Friday, October 26, 2012


My first ever batch of oh so yummy eclairs!
I love eclairs, but they tend to be a bit pricey at my local grocer, so we only get them every so often.  My father-in-law had asked me to make up a bunch of cupcakes for his work.  They loved them so much...but they wanted to know if I could make eclairs.  After much research, I realized that they are easier to make than I thought.  Even better, I had everything I needed for them already, except the heavy cream (but then again, who keeps heavy cream in their fridge at all times?).  I found a super simple recipe over at Hidden Ponies.  Here is the recipe that I used, along with my own additional comments:

Easy Eclairs
Serves: 10
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (4 serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups milk (or as called for on pudding package)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate (or ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp hot water
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine ½ cup butter and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt butter.
  3. Reduce heat to low and stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to form a stiff ball of dough.
  4. Remove from heat and add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition to ensure they are incorporated. Work quickly, especially with the first one, to prevent it from cooking into scrambled eggs on the bottom of your warm pan :)
  5. With a spoon or pastry bag fitted with a large tip, spread/pipe the thick dough onto prepared cookie sheet into 10 strips approximately 1½ x 4″ each. (**I piped different sizes to see which worked best....make your pastries a little bigger than the size of your thumb.)
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 and bake another 20 minutes, until puffed and golden and hollow sounding when lightly tapped on the bottom. When removed from oven, IMMEDIATELY pierce the ends almost through to the other side to let steam escape and prevent any sogginess in the middle. This hole is also where you will be piping your filling into. Let cool completely before filling and icing (this will only take about half an hour).
  7. For CUSTARD FILLING: combine pudding and milk in a bowl and mix according to package directions. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in ¼ cup icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and ¼ tsp salt. Fold whipped cream into pudding. (**The custard was too thin, even after refrigeration, so I added a little bit more powdered sugar, and I will probably use a tad bit less cream, maybe 6oz. vs. 8oz.)
  8. Scoop mixture into pastry bag fitted with a smallish tip (I enlarged my steam holes a bit to make my tip fit, so do whatever works) and pipe mixture into centers of eclairs until full. This is a bit of a messy business, but worth it for ease of eating and pretty appearance. You could certainly also just slice the eclairs in half horizontally, fill the bottoms with cream, and replace the tops. Either way, you will probably have some custard leftover.
  9. For ICING: Melt the chocolate and 2 Tbsp butter over low heat in a saucepan (or in the microwave, stirring after 30 seconds and giving additional 10 second increments as needed until fully melted). Stir in 1 cup icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Stir in hot water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until icing is smooth and reaches desired consistency. Drizzle, pipe or spread over filled eclairs.
  10. Store in the fridge.

*The great thing about using the pudding for this recipe is that you can change the flavor of your eclair by using a different type of pudding!  I may try chocolate or banana next time.  :)

**These freeze well.  Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Transfer frozen eclairs to a container, cover and store.  They will stay good up to 3 months.  To serve, thaw and enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Easy Antipasto Salad

When my husband and I first met, he was not a fan of olives at all.  Over the years though, I have tried incorporating foods he doesn't like (like olives) into my cooking in an attempt to broaden his palate.  Fast forward a few years, and now olives are one of my husband's favorite snacks!  Every once in a while the hubby requests that I make up some antipasto salad to keep in the fridge for him to snack on.  Here is my Easy Antipasto Salad recipe:

1 can large pitted black olives
1 jar pimento stuffed green olives
1 can artichoke hearts
1 roasted red pepper
1 head of garlic (roasted)
1 tbsp Onion Onion seasoning
2 tbsp Meyer Infused Lemon Oil
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil

Start by roasting your red pepper and garlic (you can also purchase these already roasted).  Peel an entire head of garlic.  Place all of the gloves in a foil packet with 1 ts of olive (or canola) oil.  Do the same for one red bell pepper (seeded).  Roast in an oven at 295 degrees for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Drain and rinse the olives and artichoke hearts.  Leave the garlic cloves whole (larger ones can be cut in half).  Cut the roasted red pepper into bite size chunks.  Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and refridgerate for 5 hours before serving.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chinese Night

Last week my husband and I spent 3 days in Hermann, MO celebrating our 5 year anniversary.  While visiting some of their local shops, I came across one that had a room full of spices.  I stocked up on their dried orange peel and chili spice blend.  My husband and I love Chinese food, especially orange chicken, and I knew the orange peel would be perfect for that!  When I went to make my meal tonight, I noticed I had a lot of Ramen noodle packs in my pantry, so I decided to do a play on a lo mien noodle as well.  Here is what we ended up with:

Orange Chicken and Green Beans
3 chicken breasts
2 tbsp dried orange peel
1 orange
3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
6 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 clove of garlic
1/2 red onion
1 lb of fresh picked green beans
2 tbsp of apricot jam (or orange marmalade, but I had apricot on hand)
2 tbsp brown sugar

Marinate your chicken in a mixture of 1 tbsp sweet chili sauce, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp orange peel, 1 tbsp of jam, 1 glove of minced garlic, and the juice of 1/2 an orange. 

Cut your marinated with into 1 inch chunks.  In a skillet, brown your chicken.  Once brown, add 1/2 a red onion (sliced) and remaining ingredients (except for green beans).  Let cook on med/high heat for about 10-15 minutes.  During the last 7 minutes of cooking, add your green beans. 

"Lo Mien" Ramen
2 packs of Ramen (1 beef and 1 Oriental)
1 red onion
1 stalk of celery
1 carrot
1/2 leek
2 tsp dried orange peel
2 tbsp soy sauce

Boil Ramen noodles for 2 minutes.  Drain.  In a wok, add 2 tbsp vegetable oil.  Mix your Ramen seasoning packets with soy sauce and orange peel and pour into wok.  Add noodles.  Cook on high heat for 3 minutes.  Add your vegetable blend (except for carrots and all thinly sliced).  Cook on high for another 3-5 minutes.  During the last minute of cooking, shred your carrot and toss.  Serve with your orange chicken and green beans.