Saturday, April 4, 2009

The German Beer Coffee Cake Challenge……
Only 7 of you tried the German Beer Coffee Cake recipe, and I certainly appreciate your efforts and responses.. Generally speaking, the coffee cake gets very high marks. The walnuts and the dates were the big hit, but then, why wouldn’t they be? Baked in a big warm cake of butter and brown sugar, ir reminded everyone of Christmas.
I must admit, I wondered if I would like it, not being a beer fan, but I was surprised at how well all the flavors blended.
I’m sorry I don’t have a photograph of my cake to share with you, but as you know, I have “camera issues”…if I can find my camera, I usually have a dead battery! Surely there is a camera out there that even I can use!
Back to the German Beer Coffee Cake, I think you would like it, go on and give it a try. It could become a new family tradition!

Many moons ago, I was a Camp Fire Girl. I loved everything about it. I spent hours designing my vest, sewing on beads as I earned them. And the long Indian dress with the leather fringe was so fun! But the best part of all was the camping out and cooking over an open fire. A friend recently asked me if I had any great ideas for feeding kids, they were all getting bored with the usual menus. That is when I started thinking about the cookouts. Remember the foil packets we would make and then lay in the coals to roast until they were crispy brown and delicious? You would open up the packet and the most wonderful aromas came wafting up. Why don’t you young mothers stock the refrigerator and pantry with ingredients that can be used in your packets…then let each child add what they want. So, instead of a big casserole for dinner when Susie doesn’t like the onions in it, Johnny doesn’t like that mushroom thing, etc., they have made their own dinner, just the way they want it. They layer their ingredients, season it with their favorites, seal up the packet and into the oven they go. Mom and Dad can do the same thing, adding some “more adult” items, like capers, Feta cheese, olives, artichoke hearts..

Here are several versions to get you started. Now that nice weather is POSSIBLY on its way, you can pop these in the oven or out on the grill! Easy cleanup, no mess! Just remember to have heavy duty foil on hand, or you can also use parchment paper for a more elegant presentation if you are cooking in the oven. No parchment over an open fire
Have fun!

Basic Packet Recipe
· 1 pound meat (hamburger, chicken, shrimp or beef tips/stew) Plan on ¼ pound minimum for each packet
· mixed fresh vegetables (potatoes, onion, broccoli, carrots, etc.)
· butter (if meat has no fat)
· salt and pepper, to taste
· heavy duty foil or foil pouches
Fire preparation is the first order of business. When the coals are hot, you're ready to cook. Test doneness on one pack before pulling them all off the heat. This recipe gets better with experience. Ingredient combinations can be modified each time to find everyone's favorite. Vegetable-hating kids can even make this with hamburger and cheese, place cheese between two thin patties and wrap tightly.Layout four foil sheets 12 inches in length, or open 4 foil pouches. Cut meat into bite-sized pieces, or shape hamburger into meat balls. Leave shrimp whole. Add a serving to center of each foil pack. Add chopped vegetables of choice to each. Broccoli cooks easily, so use whole florets. Potatoes and carrots are very hard, so slice into smaller than bite-size pieces. Add butter to chicken or shrimp to ensure the whole thing doesn't stick to the foil. Season and close the bag or fold foil with center seam and ends sealed well. Cook over fire. Can be done directly on coals, but you must turn more frequently. When you can smell them, they're done, about 20 minutes, rotating and turning often with tongs. Remove from heat and allow them to cool on the ground or other safe surface. Open carefully, steam may be hot. Eat from opened foil. All you need is a fork and beverage.
Servings: 4

Mexican Dinner in a Packet
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
6 medium potatoes, cubed
2 packets of any taco seasoning
1 cup salsa (I use Pace)
2 cans tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel, I suggest Mild if smaller children are involved!)
jalepenos, sliced
grated cheese
Place all ingredients into foil bag. A large heavy duty foil bag works best. Roll down the top of the bag and shake around, just barely, to mix ingredients. Place on fire grate. Cook for about 45 minutes, turning over half way. Top with your favorite Mexican toppings. Can be made individually, each person making his own as hot and spicy as he likes. Top with grated cheese, sour cream, or more salsa.

Mediterranean Chicken Packets
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
4 artichoke hearts (from a 14-ounce can), quartered
12 Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
4 teaspoons capers
1/2 cup crumbled feta (2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place four 12-inch squares of parchment paper or heavy-duty foil on a work surface. Place a chicken breast on one half of each square, leaving a 2-inch border; season with salt and pepper.
2. Dividing evenly, top chicken with tomatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, and feta. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and oil. Fold parchment over ingredients, and crimp edges to seal.
3. Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until chicken is opaque throughout, 20 to 22 minutes.
Serves 4

Halibut in Packet
1 large russet potato, scrubbed and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 ounces baby spinach, well washed
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 6-ounce halibut fillets, about 1 1/2 inches thick
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using two 12-by-17-inch sheets parchment paper, fold each sheet in half crosswise.
2. Place 1 sheet of parchment flat on a work surface. Place half of the potatoes, garlic, spinach, shallots, and 2 lemon slices on one side of the crease; season with salt and pepper. Place halibut on top of lemon slices, and season with salt and pepper. Fold parchment over ingredients. Make small overlapping folds along the edge to seal.
3. Place packets on a baking sheet. Bake until packets have puffed, and fish is cooked through, about 18 minutes. Transfer packets to individual plates. Serve immediately, opening packets at the table. Garnish with any remaining lemon slices.
Remember....Have Fun with Food! Oh...and don't forget the Marshmallows!
Wo-He-Lo, girls!

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Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker