Friday, December 10, 2010

Waldorf Salad




I make this salad all the time. I love the tartness of the apples with the creamy mayonnaise and crunch of the walnuts. The salad was invented in the late 1800's at the Waldorf Hotel in NYC. You can always add chicken if you want to have it for more of a main course.


1/2 C mayonnaise
1 T sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
3/4 C thinly sliced celery
1/2 C chopped walnuts (or pecans work fine)

Whisk the mayonnaise, sugar and salt together. Cut up the apples and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Add the celery and nuts and then combine with the mayonnaise mixture. Chill until you are ready to serve. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hot Chocolate Truffle Balls

I was intrigued by this recipe.
I mean, what could be better than good quality chocolate and whipping cream?
The whole idea behind it just seemed like a fun twist on an old classic.


Hot Chocolate Truffle Balls:

*Makes about 25 hot chocolate balls

4 cups (24 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips (or really, any combination of chocolate you enjoy)
2 c. heavy cream
3-4 T. sugar (optional, I used it since I used both dark & bittersweet chocolate)

Place chocolate chips & sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan, bring cream to a light boil. Pour cream over chocolate chips and let sit for a minute or two. Stir to combine - keep stirring. You may wonder if it will ever come together...keep stirring until it is silky and smooth.

Let the mixture cool for about 10 mins at room temperature. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until the ganache is firm but scoopable, about 3 hours. Using a large cookie scoop (mine holds about 3 T.) scoop chocolate and place on parchment paper. Place balls back in refrigerator until firm.

Place each ball onto a piece of plastic wrap, bringing the sides up and tying off with a ribbon. Place balls in the freezer until ready to use.

To make hot chocolate: Pour 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups (depending on how rich you like it) milk into a microwave safe mug. When milk is hot, carefully drop one unwrapped truffle ball in the milk. Stir well until the chocolate is combined with the milk.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies





These are one of my favorite-- cannot be quicker-- "chocolate fix" snacks to make. Also good to make when you don't want to bother with the oven. When we were younger, my sister used to eat right out of the pot and never make them into cookies.

1/3 C cocoa
1/2 C butter or margarine
1/2 C milk
1 1/2 C sugar

Stir over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add:

1/2 tsp vanilla
3 C quick oats
1 C sweetened flake coconut

Scoop small amounts of mix, shape into balls and place on waxed paper to let firm up and cool. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

I'll admit it.
I've always been a little apprehensive
when it comes to biscuits.
I've made my fair share of "rocks" that were
suppose to be biscuits.
Yesterday I made Chicken Noodle Soup that was
screaming for
a nice, light and flaky biscuit.
I ran to my favorite website, Allrecipes and tried this one.
They turned out fantastic!

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 c. butter, cold
1/2 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 c. buttermilk

In a bowl (I used my food processor) combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cayenne. Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter 1 T. at a time, pulsing the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. (Since I used a food processor, my crumbs were finer.)

I poured the crumbs into a bowl and added the cheddar cheese to toss. Stir in the buttermilk until just moistened.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8-10 times. (Mine was a little too dry, so I added another 1-2 T. buttermilk so it would come together.)

This is where I deviated from the recipe. The original recipe says to: Pat or roll to 1 inch thickness; cut with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.

Instead, I just took chunks of the dough, gently formed them into discs that were approximately 1 inch thick. That way there were no left over pieces to roll out later. They baked up beautifully!

Sorry, here's the rest of the recipe:

Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Chef's Note: Buttermilk is not something I have always had on hand, UNTIL I was told it could be frozen and used at a later date. Not rocket science I know, but I'd never thought about it. Buttermilk is insanely cheap. When I bought it yesterday it was .37 cents for 1 cup! I bought 5 and threw 4 in the freezer:)

Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Death By Chocolate Cake

I MAY have gotten a little carried away with the chocolate ganache.
It's still up for debate.
This is a really easy, really really rich and really really really decadent
dessert that will leave you begging for milk!




Death By Chocolate Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix - I prefer Pillsbury since it has pudding in the mix
1 (3 oz) box of instant chocolate pudding
1/2 c. oil
1/4 c. water
4 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1 (12 oz) pkg of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a bundt pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine the ingredients in the order listed. Combine well.
Spread the batter, which will be very thick into the bundt pan.
Bake for 55 mins. Remove from oven, turn the cake out onto a cake plate and let it cool.
Make the chocolate ganache.
Chocolate Ganache: (You may 1/2 this recipe if you would like less chocolate...crazy suggestion, I know.)
1 c. heavy whipping cream
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 T. strong coffee OR 1 t. vanilla extract
Place chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl. On the stove, bring the whipping cream to a boil. Pour over the chocolate chips. Let them sit for a minute or so - add the coffee or vanilla - then stir until smooth. Let the ganache sit at room temperature while the cake cools.
Once everything is cooled and the ganache has thickened, pour it over the cake making sure you get every nook and cranny!
Bon Appetit!

Crispy Mashed Potato Cakes



Yet again, apologies for the bad photo...
I found this recipe in one of my old Cooking Light magazines. It is a really great--and tasty way to use up extra mashed potatoes. As an added bonus, they are even baked in the oven instead of fried like a lot of potato cakes are. I swapped turkey bacon and one diced shallot because I didn't have any green onions and I don't eat regular bacon but I will post the original recipe as it was written. Furthermore, I know I added more cheese than it called for because as my husband says, "you can never have too much cheese!" Look for the panko Japanese breadcrumbs for this recipe to get that really crispy crunch in contrast with the soft potato filling.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1/2 C chopped green onions
2 C mashed potatoes, chilled
2 T shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 center-cut bacon slice, cooked and crumbled
3/4 C panko bread crumbs

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray or a little oil. Add green onions to pan and cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Place mashed potatoes in a medium bowl. Stir in onions, cheese, salt and pepper, and bacon. Divide potato mixture in to 6 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2" thick patty. Dredge patties in panko. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (or I just used Parchment paper). Bake for 12 minutes. Carefully turn patties over; bake an additional 12 minutes or until golden.
Bon appetit!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

If you are craving chocolate...this cheesecake will not disappoint.
You can make this dessert up to 3 days in advance!


Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake:

Crust:
20 Oreo cookies, crushed
6 T. butter, melted

Filling:
11.5 oz semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips - use the best quality you can afford
4, 8oz packages cream cheese, room temp
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs

Topping:
3/4 c. whipping cream
6 oz. semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1 T. sugar

Chocolate curls for garnish

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan with 3 inch sides. Process the Oreo cookies until they are finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and add melted butter. Mix until well combined. Press crumbs into the bottom only of the spring form pan. Bake just until set 5-8 mins. Cool while preparing filling.

For the filling: Melt the chocolate in the microwave using short bursts of power for 15-30 second intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside. In the large bowl of a Kitchen Aid blend the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa. Mix until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. When smooth add melted chocolate and mix until combined. Pour the filling over the crust, smooth the top and bake until center is just set and top appears dry - about 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 mins. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Let the cheesecake cool to room temp. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

For the topping: One hour before serving (or up to 3 days ahead), stir cream and 6 oz chocolate and sugar in a heavy saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over the center of the cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill until the topping is set, about 1 hour.

It is preferable to let the cheesecake stand at room temp for 1-2 hours before serving.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gingerbread Cake



Apologies for the beyond bad photo. My sister is using the camera I usually use to photograph her new babies-- a lot more important than food pictures!

It has been a year since my Dad passed. I miss him so much and it helps to have so many amazing and fun memories that I can think and remember. One of those is going to a restaurant at Peggy's Cove called the Sou'Wester. They have this really good Gingerbread cake that they serve with lemon sauce or soft-serve vanilla ice cream. We'd see the lighthouse and the ocean, skip the gift shop and head straight for the cake. Good times. I think of him when I make and enjoy this cake. It rises really high and is moist and really yummy.


1/2 C butter or margarine
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 C molasses
1/3 C applesauce
2 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 C hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix butter and sugar until smooth; beat in the egg. Add the molasses and the applesauce.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Whisk together and add to the molasses mixture. Mix well. Add the hot water and stir until combined. Scrape the batter into a greased and floured 9 X 9" pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool and serve with whipped cream, ice cream or lemon sauce. Bon Appetit!




Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mummified Hot Dogs



I am a tad late to post a Hallowe'en recipe, but even though I make these year-round, they way the dough is wrapped really looks like little mummies. We had these for dinner the other night and my extremely picky son who has never eaten a hot dog actually consented to try and then eat and actually like a hot dog. (I know they aren't the best thing for you or anything, but it was quite an accomplishment for and 8 year-old who eats 1/2 a dozen things!) The dough is my friend Tami's quick and easy breadstick recipe that requires no kneading or no rising time when you use the dough this way. I usually stuff a bit of cheese inside before wrapping the dough.

1 T yeast
1 1/2 C warm water
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 C+ flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Add more flour if dough is too sticky. Let rest 10 minutes.(There is quite a bit of dough so I usually cut it in half and put the other half in the freezer for later use.) Roll dough out on a floured surface and cut into strips. Wrap dough starting from one end all around the hot dog. Bake at 350 degrees on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet. Bake until dough is golden and the hot dog begins to "sweat", about 12 to 15 minutes. Dot on some mustard eyes if you are so inclined ( :

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Roll

Mmmmm.
Easy.
Impressive.
Festive.
Did I mention, Mmmmm?


Pumpkin Roll:

3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 t. lemon juice

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan, press into sprayed pan and then spray again. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine. Add lemon juice, followed by dry ingredients - pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and flour. Beat until combined.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Once you remove it from the oven turn the cake out onto another piece of parchment paper. Carefully roll up the cake in the parchment paper, lengthwise. Let it cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling make the frosting.

Place cream cheese and butter in bowl. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, beat until well blended.

Once cake has cooled, gently unroll it and spread with frosting. Immediately re-roll the cake, without the parchment and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. You may also freeze it at this point for up to 2 weeks.

Cut the cake into slices right before serving.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harvest Apple Cake

Big Chunks of Apples.
I wasn't sure how so many apples and so little batter would turn out,
but this might be my new favorite snack cake.
It Doesn't Need Frosting...
One more perk to this cake.
You can substitute applesauce for 1/2 of the oil.
The quantity of apples keep it beyond moist.
I found I was "trimming up the edges" as we say in our family TOO much.
It's THAT good.

Harvest Apple Cake:

2 eggs
1 c. oil - you can sub applesauce with great results
2 c. sugar
3 t. apple pie spice - which is just cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
4 c. apples, peeled, cored and seeded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil and sugar. Beat until light in color, about 2 minutes. Add spices, salt, vanilla and soda. Add apples and stir until incorporated. Add flour, stirring until just blended.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour. Mine took a bit longer - bake until a toothpick comes out clean.

You may garnish with whipping cream or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Bon Appetit!

***Chef's Note - I used canned apples, which come in a light juice. Somewhat hard to find, but I am sure fresh apples would work well also.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Cake



I've already made this cake several times in the last few weeks. It is really moist, yummy and flavorful -- a great fall-time treat.

