About Me

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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Hello to all three of you who check this site and aren't related to me, and are wondering what happened to my recipe repository.  Let's just say it's been a a terrible time since June, and I'm barely able to keep my head above water.  I am on pinterest as "sbuckle1" if you want to see what I'm cooking or planning to cook!  I hope to have time to do this again soon.
Best- Sue

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cream Cheese "Pancakes"

My husband is the one who can flip things in pans in this house.  I can cook them, just don't ask me to flip them.  I can't tell you how crazy I am for this recipe!  It's very tasty, but has no flour!   I actually got both my kids to beg for these, and eat them up, as if they weren't eggs.  Amazing.  They are atkins friendly, paleo friendly, gluten allergy friendly....make some friends.

Cream Cheese "Pancakes"
Adapted from I breathe, I'm Hungry
makes 3/4 cup

2 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
1 packet truvia (or 1 tsp sugar)

Blend all three ingredients until smooth.  Pour 1/4 cup per time into a hot griddle.  Cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until bubbles form.  Top with syrup or fruit.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Buckeye Bark

I think I like this preparation better than traditional buck eyes, mainly because of its ease.  This is so much easier than rolling buckeyes in chocolate!  The results are equally delicious, perhaps more so.

Follow my recipe for buckeye filling.  Heat 12 oz of bittersweet chocolate, then spread on parchment within a 9 x 13" pan.  Freeze until hard.  Spread buckeye filling over this.  Then take another 12 oz of chocolate that you have heated and spread on top.  Chill until firm.  Cut into rectangles or triangles.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicken Mole

The first time I made this sauce, I grossly underestimated the amount the recipe called for.  We since have had this sauce 4 more times from the same batch!  Yowzer!

It really has nice, complex flavor with a lot of layers.  The chocolate is savory, not sweet, and the whole sauce is spiced but not spicy.  I have reduced the recipe by 1/2 for you.

Chicken with Mole Sauce
Adapted from Create (Hugh Carpenter)

3 dried ancho chiles
2 tablespoons raisins (17.5gm)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar (55 gm)
2 cups red wine
2 oz bittersweet chocolate

Blend all ingredients BUT CHOCOLATE in a blender til smooth.  Place into a pot and bring to a boil, then simmer until thick, about 1 hour.  Add chocolate off heat, and cool to room temperature.
Serve with grilled chicken, or pork.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Black Eyed Pea Salsa

I always have a hard time with incorporating black eyed peas into our new year's day meals.   Not this year!  This salsa comes to me from my sister in law, and it's a real winner.  It could also serve as a side dish or salad at a party but really shines on tortilla chips (what doesn't?).  Anyway, I'm thrilled she shared the recipe with me.

Black Eyed Pea Salsa
Adapted from my Sister in Law, Keri

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 4 oz can green chiles
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 ear corn, boiled for 2-3 minutes and cut off the ear (or 1 cup frozen)
1 can black beans, drained, rinsed
2-3 green onions, diced.

Mix all ingredients together.  Serve in day 2 if possible.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Salted Caramel Brownie Cookies

I whipped these up for a work party.  I saw them on Pinterest and just had to make them!  Even with making your own caramel, they are very easy to do.  They also look impressive, especially if you pipe the filling onto the cookie!

Brownie Cookies with Salted Caramel Creme Filling

Brownie Cookie (adapted from Donna Hay), via Bakers Royale

12 oz. chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
⅔ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder

Homemade Caramel

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
2 tablespoons sour cream

Salted Caramel Creme Filling
1 cup butter
2 cups confectioner sugar
1/4 teaspoon salted
1/4 cup caramel (Make sure caramel is cooled if making homemade)

To make brownie cookies:

Place 7oz. of the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan over low heat and gently stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.
Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for 15 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add in flour, baking powder, melted chocolate mixture, remaining 5 oz. of chocolate and mix to combine. Set aside to to stand for 10 minutes. Spoon 2 tablespoonful of the mixture, onto parchment lined bake sheet. Bake for about 8–10 minutes or until puffed and cracked. Allow to cool completely on trays.

To Make Caramel:

Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, mix together cream and salt. Bring cream to a boil and cook until salt has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the caramel mixture has reached 320 degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Whisk in sour cream. Cool, and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

To make caramel creme filling:
Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamed. Add in confectioner sugar and salt and beat until light combined. Add in caramel and beat until combined.

Place filling into a bag fitted with a 1M tip.  Pipe in a swirl on underside of one brownie cookie and place a second brownie cookie bottom side down on top frosting.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Baked Coconut Shrimp

I love coconut shrimp.  I especially love it with the sweetened coconut and deep fried.  But who can cook like that, never mind eat like that on a regular basis?

This version is healthy but satisfying.  We just used frozen shrimp that we thawed, and they were yummy.   I have no doubt the dish would be improved by using fresh, but you take what you can get!

Baked Coconut Shrimp
Adapted from Not my Mama's Meals

1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
6 tablespoons plain panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large egg whites
1 pound large (21/25 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined, butterflied and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dipping Sauce:
Equal parts dijon mustard and apricot preserves

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

To make the dipping sauce: Whisk together.  Warm in your preferred fashion.

