Friday, May 30, 2008

Marshmallow/ Espresso Cupcakes

My nephew suggested this at breakfast a few weekends ago, and I thought I would try it. They aren't very pretty but they taste darn good. It tastes a bit like smores.

1 cake mix (I like Betty Crocker Super Moist and I used Milk Chocolate)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
mini marshmallows
1.5 cups strong coffee or Espresso

Make your cake mix according to the box instructions, except instead of the water it calls for, use your strong coffee or Espresso. After beating the mixture, fold in the mini chocolate chips

Fill muffin tins or use the paper liners or both!

Before baking, place 4 to 5 mini marshmallows on top of each cupcake

Cook according to the package instructions, let cool and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Making Chicken Stock

I love making homemade chicken stock, the stuff in the cans or boxes do not compare, and it is soo easy, why not do it! I am a bit compulsive and make stock nearly every time we have chicken. I have no less than 10 gallons in my freezer at any given time. I use it for a whole lot more than soup. I add to rice, veggies and mashed potatoes.

1 chicken carcass, everything, bones, skin etc.
3 carrots chopped into 2 inch chunks (no need to peel, just wash well)
4 stalks of celery washed and chopped into 2 inch lengths, include the leaves as well, they are full of flavor
1 yellow onion cut into 8ths
1 bay leaf
Any random veggies you might want to add, bell pepper, leeks, etc.
Lots of fresh cracked black pepper or whole peppercorns
2 tsp salt
3 garlic pods, whole you can even leave the skin on


Place your carcass into a large pot, cover with cold water (this part is important)
Add the rest of your ingredients
Bring to a nice low bubble (you don't want to boil it or it will be cloudy), you want it right at a simmer
I simmer it for as long as I can, from 8 to 10 hours, the longer the better
Drain into a large bowl, using a colander or strainer to strain everything but the broth out, refrigerate overnight
The next morning the fat will be congealed on the top, skim it off. You can now make soup or put into a Ziploc bag and freeze for later

**To make it really nice and clear strain thru a cheesecloth**

Tip: I keep plastic take out containers (mostly used for soup and deli purchases) and re-use them for freezing stock into a convenient amounts.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Salmon Cheese Ball

My Ex Sister In Law gave me this recipe many years ago. It has been a family "must have" ever since. Everyone on both sides of our family adores this cheese ball and it is super easy to make.

• small can Pink Salmon (use skinless, boneless)
• 8 ounce package Cream Cheese at room temp
• 1 tsp liquid smoke (you can purchase in the condiment section of your grocery store)
• 1 tsp garlic salt
• 6 ounce can olives, chopped
• 1 tbl Worcestershire sauce
• ½ cup Walnuts chopped

Combine everything except the walnuts in a bowl, using your hands works best to ensure it is fully mixed.

Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes or so to firm up a bit.

Spread your chopped walnuts on a cutting board, scoop up the salmon mixture and form into a ball.

Roll in the chopped walnuts until uniformly covered.

Serve with crackers of your choice, I have always used Wheat Thins

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cheeseburger Macaroni

The weather has been dreary and I wanted comfort food. I have fond memories of eating Cheeseburger Macaroni at school when I was a kid, although I am sure it was from a box!. I wanted to re-create it from scratch, and it was a HUGE hit. My husband is not a big eater but he had seconds!

1 box elbow macaroni
2 lbs ground beef, I use 7% lean (you could use turkey)
1/2 red onion diced
1 tsp garlic
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 can of Campbell's cheese soup
1.5 to 2 cups of shredded cheese (any variety you wish)
salt and pepper to taste

*cook your ground beef in a non stick pan, when it is about half way thru cooking add your onion, garlic, salt and pepper
*cook your macaroni to "al dente", drain and set aside in a large bowl *combine the soup, 2 cans of tomato sauce, shredded cheese, cooked meat and the noodles, stir until well incorporated
*pour into a greased 9x13 pan
*cook at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly
**I served with garlic cheese bread and steamed green beans**

I just entered the Tastes To Remember blogging event at Sarah's, you can too!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

I found this recipe in a Woman's Magazine, it is in the Cookbook by Tricia Yearwood. It is delicious, and the touch of lemon really adds a great flavor. I made a few changes to the recipe, mostly in the assembly, and will make a few more next time, which I will add at the bottom. This is a keeper according to my husband! By the way it makes at least 8 servings!

cooking spray
2 cups cooked rice
3 cups broccoli (recipe says cooked, I left mine raw and it was perfect)
6 cups boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (I baked my breasts then cut into cubes)
1 can, 10 oz condensed cream of chicken soup (I used the low fat one)
3 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used the low fat version)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly coat a 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray
Spread the rice evenly in the bottom of the dish
Add the Broccoli on top of the rice, spread evenly
I added the cubed chicken next
*In a large bowl mix the soup, 2/3 of the cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, juice, salt and pepper. I also added 3/4 soup can of water to thin it out enough to pour
*Pour the mixture on evenly, spreading to the edge, top with the remaining cheese and bake for 40 minutes until golden and bubbly. Let rest at least 5 minutes then serve.

