Sunday, February 28, 2010

Grilled Caponata

It's unusually snowy at my house this February, which makes me all the more jealous when someone says, "Hey, guess what? We're moving to the VIRGIN ISLANDS!" Seriously? That is some kind of luck! That is just what happened to Dave, of My Year on the Grill, or more importantly, to Dave's wife Jackie, who scored a job down there!! Dave is the lucky s.o.b. who gets to tag along!!!

So to commiserate, er
celebrate with all of the friends Dave & Jackie left behind on the Mainland and Points Beyond, us girls at OuR KrAzy kItChEn decided to throw Dave a Beachwarming Party.

You best be wearing your speedo, Dave, this is going to be a doozy! Oh, and you'll need your blender, and little umbrellas, and it goes without saying, your grill.

The closest I can get to the Islands is my cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook, in which there are fabulous recipes for mouth-watering seafood, the likes of which can't be found in this god-forsaken desert. (Wait. I love it here. I love it here. I love it here. Okay, deep breath. Ahhh.)

Take 2:
Given the lack of fresh OR frozen seafood in this gorgeous snow-covered desert, I chose a dish which would go well with a nice slab of fish, and, because I'm sure Dave will have the grill fired up and ready, guess what? It's GRILLED.

I'm so ready for a tour of Dave & Jackie's apartment, minutes from the beach, and can't wait to feel the sand between my toes and see the blue water stretching into the horizon...this is going to be a PAR-TAY, and my Grilled Caponata on Homemade Crostini is going to go over very well. I think I might stop by the market on my way and pick up some fresh fish to grill with my Margarita Marinade!

Of course, it wouldn't a party without booze, so I'm also bringing all the ingredients for my Famous Piña Coladas. Enjoy!!

Congratulations on your new island home!!
Visit OuR KrAzy kItChEn to see what everyone else brought to the party!

Back to business, I actually baked the onions about 5 minutes longer to soften them more. I used my grill pan over medium-high heat, and just grilled until I had nice marks on each slice (much longer than the 5 minutes in the recipe).

Man, did my kitchen smell good, and I don't even really like eggplant! (but I always think I should, hence trying this recipe). Plus, did you see those fabulous eggplants Dave & Jackie saw at the Farmer's Market in St. Thomas?? I bet I know what he'll be picking up next time it's open!

Aside from all the chopping, this recipe is fairly easy, and since it needs to sit for 6 to 8 hours can sit for up to a week, it is perfect for my make-ahead repertoire.

This caponata was wonderful, smoky and sweet, and perfectly complimented by my homemade Artisan Crostini.

Hope you like it!

Grilled Caponata
Serves 12; Makes about 6 cups

3 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 large red onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup olive oil for brushing
1/2 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup red wine
1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice reserved (*I totally cheated, and used two cans of diced tomatoes!*)
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, drained, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Homemade crostini, pita crisps, crackers or bread for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Let the coals heat until medium-hot, so they are covered with a light coating of ash and glow deep red. (I'll let Dave handle that part).

2. Generously brush the eggplant and onion slices with olive oil and arrange on separate baking sheets. Roast in the oven, turning once, until soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Transfer the eggplant and onions to the grill and cook until nicely browned, turning often, about 5 minutes total cooking time. Set aside to cool. Note: our grill is on its last legs, so I just used our grill pan for the grilling.

4. Put the raisins in a small saucepan and cover with the wine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside and allow the raisins to plump.

5. Put the tomatoes and their juice into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the raisins and wine, capers, olives and vinegar. Chop the grilled eggplant and onions into small pieces and add to the tomato mixture. Toss well to combine.

Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let the mixture mellow for 6 to 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. The caponata will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 week.

6. Before serving, taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Serve at room temperature with crostini, pita crisps, crackers or bread.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup

Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup
(modified by Wendy D.)

8 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half-and-half
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 1/2 pounds broccoli, steamed and roughly chopped
1 pound carrots, finely grated (about 3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or more, to taste
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 8-quart soup pot. Saute chopped onion in melted butter until soft; set aside.

2. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in same pot. Add flour and whisk over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Whisking constantly, add half-and-half. Continue whisking until smooth.

4. Add stock, whisking until combined.

5. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Add the broccoli, carrots, and reserved onion. Cook over low heat until veggies are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

7. Blend if desired, preferably with an immersible blender.

8. Add grated cheese and stir over medium-low heat until cheese is melted.

9. Stir in nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.

NOTE: I steam broccoli in microwave. Add more stock if the soup is too thick for your taste. However, though it's quite thick when cool, it seems just right to me when hot. Serve with crusty bread and perhaps an apple pie for dessert.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Artisan Bread Baguettes = Artisan Bread Crostini

One of the many things I love about Artisan Bread is its versatility. You can make so many types of bread out of this simple dough, and it's all delicious! Someday, I will break down and buy the book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day!

For our Housewarming Extravaganza back in October, I tried my hand at making baguettes for crostini, and it actually wasn't that difficult! I ended up with about 14 beautiful baguettes. I found a brief tutorial on shaping the baguettes on the Artisan Bread in 5 website that helped a lot. But then I had to wing it on baking them.

The biggest helpful hint, besides how much dough to use, was letting the dough relax in between steps--if you're forming the dough and feel it pulling or fighting against you, set it down and let it rest for a few minutes, come back and try again. I really let the dough rest in between each step, about 5 minutes, sometimes more. Other than that, I didn't add rosemary or any herbs, I just used the forming technique and studied the pictures. And then of course I was on my own for baking the baguettes, because there aren't any baking instructions on the post!