To make the shrimp: Combine the coconut, panko and flour in a bowl or baking dish. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl until slightly frothy. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add to the egg whites and toss to coat. Lift each shrimp from the egg whites, letting the excess drip off the shrimp, and then coat in the crumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Place the shrimp on the baking sheet in a single layer. Lightly spray with nonstick spray. Bake until the shrimp are golden on the outside and opaque in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with the dipping sauce.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cake Batter Sprinkle Pancakes

I have to admit that I was completely out of baking powder when I made this recipe.  So my pancakes were flat, but the flavor was delicious!  My daughter has been asking for these pretty much every morning since I made them.

The source recipe called for a vanilla glaze, which looks so decadent, but I think it's too much sugar for my little ones in the morning!  This is treat enough.

Cake Batter Pancakes
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cake mix
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup assorted sprinkles

Combine flour, cake mix, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix. Add 1 cup of milk, egg and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. You want the batter to look like regular pancake batter; not too thin, not too thick. With using betty crocker's cake mix, I needed about 1 1/2 cups of milk.  Start with 1 cup of milk and add more if needed.

Preheat a skillet on medium heat. Fold sprinkles into batter. Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with syrup or plain.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Raw Brownies

I must begrudgingly admit that I like these brownies.  I must warn you that to call them brownies is a loose interpretation of the term.  They are not cooked.  They have no sugar, per se.  They have no flour.

Yet this is why you will love them.  Kids want a brownie before dinner?? Sure!  Cooking for a Vegan?  No problem.

Cooking for Gale Gand?  Uh, not so much.  But they satisfy the chocolate urge in a healthy way.

Raw Brownies
Adapted from A Couple Cooks

1 cup raw walnuts (unsalted)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher
1 1/4 cups Medjool dates (about 12)
1/4 cup raw almonds (unsalted)

Remove the pits from the dates. If the 1/4 cup almonds are not already chopped, place them in a bag and hit them with the back of a spoon or a mallet to break them into pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, place 1 cup walnuts. Process on high until the nuts are finely ground.

Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt. Pulse to combine.

Turn on the food processor. As the processor is running, add the dates one at a time. Once all the dates have been added, the mixture should be crumbly but easily formable (it may form into a ball depending on how long you process it). Throw in the almonds and pulse a couple times to combine (if a ball has formed, you can also mix in the almonds in a bowl).

Form the brownies: Line a small square dish with wax paper and press into the desired thickness (don’t worry if it does not fill the entire pan; the brownies are easy to shape). Alternatively, press the brownies into a mini-muffin tin or other mold. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up; they can easily be cut when cold.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

In my house, you can never have too many salad dressing recipes.  We eat salad pretty much every night.   Tim McGraw would be so proud.

This dressing is just a hint of spice, without being overwhelming, although if you leave the seeds and ribs on, watch out!  It's equally good on salad as it is as a dip.  You could also drizzle it over black bean patties.

Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
Adapted from Confessions of a Foodie Bride

3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayo
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 small bunch of chives (about 2 Tbsp chopped)
Small handful cilantro
1-2 jalapenos, seeds and stem removed
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and then blend for 10-20 seconds. Check consistency and blend in buttermilk to thin as needed. If it's dressing, more.  If it's dip, less.
Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Summer is ebbing away.  I know we'd barely know it, but it is.

We ate this when we visited the farm.  It was really yummy, but tragically, I forgot to stick it back in the freezer and it was lost!  Ah well, who needs the calories?

Ice Cream sandwich Cake
adapted from my sister in law

19 ice cream sandwiches
1 jar (16 ounces) hot fudge or caramel topping
3 Heath candy bars, or chopped reese's peanut butter cups, or m and m's, or reese pieces
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Cut one ice cream sandwich in half. Place one whole and one half sandwich along a short side of an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. dish. Arrange eight sandwiches in opposite direction in the dish. Remove lid from fudge/caramel topping. Microwave 15-30 seconds to warm; stir. Spread one-half of fudge topping/caramel over ice cream sandwiches.

In a food processor, chop candy bars. Cover and pulse until chopped. Sprinkle one-half of mixture over fudge layer. Repeat layer of ice cream sandwiches and fudge/caramel topping. Spread whipped topping over top of cake. Sprinkle with remaining peanut mixture.

Cover and freeze for up to 2 months. Remove from the freezer 20 minutes before serving. Cut into squares.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chipotle Chicken Salad

This salad was so delicious!  It is a great light meal.  Even my father, who is not exactly adventuresome, pretended to enjoy it.  The dressing is not spicy, and I love the avocado in this salad.  It is absolutely awesome!  I ate it for lunch the second day, and it was still wonderful.

Chipotle Chicken Salad
adapted from Nutmeg Notebook

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 cup light sour cream
1 whole chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce, with 1 tsp of sauce added
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups shredded romaine lettuce (2 heads)

1 1/2 lbs chicken (I marinated in 3 tablespoons canola oil, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp salt for a minimum of 6 hours)
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1 cup yellow tomatoes, sliced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 diced peeled avocadoes
1/3 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
2 ears corn, boiled for 2 minutes and then cut off the cob.

To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients in a food processor until well combined.

To prepare salad, combine lettuce and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Russian Dressing

In my family, russian dressing was always mayonnaise plus ketchup.  This is a more sophisticated version, with more complex flavors.  It is great on salads, as a sandwich spread, or  dip for fresh vegetables.  I was surprised by the chopped pickle, but it makes perfect sense, and gives a nice sour note!

