Homemade Junk Food

Here are some recipes we’ve tried to fill the shelves recently vacated by the sweet treats, salty snacks and cardboard breakfasts. If you have recipes for your favorite junk foods that you’d like to share, please place a comment on this blog or drop me a line on the City Social Food page on Facebook.

Read the full article and more at www.citysocial.com or pick up an issue in stores later this week.

OreoCookiesChocolate Wafer Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch of kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and chocolate until well combined. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Let the chocolate mixture cool for a few minutes then whisk in the egg.

In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda until combined. Stir the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture with a spatula. The batter will be stiff. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes or until firm.

Roll the dough onto a surface dusted with more cocoa powder until 1/4-inch thick. Cut with a 2 1/2 –inch round cutter.

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes. Cool on racks while you make the filling.

Beat the coconut oil, powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually mix in milk and salt. Place about a tablespoon of filling on the bottom of a cookie and top with another. Repeat with remaining cookies until you’re out of filling or cookies, whatever comes first. Serve with milk for dunking.

chips2Potato Chips
1 pound baking potatoes
Cold water
1/4 cup Steen’s Cane Syrup Vinegar
Sea salt or Kosher salt
2 cups olive and canola oil blend

Wash the potatoes. Peel them if you like, then slice them as thinly as you can with a knife, mandolin or food processor. Place the slices in a bowl and cover them with cold water and the vinegar. Let them soak for 30 minutes. Drain the slices and pat them dry with paper towels. Pour at least 1/2 inch of olive and canola blend oil in a deep, heavy pot or fryer. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the potato slices about one layer at a time for three to five minutes or until golden brown. Drain and cool on a rack over paper towels or a baking pan and season with the salt while warm.

ToasterPastriesBreakfast Tarts-Cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Cinnamon Butter Filling
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender (or pull two table knives through dough in opposite directions), until shortening forms particles the size of small peas. Sprinkle cold water over the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, and blend with a fork or pastry blender until all the flour is moistened and the dough almost leaves the side of the bowl. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons more water if necessary.

Roll out the dough, into a rectangle or square, until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into rectangles. Mix the butter, cinnamon and granulated sugar together with a fork or small food processor. Spread the mixture on a rectangle of dough then place another rectangle on top. Crimp the edges with a fork dipped in flour. Brush on a little egg wash if needed to help the edges stick. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.

Variations: Replace brown sugar with white sugar in the pastry and replace cinnamon butter filling with peanut butter, chocolate hazelnut spread, or fruit preserves for the filling.

Bonus Recipe: Japanese Plum Jam

One of my coworkers at my day job brought in some Japanese plums from his backyard tree. They were so deliciously sweet, we both wanted to savor them for a while longer. So, with his help of providing the plums, I made us some jam. It is very sweet with a pop of almond extract to deepen the flavor. It’s great on biscuits, but I want to make an old fashioned jelly roll cake with it one day soon. Enjoy!

002-cropJapanese Plum Jam
6 cups Japanese plums, pitted and halved
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups water
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 packages pectin
6 cups sugar

In a large stock pot of boiling water, sterilize about 8 to 10 pint-sized jars while you prepare the jam so they are hot when you’re ready to fill them.

Fill a bowl with orange juice. As you cut and pit the plums, place them in the OJ to keep them from turning brown. Once you’ve cut them all, pulse them and the juice the food processor until they are in small chunks or even pureed, if you like.

In a Dutch oven or larger sauce pan, cook the plum mixture, water and lemon juice slowly over medium heat until boiling. Stir in the extract and ginger. Add the pectin and return to a rapid boil. Stir in the sugar quickly and boil hard for about one minute.

Remove from heat and skim off any foam from the top. Pour into hot sterilized jars, wipe the rim with a damp towel and screw lids on finger tight. Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. Makes eight to 10 half pint jars of jam.


Cooking with Girl Scout Cookies

Believe it or not, there are more things to do with Girl Scout cookies other than hiding them in your desk and scarffing them all down when no one’s looking. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; they only come out once a year after all. There are quite possibly thousands of recipes that include Girl Scout cookies as an ingredient. These delicious cookies and all their flavors are very versatile tricks to keep in your pantry or freezer.

Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program, Girl Scouts learn skills they need to succeed in life, like financial literacy, innovation, budget management and more. Essentially, they learn how to run a business, while putting money back into the program that teaches them all these things and more. So, buying these cookies is a win/win deal – you help further the Girl Scouts’ nearly 100-year-old program and you have these coveted cookies to devour and cook with as you wish. Yes, this includes hiding some in your desk drawer and gobbling them up when no one else is looking.

Read the full article and more at www.citysocial.com OR pick up free copies of the April issue on stands this week!

ParfaitLemon Raspberry Parfait Shots
2, 8-oz. packages Neufchatel cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
2 jars seedless raspberry preserves
1 box of Savannah Smiles Girl Scout cookies (save 6 for garnish)

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Spoon preserves into a bowl and whisk until loosened. Pulse the cookies in a food processor until they resemble coarse crumbs. Spoon two tablespoons of cookie crumbs into the bottom of each cordial glass. Then spoon two tablespoons or more of the preserves, top that with a couple tablespoons or more of the cream mixture. Continue layering in this pattern until the glass if full. Garnish with a small spoonful of preserves and one whole cookie. Yields six to eight shots.

Samoa S’mores BrowniesBrownie
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 ounces dark chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 box Samoas Girl Scout Cookies
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 11×7-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Melt chocolate and butter in a small, heavy saucepan or double boiler. Stir constantly over low heat until smooth. Cool to lukewarm or room temperature. Beat sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large bowl on high speed until pale yellow. Reduce speed and slowly add in flour and salt. Then gradually pour in the chocolate mixture until blended. Pour brownie batter into the prepared baking pan.

Bake brownies for 10 minutes. Chop the cookies coarsely and toss with mini marshmallows. Sprinkle the cookies and marshmallows over the top of the brownies and bake 15-20 minutes more, until the marshmallows brown slightly. Lift the brownies out with the paper and let cool on the rack. Cut and serve slightly warm.

IceCreamThin Mint Ice Cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
Green food coloring, if desired
1 sleeve Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies

In a saucepan or double boiler, heat milk slowly over low heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until frothy. Add a couple of tablespoons of the hot milk to the eggs to temper them. Then slowly add the rest of the hot milk whisking constantly. Pour mixture back into saucepan and heat slowly until thickened, stirring constantly. Chill completely. Add cream and peppermint. Crush the cookies in a food processor and set aside until you’re ready to freeze. Pour cream into an ice cream freezer and add cookie crumbs as the mixture turns. Once cold, store in a tightly sealed container in the freezer.

Variation: Substitute the peppermint extract and green food coloring with 1 or 2 tablespoons Crème de Menthe liquor for a grown-up version.

Warm and Crazy

030I added a few twinkle lights to my impulively purchased, hastily planted tomato bushes to help them survive the weekend’s hard freezes. I covered them with a couple of light towels, too. I’m either protecting them or cooking them – I’ll keep you posted on which! Crazy Louisiana weather…or crazy Louisianian planting tomoatoes too soon? Don’t answer that.

In other news…





Oscar, the composting bin is busy making magic with my kitchen scaps. Here’s how we “stir” that up! (Get it?)

Eggselent Easter Egg Recipes

If you have little ones who love dying and then hunting eggs for Easter, then you wind up with more than a few boiled eggs rolling around your fridge. This year, I set out to find a few new things to do with this year’s multi-colored array of boiled eggs. Here’s what I came up with this year.

Eggs are very versatile and are packed with energy boosting protein. However, if you need to keep your cholesterol in check, you may want share the responsibility of ridding the house of boiled eggs with your family; or, bring some of these little guys to work along with some fruit and muffins to perk up Monday morning’s meeting or bridge with the ladies.

Read the full article at www.citysocial.com and look for copies to hit the stand around town next week!

