2011 Culinary Highlights

Is it really, really the middle of January? Wow! 2011 was a great year for me – new adventures, new places, new people and lots of lessons in the journey of life.
And, of course, we can’t forget new recipes!
It was a year ago this month that I started the Penarious Challenge. I’d have to say that the most interesting challenge was the attempt to recreate Heinz ketchup in the kitchen. I learned more about ketchup than I ever wanted to know and came pretty close, but not close enough. Heinz Tomato Ketchup recipe remains a secret.
One of the most exciting moments in my culinary blog world was getting interviewed by Ian Lamont of Slickepott, the fudge sauce company. You can read about all that in this post if you haven’t already.
And, if you haven’t already, click on over to his website and buy some fudge!
Most Complicated Recipe Award goes to the Orange Almond Cream Cake. 
My, was it good though!
Here are the recipes that made the “You Gotta Try” list. No, it’s not every recipe I posted last year either. :D
Sweetness –

Raspberry Cheesecake

Swedish Mazarinmuffins

Cherry Almond Oatmeal

Savory –

Gnocchi with Spinach Cream Sauce


Fresh Tomato Mozzarella Salad

It’s another adventure to take on 2012! I annually wonder what the next year will hold and before we know it, it will all be memories! 
So don’t forget to savor the moments – stop to smell the roses, give a hug, breath in fresh air, try a new recipe, or count your blessings! 
Happy TwoThousandTwelve! 

The Reuben – Redone

So I couldn’t help it. The last post really was the last one of the year…until last night. 
I was just going to make Reubens – without the camera. But as I put all the ingredients together, something possessed me and I ran upstairs for my trusty Canon. This recipe was just too good not to share with you.
If you are a lover of Reubens, as I am, I hope you’ll agree. 

The ingredients are temptingly fresh. From the quick and easy sauerkraut, to the made from scratch Thousand Island dressing, a think you’ll appreciate this combo.
The Bread – I love rye with caraway seeds, but sourdough is a good choice too. Thin slices are super nice in my opinion. There is something about a sandwich that is bigger than your mouth that just isn’t appetizing. Maybe I’m just weird, I mean, I eat hamburgers with a fork.

The Meat – I roasted a turkey for these and finely shredded the meat, making sure it was is bite-sized pieces. I don’t know about you, but I dislike biting into a turkey sandwich and pulling out a 6 inch long piece of turkey. Pet peeve of mine. I’m not a picky eater, but I can be pick about my food. :D
The Cheese – Swiss is traditional, but we obviously aren’t going traditional here. Some members of my family like swiss, some do not (read emphatically!), so I use provolone, or cheddar… or Swiss.

The Kraut – You can buy this in a jar or a bag in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, or you can make this quick and easy recipe that is just as good or better.
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly slivered
1 t. salt
1/2 t. caraway seeds
1/2 c. vinegar (I used a mix of red wine vinegar and white)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and tamp down for about 5 minutes. ( I use the end of a french rolling pin for this step. A thick wooden spoon would work too.)  This brings out the cabbage juices, helps meld the flavor and breaks up the cabbage a bit more. Cover and chill for about 3 hours.
The Dressing – You can simple buy Thousand Island Dressing or the traditional Russian dressing, but this recipe is a thousand times better. The original called for a quart of mayonnaise, which would make a lot of dressing. I scaled it down to half size here. There’s a lot of chopping going on. I did it by hand because I wanted that look, but it would taste just as good mixed in the food processor using the chopper tool. As another option, here’s a recipe that pretty much uses the squirt and stir method.
2 eggs, hard-boiled and diced
1/8 c. worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 t. sugar
1/8 c. white vinegar
1 pinch of cloves, ground
2 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. sweet pickle relish
1/4 c. diced black olives
1/4 c. red bepper, diced
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until needed. 
Assemble the sandwiches with the ingredients in the order listed above.
Top with another piece of bread and butter generously.

Place butter side down in a preheated, buttered skillet, or butter side up on a panini griddle. Cook until the outside is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Oh yum!