I'll just summarize the techniques here, please visit the Artisan Bread website for some great pictures that really helped me. (don't forget you'll have to come back here for the baking instructions!)

With so many baguettes, we had a mountain of crostini and a variety of delicious dips and toppings. The best thing about all this, you really have to make it ahead of time. You start the dough one day, make the baguettes the next day, the crostini the next day, and you can store the crostini in a ziploc for 2 days! I love it.

I learned the technique for forming the baguettes on a post on the Artisan Bread in Five website. They have great pictures of the technique.


Artisan Bread dough

Start with a batch of Artisan Bread dough that's been in the refrigerator for a while. With floured hands, grab a peach-sized glob of dough, and quickly form into a ball by tucking the ends under each quarter turn (about 30 seconds), using a bit more flour if needed. Let rest at least 5 minutes.

Form into an oval--flour your hands again. I start gently stretching the dough, but mostly let gravity do the work for me. I hold it by an edge, and let the dough gently fall and stretch without really forcing it or squeezing too much air out. It looks more circular while this is going on, but then when it's stretched, I let it hang gently until it's more oval, then set it down and let it rest again. The ovals aren't huge, because there's not a lot of dough to start with. (use flour as needed)

After the ovals have rested, fold each oval of dough in thirds lengthwise and pinch the seam closed. Let rest again for at least 5 minutes.

Now it's time to stretch/squeeze the baguettes so they're longer and thinner and, well, shaped like baguettes. They won't be huge baguettes, so don't expect the "French" ones you see at the bakery. They'll be miniature baguettes. Flour your hands, pick up one baguette, and gently squeeze it and allow gravity to stretch it, gently tapering the ends. Be careful not to stretch and squeeze too much or you'll lose too much air in the dough and bad things will happen. I think.

As the baguettes are formed, lay them on a baking sheet with cornmeal stripes on it. Of course I had my cornmeal running the wrong direction for the length of the baguettes, and had to prepare another sheet with lengthwise cornmeal. But, as luck would have it, I stretched one of the baguettes too much and it broke in two, giving me two smaller baguettes that fit perfectly on the short cornmeal! This is not an exact science, and since I'll be slicing them up anyway I really am not concerned with looks. (They will look great anyway!)

Let the formed baguettes rest/rise on the pans for at least 30 minutes, up to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

After the baguettes have risen, slash on a slight diagonal, two or three slashes per baguette, then quickly slide the pans into the oven. (If you have two pans and one oven, just let one pan rise 30 minutes, then bake it, and the other will be fine rising more while the first pan bakes).

Bake the baguettes at 450 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow-sounding. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Olive Oil

When the baguettes have cooled completely, or even the next day, slice them into thin, uniform slices about 1/4" thick.

Lay slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the top of each slice with olive oil.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake slices for about 15 minutes, until just golden brown and quite crunchy. Let cool, then load up with your favorite toppings!

We like Crostini with toppings like:
Southwestern Hummus
Roasted Red Pepper Salad
Buffalo Chicken Dip
and many more...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Homemade Tofu Mayonnaise + Plain Fake Mayo

This is a recipe I've never tried, but it is from a trusted source, The Moosewood Cookbook. (you probably already know that the version of the cookbook I have is not sold anymore, so I can't tell you whether the cookbook in the link still includes these recipes, but really any moosewood cookbook is worth the investment!) It is an alternative to real mayonnaise for Kristina's Potato Salad, and I had a request, so here it is. Two variations of the tofu mayo and a simpler tofu-based "Plain Fake Mayo" follow below.

I hope you'll let me know if you try any of these and whether you like them!

Tofu Mayonnaise

1 packed cup mashed tofu (firm or silken)
1 small clove garlic
1 teaspoon good-quality prepared mustard
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/4 cup olive or canola oil

1. Place everything except the oil in a blender or food processor. Process until very smooth.

2. Keep the machine running as you drizzle in the oil. When all the oil is incorporated, turn off the machine. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate.

Green Mayo: Add a handful each of chopped parsley and chives to step 1.

Sesame Mayo: Substitute a few tablespoons of the oil with Chinese sesame oil.

Plain Fake Mayo

1 box (10 1/2 ounces) silken tofu
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 to 3 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoons salt

Place all ingredients in a blender, and whip until smooth. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature. Good for sandwiches, baked potatoes, steamed vegetable topping, artichoke dipping, and anywhere you would use mayonnaise.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No-fuss Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs Dinner Challenge: Last night I cooked up 2 different Spaghetti & Meatballs recipes, and with the help of my good friend Amy and her family, had a taste test to see which one was preferred. It was a fun thing to do on a Saturday night, and Spaghetti & Meatballs is one of my favorite comfort foods when it is cold and snowy out. One of the recipes was my recipe that I've made for as long as I can remember. The other other was a recipe by Emeril Lagasse (courtesy of the Food Network website). I call it "no-fuss" because it is essentially a 1 pot meal.

I followed Emeril's recipe as written with a few exceptions. First, 80/20 beef AND ground sausage just sounds like a grease-fest to me (no offense intended, Emeril), so I used 93/7 beef. Second, I did add a small splash of red wine to the sauce -- it is genetically impossible for me to make tomato sauce without adding wine. Just can't be done. Lastly, I put a bottle of the Essence seasoning in my grocery cart, but somehow it wasn't in the bags when I got home, so I ended up leaving that out. Other than these few changes, I've followed his recipe below. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about putting raw ground meat into the tomato sauce, but they did cook through and were very tasty.

