Turkey and Bacon Salad Sandwich

Check out my latest Snapguide Turkey and Bacon Salad Sandwich with step by step instructions. The after Thanksgiving and Christmas “What do I do with leftover” Turkey and Bacon Salad Sandwich. This turned out wonderful.

Turkey and Bacon Salad Sandwich

You can also check out my recipe on bigoven at: Turkey and Bacon Salad Sandwich

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Raspberry Short Bread Cookies

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming, and I cannot wait. I know they are a little ways off, and Halloween has yet to pass. Still the excitement of the holidays and all the goodies involved with each are enough to get your mouth salivating for the future. Halloween has its candy and cookies. Thanksgiving has its turkey and pumpkin pie, and Christmas could mean many things.

Raspberry Short Bread Cookies are a treat I always equate with the holidays. Do you remember the little holiday cans filled with small tasty cookies? These are the cookies that I think about when I reminiscence about Short Bread. Remembering and celebrating good times with family and friends is what the holidays are all about.

Raspberry Short Bread Cookies are really not that difficult to make. After I got past the initial shock of the unconventional cookie dough, they turned out to be wonderful little additions to my friend’s birthday tea party that I mentioned last week. After mixing the main ingredients together, I saw that the dough looked like a graham cracker pie crust, except flaky. I started to think that something had gone wrong. I expected a more adhesive dough. The recipe says to mix until light and fluffy, but flaky seems to be a better description. Upon rolling the dough, it becomes more adhesive, and the expected cookie shape begins to form.

Cut them into strips as the recipe states, and you are well on your way. To create a crease for the jam to set into, I used my thumb and made a little valley. The recipe says to use a wooden spoon end, but mine was built differently. A clean dowel rod might work as well, if you have a big enough one available.

So remember, “The holidays are fast approaching. Be prepared with a new, fresh baked holiday treat.”

Check out the recipe here: Raspberry Short Bread Cookies

Photos are the Property of "The Cooking Carpenter" Copyright ©2012

Orange Cranberry Scones

Orange Cranberry SconesScones are just not something I thought that I would really enjoy. My only experience with them has been at the local Starbucks, and I just assumed that they were supposed to be hard and stale. Not that Starbucks Scones are like that, but I had one, and it was not a very memorable experience. So I stick with my Lemon Loaf, Banana Nut Bread, or an occasional Cheese Danish at Starbucks. However, I have now experienced what a fresh, beautifully baked scone is supposed to taste like.

Recently, a friend of mine had a milestone birthday. (I can’t very well tell her age now, can I?) Her husband, my wife, and I decided to throw her an old-fashioned Tea Party. We thought that it would be an elegant way to celebrate and have a delightful time with someone who loves tea and is elegant in her own way.

In searching for some treats for the party, I discovered Orange Cranberry Scones and Raspberry Shortbread Cookies (coming next week). And yes, they are as delightful as they sound. Maybe not “Harry and Sally” famous restaurant scene good (just think excitedly good), but extremely close.

These babies are easy to make, but you will need a food processor, a way to zest an orange, and an 8″ round cake pan. This gave me a chance to buy something that I have long wanted, expanding my abilities in the kitchen. After all, if you put a blade on a motor, it is as much a power tool as a skill saw or a miter saw might be! I can hear Tim Allen grunting now. I know Tim Allen and Tea Parties are a weird combination, but I still say MORE POWER!

Orange Cranberry Scones

Mixing everything together is just a one, two, three process that doesn’t take very long to accomplish.

Oddly, the recipe said something that I didn’t understand, “Don’t Over Mix!” What does that mean to someone who has never made this thing anyway? I guess that if you over mix the batter with the milk, the texture will not come out right, but don’t over think it. My batter was moist, but it still had some powdery areas. Once I pressed it into the Saran Wrap covered pan, the moisture blended with the remaining crumbling areas. As long as you follow the recipe, I think that you will be fine either way. Experiment a little, and enjoy a delightful treat.

We made them the night before, and some the day of the party. They kept very good (in an air tight, sealed container) for a few days even after the party. Of course, they didn’t last long enough for them to even think of going bad!

So remember to, “Rethink your scone. Bake it at home.”

