Friday, December 7, 2012

Ladybug Appetizers

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp

I made these for Renée's Peterson's baby blessing.  They were cute and delicious!


1 small can of chip dip like Utz sour cream and onion, or something similar
36 Ritz crackers or sliced cucumbers
18 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
18 large black olives (pitted)
72 fresh chive pieces (about 1-1/2 inches long)

1. Take a cracker and spread it with the chip dip
2. Take a cherry tomato which has already been cut in half and make a small slit in the back (not the stem side) so it looks like parted wings.  The side of the tomato where the stem used to be has a nice indent which is best for the head.  Place the tomato on the cracker
3. Take a black olive and cut it into 4 pieces (1 vertical and 1 horizontal cut).  This will give you about 4 heads depending on the size of the olive.  Use 1 head and place it next to the tomato.
4. Attach small chive pieces between the head and the body for antennae
5. Take a tablespoon of the chip dip and mix it with black dye.  Use a toothpick to make spots on the tomato
6. Use another toothpick to make eyes with the chip dip
7. Repeat steps and make more yummy ladybugs!

Voila! Cute and cute!

1. Other receipes online show making a cream cheese mixer and although I did this, I think sour cream would be a lot easier to use and taste just fine.
2. I don't have the chives in the picture because I was travelling with these and thought they wouldn't do well being transported.
3. I used crackers but they were a bit soggy after travel.  I think I will try cucumbers if my prep to serve time is a long again.
4. There are so many ways people make these...beds of lettuce and so on.  I encourage you to look online for inpiration to see how you want to make your own special ladybugs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beef Wellington

Submitted by Marcia and Casey Van Camp

Once upon a time I read a book called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. In that book about English magic, one of the characters has the opportunity to help General Wellington during the Napoleonic Wars.  I kept thinking...hum...Wellington, Wellington...isn't there a food with that name.  Eventually, I remembered that it was in fact, Beef Wellington that I was thinking of.  Casey and I did a search to find out just what it was and when we saw the pictures, we were amazed.  It looked so delicious and we started to toy with the idea of making it.  I was not sure when I would ever be brave enough but when I asked Casey what he wanted for his birthday...can you guess what he asked for?  Yep, Beef Wellington.
There are not really clear hard facts showing that Beef Wellington was General Wellington's favorite meal but that doesn't really matter.  If I had a delicious food named after me, I wouldn't mind getting credit!

Honestly, even though we did our homework on how to prepare it, I really don't think it was that much more difficult than some other recipes.  I think that any recipe which I can get right the first time can't really be that hard.  I was nervous that the meat would either be too red in the middle or perhaps to tough but I was delightfully wrong.  It was tender and had a wonderful flavor.  Everyone at the table from those who like meat well done to those whole like their food nearly raw were all happy.  I am looking forward to making this again and again and again.

1 lb. beef tenderloin
7 oz. Puff Pastry sheet (I like Pepperidge Farm)
Vegetable oil or Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Sea Salt
Sprig of fresh thyme
2 egg yolks beaten (make sure you have a brush)
1 lb. Mushrooms, we used baby bellas but the original recipes call for half cremini, half shiitake
8 thin slices prosciutto
4 tbsp Coleman's English Mustard

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan on high heat. Season the fillet generously with salt and pepper. When the oil is nice and hot, carefully add the tenderloin to the pan and use sturdy tongs to turn the meat so that all sides are cooked on the outside (aka seared / pan seared).  This will lock in the flavor and form a tasty brown layer on the outside. 

*Some videos will show searing to be very quick but I cooked mine a little longer so there would be less pink in the middle when I was done.  Don't forget the top and bottom of the tenderloin as well.    It only takes a few minutes and this is the time to decide how much pink you want at the end.  I cooked it until I thought it looked nice and brown all around and it turned out really well

3.  Remove the fillet from the pan and brush all sides with mustard. Set aside to cool while you prepare the mushrooms.

4. Chop the mushrooms and put them into a food processor and purée. Heat the mushrooms a large sauté pan on medium high heat with 1 large sprig of fresh thyme. Scrape the mushroom purée into the pan and let cook down, allowing the mushrooms to release their moisture. When the moisture released by the mushrooms has boiled away, remove the thyme and set aside the mushrooms to cool.  When they are cool, depending on how much moisture is left, you can pat them down with a paper towel.

*I tried just chopping them and cooking them but they really need to go through a food processor to make a paste you can spread.  Our Ninja blender worked well.

5. Roll out a large piece of plastic wrap. Lay out the slices prosciutto on the plastic wrap so that they overlap. Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham and leave a little room at the edge so it doesn't spill over.

6.  Place the beef fillet in the middle (the tenderloin will be laid down the opposite direction of the prosciutto so that they are not parallel).  Slowly lift up the plastic wrap to roll the mushroom and prosciutto over the fillet, and wrap it tightly.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry sheet to a size that will wrap around the beef fillet. Unwrap the fillet from the plastic wrap and place in the middle of the pastry dough. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten eggs. Fold the pastry around the fillet, cutting off any excess.  To get a nice shape, tightly wrap the pastry/meat in plastic and put in the fridge for 5 min.

