Sunday, October 28, 2007

First Daring Bakers Challenge - Bostini Cream Pie =D

Bostini Cream Pie

Getting Started!
The hardest part for me was getting started because so many talented people had already submitted some great ideas and my mind kept going blank on how I was going to present this dessert! You know how it is when you think to hard about something. . .I squeezed my imagination to hard and it deflated! Yeesh! So, I jumped in and started making this dessert hoping that when I got to the cake part, it would start coming together as a design. =D

Ingredients for Custard:
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (EDITED: vanilla extract is okay)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
To Prepare the Custard:
  • Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.

All those egg yolks looked so pretty sitting in a bowl waiting to get beaten. The egg whites I put syran wrap on for use as cake ingredients, which I did the next morning. This became a Saturday night and Sunday morning project. I was surprised at how quickly the custard came together. Also, I always worry about my eggs curdling when I added a little heat to the yolks first. Even when taking it slow, I have had a little trouble in the past. This time the custard mixed together beautifully. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat! (BIG smile)

The aroma from the custard smelled sooooo good. I made a mistake by keeping the custard on the heat too long because my custard became *really* thick. It did not hurt anything and when I checked for coating on the spoon, well, lets just say I had extra to taste test and I do LOVE vanilla custard. Delish!

I made another mistake here. . .and I knew better. Teaches me not to start cooking something when I am really tired. I put the custard in cute little ramekins and set in the refrigerator without putting any syran wrap on the surface of the custard to keep them from forming skins. The custard was still wonderful though! 8)

Chiffon Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter
Directions for Assembly:
To prepare chiffon cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.
  • Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.
  • Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.
  • Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.
To prepare the Glaze:

  • Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.
To Assemble:

  • Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.
Sunday morning I started on the cake and chocolate sauce part and the dessert was a lot of fun to finish putting together. I found one of my favorite baking pans for making minature cakes and this worked wonderfully. I did have left over cake batter so I put this in large ramekins. The flavor of orange with the chocolate sauce is a great combination. Since I had a couple extra cakes, I tested this hypothesis out. . . a definite winner! BTW, I used bittersweet chocolate for the sauce.

I had company Sunday evening and I wanted to share this dessert so I was limited on time for presentation and believe it or not, my hubby actually chose how this was presented! I know, shocker for me too. He got so into me putting it together that I think I got more tickled watching him get enthused then me actually putting this together.

I would like to thank (Alpineberry) for this great challenge and the Daring Bakers for presenting the chance for so many people to feel part of something greater! Thank you!!!!! =D

Tea Cup Makes Sipping Tea A Special Moment in Time

I know this probably sounds silly but I was raised as a tomgirl and all I wanted growing up was a tea set. My Mom had a pretty set and we girls were never allowed to touch it. You know, I have a real silver tea pot with the sugar and cream dishes that all set on a beautiful silver tray with floral filigree etched as a design. The set has a tarnished look to it and I want to find out how I can make the whole set look new again. Something I really need to make time for. I am sitting here laughing out loud (probably sound like I have lost my marbles =D) but the thought just crossed my mind that one of my regular cups of tea would fill this little cup about three times. . .and it is really hard not to laugh about it because it would take me a while longer to drink my tea so this will probably be kept as a lovely weekend morning past time.

I had all these great plans to make wonderful Halloween cookies and caramel apples along with some great spiders made out of little sausages wrapped in crescent dough and use potato sticks for legs and mustard for eyes. Then I was going to make a ranch dressing dip and rings of bbq sauce so as to pull a spider web design using a toothpick. It is now Sunday evening and I have not accomplished any of these things. I made a spiderweb dip! Yeppers, that is it! A dip. . .for chips. . .Fritos corn chips. I really should look at the brighter side of this woeful tail. My hubby needed help this weekend on a project of reorganizing the storage and hauling things around that would make his world happier. So, this is what I did. Now, I am sore with no Halloween goodies *but* a happy hubby. I guess it is not a complete loss, yes?

The recipe used cheater ingredients, which I really try not to do when cooking but I really needed a last effort to show something for the season:
1 (16 oz.) jar (about 1 3/4 c) black bean dip
1 (12 oz.) container of guacamole
1/4 c. Sour Cream
1 c. Lettuce
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese shredded
1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
Tortilla or Corn Chips

Spread bean dip onto center of large platter, leaving 1 to 2 inches around edge of platter. Carefully spread bean dip with guacamole.