3/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 C applesauce
2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 C pumpkin
4 eggs
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (or more)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
dash of cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sugar and the oil. Blend in the vanilla, applesauce and the pumpkin. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Mix the dry ingredients together and beat into the pumpkin mixture until smooth.
Bake in a greased 9X13 pan or the batter makes great muffins or smaller size cakes too. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Cool then ice with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Beat 8 oz softened cream cheese with 1/4 C butter and 1/2 tsp vanilla until smooth. Add 3 to 4 cups of powdered confectioners sugar ( I like it sweeter and add 4 cups) -- beat for a few minutes until creamy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ginger Spice Cookies

I pretty much love everything about Fall.
The leaves changing, the temperatures falling,
picking out pumpkins, brisk walks, warm sweaters
AND
Ginger Spice Cookies!
Your house will smell divinely "fall" when you bake them.

Ginger Spice Cookies by Paula Deen:

1 1/2 c. butter flavored Crisco (don't try to substitute butter, they will be too flat)
2 c. sugar, plus more for rolling
2 large eggs
1/2 c. molasses
4 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. ginger
1 t. cloves
1 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl combine Crisco and sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses, beat until incorporated.
Next, add the spices, salt and baking soda. Lastly, add the flour one cup at a time to avoid a mess. Stir until combined.

Roll the dough into 1-2 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just set around the edges and you see "crackling" on top.

Remove from cookie sheets and allow to cool.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I started a bit early this year to insure I could make ALL of my
favorite pumpkin recipes before I move on to "holiday" treats.
My family always asks for these cookies - this year
I frosted some with cream cheese frosting
(my husband says it's overkill, but no one really asked:)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil (you can easily sub applesauce for 1/2 the oil)
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. milk
1 T. vanilla extract
2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
3-4 drops orange food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. Once combined add spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves), then add vanilla, milk and salt. Add flour, baking soda and baking powder - then lastly add the chocolate chips. Mix thoroughly.

Drop by spoonful on a greased cookie sheet and bake for approx. 10 mins.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese and butter until creamy - add vanilla and powdered sugar, mix well.

Once cookies are cooled, frost at will.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies



These are one of my favorite cookies, hands down. Who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate anyway?


1 3/4 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 butter, softened
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 T milk
40 mini-chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

Cream together the butter, both sugars, peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture and mix well.

Roll into 40 balls and place into ungreased mini muffin pans.

Bake for about 8 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, press a peanut butter cup into each cookie. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pumpkin Torte

My favorite season is almost here.
I love baking with apples and pumpkin,
which leads me to my first "FALL" offering.
Pumpkin flavor is infused in both
the cake and frosting,
making this dessert super rich.


Pumpkin Torte:

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin, divided
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. oil
4 eggs
2 t. pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat with success)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 (16 oz) container Cool Whip (I used light and it worked fine)
1/4 c. caramel ice cream topping
1/3 c. toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of your Kitchen Aid, combine - cake mix, 1 c. pumpkin, milk, oil and eggs. Mix well then add 1 t. pumpkin pie spice. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then medium for 2 minutes. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pans before removing to wire racks. Cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat cream cheese, sugar, remaining pumpkin and 1 t. pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
Split cake horizontally. Place a layer on a plate; spread with a fourth of filling. Repeat layers three times. Chill in fridge for 3 hours or until ready to serve.
Just before serving drizzle the torte with caramel topping and pecans.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bowtie Pasta Salad




I can't believe how long it's been since I posted anything! I think the whole back to school thing stresses me out too much to do anything fun like cooking and blogging.
This is a pasta salad Tamara gave me the recipe for last year when I was looking for food to make for my sister's baby shower. This was a popular one with everyone who was there and I have since made it a ton of times.
It is really easy and versatile-- you could add some chopped, cooked chicken to make it more of a main course meal or vary what vegetables you add to it.
It tastes better if made the day (or at least a few hours) before. I reserve some of the coleslaw dressing and fold it in before serving to make sure the salad is moist. Also the cashews shouldn't be added until just before serving so they don't go soft.



1 454 g (1 lb) box of Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1 lg bottle (2 cups) of Coleslaw salad dressing
1/2 C mayonnaise
4 stalks of celery, diced
2-3 cans of mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 C chopped green onions
1/2 C of red grapes, cut in half
1/2 C unsalted cashews (optional)
1/4 C Craisins (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lemonade Cake

This is a glorified "cake mix" cake.
If that offends you, move on.
After reading the reviews about this cake I knew I would be trying it soon.
People were so critical that this cake uses a
cake mix as the base of the recipe,
they actually lowered their ratings!
I guess I'm not as easily offended:)
I thought it was really good.
I did exactly as the recipe stated and I loved
the punch of flavor that the lemonade glaze gave.

Lemonade Cake:

1 - 3 oz. package lemon flavored jello
3/4 c. boiling water
1 lemon cake mix
3/4 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
3/4 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan, set aside.
Dissolve lemon jello in boiling water and set aside.
Combine cake mix, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Mix until combined. Add the jello, then beat for 5 minutes. Pour prepared batter into the pan.
Make the lemonade glaze by combining the lemonade concentrate and sugar in a small pan, cook long enough to dissolve the sugar.
Bake for 1 hour. While the cake is still warm (and still in the pan) - puncture the cake with a long knife to give the glaze somewhere to go, then pour the lemonade glaze over the cake.
Let the cake cool completely before removing to a decorative plate.

Bon Appetit!

