Wednesday, January 27, 2010

4th of July Cupcakes

Drop the batter by the tablespoonful into the cupcake liners. Some we swirled with a toothpick. 

Fork the frosting, I did the same thing...tinted some of the frosting red and some blue. I put the blue and red frostings up the side of my icing bag and the white in the middle.toothpick and others we left as is. Both looked really neat on the inside.

Batter for 12 regular cupcakes, 9 big-top cupcakes, 6 extra-large cupcakes, or 42 mini-cupcakes

• 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 large egg
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup canola or corn oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup sour cream

Batter for 24 regular cupcakes, 18 big-top cupcakes, 12 extra-large cupcakes, or 72 mini-cupcakes

• 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 large eggs
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 cup canola or corn oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup sour cream

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg and yolk (or eggs, for the larger quantity) and sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the oil and vanilla until blended. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. Mix in the flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter is smooth. The batter is ready to bake, or for additions such as nuts, fruit, or other flavorings.


• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, at room temperature
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Make the cupcakes. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners.

Fill each paper liner with a scant 1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/2 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Carefully place the wire rack on top of the cupcakes in their pan. Protecting your hands with pot holders and holding the pan and rack together, invert them to release the cupcakes onto the wire rack. Turn the cupcakes top side up to cool completely.

Make The Frosting. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter, vegetable shortening, and salt to blend them. On low speed, beat in the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla, and almond extract until smoothly blended, then beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute to lighten the frosting.

Using a thin metal spatula, spread about 2 tablespoons of frosting evenly over the top of each cupcake.

The cupcakes can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Meatloaf Cupcakes/Dessert Cupcakes

Adapted from Fine Furious Life

1/2 lb. ground chuck
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 small carrot, chopped
1/2 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 12 regular size muffin tins.
  • Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk and set aside
  • Saute the vegetables in olive oil until softened. Transfer to a food processor and process until very finely minced.
  • Mix the meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt & pepper and vegetable puree in a large bowl with your fingers.
  • Place meat mixture into the muffin tins and bake until brown and pulling away from the sides, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from tin and cool on rack.
For The Frosting:
  • 2- 3.3oz. packages instant mashed potatoes (I used butter flavored to stay away from any "bits" in the mix)
  • Follow the instruction on the packages. Follow one exactly. For the pink frosting, use the juice from 1-2 cans of beets for the liquid, adding water to equal the amount needed.
  • Let cool slightly, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the frosting on the cakes.
  • Sprinkle with very finely diced green bell pepper.


Once cooled, frost with vanilla frosting, mounding it in the middle. Use a teaspoon to make an indentation in the middle, and plop down a yellow Starburst. Drizzle with gravy (caramel sauce).

**The food looks like the dessert and the dessert looks like the food!!

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

Adapted from: Food Network magazine

For the Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten 

For the Filling:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup marshmallow creme

For the Ganache:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

• For the Icing

1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon milk (I used 1 1/2 to 2)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Place paper liners in muffin tin for about 18-20 cupcakes.

• Prepare the cupcakes: Bring the sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Pour into a large bowl; add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture has cooled slightly. Stir in the vanilla.

• Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

• Using a mixer, beat the eggs into the chocolate, then mix in the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for about 25 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.

• (They will sink in the middle...they'll puff up when filled later)

For the filling: Using a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon heavy cream; beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in batches, alternating after each addition. Beat in the marshmallow creme; set aside.

• For the ganache: Place the chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl. Heat the cream and 1 tablespoon butter until just boiling, then pour over the chocolate; let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla; let stand until cool but still glossy and liquid.

Spoon the filling into a pastry bag with a medium tip. Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake top; fill until the cupcake is heavier (do not overfill). (It's OK if some of the filling peeks out, it will be covered by the ganache.)

• Spoon a little ganache on each cupcake and lightly spread with an offset spatula or a knife. Chill for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing: Using a mixer, beat the remaining 1 stick butter, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, the milk and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Spoon into a pastry bag with a small tip (I used a #2 plain tip); pipe onto the cupcakes to decorate.