Check out the recipe below, and I will post the Shortbread Cookies next week.

Orange Cranberry Scones

Photos are the Property of "The Cooking Carpenter" Copyright ©2012

Have you ever eaten a cloud?

Anitas Chicken and DumplingsAlmost everyone dreams of heaven and what it will be like. The old stereotype is that of an angel sitting on a cloud with his harp in hand and just singing to everyone’s heart’s content. Some think that it will be a taco bar with cigars and drinking or a glutton’s paradise. Others might think that it’s a hot night with supermodels, but makes you wonder if it would be heaven for “the supermodels.” In all reality though, heaven will be a wonderful place filled with joy and happiness, with no sickness, death, or trials and tribulations. To me it is a place that people will want to go because of the euphoria of just being there and being in the presence of a God and others who have gone before us.

So you might ask “Why all the talk of heaven?” Well I guess it comes back to the stereotype of the angel sitting on the clouds. I took some of Anita’s Chicken and Dumplings to work so that a coworker and friend of mine could try it and let me know what she thought about it. She said that it was like eating clouds. I thought that was a perfect analogy of what the dumplings were like. Done right, they have a perfect consistency for the soup. Clouds and heaven just seemed to fit with this recipe. There was a certain euphoria of a heavenly soup that tasted like you were eating clouds and at the same time was soothing to the soul.

It is easy to make. My sister-in-law helped prepare it. She has down-syndrome, and I enjoy getting the time to cook with her. She is so enthusiastic about the task at hand, and we had a wonderful time cooking together. Heaven will be like this, spending time with the ones that we love [maybe not cooking chicken or it might not be heaven for the chicken].
There will be peace and love.

My impression is that this is a great soup to make. A couple of things I might do different though would be to cut back the chicken and add some more of the spices.  There was too much chicken, and the soup could have used just a little more flavor. Over all it was a wonderful soup. Things like some extra poultry seasoning, rosemary, thyme or something to give it a little more of a kick in flavor would go a long way. Even trying to add some spinach for the last few seconds of it cooking might be interesting as well. Add some extra carrots and celery too, because it gives it a chunkier feel. Most of all, I would definitely say don’t stray from the instructions on the dumplings, because that was the part that truly made this recipe heavenly.

So remember, “Heaven is not a cloudy day, it is the euphoria of thyme well spent.”

One Sweet Date Night

“Oh, I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts, Deedly Dee! There they are all standing in a row.” OK maybe you won’t get this one unless you have children or are one, and I guess I am probably the latter of the two. Both Zazu and Rafiki sing this song from “The Lion King,” and it gets stuck in my head almost every time that I think of coconuts.

Movies are a great part of what I enjoy, including “The Lion King”, but it seems that sometimes it is the easy date choice. Every Friday for probably the last ten years, my wife and I have tried to make it a priority to have a standard date night. Sometimes they get routine by just going to a movie and having dinner. Not much conversation and interaction are involved when going to a movie, and I have been trying to think of more creative ways of enjoying time with my wife.

This last Friday for our date night we decided to make cookies for some of our friends and just spend some quality time together. We made Coconut Butter Cookies (this is where the coconut comes in) and Peanut Butter Cookies. It really didn’t take long to make the dough, then we realized that we had to refrigerate them for three hours. The Peanut Butter Cookies we could have made right away, but I like a chewy cookie. The recipe said, “for a chewy cookie refrigerate for 3 hours.” I decided to let them stand overnight, and we enjoyed the rest of the night together.

Both cookies are excellent recipes and are very easy to make. Do not let the wordiness of the one overwhelm you. It is an excellent recipe. We mixed each ingredient individually to get an even mixture and enjoyed the cleanup afterwards. After all you get to taste the cookie dough off of the bowl and spoon. It was fun, and we enjoyed being able to hand out the cookies to our friends.

So remember, “Have a sweet date night, and cook up something together.”

Recipes can be found Here:
Coconut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

Simply Amazing Bourbon Flank Steak

Meet Flank. Flank is my new friend. Liquor him up, and he is the life of the party! Our party consisted of just a few friends and a wonderful night of good, ol’fashioned steak and potatoes.