Russian Dressing
Adapted from Jeff Mauro

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 dill pickle, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, smoked paprika, dill pickles and shallots in a food processor until thoroughly mixed. Do not over-blend, you still want texture. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a covered jar until serving time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Cucumbers

Step away from the cucumbers.  

These will keep you coming back to the bowl.  They are a great cool snack, appetizer, salad.  Sweet, a little (very little) spicy, and crisp.

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Slices
Adapted from Our Best Bites

1-1/2 lbs cucumber (about 3 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c rice vinegar, seasoned or regular
1/2 c water
3 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs minced red onion

Place cucumber slices in a colander sitting over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss well.  Let sit for 1 hour refrigerated.  Toss the cukes a few times while they drain as well.  While cucumber slices are draining, prepare marinade.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook until reduced to a 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes).  Remove reduction from heat and add onion.  Let mixture cool to room temp.

When cucumbers are done resting, pat them dry by tossing around in the bowl with a few paper towels and then combine with the vinegar reduction.  This can be served immediately, but are best well chilled.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sugar Cookie Playdough

I love the smell of vanilla.  Unlike store bought play dough, this stuff smells AMAZING, and is just the stuff to use when your little ones want to use cookie cutters while you bake.  It keeps a really long time- ll that salt is essential to help preserve it, so don't be shy in using it.  This make a great DIY gift in a mason jar!

Sugar Cookie Playdough
Adapted from Sweet Sugarbelle

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean

In a medium saucepan whisk together dry ingredients. Next mix in the water, oil, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla extract and stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over low/medium heat until a thick dough forms. Turn out onto parchment paper and knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I had these first when I was at my MIL's.  They were so delicious!! Her recipe did not have cream cheese or graham crackers, and I really think they are essential to the success of this recipe.  It keeps these "peanut butter balls" from being overly sweet, and makes them slightly less awful for you.


adapted from Baked Explorations

1/4 cup (2 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups (18 oz) peanut butter
1 cup (5 oz) graham cracker crumbs (about 14 graham crackers)
3 cups (13 oz) confectioners’ sugar
10 Tb (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
12 oz good quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped


     In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat on medium speed for 10-20 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and butter. Beat at low speed for 30-60 seconds to prevent the sugar from spilling over, then gradually increase the speed until the mixture is completely combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again.

Set the peanut butter filling aside while you melt the chocolate.

In the top of a double boiler set over hot water, melt the chocolate, stirring frequently until it is completely smooth. Pour the chocolate into a small, deep bowl. Let it cool to barely warm, while you shape the peanut butter centers.

Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper. Scoop out slightly more than 1 tablespoon’s worth of filling and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared sheet pan and repeat the process until all the filling has been shaped.

One by one, using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate. Roll the ball around from side to side to cover almost the entire peanut butter center, leaving a small part uncovered.

 Refrigerate the entire sheet pan for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate before serving. Buckeyes will keep well for at least 3 days in the refrigerator, tightly covered.  Once set, they can be placed in tupperware haphazardly.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homemade Fresh Strawberry Margaritas

It's been a margarita summer.  This summer has basically sucked, not to mince words or anything.  But so be it.

As my mom would say, "it is what it is."

These margaritas are delicious- so wonderful and fresh.  They are very easy to put together, and a great use for strawberries about to turn!

Strawberry Margaritas

Strawberry Simple Syrup
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Combine equal parts sugar and water, heat for about 2 minutes in the microwave until sugar melts.   Roughly 3/4 cup sugar plus 3/4 cup water will be close.  Then add 1 cup of the simple syrup and 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries.

adapted from foodie bride

1 cup lime juice
3/4 cup silver tequila
1/2 cup triple sec
1 cup strawberry simple syrup


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Homemade Nutter Butters

Yup.  You heard me.  Homemade nutter butters.  It just struck me that filling the oreos with this filling would be quite the treat, but these babies are perfect just as they are.

They are fresh, and soft, and utterly representative of everything you love about the commercial version.  But made by you.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the cookies:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup quick-cooking oats

For the filling:
4 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 1/2 tbsp. heavy cream

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Stir together with a fork to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Stir in the oats until evenly blended.

Use a small cookie dough scoop to portion out the dough (about 2 teaspoons), rolling each portion into a ball, and place them on the prepared cookie sheet, a couple inches apart.  Bake about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking.  The cookies will be light golden brown and slightly puffed.  Let cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

To make the filling, combine the butter, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Cream together until well combined.  Mix in the heavy cream until smooth and fluffy.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip to pipe a blob or swirl of filling onto the flat side of half of the cookies.  Sandwich together with the remaining cookies and press down so that the filling reaches the edges.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Homemade Oreos

I am in awe that I can make these.  The black cocoa really adds to the recipe- you can find it at King Arthur flour.  I made these with oatmeal cream pies, and homemade nutter butters.  I mean, what else would they go with?
The cream "stuff" is spot on.  Spot on.  I doubled the amount for my taste.  Do not omit the shortening. It's trans fat free now, and critical to the flavor.  This was the recipe that made me realize....I love shortening.  And so do you if you love oreo stuff!

Homemade Oreos
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa or Black Cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see recipe note]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar.  On low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Green Curry Sauce for fish or chicken

I don't mean to be boastful, but my husband kicks ass.  Can you believe this was entirely his creation?  I come home, and he has made snow peas, coconut rice, and grilled chicken with this delicious sauce.

It's good he's picking up the slack since there's definitely some slack to pick up.

