Thursday, February 28, 2008

Review #2 for Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook

The Shogun Dinner, from Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook. The recipe sounds like we are going for a shoot out at dawn. Japanese cowboy style. I have the cowboy hat; I should have worn it while making this dinner. A wok, the main cooking paraphernalia. Sizzling hot with a little butter in the bottom, bubbling and ready to bronze whatever gets tossed in. Basically, a shogun dinner is a meal made up of several parts. In this case, it is an appetizer with a sauce and a stir fry dinner with a sauce. The best way to tackle this dinner would be to make the sauces up ahead of time and refrigerate and have all the ingredients prepped before starting. The appetizer and dinner cooks really fast and so there is plenty of time to sit and enjoy the shrimp and sauce before moving on to making the dinner. I actually had a lot of fun making this. The drawback to this dinner is that the sauces were to strong in flavor for me and I do not see myself making them again. Also, the amount of sauce that is called for to be made was unreasonably large compared to the amount of food that gets dipped into the sauces. I had over 2 cups left over. Because I didn't like the strength of the sauce, it was not saved after using with dinner. I would make the stir fry again but create my own seasonings because the combination of meat and veggies was delicious!

The appetizer for the Shogun Dinner is sauteed Shrimp and a Ginger Sauce to dip the shrimp into.

I made sure to have all my ingredients ready to go so and after the wok was heated, the cooking only took about 4 to 5 minutes.
Just saute the shrimp in butter, soy sauce, lemon juice, and seasonings. Easy.

Ginger Sauce
1 1/2 T. ginger root, fresh, coarsely cut
2 T. onion, coarsely cut
2 T. water
1 1/4-inch slice lemon
1 c. Japanese soy sauce
1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
4 sprigs parsley
Soak fresh ginger root in water for a few minutes to easily remove skin. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor with a steel blade and blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator up to a week.

Shrimp Appetizer
1 pound of medium shrimp, raw and peeled
2 T. butter
salt and pepper to taste
Dash of soy sauce, I used about 1 T.
1/2 t. lemon juice. . .I used 1 t. which to me was perfect for the amount of shrimp used
Ginger sauce
Clean, rinse, and dry shrimp. Heat butter in a wok or skillet and quickly saute shrimp until fully cooked. Season with salt, pepper, soy sauce, and lemon juice.
Serve with ginger sauce as an appetizer.
The Shogun Dinner could have any combo of veggies put with the meat and it would be wonderful!

Main Dish
4 T. butter
1 c. onions, sliced
1 c. zucchini, sliced
1 c. mushroom buttons
1/4 c. sesame seeds, roasted
1 pound chicken breast meat, boneless, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound strip sirloin steak, cut in 1/2-inch cubes (I left my strips longer and thin)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash soy sauce, I used 1 T.
Mustard Sauce (Recipe Below)
In a large wok or skillet, melt butter and quickly saute vegetables until tender. Season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Add roasted sesame seeds and remove vegetables from wok. Set aside and keep warm.
Add cubed chicken to wok and quickly saute until tender. Season with same ingredients as vegetables. Remove and repeat with sirloin steak. When steak is cooked as desired, remove to a serving plate with vegetables and chicken arranged across plate.
Serve with mustard sauce.
Mustard Sauce
2 1/2 T. sesame seeds
1 T. onion, coarsely cut
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 T. dry mustard
1 ounce vegetable oil
2/3 c. water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread sesame seeds on a flat baking dish and bake until lightly toasted (about 10 minutes). Combine with remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until well mixed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Praline Butter Cookies

These are delicious butter cookies. Easy, if you can find the Praline liqueur at the liquor store or the Praline extract at the grocery store! I had leftover egg yolks to use and I didn't know what to do with them - then I remembered these cookies because they take 2 egg yolks instead of whole eggs. Perfect! Then, I realized that I spoke to soon. I used up the last of my Praline Liqueur a while back. I buzzed to the local liquor store to pick up another bottle and the man behind the cash register counter went Praline what? Never heard of it. I love living in Port Orchard, the city on the water inlet, but there are drawbacks. So, on my way home from Seattle, after work, I stopped at the main liquor store. This liquor store carries everything! VERY overwhelming! Found what I was looking for and toodled home to bake my cookies. These cookies are suppose to be on the thin side and the pecan halves really makes the cookie stand out. BTW, praline extract, use only 2 t. - NO Tablespoons of extract. Only liqueur gets 2 Tablespoons. Otherwise, the cookie dough will not taste right. . .really =).
Praline Butter Cookies
1 c. butter (liking it already =D)
1 c. white sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 T. Praline liqueur or 2 teaspoons of praline extract (omit vanilla extract if using Praline extract)(chocolate liqueur works great to. . .)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. pecan halves
Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla and praline liqueur or praline extract or chocolate liqueur.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Press a pecan half into center of each cookie. Bake at 300 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chicken Cutlets Italienne

