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Papa Loved Peppers!

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By Gini Rainey

I must apologize to any of my blog followers I might still have.  With all of the life’s busyness our family has been through in the last couple months, one of the first things I (sadly) had to set aside was writing my weekly blog.  My designated writing time for the past several years has been following church every Sunday.  It became apparent it was more important for me to have Sunday lunches with my in-laws as my 101-year old father-in-law, Tom, slowly began winding down his life on earth.  And I must say, I am very glad that I was able to enjoy that time with him because he passed away on December 30th. 

I’ve been sitting here for the past hour reminiscing about how very much he loved to eat.  Snacking was a number one favorite for him, and it seems like there was always a plethora of snacky-type food around their house.  In fact, one of the things I was supposed to be sure to retrieve from the rehab hospital when he was moved home for hospice care, was his cheese balls and cookies.  If he didn’t eat anything else for breakfast, he was sure to have the cookies and coffee which had become his daily staple.  And, while many of us would say that’s not a very nutritious diet, who among us will live to be 101?  Maybe Tom had the right idea after all!  You know “Life is short! Eat dessert first!” 

I received a lovely cookbook for Christmas from my sister.  “The Great Minnesota Cookie Book” with 190 pages filled with beautiful colored photos, was written by Lee Svitak and Rick Nelson and published by University of Minnesota Press, features award-winning recipes from the Star Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest.  Flipping through the pages makes me want to get up and make a few dozen cookies right now! 

One of the recipes that jumped smooth off the page at me is for Hot and Sassy Peanut Butter Buds, mostly because Tom is on my mind and he loved peppers – the hotter, the better, and this recipe calls for cayenne pepper!  As unlikely combination as this might seem, I can only imagine how wonderful that surprising zing of hotness will be. 

So, to make these cookies, Whisk together 1 ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds.  In another bowl beat ½ cup crunchy peanut butter and 1/3 cup unsalted butter until creamy.  Beat in ½ cup packed brown sugar and add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Slowly add flour mixture, a third at a time, until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350° and line baking sheets with parchment.  In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne.  Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, roll in the sugar/cayenne mixture and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Bake until slightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes, and remove from oven to cool before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. 

In a double boiler over gently simmering water, melt 3 ounces dark chocolate infused with chile, and ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.  Frost the tops of the cooled cookies with the melted chocolate and place on wax paper to set.  Once again, in a double boiler, melt 3 ounces of white chocolate and drizzle over the cookies.

Oh, my goodness, this will be so yummy and zingy, your family and friends will want you to make them all the time!  I just wish that I had received this book a little earlier – I just know that Tom would have loved these spicy peanut butter/chocolate cookies for breakfast, lunch AND dinner! 

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Books

Back, Again!

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By Gini Rainey

I must apologize to anyone out there who might still be interested in reading my blog! I know I’ve been away a very long time and before that I was sporadic at best, but it wasn’t my fault.  My muse just up and left me – and left to my own devices, well, you see what happens? Nothing!  Our family has been on a very bumpy ride for the past two years, beginning with my father-in-law’s failing health and death at the ripe ol’ age of 101+, followed by a rapid deterioration of my mother-in-law’s mental acuity and death this past November at two weeks short of 98.  It seems like most of my spare time was spent with many trips to their home and the support of my husband and children. 

With the ensuing dismantling of their household and sale of their home shortly before Christmas, I think we all walked away from their house totally stunned with loss.  While there were times I felt like my mother-in-law didn’t care much for me in early and middle marriage, the last year we had her, she never failed to light up and call me be my name when I came into the room or tell me that she loved me when I left. 

And even though there really wasn’t anything of hers that I really wanted (after all I’m loaded up with memories), I walked away with one of her very few cookbooks (this lady kept most of her recipes in her head) “Recipes and Remembrances,” a cookbook that was put together by First Baptist Oak Cliff, Dallas in commemoration of their Centennial Celebration.  One evening, as I was leafing through, it secretly hoping I would find something she had written in it (after all, isn’t that what makes a cookbook even more special?), I found a recipe for Microwave Peanut Brittle.  Next to the recipe she had written “Good” and had indicated “made in a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup.” 

Then when my muse showed up this morning and kicked me in the pants and told me firmly to “get over it and get on with it,” I decided that this would be an excellent cookbook with which to get back on track and this recipe might be a great thing for all of you football fans to whip up for Super Bowl Sunday! 