We both loved this meal.  The cilantro, for you haters, is not distinguishable, especially since it's blended so thoroughly.  It's not spicy, just pure savory ginger garlic yum.  I can't think of anything it wouldn't be yummy on.

Green curry Sauce
adapted from Create

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup (24 grams) peeled chopped ginger root
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup (60ml) white wine
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons green curry paste
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1/2 tsp fish sauce (we subbed soy sauce)
1/2 cup (8 grams) cilantro
Salt, pepper, lime juice to taste

Blend in your blender until pulverized.  Then cook down until it's 1 cup volume.  Serve over chicken, crab cakes, striped bass, what have you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Fauxstess" Cupcakes

I made this recipe twice.  The first time was with a different recipe for the cake.  It was good, and the cake was light and allowed me to pipe the 7 minute frosting in directly with a cake tip.  The second time, I had a hard time piping frosting in (cone method next time- adjustment made in the recipe), but the cupcakes were amazing.  Who knew chocolate mayonnaise cake???  Amazing.

Fauxstess Cupcakes...a recipe in three parts
inspired by annie's eats

Chocolate cupcakes
Cupcake Recipe Adapted from Baked authors Via Bon Appetit

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups hot coffee
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cooking spray a muffin tin.

Combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in medium metal bowl. Add 1 3/4 cups hot coffee and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and mayonnaise in large bowl until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with chocolate mixture in 3 additions, beating until blended after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Divide batter among prepared cupcake pans
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pans on racks 20 minutes.

Cupcake Filling
Adapted from smitten kitchen

Marshmallow, or Seven Minute Frosting

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Use frosting the day it is made.

Chocolate glaze

For the chocolate glaze:
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Melt chocolate, stir in warm cream still glossy.

To assemble:
Fill cupcakes by the cone method.  This cupcake recipe is too thick and delicious to fill with any other way.

Then dip the cupcake top in glaze, lifting up with a little twist to break connection with the ganache.  Place some of the 7 minutes frosting in a bag with a number 2 or 3 tip, and pipe writing or design.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cake Batter & sprinkle Bark

What's a woman to do when she prides herself on being an excellent home cook, and an even better baker, and she's going to dinner when she can barely shower on a daily basis?  OK, I definitely shower 6 days out of 7.  5, then.  

I'm grieving, cut me a break.

Make this bark.  Adorable.  Easy.  Delicious.  Girly.  I loved it, couldn't get enough.

Cake Batter and Sprinkle Bark
Adapted from Sweetapolita

6 ounces (180 grams) high quality dark or extra dark chocolate, chopped

12 ounces (360 grams) high quality white chocolate, chopped

3 teaspoons white cake mix

sprinkles of choice


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Chop chocolate.
Melt dark chocolate either in the microwave or a double boiler. If using microwave, place chopped chocolate in a glass bowl, and heat for 20 second intervals, stirring each time with a silicone spatula. Be careful not to burn the chocolate–when there are just a few small bits left unmelted, you can simply continue to stir until it is completely smooth.  You can also use a double boiler.

Pour melted dark chocolate onto your parchment/mat and spread (with a small offset spatula for ease) until desired thickness is achieved. Freeze for 20 minutes to set.

Melt your white chocolate. Whisk in cake mix slowly, stirring well until smooth. Let it sit for approximately 3 minutes (or at least until it slightly thickens).

Remove pan with set chocolate from the freezer and pour white chocolate on top, repeating the same spreading technique as you did with the dark chocolate. Toss sprinkles and disco dust on right away. Freeze for 20 more minutes.

Once set, break into pieces. Store in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bruschi Steak Tips

I have some amazing friends.  My friend Corinne brought over a ton of meals for me, knowing that this was a tough time.  She always denies being a good cook, but I have to disagree.  Everything we've had is so good!  We have been making this recipe, once of her husband's specialties for a while, but it's always a favorite.
It's also another prep on sunday, cook on tuesday kind of meal!

Bruschi Steak Tips
adapted from Teddy Bruschi Via Todd

4-5 lbs of steak tips
1 12 oz can of coca-cola
1 bottle of A1 Steak Sauce
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
(should be roughly equal parts of each)
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced

Use an extra large ziplock bag or large bowl and put all ingredients in (except steak tips) and mix until a uniform marinade has formed. Then add steak tips and let them marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Place over a red hot grill. Cook to desired donness.

By Teddy Bruschi and perfected by Todd

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Baked Tex Mex Pimento Cheese Dip

This dip is so much more complex than your average cheese dip.  It's not spicy because all that cheese just blands out all that spice.  It is flavorful, and you will find yourself putting it on burgers for a topping, in omlettes, and just about anywhere else, so don't be afraid to make a double batch!

Shred your own cheese for best texture- the preshredded stuff has cornstarch in it!

Baked Tex Mex Pimento Cheese Dip
Adapted from Annie's Eats

½ cup mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt)
6 oz. cream cheese (reduced-fat is fine)
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
2 jalapeño peppers, ribbed, seeded and minced
2-3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well with a spatula until evenly combine.  Spread the mixture in an even layer in a large shallow dip (2 quart or 10 inch pie dish).  Bake 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and bubbling.

Remove from the oven, garnish with additional cilantro if desired, and serve warm with tortilla chips.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sweet Tea

My mother in law makes some killer sweet tea.  Lemon is not in her recipe.  But I love lemon.  My husband is uber-health conscious, but he always sucks down her sweet tea without guilt.