The final verdict was a draw. Amy and her younger son liked my Spicy, Beefy Spaghetti & Meatballs, and her husband and oldest son preferred Emeril's. Actually, her husband liked Emeril's meatballs, but my sauce better. I didn't vote since I'm partial to my recipe, and that seemed a bit self-serving. So, I am posting both recipes (2 different posts). You can decide which is your favorite. :-)

In the picture below, Emeril's recipe is on the right, and my recipe is on the left.

No-fuss Spaghetti & Meatballs


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/2 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt & pepper
12 ounces ground chuck (80/20)
8 ounces ground pork sausage
2 Tablespoons red wine
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup minced green onion, white part only
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 Tablespoons grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Essence Creole Seasoning (also called Bayou Blast)


1. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

3. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste and season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and partially cover.

4. Place the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix together just until combined.

5. Form meatballs by rolling meat mixture into 1 Tablespoon-sized balls. Place meatballs on a plate as they are formed. Note: To prevent the meatballs from sticking to your hands, wet your hands with water first.

6. Add meatballs into the simmering sauce 1 at a time. Allow the sauce to return to a simmer and cook, partially covered. Let the meatballs cook undisturbed for the first 25 minutes before stirring.

7. When the meatballs rise to the top, stir gently. Simmer, partially covered, for an additional hour, stirring occassionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

8. Remove from heat and serve over cooked pasta.


Adrienne's Spicy, Beefy Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs Dinner Challenge: Last night I cooked up 2 different Spaghetti & Meatballs recipes and with the help of my good friend Amy and her family, had a taste test to see which one was preferred. It was a fun thing to do on a Saturday night, and Spaghetti & Meatballs is one of my favorite comfort foods when it is cold and snowy out. One of the recipes was my recipe that I've made for as long as I can remember. The other was a recipe by Emeril Lagasse (courtesy of the Food Network website).

Now, up until today, I didn't have a written recipe for my meatballs or sauce, so when I've given this recipe to people, it usually consists of measurements like "handfuls" or "until it looks like enough" (this drives my sister crazy, not that that is my intention), so I tried to keep track of the amounts of ingredients I used for this challenge, but they are approximate. I followed Emeril's recipe as written, with the exception of the Essence Seasoning -- I swear I bought it when I was at the store, but it wasn't in the bags when I got home. So, I left that out. Other than than, I followed his recipe as presented (oh yeah, I also added a spalsh of wine to his sauce -- you can't make sauce without wine, it just isn't done). In the picture below, my recipe is on the left, and Emeril's is on the right. They look very similar in the picture, but my sauce is smoother and darker in color, and Emeril's is chunkier. The final verdict was a draw -- Amy and her youngest son liked my spicy, beefy meatballs better, and her husband and oldest son liked Emeril's recipe better. Actually, her husband liked Emeril's meatballs, but my sauce better. I didn't vote, since I am partial to my recipe. So, I am posting both recipes (2 different posts). You can decide which is your favorite. :-)

Adrienne's Spicy, Beefy Spaghetti & Meatballs

Meatball Ingredients:

2 pounds lean ground beef (I usually use 93/7 or 95/5 beef)
2 large shallots, minced
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, grated (depends on how big your garlic cloves are)
2 - 3 Tablespoons chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley (I just tear off a handful and chop it up)
2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (a couple of generous handfuls is fine)
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine
kosher salt (to taste -- probably about a teaspoon)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste -- about 15 grinds on the pepper mill)
garlic salt (a couple shakes)
onion powder (a shake or two)

To make the meatballs:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit and line a baking sheet with foil (makes clean up so much easier) and place a baking rack on the foil-lined baking sheet (allows the grease to drip down as they cook and the meatballs will not be sitting in the grease).

Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until all ingredients are well combined. I wear gloves when I do this for 2 reasons -- 1. it's more sanitary (who wants raw beef under their fingernails -- eww!) and 2. it is easier to roll the meatballs -- the meat doesn't stick to the gloves like it sticks to your hands.

Roll into meatballs (I make pretty big meat balls -- they are larger than golf balls and end up being about 2 inches in diameter) and place on the baking rack. It is important to make sure all your meatballs are the same size so they cook evenly. If you make your meatballs as big as mine, you'll get about 16 meatballs out of this recipe.

Bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 30 minutes. They won't be completely cooked through at this point, but that's okay because you're going to add them to the sauce to finish cooking.

While the meatballs are cooking, start the sauce. You can start the sauce first - this gives it more time to simmer and and thicken up, plus gives it a richer flavor, so that is usually what I do.

Ingredients for Marinara Sauce:

1 large onion, chopped (I like to use sweet onions, but whatever you prefer)
4 - 6 cloves of garlic, grated (depends on the size of your garlic cloves)
2 - 3 Tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
2 28-ounce cans of tomato sauce
1 14-ounce can of beef broth (I use reduced sodium beef broth)
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
a generous splash of red wine (I use a slow 3-count pour)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons of Dell'Alpe Italian Seasoning for Pizza (or your favorite blend of Italian seasoning)

1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil at medium-high heat and saute the onions until translucent, about 5 - 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper to the onions as they saute (to taste).

2. Add garlic to onions and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir constantly so the garlic doesn't burn -- you don't want to brown it.

3. Add the tomato sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, red wine, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to the pot and stir until combined. Let come to a simmer then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer. Stir occassionaly to make sure the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

4. Once the meatballs have finished baking, remove from the oven and immediately add to the simmering sauce. Continue simmering for at least an additional 30 - 40 minutes so that the meatballs cook through. If you like a thicker sauce, you can extend the cooking time and simmer the sauce uncovered (but it will make a mess of your stove).