• Store in the refrigerator.

Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert

There really is no's how you make Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert:

• Place a layer of 12 ice cream sandwiches on the bottom of a 13 x 9" pan. (You'll have to get creative to make the last 4 or so fit.)

• Cover that with a layer of thawed Cool Whip, using the entire regular size tub.

• On top of that, generously drizzle on caramel and fudge toppings.
• Sprinkle on Heath Bits.

• Repeat the layers, but instead of Heath bits, cut up Heath or Skor Bars in large chunks and sprinkle those on top. (I used about 5 bars).

Chocolate Quesadillas


• chocolate chips (regular or mini)
• cinnamon sugar
• tortillas
• powdered sugar (optional, but pretty)

Just heat up a skillet on med/low with a little butter, oil, or cooking spray...whatever you have available. Cover one half of a flour tortilla with chocolate chips, sprinkle chips with cinnamon sugar. Fold in half, place in the pan and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side.

Let sit for a couple of minutes so that all of the chocolate doesn't ooze out. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter and dust with sifted powdered sugar. Voila...dessert in a flash!

Cream Cheese Triangles


2 pkg. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
2 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 tsp. vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste to jazz it up a bit)
2 egg yolks
8 TBSP sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Place one pkg of rolls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Push seams together.

Beat other ingredients until smooth. Spread on top of crescent rolls on sheet. (An off-set spreader works great for this.)

Place second pkg of rolls on top. Pinch together to seal sides. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.

Let cool, then cut into triangles (I use a pizza cutter). Wrap in foil and chill in the refrigerator. Serve cold. DO NOT test before your guests arrive...there may not be any left! :)

Pico de Gallo and Guacamole – YUM-O!

From: Pioneer Woman


• 5 whole Plum (roma) Tomatoes
• ½ whole Large (or 1 Small) Onion
• 3 whole Jalapeno Peppers
• Cilantro
• Lime Juice
• Salt To Taste


• 3 whole Avacados
• Pico De Gallo
• Lime Juice
• Salt To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Pico de Gallo:

Chop jalapenos, tomatoes and onions into a very small dice. (Leave seeds in your jalapenos for a hotter pico). Adjust amount of jalapenos to your preferred temperature. Next, chop up a nice-sized bunch of cilantro. Just remove and discard the long leafless stems before chopping. No need to remove the leaves from the stems completely. Place all of these ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir.

Squeeze the juice of half of one lime into the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir again.


Start with buttery-soft avocados. Halve them lengthwise and remove the pits. Next, with a spoon scrape the “meat” out onto a large plate. Next, mash the avocados, making sure to leave it relatively chunky. Add just a couple of shakes of salt to taste. Next, add a generous helping of Pico de Gallo. Fold together. Lastly squeeze the juice of half of a lime over the top. Give it one last stir.

Restaurant Style Salsa

From: Pioneer Woman

• 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
• 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
• ¼ cups Chopped Onion
• 1 clove Garlic, Minced
• 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
• ¼ teaspoons Sugar
• ¼ teaspoons Salt
• ¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
• ½ cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)
• ½ whole Lime Juice

Preparation Instructions

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Chicken & White Bean Soup

• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces, or shredded
• 3 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth • 1 cup Pace® Thick & Chunky Salsa
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 (16 ounce) can small white beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
• 1 large onion, chopped
1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it's well browned, stirring often.

2. Stir the chicken, broth, salsa, garlic, cumin, beans, corn and onion in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Add the chicken.