It never fails to amuse me that when we cross into arkansas, being that close to route 40 has such a profound effect on his eating habits.  I made this for the last "party" I threw, which was a lousy event/occasion, but I needed some sugar available to mainline.

It also had the benefit of being a dish made with love by a mom dear to me, so it had a comforting effect.  This tea is sweet.  Sweet.  Sweet.  And addictive.  The baking soda neutralizes the acidity, and removes any bitterness.  It goes down easy!

You have been warned.

Sweet Tea
Adapted from my mother-in-law, Tina
inspired by Jennifer Rather --Ezra Pound Cake

3 family sized bags or 12 regular size bags of luzianne or lipton tea
12 cups water
1 - 1/2 or 2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 lemon, halved; optional

Measure about 4 cups of water into a pan, and bring to a boil.
Place 4 cups of boiling water into a pitcher, and place tea bags in water.  Add the baking soda and sugar.
Let it sit and steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, but do not squeeze them- it adds bitterness.

Add remaining 8 cups cold water and the juice of half a lemon (or to taste).
Slice remaining lemon half into wedges, and serve with tea.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Black Bean, Corn, and Edamame Salad

When you have just been at the funeral mass for your mom, and you dig into a salad, and you think "Man, that's tasty.  I have to figure out how to copy that"....you know it's good.

Or that you have a serious cooking obsession.  Either one.

I also had to make this right away, so that it wouldn't build up in my head as "that salad the day we said goodbye to mom."  It had to be a tuesday salad, a nothing salad, a "boy, it's hot out" dinner.  I'm trying to reinvent my life into bundles of time that are less sad.  Wish me luck with that.

Let it be so for you, too- perhaps "that delicious salad I made for my mom."

Black Bean, Corn, and Edamame Salad with Cilantro and Lime Dressing
adapted from tastefully julie

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar (or sugar)
2 cobs of corn, cooked, cooled, and corn cut from cob (about 2 cups)
1 cup edamame, cooked and cooled
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine the lime juice, oil, and agave or sugar. Whisk together and set aside.
Add the corn, edamame, black beans, onion, and cilantro to a bowl.
Pour dressing over the mixture and stir together gently.
Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to overnight, to allow flavors to blend.

NOTE: updated on 8/18/12 to omit garlic.  Much better without!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer cake

So, about a month ago I made this cake.  It was scrumptious.  It was perfect.

And we ate it with my mom and dad, with some freshly caught fried, beer battered blue fish, on father's day.  And 3 days later, my mom was admitted to the hospital and never came home.

That was a few weeks ago.  I haven't recovered.  Don't like talking about it.  Don't like thinking about it.  Don't like admitting it's real.

It is.

So now we are making our way without a Mom, without a Wife, without a Nonna.  And it sucks. But we'll get through...with each other.

Chocolate chip cookie dough layer cake
Inspired by annie's eats (dough and frosting recipes from there)

Cake- a suppers at sunset original recipe- inspired by Baked on Bon Appetit

 batter weight= 3 lb 10 oz

1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (305 gm)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar (200 gm)
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar (200 gm)
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free) 263 gm
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp salt

special equipment
Three 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides.

Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and mayonnaise in large bowl until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with water in 3 additions, beating until blended after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Divide batter among prepared cake pans (about 2 1/3 cups for each--1 lb 3 oz).
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans in the freezer for about 2 hours- covered with plastic wrap and tin foil to trap the moisture in.

Run small knife around sides of cakes to loosen. Carefully invert cakes onto racks and prepare to frost.

Cookie dough filling

For the filling:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed (180 gm)
2 cup plus 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour (260 gm)
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients.   It will be easier to spread if you keep at room temperature.

For the frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar, packed (100 gm)
2 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar (260 gm)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (73 gm)
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat butter and sugar, then add salt, milk, and vanilla extract.

To assemble:   place first layer down, top with about 1 1/2 cups cookie dough, then repeat with second layer.  Add 3rd layer and frost.  Write short messages in chocolate chips.  Chill and serve!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Black Bean Patties

More vegetarian meals are always welcome, especially ones that are as packed with flavor as this one!!!  The Patties also lend well to baking at 450 for 8-10 minutes, liberally sprayed with cooking spray.  I think the avocado cream sauce makes a big difference.  These are also easy to pop in the freezer, and pull out on a moment's notice.

Black Bean Patties
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the patties:
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups cooked black beans), divided
2 roasted red bell peppers, divided
2 large eggs
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
1 medium onion, finely diced
½-2/3 cup cornmeal or panko (plus more, as needed)
Salt and pepper
Canola or vegetable oil

For the avocado cream sauce:
1 avocado, pitted and coarsely chopped
½ cup greek yogurt or light sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

To make the bean patties, place half of the beans in the bowl of a food processor with 1 coarsely chopped bell pepper, the eggs, oregano, cumin, and chipotle.  Process until smooth.  Finely chop the remaining bell pepper.  In a large bowl, lightly mash the remaining beans.  Stir in the bell pepper, onion, and smooth bean mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in the cornmeal or breadcrumbs, a bit at time, mixing lightly just until the mixture firms up.  (Pick up a bit and see if it can be easily molded into a ball.  If it is too sticky, add a little more cornmeal.)  Chill the mixture for 30 minutes.