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes - take horrible pictures.
Thankfully they taste SO MUCH BETTER than they photograph.
Here is a recipe I found on Allrecipes (a favorite website for recipe searches.)
I was looking for something simple, lower in fat than funeral potatoes or Au Gratin potatoes, and this is what I came up with.
Everyone loved them!
Scalloped Potatoes:

5 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

3/4 c. chopped onion

3 T. butter

1/4 c. flour

1 3/4 c. chicken broth

2 T. mayo

3/4 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

Paprika

1/2 c. cheddar cheese (optional)

In a greased 2 1/2 qt. baking dish, layer potatoes and onion. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour until smooth. Gradually add broth, mayo, s&p. Cook and stir for 2 mins or until thick and bubbly. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours or until tender.

Cook's Note: This recipe is quite forgiving. I used more than 5 potatoes...so I made slightly more sauce...but it wasn't enough to cover all the potatoes I'd peeled - so I opened a can of evaporated milk and poured the entire can over the potatoes. I then baked for 3 HOURS!!! I added cheddar cheese to the top of half of the pan at the last minute. There was plenty of sauce, and they were fantastic!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicken Salad with Tarragon



This is one of my favorite sandwiches courtesy of Ina Garten. It has a lot of memories for me: one of my Dad's favorite spices was tarragon. It reminded him of his years in France, since that is a french favorite. We found Ina's recipe and made it for a church luncheon where people loved it and we have both enjoyed it many times after that. Tarragon really adds a wonderful flavor that is second to none in this recipe.

It makes for moister, tastier chicken to cook bone-in, skin-on breasts in the oven and then cool and chop the chicken, however, I usually use what I have on hand which is of the boneless, skinless variety.

3 to 4 cooked and cooled chicken breasts
1/2 C mayonnaise
1 1/2 T chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 C small-diced celery (2 stalks)
1/2 C to 1 C of green grapes, sliced in half
salt and pepper to taste

Cut chicken into a 3/4-inch dice. Place in a bowl; add the mayonnaise, tarragon leaves, celery, grapes, salt and pepper and toss well. Serve as a salad, or fill up your favorite rolls.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jen's Lemon Bars

This a recipe I got from my good
friend and neighbor Jen.
They are simple and fantastic all at the same time.
The crust has a shortbread quality to it and the filling is super lemony!
This is my go-to recipe, since I always have the ingredients on hand
and they just hit the spot.

Jen's Lemon Bars:

Crust:
2 c. flour
1 c. butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine until a dough forms. Spread dough (I use my hands) into a sheet cake pan, the one I use is 13x15, but larger would work too.
Bake crust for 13-15 minutes.

Filling:
4 eggs
2 c. sugar
4 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon extract (I added this because I like intense lemon flavor, it's optional)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. flour

Mix all ingredients for the filling together. When smooth, pour onto the hot crust and return to the oven for 20-25 minutes, until light brown and filling is set.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

If your house is anything like mine - you've got lots of banana's in need of use.
I make banana bread on a regular basis, along with banana muffins and smoothies...ho hum.
This recipe is a breath of fresh air for my
freezer full of bananas!
Since it incorporates a fruit, I consider it healthier than say, chocolate cake.
Add some cream cheese frosting and it is over the top!

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Banana Bars:
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. or 4 ripe bananas

1 (16 oz) container cream cheese frosting, or homemade cream cheese frosting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan (mine was 13x17 and worked just fine.)
In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and eggs. Add the sour cream, bananas and vanilla. When incorporated, add the flour, baking soda and salt.
Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-25 mins until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
Cut and enjoy!

***Chef's Note: I am always amazed at how many people don't know that you can freeze your over-ripe bananas. They work perfectly for banana bread, muffins, smoothies and this cake! I won't lie...they are ugly, but you can thaw them in the microwave and use them in any recipe calling for ripe bananas:)

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicken in Lemon Cream with Penne



I get hooked on one cookbook and everything I cook comes from it for a while. Yes, Giada again. There are no changes here except I added some cornstarch to thicken the sauce. It was not as much creamy, but rather runny before the miracle of the thickening power of cornstarch helped it out.
It has a lovely, fresh lemon flavor which tastes great on a warm summer night-- or any night. Herbes de Provence sounds fancy, but it can be picked up at any grocery store in the spice aisle.

1 lb penne pasta
3 T olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1" cubes
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
pinch of salt, plus 1/2 tsp
pinch of pepper, plus 1/4 tsp
1 C chicken broth
2 C heavy cream
zest of one lemon
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 C fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Season the chicken with the Herbes de Provence and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Take the chicken out of the skillet and set aside. Pour off any excess oil from the pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook over med-high heat, using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the cream, lemon zest, and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes
. ( At this point, I dissolved about 1 T of cornstarch in a little cold water, or you could us chicken broth, and stirred it into the sauce.)

Add the pasta, chicken, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. Toss to coat the pasta and chicken with the sauce and serve. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Peanut Sesame Noodles

This is a recipe I've adapted from The Pioneer Woman.
She called her recipe Simple Sesame Noodles.
You may look it up if you'd like, the changes I made were subtle.
You could add chicken to this dish for a more "manly" meal,
but mine was working, so I didn't need to worry about his needs:)
I added 1 T. peanut butter to the sauce
and chopped peanuts as a garnish.
Both could be left out if you have nut allergies to consider.
On with it...
Peanut Sesame Noodles

12 oz, fluid thin noodles, cooked and drained (angel hair pasta is what I used)
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. rice vinegar
3 T. pure sesame oil
2 T. sweet chili sauce (this will still have some heat to it, despite the word "sweet")
6 T. canola oil
2 T. hot water
1 T. creamy peanut butter
4 green onions, sliced thin, to garnish
1/4 c. dry roasted peanuts to garnish

Whisk all ingredients (except noodles, green onions and peanut butter) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
Pour sauce over hot noodles and toss to coat.
Sprinkle with green onions and peanuts, toss.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake

Very few chef''s do "butter" better than Paula.
I knew that I would love this recipe before it was made.
I was not disappointed!
The recipe says to bake it for 40-50 mins, I checked it at 45 minutes
and wished I'd checked 5 minutes sooner.
Make sure the center is slightly giggly when you take it out:)

Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake:

Cake:
1 yellow or white cake mix, dry
1 egg
1 stick of butter, melted

Filling:
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 stick of butter, melted
1 16 oz (1lb) box of powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cake mix, egg and butter in a bowl. Mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 inch pan. Prepare filling.

