August 30, 2010

Easy Peasy Playdough as Party Favors

Here's a cute idea for a party favor, as well as a fun craft that the kiddies can be involved in making.  Katie loved the idea of making her very own playdough, and I loved how easy it was to make (less than 15 minutes), and the money we saved by not buying the popular little tubs that we all know so well.  

This project brought back some great memories of my childhood, when my very wonderful Nana would whip up some homemade playdough for my sister and I. Squeezing  some dough between our little fingers, was all we needed to keep us happy and busy for quite a long time.    

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 cup salt (I used Kosher salt)
2 tbsp of oil (I used grapeseed)
2 cups of water
food coloring ( I used gel)
clear plastic treat bags
colorful ribbon to seal the bags

Measure all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl and mix thoroughly.  (Mixture will look runny and lumpy.) All will be kneaded in the end, so don't worry about the lumps. 

Place in the microwave for two minutes on medium heat.  Stop and stir then put in for another minute and stop and stir again.  Repeat until you have a solid batter that can be kneaded.  Total microwave time was approx. 4 minutes and 20 seconds.   

Once you have a solid batter, remove batter to counter-top and set aside for a few minutes to cool.  
Once cool enough, knead dough until it comes together smoothly and split dough into as many different sections as you want colors.  

Take each section and push your thumb deep into the middle of the ball.  Add a few drops of food coloring and gently pinch the top of the hole closed, roll on its side and carefully knead until all the color is blended into the dough. (Katie loved seeing this transformation!)  

Place the balls into clear plastic treat bags and seal with the ribbon of your choice.  Now you're ready to share your creation with your family and friends.  

This playdough can last up to 5-6 weeks if kept in an airtight container.  If the edges feel a bit dry, simply knead with wet hands.  


August 26, 2010

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips with Anise and Fennel

Seriously....who doesn't love the combination of a salty potato chip covered in sweet melted chocolate?  I was hooked the first time I tried this yummy treat.  A little candy shoppe in Northern New Jersey made these sweet-salty delights, and it was a rare occasion when they didn't sell out daily.  The swanky packaging made the experience that much better, and how I swoon for cute and over-the-top packaging.

So when i saw this intriguing take on this treat...I simply couldn't wait, and my kitchen was soon filled with the aroma of melted chocolate and lots of little seeds.  

Mark Bittman, an American food journalist and author, traveled to Denmark to check out Noma, the restaurant that earned the title of "The Best Restaurant in the World."  He found this award-winning recipe and re-created it for the simple home cook.  You can find the original recipe at

Potato Chips with Anise and Chocolate
Makes about 5-10 servings

About 1 pound good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into bean-size pieces, (I used 1 bag of chocolate chips)
50 nice potato chips, unsalted (I used salted potato chips...I couldn't resist)
1 tsp anise seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds

Melt almost all of the chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or a clean metal pan set over simmering water) ; use a candy thermometer and remove the chocolate from the heat when it reaches between 110F to 115F.  (I didn't feel the need to use a candy thermometer, I just took it off the heat once it was all melted.)  

Pull the chips through the melted chocolate to cover them, then cool on a parchment covered tray.  Sprinkle the anise and fennel seeds over them before they cool completely.  I placed the tray in the fridge to cool completely.  


August 19, 2010

Sesame-Soy Cod

Lately, my seafood craving has been ever increasing, especially in the hot summer months when I just want a quick,  light and of course tasty meal.  The Sunflower Market in Tucson, AZ recently published in their monthly publication, a great recipe for halibut glazed in this sweet salty marinade.  Seriously, you wouldn't believe how this glaze transforms this fish into a simply succulent, buttery harmonious bite.    I only slightly adapted the original recipe to incorporate some of my fave ingredients.

A pantry staple in my house is the Shoa Hsing Chinese rice cooking wine and is my favorite ingredient for any Asian dish I prepare.  I think it truly adds a nice flavor dimension.  Try may even see a decrease in your Chinese take-out.

Pairing Suggestion:  A buttery, oaky Chardonnay would be superb here.

Sesame-Soy Cod
Serves 6

1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin (Japanese rice cooking wine) (I used Shoa Hsing a Chinese rice cooking wine)
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp seeded, minced serrano chile pepper ( I used red pepper flakes)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp orange juice
juice from one lemon
6 4-ounce cod fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Olive oil for brushing
2 scallions, thinly sliced

In a food processor, coarsely grind sesame seeds.  Add soy sauce, rice cooking wine, sesame oil, garlic, chile, honey, orange juice, and lemon juice.  Process for another 30 seconds.
Preheat grill to medium.  Brush fish lightly with olive oil.  Apply sesame-soy mixture thickly on each fillet. Grill fish until just opaque in center, about 7 minutes, turning occasionally and basting with additional sesame mixture.  Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with sliced scallions.  

I served with baby bok choy.  Simply slice lengthwise, brush with olive oil and grill for 8-10 minutes until lightly charred.