Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Layer Cake with Raspberry Ganache

It's birthday time...bring on the candles, cake, balloons and everyone to our house!!!  Oh, it's not my birthday, but that kind of makes it more special because it's time to make a cake!  And not just any cake, but a piece of chocolate heaven, layered with more chocolate and then topped with...you guessed it...chocolate.  Oh, and there's a little raspberry in there, too.




I find that cakes can be a little time consuming with the baking and letting it cool and then frosting, but once you take your first bite, all that time can be very worth it. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Garlic Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

What would your Thanksgiving be like without a biscuit?!   On second thought, let's not think about that right now and let's think of how wonderful your meal will be with one of these tasty biscuits on your plate. This biscuit was originally discovered when invited to a soup and bread dinner where it was bring some food to pass and I made beer cheese soup with cheddar biscuits. Although, the beer cheese soup was gone at the end of the night, the cheddar biscuits were a hit at the meal.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

My big Thanksgiving feast last year only added to my inspiration for creating the website.  The table looked wonderful, my cooking skills had improved enough to conquer a big meal and somewhere in the back of my mind, I think I knew these recipes would make it out for the for the rest of the world to see.  
The meal included the Cider Brine'd Turkey, warm artichoke dip, Sauteed Mushrooms in Collard Greens, Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese & Balsamic dressing, Candied Yams, Mashed Potatoes, chilled black olives and the log of cranberry jelly (some traditions stick).  I will review old pictures to see what I can post for your viewing pleasure. 
Now on to dessert...
Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cakes 
with Cream Cheese Frosting


Ingredients for Cake:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pur vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup canned crushed pineapple (do not Drain)
  • 1/3 cup dried currants

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home Made Chicken Noodle Soup

It seems like just instinct...the weather starts getting a little cooler...or you look up and realize it is time to switch the calendar to October...and it's when you realize - it has become fall. Your weekends are filled with enjoying every last day that might be above freezing. Usually at apple orchards or vineyards watching others with the same ideas as you all in search of the perfect pumpkin and everyone in awe of the sun shining through the beautiful colors shining through the trees. For example...


That is where I was, enjoying every last fall day I could and wanting to do one last thing...make homemade chicken noodle soup. In true fashion, I have actually never made home made chicken noodle before, but once that pot started simmering and the smells filled my kitchen, I knew that it was going to be good. There really couldn't be much easier than putting together a combination of wonderful ingredients, like chicken, veggies, herbs and noodles.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cider Brined & Glazed Turkey

I had the pleasure of enjoying two Thanksgivings last year.  One in the Twin Cities and one in my hometown.  The one in the Twin Cities was a large pot luck with many people and LOTS of food.  The one in my home town involved me creating the menu and really getting to try some of the traditional dishes with some new flavors at the table...and what turned out to be a lot of food considering the number of people. 
 
The main event - aka - the bird - sang a different tune that year.  Adding the sweet and sometimes tart flavor of apple cider to both the brine and the glaze made this turkey one to talk about.
 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

Lazy weekend morning breakfasts always make me happy.  They involve no rush because you generally have no where to go and you can really take you time in the kitchen and sipping your coffee and letting the younger ones help with mixing, pouring and stirring.  Those mornings are perfect...they involve great, light conversation and lots of laughter and sometimes, it also involves a little batter on the floor.   Oops - man down! 
 
So, as you are all aware (I am sure) ---IT IS FALL!!!  The leaves have turned and most of them have left us, but the solid root vegetables and colorful gourds are still a plenty and the urge to create different things that taste of pumpkin has taken hold.  The hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Treats

The desire to decorate around each holiday is growing by the year for me and that desire is not limited to decor around the house.  I wanted some thing tasty to eat that brings out the fun of Halloween and dressing up.  I ended up taking to stand bys and creating a fun holiday plate that is sure put anyone in the holiday spirit.
I will admit, I borrowed these ideas from others.  The peanut butter eye's came from my mother and the cupcake decorating came from Taste of Home.  The peanut butter balls (formerly known around Christmas time as Barb's Buck Eye Balls) are normally dipped in melted chocolate, but the white chocolate gave the perfect back drop for the eye.  The cupcakes (totally cheated and used box cake mix) were intended to have white chocolate spider webs, but there was a disagreement with the white chocolate, so dark chocolate spider webs were born.