In another large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter. Beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well.

Spread filling over the cake batter and bake for 40-50 mins. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Creamy Orzo



I really love this recipe from Giada. The creaminess reminds me of a speedy risotto-- comfort on a plate. If you haven't cooked with Orzo before, it is a fun change from other pasta noodles.

1 lb orzo pasta
2 T olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, juices drained
1 1/4 C of whipping cream
1 C frozen peas, thawed

3/4 C freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

Bring a heavy large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender, but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture, continue stirring until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Bon Appetit!










Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paula Deen's Southern Peach Cobbler




Apparently great minds think alike: Tamara and I must have been channeling peaches! This is different from any cobbler I have made before-- maybe that's what makes it southern, who knows. This cobbler is definitely best made and eaten the same day--there is so much moisture in it from the peaches and juice and butter that it doesn't keep as well the next day. But since it is made in an 8X8 pan, it shouldn't be a problem to eat it in one day. I cut back some of the sugar and butter from the original recipe and it still tastes great.

4 C of peaches, sliced and peeled (I'm sure canned peaches would be fine too, but drain them)
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C water
Combine all together in saucepan. Stir. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put 6 T of butter in an 8X8 pan. Put in the oven to melt the butter.

In a bowl, mix together until smooth:
1 1/2 C flour
3 tsp baking powder (unless you are using self-rising flour then omit)
3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 C milk

Pour batter over the melted butter. Do not stir. Carefully spoon the peaches onto the batter, then gently pour the syrup over top. Sprinkle with cinnamon. The batter will rise to the top as it bakes. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Cool and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Peach Crisp...Cobbler...Crumble.

My intention was to take a captivating picture of this creation once it was plated up with a generous scoop of whipped cream...but literally, before I knew it - the pan was empty.
So, while this picture does nothing to visually inspire you to make it,
let me mention a couple of things.
1. I am the ONLY one in my family who enjoys peaches...
yet there was nothing left.
2. One-dish dessert.
3. I used...shhhh...canned peaches.
4. You likely have everything you need in your house to make this, right now.
'Nough said.


Peach Crisp...Cobbler...Crumble...whatever you want to call it.
3-15 oz cans of peaches with juice (you could easily use 4 cans or 2-27 oz cans)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg (I didn't have any so I used "apple pie spice")
1 t. cornstarch
1 yellow, white or vanilla cake mix, dry
1/2 c. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour peaches with juice in a 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. The sprinkle the brown sugar over the peaches.
Next, sprinkle the dry cake mix over the peaches to cover. Drizzle the melted butter on top of the cake mix.
Place in preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is browned.
Let it cool then serve with whipping cream.
Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Creamy Cheesy Bruschetta




Like my grandfather before me, I love the clearance produce deals at the grocery store. Yesterday I found a package of 8 tomatoes for $1.50 and had to come home and do something with a few of them right away. These are really quick and tasty; a great thing to have with a salad in the summer for dinner.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut baguette into 3/4" pieces. Toast pieces lightly in the oven. Take out and set aside.

Topping:
2 medium tomatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces. I like to cut the tomato in half and squeeze out most of the seeds before I dice.
1/2 C (or more) of grated cheddar cheese
2 T of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C mayonnaise
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
dash of pepper

Mix all ingredients together and spread on the baguette toasts. If you like, grate a little more Parmesan on the top, and then put back in the oven for around 6 minutes or so to warm the topping and melt the cheese. Eat warm. Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oreo and Fudge Ice Cream Cake

Unfortunate picture...
I was trying to take a picture, while 5 kids were nipping at our heals.
Fortunate recipe find!
Very yummy cake!
It is beyond easy and a nice change from regular cake.

Oreo and Fudge Ice Cream Cake:

1/2 c. hot fudge topping, room temp
1 - 80 oz tub of Cool Whip, divided
1 - 3 oz pkg. instant chocolate pudding
12 Oreo cookies, chopped or smashed:)
12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches, unwrapped

Pour hot fudge topping a medium size bowl, add 1 c. Cool Whip, mix until well blended. Add dry pudding mix. Mix for 2 minutes, then add chopped up cookies. Set aside.

Arrange 4 of the ice cream sandwiches, side by side on a 24 inch piece of aluminum foil. Top with half of the cookie mixture. Repeat layers. Top with remaining 4 ice cream sandwiches. Frost top and sides with remaining Cool whip. Bring up foil sides and loosely fold ends of package.
Freeze at least 4 hours before serving, preferably over night.

Here is the "how to video" if you'd like to see it done.

http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Oreo--Fudge-Ice-Cream-Cake-Video/Details.aspx

Bon Appetit!

Oven Roasted Broccoli


I love the way oven roasted vegetables taste but for some reason, I have never tried Broccoli this way--until now. I am Addicted!! It is so good that if someone asked me if I wanted this broccoli or some chocolate, I would have to side with the broccoli.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Broccoli-- whatever amount, but into florets and then washed and patted dry.