I took my daughter shopping after work because she has been extremely good lately and even though I worked a long day, I think a Mom just has to go that extra mile to show how much effort is appreciated by a child, in this case, my daughter. She is 16 and hardly ever asks for anything. She always worries about me being tired from work and school. I, of course, feel terrible that she feels she needs to worry so I wanted her to have a little fun on a weeknight and find something new that made her look forward to going to school tomorrow. It was really nice, except for the fact that I also found a few things like the perfect picture that is a country scene, black and white, of old farm fences behind aged and elegant maple trees in the middle of fall. One of those pictures where you do not even realize that you have stopped and are just mesmerized. So, we both came home feeling elated. She came home with another purse to add to her collection and a few other little things that were just little feel good items. The whole trip was so worth it.
Now, it is that ever wonderful feeling of knowing that it is now late and I still have dinner to make. Calling in for pizza sounds so good right now but no, I am going to be stronger willed. I already took chicken breasts out of the freezer this morning and I selected a quickie dinner to make. I bet I could have dinner done before pizza could be ordered and picked-up and that is exactly what happened. I got hubby to make rice in the rice cooker and I set to work on a simple but nutritious dinner. Chicken Cutlets Italienne. First, I needed to flatten 3/4 pounds of chicken breasts, which I did between 2 sheets of wax paper and a meat mallet, and then slice these breasts into 2. Easy and great for any leftover aggression =). Next was to simply chop up zucchini, Roma tomatoes, onion, and gather herbs, grated fresh lemon peel and juice along with putting together the flour to dip the cutlets into. Took me about 10 minutes total.

With all the ingredients pre-assembled, putting the dish together was a breeze.
I browned the cutlets in 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil. They just needed to cook until the cutlets were golden brown on both sides. This only took a couple minutes and that was for 2 batches. After the cutlets were golden brown, I set them in the oven to keep warm and put the sauce together.
The sauce thickens on the leftover flour in the skillet from the cutlets frying up. This took me about 3 minutes to get to the boiling point. The sauce boils for 1 minute and then it is done. The rice cooker was finished cooking the rice at the same time so all went well. . .relief =).
Chicken Cutlets Italienne (serves 4)
3/4 pounds boneless chicken breast, flattened to 1/4" thickness
2 medium size zucchini
2 medium size plum tomatoes
1 medium onion
1/2 medium lemon
1/4 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. oregano
1 1/2 t. chicken flavor instant bouillon
1/2 cup water
3 T. Olive Oil, divided
3 T. butter, divided
1/2 t. dried basil leaves
Cooked Rice, enough for 4 servings
Salt and Pepper to taste
Slice each chicken cutlet crosswise in half. Cut zucchini into bite size chunks. Dice tomatoes and onion. From 1/2 lemon, grate peel and squeeze 2 teaspoons juice.
On waxed paper, mix flour, salt and oregano, use to coat chicken. In non-stick 12" skillet over medium heat in 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, cook cutlets, half at a time, until browned on both sides.
Remove cutlets to warm plate as they brown, keep warm. In drippings add 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil and 1 Tablespoon butter, over medium heat. Cook onion until golden, add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook until golden and tender crisp. Stir in tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon peel, chicken bouillon and 1/2 cup water. Over high heat, heat to boil. Boil 1 minute. Stir in basil. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Plate rice and place chicken cutlet on top and sauce over all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook Review - Breakfast =)

This is the Poly Breakfast Pizza Souffle served at the Papeete Bay Verandah, which is at the Disney Polynesian Resort. The size of this is HUGE! The serving amount in the Disney Gourmet cookbook says that it serves 6 and I say that you could easy serve 8 to 10 with large portions. The casserole dish is about 4 inches deep and holds 3-quarts. There was just the three of us eating this, so you guessed it, I have pizza souffle leftovers coming out of my ears =).

