In a little more than a month, LRL’s new cookbook titled Herbs for Flavor, Health and Natural Beauty will be hitting the shelves of bookstores near you and websites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. We are really excited about it, because it will be our debut as co-authors. The entire book was written, developed, styled and photographed by Jena and I, and we did it in less than 4 months. Now don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t by choice. It had everything to do with spring and our desire to have it available for the coming herb season. After all, we’re going to be ready for the new growing season and all the fresh herbs that will go with it. Why not enjoy some beautiful, delicious herb recipes while you’re waiting for those wonders of nature to start popping? To get your mouth a watering, Jena and I decided it was a good idea to give everyone a sample recipe and a few photos to go with it to show why we are so excited about our debut book.
Since it’s still January and there are still a good two months left here in Wisconsin before we will have temperatures warm enough to start thinking spring, and another two months after that before those delicate herbs will be able to be safely planted, why not tempt you with one of my favorite recipes from the book. Rosemary Mac & Cheese. This outstanding version of the classic mac and cheese recipe, uses rosemary in more than one form. First we cook large macaroni noodles and make the sauce right in the pan using chicken broth, gobs of goat cheese and of course rosemary. Then, we fold in some juicy rotisserie chicken and top it all off with an incredibly flavorful rosemary panko crumb topping. It’s loaded with rosemary flavor and really easy to make. What better way to get through the cold and snowy days of winter than with a cheesy, gooey bowl of homemade mac and cheese?
We will be taking advance orders for our book very soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for the notice. There is a limited run of books, so make sure you get your copy early. The book contains over 225 full color pages. Each recipe and herbal beauty project is displayed with Jena’s beautiful photography. We hope you enjoy this teaser recipe while you wait for the book to arrive. Don’t forget to cook with love and live to cook.
Jim & Jena
Herbs for Flavor, Health and Natural Beauty - A Sneak Peak
This grown up version of the classic Mac & Cheese is loaded with the fresh flavors of rosemary, goat cheese, and rotisserie chicken.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Main Dish
½ cup Fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, divided
⅓ cup EVOO
2 cups Chicken stock
2 cups Water
2 cups Heavy cream
3 cups Large elbow macaroni
3 cups Rotisserie chicken, cooked
4 ozs Goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
2 tsp. Rosemary oil, see above
Salt & pepper, to taste
For Rosemary Oil Combine ¼ cup of rosemary and olive oil in a blender and blend on high for 1 minute or until rosemary is finely ground. Strain oil into a bowl with a fine strainer. Set oil aside while you make the pasta.
For Pasta Pour chicken stock, water and cream into a large dutch oven or saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, then add macaroni. Stir with a rubber spatula to prevent pasta from sticking. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring mixture occasionally until pasta is al dente and liquid has thickened. Fold in chicken, goat cheese and remaining rosemary. Cook 2-3 minutes longer or until goat cheese has melted into sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off heat and let rest for 2-3 minutes.
For Crumb Topping In a small skillet over medium heat, toast panko crumbs with 2 tsp. of reserved rosemary oil for 2-3 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool while you dish up mac and cheese.
To Serve Spoon macaroni mixture into shallow bowls or large mugs. Spoon 1-2 tsp. of reserved rosemary oil over macaroni.
We love the family time leading up to the holidays! Here is a recipe for some beautiful watercolor and marble snowflake sugar cookies that even a toddler can help with!
We started by making white marshmallow fondant at home. Roll out the fondant and water down some food coloring to paint it with. We chose shades of teal and blue to keep it simple. While the fondant is tacky we added shades of blue sprinkles and cut out a variety of sizes of snowflakes.
Then we worked on the sugar cookie folding teal food coloring in the dough until we had the color and marble look we wanted. Roll it out and cut out more snowflakes in a variety of shapes. Cook and cool sugar cookie. adhere the cookie and fondant together with white icing.