3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours* or until the chicken is cooked through

Optional add in’s: extra salsa, green chiles, cayenne, top with cilantro, sour cream, jack cheese, tortilla chips

Keith Byrd's Version

4 chicken breasts. Boiled and shredded

1 medium onion. Chopped fine.
4 cans Great Northern White Beans
1 can of chopped green chilis (4 oz.)
2 cans of chicken broth. (May not use all of broth, depending on desired thickness).
1 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Oregano
Chili Powder (to taste)
***I also add some Chipotle Chili Pepper seasoning.
Little bit of Salt

No-Mayonnaise Ranch Dressing

• 1 cup low-fat sour cream
• 1/2 cup buttermilk
• 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper


1. Place sour cream and buttermilk into a mixing bowl. Season with parsley, chives, garlic powder, dill, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Healthier Option: 1 cup fat free plain yogurt, and 1/3 cup Light Sour Cream, and 1/3 cup Veganaise grapeseed oil Mayo. (sometimes a splash of buttermilk too)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spinach Salad w/ Pepper Jelly Dressing

• 3 tablespoons mild pepper jelly
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 2 cups baby spinach leaves
• 2 ounces goat cheese, sliced
• 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the pepper jelly, olive oil, salt and mustard to make the dressing. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Let cool.

2. Place the spinach in a large bowl, and toss with the dressing. Divide between two serving bowls. Top each one with slices of goat cheese and sprinkle with walnuts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Baked Ravoli

• 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 clove(s) garlic, minced
• Coarse salt
• Ground pepper
• 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) dried thyme or oregano
• 1 can(s) (28-ounce) whole tomatoes
• 1 can(s) (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes
• 2 pound(s) store-bought ravioli (not canned)
• 1 1/2 cup(s) shredded mozzarella cheese
• 1/2 cup(s) grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (pasta will continue to cook in oven). Drain pasta; return to pot.

3. Toss sauce with pasta. Pour pasta into a large gratin dish or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Chicken Enchilada Chili

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken (boneless & skinless)
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared enchilada sauce
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans tomatoes with seasoning (your choice)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans pinto or kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 onion, diced (or 1 tablespoon dried, minced onion flakes)
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Pour enchilada sauce and canned tomatoes into the bottom of a 6 quart slow cooker. Add beans, celery, onion and spices. Stir to combine. Place chicken on top.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or until flavors have combined. If you are using dried beans, you may need to cook longer to fully soften the beans. Since I was using the chicken quarters I got on sale, I fished out the chicken after about 4 hours, and removed the bones. I then stirred the chicken back into the pot.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Buttermilk Pancakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 3 cups buttermilk 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted 
  • *Optional 1 t. vanilla
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together buttermilk, milk, eggs and melted butter. Keep the two mixtures separate until you are ready to cook.

2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. You can flick water across the surface and if it beads up and sizzles, it's ready!

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, using a wooden spoon or fork to blend. Stir until it's just blended together. Do not over stir! Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/2 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

**Use the old baker's tricks of letting your buttermilk, milk and eggs sit out for an hour before baking to get to room tempurature and you'll get increased fluff on these. And don't overmix. Be sure to leave small lumps of flour that break open when pouring out the mix on the griddle.

I added one extra teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of lemon juice. My trick for getting these nice and fluffy was to let the batter sit for a day or two in the refrigerator. The oxidation of the lemon juice and baking soda really caused the batter to swell with all those wonderful air bubbles that make a nice, tender and fluffy pancakes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ricotta Muffins

Adapted just barely from Pastries from La Brea Bakery, a gift from a very nice lady.  I got from Smitten Kitchen

The book says it yields 12 standard-size muffins, but I could have gotten 14 (if I hadn’t insisted upon overfilling and then overflowing the tins)

1/2 cup (2 ounces) walnuts or pecans
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup (4 ounces) ricotta cheese
6 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream
Kosher salt, to taste

Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter a 1/2-cup capacity muffin tin.

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned (though I like my pecans a darker brown, for better flavor), about 8 to 10 minutes. Shake the pan halfway through to ensure that the nuts toast evenly. Cool, chop finely and set aside.

Turn the oven up to 350°F.

In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the fennel seeds, stirring occasionally until they become aromatic and turn slightly brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Allow to cool and finely chop, crush or grind in a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together to combine. Sprinkle in the fennel seeds. Make a large well in the center and pour in the yogurt and oil. Whisk together the liquids and gradually draw in the the dry ingredients, mixing until incorperated.