First, I absolutely LOVED the idea of making my own tomato sauce, which is part of putting this souffle together. If this recipe is done in steps where, while you are simmering the tomato sauce, you can also be soaking the bread for the layers in milk. The whole recipe took about 45 minutes to assemble and an 1 and 15 minutes to bake.
This tomato sauce is very flavorful but I went grocery shopping at the last minute and the only tomatoes available were not overly ripe. I was thinking I should buy more then 6 (which is what the recipe calls for) but I didn't and kicked myself later. The tomato sauce recipe is suppose to give 2 1/2 cups and mine only yielded about 1 3/4 cups. This was a very noticeable error. The sauce is needed to cover the bread for each of the layers and I had to be skimpy, as shown below. I can not believe how much flavor difference there was in making my own homemade sauce along with the aroma. Delicious!
As you can see, I am being skimpy with the sauce. I am definitely going to make this again, only next time increase the tomatoes, even if they are really ripe. Freshly chopped oregano is liberally sprinkled over the sauce. Before I forget, I did not use the full 20 thin slices of bread. I was only able to fit in 17 slices and the bread was really fragile from soaking in the milk. Next time, I will use a firmer bread, maybe a french loaf, thinly sliced.
I always am going to Costco for fresh Mozzarella cheese and my Feta cheese, okay, Chev re (goat) cheese, smoke Gouda, aged cheddar; I have a thing for cheese =). This take 1 1/2 pounds of Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced and BOY is this CHEESY when you first try to slice and serve. I had more fun trying to twirl the cheese strings from the dish to a plate without draping the cheese strings off the side of the table and have it dangling over Rocky's (Golden Retriever) nose. Long process (pun intended). Next time, I will cut the cheese down to maybe 1 pound.
I sprinkled the Parmesan cheese on top of the last layer instead of mixing with the eggs because I felt the souffle would get a more even layer of cheese this way. This is the whole souffle waiting for the beaten eggs to be slowly drizzled over the top. I would like to mention that the casserole dish is full and I had to have help lifting the sides of the bread to let the eggs soak into all layers of bread. This part does take patience since the bread has already been soaking in milk.
Wahlaa! The egg mixture is floating overall and ready to go into the oven. The pizza souffle tastes great but I think it would be even better if pepperoni or some kind of meat/veggie combo were added to give it that extra flavor. If you love oodles of mozzarella cheese, this is the breakfast souffle for you! I am going to make this again, only experiment more by adding other ingredients that I would love in a pizza. Overall, a great recipe that can be made to fit each person's taste. . .unless your allergic to cheese =).
Poly Breakfast Pizza Souffle from Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook
20 thin slices bread
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 pounds mozzarella cheese, sliced
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce (recipe follows)
1 T. oregano, fresh, finely chopped
6 eggs
4 to 5 T. Parmesan cheese, grated
3 T. butter, cut in small pieces
Soak bread slices in milk for 15 minutes, then drain off any excess liquid. Line bottom of a buttered 2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole dish with bread slices. Top slices with a layer of tomato sauce, sprinkle with a bit of oregano and add a layer of cheese. Continue making layers, finishing by covering last layer of bread with just tomato sauce and oregano. Casserole should be nearly full.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs with Parmesan cheese and pour over casserole. Pierce through layers in three or four places with a fork until mixture is completely absorbed by bread. Dot top of casserole with butter and bake for about 1 hour, or until top is browned and puffed.
Tomato Sauce Recipe:
6 medium tomatoes, ripe, chopped (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 T. parsley, chopped
1 t. dried basil
1 t. marjoram
1 t. thyme
1 T. sugar
In a large saute pan, saute onions in olive oil until tender but not brown. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes, or until tomatoes have been reduced to pulp. Press mixture through a sieve with a wooden spoon and reduce sauce further if necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Triple Chocolate Cookies

This weekend has been a whirlwind and all I did was sneak in baking here and there. I have had no time for blogging and I feel terrible. So, I am going to have to make up for it this week. I did do a cookbook review for the first time this year. Mickey's Gourmet Cookbook, and don't laugh because this cookbook is actually a collection of recipes from Disney's many restaurants. This was one of my New Year's Resolutions. Pick a cookbook out of many, that I adore, and make a review. Deborah at Taste and Tell does this and I applaud her commitment to doing this every month. She always comes across the best recipes. . .absolutely Yum!
Since I am in a hurry, I am going to get right to the recipe. The triple chocolate cookies are reminiscent of the cookies I used to bake for Ashley when she was about 3 years old, only the ones I used to bake for her didn't have white chocolate chips or toasted pecans chunks in them. The toasted pecans add so much to this cookie. I was shocked at the depth of flavor and I am now adding this cookie to one of my regulars again. The cookie is airy because of the egg whites but they are also quick to mix together. I made a butter cookie with the egg yolks, which I will blog about later this week.

Triple Chocolate Cookies
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, toasted, chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup white vanilla baking chips
Line baking sheets with aluminum foil; lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
Sift 1 cup confectioners sugar, cocoa, flour and salt into a bowl.
Beat egg whites in bowl until foamy.
Add remaining confectioners sugar and vanilla; beat 1 minute to soft peaks.
Add sifted cocoa mixture; beat 1 minute, until well blended.
Stir in pecans, chocolate and vanilla pieces.
Drop by tablespoons onto prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.
Sift lightly with confectioners sugar if desired.
Let stand for 30 minutes.
Bake in 325 degree oven for 15 minutes or until cookie is puffed and crackled, but still soft in center.
Cool on sheets 10 minutes.
Remove to racks to cool.
2 1/2 dozen

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Explosion

I am filing recipes that I have had printed out again. A depressing job because I have several thousand recipes printed over the last 4 years from different places, or they have been given to me by friends and family. I make myself file them into different categories so that I don't end up carrying around 50 recipes at a time thinking that I am going to make all of them in a week's time. You may think I am kidding but I only have recipes printed out that I have already drooled over and they are not just desserts. I like to have a well rounded supply of recipes. The problem with filing is that I am always afraid that once I slip that sheet of paper - with the next best meal I have ever made - into a folder, I may not get around to pulling it back out because of all the other recipes. Then there are the 600 cookbooks. Then the cooking magazines that I have sticky notes attached to pages of must-try recipes (about 500). It just never ends right? I don't think they have a help group for recipe addiction or cooking/baking addiction do they? My hubby would be sending me, I just know it. Any ways, I had this recipe for chocolate peanut butter explosion and I just couldn't file it so I went upstairs and made it right then. How could you go wrong with over a pound of peanut butter and 2 BOXES (8 ounces each) of cream cheese along with hot fudge for topping? Need I say more? Okay, the cake is a cheater but I can live with this one because it is simply delicious! The problem?? This recipe makes a LARGE trifle dish of dessert. Enough to share with everyone and still have plenty for you! =D

