Friday, August 31, 2012

Color PHOTO Index of YOUR BLOG's Recipes - SEARCHABLE!


It's been a pretty big month for eRecipecards.com.  As much as I love the "FoodPorn" sites, I always thought they had a fatal flaw.  The very fact that they pick and chose the best (In someone's opinion... but don't get me started) means that many posts are left off their data base.  So, the short term benefit of being chosen (LOTS of lookie loos that day, gratification of a job recognized as well done, etc.), can not be expanded to a permanent benefit.

From the beginning, I envisioned eRecipeCards.com as more than just foodporn.  Instead I wanted a site that would host links to any and all of your (OK, mine) posts.  But, once that body of work has been submitted, because our standards are different, that group of YOUR links can be used.

After months and months of effort... We have the very first useful completely indexed... completely searchable data base for not only every recipe submitted to the site (from the more than 1,000 users), but also the data base can be filtered to only the links you submit (or if you save other bloggers recipes, the site now filters just the links you save).

 Think of the INDEX (Back of the Book) in a real cookbook.

Or even something as basic as the table of contents.

Blogs do not have them, which means unless we go to a great deal of work to catalog, index, tag, link and remember; much of our work is at best difficult to find again.

I remember the first  20 posts I wrote almost word for word...

The next 100 vaguely and the rest have become so routine that I can usually recall the main ingredient, the finished dish but little of the specific blog.  So, after 750 plus posts (over 900 if you add this site with my "old" blog), finding my favorites has become difficult and time consuming.

And sure, if you use the "Search this Blog" feature that Blogger provides, you can search by keyword.


But even that, especially with 900 recipes to file, is difficult to use.  The results are all text.  That always seems bizarre to me as food blogging is almost always a visual medium.

The results also only show a limited number of links, causing you to page through to possibly find the post you are looking for.

Honestly, not very efficient, time consuming and frankly a royal pain.

There has to be a better way...


Add caption
And here it is...

First, the table of contents for your blog.  Recipes separated by course.  It's much easier to find that recipe you remember when you know it is filed under "Breakfast".

When you submit your recipe links, you assign a category or course...   
Appetizers, Beverages and Drinks, Bread,Breakfast, Desserts and Sweets, Lunch and Snacks, Main Course, Other, Salad, Sauces and Spices, Side Dishes, Soups and Stews.  Just seemed logical that when you take a look at your work, you see the links separated by the courses you assign them.  Just like the table of contents in the book that is your blog.

But wait... It gets BETTER still...

Take a look at the yellow bar in the screen shot below...


Do you see the checked boxes???

That's where you can narrow your search.  Want to see all the "Chicken" recipes (no matter which course you assign them)?  Just type in "Chicken", and check the box you want to search... If you know you titled the recipe with that word, just search the titles.  But sometimes you need to search deeper... Search the TAGS you assign as well.  And occasionally you need to search deeper.  That's where you may need to hunt through the description you provide of your post.

So, next time I spy an amazing sale on chicken, with just a few key strokes, links to my body of work pops up.  I can get inspired to make a soup or a simple sauced chicken breast...  BBQ ideas to pizzas.

Just like the index in the back of the book that is your blog.

But better still...

PHOTOS!


.Food blogs are almost 100% visual.  Everyone posts a photo of the finished dish.  Even more than the title, we probably remember the photo we take of the dish.  So, even better than the index in the back of a "real" cookbook, your recipes are now indexed along with your photos!

Remember, all eRecipeCards.com is - is a collection of links BACK to your blog.  Click the photo and by the magic of the internet, a new window opens on YOUR blog.  The universal "Blue Lettering" link is also active.  Click on the blue letters of your recipe title and you also are opening the link to your blog.

But, also remember that what we do with those links... how we organize them and how we make them useful to YOU makes us different.  We are the "other guys" and I hope that shows.  This feature is exclusive to eRecipeCards.com.

But, like every other tool to get the most of this feature you need to be active.  Make it a habit to post not only your current posts, but make the extra effort to go through your back log of older posts.  Once you get the hang of it, it is less than a minute to add the links for a post.  Try to post a months worth of older stuff once a week.  Or for every new post, add an older set of links.