Go to any coffee shop on a given day and what will you find on the menu of coffee offerings? Flavored coffee. Salted caramel, white chocolate mocha, candy cane machiatto, etc. Heck, look at the hype every fall when Starbucks releases their pumpkin spice latte. You’d think it was the best think since, well, sliced pumpkin pie. In reality though, all those yummy sounding flavors are just artificially flavored syrup added to coffee. Add a catchy name like snickerdoodle or coconut almond truffle, and it makes you really want one doesn’t it? Well, guess what? We are here to tell you that you can make your own syrups and you’ll know what’s in them, where they are made and they will be better for you at the same time.
Coffee syrups are really just simple syrups. What is simple syrup? Exactly that, simple. It is half granulated sugar and half water, cooked until the sugar melts into the water. Basically sweet water. Simple right? This simple syrup is used in coffee syrups, coffee creamers, flavorings for mixed drinks, ice cream toppings, and many other store bought products. Just look at the ingredient list. If the first two ingredients are sugar and water, chances are it’s a simple syrup base. Well, while creating the hot cocoa party and trying to come up with ideas for how to jazz it up, Jena threw out flavored syrups as an idea. After a little research on The Google, which is jokingly what I call it now thanks to a dear friend of mine, I decided to give it a whirl. Think about it. If syrups are the base for creamers and both are used extensively to make awesome tasting flavors, why not spruce up other beverages this way? Why only flavor coffee? Why stop at all. Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, egg nog, Apple cider, martinis, shakes, floats, sundaes or just plain milk could be jazzed up using a homemade syrup. I must say, it is kind of fun to bring out bottles of homemade coffee syrups or creamers when friends come over for coffee clutch, and say “these are some homemade creamers I whipped up for you”.
When starting the process of making our own syrups, the one thing that needed to be changed was the ingredients. simple syrup is usually made with granulated sugar and water. For ours, we decided to use raw, unrefined and coconut palm sugar to make them a little healthier. After all, both are better for you than granulated sugar because it’s not processed or bleached with chemicals like granulated sugar. Did you think white sugar came that way naturally? Nope. As a matter of fact, most granulated sugar in the stores these days is made from sugar beets rather than sugar cane. Unless the package says pure cane sugar, chances are it comes from sugar beets. Also, because of the refining process, granulated sugar contains zero nutrients and a lot of empty calories. We’re not suggesting that our homemade syrups are good for you. We just wanted a better alternative for those who like a nice flavored beverage with a tasty dessert name once in awhile like yours truly.
Since the basic syrup was only raw and coconut sugars and water, it was going to require some additional flavors to achieve the end results we wanted. So, for a salted coconut caramel syrup, we made a homemade coconut caramel sauce using coconut sugar and coconut almond milk, which is fabulous on it’s own, then added it to the simple syrup. For a cran-raspberry syrup, we cooked down fresh raspberries and cranberries, strained the mixture keeping only the liquid and added chambord liquor and a little heavy cream. For Irish cream, we added some instant espresso powder, heavy cream and Irish whiskey. The recipes are below. You can make it a lot easier by simply adding flavorings instead of making them all from scratch, but what’s the fun in that? Besides, if you want to know what’s in your food, the only way to do that is by making it yourself. Feel free to simply add prepared caramel sauce, drained frozen raspberries, or skip the alcohol.
Want to make your own coffee creamers? Just combine half and half or heavy cream in equal proportions with the finished syrups. Create your own Rumchatta or Baily’s Irish Cream by adding more booze and cream to the syrups. Want a great after dinner frozen drink? Combine the cran-raspberry syrup with ice cream and more Chambord in a blender. Spoon it into a glass and top it with whipped cream and drizzle with more syrup. Yum! The world is your syrup, so try your own versions. Until next time. Remember to cook with love and live to cook.