1 Devils Food Cake Mix
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 pkgs whipped topping mix (Dream Whip)
1 (18 oz) jar peanut butter
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup milk
Cool Whip
Hot Fudge Topping
quartered peanut butter cups
Make/bake cake as directed in two 9" round pans. While baking, mix cream cheese, condensed milk, whipped topping mix, peanut butter, vanilla and milk. Cool cake and crumble.
Assemble in trifle bowl:
crumbled cake layer
peanut butter layer
Cool Whip layer
repeat until all ingredients are used
Top with Hot Fudge Topping
*If you'd like, sprinkle with peanut butter chips or crushed peanut
butter cups.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chicken Chimichangas with a Green Sauce - Cheater Recipe

I am soooo tired! Working 60 hour weeks and going to college has finally caught up with me and I am just trying to make a speedy recooperation. I have even looked into those no calorie energy drinks but, really, you know there is something not healthy in those too! So, I am hoping for a miracle re-energizing swoop of fresh air, something, that makes me able to make something fabulous to blog about! I have to tell you though, this cheater recipe turned out delicious! YES, I did use canned soup, I am sorry from the bottom of my soup can, and I did use store bought flour tortillas, but the rest was all me, kind of. I bought sour cream too. (Big smile). . .(Okay, toothy GRIN)! I am typing and feeling like a smart-aleck, not a good combo. I am also sipping a glass of Riesling. My relaxation for tonight, yes? Well, I have something to tell everyone, drum roll, we Washatonians never look at our own touristy attractions. We just built this all glass, 9 floor - I think, I didn't count - library that is phenomenal! The reason I know is that I got the pleasure of working 10 hours then having my hubby tell me that he has to go to a company meeting for 2 hours at night so I get to hang out somewhere for 2 1/2 hours. Yay! (Sarcasm). Well. I am almost to shocked to type still. This library was more like a modern musuem with oodles of books! The first floor was all wood and engraved in words from all languages. There must of been over 200 flat screen monitors to go with the computers on several floors and study spots tucked away everywhere! Indoor gardens planted, a chocolat cafe, and LOTS of window viewing space of Seattle! Open arenas, windows looking into walls with these white fabric ovals filled with air and human faces only, and eyes only, and mouth only balloons within the walls, all talking over the speakers just above the escalator. Your getting glimpses of these balloons as you are going up the escalator! Crazy! After getting lost many times and refinding my way, along with a couple of strange men speaking a language I have NO idea of, decided they were bored of following me around and waving like they didn't have too many marbles in their head. . .combined heads, that is, I found a great table and chair at the top floor with only windows, my laptop computer, and fellow studying people! It was really hard to focus on homework with so many distractions to gawk at. I tried really hard to look like I wasn't paying attention but I highly doubt that it worked! It was great and now I can't wait to go back. So here I am, yapping away about this library and not talking about the chicken chimichangas with the fabulous and slightly (mildly) spicy green sauce. Addictive and easy are the words that come to mind. I made this whole dinner within 30 minutes and I only felt a little guilty. I got this recipe from a friend, forever ago, and I promised that I would try it and now that a LONG time has passed, here I am and I am giving this recipe high praises! Now, I want to go back and rectify the canned soup thing with something homemade so that I can officially blog sounding sophisticated and intelligent! I suppose now is not the time to share that I just received the QUICK COOKING cookbook for Taste of Home in the mail tonight? (sheepish grin). Cheating can be addictive at times, you know.
Chimichangas with a Green Sauce
2(10.5 oz.) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2(4oz) cans diced green chilies
5 pitted green olives
1 jalapeno pepper,seeded and chopped
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1(8oz) pkg shreaded monteray jack cheese
1/2(1 oz) pkg taco seasoning
1lb. shreaded cooked chicken meat
8(10")flour tortillas
1/2c vegetable oil
1(8oz.)pkg. shreaded sharp cheddar cheese
1c chopped green onion
1(8oz) container sour cream
Pour the cream of chicken soup into a blender along with the green chilies,olives,jalapeno and lime juice. Puree until smooth,then pour into a saucepan,and warm over mediulow heat while proceeding with the recipe
In a large bowl,stir together cream cheese,monteray jack cheeseand taco seasoning till well blended. Fold in the chicken. Evenly divide mixture among 8 tortillas. Fold each tortilla into a rectangular packet around the filling.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry 4 chimichangas at a time until golden brown,then drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
To serve,place a chimichanga on a plate,and ladle the warm sauce overtop. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and green onions. Finish with a dollup of sour cream.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Banana Rum Cake with Rum Soaked Cherries