5. Adjust the seasoning of the sauce as needed and serve over your favorite cooked pasta.

This recipe makes 4 - 6 servings.


Stuffed Mushrooms a la France

I got this recipe many years ago from one of my co-workers who was a vegetarian and a really good cook. Neither of us are still at the hospital where we once worked, but I still make his recipe from time to time -- it's a great appetizer, and very quick and easy to make. Depending on the size of your mushroom caps (and how many mushroom-lovers are in your crowd), plan on 2 - 3 mushroom caps per person. You can also make this ahead and then just pop them in the oven to bake when your guests arrive.

The measurements below do not have to be precise -- honestly, I don't even measure when I make this anymore. If I end up with extra stuffing at the end, I just put it in the bottom of the baking dish and cook it with the mushrooms -- it is delicious all by itself. This recipe will yield 3 - 4 servings, depending on the size of your mushroom caps.

Stuffed Mushrooms a la France


8 - 10 large gourmet mushrooms
6 Tablespoons bread crumbs (unseasoned)
6 Tablespoons minced yellow onion (I use shallots instead -- I like the milder flavor)
3 Tablespoons minced green onion
4 - 6 Tablespoons half & half or heavy cream (I usually use heavy cream)
8 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced (I use flat leaf parsley)
1 teaspoon tarragon (I usually substitute fresh or dried thyme, whichever I happen to have. I'm not a big tarragon fan)
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon oil (I use olive oil, but you can use any kind of oil you like)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (I usually use shredded parmesan cheese, but both are good)
salt and pepper to taste


1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit

2. Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Mince the stems and reserve. (If there are some small mushrooms in the package, like there usually are, I also clean and mince them up.)

3. Add oil and butter to a non-stick saute pan and saute the yellow onion (or shallots, whichever you use) for 3 - 4 minutes.

4. Add green onion and mushroom stems, season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute for 2 - 3 minutes more, then turn off heat.

5. Add remaining ingredients (except for shredded Swiss cheese) to the onion-mushroom mixture (I just add it all to the saute pan, but you can do this in a bowl if you prefer) and stir well to thoroughly combine. You want the mixture to be moistened, but not dripping extra liquid, so adjust bread crumbs or cream amounts as needed to get the right consistency (like a thick paste).

6. Place the mushroom caps in a baking dish and fill with stuffing (I usually heap it on pretty good, about 1 heaping Tablespoon per mushroom cap). If you have leftover stuffing, just put in in the baking dish around the mushrooms.

7. Top stuffed mushrooms with shredded Swiss cheese and bake at 425 degrees Farenheit for 20 minutes.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blender Coconut Pie

I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe before! But when I wanted to track it down to share with someone, it wasn't here! So now I'll share it with all of you!

This pie comes from a cookbook called The One-Armed Cook, a spiral-bound book which includes "Quick and easy recipes, smart meal plans, and savvy advice for new (and not-so-new) moms." I got the book sometime after the birth of my second son, and have made several delicious recipes from it.

When my oldest son was about three, he helped me make this pie. It is sooooo easy, whipped up in a blender, and it even makes its own crust! (don't ask me how, it just works!) And it's custardy and yummy too! This pie is so good and simple, I made one right away so I could show you a picture!

Yum! I made one! I had forgotten how scrumptious this pie is--like a creamy egg custard, topped with perfectly toasted coconut! You should make one too!

Blender Coconut Pie
Servings: 8
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Start to Finish time: 55 minutes

4 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 (3 1/2-ounce) can sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Coat a 9-inch glass pie dish with cooking spray.

3. Place all the ingedients except for the coconut in a blender container, blend for 1 minute, until well mixed. Pour this mixture into the prepared pie dish. Sprinkle with the coconut.

4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the center is set and the top is toasted golden brown.

5. Let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Taste & Create: Ground Beef Curry

Usually I use Taste & Create to expand my culinary horizons, track down spices of which I've never heard, that sort of thing. Taste & Create is a monthly food blog event, created by the lovely Nicole of For the Love of Food, in which participants are randomly paired off and tasked with preparing a recipe from their partner's blog. Occasionally, like this month, I get to help Nicole out by guest-hosting the event!

I was ready to expand my horizons all over again when I was paired with Marisa of The Creative Pot, cooking from across the world in South Africa...until she posted this simple recipe on a night when I was hungry but didn't know what to make for dinner. I really don't know what country the recipe comes from, but this curry is sort of like an Indian Hamburger Helper--ground beef, flavored with curry spices, but with no exotic ingredients! The only thing I was missing was spinach, and that was easy to get.

It was a wonderfully fragrant, delicious dish, easy yet out of the ordinary, and perfect for a weeknight.

The only changes I made from Marisa's recipe were to use olive oil (and more oil), and I covered the dish while simmering, which worked perfectly. I served it with rice, because I didn't have time (or a recipe) for rotis. I can't wait to have more of this tomorrow for lunch!

You really should go see Marisa's picture of this curry--it's much better than mine.

Ground Beef Curry (Keema Kari)
Adapted from Chow Times

Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 pound ground beef
4 medium firm potatoes, (skin on), cubed
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of spinach, washed, stalks removed and shredded

1. Saute onion over medium heat in oil until soft. Add garlic, and spices, fry for 1 minute until fragrant.

2. Add beef, and brown over medium to high heat.

3. Add potatoes, tomatoes and beef stock, turn heat down, cover and allow to simmer for 30 - 40 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir spinach through. Turn heat off and allow to rest for a few minutes for the spinach to wilt into the curry.