To prepare the filling: Place the ricotta in a mixing bowl and, if stiff, break it up wtih a rubber spatula to loosen. Stire in the crème fraîche and a pinch of salt.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip, a plastic bag with the corner snipped off or a spoon, fill each muffin tin one-third of the way with batter. Place one tablespoon of the filling into the center of each muffin.

(I suspect at this point that Silverton believes that your filling will be thick, and perhaps with a stiff ricotta and crème fraîche, it might have been, but my mixture, with store brand ricotta and sour cream, was more of a puddle that spilled out into a flat layer. While it didn’t matter in the end, it did make it harder to put the remaining muffin batter — which was stiffer than the filling — over the ricotta mixture with just a spoon and I ended up having to go the plastic bag/piping bag route to easily cover it.)

Pipe or spoon the remaining batter into the cups, filling them to just below the rim. (Unlike you see in my pictures, as I overfilled the tins.) Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the nuts over the top of each. (I had extra.)

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly brown and firm to the touch.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Raspberry Pecan Cheese Spread

recipe from: Keith & Libby Byrd

1 cup real Mayonnaine (Hellmans)
2 cups shredded MonteryJack Cheese Blend
1 t. Cayenne Pepper
1 Bunch Green Onions (diced)
1 cup chopped Pecans
1 jar Raspberry Jam

Mix the mayo, cheese, cayenne pepper, green onions, and spread on bottom of serving dish.  Spread jam on top of cheese layer.  Top with chopped pecans.  Serve with crackers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perfect Pound Cake


• 3 sticks Butter
• 3 cups Sugar
• 5 whole Eggs
• 1 teaspoon Butter Flavoring
• 2 teaspoons Lemon Flavoring
• 3 cups All-purpose Flour
• 1 cup Sprite, 7-UP, Or Sierra Mist

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing after each addition. Add butter and lemon extracts and mix well. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add soft drink, then mix together until combined. Scrape sides of bowl, then mix briefly.

Pour into a greased Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until the cake is no longer jiggly.

Remove cake from oven and invert pan until cake drops out. Slice and chow down!

Apple Dumplings


• 2 whole Granny Smith Apples
• 2 cans (8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
• 2 sticks Butter
• 1-½ cup Sugar
• 1 teaspoon Vanilla
• Cinnamon, To Taste
• 1 can (12 Oz.) Mountain Dew Soda

Preparation Instructions

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.

Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Garden Pepper Marmalade

Recipe is from Chef Cassadee Dabney with Ashley's at the Capital in Little Rock. This marmalade adds a little sweet and spice to pork or fish or try it on a slice of hot, buttered corn bread!


4 cups thinly sliced mixed peppers
2 cups white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
Pinch of salt


Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottom, non-reactive pot.

Stirring often, simmer on low until the sugar begins to caramelize, about 30 minutes.

Cool and transfer to a sterilized jar.

This will keep in the refrigerator for 6 months.

Turkey Salad


• 6 eggs
• 6 cups cooked turkey meat
• 1 (16 ounce) jar sweet pickles, chopped
• 1 1/2 (10 ounce) jars mustard-mayonnaise blend
• 3/4 cup mayonnaise

1. Place eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.

2. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the eggs, turkey, pickles, prepared sandwich and salad sauce and mayonnaise. Chill in the refrigerator approximately 3 hours before serving.

I put the grapes or even mandarin oranges, as well as the pecans or walnuts directly into the salad. The chunkier the better. It is so good!

I halved the number of eggs and added celery,green onions, and mandarin oranges. Try using half Miracle whip and half mayo for a taste sensation

Nana’s Spaghetti Sauce

• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
• 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon white sugar
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes


1. In a large skillet combine the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, garlic, sugar, vinegar, oregano and red pepper flakes. Stir all together and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes (for the best flavor). Stir frequently to prevent burning.

Easy Pizza Sauce/Crust

• 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
• 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon ground oregano
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon ground paprika

• In a medium bowl, Mix together tomato sauce and tomato paste until smooth. Stir in oregano, garlic and paprika.