Spoon sour cream into resealable plastic food bag. Snip off corner. Pipe sour cream in 4 concentric circles onto guacamole. Drag toothpick or knife through sour cream from center outward to make spider web design.

Layer lettuce, cheese and tomatoes on edge of platter. Serve with tortilla or corn chips.

BTW, this was tastey. =D

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Peaches - A Fruit A Month Entry - Yum! =D

Peaches - The Fruit Of The Month Entry
The link for this fabulously fun entry is: Fun and Food: Announcing AFAM-October (A Fruit a Month) - Peach/Nectarine

I have had a peach cake recipe that has been under wraps for a long time then I decided to post this wonderful and delicious peach recipe to a cooking group I belong to called Now, I think it is time to make this cake again, much to my hubby's delight, with my newly canned peaches. I feel sooo accomplished (smile).

BUT WAIT, OMG!!! I also have a peach crisp to make you swoon recipe that I want to add. Yeppers, this is the thought I have come up with: Make and post them both! It is only fair. So here goes =D

First the peach cake:

Decadent Fresh Peach Cake (Using My Fresh Canned Peaches =D)

2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
5 T. plus 1 t. cornstarch
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
6 T. (3/4 stick) margarine, softened
6 T. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c. plus 2 T. sugar
3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
9 large egg whites, stiffly beaten
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
5 to 6 large peaches
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T. sugar

  • Make the cream filling first. Mix cream, sugar, and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease three 8-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with wax paper. Grease the paper and lightly flour. Set aside.
    Sift the flour with the cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream the margarine, butter, and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the dry mixture in 4 parts, alternating with the milk and ending with the flour. Mix in the vanilla.
  • Place the beaten egg whites on top of the mixture and fold in with an over-and-under motion. DO NOT beat, but be sure it is well mixed. Pour batter into cake pans and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks. Let cool completely. The cakes are suppose to be on the thin side.
  • To assemble cake, dip peaches in hot water for about 10 seconds, then run cold water over them. Slip the skins off and cut each into about a dozen slices; discard pits. Toss peach slices with the lemon juice and sugar. Whip the chilled cream-sugar filling until it is stiff, then mix in the vanilla.
  • The peaches will have given up a bit of juice by now, so pour some of it over the bottom cake layer, a little at a time, to give it a chance to soak in. (The cakes are dense.) Put a third of the peach slices on this bottom layer and cover with some whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining layers, holding them in place with toothpicks if necessary.
  • Keep cake refrigerated, very loosely covered with foil or wax paper, until ready to serve. Believe it or not, this cake will stay standing when you slice and serve. I hope you get a chance to try this recipe. I know it takes a little patience to make BUT you will LOVE the results...I hope : D

Now for the next recipe:

Peach Crisp to Make You Swoon


4 c. peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 t. almond extract
2 T. water
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. unsalted butter (this is not a mis-print)


  • Oven 350 degrees F.
  • Combine peaches, almond extract and water. (If peaches aren't totally ripe, add a T. or 2 of white or brown sugar. )
  • Pour peaches into a 8 x 8-inch or similar sized pan.
  • Using a food processor (or a bowl and pastry cutter) combine flour, sugars, salt, cinnamon, and 1/2 c. butter; combine (or cut with pastry cutter) until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  • Sprinkle flour mixture over the top of the peaches in the pan, dot with butter pieces and sprinkle nutmeg lightly over the top to taste.
  • Bake *covered* at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes, remove cover and continue to bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Let crisp stand for about 15 minutes or so before serving. Not possible for me, even if I burn my fingers : D

The final result surprised me the first time because the top crumb layer was flat looking *but* do NOT let this catch you off guard because the flavor is incredible. I mean, totally delish! Yum! I found that if I do not break the crumbs up as small for the top layer then the layer does not turn out this flat looking. . .if you are worried about presentation. . .which I usually am =D

This whole peach dedication month has been a blast! Thank you for letting us know about it.


Saturday is for Sleeping In. . . and a Warm Cup of Tea!