Serve warm, with rice or rotis.

Scott's Short Ribs

I've been thinking about this recipe, I haven't made these ribs in a very long time. The first time I made them, we were having dinner for the very first time with some dear friends (the first time our families had ever met!) They were delicious! I used a Cotes du Rhone wine as recommended, and when we bought a couple bottles of Cotes du Rhone from Trader Joe's in Tucson, you now know exactly what I was thinking about!

I will be making these again very very soon. Picture then!

The recipe comes from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, one of my favorite cookbooks.

Scott's Short Ribs
Serves 6

Scott Bieber is the wonderful chef at Eli's Manhattan restaurant in New York City. He cooks earthy food that brings out the essence of the ingredients, such as these short ribs. You can make them well in advance and reheat them before dinner. I use a reasonably priced Cotes du Rhone wine.

6 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (2 onions)
4 cups large-diced celery (6 large stalks)
2 carrots, peeled and large-diced
1 small fennel, fronds, stem and core removed, large-diced
1 leek, cleaned and large-diced, white part only
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 750-ml bottle burgundy or other dry red wine
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Fresh thyme sprigs
6 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, carrots, fennel and leek and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour the wine over the vegetables, bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with kitchen twine and add to the pot.

Place the roasted ribs on top of the vegetables in the Dutch oven and add the beef stock and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

Carefully remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside. Discard the herbs and skim the excess fat. Cook the vegetables and sauce over medium heat for 20 minutes, until reduced. Put the ribs back into the pot and heat through. Serve with the vegetables and sauce.

Monday, February 15, 2010

CAJUN COCKTAIL SAUCE and a cute way to serve it

Hi, Tamy here from OUR KrAzY kitchen, Always Eat On the Good China and 3 Sides of Crazy. Just dropping in to offer a family favorite in time for Mardi Gras which officially starts tomorrow, Fat Tuesday!

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup chili sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
Juice of 1 lemon (save your rind to make the cute serving dish)
2 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Frank's red pepper hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste
Shrimp for dipping
  • I use my mini food processor to mix it all in until well blended.
  • Chill for a day or so before needed to allow flavors to meld together.
originally posted on Always Eat On the Good China

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cheesy, Creamy Polenta

Cheesy, Creamy Polenta

This is a recipe I made in one of my cooking classes I took at Northshore Cookery a couple of years ago, and has become a favorite. Unfortunately, the school has since closed. I prefer to use the white corn meal over the yellow corn meal -- I think the flavor and texture of the white corn meal is more delicate, but to each his/her own. I'll post a picture the next time I make up a batch.

Yield: 6 servings


3 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock (I usually use chicken stock, but any will work)
3/4 cup white or yellow corn meal (I use white corn meal)
3 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (I usually use closer to half a cup -- I like it cheesy!)
salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy 3-quart non-stick saucepan, bring 2 cups of the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, mix the corn meal with the remaining cup of broth. Stir well and slowly add the corn meal miture to the bubbling broth, stirring constantly to prevent clumping. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in butter and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

I love to bake quick breads, and this summer, my uncle had an overabundance of zucchini, so I started looking for recipes for zucchini bread. I wish I had my grandmother's recipe -- hers was so good. This one isn't exactly like grandma's, but it is darn good. I've modified a Paula Deen recipe (trying to make it semi-healthy). The recipe below is the one I made with various substitutions to try to lower the fat content and to adjust for personal taste (like omitting the pecans -- I hate biting into chunks of nuts in otherwise soft foods). The recipe indicates 15 minutes of prep time, but that can't possible include the grating time for the zucchini. It felt like we spent hours grating zucchini. I used a rotary grater (like the kind often used to grate parmesan cheese directly onto your dish at an Italian restaurant), but about halfway through, my hand was giving out and we switched to the mini food processor to chop it up, and that worked just fine too. I did not peel the zucchini, but if you have an aversion to peels, or seeing little green flecks in your food, you can peel it first.

This recipe yields 2 9x5 inch loaves, or 5 mini loaves.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey (or you can omit the honey and increase the granulated sugar to 2 cups)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce (or you can omit the applesauce and increase the vegetable oil to 1 cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini (original recipe called for 2 cups)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used the mini sized chips and since I didn't add nuts, I used the whole package)
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1 cup chopped pecans (optional -- I did not use them)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (2) 9x5-inch loaf pans or (5) mini loaf pans (usually 5x3-inch).

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon & nutmeg

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar and honey and continue beating until well blended. Stir in oil, applesauce, vanilla, zucchini, pecans (if using), chocolate chips and orange zest. Make sure everything is well mixed. Stir in sifted dry ingredients until just combined. (Don't overmix -- just mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened and no large lumps remain, some small lumps are okay). Pour into prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 50 minutes (mine took closer to a full hour) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans on cooling racks for about 5 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling. (I used glass pans for the large loaves and removed them from the pans to finish cooling. I used the disposable aluminum mini loaf pans and did not remove those from the pans for cooling).

The loaves freeze well -- I had one mini loaf that was in the freezer for 6 months and was still delicious when thawed. This recipe would also make delicious muffins.

I hope you enjoy!

Black Forest Upside-Down Cakes

I love Black Forest Cake, actually anything that combines chocolate and cherries! I'm excited to try this new recipe, from the pages of Everyday Food magazine, for the dessert accompanying our At-Home Valentine's Day Dinner.

I will be doubling the recipe to serve 4. I can't wait!