OMG! With a little TLC, this sauce tastes just like the sauce in NYC Pizzerias! I added 1/2Tbs basil, 1/2tsp sugar + 1/2 tsp onion powder.

Easy Pizza Crust
• 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
• 1 teaspoon white sugar
• 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
• 2 1/2 cups bread flour
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan or baker's peel dusted with cornmeal. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Spicy Cilantro Dressing

• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 whole green onions, coarsely chopped
• 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• salt and pepper to taste
Place lime juice, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, cilantro, green onions, and jalapeno peppers together in a blender or food processor. Process until well blended and smooth. Add sour cream and mayonnaise. Process again until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the container as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Great Pimento Cheese


• 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• 1/4 cup sour cream
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup grated white onion
• 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers (such as RO*TEL®)
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• salt and ground black pepper to taste
• 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


1. Stir together the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until smooth. Add the grated onion, the drained tomatoes with green chilies, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in the Cheddar cheese. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

• 1 pound(s) hot Italian sausage links, pricked several times with fork
• 3 tablespoon(s) vegetable oil
• 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
• 1 medium green pepper, chopped
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 clove(s) garlic , finely chopped
• 2 medium stalks celery, chopped
• 1 can(s) (14 to 14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth
• 1 can(s) (14 1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes
• 1 cup(s) water
• 1 package(s) (10 ounces) frozen sliced okra, thawed
• 1 bay leaf
• 1/4 teaspoon(s) dried oregano
• 1/4 teaspoon(s) dried thyme
• Salt
• 1 1/2 cup(s) regular long-grain white rice
• 1 1/2 pound(s) shelled and deveined shrimp, with tail part of shell left on if you like


1. Heat 6-quart Dutch oven on medium-high until hot. Add sausage links and cook 8 minutes or until well browned, turning frequently. Transfer sausages to plate to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. When cool, cut sausages into 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices.

2. While sausages cool, discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings from Dutch oven. Add oil to Dutch oven and heat on medium. (If your sausages are very lean and you do not get 1 tablespoon drippings, add enough additional oil to drippings to equal 1/4 cup fat total.) Gradually stir flour into drippings until blended, and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until flour mixture (roux) is deep brown, stirring constantly. Add green pepper, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Return sausages to Dutch oven; stir in broth, tomatoes, water, okra, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30 minutes to blend flavors.

4. Meanwhile, prepare rice as label directs. In medium bowl, toss shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

5. Add shrimp to Dutch oven; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until opaque throughout.

6. To serve, discard bay leaf. Serve gumbo in large bowls. Top each serving with a scoop of rice. Makes about 10 cups.

Braised Beef and Mushrooms

• 2 tablespoon(s) canola oil
• 1 tablespoon(s) butter
• 4 cup(s) finely diced onions
• 2 clove(s) (large) garlic, crushed and peeled
• 2 tablespoon(s) tomato paste
• 2 tablespoon(s) sweet paprika
• 2 teaspoon(s) chopped fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried
• 4 pound(s) beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 teaspoon(s) salt , divided
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• 2 pound(s) cremini mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 cup(s) reduced-sodium beef broth
• 8 large shiitake mushroom caps, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 2-3 teaspoons finely minced fresh tarragon or dill for garnish


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Heat oil and butter in a large heavy casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, paprika and marjoram.

3. Season beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of pepper. Add the beef and cremini mushrooms to the pot; gently stir to combine. Add broth and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.

4. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake until the beef is very tender, 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 hours. Stir in shiitake mushrooms and continue baking , covered, for 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven, uncover and let stand, undisturbed, for about 15 minutes.

5. Skim or blot any visible fat from the stew. Transfer the beef and mushrooms to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Return the pot to the stove and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the sauce just coats a spoon. Stir the beef, mushrooms and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt into the sauce and heat through, about 1 minute. Serve garnished with tarragon (or dill), if desired.


