra effort that went into preparing a nice Sunday dinner. 

Yesterday my husband mention that a good brisket would be nice or maybe a pork tenderloin… So I went to the store this morning and picked up few things to make his Sunday dinner dreams come true. I decided on the beef brisket and immediately referenced my Betty Crocker Red Book hoping to knock another recipe of the list!

Here is the link to the recipe that I used for Onion and Pepper Braised Brisket!

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/onion-and-pepper-braised-brisket/d0ff8f39-a24d-491f-b351-ca84b7857cef
I want to talk a little about choosing the correct type of brisket. You’ll notice the recipe specifically states not corned beef brisket. So what’s the difference, glad you asked! Corned beef brisket has been heavily brined or soaked in a salty solution to tenderize and flavor the meat. Using this product will make a very different dish! So be sure to get a regular beef brisket. My grocer did not have a brisket available so I am substituting with a top roast. If you need to substitute try to find a cut like Top Roast or Rump Roast that have similar fat content and good marbling. 

The recipe I am using takes about three hours but read the instructions carefully because some recipes can take as much as 11 hours! This includes some marinating time to help tenderize the meat, and may need to be started the night before cooking. So double check your recipe and plan accordingly! 

This is a flavorful recipe, the meat turned out great, juicy and delicious, although a little spicy! I think next time half the chili sauce and add some tomato sauce to it.Happy Sunday! Enjoy!!

A Burger Craving

The semi-warm, semi-cold weather has me wishing the Michigan climates would make up their mind just be Springy already! I desperately want to get my grill out and have been dying to make some good burgers. The weather is good enough to cook on the grill but not good enough for me to go outside and man the grill lol! I hate even a little bit of cold in the air.

In order to satisfy my craving without making too much of a mess in the kitchen, because let’s face it cooking burgers in the house is a greasy mess regardless of your technique for doing so. I decided to make a fresh turkey burger on King Hawaiian bread rolls, with a side of mustard potato salad! Yum!

turkey-burger

Here’s what you’ll need for this super flavorful burger.

1 lb Ground turkey

1 small bunch of green onions, chopped

1/4 c of chopped fresh spinach

2 Tbsp of White Chicken Chili seasoning mix

1/4 c of Cheddar Jack Cheese Crumbles

2 cloves of fresh garlic

1 large egg

salt and pepper to taste…go easy on the pepper though the chili seasoning has a pretty strong flavor!

1 package of King Hawaiian bread rolls

Lettuce

tomato

honey mustard

In a large mixing bowl combine the turkey, green onions, spinach, chili seasoning, garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Stir together until well combined. Add the cheese crumbles last and mix until combined. Form into small patties, place on a foil lined pan (for easier cleaning) and bake in a 350F oven for about 12-15 minutes on each side or until brown on each side, and inside temp is at least 160F. Serve on King Hawaiian rolls with lettuce tomato and honey mustard! enjoy!!

 

Chicken Broccoli Braid

In my younger years while trying to get through college,  be a good wife, and raise three kids I decided I somehow had plenty of time to also sell pampered chef products on the side. 

I love pampered chef, great food, great high quality products, and some really awesome recipes!

One of our family favorites is the chicken broccoli braid. This is a light meal great for a casual family night at home. Here’s what you’ll need…mind you this is my version and probably slightly different from the original pampered chef recipe.

2 pkg of crescent dough sheets

1 pkg precooked diced chicken, finely chopped

2 small heads of broccoli finely chopped

1 red bell pepper diced

1.5 c shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c low fat miracle whip dressing

1 egg

1 Tbsp dill seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Lay your dough sheets out on ungreased baking sheets and preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl combine the remaining ingredients. 

To make the braided effect cut slits down the sides of the dough and put filling down the center of the dough sheet. 

Once filling is in place pull the strips of dough in a cross cross pattern over the top. 

Bake uncovered about 10-12 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. Cut and serve warm! Enjoy!

Fat Tuesday is on it’s way!

This week we will celebrate Fat Tuesday and there are a lot of great food opportunities that come to mind with this holiday!

I wrote in a much earlier post on Baking it Real about Fat Tuesday and the tradition of the King’s Cake. This is a traditional pastry with a small baby icon(meant to represent the child King) hidden in it. You can read more about that here:

https://barnwoodandbakedgood.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/mardi-gras-french-for-fat-tuesday/

and even get the recipe to make your very own King Cake this week in celebration of Mardi Gras! We also spoke a bit about the polish tradition of the Paczki. An heavy, fatty, eggy donut that you can’t resist on Fat Tuesday!

I wanted to touch though on some non-pastry food options for this Fat Tuesday, a little indulgence before heading into the Christian recognition of the Lenton season. As you’;; recall Fat Tuesday is the day of celebration before Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent known for it’s ritual of fasting. That being the case many communities celebrate with a decadent and over indulgent attitude toward their cooking on Fat Tuesday.

Many dishes are reminiscent of Southern styles of cooking. More specifically, the traditional Fat Tuesday entre’s are representative of Gulf Coast community cooking. Good old fashioned creole cooking!

So let’s talk a bit about creole cooking, and especially the dishes of Gumbo, and Jumbalaya! Louisiana Creole Cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana, United States which blends French, Spanish, Indian, Caribbean, Portuguese, Greek,  West African, German, Italian and Irish influences, as well as influences from the general cuisine of the Southern United States.

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and what Louisianians call the “Holy Trinity” of vegetables, namely celery, bell peppers, and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used, the vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat.

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Jambalaya is a dish of Louisiana origin of Spanish and French (especially Provençal) influence. It consists of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked sausage such as andouille, along with some other meat or seafood, frequently pork, chicken, crawfish, or shrimp.

Image result for Jambalaya

Either of these dishes would be a welcome change to your dinner menu this Fat Tuesday below are a couple of links to some simple and delicious recipes for each! Enjoy!!

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/31848/jambalaya/

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/216888/good-new-orleans-creole-gumbo/

 

 

A quick crowd pleaser

I love to entertain! We host regular get togethers with some of the most amazing friends and family and now and then I’ll whip up a quick dip, or snack to enjoy with them! 

Last night was no exception our “barn league” spring training tournament took place it was a ton of fun! 

I made a quick tasty Cobb salad chip dip. Here’s what you’ll need.

2 pkg cream cheese

1/2 c. Sour cream

1/4 c. Ranch dressing

Lettuce

Onion

Tomato

1/4 c. Blue cheese crumbles

1/2c. Cheddar cheese shredded

1/2 c. Crumbled bacon

In a large mixing bowl blend the cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing

Spread this into the bottom of a glass pan, layer the remaining ingredients on top. That’s it! 

I serve it with corn chips or tortilla chips. So yummy and the perfect treat for a group to share. Enjoy!

Chicken Fettuccine with Roasted Red Pepper sauce

A quick solution to the never ending what’s for dinner question, I think you’ll fall in love with this super simple and tasty recipe. Chicken fettuccine with roasted red pepper sauce.

Here’s what you need:

1 lb chicken tenders cut into chunks

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves fresh garlic chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

12oz. Jar of roasted red peppers in water

1/2 c. Half and half

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

1/4 c. Chopped fresh parsley

1 box fettuccine noodles cooked and drained

In a large skillet cook the chicken in olive oil until cooked through and lightly browned. Add garlic salt and pepper saute for another minute. 

Chop half of the roasted peppers and puree the other half into a sauce. Add roasted red peppers, and half and half to the chicken stir together.  Add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Add fettuccine noodles and parsley stir to coat the noodles. Top with a little more Parmesan cheese. 

That’s it! A super simple, flavorful, and filling family dinner. Enjoy!!