So I discovered my ramekins are only 7 ounces, instead of 8...I didn't use all the cherries, but I packed them in, maybe about 1/2 cup per ramekin. Also, I broke out the Kitchenaid. Sorry, but really, mixing brown sugar and butter "with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy??" Riiiiight. I tried, but it just didn't happen. Kitchenaid was a necessity here. Or at least use an electric mixer. Just take my word for it. I had to bake the cakes an extra 10 minutes, but if you don't live at altitude you probably won't have to adjust it that much.

These cakes are delicious! We added just a touch of rum to the cream and Number One whipped it up. I had doubled the recipe to make four cakes, he quadrupled the cream to make a decent amount of whipped cream. I don't think it was too much, and we used it all on our four cakes. You should make more whipped cream as well. Really, isn't that the perfect amount?

The magazine's quick tip: Bake the cakes after you prep the salad, then make the steak and shrimp.

Black Forest Upside-Down Cakes

Serves 2
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes + cooling

If you can't find jarred sour cherries, substitute frozen sweet cherries, thawed and drained, and use 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice instead of the cherry juice in step 1.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups drained jarred sour cherries (1 teaspoon juice reserved)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons rum

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cherry juice in the bottom of each of two 8-ounce ramekins. Microwave ramekins until butter and brown sugar are melted and bubbling, about 1 minute. Arrange cherries in a tightly packed layer in the bottom of each ramekin.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In another small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in egg yolk, then flour mixture and milk. Divide batter between ramekins.

3. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat cream, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and rum until soft peaks form. Run a paring knife around edge of each cake and invert onto a plate. Serve cakes with rum whipped cream.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beef Braciole

"What is this?" you ask? Well, aside from my dad's "newest favorite" of my concoctions, it is the Italian version of a roullade (thinly sliced meat with a stuffing, rolled up and then braised). It is pronounced brah-zhol (long 'o'). You can use any kind of thinly sliced beef -- I like top round. Have the butcher trim the fat and slice it about 1/4 inch thick for you and it will be ready to go when you get home. I've adapted a Rachel Ray recipe for this. It makes 4 servings. Hope you enjoy!


4 slices very thinly sliced beef (1/4 inch)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices prosciutto di Parma
1-1/2 cups plain bread crumbs (doesn't have to be exact)
1/2 cup of milk
2/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese (about 3 handfuls -- again, doesn't have to be measured exactly)
1 shallot, minced (or 1 small onion if you prefer)
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped (a couple of handfuls)
1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach (or you could use arugula instead of spinach)
plain round toothpicks

For the Sauce: (I love extra sauce, so I always double these amounts)

2 Tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, grated (I use a microplane so you don't have big chunks)
2 Tablespoons of butter
12 cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced (baby portabellas)
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef broth
1 rounded Tablespoon tomato paste


Season the meat to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top each slice of beef with 1-1/2 slices of prosciutto di Parma. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, milk, parmesan cheese, shallot, parsley and spinach. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Place 1/4 of the bread crumb mixture on each slice of beef and spread it out into a thin layer (do not spread it to the edges -- leave about 1/2 inch around the stuffing or it will squish out when you roll the beef). Roll the beef tightly and fasten with toothpicks. I have found it is neater (and easier) if you fold over the long sides and then start rolling -- the stuffing won't squish out if you do this.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat to the pan and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan. Add the butter and let it get foamy. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute just until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the flour to the pan (sprinkle it around) and cook for about 2 minutes. Whisk the wine into the mushroom-flour mixture and scrape up any pan drippings. Reduce the wine for about 1 minute and then whick in the beef broth and tomato paste. Let come to a bubble and return meat and any juices back to the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Place lid on pan but leave ajar about 1 inch. Simmer meat for about 15 - 20 minutes. To serve, remove toothpicks and transfer rolls to a platter and pour gravy down over the beef rolls and serve.

I like to serve it with cheesy, creamy polenta (to soak up the yummy gravy) or wild mushroom risotto (pictured above, left), and make a nice spinach salad with the leftover baby spinach. A nice glass of Sangiovese or Chianti goes well too! Enjoy!! Adrienne

Steak & Shrimp with Parsley Potatoes

For the main course of our At Home Valentine's Dinner, we'll be having Steak & Shrimp, along with these delicious-sounding Parsley Potatoes, Caesar Salad and Black Forest Upside-Down Cakes! Of course we're doubling the recipe to serve our family of four. All recipes are from Everyday Food magazine.

We decided at the last minute not to make the shrimp. I wasn't able to find large shrimp, forgot to get them out of the freezer ahead of time and didn't feel like peeling a bunch of size 51/60 per pound shrimp. Although H-Bomb was most disappointed, we'll have to have those another night.

We cooked the steaks as directed, and I have to say that the spooning of hot butter has fabulous results. You've got to try it! These steaks were great! I can't remember what cut I bought, but they were delicious.

Because we didn't make the shrimp, I just tossed the potatoes in the pan we took the steaks out of (no wiping) and added the butter and parsley. YUM. Even H-Bomb, not a potato lover~the kid doesn't even like french fries!~said they were the best potatoes ever.

I'll report back on the shrimp!

Steak & Shrimp with Parsley Potatoes
Serves 2
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

This classic surf and turf is easy to make at home. Spooning hot butter over the beef is a steakhouse trick that helps it cook evenly and enhances its flavor.