 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Apricot & Salami Scones


It doesn't happen very often lately, but one afternoon this summer (while taking a well deserved personal day from work), I was home alone and free to do what ever I wanted. That consisted of a little cleaning, I lot of the job hunting and watching a few cooking shows that I normally don't see because they are on during the day. One of the shows that I had the pleasure of watching was Giadi at Home. She talked of baking these apricot & salami scones for a friend's son's bake sale at school. Honestly, I found the thought of mixing apricots, salami and dough together quite off-putting, but the idea stuck with me for a while.



Finally, when trying to figure out what to make for a pot luck baby shower where the mom to be didn't have a sweet tooth, I just had to check it out. And man, am I glad I did. I was so wrong on the off-putting thing. The sweet and salty combo is perfect for in the morning with coffee or for an afternoon treat or as it turns out, a baby shower. The dough is soft on the inside, but has a wonderful crunch on the outside...even though they're not small, it's hard to have just one.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes


Say the words 'Fried Green Tomatoes' and I know that many people of my age and demographic will think of only the movie from the 90's bringing up thoughts of warm southern summer nights (even if you aren't from the South) and late night laughter in the kitchen. Also, a dish that can be tricky to get just right. Well, I had never attempted before (thus the website name including the word experimental), but I found this to be a mighty tasty addition to a late summer meal.
 
I have seen many blogs and cooking shows bringing in the green tomato, which was my first spark of interest in cooking with them. Second spark came from when I went to the farmers market downtown Mpls and saw a giant bunch (more than I needed) that looked amazing, so I became the proud owner of a bunch of green tomatoes. Back to the house I went and jumped on the computer. I love the internet sometimes, truly, you can search for any information and an unlimited number of recipes as fast as your fingers can type. What I found out was

Friday, September 9, 2011

7- Layer Salad (Claudia Style)

It would be pretty safe to say that everyone has either had or at least heard of 7-Layer Salad. It is also probably safe to say that there are so many variations of this out there that everyone has their own idea of what the salad contains. Even amongst my family, there is the frequent argument of whether to water chestnut or to not water chestnut. I usually land on the side of to 'not' water chestnut. It's not that I don't like water chestnuts, it's just not my favorite in this salad.

Growing up, this was the most requested dish for my mom to bring to pot lucks, picnics and get togethers. It seriously was never NOT on the list of dishes to make for any family function. So, for my birthday this summer, I brought a little of my mom to the party by making the 7-Layer Salad - Claudia's Style. As you will notice, it's goodness transfers to Minn as well, as I never was actually able to get a picture of the finished product...it was gone that fast.
 


As you can see, the pictures go in order until the bacon, then there is no more. But let me tell you, this salad includes just the right amount of creamy, crunchy, sweet and salty to add pizazz to any party you throw.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Pizza

If you have been keeping up on my posts, then you probably can see where this came from and maybe even where this is headed.  If you haven't, well...check out this past post to see how to use your slow cooker to make mighty tasty pulled pork. 
Even though there were a large number of people at my place for my birthday, there was also much pulled pork left over and a person can have only so many pulled pork sandwiches before wanting to mix it up.  It went down like this:  I was done with Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sandwiches; I have an entire container still full of the meat; I am cheap and don't want to spend much money on dinner; and I was kind of craving a pizza.  Thus, my left over Hawaiian Pulled Pork became Hawaiian Pulled Pork Pizza. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Spicy Mango Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

Spicy Mango Shredded ChickenNow, this is going to be a seriously tough one folks. I can beat Claire Robinson on this recipe...less than five ingredients and mighty tasty!
Ingredients:
  • 3 lb chicken breasts, I used frozen, but both dark or light meat chicken would work on this one.
  • 1 Bottle Spicy Mango Marinade
  • 1 15oz can pineapple
  • Fresh grated ginger
  • Rolls or hamburger buns
Preparation:
  • Place chicken in slow cooker.
  • Open pineapple, drain and dump over chicken. 
  • Grate fresh ginger over that.
  • Pour marinade over everything.
  • Set slow cooker at low setting for 6-7 hours. Shred and let sit in juices before serving.
  • Serve with rolls or hamburger buns.
 
Happy Slow Cooking!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hawaiian Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Another birthday come and gone, but not without leaving it's mark of great memories, tons of laughter, lots of recycling and an over all feeling that I am very blessed to have such wonderful family and friends to share my life with. The best way I know to show people how loved they are in my life is feeding them some kick ass food. So, that is what I did.

The luau theme came up only because there was a pool involved for all who wanted to partake, plus I was in the mood for just that combination of sweet and spicy that a Hawaiian menu can provide. The main course were split into two options: The Hawaiian Pulled Pork & The Spicy Mango Shredded Chicken (see next post). For sides, there was the Grilled Pineapple Salsa, 7-Layer Salad, a variety of salted nuts and party mixes, and an onion dip that would put hair on even the most hardened chest.