8. Prepare the pan by laying down foil and spraying the foil so that the pastry doesn't stick. Place the pastry/meat onto a the pan, seam side down, and brush beaten egg yolks all over the top. Cut small slits into the top.  I cut just three, but there are lots of different ways you can do this and pictures online if you want to try something else.

9. Sprinkle the top with coarse salt. Bake for 25-35 minutes. The pastry should be nicely golden when done.

10. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice in 1-inch thick slices.


When I made this I double the recipe...I used a 2 lb. tenderloin and it was delicious.  The Gordon R. video shows that he adds salt / pepper to the mushrooms when cooking and additional on top of the prosciutto before laying down the mushrooms.

As for the puff pastry, if you are new to it, it's really not too hard.  Just make sure you get the sheets and not shells and that you let it thaw beforehand.

Here are some websites / videos that we used to formulate our plan. 

more detail

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Strawberry Soup

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp


Maggie brought some of this over to our apartment once and it was so good.  I am happy she taught me how to make it!

1 lb. of fresh strawberries
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. Cool Whip (or similar)

1. Combine all except cool whip. 
2. Heat slowly until mixture comes to a boil
3. Cook about 8 minutes, then remove from heat and cool
4. Blend the cool whip and the mixture together at a low speed
5. Store soup in the refrigerator in a covered container for at least 4 hours.
6. Serve cold

Notes: We like to eat this by itself but you could also put it on pancakes or ice cream etc.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Apple Amber Tart Meringue Pie

Submitted by Marcia Van Camp
I made this for the St. Patrick's Day and I really liked it!

I cooked the apples but I didn't fully purée them b/c it sounded too time consuming

This is the crust I used, but I am sure many kinds would work.

Pastry dough for a single-crust pie (I made mine, I don't like the store kind)
4 cooking apples, totaling about 1 pound, cored and peeled (I picked 4 different random apples)
2 tablespoons water
Juice of one lemon, strained (I guessed and used probably 2 tbls lemon juice)
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

1. First, prepare the pie crust in a suitable pie dish. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

3. Grate the apples on a coarse grater or cut them up tiny b/c sometimes graters are messy.

4. Add the 2 tablespoons of water to a small heavy pot, heat until steaming, add the apples, and cook over medium heat. The original directions want you to do this until the apples are pureed but I like to be able to bite into the apples, so I did not cook them that long.

5. Remove from heat and let it cool a little.

6. Beat the egg yolks slightly (this will help you not get a scrambled egg in your apples...not like I did that, ha ha ha)

7. Add the lemon and three-quarters of the sugar to the apple puree: then add the egg, and stir well.

8. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell and bake for twenty minutes.

9. Meanwhile, start beating the egg whites, adding the remaining sugar gradually as you continue beating. Whip until stiff peaks form.

10.When the pie has had its first twenty minutes in the oven, remove it and spread the meringue over the top of the pie, close to the edges

11. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.

12. The direction say serve hot or cold, but I think cold is best

Sunday, February 26, 2012

no title fudge

I threw this together while the family was at church today (still home with Fern). I plan on making it again with more ingredients so that it is measurements.

Semi-sweet chocolate chips
sweetened coconut flakes
sea salt

melt nutella and chocolate chips in a double boiler. (I used probably 6 oz chocolate chips --one cup-- and  few tbsp nutella, just what I had left in the jar)

once melted, stir in 1/4-1/2 c. coconut, and the same amount of raisins

put into dish to set, topping with sea salt before placing in fridge.

I find it is easiest to cut if you score it about half an hour after placing in the fridge.

(I will be making this again with the standard fudge base of butter, chocolate chips and marshmallows, then adding the nutella, coconut and raisins.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Momma Jane's Reuben

Submitted by Casey Van Camp...taste tested and deliciously approved!

We are assuming you are making several so might as well get enough ingredients!

1 loaf of pumpernickel-rye swirl bread
1 package of saurkraut
1 bottle of thousand island dressing
1 package of corned beef
1 package of swiss cheese
1/2 stick of softened butter

These directions are for 1 sandwich...make as many as you want!

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Take 2 pieces of bread, butter the outside of each (like grilled cheese sandwichs) and place those butter side down on a cookie sheet

3. Spread thousand island dressing liberally on the inside of each piece of bread (don't forget the edges)

4. Place a slice of cheese on each piece of bread

5. Place slices of corned beef on ONE slice of bread (up to you how much meat you want!)

6. Pile a nice even layer on top of the corned beef (quantity up to you, just keep it even)

7. Close up that sandwich!

8. Put it in the oven for approx. 10 minutes or until golden brown

Enjoy with some pretzels!