1/2 pound small new red potatoes, halved or quartered if large
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 filet mignon, sirloin, or flat-iron steaks (6 ounces each)
3 sprigs thyme
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 extra-large shrimp (6 ounces total), peeled and deveined, tails left on
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Season with salt; bring to a boil over medium, then reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to pot.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Pat steaks dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt and pepper. When oil just begins to smoke, add steaks to skillet. Cook until browned well on all sides, turning with tongs as needed, about 10 minutes total (reduce heat to prevent burning as needed). Reduce heat to medium, top steaks with thyme, and add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet. When butter froths, tilt skillet slightly so butter pools and repeatedly spoon it over steaks, 1 minute. Transfer steaks to a plate and tent with foil.

3. Briefly rinse skillet under cold water and return to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet; when it froths, add shrimp and cook until beginning to brown at edges, about 2 minutes, turning halfway through. Season with salt and pepper, add half the parsley and toss. Transfer to a plate.

4. Return skillet to medium heat and add cooked potatoes. Cook, stirring, until potatoes are heated through and starting to break down, 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon butter and remaining parsley and toss to coat. Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Serve steak and shrimp with potatoes.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

I love risotto, and it is so easy to make. Don't let anyone scare you off by telling you its complicated, or difficult. All it takes is a little patience and a lot of stirring. :-) You can use any combination of mushrooms you like -- I usually use a mix of white button mushrooms and cremini, oyster and shitake mushrooms (half white button mushrooms, half a mix of the others). You can also rehydrate porcini mushrooms and add those if you like. If you do, be sure to reserve the soaking liquid (you'll need to strain it to remove the grit -- you'll probably have about 1/2 cup). Hope you enjoy!


2 pounds of mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and chopped (I usually just slice them -- looks prettier, I think)
4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups Arborio rice
3 Tablespoons of diced shallots
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (I like to grate it using a microplane -- that way you don't bite into a chunck of garlic)
5 - 6 cups of hot chicken stock
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I like to use flat leaf parsley)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


Saute the mushrooms in 2 T of melted butter over high heat (I also add about 1 T of olive oil too -- keeps the butter from burning). First heat the butter (and oil, if you use it) over high heat until melted and foamy. Add half the shallots and garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and cook until mushrooms release their liquid and turn golden brown. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the fresh thyme and fresh rosemary and continue cooking until the wine evaporates. Remove from heat.

Heat 2 T butter and the olive oil (use high heat) in a large dutch oven or heavy pot until foamy. Add the rice and cook, stirring frequently until all the rice grains are coated and fragrant (about 1 - 2 minutes). You don't want to brown the rice -- just warm it to soften the outside husk so it can absorb the liquid. Add the remaining half of the shallots and garlic and cook for about 1 minute (stir frquently). If you're using porcini mushrooms and have reserved the soaking liquid, add it now (or you can use 1/2 cup of mushroom stock if you like). Stir frequently until all the liquid is absorbed. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 cups of hot chicken stock, 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the broth is almost completely absorbed (don't let it get dry or you could burn the rice). Continue adding stock in 1/2 cup increments and cooking until almost completely absorbed before adding more broth. Cook until the rice is al dente (18 minutes or so). Fold in the sauteed mushrooms, fresh parsley and grated parmesan and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve immediately. Makes about 8 side servings or 4 main course servings.

Enjoy! Adrienne

Homemade White Castle Burgers

Although I'm originally from Michigan, I didn't grow up in a city. I don't remember even having a White Castle Burger until college, but they are legendary. And they seem to produce strong feelings: you either love them or you don't. I happen to love them. Number One happens to not. We'll see how he feels about these Homemade White Castle Burgers!

Somehow I ran across this recipe at Big Red Kitchen (hey, I have a big red kitchen too!) for White Castle-like Sliders. And I just had to try them. Number One said he hopes they are better than White Castles, and if not, then these are the last ones we'll make, (he threatened). I told him the recipe makes 24! I am hoping for a happy medium...better, but similar would be perfect! And I'll happily try freezing some, or just eat them all weekend long by myself.

The only deviations so far from the original recipe: we use our own ground beef, so I honestly don't know how that compares to 80/20 or whatever. Also, 1/2 teaspoons of seasoned salt just didn't seem like enough. I started with 1 teaspoon of Lawry's (what else is there?) and then sprinkled on a bit more for good measure. We like it.

I'm using "hard rolls" from the bakery in our grocery store, they're really not hard at all.

I love how easy this recipe is!

So. I think the rolls I used were too big, and the patty was really thick. I couldn't fathom cutting the big burger into 24; they wouldn't have fit on the rolls and really seemed minuscule for how thick our "patty" was. So, we ended up with 8 burgers. Make that 8 delicious burgers! I'll be trying this again...maybe in a larger pan so they're thinner?? With smaller rolls and/or with less meat? I don't know.

But I definitely love the idea, and I love the flavor from the onions. They were perfect just plain, on a bun with pickles. (I told Number One he shouldn't add Grey Poupon, but he didn't listen).

Here's Robin's recipe:

White Castle-like Sliders
Makes 24 Sliders

1/2 cup dried onion flakes
2 pounds ground chuck- 80/20 ground beef
1/2 t. seasoned salt
6 slices cheddar cheese
24 small party rolls
24 dill pickle slices

Evenly spread the onions on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Gently press the ground beef on top of the onion flakes. Press evenly making one giant patty. Sprinkle with seasoned salt.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Using a paper towel, pat the excess grease from the top of the patty. Top with cheddar cheese, return to oven for 2 more minutes.