Due to much fun and lots of talking, there are not pictures of the whole spread or really anything after guests started arriving. What I do have to share with you is around $100 worth of food that served 35+ people. Some changes that I would make is that I would start the Pulled Pork the night before, so that it can be shredded before guests arrive, I would find a new onion dip recipe that wasn't so strong, and would assign someone to take pictures...I truly have only 1 picture of the whole day with friends and family. Silver lining - I have some amazing people in my life and even with no pictures, I will never forget the moment where a full house of people that I love sang happy birthday to me. So very happy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Salad

There are some times in life where your definition of a great meal is something unbelievably chocolaty and rich like the chewiness of a warm brownie; sometimes that definition involves a perfectly grilled fillet mignon with blue cheese crumbles; and still sometimes that great meal will be something light, but filling, nutritious and flavorful, and easy to make while elegant to present. 



The Tortellini Spinach Salad is the light-filling-nutritious-flavorful-easy-to-make-elegant of those options mentioned above. What I found most refreshing about this meal was how sweet the asparagas tasted against the somewhat peppery fresh spinach.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mint Lime Mocktails

These refreshing sippers liven up your otherwise standard sparkling water while still providing your that necessary cool down when the heat index is over 100 degrees, as it is expected to be this week in Minnesota. That's right - for you out of stater's that think that Minnesota is this cold, frozen place where people only talk in funny 'Fargo' accents and are 'nice' all the time - I guaranty you that couldn't be farther from the truth...at least, not this week.

This week, there will be overheated Minnesotans who may talk funny and will not know that they are not being nice because they are too hot to know the difference. Unfortunately, it seems like only yesterday I was wondering when winter would end (because it was a long winter and probably similar to what most of the country thinks our weather is like most of the time). Well, we took a quick hop from a long, cold winter into a HOT HOT HOT summer. Thank the P.T.B. for AC today.

This Mock-tail can be made individually per glass, in pitcher form for a group or spiced up with rum to become a mojito.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

When talking about things that compliment each other, many people say ...It goes together like peanut butter and jelly. 
Well, I say...It goes together like peanut butter and chocolate. 

What a grand combination and when done right, you most likely will get a tummy ache because you don't want to stop eating it.   This ice cream is no exception to this rule.  I find that I am very much appreciating the ice cream maker that the household bought this year.  It is very low maintenance, very little prep work and takes very little effort...with the exception of the patience that you MUST have to wait for the mixture to cool for 1 - 2 hours before putting in the machine.





  

Key Lime Cupcakes

Once upon a time there was an adorable cookbook dedicated solely to making cupcakes. 
   
    
Enter an excited and ambitious young man ready to make something new and bake!

Adorable kid in swim goggles chose KEY LIME CUPCAKES!!!

There were three sets of ingredients for the three separate components to the final dessert...the simple vanilla cupcakes, the key lime filling, and the meringue to top.  A fun morning of baking involved much laughter and some learning.  D-man learned how to meringue and I learned that any left over crumb of a cupcake removed to add the filling will quickly be gobbled up by a smiling 11 year old.



Monday, June 27, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

In talking with someone recently about Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, they made the comment, ‘what makes her qualified to write a cookbook?’  It’s a fair question, since she is a well known actress, is very talented and has her own singing chops ...and now we find out that she can cook, too?! Is that really fair?!

I was actually kind of taken aback a little by that question because I believe that anyone who has a passion for anything and the desire to put themselves through all the work that needs to be done to create something all their own, is qualified. Maybe my internal self was a little defensive because as someone who has dreams of someday writing a cookbook, I would hate to hear someone say that about me...in that tone.

So, with sweet tooth calling for something new, I checked out the recipe for the Peanut Butter Cookies in the cookbook. And I am SOOOOOO glad I did. These cookies stay together, but are very moist (for lack of a better word), they have lots of peanut buttery flavor for the peanut butter lovers in your life, and they stay fresh in a sealed cookie jar for close to a week - if they last that long.


Time to grab a glass a milk and channel that inner child with these delicious peanut butter treats!

Rhubarb Crisp

There are just some times of the year that you feel that you cannot get everything done.   That there is so much to do and so much to be excited about and OH MY GOD...there's so much to do.  Holidays bring that out in a lot of people and I have to say that I'm one of them.  I will be traveling home to Northern Wisconsin for the 4th of July celebration.  As it has been coined in T-hawk, I'm going 'North for the 4th!' 