**Next time I serve this I will add diced water chestnuts for crunch and perhaps some crushed potato chips on top for additional texture. I will also double the broccoli**

Monday, May 19, 2008

Curried Chicken Sandwich

I had the remainder of a roasted chicken to use up, it was not enough for another meal, so I decided to make chicken salad with a twist! I call it Curried Chicken. It was so delicious, sweet, salty, and crunchy!

1.5 cups cubed chicken
handful of Craisins (you could use Raisins)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 celery stalks diced
mayonnaise (use your judgement)
1/2 tbl curry powder (you can use more or less to taste)
I added a dash of Cayenne as we like things spicy

I served on whole wheat bread with romaine lettuce

Friday, May 16, 2008

Braised Lamb Shanks with Couscous

I wanted to make a special treat for my husband as he loves Lamb. This turned out really well.

3 tablespoons olive oil
6 12- to 14-ounce lamb shanks
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 drained canned anchovies (way optional and I optioned to say no)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 small bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
5 juniper berries or 2 tablespoons gin
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup mint jelly
1 750-ml bottle Merlot
1 14-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
1 14-ounce can low-salt beef broth

*Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat oil in large ovenproof pot (wide enough to hold lamb in single layer) over medium-high heat. Sprinkle lamb on all sides with salt and pepper. Add lamb to pot and sauté until brown, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to plate.
*Add next 11 ingredients to pot. Sauté until vegetables brown, about 20 minutes. Mix in tomato paste. Add wine and all broth; boil until liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
*Return lamb to pot, arranging in single layer; add any accumulated juices. Bring to boil.
*Place lamb in oven and cook uncovered until tender, basting and turning occasionally, about 2 hours. Transfer lamb to plate. Skim any fat from top of roasting liquid. Press all liquid and enough of vegetables through sieve set over large bowl to make sauce with gravy consistency. Return gravy to pot; add lamb. Season with salt and pepper.
*I served with a greek salad and couscous*

Thursday, May 15, 2008

German Pancakes

We used to have to go to a restaurant to get our German Pancake fix, until one Sunday about 13 years ago our local newspaper printed the recipe, and my husband has been fixing them for me ever since!

1/2 stick butter (unsalted)
4 eggs
3/4 cup 2% or whole milk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbl sugar
2 tsp vanilla (optional, but I recommend it)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional, but I recommend it)
1 tsp nutmeg
lemon wedges and powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
Put your skillet in the oven to pre-heat (use cast iron if you have it or a high sided pan)
Add butter while the pan is pre-heating
Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until beaten
Add flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and mix till just blended (don't overmix)
Pour the batter into the pan with the melted butter
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, keep an eye on it
This recipe makes enough for 1 pancake (2 servings), you can double the recipe for a thicker pancake or make two thinner ones (we like them on the thinner side)
Cut into slices and serve with lemon slices and top with powdered sugar

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Greek Salad

I made a Greek meal of Lamb Shanks, Couscous and of course Greek Salad. I love this salad, so colorful and tasty!

1 English cucumber (thinner skin, fewer seeds) sliced thick
1 tomato diced
feta cheese crumbled
calamata olives pitted
purple onion sliced thinly
Mix the above ingredients together, topping with the feta cheese crumbles

*I made my own salad dressing using yogurt, 1 tbl olive oil, red wine vinegar, some calamata olive juice, lime juice, cumin, garlic salt and cracked pepper. I also about 3 tbl of minced onion. Keep adding ingredients and blending till you get the taste you wish.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Flan De Coco (Coconut Flan)

My husband has been in Singapore on business, and missed Cinco De Mayo, so we had a belated family gathering on Saturday. He has had this dessert many times in his travels and wanted to make it for the family. It is divine!

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 small can coconut milk (the thick stuff, not watery stuff)
6 eggs
1 cup sweetened flake coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Place 1 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook gently, stirring occasionally until the sugar has melted. Continue cooking until it turns golden brown. Pour into 6 individual ramekins, let cool for 15 minutes before proceeding.
Once the caramel has hardened, pour the condensed milk, evaporated milk, coconut milk, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, and coconut into a blender, blend until smooth. Pour into the ramekins over the caramel.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until set. When done, remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the dish to separate the flan from the sides. Refrigerate overnight, if possible, a few hours at the least

Invert onto a plate and serve.

Optional: Add Mango Slices or any other fruit

Friday, May 9, 2008

Barbequeued Chicken Legs

This is another favorite at our house, my husband is a barbecue nut, has a smoker, a charcoal and a new gas barbecue, and we cook on them year round! We like these quite spicy. The key is the marinade. I will let him tell you how he makes em!