First, I have to say I am sooo excited! I went to storage today and found my delicate porcelain teacup and saucer with beautiful little yellow roses and baby green leaves for the pattern. You know, I really enjoy a warm cup of tea but there is something special to be said about sipping this wonderful flavor in a delicate and beautiful cup. Now I just need to clean it so that I can take a proper picture and show everyone my pride and joy.
This post is to my late best friend in the whole world. . .my grandpa! Ever since I was old enough to know what grandpa meant. . .I knew he was amazing. . . and everyday I find something that makes me cherish a warm memory of him and this causes me to smile. With fall here, to me this says soup season. I have to say this out loud and I feel silly for saying it but soup intimates the hell out of me! Yeppers, it's the stock that gets me. I want homemade stock and I do not always have the time to make homemade stock nor the expertise to do this very often. I do try once in a while and when I do, I freeze the extra since I am making it to get the extra. I *always* have to go by a recipe to do this. My grandma used to make fabulous soup with great flavor and she looked like she was throwing whatever into the pot. . .making me wonder if I was going to be stuck eating something terrible. I am telling you. . .this is a true statement. I have seen the woman put candied pineapple into soup before! Grandpa even complained when he saw this and she told him he knew where the peanut butter was and to make good use of it if she heard a negative comment from him again! Grandpa just smiled and winked at me.
The reason this fabulous vegetable soup is to my Grandpa is because of his beautiful vegetable gardens he grew every year. For his tender, foot long green beans, he would start by have 5 poles positioned tee pee style and plant 10 seeds around each pole. Out of these 10 seeds, he would weed 5 of the weakest plants out and keep the other strong and hardy 5 plants. Grandma always had a ton of green beans to use every summer. His other veggies that he grew were just as clever and simple with the vegetables always being a delight to go pick fresh. It is hard not to smile while I type. This all feels so much like just yesterday, you know what I mean?
I found this recipe a while back in a Cuisine Magazine, believe it or not. I had to try it using fresh veggies and now I make this soup several times a month. I get so tickled over making the dumplings. They are cute little fluff balls with tons of flavor!
To start out, I always get all the ingredients together because there is a lot of chopping involved. Do you ever have one of those days where you long to just be in the kitchen listening to good music, sipping a beverage of choice and mindlessly chopping away? . . .relaxing.

Summer Garden Vegetable Soup

Saute in 2 T. Olive Oil:
1 c. onions, diced
1/2 c. carrots, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
Deglaze with; stir in:
1/2 c. dry white wine
6 c. chicken or vegetable broth
2 c. cauliflower florets
1 c. zucchini, diced
1 bay leaf
3 c. tomatoes, diced
2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 c. fresh green beans, trimmed
salt and pepper to taste
Herb Dumplings:
Makes 20-25 dumplings and Total time to make:30 minutes
Whisk together and stir in; Melt:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. Parmesan, grated
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped fresh chives
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
2/3 c. whole milk
3 T. unsalted butter
Heat; Cook dumplings in:


  • Saute onion, carrot, and celery in oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften.
  • Deglaze with wine; simmer until nearly evaporated. Stir in broth, potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, corn, beans, salt and pepper. Return to a boil and cook 5 more minutes.

Herb Dumplings Directions:

  • After adding the last part of veggies to the soup, start making the dumplings.
  • Whisk flour, Parmesan, baking powder, sugar, salt and pepper together in a bowl; stir in the herbs. Melt butter in the milk in a saucepan over medium heat, then blend into dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. Shape dough into balls the size of a ping pong ball. I use a melon ball scoop to make these with. When the above soup is in the last stage of cooking and you have dropped the heat to a simmer, add the dumpling balls to the top of the soup, cover, and gently simmer 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This soup looks beautiful when served with all the bright colors of the different vegetables and the fluffy dumplings. If I was in the South, I am sure the Southern people would be insulted because dumplings are much flatter. That's okay, I like those too! =D

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lemon Bread

Lemon Bread
I have to admit that I love the strong flavor of lemon and that I am also always on the hunt for the perfect lemon bread. I went to a William Sonoma store and found this bread baking pan that had imprints of lemons in the bottom. How could I resist? The bread has lemon peel in the recipe and after baking this delightful quick bread, you mix together lemon juice and sugar and drizzle over the top. . .Yum!
For the Bread:
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean
12 T. unsalted butter, melted (This is 1 1/2 sticks of butter)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. milk
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
For the Glaze:
1/4 c. sugar
3 T. fresh Lemon Juice
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a lemon bread pan, okay, or a regular bread pan; tap out excess flour.
To make the bread, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Put the sugar in a bowl. Using a paring knife, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using the top of the knife, scrape the seeds into the bowl. Using your fingers, rub the seeds into the sugar to break up the clumps. Add the butter, eggs, milk and lemon zest and whisk until thoroughly blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Tap the pan gently on a work surface to loosen the bread. Set the rack over a baking sheet, invert pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Turn the loaf over and, using a pastry brush, brush the top and sides of the bread with the glaze. Let cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Splashing in the Mud Puddles =D

The rain is beautiful with all the wet grass and leaves shimmering but it is also sad because I have beautiful maple trees lining my yard and driveway. All the rain is causing the leaves to fall faster and now my trees are mostly bare. I have been trying to get pictures of the leaves turning all the beautiful hues of reds, oranges, yellows and browns but now it is almost to late to get anymore pictures.