Before I go, I need to clean the car (including the trunk) and believe me peeps, this is a task.  Of course, there is the packing, working both of my jobs for the week.  Then I'm taking partial vacation when I get back for two weeks because my unbelievably cool/amazing/talented/funny nephew is coming to stay with me...so, I need to get his room ready, make sure I'm as caught up as humanly possible at the full time job so that I can work my half days here and there and create a list of possible adventurous things to see while he's in the big city. 

 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Home Made Strawberry Ice Cream

There is nothing like home made ice cream.   Until about a month ago, I would not have been able to tell you the difference.  I recently purchased an ice cream maker for the house and what a difference that makes.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sesame Ginger Chicken Shish Kebabs

Kebabs have always been a fun way to cook your whole meal in one shot.  It involves simply the time to chop the food, marinate, skewer and grill.  It wasn't until I did a little digging that I found out just how old this tradition is and that almost every culture in the world has a variation of it.  Turkey is one of the oldest countries claiming this tradition, where in Turkish "Shish Kebab" is literally translated "skewer" and "roast meat".  Some say it began on the battlefields where soldiers would cook their meat on swords over open fire.  In Portugal, the marinading part was said to be done not only to tenderize the meat, but also to get rid of the gaminess of the meat.   In todays world, the Kebab has been adapted into almost every culture:  Oriental cultures have Satay, which is served with sauces;  Japan has Yakitori, which is skewered fowl; and France has Brochettes, which is the French just changing the name to their word for skewer. 

In my book, no matter what you call it or where it came from, kebabs are yummy...and I will always want to pronounce the word 'ke - bob', like SNL's Mike Ditka pronounced 'Da Bears.'  Not sure why...maybe it's a mid west thing.   Well, enough of me talking...here's the recipe(s).

 
There are two ways to go on this one...home made marinade or Newman's Own.  We did a combination of the two when making this recipe.  Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing is an amazing easy and tasty way to enhance chicken, whether grilling in Kebab form or just grilling chicken.  The rule with marinading

Banana Bread

As I’ve mentioned before, I do not like wasting...especially not food. Maybe it’s how I was raised or that it just seems like a bad way to manage money when you throw food away. Combine that personality trait with the banana’s going bad in my kitchen and you get Banana Bread. 



Shallot Herb Butter Roll

I know that I said this week was going to be dedicated to grilling and all that fun, and although, this isn't anything that is directly grilled, this is something that will instantly enhance any grilled meat to an almost professional level.  And, it's super simple!  It's a Shallot Herb Butter Roll....



First, pour about a cup of red wine into a sauce pan and heat at medium.  Add chopped shallots.  Simmer slightly for 7-10 minutes until mixture is reduced and the shallots have absorbed much of the wine flavor.  It is important to use the same wine that you would drink normally and not buy a cheaper bottle for this prep.  Same goes for whenever you are cooking with wine.  The better flavor of wine, the better the end flavor of the food.

Remove shallots from the wine and let cool. 

In a bowl combine room temperature butter, cooled shallots and chopped herbs.  Stir until all ingredients have combined.  Spoon mixture onto a piece of wax paper and roll up into a log form, twisting the ends to tighten. 

Refrigerate to chill for at least 1 hour before serving.  Serve by slicing off approximately 1 tablespoon size piece of butter and place over grilled steak.  Let butter melt at least half way and coat steak before eating. 

Butter Roll can be stored in a zip-lock bag in the fridge until it is used up...my guess is it won't last long!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grilled Vietnemese Shrimp Pops with Peanut Sauce

 I finally have made it out to grill and taken photos to post.  Now, I admit, I have grilled quite a few times this year already, but it's been a lot of the standard - burgers, brats, hot dogs, veggie packs with potatoes, onions, bell peppers...the usual.   Here is something new and fun.  It is from the wonderful Weber Grilling Cookbook...as is many of my grilling adventures.

Rosemary Lemon Martini

Some days are longer than others and for those days, there are these....
Rosemary Lemon Martini's

Whether entering guests and enjoying your evening to yourself, a nice flavorful martini can put the class back into your evening and the swagger back in your step. Although you may not be James Bond, you can make this martini shaken, not stirred.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grilled Mozzarella Bread

Here's an easy side dish or appetizer Eric created when we were grilling out the other day. It couldn't hurt that this involves bread and cheese...so, really, what could go wrong. 


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Current Objective:    No More Wasting - Start using all the food in my pantry and fridge and be creative at the same time!