Create your own delicious flavored syrups and use them in everything from coffee, chai tea, hot cocoa or eggnog to martinis, frozen drinks or sundaes.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Beverage
4 cups Organic, unrefined cane sugar
2 cups Coconut palm sugar
6 cups Filtered water
For Basic Syrup Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until sugar dissolves completely and is reduced by ¼. Let cool to room temperature.
For Salted Caramel Syrup In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup coconut sugar and 1 Tbsp. of water. Cook over high heat for 4-5 minutes or until deep brown in color. Add ½ cup coconut almond milk and cook over medium heat until sugar is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in 2 Tbsp. heavy cream and 1½ tsp. kosher salt. Stir in 2 cups of the cooled cocoa syrup and 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract. Cool to room temperature. Pour into bottles, cap and refrigerate until needed for up to 4 weeks. Makes 2½ cups.
For Cran-Raspberry Cocoa Syrup In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup of water, ½ cup of fresh raspberries and ½ cup of prepared cranberry sauce (preferably homemade) and 2 Tbsp. heavy cream. Boil over medium heat for 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by ⅓. Strain mixture into a bowl with 2 cups of reserved cocoa syrup. Add 2 Tbsp. raspberry liquor such as chambord. Strain mixture into a bowl, then pour into bottles cap and refrigerate until needed up to 4 weeks. Makes 2½ cups.
For Irish Cream Syrup In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups prepared hot cocoa syrup, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder, 2 tsp. cocoa powder and 1 cup of Irish whiskey. Bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla. Pour into bottles, cap and refrigerate until needed up to 4 weeks. Makes 3 cups
For dairy free versions, substitute almond or soy milk for the cream, or eliminate the cream altogether. For kid friendly versions, eliminate the alcohol.
As kids, we sometimes forget that many of the foods that our parents buy at the store started out as a homemade recipe. Marshmallows are one of those foods. I don’t ever remember my mom making homemade marshmallows. Why would she? After all, you could buy them already made! How simple, right? Except for one thing. Homemade is always better. Especially these days, when manufacturers continually make sacrifices with ingredient quality in order to help reduce costs. Marshmallows are no exception.
I hate to say it, but in my more than 25 years of professional cooking, I’ve never made homemade marshmallows. I think like everyone else, I figured they were really hard to make. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Marshmallows are so easy to make from scratch. The recipe requires only 6 simple ingredients. Water, sugar, gelatin, corn syrup, vanilla, powdered sugar and cornstarch. 10 minutes to cook, 15 minutes to mix and 8 hours to dry. When it comes to actual effort, these fluffy squares of sweetness are a breeze. Usually I like to put my own stamp on recipes because I don’t like to copy other people’s work. My former teachers may not agree with that assessment however. With marshmallows though the decision was made to keep it simple. After all, the real purpose of these white clouds of joy was to top our homemade hot cocoa cups for a hot cocoa party series we started a few days ago.
After looking over a few options from that thing called the world wide web, we settled on Alton Brown’s recipe. What I love about his recipes, are that he keeps it simple and usually has logical, well thought out reasons for his methods. Plus, he had a great video he did on Good Eats showing how to make them. Marshmallows are so easy, there’s even room for error. In the recipe below, you take half the water and add it to the gelatin, then add the remaining water with the sugar and corn syrup. Well, I added all the water to the gelatin. No problem, I added another 1/4 cup of water to the sugar and corn syrup, continued on and they turned out perfect. Oh yeah, I forgot to add the vanilla at the end, and they still tasted great! Yeah, it was one of those days. Too many chocolate cups for hot cocoa I guess.
Think of the options if you make your own marshmallows. Cut them into large thin squares and you never have to worry about tippy smores. Cut them into large circles and they fit perfectly on top of your cocoa. Add flavorings like peppermint, cocoa, cinnamon or even toffee chips and you’ve got a cool twist to the standard tubular shape. Well, get to it. Facebook us your versions, we’d love to see them. Next item on the hot cocoa bar list. Flavored syrups. These liquid gold concoctions are great in so many things, so check back soon. It’s the holidays, so remember to cook with love and live to cook.