I am definitely a seasons person. Comfort food for each season is my specialty. No more hot weather to keep me from wanting to bake in the oven. The meatballs that are shown in the picture below are awesome football appetizer food or main dinner entree served over rice. I could not believe the ingredients when I first tried this recipe and now this is one of my main stay meals to fix.

Meatballs with Sauerkraut

The recipe for Meatballs with Sauerkraut is as follows:

2 lbs. hamburger

1 envelope onion soup mix

1 c. bread crumbs

3 eggs beaten

12 (oz.) bottle chili sauce

1 1/2 c. water

1/2 c. brown sugar

16 oz. sauerkraut drained

16 oz. can whole cranberry sauce


In a bowl - combine hamburger, soup mix, crumbs and eggs.

Mix well and shape into balls.

Place in baking dish.

In a saucepan combine chili sauce, brown sugar, water, sauerkraut and cranberry sauce.

Mix well while cooking over a low heat until it begins to boil.

Pour over meatballs and cook at 325 for 2 hours.

These meatballs are delicious! =D

I also made my favorite: Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls

If I could get away with just eating the cream cheese frosting alone I would BUT the overall cinnamon roll is awesome and moist too. My daughter is Such a picky teenager and actually loves these. Shocking, I know. :D

The recipe is as follows:

For the Dough:
1 packet (2 1/4 t.) active dry yeast
1 c. warm water (100-110 degrees)
3/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. buttermilk
3 T. sugar
2 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
5 c. all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 t. kosher salt...okay I am on a kosher kick. Regular salt is fine.
3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cinnamon
CREAM CHEESE ICING: (with orange zest)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 t. orange zest, minced

PROOF the yeast for the dough in warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer for 5 minutes, or until foamy. (You can proof in a regular large bowl to do this recipe if you do not have a stand mixer but your arm will fall off working the dough.)
WARM the milk to 100 degrees in a saucepan over low heat while yeast is proofing. Add warmed milk, buttermilk, 3 T. sugar, 2 T. butter, 3 1/2 cups flour, and salt to the proofed yeast. With a paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combined, then increase speed to high; beat for 2 more minutes.
SWITCH to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour. Mix on low speed until incorporated, then increase speed to medium. Mix for 5-7 minutes, or until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (It will still be stuck to the bottom of the bowl, so don't worry.) Cover bowl with plastic and let dough rise in a warm place for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until doubled. Butter two 9" square pans. (I know, 9" is not a regular size that many have but it is better just because they get BIG)
SOFTEN 3/4 cup butter for the filling in a bowl in a microwave for 30 seconds. Use a hand mixer to blend in the sugar and cinnamon; set aside (do not chill).
ONCE the dough has risen, hook your fingers under the edges to release the dough from the bowl. Scrape it onto a well-floured surface, sprinkle flour over the top, and press gently to remove air bubbles. Divide the dough in half and roll one portion into a 10 x 16" rectangle.
SPREAD half of the filling onto the dough, leaving a 1/2" border. Starting at the shortest edge, roll the dough jelly roll-style into a log. Repeat rolling and filling with the second piece of dough. Transfer logs to a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes. (Shocking I know, but helps with cutting into rolls)
SLICE each log into 6 rolls and arrange them in the prepared pans; cover rolls with a towel and let rise for 1 hour; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover rolls and bake 25-30 minutes, or until browned. Cool rolls in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove and frost with Cream Cheese Icing.
BEAT all ingredients together with a hand mixer until combined. Top warm rolls generously with icing after they have cooled slightly.
Man, that was a little effort BUT you are going to LOVE the result. =D

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday Night and on to the Weekend. . .Wahhhoooo~!

Happy Friday!!!!