A little background is needed for this cake. I am working on the addition for the Harborview Hospital in Seattle, WA. The addition that is being built on is 3 times the size of the existing hospital. This construction project is huge so I get to meet a lot of interesting people on the job. One such person just tickles me every time I go to work. He is what we call an elevator operator. The building that I am working in, as a commercial electrician, is 9 floors high with a basement floor that is seperated by 3 feet of cement so that if there is ever an earthquake, any critical operations being done will not be interrupted by any acts of nature. The construction workers get 2 working elevators to use to get to the different floors, unless you are like me and usually just climb all 9 floors to get to where I am working (grin, uhmm, that would be the 9th floor), but for some reason, insurance and liability for a construction site states that we cannot push our own elevator button and get to the floor of choice. A construction worker elevator operator has to be hired to do this very job. Yep, he sits in the elevator and pushes the buttons that takes us to the different floors. . .all day long, which right now can be 10 to 12 hours in a little elevator that has plywood for walls (we're construction workers, we are not allowed to have something that can get knicked or scratched while hauling materials from floor-to-floor). We actually have 2 different elevator operators but this particular older operator, Roy, just so happens to have a wife that LOVES to bake and Roy enjoys being the middle man to relay recipes back-and-forth between us. I have this slight habit of baking goodies and taking enough to share with a few people, which included Roy, and this is how the whole thing got started. As soon as I get to work and see Roy in the morning, we are talking food, recipes, and ingredients all the way up to the 9th floor and there are usually about 30 of us squished into this elevator at 6 in the morning. It is very comical to see the faces of everyone else looking bewildered while Roy and I are deep in conversation about whatever the latest baking endeavor was or will soon be and what new recipe is being swapped. This time it was my Rum cake. I have been experimenting with flavors. Roy's wife, Dee, soaks cherries in rum for 1/2 of a day and also drizzles 1 Tablespoon of Rum every morning and every night for 2 days on top of the regular glaze that gets soaked into the cake. I decided to try this cake with a banana pudding mix and I have to tell you, it is absolutely delicious! Also, the rum soaked cherries is a really pretty touch, potent, but pretty. When I say potent, I actually mean that instead of soaking the cherries in 1/2 cup of Rum for the 1/2 day, I thought. . .why not soak them for 24 hours. Bad idea! Way to strong. The cherries looked really pretty but they tasted like straight rum and nothing else. No cherry flavor what so ever! Lesson learned. The cake is very moist and gets better over time, like 2 days =).1 c. chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts, whichever you prefer
1 18 1/2-ounce yellow cake mix
1 1 3/4-ounce (4-serving) instant banana pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. Bacardi dark rum. . .I believe I used Appleyard (sp?) Jamaican Rum this last time
1/2 c. butter (1 cube)
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. dark rum
10 or more cherries soaked in Rum for about 4 hours

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan. Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork. Drizzle glaze over the top of the cake. Use pastry brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake.
Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
**Note: The rum will cause steam. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Also, drizzle a Tablespoon of Rum every morning and night for 2 days and make sure to cover the cake with foil so as to keep all moisture in. I know, it is hard to wait that long before tasting this but it is so worth the effort if you can do it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Snicker Filled Peanut Butter Cookies

I am slightly bummed out because I sooo wanted to enter my special doughnut recipe for the doughnut theme that Tartlette and Peabody's Blogging Event is all about this month! I have to work long hours right now and commute with 3 hours left for home life each night. It won't last forever but there just is no time for longer cooking sessions - so, I made cookies. Not just any cookies but my hubby's favorite, Snicker Filled Peanut Butter Cookies. These cookies are a snap to make and the little hidden snickers in the middle are perfect!
I just love chopped peanuts anyways and I bet a person could experiment and try different little candys in the middle. Even those addictive Lindt Chocolates =D.

Snicker Filled Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
20 fun-sized Snicker candy bars **


Mix all together except candy bars. Shape dough around each candy piece
Place 4 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 9 - 10 minutes
Cool for 10 minutes.
** Note: I cut the fun sized Snicker bars into thirds....or you could use the bite-size Snickers.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Baltimore Beef Bad boys

I lived in Maryland for 1 year; almost exactly to the day. Being from Washington State, I was sooo homesick. Where I was at in Maryland. . .Salisbury. . .the trees looked like toothpicks, the land was all flat and the humidity during the summer and fall was absolutely horrible! Now, the food is another story. Scrapple for breakfast was a new concept, soft shell crabs that are teeny tiny crabs thrown between the layers of a bun with minimal sauce and little crab legs hanging out around the perimeter of the bun may sound ghastly BUT is actually delicious! I know Maryland is on the East Coast but those farmers cook like you are down South. . .uhmm, uhhmmm, GOOD! If I could just move them here then I would be in heaven. Large amounts of food everywhere! When farmers got together to cook, well, people and laughter in every corner enjoying amazing food is what you will see. The recipes have been pasted down for generations! Old fashioned cooking is really hard to beat. I know that modern society is always pushing forward on maximizing flavors and endeavoring to find the next new food craze - which is fun and definitely has its place - but none of this can beat good, old-fashioned, down-home cooking! Baltimore Bad Boys, the name sounds like you need to wait till you are in a devious mood before you can make these but looking at this sandwich, you know you are going to get a little messy! Tasting instantly tells you that the meat and sauce has fantastic flavor and kick. The seasonings from the dry rub has marinated on the meat for 48 hours. The ingredients in the sauce has collaborated with each other and has agreed that they are going to kick ass for at least 4 hours! What's left? Toast the Deep Brown Rye Bread, load up the beef slices on one side of the bread, SLATHER loads of sauce, and top the sauce with the second slice of toasted Rye Bread! Delicious!
I was trying to make these for the superbowl and I just couldn't. I already had too much food prepared. These sandwiches really need to take center stage!
Baltimore Beef Bad Boys
2 T. seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 T. onion powder
1 T. garlic powder
2 t. dried oregano
1 T. paprika
1 t. chili powder
4 pounds top round, cut in 2-equal pieces
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 c. horseradish
1 t. garlic, minced
1/2 t. sea salt
16 slices Rye Bread, lightly toasted