I have started accumulating random foods over the last year...using some for various experiments and some because of sales at the grocery store.  And I don't know if it's because the sun is shining and it's spring cleaning time, but it truly feels like time to clean house in every sense of the term!  By re-introducing myself to cable last fall, I have had access to the Food Network and it is AWESOME!!!  I absolutely love the show Chopped...besides the cooking, I enjoy watching the creativity that comes from people who have chosen this as their profession...plus, they do all of this in under a 1/2 hour.  Some times, I don't really believe that.

Now, I'm not a master chef or know by heart the molecular gastronomy of different ingredient combinations, but my culinary knowledge is a constant work in progress that I feel is improving by the day.  The scavenge for random recipes began.  Not in cookbooks actually, but in my head.  Taking stock of what I have and working that into what I am hungry for is becoming easier.  

I spy:  Chicken + Peanut Butter + Asian Vegetable Noodles = Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Now this did not start out as a spicy recipe, pretty much the basics, but when one substitutes Siracha Sauce in place of ketchup, you start feeling a little kick. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spiced Apple Scones

It's Memorial Day Weekend and no surprise, it is currently raining.  Raining makes me think of 5-10 years ago, where rainy days only equaled a friendly book and yummy snack; not the cleaning the kitchen, getting the laundry done, making sure bills are paid rainy days of adulthood.   Although the forecast calls for more rain tomorrow and I know that means it's time to get some chores done, right now, I will picture tomorrow as my rainy day Saturday like years ago with my only task being that of whipping up some a simple breakfast with these Spiced Apple Scones.

Spiced Apple Scones

Scone Ingredients:

  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Cup Flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 Cup Wheat germ
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 Cup butter
  • 1/2 Cup skim milk
  • 1/4 Cup honey
  • 1 1/4 Cup Apple, peeled and finely chopped
 
Topping Ingredients:
 
  • 1 Tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbls sugar

Preparation:
 
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter or spray a large cookie sheet.
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl (salt, flour, baking powder, baking soda, wheat germ, cinnamon & nutmeg).  Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like crumbs. 
  • Add milk, honey and apples - mixing until dry ingredients are moistened.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface; knead gently 5 to 6 times.  Be careful not to over knead as it will make the end results of the scones tough.  Pat dough into approximately a nine inch circle.
  • Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over the dough.  Cut dough into 10 wedges and place on the prepped cookie sheet.  Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baked Potato Soup

If you are looking for a hearty soup....look no further. Baked Potato Soup is thick enough, it can almost be eaten with a fork and has just the right amount of kick from the pepper bacon that will leave you wanting more.

I once heard Denis Leary joke about Irish Cuisine consisting of putting everything in a pot and boiling it for seventeen and a half hours. Where that made me laugh and may be true for some recipes, you won't be spending the day over the stove for this soup. This recipe from the starting prep work to pouring a bowl and sitting down with family is about two hours. Far better for everyone's busy schedule compared to the seventeen and half hours Denis Leary joked about. 


This recipe came from my mom...and I am so glad it did. This soup truly hit the spot the week of St Patty's Day with the chilly weather and desire to look into 'cuisine' of my heritage. I was looking at so many different recipes (ex. Guinness Onion Soup - will most likely be making that one some time this year; and corned beef recipes)...it became hard to chose which one I would try out. Personally, I would love to make them all, but I am just one person and although the cooking part would be fun, I would never be able to eat all of that on my own. There steps in my mom, who said that everyone in my family beyond loves this soup and they eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner...even my nephew, who although he has gotten better, can still be a picky eater at times.



So, this soup was made with love and thoughts of my family a few hundred miles away and shared with good friends and loved ones close by. I would recommend this soup to serve for a family meal or if entertaining, pair it with with other Irish themed snacks - such as sliced Irish Soda Bread with jam, corned beef and cabbage dip to spread on rye, cubed Irish cheeses and sliced apples.


Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients:
  • 6 Medium-Large Potatoes (skins can be left on), cubed into about 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb raw pepper bacon, diced = about 7 slices
  • 3 Stalks diced celery
  • 2 Cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 Quart Water
  • 1 Quart Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Chicken Base
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash of white pepper (to your liking - the pepper bacon can do the trick on this one)
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 1/2 Sticks Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Parlsey - fresh is best, if you don't have it, use 1-2 Tbls dried parlsey
  • 1 Cup Whipping Cream
  • Shredded cheddar or colby cheese
  • Fried bacon bits
  • Chopped green onions


Preparation:
  • Complete all prep work first - rinse and cube potatoes; dice celery; dice bacon; chop parsley; dice onion; have all other liquid ingredients measured or at least close by with measuring utensils.
  • Boil the cubed potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • While the potatoes are boiling, saute bacon in a very large heavy pot (this recipe makes a large portion of soup, a large pot is necessary). When close to crisp, add onion and celery and continue to saute until celery is tender.
  • Drain bacon grease. I find the easiest way to do this is to push all the ingredients to one side of the pot, tip the pot and absorb the grease with paper toweling. Be very careful when doing this NOT to burn yourself. When it's soaked up, put paper toweling in a bowl until cooled enough to throw in the garbage.
  • To the bacon, onion, celery mixture, add milk, water, chicken base, salt and white pepper. Heat until very hot, but NOT boiling. Boiling will cause the milk to separate.
  • In a smaller heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, add flour. Mix well and stir to boiling for one minute. This is the rue that will help hold the soup together.
  • While constantly stirring the soup, add the flour/butter mixture slowly.
  • Stir in parsley, potatoes and cream. Let cook together for about 5 - 10 minutes so the flavors blend together.
  • Garnish individual bowls of coup with shredded cheese, fried bacon bits and chopped green onions.


As always..... ENJOY and happy cooking!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mexican Shredded Chicken Taco Rolls

First, I would like to apologize for the name.  That part of this recipe is under construction and it begins because I created something new....Mexican Shredded Chicken.  Now, I'm not naive enough to think no-one else has ever put together this combo before, but one summer Sunday after work, I got a bunch of stuff together and made a date with my stove top to get everything done.  And that I did! 

This chicken goes great in tacos, quesidillas and, although I haven't tried it, I'm sure it's pretty tasty in a chimichanga as well.  This week, in my haste at the grocery store, I grabbed a large bag of small corn tortillas before I knew what to do with them.   I have decided to make the chicken as usual, roll it up in the corn tortilla and bake them.  It will be somewhat of a cross between a taco, an enchilada and a taquito.   Instead of the Taco Roll, maybe I should call it Taquito Grande or The Confused Tacochilada...as you can see, I'm still working on that one.

And ... on to the food: 



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Homemade Guacamole

Homemade Guacamole


Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup Diced Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Tomato
  • 2 Ripe Avocados (you know they are ripe, when you push them and they're somewhat smooshy ... and yes, smooshy is the technical term)
  • 2 Tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1-2 Lime(s), Juiced
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Preparation:

Here's the hard part folks.  Cut the avocado and peel the skin off.  Mash the insides with a fork in a bowl.  Add your other ingredients and stir together.  Add more or less seasonings or lime juice as you prefer.  It really is about taste, but it's super easy and spices up the side of your meal. 


HAPPY COOKING!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Hot Toddy

So, I realize that I have mentioned many times already how long this winter has been, but now it has finally gotten to me...it gave me a wonderful cold complete with frogger like voice and a cough that doesn't want to go away. I don't know how you are with colds, but I generally try all the the basics and am responsible for the first few days...drinking lots of water, vitamin C, taking only the prescribed amount of over the counter meds and getting as much rest as possible. The unfortunate thing about this cold is that I am functional for everyday life. The type where I can still function at work and get stuff done at home...I just sound bad and feel a little disoriented. I almost wish it was a cold where I could just sleep for two days straight and it's gone...I said 'almost wish'.
Anyways, in normal progression of any cold I have by day four, I'm truly sick of being sick and at that point it's time to bring in the big guns....my buddy Jameson in Hot Toddy form. Now I forgot to take a picture when the drink was made because I was too busy wrapped up in a blanket with the warm mug in my hands and zoning out on tv (probably cooking shows). Maybe I'll need to make another tonight to add to the site later.

On to the good stuff...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Truffle Oil Pizza with Olives & Gruyere

This is a homemade fun adventure of a dinner.  From making the dough to sauteing the mushrooms to taking that first warm, savory bite, the only thing missing is your own wood burning pizza oven...unless you have one.  As we all know, and it's not the first time I've mentioned it this year, but it has been a long, snowy winter and one winter Saturday early in the season I looked out my windows to see only white and snow coming down all around me.  Perfect...I'm snowed in ...time to cook. 



Not much can beat a quiet afternoon with the house to myself, whipping up some fresh dough from scratch, smelling the truffle oil and sauteed mushrooms, and truly taking the time to welcome that moment to create and be myself.  Of course, the left overs the next day weren't bad either. 