• 1 round loaf of Italian bread
• 1/4 pound(s) thinly sliced hard salami
• 1/4 pound(s) sliced provolone cheese
• 1/4 pound(s) thinly sliced deli ham
• 1 jar(s) (7-ounce) roasted red peppers, minus the oil (optional-- you can substitute tomato slices, or just leave both out.)

Olive Salad:
• Green olives
• Black olives
• Cocktail onions (found with pickles and olives in the grocery store)
• 1 stalk(s) celery, diced small
• Italian herbs (Use premixed Italian seasonings , or combine oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, and/or thyme.)
• Olive oil


1. Slice the bread in half horizontally, and pull out some of the soft insides to make it hollow. Eat the extra bread, save it to make breadcrumbs, or feed it to the birds—just don't waste it.

2. To make the olive salad: Coarsely chop the olives and cocktail onions. On average, the pieces should be about the size of a raisin. Combine all ingredients. Olive Salad will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

3. Spoon half of the olive salad into the bottom portion of the loaf. Layer the meats, cheese, and roasted red pepper on top of that. Add the remaining olive salad, and quickly put the top half of the bread on before olive salad spills everywhere. If you're starving, go ahead to step 3, but if you can stand the wait, let the sandwich rest for at least 10 minutes so that the bread soaks up the juices. (Put it in the fridge if you’re letting it rest for longer than 15 minutes.)

4. Cut the giant sandwich into quarter-rounds to serve. Can you fit it in your mouth?

Classic Meatloaf

• 3 slice(s) white sandwich bread
• 1/3 cup(s) whole milk
• 1 1/2 pound(s) ground beef chuck
• 1/2 pound(s) ground pork
• 1/2 medium onion, grated
• 2 clove(s) garlic , minced
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 cup(s) ketchup
• Coarse salt and ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place bread in food processor; pulse until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in milk. Set aside, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine beef, pork, onion, garlic, egg, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add bread-milk mixture, and mix very gently with a fork (do not overmix).

3. Place meat mixture on prepared baking sheet, and form into a loaf about 9 inches long and 4 to 5 inches wide.

4. Bake , brushing twice with remaining 1/4 cup ketchup during baking, until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees, 45 to 55 minutes. Let meatloaf rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Edible Chocolate Cups

• 1 3/4 cups DOVE® Brand Dark Chocolate
• 2 cups M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies
• 15 full size aluminum cupcake liners with paper liner removed
• 1. Place the dark chocolate in a bowl and set over simmering water for 2 minutes, or until half the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir the chocolate until it melts completely. Liberally brush the insides of the aluminum cupcake liners with chocolate. Put the cups on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

• 2. Replace the bowl of chocolate over the pot of simmering water for about 1 minute. Again, liberally brush the cups with the chocolate and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

• 3. Gently pull the aluminum liners away from the chocolate cup and place the chocolate cups in the refrigerator until ready to use.

• 4. When ready to use, fill the chocolate cups with M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies.

Angel Biscuits

1 pkg (2 1/2 tsp.) dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 3/4 to 2 cups milk
5 cups flour (I use 3 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large measuring cup with a pouring spout. Let it sit while you stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. When the yeast and water looks creamy, stir in the milk. Now back to the dry ingredients, mix in the butter with your hands, or a pastry mixer if you don't like to get messy, I use my hands and crumble/rub the butter into the flour.

You are trying to get a coarse crumb texture. When it's there, quickly and gently stir in the yeast/milk mixture adding only as much as you need to get the dough to come together. As soon as it starts to come together into a rough ball, dump it out onto a floured surface and knead quickly 5 or 6 times.

The goal is to get it fairly smooth without overworking it. Always err on the side of underworked if you are unsure how much to mix it. Biscuit dough needs to be handled as little and as gently as possible to keep it tender. Too much handling will activate the gluten in the dough and you will have the dreaded hockey puck biscuit problem.

Next you want to pat it out so it's about 3/4 of an inch thick. I like thicker biscuits so if you want thinner ones, aim for 1/2 an inch. Cut them out with a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass and arrange them on your baking sheet.