Combine seasoned salt, 1 Tablespoon black pepper, onion and garlic powder, oregano, paprika and chili powder in a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag. Mix thoroughly and then add 1 piece of meat, shake it around in the bag, remove it and repeat with the second piece of meat. When both pieces are done, return them to the bag, and let marinate for 24 to 48 hours in refrigerator. I chose 48 hours. This amount of time really enhances the flavor. Remove meat from refrigerator at least 20 minutes, prior to grilling.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, horseradish, garlic and sea salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and place into refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Set grill or *large grilling pan* to high heat. Cook meat for 20 minutes or until desired temperature. Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. This is best served medium-rare.

Slice cooked and rested steaks paper thin using a knife or counter-top deli-slicer. Place 4-ounces of meat on a slice of toasted rye bread and spread on the sour cream horseradish sauce.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Late entry for Mardi Gras

is the absolute most delicious poundcake ever! I can't believe just how moist and full of flavor this beautiful creation is. Andrea @ Andrea's Recipes is such a talented lady and I find myself constantly printing her recipes out along with Deborah at Taste and Tell and Peter M at Kalofagas - Pursuit of Delicious Foods. Really talented cooks and very enjoyable to read what wonderful things they have been up too!
The Cream Cheese Poundcake slices wonderfully and the flavors compliment each other perfectly. I was worried about the Bourbon flavor being too strong but it really works and is actually subtle in flavor. I believe that the moist crumb comes from the cream cheese but I think what really stands out in this cake is the toasted pecans. All-in-all: Delicious!
Here is Andrea's recipe or you can just click on the link to her site above =D:
stand mixer with paddle attachment12 cup tube pan or Bundt pan, greased and flouredmedium bowl
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bourbon (or milk)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

dark green
dark lavender

1. CAKE: Set oven rack in the middle and preheat oven to 325° F.
2. In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together the butter and the cream cheese. Add the sugar a little at a time, mixing on medium speed until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low just until the yolk is no longer visible.
4. In the medium bowl, sift together the flour and the salt. Add the flour and salt to the butter mixture a little at a time, alternating with the bourbon, mixing on low each time just until blended. Be gentle. Don’t over mix, or the cake will be tough and lose volume. Start with the flour and end with the flour. (You can also do this part by hand using a spatula to fold in the flour and bourbon.)
5. Gently fold in the vanilla extract and the pecans.
6. Pour into the prepared tube/Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes, using a long bamboo skewer to check cake consistency. Skewer should come out dry, but may have a few crumbs clinging. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.
7. GLAZE: In the bowl of the stand mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Add the sifted sugar a little at a time until the sugar is fully mixed in. Add milk a little at a time, mixing as you go, until the glaze drizzles easily from a spoon. Depending on humidity, you may need a little more or a little less milk.
8. DECORATE: Drizzle the glaze around the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Sprinkle the colored sugars on top of the glaze.

Monday, February 4, 2008

What's For Lunch Honey's Monthly Mingle

Comfort Foods Monthly Mingle

I decided that I wanted to participate in this fun food challenge. Oh but have I set the bar high for myself! My comfort food is. . .drum roll. . .Hamburger Gravy and Mashed Potatoes with Sweet Corn.

Problem: I have never gone by a recipe, just by taste and sight. I had no idea how much of anything that I put into this recipe.

2nd Problem: My work is nuts and I have only 3 hours of home life before going to bed and starting over plus I have no idea if I am under the wire or not for this challenge.

Well, I am going to post anyways and hope I have not upset our wonderful host, Meeta. Meeta, I apoligize and I am still trying to get the hang of posting and joining these fun cooking challenges =D.
Creamy, Buttery, Mashed Potatoes
5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes
1/2 c. unsalted butter
4 ounces Cream Cheese
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Potatoes Ready to Be
Quarter potatoes and put into a large, heavy pot. Fill pot with water till there is at least an inch of water over the potatoes. Sprinkle a pinch of salt into water. Bring water to boil and continue for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes no longer feel crunchy with jabbed with a fork.
Drain water from potatoes and return to stove for 30 seconds and continue to toss potatoes in pan over heat to finish drying them. Remove from heat and put into a mixer bowl. Add 1/2 c. of butter that is already cut into 1-inch cubes along with the 4 ounces of cream cheese. Use the wire whip utensil on mixer and mix at low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape bowl down with spatula and put mixer on medium speed and whip for 1 to 2 minutes or until there are no lumps. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Now, put foil over bowl to keep mashed potatoes warm until ready to serve.
Hamburger Gravy
2 pounds of hamburger
2 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 t. Instant Bouillon Beef Granules
1 1/4 t. granulated or powdered garlic
3 c. Light Cream or Milk, divided
2 t. Worcestshire sauce
1/2 t. Maggi seasoning or liquid gravy seasoning
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until there is no more pink.
While the beef is browning, mix the gravy thickening ingredients in a medium size bowl. First, mix together cornstarch, instant beef bouillon granules, and garlic. Add 1/4 cup of the light cream or milk to the dry ingredients and mix well so that there are no lumps. Everything is fully dissolved. Add worcestshire sauce and gravy seasoning. Mix well.
After hamburger is fully cooked, add 2 cups of light cream and stir. Now, add your cornstarch mixture to the hamburger and cream and stir together. Rinse rest of gravy cornstarch thickener in bowl by adding the last 3/4 c. of light cream and swish in bowl then pour into hamburger gravy.
Cook gravy over medium-high heat till gravy thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Lower heat and add more milk if gravy becomes to thick. At this time, add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Putting Dish Together:
Put a large scoop of mashed potatoes on plate. Smother with butter and make a wide well in the center for gravy.
Add a large scoop or two of hamburger gravy and watch the melted butter from beneath ooze out from under the gravy. Place a helping of steamed corn to the side. Enjoy! =D
My Mom used to make this when I was a little girl and she used to have this made for her when she was a little girl. Total Comfort Food! =D