To make the avocado cream sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Process until completely smooth.

Form the bean mixture into patties approximately 3½ inches in diameter.  Heat about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the patties in batches, cooking until lightly browned and firm, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve the patties warm topped with the avocado cream sauce.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Romaine, Chicken, Avocado, and Balsamic Reduction Sauce Salad

Here's the nice, light salad I promised!

We have this great place by us.  It's total bar food.  There's lousy, not so fresh popcorn served as soon as you sit down.  It has great burgers, great hot dogs, and also-unexpectedly- some amazing salads. This is one of them.  Any way I can eat more avocado is always welcome.  The balsamic reduction sauce is really sweet- I want to try it with strawberries!

 Romaine, Chicken, Avocado, and Balsamic Reduction Sauce Salad
Balsamic reduction adapted from Jeff Mauro

Balsamic Reduction

4 cups balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
8 fresh basil leaves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large shallot, roughly chopped

1 head romaine lettuce
Grilled chicken breast or thighs
Cherry tomatoes
1 avocado

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, garlic and shallots into the saucepan and stir. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and let cook until the liquid is reduced to 1 1/3 cups, 45 to 60  minutes. To measure, you may have to strain at 45 minutes, see where you are, then poor back in pot.  It's ok not to re-add all the onions and such back at that point.  Otherwise, once the mixture is reduced, strain it through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and let cool. Store the balsamic base in the fridge; it's great as salad dressing, marinade, drizzled over steaks, over strawberries.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes

I made these for my son's last day of preschool.  The coolest thing about these is how much they look like ice cream, as well as the insane amount of frosting per cupcake.  They were a big hit with the kids! They also were very easy.

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes
Adapted from Living Locurto

Your Favorite chocolate cupcake recipe
12 oz chocolate chips
24 maraschino cherries, well drained

2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk
Beans scraped from one vanilla bean
a few drops of ivory gel food color

In the bowl of a mixer, mix butter, vanilla, vanilla bean, and milk until well blended and smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix on low until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for a minute or two, until fully combined and fluffy. Place frosting in the refrigerator for an hour to chill.
Remove the frosting from the refrigerator and spoon it on top of cupcakes. It looks just like ice cream!
Now melt some chocolate chips. Drizzle over the frosting, then place a cherry on top, and add sprinkles.  You want your chocolate to harden.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni

I know it's summer, and you don't want to turn your oven on.

I respect that.  I promise a nice, summery meal tomorrow.  Today, cook up some chicken til crispy.  Bathe it in tomato sauce until it's braised and tender, and completely flavor melded.  And you are welcome.

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

serves 4

4 chicken breast halves, pounded thin
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 ounces turkey pepperoni
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
28 oz  marinara sauce
1/4 cup canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

In a shallow dish or pie plate, combine the eggs and milk. In another dish, pour the panko and in one more, spread the flour.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and working with one breast at a time, dunk in the eggs/milk, then the panko and finally the flour. Repeat until all chicken breast halves have been battered.

Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and lightly fry until golden on each side and cooked through. Drain the chicken on paper towels and then lay in a greased casserole dish. Cover with tomato sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella. Finally, lay the pepperoni slices on top.

Bake for 60 minutes. Serve with spaghetti or bucatini noodles.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I love the combination of lemon and blueberries, especially as a sweet breakfast treat.  Think of this as an excellent blueberry muffin, in cake form!  Of course, my daughter wouldn't touch it because it has fruit, but it was a great hit with my son.  Anything entitled "cake" starts with a 10 score in his book, and then is adjusted accordingly.

One day, L is going to realize she missed out by choosing cheerios that morning!

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake
Serves 6-8
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar (to sprinkle on top...)
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk

* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Cream the butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Boston Baked Beans

This recipe is exactly what you expect.  Sweet, comforting, but also savory.  We used to eat these with hot dogs for dinner.  It was my dad's favorite meal.  Believe it or not, it's a surprisingly good combination.  I don't think they were homemade, but they were doctored up enough to be called my mom's own!  Anyway, homemade or not, these homemade beans taste exactly like my mom's.

Boston Baked Beans
Adapted from cooks illustrated

6 ounces bacon cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon mild molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons brown mustard
2 cans white beans (cannelini)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Ground black pepper

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Add bacon to 8-quart Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and most fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Add onion and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup molasses, mustard, beans, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 9 cups water; increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cover pot and set in oven. Bake until beans are tender, about 4 hours, stirring once after 2 hours. Remove lid and continue to bake until liquid has thickened to syrupy consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove beans from oven; stir in remaining tablespoon of molasses, vinegar, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Magic in the Middles

The combination of peanut butter and chocolate is timeless.  These have to be among the absolute best cookies I have ever had.  The texture of the peanut butter inside is still like a little peanut butter mousse inside the chocolate.  So worth it.

Magic in the Middles
Adapted from King Arthur flour

Chocolate Dough
1 1/2 cups (177gm) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (43gm) cocoa powder, unsweetened baking cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (99gm) granulated sugar 
1/2 cup (106gm) brown sugar
113g (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (67gm) smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

peanut butter filling

3/4 cup (202gm) peanut butter, crunchy or smooth, your choice
3/4 cup (85gm) confectioners' sugar

 Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line with parchment two baking sheets.

To make the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In another medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg, beating to combine, then

stir in the dry ingredients, blending well.