It may take some effort (like my 750 plus links on my older blog), but in the end, having a PHOTO, SEARCHABLE, INDEX of your blog will be worth all the effort!

And one more thing...

FEEDBACK...

What do you think?  And better still, what features would you like us to add?

Currently we are working on automatic "Pinning" to Pintrest, as well as a printable recipe feature that incorporates new Google Search demands that make recipe searches more difficult for blogs.

So again... What do you think?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crazy Cake - Wacky Uncle Dave Bakes with the Kids



Now this would be a star on anyone's table!


Well, Jackie and I,  the famous empty nester's are entertaining this week.  It's been awhile since we have had kids in the house, and even longer since they left me in charge.


Aunt Jackie and her favorite Niece went early Christmas shopping.  Our favorite nephew-in-law, a plumber by trade, was fixing a broken toilet (less details the better).  So, wacky Uncle Dave got to spend the morning with Megan, Melanie and Matt (ages 7,6 and 4... and boy, is he ever 4).


As to the details on the cake, it's a box.  I used a Lemon box mix, one of those that has pudding all mixed in.  The icing is scratch (and one of the best ever), an orange buttercream...


2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
2 TBS orange juice
the zest of 1 orange


The crazy look comes from using those new gel food colorings.  Don't be shy, use enough to get the bright almost neon looking colors.  The box I have only has 4 colors (red, yellow, blue and green).  The other colors were made from mixing different combinations.  Worked great (except the brown was supposed to be purple)...



It was very easy, just took a little time (which was the goal).  And, it was great fun.


Here's what the kids did...



We always start by washing our hands...


Matt did the mixing...


Then we divided the batter into 8 Mis en Place bowls and added the color gel.  Mix well.


And then just drop spoonfuls of each color into two greased pans.  Once the batter is dropped, be careful to not mix.  The colors did not mix, creating the wacky look.


While the cake was baking (see the box for directions), we learned about the cooks reward...


Licking the spoons!



Also, while it was baking, we mixed the icing and then cleaned the dishes so Aunt Jackie could really enjoy the cake.


A work of art!



And Aunt Jackie didn't have any idea what it would look like inside...


Oh, the giggles while she cut the cake!







And everyone loved getting our just desserts...

******************************************************

This simple recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Cakes and Pies at Home"!

These are the desserts you make for your family.  No fancy amazing wedding cakes, just the rustic beauty of the classics.  From pumpkin pie to cheesecakes to layer cakes, these are what your family craves for dessert.  You may even see a few unusual crusts and frosting ideas to try.

You get the idea. These recipes are very simple, take very little time but will have your family wanting dessert first...

***********************PINTEREST*********************

Come and find me on Pinterest... Any of my "52 Ways to cook" Boards are worth following.  If you like this post, please take a second and "Pin" this to your own boards... Better yet, if you are part of a foodie group board please take a second and add this post to your group pins... best way to show your Love!

And BTW, if you are not yet part of a group board, drop me an email at Contact@eRecipeCards.com and request to be added to my group board... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! (be sure to include your pinterest ID when you write)  Once you are added, any pins you add will be seen by 10s of THOUSANDS of followers of the board (and growing daily).

Rules, only 2... 
  1. In order to join you need to start following the group board as well as at least one of my boards.
  2. And you must ONLY pin original sources, posts from food related bloggers only.  If you are a blogger, this is a great way to have thousands of potential readers see your work,  If you are a fan of bloggers, a great way to share your favorites...
    Come and be a part of ... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! on Pinterest

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ANNA DAMN HER or Anadama Rolls

Here's my special occasion roll recipe.  I make these whenever I have a special occasion (Thanksgiving always... here I made them for a dinner party when i cooked a Turducken! This recipe was stolen from MARY at ONE PERFECT BITE. Long time readers remember Mary from a tribute post I did with a terrible result (mulled wine). She is one of my favorite bloggers, and I was very excited to see this recipe for Anadama Rolls. My Turducken party took place only 4 days prior to Thanksgiving. When planning my menu, I wanted traditional items done with just enough of a twist that my guests would not experience redundant menus. these rolls were perfect...



Oh... wait...