Sunday, February 3, 2008

SuperBowl 42

I cheered for the underdogs: Giants and Eli Manning! Yay! They won! Down to the wire, wasn't it?

Well, I did it! I made another superbowl party full of food and I want to list my menu so that next year I know what to change and what to keep. I have my old friends and I have new ones that are here to stay. Jello shooters and pudding shooters were a hit and will be here for other parties as well. The Buttery Nipple sounds a little on the naughty side BUT if you love butterscotch, you will adore these pudding shots. DELICIOUS! I made a layered salad for the health conscious and I made my old nemesis: Homemade Mac and Cheese. I know, I know. . .not your normal football eats but I wanted it this year! I will not be making it again for the party because this feeds 12 people and I am the only one that ate any. I am freezing the rest for later. Yeesh. Well, here is the menu:

Super Bowl Party:
*Hefeweizen beer
*Playboy Coolers
Jello Shots:
*Little Purple Men
*Twisting By The Pool
Pudding Shots:
*Buttery Nipple Pudding Shot
*Death By Chocolate Pudding Shot
*Doritos and Cheetos
*Nachos a la Butler
*Layered Salad for the Health Conscious
*Mac and Cheese (My Splurge)
*Barbecue Cups
*Carrotcake Cheesecake
Playboy Coolers
1 1/2 ounces gold rum
1 1/2 ounces Kahlua
3 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice (fresh is best)
Maraschino cherry
Cracked ice
Ice cubes
Combine all ingredients except the Cola and cherry, in a cocktail shaker or blender with cracked ice.
Shake or blend, and then pour into a serving glass filled with ice cubes.
Top off with a healthy splash of cola, and garnish with the cherry.

Little Purple Men Jello Shooters
1 small box grape flavoured Jell-O
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup Sambuca liqueur
1/4 cup Raspberry Vodka
Pour Jell-O crystals into a deep bowl.
Pour boiling water over, and stir well until all crystals are dissolved.
Add Sambuca and Raspberry Vodka; stir to mix well, allowing it to cool slightly.
Pour into individual disposable plastic shooter (or shot) cups.
Refrigerate until set.
Most fun to serve them WITHOUT the aid of spoons, straws, etc. I gave each guest a party toothpick to loosen the sides of the Jell-O, and told them to squeeze the shooters into their mouths, one whole swoop.
Twisting By the Pool Jello Shooters:
1 small package lemon flavoured Jell-O
1 samll package orange flavoured Jell-O
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup Melon Liqueur (Midori, or Henkes Melon)
3/4 cup Peach Schnapps
30 LifeSavers candies

Place the Jell-O crystals in a deep bowl, and pour the boiling water over. Stir to mix well, until all the crystals have dissolved.
Pour in both the liqueurs, and stir well, allowing it to cool slightly.
Pour into 30 disposable plastic shooter (or shot) cups. Refrigerate until firm.
Just before serving, place a LifeSaver on the top of each shooter.
These are the most fun when served WITHOUT the aid of spoons!

Buttery Nipple Pudding Shots
1 small package butterscotch instant pudding mix
Bailey's Irish Cream, to taste (at least 1/4 cup, or more)
Butterscotch Ripple Schnapps, to taste (at least 1/4 cup, or more)
1 1/2 cups cold milk
Cool-whip non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (about 1/2 cup)
Hershey's Caramel Kisses

NOTE: there's a fair amount of flexibility going on here, depending on how "boozey" you want these. I used 1 1/3 cups milk, 1/3 cup Bailey's, and 1/3 cup Butterscotch Ripple Schnapps (with a pudding that normally required 2 cups milk to make). Rule of thumb: just make sure that no more than 1/2 of the liquids are alcoholic, or they will not set properly. If you are having problems getting them to set, just put them in the freezer for a bit.
Empty the pudding mix into a bowl.
Stir in your milk (1 1/3 cups) well, and then immediately add your alcohol (1/3 cup Bailey's and 1/3 cup Butterscotch Ripple Schnapps).
Mix with a hand-held blender or a whisk until smooth, lump-free, and starting to set.
Pour (or dollop) into individual, flexible shot glasses (plastic, paper, or even medicine cups -- you can get perfect plastic shot glasses at your local party supply store).
Place on a base (cookie sheet) and put into the fridge or freezer to set.
Once set, add a wee dollop of Cool-whip, and place one Hershey's Kiss on the top.
Return to fridge, or serve immediately.