Greek Sandwich Wrap


As much as I love the detailed meal with a marinated tenderloin or slow roasted bird, I sometimes can truly appreciate a meal that is simple, takes virtually no time and is just as yummy as those times you spend the afternoon in the kitchen preparing a meal for friends and family. 

Irregardless of how relaxing my large meal preparation may be for me, my two-job-social-butterfly-ish lifestyle does not always allow me the time to make grand meals every day and night...that is, unless I do not want to sleep. And I definitely want my sleep to keep up with that busy life. So began the hunt to find quick and yummy lunches for work that fill that small amount of time from when I wake in the morning to when I head to work.



This lunch's prep time is 10 minutes or less - depending on how fast you can chop.


Greek Wrap
 
Ingredients:

  • 4 Roma Tomatoes - Diced
  • 1 Med Size Red Onion - Diced
  • 2 Cucumbers - Diced
  • Spinach
  • Feta Cheese
  • Greek Dressing
  • Sandwich Wraps

Preparation:

This doesn't need a lot of instructions with it. Dice all of the tomatoes, onion & cucumber and store in container together. Wash spinach well. Both of those steps done in the morning. At lunch, assemble sandwich, lay spinach in the middle of the wrap. Top with veggies, feta cheese & Greek dressing and wrap the sandwich up.

Variations:

1. Add the dressing to the diced veggies before you head to work. Marinading them could bring more of that flavor out. This depends on how many days it will take you to finish the mixture though. If it sits for too many days, you could end up with soggy veggies.

2. Depending on the amount of meal planning you do in your household, if you have left over chicken or steak that is seasoned in the similar fashion, it would work great with this dish.

FYI - It goes great with a side of Greek yogurt and some sweet potato chips for me today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Experiment with Fondant

The desire to play with fondant had been growing and the thought of decorating a beautiful or fun or funky cake was almost too exciting to stop thinking about.  My usual perusal through foodie websites and flipping through shows like Cake Boss and Extreme Challenge on TV only encouraged this desire.  As everyone knows, I really enjoy trying new things and learning how to perfect them to my style, but without the actual opportunity, why would I just make a fondant cake.



I can thank my mother for her impromptu wedding for just that opportunity to play with fondant.  That's right...I said impromptu wedding...four days notice...or more like 8 years in the making, but only four days notice for the actual service and small reception.  Some how managed to help plan, put together, make a cake and clean (with the help of some really wonderful people) in less that 48 hours and everything was absolutely beautiful.  

Congrats to the happy couple!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Steak Dinner for Two


It doesn't have to be Valentine's Day for you to have a romantic meal...or just a really good steak dinner for two. On weeknights it's hard to cook because I still like doing something fun that appears extravagant, but I don't want to spend all night cooking and be eating at 9pm. Thus began the hunt for the perfect, under-an-hour weeknight fancy dinner.

Rosemary Glazed Carrots

There is nothing too fancy to write here except that these are yummy and a quick and easy side dish to prepare.  It goes well with simple, elegant dinners...such as the Grilled Steak and Arugula Salad.



Monday, February 14, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Green & Gold Cupcakes

Work pot lucks always brings out the creativity in me.  I know that there are show stopping items that are quick and always are a big hit -- like Katie’s Taco Dip (not me Katie, another Katie)...and I will be putting that on here some day.  But this particular Sunday was the Superbowl and I wanted to do something that would support my team and Green and Gold Cupcakes were born. 


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yogurt Cardamon Cake

In a pinch, this cake is a go to quick and incredibly moist and tasty dessert.  The recipe began with the Yogurt Cake, which can be thrown together in under 5 minutes and baked in another 40 minutes.  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday - Event Menu

Since this website went live this week, I have heard the same question a few times...What made you decide to do this?
The Simple Answer is that I love cooking!

But more than that, I love sharing that love of cooking with friends and family.  From creating menu's for birthdays, dinner parties or a nice dinner for two...the best part of that is being a part of everyone sharing a wonderful meal and conversation together. 
Having received compliments on my cooking in the past, I thought, 'why not share this with everyone I can?' and the internet makes it all possible.  If you like what you see, please send me on to others. 

Now - on to the Big Day!!!

Super Bowl XLV Sunday
 

No matter what team you will be rooting for this coming Sunday (many of you know who that is for me), no Super Bowl party would be the same without the food.  I will be working my part time job that day, but that doesn't mean I will not be able to put some easy treats together that will be ready for the big game that night. 