Yep! I made dessert tonight. . .and not just one, but two! The Caramel Apple-Brandy Malt and Oreo and Fudge Ice Cream Cake for Ashley. Not bad if I say so myself. =D

I have college homework due tonight and the worse the homework the more I am apt to rush into the kitchen and start cooking. It doesn't help that I have taken several of my favorite cookbooks to work today to peruse for ideas. My grocery list for tonight was made before I was even in the work truck, going home. Seattle traffic and commuting, even in the carpool lane, is disastrous. I think we have some of the craziest and crankiest drivers around. That's okay, I know what I want to cook tonight and nothing really gets to me if I have something planned out. It's when I don't plan ahead that I feel frustrated and cooking instantly becomes a chore. It doesn't help that Ashley, my teenage daughter, is extremely particular about what she likes to eat. I don't know how that child can want things that consist of simple, basic country food and be my daughter. . .(chuckle). She is really going to dislike dinner but I am making a dessert just for her and just maybe (sigh) she will actually really like it. Hhhmm, probably wishful thinking but she does surprise me a lot lately. In a good way. I should add that for later. I got home today, looked around and she had swept and mopped the kitchen floor, put dishes away and made my bed. Something I forgot to get done before leaving this morning. On top of that, she didn't even say anything. She usually doesn't though.

I am back on track. Dinner....I decided that I wanted to try a Mexican meatloaf. I have several recipes that I have concocted in the past but they just feel like they are sooo lacking something lately, so I am taking another direction. I think this recipe will open up a whole new world of ideas now. The meatloaf turned out awesome, the flavor was right on *and* no grease from the hamburger. I was amazed! The only down-side is that I forgot to spray my loaf pan with a non-stick cooking spray, such as Pam, and the meatloaf stuck to the pan just a little.


Mexican Meatloaf *with* Salsa and Sour Cream

Red Skinned Potatoes Mashed

Corn with Chopped Red Bell Pepper

Mixed Salad with Pomegranate Sprinkles


Caramel Apple-Brandy Malt (shown above)

Oreo and Fudge Ice Cream Cake

The meatloaf takes a little bit of extra time to prep but after I found out what the end result is. . .well, I think this recipe will become a mainstay for me. I start out with cooking green bell pepper, 3 shallots and garlic with a little vegetable oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

After the veggies have cooked, I just let them cool and continue with assembling the rest of the meatloaf. I think the most time-consuming part is cutting up 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas finely and this only took about 5 minutes. Overall assembling time was about 15 minutes. Not to bad.

With everything in the bowl except for the one beaten egg, all I have left is to mix everything to gether, mold and set in loaf pan and bake for an hour. Easy.

Mexican Meatloaf

1 Medium green bell pepper, chopped
3 Shallots, minced
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 t. vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef (80 to 85% lean) I like a little fat to the hamburger for flavor
4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, finely shopped
3/4 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
1/2 c. purchased or fresh salsa
1 egg, beaten
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground oregano
1 t. salt
extra salsa


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook bell pepper, shallots and garlic inoil in medium skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until tender. Cool.

Gently combine bell pepper mixture and all remaining ingredients except 1/4 c. of the cheese in a large bowl. Place in 8 x 4 inch loaf pan; bake 55 to 60 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. cheese during the last 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Add salsa and a medium dollop of sour cream to the top of the meatloaf after setting on plate.

Red Skinned Mashed Potatoes

2 Pounds Red Skinned Potatoes - leave skins on and just clean and quarter
1/2 c. butter (unsalted)
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. whipping cream
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
salt to taste


After potatoes are cooked to fork tender, drain and place back on stove top for 30 to 45 seconds to toss potatoes, making sure the rest of the water is evaporated. Place potatoes in a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients listed.

How you prefer to mash potatoes is open to taste. I prefer whipping them using my Kitchen Aide Mixer. My Mom prefers using a potato masher utensil. Either way, the potatoes turn out wonderful.
Mixed Salad with Pomegranate Sprinkles
4 c. torn romaine lettuce
3/4 c. small cauliflower florets
3/4 c. diced zucchini (1/2-inch)
3/4 c. sliced yellow bell pepper
1/4 c. pecan pieces, toasted**
Arrange lettuce on salad plates and top with all remaining ingredients. Drizzle with dressing of choice. I choose honey mustard dressing but I have a recipe for Pomegranate-Tarragon Vinaigrette that I plan on trying tomorrow. The flavors would really create a fantastic combination.
**Note**: To toast pecan pieces, place on baking sheet; bake at 375 degrees for 4 to 6 minutes or until pale brown and fragrant. Cool.
Mexican Corn

The mexican corn is sweet corn with bits of chopped red bell pepper added to it and cooked on top of the stove in a medium size sauce pan just till it is hot.
Caramel Apple-Brandy Malt
4 oz. brandy
3 oz. apple cider (not apple juice)
1/4 c. caramel sauce (dulce de leche if available)
2 pints of vanilla ice cream
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Garnish with whipped cream and toasted, chopped pecans. Serves 4 =D

For some reason I am having trouble with formatting tonight so I will have to add the rest tomorrow. Yeesh.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Off and Running - YIKES - No Dessert. . .Bummer!