Death by Chocolate Pudding Shots:

1 small package instant double-chocolate, or chocolate fudge pudding
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup Irish Cream
8 oz Extra Creamy Cool-Whip topping mix, thawed slightly
Chocolate candy of choice for garnish, if desired

Mix the pudding and milk for a couple of minutes with an electric mixer, then add the alcohol and mix well.
Mix in the thawed Cool-Whip.
Pour (or dollop, as it ends up) into individual shooter or shot glasses (plastic, flexible type, medicine-cup type, or use glass ones but supply tiny plastic spoons also).
Refrigerate, or keep in freezer if need be, to allow them to set.
Remove from freezer just before serving, and garnish with chocolate candies, if desired.

Nachos a la Butler:
Tortilla chips
2 1/2 c. refried beans, homemade or store bought (recipe follows)
1 pound of ground beef, cooked
1 onion, finely chopped
Los Barrios Salsa (recipe follows)
Guacamole (recipe follows)
8 ounces of Sour Cream
1 jalapeno sliced into thin slices
1 T. vegetable oil or lard
2 c. cooked, salted pinto beans
6 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
1 (4-ounce) can of jalapeno chiles
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
4 Haas avocados
1 t. garlic powder
Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
1 chopped Serrano pepper, optional
1/3 c. finely chopped sweet onion, optional

**NOTE: If using a conventional oven instead of a microwave, preheat it to 350 degrees F.**
Spread the tortilla chips on 2 microwavable or ovenproof platters or large plates. Spread the beans on top of the chips and top with the ground beef. Sprinkle with the cheese.
Place 1 microwavable plate in the microwave and heat for 1 minute, or until the cheese has melted. Or place the ovenproof plate in the preheated oven and heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Place dollops of half of the guacamole, sour cream, onions, salsa, and jalapeno chile over the nachos.
Serve immediately, and repeat with the second plate of nachos.
Mash the salted pinto beans with a potato masher or puree in the blender.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the beans, stirring constantly, for 6 to 8 minutes.
Combine the tomatoes, chiles, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a blender and blend till you have a chunky mixture. DO NOT PUREE UNTIL SMOOTH. Transfer to a bowl till you are ready to add to the nachos. If making ahead of time, chill.
Slice the avocados lengthwise in half and remove the pits. Using a spoon, scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash the avocado, making it as chunky or smooth as you like. Add finely diced Serrano pepper and diced onion if you are using this in the recipe.
Season with the garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Chill till ready to use.

Mac and Cheese:
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 T. unsalted butter
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 c. milk
2 c. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and macaroni and cook for 4 to 5 minutes (until the macaroni is half cooked). Butter a 3-quart baking dish, add 1/3 of the cooked macaroni and then layer the cheese, salt, and pepper; repeat this until the elbows have all transferred. Pour the milk and heavy cream over the macaroni. Cover the macaroni and cheese with tinfoil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the macaroni is brown and bubbling on top.

Layered Salad:


4 c. shredded lettuce or spinach
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 c. sliced mushrooms
1 small red onion, sliced, separated into rings
2 c. chopped fresh plum tomatoes
1 pkg. (10-ounces) frozen green peas, cooked and drained
1/2 c. Mayonnaise
1/2 c. Sour Cream
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
4 slices of bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled


Layer the lettuce or spinach, 1 cup of the cheese, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes and peas in a 3-quart serving bowl.
Mix Mayonnaise, sour cream and basil. Spread over salad to seal; cover.
Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c. cheese and bacon before serving.

It is getting late so I will have to finish posting the Crabbies, Barbecue Cups and Carrotcake Cheesecake tomorrow night, after work. The pudding shots are my favorite along with the layered salad. I am so stuffed that I can't squeak =D.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cold Winter Nights and Hearty, Warm Food

I definitely do not have snow like so many others around but we do have cold temperatures. I am back to working 10 hour days/6 days a week. I am fixing dinners that are one pot dishes after work because my commute is taking 2 hours to get home. This leaves me 3 hours before I have to go to bed and start all over again. I can't believe I just typed before I have to go to bed! This is a self-imposed bedtime but it is funny that when I was growing up, I just knew when I left home I would stay up all night and no one would issue rules. I think I have more self-imposed rules now then what I did when I lived at home. Not a warm, fuzzy thought. =D
Dinner tonight: Skillet Creole Chicken Fricassee (I just love that word "Fricassee". Kind of like a bugs Bunny cartoon word)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds). halved crosswise
3 t. Creole seasoning
8 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
3 T. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning. Cook sausage in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towel line plate, leaving fat in skillet. Cook chicken in sausage fat until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate with sausage.
Add oil, onion, celery, and pepper to now empty skillet and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in flour and remaining Creole seasoning and cook until flour begins to brown, about 1 minute.
Slowly stir in broth until smooth. Return chicken and sausage to skillet. Cover and simmer until chicken registers 160 degrees, about 10 minutes.