Guest says:
Use parts that are flavorful and dark for the best overall taste. In this case we used all chicken legs. You can get by with thighs but overall they are fattier and create a messier situation on the grill. I used to use a complicated solution of soy, teriyaki, ginger and so on but realized after much experimentation that "Yoshida Gourmet Sauce" works just fine. We buy it in bulk at Costco/Sams at a MUCH reduced savings over the market.
Parts chilled, I use a very sharp knife to cut a diagonal in the meatiest portion. Chilled because it's easier to cut while holding. Be CAREFUL! By diagonal, I mean an angle of about 30 degrees to the bone. Roll the cut up. Again, be careful! I have cut myself before. Put the cut pieces in a gallon ziplock and put in enough Yoshida's to cover at least 3/4 of the meat lying flat. You likc spice? If so, buy yourself some Dave's Insanity Sauce (available online from Add no more than 1 tablespoon if you like it HOT. If you know you like to hurt, add two. You should rotate (flip) the meat at least twice in 24hours. Four times is optimal for the insomniac. Now, what you have after the 24hours is a brined piece of meat soaked in sugar as well.

Start the grill. I use different wood chips based on mood and desired outcome. If you're prone to indigestion (heartburn) from BBQ then try a sweeter smoke (apple, alder, maple). If you like a Kick-butt flavor, go Hickory. Figure out a way for your grill to have smoke while keeping the temperature about 250 degrees. Ideally, for meat that has been marinated in a sugar sauce, you want it to cook slowly on an indirect heat with smoke blowing for as long as possible.

Blackening? Well, we'll call it "carmalization". The key with marinated meats on a grill (all except fish) is to cook to near completion indirectly then add a sauce to coat and crispen in the final few minutes. This requires diligence and attention. Once the chicken parts are close to done (~155-160 degrees) add a liberal coat of your favorite BBQ sauce (I've made my own but... a brand called "Show Me" is a standout -- look online). Coat, turn, brown, coat again, turn. It's a messy affair and you'll want to throw the grill away when you are done but you end up with a crust like marshmallows at a campfire. Sweet, smokey, delicious. I promise you that. Dont overcook them and plan for at least TWO turns per side. Pull them off the grill and tent the mass. Let it sit for 15-20 prior to serve.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

French Dip Sandwiches and Home Fries

Last night I decided to be lazy and make one of my favorite meals. It is nice on a cold night and super easy to make. Did I mention Delicious!

sub rolls (any kind you like)
sliced roast beef
swiss cheese
au jus mix
2 whole baking potatoes
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp cayanne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Scrub your potatoes well and slice in half, slice each half into 4 quarters, mix with 2 tsb olive oil, pepper, garlic salt and a dash or two of Cayenne pepper. Mix well with your hands, place onto a non-stick baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. I serve with Ranch Dip.

Cut sub rolls in half and toast them. Mix mayonnaise and horseradish, spread onto rolls, add roast beef and cheese. Prepare the Au Jus as directed. I microwave the sandwiches for 30 seconds just before serving to melt cheese and warm them up.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rotisserie Chicken

If you have a gas barbequeue you most likely have a rotisserie attachment. It allows you to have beautifully cooked and moist chicken, turkey and even lamb. It bastes itself and is simple and easy to make. Hubby got a new Webber gas barbequeue and was dying to try it out!

1 whole chicken, patted dry and extra parts removed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
small orange, poke a few holes in it
1/2 onion
Alder wood (if you want some smoke on your bird)

Liberally season inside the bird with salt and pepper, saving some for the outside.
Insert the 1/2 onion into the cavity followed by the orange
Rub the outside of your bird with olive oil
Season the outside with the remaining salt, pepper and paparika
Insert your rotisserie thru the bird and center it

I procured the cooking instructions from the Webber Website

Let the chicken rotate over Indirect High heat until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink at the bone, 1 to 1-1/4 hours (check the chicken after 30 minutes; if the skin is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to Indirect Medium).

*When finished, let rest for 15 minutes, remove the orange/onion and carve

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cheesy Dip or Con Queso

My friend Phil, makes this for Potlucks and it is a big hit, every single time! I add more ingredients to make it even yummier!

1 bag Dorito's scoops
I brick of Velveeta Cheese
1 can Rotel with Chili's
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tube of Jimmy Dean Sausage HOT
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small can sliced olives (I cant believe I almost forgot)

Cook the sausage and onions together in a non-stick skillet, drain and set aside
In either a crock pot or fondue pot, add the meat and the remaining ingredients and let them warm until well incorporated.
Serve with Scoops and sour cream and guacamole if desired

Friday, May 2, 2008

Vegetable Salad

I like to make this salad with whatever I happen to have in my Fridge. I am fairly new to making my own Salad Dressing, and I love it!

1/2 English Cucumber, seeded and sliced
1/4 of a sweet onion sliced
Radishes cut in half (ends removed)
Grape Tomatoes
Crumbled Feta Cheese (I had some left from an earlier dish)
Handful of Corn Chips, or what you like crumbled (I dont like Croutons personally so we use Rice or Corn Chips)
Combine ingredients, ending with the Feta and Chips

Salad Dressing
1/4 cup good quality Olive Oil
2 fat tbl non fat plain yogurt
1 tbl Oregano
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste (we use lots of fresh cracked pepper)
2 tbl Honey

I combine in a small jar with a lid and shake shake shake
Dress your salad and serve!

How to spatchcock a chicken or turkey!

Finishing some of Cheryl's drafts... Keeping spatchcocking simple. Using a VERY sharp cleaver or kitchen shears -- not scissors, carefu...