For a change, Mary missed an opportunity to do a food history lesson... In preparing this post, I did a quick Internet search for the origins of this food.

ANADAMA is a traditional bread of New England made with white flour, cornmeal, molasses and sometimes (not this time) rye. But, there is a legend surrounding the rolls...

From Anadamabread.com/history.php - This is truly a "bit" of Rockport, MA, for Anadama Bread originated in this town many years ago. This is the true story of a local fisherman whose lazy wife always gave him steamed corn meal mush and molasses for dinner. One day when he came in from fishing, he found the same corn meal mush and molasses for dinner and being very tired of it, he decided to mix it with bread flour and yeast and baked it saying,

"Anna Damn Her."
The bread was so delicious that his neighbors baked it calling it Anadama Bread.

So, Not willing to ever leave well enough alone, I am going to reprint Mary's recipe for Anadama Rolls, followed by what I did to change them forever to my ANNA DAMN HER Rolls...

Here's what she did...

Anadama Rolls...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk... I changed to Buttermilk
1 cup water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup warm water
1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons)dry yeast
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten to blend
2 teaspoons sesame or poppy seeds ... I changed to coarse sea salt and chopped Garlic

Directions: 1) Bring milk, 1 cup water and salt to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in cornmeal. Cook until mixture thickens and boils, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in molasses and 2 tablespoons butter. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Cool until thermometer inserted into center of mixture registers 115°F, whisking often, about 15 minutes.
2) Pour 1/2 cup warm water into small bowl; sprinkle yeast over. Let stand until yeast dissolves and top looks spongy, about 10 minutes. Stir yeast mixture into cornmeal mixture. Gradually mix in 4 cups flour, about 1 cup at a time, to form soft dough that pulls away from sides of bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour onto work surface. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, sprinkling with more flour by tablespoonfuls if needed, about 10 minutes (dough will remain slightly sticky). Form dough into ball. Coat a large bowl with butter or shortening. Add dough to bowl and turn to coat dough with butter or shortening. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
3) Punch down dough. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 10 minutes. Coat each of two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with butter or shortening. Roll dough into 18-inch-long log. Cut into 18 equal pieces. Using floured hands, form each dough piece into ball. Place 9 dough balls in each pan, spacing apart. Cover each pan loosely with towel. Let rolls stand in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Brush rolls with egg glaze. Sprinkle with seeds. Place rolls in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 350°F. Bake rolls until golden brown, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature. Wrap rolls in foil and rewarm in 350°F oven 10 minutes.) Serve warm. Yield: 18 rolls.

And here's what I did...

As always, assemble your ingredients... I did use molasses, but did not include it in the photograph. The first thing I altered was to use buttermilk instead of whole milk. I also used dark molasses instead of light. I used buttermilk because I like buttermilk. I used Dark Molasses because I use that in my baked bean recipe, and I had it on hand... OK, I used it because I am cheap.

But, other than those small changes, I followed her directions to the letter...

And then, I really started screwing around with the recipe. I happen to love the taste of toasted garlic on bread. So, instead of seeds, I added some coarsely chopped GARLIC!!! I also sprinkled some kosher salt on the top (again, I just like the taste of salt on the top of bread). I always gently mash the garlic into the tops just a bit so they are more likely to stick to the dough (even with an egg wash).

And, with the garlic, salt and Molasses flavors really shining through, this was a great roll. Certainly not likely to be served on many Thanksgiving tables, but they ought to be. They were a huge hit. I got requests for the recipe, so possibly this will be added to a few of my friends tables. Really, Really, Really good!

But wait, there's a bit more to this story...

The clean up from my 13 guest, 9 course TURDUCKEN dinner took almost as long as it did to cook it. Bloated and stuffed, my lovely (well, not in this picture, but she cleans up nice) and talented wife worked for a couple hours getting our kitchen back to normal before going to bed. Take a close look at that photo... She loves me, but at that moment, I was not her favorite person...

BUT, next morning, a couple left over ANNA DAMN HER Rolls, a little toasting, a little butter and some honey... A little quick breakfast in bed snack before she went off to that inconvenient job thing of hers...

And her mood changed... Isn't she glowing in the morning... I wake up to this every day!