Weeellllll, I feel terrible! My whole dinner plan started around dessert. I was going to make this awesome Caramel Apple-Brandy Malt for dessert, found the most wonderful caramel that cost about 10 dollars for 1/2 c. worth in a jar, along with my favorite Vanilla Bean Haagan-Daz ice cream. I come up with a menu for Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon with Wilted Spinach,
a salad of what I had on hand (which turned out awesome . . .uuuhhhmmm, except for the added Goat Brie. . . bad choice. . .way to strong of a flavor) and my oven-crisp potato wedges. Everything was easy and the flavors were going together great. The 2 pound salmon Coho Salmon fillet was from my favorite seafood and butcher section of the local grocery and I was told that the fish was *not* previously frozen. That is huge in my book for flavor! I marinated the salmon in orange juice, olive oil and thyme in one of those food saver dishes where you use the food saver device to suck the air out so that marinating happens in a quarter of the time. It works great! A half-an-hour later, I am ready to go with my spice rub. After putting the seasoning on the Salmon, it bakes for about 13 minutes and wah-laa! Oh yes, I also wilted some baby spinach for two minutes on the stove-top in a little olive oil and made a bed out of it for the salmon to set on.

The salad was just a head of shredded iceberg lettuce, some crab that I had left over from dinner the previous night and still needed to shuck, Muenster cheese cubed, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, cauliflower, Prosciutto that I sliced thinly, garlic and cheese croutons and almond slivers.

While the salmon was marinating in the refrigerator, I was cubing my little red potatoes and tossing them with olive oil, 1 T. of garlic, some ground sea salt, a little ground pepper, oh - and of course a little paprika for color and flavor. Toss all this in a bowl as shown below and wait to bake in the oven the same time that the salmon goes in.

My potatoes get slid onto a jellyroll pan that I have set a sheet of aluminum on and sprayed with a non-stick spray before baking. Easy clean-up is always a good thing, right?

Everything comes together and looks great! Including pictures, the whole process only took me about 45 minutes. Yay! The best part? Hubby did dishes. Double Yay! The bad part? Everyone was too stuffed for dessert! Can you believe it? I have all the makings for an awesome dessert and nobody can even squeak to even want to try a bite. I feel so hurt. Well, there is always tomorrow night :D

Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon with Wilted Spinach
(This makes about 6 to 8 Servings. . .Depending on how big of eaters your family has)
1/4 c. Orange Juice
2 T. plus 1 t. olive oil, divided
2 t. Thyme Leaves, divided
2 pounds Salmon Fillets
1 T. Brown Sugar
1 T. Smoked Paprika
1 t. Cinnamon
1/2 t. Sea Salt
1 t. Orange Peel
1 bag (about 10 ounces) Baby Spinach Leaves
Mix orange juice, 2 T. of the oil and 1 t. of the thyme in small bowl. Place salmon in large glass dish. Add marinade; turn to coat well. Cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
Mix sugar, smoked paprika, cinnamon, orange peel, remaining 1 t. thyme and sea salt in small bowl. Remove salmon from marinade. Place in greased foil-lined baking pan. Discard any remaining marinade. Rub top of salmon evenly with smoked paprika mixture.
Roast salmon in a preheated 400 degree oven 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 t. olive oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach; cook and stir 2 minutes or until wilted. Serve salmon over spinach.
Oven-Crisp Potato Wedges
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
1 T. olive oil
4 t. finely minced garlic
3/4 t. coarse salt
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 525 degrees. Quarter potatoes and place in a large bowl. Drizzle ( I love that word) olive oil over potatoes and toss.
Sprinkle garlic, salt paprika and pepper over potatoes; toss to coat well.
Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with vegetable cooking spray. Arrange potatoes on prepared baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking.
Raise heat to broil. Broil potatoes until crisp, watching closely not to over-brown, about 1-2 minutes. Yum! :D