Put the broccoli on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook for 15 minutes. You don't need to turn over-- just leave it. Some of the edges of the florets will be dark and crispy, but it tastes amazing.

Place on a plate or serving tray and grate some fresh Parmesan over top. I made it two nights in a row; once with the addition of some lemon zest which was really good, but I think I prefer just the Parmesan.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Farfalle with Pesto, Chicken and Tomatoes

This is a great alternative to the usual pasta salad.
It incorporates
*pasta
*basil pesto
*chicken
*tomatoes
*feta cheese.
It could even be served as a main dish if you
paired it with a nice crusty bread.

Farfalle with Pesto, Chicken and Tomatoes:

1 lb. farfalle pasta, cooked according to directions

8 oz. pesto

1 1/2 c. chicken, cooked and shredded

5 roma tomatoes, diced

8 oz. feta cheese, I used the tomato and basil variety

1/4 - 1/2 c. oil - whatever kind you prefer, I used vegetable oil

salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta, drain and cool by running under cold water. Add pesto, chicken, tomatoes and cheese. Stir well. Add enough oil to moisten the pasta. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until ready to serve. If the pasta seems dry, add a little more oil.

Bon Appetit!





Thursday, July 29, 2010

Simply the Best Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Cookie

What more can I say?
These are the best.
They are soft and chewy
+
they are crisp and melt in your mouth.
Does it sound too good to be true?
Give them a try.


Simply the Best Chocolate & Butterscotch Chip Cookies!

4 1/2 c. flour
2 t. soda
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. butter flavored Crisco
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 c. chocolate chips
2 c. butterscotch chips
2 c. walnuts, chopped & optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In the large bowl of your mixer, place butter and shortening. Mix well. Add brown sugar, white sugar and pudding boxes. Mix until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, combine. Add the flour slowly so you don't make a mess, add soda. Mix until everything is incorporated. Finally add the chips and nuts if you want.

Place spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Bon Appetit!




Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chile Verde

Chile Verde.
Yum.
Simple.
Versatile.

Chile Verde:

3-5 lb. pork - shoulder, butt or loin (I used a pork shoulder)\
5 small cans of green chilies, divided
2 garlic cloves
1 sweet onion
1 can tomato sauce
1 jalapeno, or more if you like it spicy
1 1/2 t. cumin
4 c. water
2 t. chicken bouillon
salt to taste

First start by cutting the pork into bite sized pieces. In a large pot heat vegetable oil. Add meat and saute until browned.

In a food processor, place 4 cans of green chilies, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, jalapeno and cumin. Blend until pureed together.

Add pureed mixture to pork, stir. Add water, chicken bouillon and the last can of green chilies.

Bring pot to a light boil, then turn down the temperature and simmer for 2-3 hours. Much of this timing will depend on which cut of meat you chose. Mine was done in about 2.5 hours - but a loin may take a little longer. Season with salt if needed.

Serve in warm tortillas with lots of toppings, cheese, tomato, onion, sour cream, cilantro and guacamole.

Bon Appetit!

Simply Brisket

Brisket.
Quite simply my favorite piece of beef.
If it's not done correctly it's tougher than a shoe,
but if you know how to cook brisket, it is the most flavorful
and versatile piece of meat, ever.
It's not difficult - but I think lots of people are scared of brisket
because it can be tough if not cooked properly.
I always serve my brisket with horseradish sauce.
It reminds me of Papa.
Here's how to do it with perfect results every time!


Simply Brisket:

5-6 lb. brisket - or bigger:)
1 head of garlic
1 1/2 t. onion powder
2 t. salt
pepper to taste
1 quart of beef stock

Preheat oven to 500 degrees or your broil option.

Using a paring knife and your fingers, stuff brisket all over with garlic cloves. Season brisket with onion powder, salt and pepper. Place brisket in a roasting pan and broil until top is browned. Turn over and do the other side.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Make sure your brisket is fat-side-up. This will insure that as the brisket is cooking, the fat will baste the meat giving it lots of flavor. Add enough stock to come up 1 inch on the sides of the brisket.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes per pound. This is where some guess work is involved. When the time is up, remove the brisket and stick a fork in it. If the meat comes apart easily, it is done. If not - stick that puppy back in the oven and let it go a bit longer.
When it is fork-tender, slice the meat AGAINST THE GRAIN. You can trim the fat off now or not. The juices that are left in the pan are PERFECT for gravy. Just make sure you skim the fat off of the juice.

***Note: Left over brisket is perfect for hot roast beef sandwiches or BBQ beef sandwiches. I actually look forward to the left-overs just as much as the first meal!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti




I haven't cooked out of the Pioneer Woman's cookbook too much, but I do love it and Tamara inspired me to take it out of the bookcase. This is the PW recipe except I changed the chicken bit. The original recipe has a whole fryer chicken that you boil and then shred, and incorporates the stock the chicken has boiled in. I really don't like boiled chicken water--something about it just grosses me out. I know it's essentially the same thing, but I'd rather just open a box or can of stock. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken that I used instead. I like this recipe for how easy it is, especially if you have some leftover cooked chicken-- everything just gets mixed in the same bowl with the cooked spaghetti and then thrown in the oven for a quick dinner.