To make the filling:
 In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and confectioner's sugar until smooth.

With floured hands or a teaspoon scoop, roll the filling into 26 one-inch balls.

To shape the cookies: Scoop 1 tablespoon of the dough (a lump about the size of a walnut), make an indentation in the center with your finger and place one of the peanut butter balls into the indentation.

Bring the cookie dough up and over the filling, pressing the edges together cover the center;

Roll the cookie in the palms of your hand to smooth it out. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Roll each rounded cookie in granulated sugar, and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.

 Grease the bottom of a drinking glass, and use it to flatten each cookie to about 1/2-inch thick.

Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, or until they're set and you can smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pineapple Magarita

I need cuter margarita glasses than the $1 specials at Big Y.  That is apparent.  But this recipe is really good.   Ina's recipe was too stiff for me, and Foodie Bride's was not converted easily to bulk.  And if I'm going to make margaritas, it's going to be a pitcher so I can sip them all week!  So I modifed Ina's in the spirit of Shawnda's, and it's a winner.

Pineapple Margarita
Adapted from Foodie Bride and Ina Garten

2 cups lime juice, about 20 limes (Nellie and Joe''s key west Lime juice in a bottle)
2 cups white tequila
2 cups Triple Sec
2 1/2 cups fresh pineapple juice
Simple syrup (made from 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water, heated until sugar dissolved)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tomatillo Glazed Baby Back ribs

Doesn't this site just make you weak?

Yeah, the ribs were good, too.  But having your husband slave over something in the kitchen for hours is a phenomenon known as barbecue.  Even better was that this recipe was conceived of, shopped for, and the whole nine yards by NOT yours truly.  Don't get me wrong, he plans and executes meals all the time, but usually they are pretty quick ones.  This one was blood, sweat, and tears.

Actually, kinda literally blood.  Dull knives, man, get you every time.  3 cheers for our local ER.  In and out in an hour.

But it was worth it.  The ribs were amazing.  And the glaze was unreal.  We used it as a dipping sauce, on chicken, and even to dip tortilla chips in.  Just awesome.  

Tomatillo glazed baby back ribs
Adapted from Food network.

Dry Rub and Ribs:
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

4 pounds pork baby back ribs

Tomatillo Glaze:
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons bacon fat
10 cloves garlic, chopped
10 tomatillos, husked, washed and roughly chopped
3 serrano chiles, sliced
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dry rub and ribs: Combine the paprika, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pat the spice mixture all over the ribs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, or 250 degrees F with fan on in a convection oven.

Place ribs in a single layer in a baking pan and pour in water to a depth of about 1/2-inch. Bake, covered with foil, for 45 to 60 minutes in the oven (or on a grill with the lid closed). Uncover and bake until the meat is tender and beginning to pull away from the bones, an additional 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the ribs from the pan and reserve the pan juices to add to tomatillo glaze.

Meanwhile, make the tomatillo glaze: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onions in the duck fat until golden. Add the garlic, tomatillos and serrano chiles and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, 30 to 45 minutes. Add the reserved rib pan juices and cilantro and cook an additional 10 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender and add the maple syrup. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn the oven heat up to 450 degrees F, or preheat the grill. If finishing the ribs in the oven, brush generously with the glaze and bake another 10 minutes per side, basting with the glaze every 2 to 3 minutes. To grill, generously glaze the ribs and grill 5 minutes per side, frequently brushing with additional glaze. Cut the ribs apart and serve hot with extra glaze on the side.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chipotle Ranch Dressing

I love homemade salad dressings.  I take great pleasure in making things from scratch, and keeping preservatives and god knows what else out of us.  Well, except for the adobo sauce bathing the chile peppers- that doesn't count!

This dressing has a good kick, and is great for dipping fries, salads, and sandwiches.   I think it's my new favorite!

Chipotle ranch dressing
Adapted from foodie bride 

3/4 cup mayo (low fat)
3/4 cup sour cream (low fat is fine; or you can replace half or all with fat-free Greek yogurt)
2-3 canned chipotle peppers with 1 Tbsp sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 small bunch of chives
Small handful of cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk (optional)

To make the dressing, place all dressing ingredients except the buttermilk in a blender.
Blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and add buttermilk if desired (less buttermilk for dipping, more for dressing).
Store in an air-tight mason jar in the fridge for a week or more.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sugar Free "Ice Cream"

Meet our new obsession.  No refined sugar, no dairy.   But sweet, creamy, and chocolatey.  The kids love it, and are completely fooled.  I am excited to make these into "fudgesicles."  True, it doesn't hold much of a candle to true homemade ice cream, but given how healthy it is, it is completely satisfying.  Good enough to have every night.

Not that I'd know that from personal experience.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frozen Treat
Adapted from Sugar Free Mom

2 ripe bananas, preferably brown spotted
2 tablespoons peanut butter, all natural, no added sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened

Using a food processor, place the bananas in and let it go until you start seeing that is becoming very smooth, no lumps.
Add the peanut butter and continue to process until smooth again. Then add the cocoa and process again, taste and decide if you need any stevia.
Pour it into a serving dish and place it back in the freezer for 60 minutes.
Eat up!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Baked sweet potato fries with a spicy topping?  These could make a meal in themselves, they're so good!   I love all things spicy, and the fact that these are baked makes them irresistible.