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wenesday Night Dinner

Well, I have to say, even when I get totally busy with life. . . go buy more dishes to inspire cooking ideas! How's that for smart? Yes? Maybe? I am just like a girl with a shoe addiction only I LOVE the serving dishes and with the holidays right around the corner, well, (sigh) need I say more? I go to college, yep, but it is on-line along with working full-time but my thoughts are always about cooking, baking, learning to grill (I just need to keep the grill marks off my skin. . .ouch!) and now I am starting the ol sour dough experience. The dishes shown above are glass leaves I found at Pier 1. They are sooo cute and the serving platters that go with are on order in burgundy. Can't wait! The dishes are showing off the only cheater part of dinner tonight. I decided that I wanted to make my Crab and Corn chowder but when I got to the store, I saw these lovely Portabello mushrooms stuffed with a seafood concoction that I couldn't resist trying. So here they are only I have added baby shrimp and shredded Havarti cheese to the tops of them.
After baking the mushrooms at 350 degrees for 20 minutes I am going to let them cool for just a few while I finish up the crab and corn chowder. I am learning how to take pictures and thought what a great way to learn would be by making a point to post a picture of whatever I am making for that day. A daily picture posting! Hopefully, my digital techniques will become much better as time goes by. Well, off to the chowder:

We start with the lonely but beautiful Sweet Onion. Soon, the onion will be diced finely.

The potatoes join in and will be put in the microwave to be cooked. This will shorten the time for prep work. After they have been cooked in the microwave, I will cut them into large, diced pieces for the chowder.

The crab is the third main ingredient in this wonderfully thick and flavorful chowder. I was going to buy pre-shucked crab but a 1/2 pound cost more then 1 full pound of legs. Ridiculous I say! So I am going to use the ol kitchen shears to cut the prickly legs down the center and get the meat myself. Takes all of 10 minutes. . .no biggie. =D

All the Ingredients are now assembled and I am ready to get started. This may make just a couple extra dirty dishes *but* my assembling and cooking is sooo much more fun when I get to just dump the ingredients in as I go. If I have something left over, well, hhhmmm, then I know I have boo-booed. Anyways, I am off to make the chowder. I have made this chowder several times and re-write how I tweak it for later. I guess I should re-write the whole recipe on a fresh piece of paper before I can't read it any longer. Another sticky note that I'll be making for myself. Yeesh.

The first step is onions, corn and 1/2 of the crab. - -The second half of cooking the chowder.

The finished product! Creamy and full of everything that makes you drool just smelling the wonderful aroma from all the ingredients. The recipe is worth sharing:

Crab and Corn Chowder

1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1 lrg. onion, finely diced
4 lrg. potatoes, cubed and cooked (I microwave them)
1 c. half and half
1 c. evaporated milk
1 c. clam broth
2 cans canned whole Kernel corn (Drained but save the Juice)
1 can Creamed corn
2 t. Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/2 pounds fresh crabmeat

Preheat a 6-quart soup pot on medium heat with butter.

Add onions, whole corn, and half of the crabmeat. Cook until onions are clear. Add Old Bay seasoning and Cook 3 minutes longer.

Add clam broth, liquid from corn, and creamed corn. Bring to boil and add evaporated milk and half and half. Slowly bring chowder to a low simmer, being careful not to boil. Add potatoes. Add the remainder of the crabmeat the next day, just before serving the chowder. I usually end up making and serving this all the same night. I know, I am going against my own rules, but what the heck!

Cool chowder in refrigerator overnight and serve the following day - if you can wait that long. All chowders are always best if made the day before...Warm-up is delicious!

Friday, October 5, 2007

I Love Pies and Cakes OR Anything Creamy

I LOVE baking! Anything to do with beautiful pies and luscious, creamy cakes will be right up my alley. When I was a little girl, my parents were total health nuts. I mean really, how many kids have parents who are both bodybuilding trainers as a *hobby*? Yep, that's right, full gym in the basement of our house while growing up. We chitins were not allowed sugar. Sugar substitutes like, ooohhh lets see, honey, carob instead of chocolate, and sweeteners of different sorts. How many ways can a kid say Yum? So you guessed it. I have a horrible sweet tooth! My redeeming factor is that I love to make the dessert more then I enjoy eating it. I can't wait for whatever I am making to come out of the oven and cool down just enough to get someone to try it. . .and sometimes I have been known to *not* let it cool down enough before pushing, okay not really pushing it on someone, or lets say asking someone to taste test it. I am standing there with bated breath waiting to hear the immortal words: This is the best I have ever tasted. Better then anyone in my family has ever made. I know, I'm terrible but I am constantly experimenting to improve! In the back of my mind, I have to remember that I do not want to improve to the level of my infamous Grandma. She will make something completely awesome the first time, listen to everyone tell her how wonderful it truly is *then* the next time she makes the dish, she will throw everything but the kitchen sink into it and wonder why people are trying to sidetrack her while slipping it to the dog. Yeesh! I have seen her slip in candied pineapple to beef stroganoff, wondering if the sugar and pineapple would add to the dish. No one ate it and she told poor Grandpa if he disliked her cooking so much then he could just make himself a peanut butter sandwich. I helped him make the sandwich.