If you like softer biscuits place them so they are touching each other and for crispier ones, set them a bit apart. Cover them with a clean towel and let them rise for 30 minutes to an hour. Slide the sheet into a preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. They should be brown and crusty and everyone will be standing there with their plates. These are seriously good biscuits folks!

Soft Sourdough Bread

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup sourdough starter (Replenish starter with 3/4 cup water and 1 1/2 cup flour)
3 Tablespoons soft butter
3 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons wheat germ
1 Tablespoon salt
4 cups flour (I use 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups unbleached white)

Stir together yeast, milk, butter and honey. It will be lumpy because of the starter but take heart, it's nothing a little kneading won't fix. Mix in the wheat germ, salt and flour and stir until the dough starts to come together. Dump it out on a floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. This dough may be sticky at the beginning so add flour as you need to work with it. Set the kneaded dough to rise in a large bowl in a warm place. If I am not using my oven, I set it in there with the light turned on. Rise until doubled in size. Gently deflate the dough and shape into a ball. Set on an oiled baking sheet and let it rise again. When it is about twice as big and looks puffy, preheat your oven to 4oo degrees. Bake the bread 25 to 30 minutes or until it is golden brown. Cool the bread on a rack at least 20 minutes before you slice it. Guard it from your family members if need be.

Sourdough Starter:

Use a plastic bowl to make the starter in because very very bad things will happen to the poor little starter if you make it in a metal bowl!!

Into the bowl:

1/2 a cup of soft flour and 1/4 a cup of pure water. Stir with a wooden spoon until the starter is a smooth soft ball. Then cover it with a clean kitchen towel.

The next day it should like (little bubbles on top of the dough).

Again using the wooden spoon and stir in another 1/2 a cup of soft flour and 1/4 a cup of pure water and stir, stir, stir. Cover it with the clean kitchen towel.

Do this for two more days and on the fourth day there will be many, many bubbles on the top of the dough! After four days the starter is good to go…you can make bread!!

Homemade Marshmallows

From: Inspiried Nutmeg

2 Tablespoons 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (3 packets)
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
cornstarch for dusting the cut marshmallows

Soften gelatin in the cold water. This will turn into a fairly solid clump of gelatin but never fear, this will go away. Mix sugar, corn syrup, hot water and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook to soft ball stage (234 degrees on a candy thermometer). I was taught me to test my candy in a cup of cold water and that is the most reliable way for me. All you do is dribble a bit of the mixture into a small cup of cold water and see how it hardens. For soft ball, you should be able to gather the syrup into a ball that slightly flattens when you lift it up out of the cold water. This is much easier for me than testing a thermometer and fiddling with trying to keep it in the pan right. Besides, with the cold water method you can sample the tests as you go along. Can't exactly throw out that little ball of syrup can you?

While your syrup is cooking, beat the egg white to soft peaks. A stand mixer works best for this! After you decide the syrup is soft ball stage, take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. It will bubble up when you stir it in but stir on. As soon as the gelatin is well mixed pour it into the beaten egg white with the mixer running. That is why you need a stand mixer or helper, that syrup is super hot!
Once you get the syrup mixture beat in, beat for 10 minutes (see I told you would need help). The marshmallows with triple in volume and be very fluffy. Pretty isn't it?

 After 10 minutes, pour into a buttered 9 x 13 pan and cover with a piece of buttered waxed paper. If you do not butter it you will hate me and come looking for me, so butter away my friend. The paper smooths the top and gives the final marshmallow a nice square shape. After several hours you can remove the paper and sprinkle the top with cornstarch. This keeps it from sticking. Turn it out onto a cutting board and cut into strips then cubes with a knife. I put a 1/2 cup of cornstarch in a big bowl and toss the marshmallow in the cornstarch after I finish cutting a strip. This is very messy and sticky but fun. I keep them in a gallon ziplock bag and use them for smores and hot cocoa. Really, they are great, you have to try them!