I love ANNA DAMN HER ROLLS!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Semi Home Made Pumpkin Pie



"Look at me, I'm Sandra Lee, Lousy with Virginity"...


Am I the only person how hums that song from Grease every time I catch Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade show on the Food Network?


Well, I like her TV show, but I prefer the challenges that go with not making semi-home-made.  But I had an emergency over Thanksgiving and this recipe worked perfect.  BTW, I actually adapted this from a recipe I read on the Mystery Lover's Kitchen blog, Julie Hyzy, author of the White house Chef murder mystery series (her new book in the series, Buffalo West Wing hits the stores in early January).  Other than the semi-homemade joke and the chance to put a show tune up on my blog, this recipe has nothing to do with Sandra Lee, or Sandra Dee or Virginity (or even Buffalo).


 But I digress...


My emergency...


My visiting family arrived late on Wednesday night, just hours before the Thanksgiving meal.  I asked my nieces and nephews what they most wanted to eat on Thanksgiving.  They all screamed for pumpkin pie.


I didn't know... As god as my witness, I just didn't know.  I also hadn't planned for a pumpkin pie.  There's stuff involved, pie crusts to be made, pumpkin to be broken down, ingredients I didn't have.


But, with a little "semi-homemade" help, I did have everything I needed to make this pie and make my nieces and nephews happy!


Here's what I did...


1 frozen pie shell
1 16 ounce can of Pumpkin (drained)
3 Eggs
2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
2/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 cups Buttermilk
pinch Salt
2 TBS Butter, room temperature softened
  • Allow the pie shell to thaw to room temperature
  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
  • Mix the dry ingredients, then the pumpkin and butter, then the eggs one at a time
  • Finally, add the Buttermilk and mix well
  • Bake for 10 minutes at the 425 degree temp to form a skin on the top of the pie
  • Reduce heat to 325 and bake for an hour 45 minutes.  Julie says her times vary from 1 hour to 2 hours.  You know when the pie is done when the skin cracks.  Mine took 1 hour 45 minutes.
I just love the extra little tang the buttermilk adds to the recipe.  With all the seasonings and flavors, it is very subtle.  Just a little something extra that separates your "semi-homemade" pie from a can and the freezer into something special.




The young'uns loved it.  It's good to have one of these "Semi-Homemade" recipes laying about for just such an emergency!

******************************************************

This simple recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Cakes and Pies at Home"!

These are the desserts you make for your family.  No fancy amazing wedding cakes, just the rustic beauty of the classics.  From pumpkin pie to cheesecakes to layer cakes, these are what your family craves for dessert.  You may even see a few unusual crusts and frosting ideas to try.

You get the idea. These recipes are very simple, take very little time but will have your family wanting dessert first...

***********************PINTEREST*********************

Come and find me on Pinterest... Any of my "52 Ways to cook" Boards are worth following.  If you like this post, please take a second and "Pin" this to your own boards... Better yet, if you are part of a foodie group board please take a second and add this post to your group pins... best way to show your Love!

And BTW, if you are not yet part of a group board, drop me an email at Contact@eRecipeCards.com and request to be added to my group board... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! (be sure to include your pinterest ID when you write)  Once you are added, any pins you add will be seen by 10s of THOUSANDS of followers of the board (and growing daily).

Rules, only 2... 
  1. In order to join you need to start following the group board as well as at least one of my boards.
  2. And you must ONLY pin original sources, posts from food related bloggers only.  If you are a blogger, this is a great way to have thousands of potential readers see your work,  If you are a fan of bloggers, a great way to share your favorites...
    Come and be a part of ... FAVORITE FOOD BLOGGERS! on Pinterest

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sweet Potato Grits ala Bobby Flay


Said it before, say it again... Bobby Flay is a genius.

At the risk of offending my southern friends, grits just ain't that good. Just kind of bland. But, with a little effort, grits can be seasoned and flavored to be Very Very good. And with just a bit more effort, they can be extra ordinary.

Like these....

The recipe can be found in Bobby Flay's MESA GRILL COOKBOOK. According to his introduction for the dish, "I can see this as a Sunday dinner with the family, with the grits piled in the middle of the plate, surrounded by the shrimp. But the grits are so good, you could also serve them as a side dish for an elaborate meal." ...