These fluffy white squares of sugary goodness will spruce up your hot cocoa or just pop them in your mouth. Either way, you'll be glad you made them.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 9 doz.
3 pkgs. Unflavored gelatin
1 cup Ice cold water, divided
1½ cups Granulated sugar
1 cup Corn syrup
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
¼ cup Powdered sugar
¼ cup Cornstarch
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with ½ cup of the water. Have the whisk
attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the remaining ½ cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
For regular marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Jena and I recently worked on a project that showed how to host a hot cocoa party complete with a build your own hot cocoa bar. I know, sounds fun, right? While developing cocoa powder recipes, and researching what others consider the “best hot cocoa recipe”, I realized that there were a few common concepts that most chef’s/bloggers all adopted regarding this famous chocolate beverage we all enjoy.
One version revolves around the standard cocoa powder, sugar, milk powder combination. Similar to the Swiss Miss packages I grew up with. Gourmet versions of this use real cocoa powder from the best sourced chocolate, as if there was another option. Another popular version uses bulk chocolate, usually a dark bittersweet or semi-sweet variety, that is melted in hot milk with sugar and more cocoa powder and a little cornstarch to thicken. Jacque Torres, the famous chocolatier, uses this method with great success. You can see his version here.
The problem with the latter version is that it doesn’t work well in a hot cocoa bar setting. You would need to make it in large batch ahead of time and keep it hot in a crockpot. It doesn’t allow for variety in flavor, and then there is the leftovers and cleanup. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love the idea of chocolate as leftovers, I’m not sure sitting down to a crockpot half full of day old hot cocoa is what I had in mind. Then there’s the possibility that you don’t make enough, and someone goes without hot cocoa. Oh the horror!!! Not on my watch.
So, the question I had was how can I combine the richness of Chef Torres hot cocoa with the ease of preparation of a powdered mix? Then a lightbulb went off in my head, as it often does when I’m working with food. Why not combine the two concepts and create a cute, edible craft at the same time? Cute, edible craft hot cocoa. What?
What I love about Jacque Torres version is how thick and rich it is. It’s similar to our chocolate ganache version from a few years ago. You can check it out here for reference. What happens when you use a powdered mix and add chocolate truffles, which are basically chocolate ganache covered in chocolate, to hot water or milk? I gave it a go and found it to be really delish, which is a good thing when it comes to hot cocoa.
Next question was how easy is it to add flavoring like peppermint, caramel or spices to the mix, allowing for special blends that party goers could try without too much hassle or work? After all, hot cocoa is a little like chili. Everyone has their own preference. Some like it rich and thick, some with milk, while others prefer water. I like mine Mexican style with a little chili powder and cinnamon, but you may like it with peppermint or even schnapps. That’s what’s great about a hot cocoa party. Everyone should have options.
What I discovered was you can add spices or caramel pudding powder to the cocoa mix, but peppermint powder gets hard and clumpy as soon as you crush it. Plus, you have to make batches of each version and put them in bowls to give people options, right? Not necessarily.
What if I created my own chocolate cup, filled it with a powdered hot cocoa mix, crushed peppermint candies and mini marshmallows, then sealed the top with melted white chocolate? As a cute finishing touch, make a chocolate saucer and a chocolate covered pretzel handle to make this little cup look like a mug topped with whipped cream. Now we’re talking! Add some crushed peppermint candies on top to look like a garnish and let people know what flavor the cup is. Yup, we thought of everything this time. The end result produces a cute mini cup, filled with just the right amount of hot cocoa mix and flavorings. Simply drop it in a cup, fill it with water, milk or even coffee. Stir it until it all melts in and BAMMM, perfect hot cocoa! For different flavors, add a teaspoon of caramel pudding mix or syrup, a pinch of chili powder and cinnamon, or even some hazelnut spread.