Bourbon and Brown Sugar Flank Steak is one of those steaks that you have got to try. We had some friends over and they said that it was one of the best steaks that they have ever eaten. And “OH MY” the flavor is just irresistible. Have I got your mouth watering yet? Good because it should be, and I know mine is.

First of all you will have to get some bourbon. I used Ezra Brooks Bourbon Whiskey. The Liquor Shop attendant recommended it to me, as it is an inexpensive, good quality bourbon whiskey. Then, I went to the meat counter and asked for a 2 pound “trimmed” flank steak.

Be sure to give your dish some time. I recommend that you marinade this steak over night.The sides become easy to cook, and all you need to do is throw it on the grill.

Get a Ziploc bag or a Tupperware container and combine the first seven ingredients: Brown sugar, minced green onions, bourbon, soy-sauce, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire. DO NOT poke, prod, pinch, or do any thing else to tenderize the meat. Just stick it in the bag and refrigerate over night. Let the alcohol, sugar, and marinade all blend together and tenderize the meat on its own.

One day later, remove the steak, and stick it on the grill (5 minutes on each side approximately), depending on how you like your steak cooked. Add some cornstarch to the marinade and heat it up for a nice gravy. This steak was fast, easy, flavorful, pink in the middle, and moist.

Check out the recipe and remember, “Marinade, wait, and be the life of the party in a whole new way.”

Click on the links above for the recipe.

Rasta Pasta

Rasta PastaOK, so Rasta Pasta just sounds cool. This recipe is from “Fins Up! (Jimmy Buffet) Cooking Class with Leigh Ocs.” This is a wonderful addition to the Tequila-Orange Shrimp that I wrote about last week. It has an unexpected Caribbean taste. But what else should I expect, it does have Jimmy Buffet’s name attached to the top.

I would have never imagined using coconut to make a creamy pasta, but it is exquisite! While the coconut flavor does come through, I might consider adding some coconut flakes to the prepared pasta or using real coconut milk to even further enhance the flavor next time.

I heated the coconut to a boiling point and let it simmer for a little while. Then strained it into a bowl and pushed as much flavor out of the coconut that I could get with a fork. Actually it did not seem like it was working, so I picked it up and squeezed the daylights out of the flakes to get as much of the juice out as I could. After setting the Water/Coconut Milk to the side, I boiled the noodles (Penne Pasta) to an Al Dente state.

While I was waiting on the noodles, I added the red pepper flakes, oil, and garlic into a frying pan. Once heated, I added the noodles, coconut water, and  remaining ingredients. Ultimately it is not a really difficult recipe. The sauce wasn’t as thick as I had hoped for, but the flavor was excellent.

Next time, I will make some changes to the recipe. First, I will use less water when preparing the coconut mix and possibly add some fresh coconut milk. Second, I will print the recipes rather than working directly off my cell phone. I accidentally missed a step toggling between two recipes. I don’t know if adding oil to the Al Dente noodles would have made a difference or not, but I hate to do things incorrectly on my first attempt with a new recipe. These minor changes might make a delicious difference in the future.

Either way, my wife, sister-in-law, and friend all enjoyed the taste and experience. This was a worthy experiment, and I will make it again down the road. Maybe next time I could add some broccoli florets as well.

So remember, “The recipe is not always right; take some time to make it your own.” I know I will.

Tequila Orange Shrimp

Tequila Orange Shrimp“Yes, I like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.” Well Jimmy Buffet sang this anyway. My Pina Coladas are generally of the virgin kind. I am not much of a drinker anymore, but I have found that alcohol can make some of the best cooked meals. For example, try roasting a pork tenderloin with a beer in a crock pot some time, and you will see what I mean. SOOOOO “Love Me Tender.”

Last Night I made for the first time Tequila Orange Shrimp. Between this and the Rasta Pasta, (coming next week) I had my hands pretty full.

I originally bought some shrimp deveined and with tails on, but didn’t think that they were big enough. If I am going to grill shrimp, then I want them to have some size to them. So I went back and got some fresh large shrimp from the meet counter at the grocery store. Then I had to figure out how to devein these things. The easiest way is to put the knife in the hole at the head of the shrimp and cut backwards. It was however a little time-consuming. I know, it seems like it should be obvious, but hey, I am still learning.

I first mixed the oil, jalapeno, garlic, salt and pepper, and lime zest together, and then I placed each shrimp in the marinade as it was ready. That was the easy part. Once they are in the mixture, they are supposed to set for 15 minutes to an hour. Of course it took me that long just to get them all in there, and this gave me the chance to work on the other recipe.

The hard part is the Tequila-Orange sauce. The recipe said to take the rest of the Jalapeno and garlic and mix it with the orange juice, tequila, and shallots. Bring this to a boil and cook until it is a syrupy consistency. The problem is that mine did not turn to syrup. I still don’t know what happened that it didn’t get to the right consistency, but I guess that will come with time and experimentation.

So the next time that you want to have a “Straight Tequila Night,” throw some in with some shrimp and orange juice, and you will find a tasty treat. So remember, “Stop worrying about whether ‘Tequila makes her clothes fall off;’ this dish will put a song in her step.”

You can Find the Recipe Here: Tequila Orange Shrimp.

What Makes a Cowboy Cookie?

OK, so I have been on this Cookie Kick for a little while now. I am sure that the calories are going to make me look as round as they are, but I have been enjoying baking and eating them way too much if you ask me! My latest experiment is the “TEXAS COWBOY COOKIE,” and they are wonderful.

I am not sure as to what makes a “Cowboy Cookie” though, let alone a Texas one. I am guessing it has to do with a comment made in the recipe. It states, “Makes 24 Texas sized cookies or 36 Yankee cookies.” Yes I guess everything really is bigger in Texas, even our cookies. These cookies are also very hardy and will fill you up pretty easily. They are everything that you would want a cookie to be.

Be careful when you make them though. The recommended recipe, is enough for a large posse. You might want to cut the recipe in half for just the family to enjoy. You can adjust the recipe a little through the Bigoven website. I have enjoyed having them around though – with the emphasis on the “round”.

Even though I am from Texas, these cookies are as cowboy as I get. In other words, just call me a city boy! I do love a hardy cookie though; especially one with pecans, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, cinnamon, oatmeal, and a whole lot of flavor. The cinnamon really enhanced the flavor, inspiring a miriad of comments from friends and family.

Check out the recipe. They are easy! They are filling! They are wonderful! Remember, “The size of a cookie can bring a whole new meaning to the term round-up.”

Click here for Recipe!

UMMM! Magic Cookie Bars

Magic Cookie BarsMost cookies could be considered magic – in my opinion anyway. Yes these wonderfully delectable pieces of heaven have captivated children “SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME.” Well I cannot say that for sure, but every child I have ever known would eat them until their stomachs hurt if they were allowed.

Magic Cookie Bars are no exception. They are made of graham crackers, butter, Eagle Brand condensed milk, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and walnuts. They also have the variation of adding butterscotch chips, raisins, or cranraisins.

However, I have never seen this recipe with Peanut Butter Chips, and I cannot understand why. They add so much to the recipe, and I don’t always get into the butterscotch chips, raisins, or cranraisins. If you use approximately the same amount of total chips that the recipe calls for, in varying amounts of each flavor, then I think that these peanut butter chips are great additions to the recipe. Most of the people who ate them said that they prefered, and even really loved, the ones with the peanut butter chips in them. I highly recommend this variation!

A word of caution: the Recipe from the Eagle Brand Website, states to use parchment paper to make it easy to remove the cookies from the pan. This would have been great, but I came across two problems. First I immediately tryed to remove them from the parchment paper, and they were still too moist. This caused them to want to bend, so I left them in the pan for a while longer. After a bit of time, they did stiffen, but then they stuck to the parchment paper. This was an unexpected outcome that I think the condensed milk influenced.

It was not fun trimming paper off the sides of the cookie, but the bottoms slipped right off the paper. Unfortunately, with trimming the paper off the sides, I had to throw some of the cookies away too. That is like Cookie abuse. Oh well, at least I learned something from it. Parchment paper may be a good idea, but I will seek out a better way to do this. Stay posted!

So remember, “Trimming down, is a sticky situation.”