Event Menu Tips:

When putting together a menu for any party, whether it be game day or birthday or luncheon, the trick is to create a balance of options for your guests.  Balance is achieved by providing a mix of the following:  hot and cold, meat, cheese and veggie/fruit; sweet and savory; and smooth and crunchy.  Here are some tried and true recipes and easy ideas that will enhance your game watching experience.

The game day menu is:
  • Slow Cooker Meatballs
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip with Pita
  • Veggie Tray with Ranch Dip
  • Can of Pitted Olives (black, kalmata, or green) Chilled
  • Southwestern Caviar with Tortilla Chips
  • Spicy Nuts*
  • Pretzels
  • Beverage of your choice - soda, beer, sparkling water
As you can see a great deal of the menu is low maintenance.  The Meatballs can be put in the morning of the game; the beverages, pretzel, olives and spiced nuts* can all be put out right before the guests start arriving; the spinach artichoke dip takes 40 minutes for prep and bake time and the Southwest Caviar can be made the day before. 

Slow Cooker Meatballs

This is seriously one of the simplest recipes I have ever come across.  Takes 10 minutes in the morning and it is great for any pot luck or, in this case, game day spread.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag pre-cooked frozen meatballs (you could use homemade meatballs if you have some, but not necessary)
  • 1 12oz jar cocktail sauce
  • 1 16oz jar grape jelly
Turn your slow cooker on and heat the cocktail sauce and grape jelly until warm and melted together.  Pour in the frozen meatballs and cook for 6-7 hours on low setting or 3-4 on high.  You can stir occasionally to get the sauce on all of the meatballs, but don't do that too often as it will extend your cook time.  Serve with toothpicks on a tray or let guest scoop up by the spoon full.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I originally came across this recipe as just an Artichoke Dip, but added the spinach to give it a little color. 

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 5 oz frozen spinach, thawed, towel dry and chop (approx 1/2 frozen box)
  • Pita bread, cut into triangles
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and stir together until incorporated.  Dump the mixture into an oven safe bowl and cook for 28-35 minutes until top is golden brown and mixture is heated through.  *Note: To save a step, if you have an oven safe dish that you like serving in, cook in that and pull it out of oven straight to the table.  Serve with pita bread or the veggies out with the dip.  It all goes well together.

Southwestern Caviar

This is NOT raw fish, but really a fun Southwest inspired salsa.  I got this recipe from my cousins and it has made me a hit at many a pot luck or picnic.  Like I said, it can be made a day a head of time and served with tortilla chips. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 can shoe peg corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can white hominy beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 16 oz hot/med picante sauce
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Tbls Zesty Italian dressing
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped jalapeno's (optional)
  • 1 Tbls minced garlic
Open all cans, drain juice, pour into large bowl.  Chop onion, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeno and mince garlic.  Add to beans.  Pour in picante sauce and Zesty Italian.  Stir together, cover with saran wrap and store in the fridge until it needs to be served.  Serve with tortilla chips.  Note:  This normally makes a large batch.  Leftover salsa is great with omelets and scrambled eggs the next day to add a Southwestern kick to your breakfast.

Easy Extras:
  • Veggie Tray with Ranch Dressing - buy four or more different veggies and put on tray with a bowl of Ranch dressing.  Who doesn't love Ranch Dressing?!  Do your chopping/slicing day of party to prevent drying out.
  • Pretzels - pour in a bowl
  • Olives - open can, dump most of the juice and pour in a bowl or if you have a few different kinds of olives, serve in multi-part dish.  If you are part of my family, generally one or more of these olives will end up on the floor anyways. 
  • Spiced Nuts* - these are a great way to add crunch to your table with almost no effort.  You can buy all kinds of spiced nuts at the store.  *If you are adventurous, you could make your own.  There are many great recipes for spicy or herb coated nuts.  I'll look into those for later. 
Make sure to have the following on hand:
  • Bagged Ice - no-one wants to drink warm soda or mixed cocktails
  • Toothpicks 
  • Napkins
  • Plates - either your appetizer or dinner plates or paper - depending on the number of guests and your level of desire to clean up after the party is over.
  • Utensils - your normal flatware or plastic
  • Mixers - if you will be serving cocktails
  • For Fun - Yellow & Red Flags - your guests can throw out during the game or at each other for fouls or challenges during the party.  Ex:  one guest is hogging all the meatballs, throw a flag for holding. 
Now, I am aware that none of these are ground breaking recipes or new ideas and some are down right sinfully simple, but remember the point of game day is the BIG GAME, so do not stress about the food...put out the food you are comfortable with and and have a great time!