EggSaladEgg Salad with Salmon
4 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon fresh dill
8 ounces smoked salmon, coarsely chopped
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Stir together eggs, mayonnaise, celery, chives, lemon zest and juice, capers and dill. Gently fold in salmon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately on toast or with ripe tomatoes. Or chill for a couple of hours up to one day before serving. Makes 2 to 3 cups of salad.

DeviledEggsDeviled Eggs Topped with Pickled Beets
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3 tablespoons cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared white horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons pickled sweet & sour beets, finely chopped
2 teaspoons juice from the beets

Slice eggs lengthwise in half and spoon yolks into a bowl. Mash yolks with a fork then stir in the mayonnaise and horseradish. Add beet-pickling juice and Worcestershire. Stir gently then spoon mixture into each egg white. Chill until ready to serve.

Finely dice enough drained pickled beets to yield about 2 or 3 tablespoons. Blot gently on a paper towel. Garnish each egg with a few diced beets just before serving. Yields 12 deviled egg halves.

Asparagus Salad with Warm Bacon VinaigretteAsparagusSalad
5 thick asparagus spears
2 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1 avocado, halved, pitted and peeled
2 hard-boiled eggs, halved

Trim about 2 inches of the base of each asparagus spear. With a vegetable peeler, shave the entire asparagus from bottom to top into thin strips. In a large skillet, cook bacon then stir in vinegars and honey mustard. Add asparagus strips and toss in the dressing until slightly wilted. Pile the salad onto salad places. Cut avocado half into slices and place to top of the asparagus along with egg slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Yields two servings.

Bonus Recipe: Buffalo Mac and Bleu

This recipe originated from my interview with the Casserole Queen and it always gets rave reviews. I have made the slight modification of adding chicken and bacon to it; and, I divided the original recipe in half because it makes the full pan with the chicken. It’s spicy and rich. To be quite honest, it’s a guy’s best casserole. Enjoy!

009Buffalo Mac & Bleu
1 bag/box of elbow macaroni pasta
16 oz. container of sour cream
1/2 17.5-oz. bottle of buffalo sauce (I’ve used Louisiana brand, but any will do)
4 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1 5-oz. container of crumbled bleu cheese
1 rotisserie cooked chicken, deboned
4 -5 strips crispy bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot filled halfway with water, add a few pinches of salt, a touch of oil and put the burner setting on high. When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta. Remove when al dente, around 5-7 minutes. (This dish will cook additionally in the oven, so you don’t want to over cook the pasta.)  Drain the pasta and place it back into the original pot, off of the heat.

In a medium-sized bowl, use a whisk to combine sour cream, buffalo sauce, salt and pepper.  Fold in 3 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 container of bleu cheese; add chicken and bacon.

Add the mixture to the pasta. Combine well while being careful not to break up the pasta. Transfer the mixture into a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheddar and bleu cheeses over the top.

Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes then serve.

Spring’s Coming Early, Right?

045It took me precisely two hours from when I saw the Inner Circle drag that poor little groundhog out of his burrow to get myself dressed, haul my kids to the farmer’s market, purchase two tomato plants and plop them in the ground. In short, I am ready for the spring season to start in our little backyard garden.

The next week, we headed to Florida leaving these little newbies to brave what I hope is the last of winter. I’m lifting up hopes for warmer weather to come soon!

I’ll be eating those words come July…Y’all feel free to mock me then.

Brussels Last Stand

028 031

We’re still getting a little lettuce from the garden, but this weekend I gathered up enough Brussels for one serving of maple bacon spouts for dinner. These little plants have slowly been growing throughout the fall and winter, while we’ve been doing homework, going to gymnastics and being generally busy.

There’s nothing like harvesting veggies from your own garden. These little guys are no exception. They were more tender and sweet than any I’ve bought at the store.

Maple Bacon Brussels
2 cups Brussels sprouts
2 strips of bacon
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 maple syrup
Sea salt and black pepper

Wash and peel any damaged leaves from the sprouts. Flash boil them with a little salt for five minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Chop them in slices or quarters.

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven. Stir in butter until melted. Whisk in syrup. Gently stir in the sprouts and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium to low for about 15 minutes or until the sprouts are tender.