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Adapted from foodie bride

For the sweet potato fries:
3-4 Tbsp oil (coconut recommended)
1 lb sweet potatoes (2 medium, no longer than ~5-6 inches long)
1 tsp ancho chile powder (substitute regular chile powder if you can
2 tsp chile powder
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Dash of cinnamon
Pinch of salt and black pepper

To make the fries, coat a baking sheet with 3 Tbsp of oil, adding the last Tbsp if necessary.

Preheat the oven and baking sheet to 450.

Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks (no longer than ~5 inches long).
In a large zipper bag, mix the dry spices together.
Add the sweet potato fries, zip close, and shake to coat the fries evenly.
Carefully put the fries onto the baking sheet and bake for ~20 minutes, flipping halfway through - this is easier to do by shaking the pan if you place the fries parallel to the long side of the pan, a couple of back-and-forth shakes will suffice.
Turn on the broiler for the last 1-2 minutes, just until the tips of the fries begin to turn black. Stand watch!!!! They will burn.

Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate in a single layer until ready to serve.

Dip them in Chipotle Ranch Dressing or the Comme Ca sauce!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Curried Chicken Salad

I have been addicted to this salad at my work.  I've been looking for a replica, and this salad does my work one better!  I love that it has no rice, that the raisins get plump with the curry mayo-yogurt mix.  It's a nice sweetness, and it also makes sure my husband will stay away from my "raisin salad."
This is a great weekday lunch!

Curried Chicken Salad

3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
3-4 tablespoons plain or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon curry powder
Large pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 cup red grapes, halved; or raisins, or chopped apple
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, salt and pepper. Add the chicken, celery, fruit and scallions and toss to coat evenly with the yogurt mixture. Stir in the cilantro/parsley. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps

So we try to eat healthy, and we also try to avoid carbs at night.  We have a lot of weight influenced health problems in my family, so we are particularly cautious about the scale.  That means we endlessly are looking for protein rich, veggie rich, and flavor rich meals.  This fits the bill on all accounts.  Although I used romaine, I really think butter lettuce or good old iceberg would be a good choice.  The carrots and water chestnuts add great crunch!!!

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Melissa D'arabian

12 ounces ground turkey
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
8 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 6-ounce can water chestnuts, chopped

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

Drizzling Sauce:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard or spicy mustard
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

8 to 12 large iceberg lettuce leaves, cleaned and dry
Shredded carrots, for serving
Bean sprouts, for serving
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

For the filling: Brown the turkey in the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and water chestnuts, and cook until the mushrooms soften. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar, pour over the turkey mixture and cook 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

For the drizzling sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, mustard, Sriracha, sesame oil and 1/4 cup water.

Serve the turkey mixture with the lettuce leaves, drizzling sauce and vegetables for lettuce wrap assembly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homemade Chicken Nuggets & Honey Mustard Sauce

OK, so my daughter loved these.  I loved them, my husband loved them-  my son refused them.  After all, they are distinctly NOT in a dinosaur shape.  Mea culpa.  No accounting for taste.  The honey mustard sauce is very mild, not very sweet, but just a nice hint of mustard without being neither acrid nor bland.

Honey Mustard Sauce
Adapted from All Recipes

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Chicken Nuggets
Adapted from Bobby Deen and Sugar Free Mom

1 lb chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 cups ground corn flakes
1 eggs white
butter spray

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Place chicken, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, pepper and 1 tsp. of salt in the food processor and process until smooth.

Combine 1 tsp salt with cornflakes in a bowl and beaten egg white in another bowl.

Liberally spray a cookie sheet with baking spray.

Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, roll the chicken paste into a ball and flatten. I suggest making as many as will fit into your egg bowl before coating them in flour as your fingers get quite sticky.

After dipping in egg on both sides, dip into cornflakes.

 Make sure both sides are coated well. Place them on a baking sheet and flatten slightly.  Spray tops with cooking spray, bake for 8-10 minutes.  Flip over and broil for 60 seconds at close range if more crisp is desired.  (see right most nugget...)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spinach Artichoke spread, Mozzarella, and Sun dried Tomato Chicken sandwiches

Mmmm.   This sandwich has a lot of components, but they all work.  It's the perfect sandwich for a lunch with someone special-  easy to prep in advance, but thoroughly impressive in a "yes, you're special" kind of way.  You can even grill the chicken in advance, but I like the temperature contrast with the spinach spread!

Adapted from Jeff Mauro

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Balsamic  vinegar

Spinach and Artichoke Spread:
5 ounces (1/2 a box) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, grated
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
One 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

Sandwich Build:
Fresh Focaccia, recipe follows
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced into thin strips
1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 cups arugula

For the chicken: Marinate the chicken in the Balsamic for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat a grill pan or grill over medium-high heat.

Let any excess marinade drip off the chicken, and then grill the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes per side until cooked through. Once cooked, let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Then slice thinly on the bias.

For the spinach and artichoke spread: Squeeze the drained spinach with a kitchen towel to dry it out. Place into a food processor with the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon zest and juice. Puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add the artichokes. Pulse 2 to 3 times to leave the artichokes slightly chunky.

For the sandwich build: Cut the Fresh Focaccia in half into triangles.  Spread each half with Spinach Artichoke Spread. Then, on the bottom of the bread, sprinkle over the sliced sun-dried tomatoes, top with chicken slices, place a layer of mozzarella down and top with arugula. Place on the other half of bread.