Remove from oven, let set 5 minutes then cut into 24 patties. Slice open and separate each party roll. Place bottom of rolls on a large platter. Using a spatula lift patty with onion layer onto each bun bottom. Top each slider with a pickle slice then the bun lid. Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Taste & Create Partner List

Here is the Taste & Create partner list! Please remember to submit your creations to Nicole's Taste & Create website by February 24th. If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to email me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you'd like to enter next month's Taste & Create, the fabulous event which pairs food bloggers randomly and tasks them with preparing one of their partner's recipes,
please visit the how it works page for an email address to sign up~sign up deadline is the 8th of the month. And don't forget to tell your friends how fun this event is!

I hope we haven't missed anyone this month, I'm filling in for Nicole last minute. Let me know if there are any questions!


One Little Corner of the World & No Reason Needed

The Creative Pot & The Bad Girl's Kitchen

A Bolder Table & Seduce Your Tastebuds

Culinary Delights & My Year on the Grill

Cupcake Project & Dragon Musings

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chocolate Covered Cherries ~ Homemade

Hi, Tamy here from OUR KrAzY kitchen, Always Eat On the Good China and 3 Sides of Crazy. Just dropping in to offer a family favorite in time for the Valentine's Day!

I wanted to make something special to take to my nieces house for Superbowl Sunday so thought I'd try Chocolate Covered Cherries. I found the recipe in an old Taste of Home magazine. This recipe is sooooooooooooooooo simple, but messy! Have fun making them. They are quite rich though - be forewarned!

1 cup butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 pounds confectioners sugar (about 8 cups)
3-10 ounce jars maraschino cherries(about 120 cherries), really well drained
1-2 pounds milk chocolate candy coating, chopped (I used almond bark)
  • Combine butter and milk until smooth.
  • Gradually add in confectioner's sugar until a soft dough forms.
  • Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten into 2 inch circles. Don't make these too thick.
  • Place a cherry in the center of each one.
  • Wrap sides around cherry until cherry is completely covered and roll into a smooth ball.
  • Melt chocolate until smooth and dip each ball into the chocolate.
  • Place on wax paper until cool and sprinkle with sprinkles.
  • Cool well.
  • Let them set a few days before you plan to serve them and the centers turn to liquid.

Valentine's Day Dinner

It's not often that Number One and I really celebrate Valentine's Day. Our first wedding anniversary (we had two weddings) is the week before, and we barely remember that. This year, it happens we'll be at a luxury resort in Tucson for our anniversary, so we lucked out there.

When the latest Everyday Food magazine came out the other day, they featured this "Valentine's Day" dinner: Eat Out (At Home). That is about our speed these days, and there is plenty of time to plan ahead. The menu sounds just perfect:

Of course we'll be doubling all the recipes for four people.

In the meantime, let us know what your plans are!

image from microsoft office clip art

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hot Wings with Bleu Cheese Dressing

Hi, Tamy here from 3 Sides of Crazy, OUR KrAzY kitchen and Always Eat On the Good China. Just dropping in to offer a family favorite in time for the Superbowl!

It doesn't matter who you were rooting for, you CAN'T, I repeat CAN'T watch the SUPER BOWL unless you have hot wings and bleu cheese dip!

  • 2-3 dozen+ chicken wings ~ We prefer drumettes (with a little meat on them) to actual wings, but it's your choice. Today I used what was in the freezer for picture sake, but next week it'll be drumettes for sure!
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (DRY) OR Good Seasons Italian dressing mix (DRY)
  • 2 sticks butter+
  • Frank's Hot Sauce
  • PURE
I also prefer to use an old cast iron frying pan (our is at least 3rd generation, dating back to hubby's grandfather that we know for sure). I still believe this gives you the most even browning.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Wash and dry the chicken pieces.
  • Mix together the flour and seasonings in a plastic ziploc bag. Using a ziploc bag makes it easy to throw away the whole mess after dredging all the chicken pieces and it helps you coat every possible spot of the chicken pieces.
  • Add chicken a few pieces at a time and coat them well. Set chicken pieces aside.
  • While you're doing this, have the butter melting in the pan. Start with 1 stick and add as necessary, but make sure you don't run out dry.
  • Once all the chicken has been dredged start frying. After you have the pan full pepper the pieces again. Don't turn the chicken until you can see blood. You only need to turn the chicken one time. Brown evenly and then set aside on paper towels until all pieces have been fried.
  • As the last batch is frying melt the other stick of butter in a 4 cup measure cup. To that add 1 cup of Frank's hot sauce per stick of butter. Whisk them together well.
  • Spray a cookie sheet with PURE.
  • Dip each piece of chicken into the hot sauce mixture and put on cookie sheet.
  • After you're all done and if you have hot sauce & butter mixture left, pour a little over the top of each wing.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Serve hot with my homemade Bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks if you'd like.
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup large curd cottage cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces bleu cheese crumbles (sometimes I use Gorgonzola for a bit of change or when I accidentally pick up the wrong container at the grocery store and we like it just as well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • I put it all in my food processor and pulse until it's well mixed. Chill for 24-48 hours before serving.

Superbowl Sunday - Spicy Shrimp

I think everyone knows The Pioneer Woman. This recipe is the basics from one of her recipes and boy is it ever good!

  • 2 pounds of shrimp in shells
  • About 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 -3 lemons
  • Tabasco
  • Worcestershire
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1-2 sticks of butter
Directions - Spread shrimp in single layer on a large, deep cookie sheet. Drizzle oil over shrimp, squeeze fresh lemons over shrimp, add generous splashes of Tabasco and Worcestershire all over the top along with a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, dot top with pats of butter. Broil until done, about 10-15 minutes.

This will be on my Superbowl buffet today!
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