Okay, the point to all this before I started wandering, was pies and cakes. One of the first pies I realized that I personally loved was those little pecan pies. You know the ones. The little individual small pie in a foil shell that is wrapped in plastic and sold for a couple of dollars at grocery stores. I loved them! Sweet, creamy and crunchy along with my natural love for pecans. Then I made the mistake of making my first pecan pie. . .I say mistake because I could not believe just how much better freshly baked tasted over store-bought, factory made. The flavor was to die for! Did I say WoW!? Well, after making my first couple pecan pies, I started wondering just how hard it would be to come up with a deep-dish pecan pie? My biggest issue was proper baking technique. Temperature and time was extremely hard for my to adjust. If the temperature was to high, then my crust was way over baked, even with a foil cover and the center of the pie was underdone. If the temp was to low, same problems only longer baking. My hubby loved the experimenting because it just so happens that pecan pie is his favorite also. After several months of trial and error, I think I have come up with a solution and perfect mix of creamy filling with extra bunches of pecans, crushed, broken in quarters and halves for the top. I think it is only fair that I share this great pie with everyone who truly understands the quest for a perfect pie of choice.

The start for the pie is a good crust dough. I was going to add crushed pecans to this but then overkill comes to mind. Simple is best in this case. I already have about 3 cups of pecans in the pie filling, itself.

I think there are a lot of naturally talented bakers out there that have the creation of a perfect edging down but I am not one of those bakers. I have to practice to get my edges fluted right and I have a deep-dish pie plate that has the indents already there. Even cheating, I still struggle. I was pretty proud of this crust though.

When I am getting ready to make something, I not only like to reread the recipe but I also like to pre-assemble all the ingredients. Premeasured and ready to go doesn't mean allot of dirty dishes and the whole cooking process is a lot more fun! With everything right there, I just follow my recipe or baking on a whim and relax. I am not worrying about thinking I have everything and then finding out in the middle of assembling the pie that I don't have enough of something. Yep, I learned that earlier in life. Nothing like running to the store at the worst time. There are times that this will happen and I can not help it. Being tired and making something anyways usually means making a mistake and having used the last of an ingredients means I am running to the store. Bummer.

This pie is all about the pecans. . .LOTS of pecans. Crushed, quartered and halves creates different textures plus lots of flavor.

The pecan pie is fully assembled. I have looked over the setting of each and every pecan half with approval of the final outcome. I am now ready to set this beautiful deep-dish pecan pie into the oven. My hubby is already rubbing his hands together in anticipation. I have to admit, me too! (smile)

Deep-Dish Pecan Pie
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
2 T. white sugar
1/2 c. butter, chilled
4 T. ice water
6 eggs
1 1/2 c. light corn syrup
4 T. dark corn syrup
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
6 T. butter, melted
1 pinch of salt
1 c. pecans, finely crushed
1 c. pecans, quartered
1 c. pecan halves Directions
**Requires Deep Dish Pie Pan**
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Pie Crust:
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and white sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually sprinkle the water over the dry mixture, stirring until dough comes together enough to form a ball. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, flatten dough ball with rolling pin. Roll out into a circle that is one inch larger than pie dish. Place pie shell into dish and refrigerate until pie filling is complete.
Pie Filling:
In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, light and dark corn syrups, brown sugar, butter, salt and finely crushed pecans. Spread quartered pecans over bottom of refrigerated pie crust. Pour syrup mixture over top of pecans, then arrange pecan halves on top of pie.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Now cover pie with foil so as not to burn pecans or crust edge and bake for an additional 60 minutes.
**Important**- Please allow pie to cool for about 1 hour so as to fully set up in the middle before eating. Fresh whipped cream is soooo good with the pecan pie.