1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 2" pieces (1/2 of a 900g pkg)
1 4oz jar of diced pimientos, drained
1/3 C diced onion
1/4 C diced green pepper (I used red)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp Lawry's seasoned salt
black pepper to taste
dash of cayenne
2 C chicken stock
1 C (or more) of diced cooked chicken

Cook the spaghetti until tender and almost done. Drain and put in a large bowl. Add all the above ingredients except for 1/2 C of the cheese that will go on top. It seems a bit runny because of the amount of stock. It does end up absorbing it all and cooks up perfectly. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

PW's Sour Cream Pancakes

Oh My Gosh!!!
It's not very often I get excited about breakfast.
Dessert? Yes. Breakfast? Not so much.
These pancakes are not your run of the mill Krusteaz pancakes.
These are light, amazingly fluffy and beyond yummy.
They remind me of the Belgium Waffles we make, in that they
are also all of those things, light, fluffy and yummy.
The amount of sour cream to flour ratio, made me wonder how
in the world they would hold together, but they did and am I ever glad.
Since they are so delicate, flipping them takes some patience,
but once you take your first bite you will be so glad you tried them.

PW's Sour Cream Pancakes:

2 c. sour cream
3/4 c. flour
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
butter

In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix well. Add the salt, baking soda, sugar and flour. Mix well.

Place skillet over medium low heat, melt a tablespoon of butter. Pour the batter into the skillet about 1/4 c. at a time. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes and then gently flip. Cook for another minute or so and remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
Top with butter and syrup or fruit and whipped cream.

Bon Appetit!

PW's Chocolate Sheet Cake

I recently bought a new cookbook -
I haven't bought one
in at least a year...my collection is out of control.
"The Pioneer Woman Cooks"
by Ree Drummond.
Jodie told me about her, we've both made many of the recipes
from her website,
and now her book is my new focus.
When I get a great new cookbook I obsess and make every recipe that
sounds new and tasty! I have to pace myself...
Last night I made this chocolate sheet cake. It is fantastic.
I love that you make the icing and put it on the cake while both are warm.
The top of the cake absorbed the icing and took it to
a whole new level of moist-ness.
All of the ingredients are things you likely have in your kitchen right now.
I love that.

PW's Chocolate Sheet Cake:

Cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk (if you don't have any I'll tell you how to make it)
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. baking soda
1 c. butter
4 heaping T. cocoa
1 c. water

Icing:
1 3/4 sticks of butter
4 heaping T. cocoa
6 T. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans

In a large bowl beat the eggs, buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add cocoa. Whisk together to combine. Meanwhile bring 1 c. water to a boil. When the butter is melted pour the water in the pan. Allow to bubble for a minute then turn off the heat.
With the mixer going, slowly incorporate the warm chocolate mixture to the egg mixture. Do this slowly to tempur the eggs. When it is all combined add the sugar, salt and flour. Mix well.
Pour into a ungreased jelly roll pan, or rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. (Mine actually took more like 26 minutes, but check with a toothpick to see when it is done.)
While the cake is baking make the icing.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Add powdered sugar. Stir together. You can add the chopped pecans now or you can sprinkle them on top of the icing after. (I have a child who dislikes nuts so I left him a corner that was nut-free.)
Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, pour the warm icing over the top of the cake. You'll want to avoid doing much spreading, so try to distribute it evenly as you pour.

***If you don't have buttermilk on hand this is what you can do. Add 1 T. white vinegar to just under 1 c. milk and stir.
BUT...buttermilk is SO versatile! And it is beyond inexpensive. Go buy some.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vanilla Ice Cream without the Ice Cream Maker!

Creamy and light (in texture, not calories) homemade ice cream...
WITHOUT an ice cream maker?
YES!
A certain generous milk-man blessed me with an obscene amount
of heavy whipping cream recently.
My goal has been to find and make perfect homemade ice cream.
I've tried cooked custards. I've tried little packages of powder.
I've tried it all.
This one seemed too good to be true. It's not.
This recipe takes the burden off of the ice cream maker to whip enough air
into the ice cream to make it creamy and instead
uses the Kitchen Aid to do the job.
I've put my ice cream maker out to pasture. I suspect mine won't be lonely for long.


Magic Vanilla Ice Cream:

**makes 2 quarts

1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 oz. white chocolate squares
2 T. quality vanilla
dash of salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the milk - for about 1 minute at 50% power. Stir. If chocolate isn't quite melted, heat for 20 second intervals, stirring after each time.
Cool. When milk/chocolate mixture is cooled add vanilla, salt and sour cream.

In a chilled bowl, beat the whipping cream to soft peaks - which takes about 2 minutes on medium high speed.

Mix 1/3 of the cream into the milk mixture. Once it is all combined, gently fold into the remaining cream, careful not to deflate.

Place mixture into an air tight container and freeze until firm about 6 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Bon Appetit!

Baked Pastina Casserole



Unfortunately I only took one photo and it happens to be really blurry, however, the pasta dish courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis is a really tasty one. It is from her Everyday Pasta cookbook. I love all her pasta dishes and this one can't be easier.


1 C pastina or any small pasta (I used shells)
2 T olive oil
1/2 C cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 C diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice
1 C shredded mozzarella
1/4 C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 C bread crumbs
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
1 T butter, cut in small pieces

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta, just until tender. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Add the chicken mixture to the bowl with the pasta, then add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Butter or spray with cooking spray an 8X8 pan and spread the pasta in the dish. Mix together the bread crumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over the top. Dot with small bits of the butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Bon Appetit!


German Chocolate Cake

Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to me!
This is a well kept family secret...
German Chocolate Cake IS my favorite birthday cake!
Somehow I was dubbed someone
who loved Black Forest Cake
for their birthday and I'm not entirely sure how it happened. With that said,
there is nothing wrong with a
well done Black Forest Cake,
but it's not my favorite cake:)
So, today on the day of my birth - I begged James to let me make my own birthday cake. He was so willing to go to the bakery and buy me a GC cake, but really?
I wouldn't be as good as the one
I am more than willing to make!
I won...it is after all MY birthday and
I can do anything I want including
making my own scrumptious cake.