King Cakes Anyone Can Make

A braided yeast cake can seem pretty adventurous for an amateur baker, but I’ve recently discovered it really isn’t that hard. You just need a little patience. Okay, maybe a lot of patience; but, like with most things, the possibilities are endless and the sweet doughy, filled cakes that result are worth all the time and energy.

My favorite thing about baking king cakes is that once you’ve got your go-to recipe for the dough that you like, the filling can be anything you wish.

Read the full Stirring It Up article for more about king cakes at www.citysocial.com or pick up a copy at your local store this week! Happy Mardi Gras!

Fig Filled King Cake with Orange Cream Cheese IcingFig1
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into 12 pieces
6 – 8 preserved figs
1/4 cup syrup from figs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1, 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour and yeast in mixing bowl. Heat milk, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and milk is about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. With a mixer on low, pour milk into the flour while mixing. Next, add eggs one at a time. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Switch to dough hook. Mix in the remaining 1 cup flour gradually. Add the softened butter, a few pieces at a time. Knead for about eight minutes on low. You may have to stop and scrape the dough hook every few minutes. The dough should not stick to the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand. Form the dough into a ball. Place dough into a greased bowl and turn once to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

While the dough is chilling, pulse figs, syrup and butter in a food processor until well blended and easy to spread. Set aside.

On a floured surface, roll the chilled dough into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle. Spread the filling over the long half of the dough. Fold over the clean half and press the edges together. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 3 long strips. Braid the strips together and tuck in the ends. Place the cake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Then, bake the king cake at 350 for 25 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

To make the icing: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl. Beat in orange juice and orange zest. Add sugar slowly, while beating until smooth. Chill until thickened, but still able to spread, about 30 minutes.


Chocolate King CakeChocolate2

To make this version, prepare the dough from the recipe above; substitute milk with eggnog or heavy cream and use 1/2 cup Nutella chocolate spread for the filling. This helps get rid of that last bit of eggnog in the fridge.

Vintage Housewife Wedding Shower

Everything old is new again and some things never go out of style…two concepts that make for a perfect party! This is especially true for a vintage-themed bridal shower. Vintage, mid-century or 1950s era, in particular, continues to be an iconic theme for everything from home décor to graphic design. So, it’s no surprise retro-themed parties are in high style this wedding season.

Read the full Stirring It Up article for tips on decorations and more at www.citysocial.com or pick up a copy at your local store this week!

Chick2Herbed Chicken Pate
2 cups chicken broth
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups diced cooked chicken

You can boil your chicken and use the broth, or use store-bought broth and a rotisserie chicken to save time. Pour the chicken broth into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, pour the cold water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin into it, stirring as you add until well mixed. Pour the chicken broth into the gelatin mixture, using a wire whisk, until gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the mayonnaise using the wire whisk until well mixed. Pulse the green onions, garlic, herbs, seasonings and chicken to a food processor until finely diced. Combine the mayonnaise and chicken mixtures. Pour the mixture into desired dish or greased mold. Cover with lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. If using a mold, unmold it onto a plate. Serve with crackers and garnish with fresh herb sprigs.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake098
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons amaretto
5 to 7 slices fresh pineapple
5 to 7 maraschino cherries without stems
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In 9-inch round baking pan, lined with parchment paper, melt 1/4 cup butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter and whisk in amaretto. Arrange pineapple slices and cherries over brown sugar.

In medium bowl, cream butter, sugar and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. To the butter and sugar mixture, add milk and pineapple juice, alternating with flour mixture until batter is smooth.

Pour batter over pineapple and cherries. Bake about 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. May be served with fresh, lightly sweetened whipped cream.

CheeseStrawsSpicy Cheese Straws
8 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar
1 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pulse cheese, flour, butter, salt, cumin and cayenne in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and pulse until dough forms a ball.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough with a lightly floured pizza cutter or a sharp knife into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Carefully place straws about 1/4 inch apart on lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake about 15 minutes until pale golden. Cool completely on baking sheets set on racks, about 15 minutes.