Or a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner???

Here's what I did...

1 large Sweet Potato
2 TBS Canola Oil
1/2 Shallot, finely diced
4 cloves Garlic, smashed and minced
2 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1 cup whole Milk
2 tsp pureed Chipotle Chile in Adobe Sauce
(yes, from the can, into the mini chopper to puree)
pinch Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking Grits
2 TBS Butter
3 TBS Honey
6 TBS Olive Oil
Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Roast the sweet potato in the oven until tender when pierced with a knife (about 45 to 60 minutes)
Peel the sweet potato and puree the flesh in a food processor (or mini chopper)
Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan, add the shallot and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
Add the stock, milk, chipotle puree and salt... bring to a boil.
Slowly whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the sweet potato puree, stirring frequently for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth and thickened.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and honey to taste. Cover and keep warm.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Farmers Market Chicken Salad


There is simply no better time to visit your local Farmer's Market than now.  Sure, there is a drought and news reports are talking about the worst crops in decades.  BUT, you will be amazed at the locally grown produce available.  There may be a few tomatoes with bad spots (great for making a big batch of marinara sauce).  And you may need to dig a little bit into the pile to find a dozen ears of sweet corn, but those ears are there (and most of the farmers will let you pull back a few husks away to look inside).  Local farmers want to sell you locally grown produce!

And here's a favorite recipe for fresh produce...

3 large boneless skinless Chicken Breasts, cooked, diced, about 4 cups
3/4 cup grapes, cut into quarters
1 medium Onion (about 3/4 cup), diced
1 medium Granny Smith Apple (about 3/4 cup), cored, peeled and diced
3/4 cup Bread and Butter Pickles (oddly enough, last week, at the Farmer's market, I bought a BUNCH of small cucumbers and made a batch of pickles)
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 tsp White Sesame Seeds
1/2 tsp Black Sesame Seeds
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Garlic Flakes
3/4 cup Mayonnaise

Mix well and serve.  Sometimes I like chunky salad (like the one pictured).  Sometimes I like a smoother mix.  To get the smoother mix I will put the chicken and mayo in a Kitchenaid mixer with the dough hook.  Add the spices and whirl away until the chicken blends mostly smooth.  Then I add the remaining ingredients and serve!




Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tapenade Swirl with O Olive Oil Discount for ALL!


Thank everyone for the tremendous response to our "Rites of Spring" Extravaganza!

It was very exciting to see all of the entrants, as well as read over their glowing recommendations for O Olive Oil, their artisan Vinegars and the quality of service received.  It was equally gratifying to read over the comments that the company made in emails to me as well as their FaceBook page (a great place to catch up on recipes using their products as well as future sales).

They were thrilled with the response.  So much so that they have hinted at another contest later in the year, and have allowed us a special discount just for readers of eRecipeCards.com!

It's very easy to take advantage of the offer... just head over to their website...
Once there, look over all of their products (me, I am in love with their white Balsamic Vinegar and their O Fig Balsamic (A Finalist for Outstanding Vinegar of 2012 at The National Association of Specialty Food sofi Awards).  Then select a few you would like to purchase and during the check out procedure, simply add the code
E-RECIPE 
on the checkout page and you will receive your discount!


One of their newest products is a set of Tapenades.  Those are a natural additional product for an olive oil company.  Tapenades are a spread made from minced olives.  O Olive Oil selected three of their pressed citrus oils as flavoring for their new tapenade line... Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon and Jalapeno Lime!


Me, I was very excited to give their Blood Orange Kalamata Olives & Capers a try.

Making a swirl bread is very easy.  I made my ENG BREAD recipe.  Eng Bread is my version of a sweet French bread, very versatile, easy to make and versatile.

I was making some slider buns for chicken salad sandwiches and decided to save about 1/4th of the recipe for a loaf of Tapenade swirl bread...

Simple enough, spread out the bread into a flat (about 1/2 inch) rectangle.
Spread the Olive tapenade
Roll up the bread into a tube
Bake at 375 for 12 minutes
Enjoy!



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