German Chocolate Cake:

1 boxed German Chocolate Cake mix + ingredients to make it.

Frosting:

1 c. evaporated milk
1 1/3 c. white sugar
2 eggs
4 T. butter
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. coconut
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

In a heavy saucepan combine the milk, sugar and eggs. Whisk until well combined. Add the butter and salt, cook on medium low heat until thickened. I stir pretty much constantly until the mixture starts to boil. Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add coconut and nuts. Set aside until it has cooled.

Note: This is not the kind of frosting you will be able to frost around the sides of a cake beautifully. I prefer to make a 9x13 pan and then spread a nice THICK layer of the frosting on top. Some prefer to frost 2 - 8 or 9 inch rounds with frosting in the middle. Just be aware that this type of "frosting" will have more of a "dripping" effect over the sides of the cake. There is just no way around it...unless you frost the sides of the cake with a regular chocolate frosting, which I must say I don't like. I prefer dripping GC frosting any day to any other type or flavor of frosting on my GC cake. Boy. This is a long note.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Super Soft Caramel Popcorn

I searched and searched and searched for a soft caramel popcorn
recipe that actually stays soft and finally found this one.
With that being said, it is also horribly addicting.
If you are a fan of soft caramel corn, give this one a try.
Super Soft Caramel Popcorn:

2 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1 c. butter
dash of salt
1-14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla
10 quarts of popped corn

Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and add milk. Cook, stirring frequently to a temperature of 225 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat then stir in vanilla.

Pour slowly over popcorn, stirring until the caramel is evenly distributed throughout.

Store popcorn in a covered container.

Note: You may vary the amount of popcorn used. I like more caramel coating so I use less popcorn. You may also 1/2 the recipe, but I never seem to use the other half a can of sweetened condensed milk:)

Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shish Tawook



Shish Tawook or skewered chicken, is a really yummy and flavorful dish eaten in Turkish, Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. I found this recipe from Dede who has an amazing online collection of cooking videos and recipes. The chicken is really tender and so easy to make. Bite-sized pieces of chicken soak for several hours or overnight in the marinade and then placed on sticks for grilling or baking.


Marinade:

2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 T tomato paste
2 T ketchup
1/4 C plain yogurt
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika

Cut 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into cubes. Place in the marinade for several hours or overnight.
Soak shish kabob sticks in water for a half hour. Thread the chicken onto the sticks, about 6 pieces. I use a roasting pan but line the bottom with a bit of parchment or foil to make clean up easier.
They can be grilled on the bbq, or put in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. I like to broil them for a few minutes at the end to finish cooking-- they appear to look grilled and I know they are cooked through.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Favorite Summertime Meal

While my sister and I were in Florida we ate an amazing Italian restaurant.
Our appetizer was a beautifully laid out plate of sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella
and arugula, topped with a balsamic reduction.
It was amazing.
Since returning I've been obsessed with that appetizer and make it a meal often.
I've got it perfected, with veggies from my garden and the grocery store.
Nothing beats fresh Mescalin, I happen to have it growing in my garden.
If you have a garden I recommend trying it.
You can use plain arugula or an herb mix of greens. I love fresh basil too.
Use whatever sounds good at the time. Generously drizzle it with a really good
balsamic glaze or reduction. You will find them by the vinegars in your store.

So...what will you put on your plate?

Avocado's? Nothing beats a perfectly ripe avocado.

Tomato? Fresh from the garden...yum.

Fresh mozzarella? If you haven't tried it, do. Find a "young" mozzarella that is soft and comes in water.

Fresh greens? Basil, mescalin mix, arugula, baby spinach. They will all be fantastic.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Macaroon Brownies




Chocolate and coconut, two of my favorite things. So a recipe that combines the two has to be good-- and this one is! It's from the Taste of Home collection.

1 C butter, softened
2 C sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1/2 C cocoa
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 C chopped walnuts (optional)

Filling:

1 pkg flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla

Frosting:

3/4 C sugar
1/4 C milk
2 T butter
1 C mini marshmallows
1 C chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa and cream of tartar. Add gradually to the creamed mixture. Stir in nuts if you are using them. Spread half of the batter into a greased 9X13" pan.

Mix the filling ingredients together and spread carefully over the chocolate layer. Top with the remaining chocolate mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick near the centre comes out clean. Cool.

For the frosting, combine sugar, milk and butter in a saucepan. Cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir until chocolate chips and marshmallows are melted. I take it off the heat while I am stirring to ensure that the chocolate doesn't harden up and burn. Cool for about and half hour and spread over the cooled brownies. Yummm!!

Strawberry Pie



This is definitely one of my favorite summertime desserts. The filling is quick and easy and the crust is a shortbread cookie. As Ina Garten says, what could be better than that?

Crust:

1 C butter (not margarine)
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 C flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

Cream the butter and sugar together. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. Combine with the sugar and butter. Chill for an hour or so, then press into a 9" pie plate. I find this makes a lot and don't use quite all of the dough. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned- around 20 minutes. Let cool.

Filling:

In a saucepan, mix together:
1 C sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 small pkg strawberry jello
Add 1 C cold water and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened. Let cool to room temperature.

You will need one quart (4 Cups) of strawberries. Wash and take the tops off. Leave the berries whole, or halve the larger ones to make them more bite-size. Pat dry and place them in the cooled crust. Pour cooled gel mixture over berries and put the pie in the fridge for an hour or so until completely set. Serve with whipped cream and enjoy!