This recipe couldn’t be easier and who doesn’t love the crunchy goodness of peanut brittle?  It’s hard to resist ‘just one more piece’ and it’s oh so yummy!  So, to make this confection in under 15 minutes, put ½ cup white corn syrup, 1 cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 cup raw peanuts into a bowl (or as Martha said, “a 4cup Pyrex measuring cup”). Do not stir.  Cook on high for 4 minutes in your microwave – then stir.  Cook on high for 4 more minutes and stir again.  Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir. Cook on high for 1 minute and stir in 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Stir quickly as the soda foams; then pour onto a buttered cookie sheet.  Spread thin and let cool.  When cool, break into pieces.  Store in an airtight container and watch it magically disappear! 

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Donuts: My Favorite Food Group

Donuts for Breakfast Tyler TX

A Fork & Spoon Blog: Eating Donuts In Tyler TX

By Tena Jerger

I love breakfast. I love everything about breakfast, from donuts to  eggs to pastries – breakfast is, in my opinion, the most versatile meal and also the most tasty. I could eat “breakfast” twice a day with no problem.

One of my favorite breakfast foods is the All-American donut – glazed, creme filled, apple fritters, cake-style donuts – what’s not to love.

Here are a few of my favorite haunts and my picks at each location.

The Donut Place, located right next to Green Acres Bowling Alley in Tyler, TX,  has the best glazed donuts I’ve had in a while. Their standard glazed donuts are slightly bigger than some other places too! Get a few dozen, trust me, you are going to want more than you’d normally eat.

Shipley’s Do-Nuts, located ironically next door to Planet Fitness on the east Loop in Tyler, has a great selection but the Creme-filled donuts are pure heaven on earth. Stuffed full of thick marshmallow-style creme, then fried perfectly and glazed with a nice soft and slightly crunchy glaze, these “do-nuts” will make you happy. They also have a drive-thru but I try to walk there after my Planet Fitness workout. Two creme filled and a glazed is my Saturday morning reward for working out. It is total yummy in my tummy! 

While there, watch for the Devils Food Donut – if you are a chocolate lover, this is absolutely heavenly! Picture this: chocolate dough glazed donut filled abundantly with warm chocolate filling…it is every chocolate lovers “dream donut”.

Apple Fitters are fantastic at Star Donuts, located on Broadway next to Bergfeld Park in Tyler. They are fresh, slightly crunchy on the outside yet doughy and soft on the inside, loaded with glaze and cinnamon. Oh, and they huge! What’s not to like.

Sugared out? Star Donuts and Croissants, located at Troup Hwy. in Tyler has all the normal selections plus a unique boudin kolache. That’s right, boudin sausage placed inside of the bread dough, then baked. It is a little spicy but not too much and the bread helps collect the, um, juices so that you never miss a bite of yumminess. These kolaches are big, served piping hot with a packet of yellow mustard.

Got a favorite? Comment below with your suggestions. I’d love to try it out….like, seriously, would LOVE too!

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Forks & Spoons Blog: Poch’s Rice Café, Tasty Soup and Eggrolls

By Hungry Guest

It’s hard to choose a single restaurant dish to review; Tyler has so many good restaurants with so many good things to eat!  But one of my go-to lunch favorites is Peking Soup and an egg roll at Poch’s Rice Café in the Tanglewood East Shopping Center.  Poch’s Peking Soup is a bowl full of clean, understated flavors.  Starting with a clear vegetable-chicken stock that tastes like it’s been simmering for hours, Poch’s adds shrimp, chicken and small strips of beef, along with broccoli, carrots, snow peas, mushrooms, and water chestnuts.  The vegetables are barely cooked through, still retaining bright colors, crispness and fresh flavor that you’ll enjoy with every bite.  The result is a warm, savory dish of lean protein and vegetables that fill you up, but won’t leave you feeling like you killed your diet for the week.

Pair this with one of Poch’s eggrolls (they’re the best in town, the staff is quick to tell you!).  The eggrolls are a delicious mix of cabbage, onion, celery, carrot, and meat, wrapped inside a light pastry and fried just long enough to soften the ingredients and blend the flavors.  This aromatic mixture goes great with a little Chinese mustard or some of the sweet sauce that the eggrolls are served with.

So there you have it; one of my favorite lunch combos!  Try a bowl of Peking Soup and an eggroll at Poch’s.  They’re in Tanglewood East, at the corner of 5th street and Loop 323 East.  You may become a regular there, too!

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