I know, I know, it sounds like a lot of work, and well, it is. Making the cups is the tough part. I could write an entire article on how to make these. Instead, I will lead you to this cute site I found that specializes in cute food called hungry happenings.com. You’ll spend hours looking at the ideas they have there. I’m not nearly as talented as they are, but I think these little hot cocoa filled chocolate cups are the bomb and are really tasty too.
You will amaze your friends and family if you pull these out. They may hate you for being so creative, but it will make a statement. “I am a food crafter, hear me roar”. Enjoy. Next time we’ll discuss those fluffy things you put in your cocoa. Homemade marshmallows! A lot easier than these cups, and sooooo worth the effort. Yum! Don’t forget to cook with love and live to cook.
This recipe is part craft, part hot cocoa and a great way to wow the guests at your next hot cocoa party. If the whole project scares you off, just make the mix. It's great on it's own. Add two good quality dark chocolate truffles to make it more decadent.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Dessert
1 cup Dry milk powder
¾ cup Powdered sugar
½ cup Unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably without alkaline)
½ tsp. fine sea salt
12 ozs. Bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ozs. White chocolate, chopped
8 ea. Peppermint candies, crushed
32-40 ea. Mini marshmallows
8 ea. Round plastic ball halves for decorating (found in craft supply stores)
8 ea. 4 oz. Dixie cups
8 ea. Chocolate covered pretzels
For cocoa mix, combine milk powder and next 3 ingredients in a medium size bowl with a whisk. Set aside.
For Chocolate Cups:
Melt ¾ of bittersweet chocolate over double boiler until almost completely melted, stirring continually. Remove melted chocolate from heat and add remaining chopped chocolate. stir in until chocolate is smooth. set aside while getting plastic cups ready.
place plastic cup halves on a sheet pan.
One at a time, fill each cup ½ full of melted chocolate. Turn cups sideways, letting chocolate coat entire inside of cup. Turn upside down and let remaining chocolate drip out of cup into bowl of melted chocolate. Place cup halves on a foil lined sheet pan. Repeat with remaining cup halves. Pour a small amount of remaining melted chocolate in the bottom of each dixie cup.
Refrigerate all cups for about 15 minutes.
Carefully remove chocolate cups from plastic molds and set aside, being careful not to handle too much.
Remove chocolate disks from dixie cups by peeling away paper. Place on sheet pan. refrigerate cups and saucers until ready to assemble.
Cut 8 pieces of chocolate covered pretzels with a small serrated knife. Each piece should look like a handle.
Melt white chocolate in a double boiler over low heat until melted, stirring continually. Remove from heat and set aside.
To Assemble Cups:
Place a small amount of remaining melted chocolate in the center of each chocolate saucer. Moving quickly, place chocolate cup half open side up on top of saucer, letting the melted chocolate act as glue to fasten them together.
Repeat process with remaining cups and saucers.
Dip a chocolate pretzel handle into melted chocolate, then press into side of cup for a few seconds until chocolate firms up.
Repeat process with remaining handles and cups.
Spoon 3 tablespoons of cocoa mix into each cup.
Top each filled cup with 4-5 mini marshmallows and some crushed peppermint candies.
Spoon melted white chocolate over filling, covering filling completely.
Sprinkle with more peppermint dust.
Transfer all cups to a covered container and store in a cool place until ready to serve.
To Serve: Place one cocoa filled cup in a large mug. Pour 8-10 ozs. of scalding milk, hot water or coffee into mug. Stir until chocolate cup has melted and cocoa powder it blended into liquid. Top with desired toppings and serve.
You can make different flavors by adding flavors to the cup when filling.
Caramel - Add 1 tsp. dry caramel pudding mix or caramel syrup Mexican Cocoa - Add a pinch each of cayenne pepper and ground cinnamon Hazelnut - Add 1 tsp. chocolate hazelnut spread Peanut Butter - Add 1 tsp. creamy peanut butter Adult Versions - Replace 1 Tbsp. of dry mix with 1 Tbsp. liquor of choice