Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pina Colada Pie



Doing some spring cleaning over the last couple of days, I found an old box full of newspaper recipes and hand written recipes from my mother-in-law.  I'm so intrigued about old recipes, the differences in cooking techniques and the simplicity of many of the recipes seem to reflect an easier, more relaxed era.




I came across a recipe for "Two Minute Hawaiian Pie"  The recipe itself is very simple, with only a few ingredients.  I liked the basic structure of the pie, so I decided to tweak it just a tad.  What I came up with is Pina Colada Pie.....full of pineapple and coconut and so creamy!

I hope you enjoy it!




Pina Colada Pie


  • ¼ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 16 ounces sour cream (can be regular, light or fat free)
  • ½ cup Ricotta Cheese (whole milk or skim)*
  • 2 packages (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • ½ - 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple (with juice or heavy syrup), undrained
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed (can be fat free)
  • 1 deep dish 9" pie crust (frozen or fresh), baked and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread ¼ cup coconut evenly on baking sheet.  Bake coconut for 6 – 8 minutes or until coconut is a light golden brown.  Allow to cool.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the sour cream and Ricotta Cheese on high speed for one minute.

Add instant vanilla pudding mix and beat for two minutes.  Add coconut (to taste) and pineapple and beat on low speed until just well blended.  Fold in the whipped topping until completely incorporated.

Spoon into cooled pie shell and refrigerate.  Sprinkle toasted coconut evenly over the pie.

*You could also use 4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature, in place of the Ricotta Cheese.  Beat the cream cheese first and slowly add the sour cream to it to keep the mixture smooth.




Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So Much More Than Just Waffles (though, Just Waffles are good, too)!




So I was thinking of doing a Breakfast Waffle Sandwich for my May, 2012 Sylvia's Kitchen television show.


I was heading down the path to Black Forest Ham and Swiss Cheese sandwiched between two waffles with some kind of sweetened spread.  I thought it sounded like a great idea....easy to eat and portable so you can eat it on the way to work or school.

I almost put it to paper.....then it hit me, I really love sausage and waffles together with my syrup.....I drown both of them in syrup....so, why not put them together???

DUH!!!!  (I had a moment)

Sausage in the waffle batter!  I always put pecans in the batter for my husband, so why not sausage AND apple, to make it a little sweet and give it some crunch!  So that's what I did and here is the recipe!


Sausage and Apple Waffles


  • 2 cups prepared baking mix (Bisquick or Jiffy)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup club soda
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large sweet apple (Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Gala), peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
  • 4 ounces pork sausage, cooked and finely crumbled 

Mix together baking mix, oil, butter, eggs, club soda, milk, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until well blended.  Stir in apple and sausage and mix well.

Preheat waffle iron, spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour appropriate amount for your waffle iron, lower lid and wait!

To keep waffles hot and crispy, preheat oven to 175 degrees and place waffles directly on the grate.  Do not cover them….that makes them soggy.

Feel free to substitute the proper measured ingredients for the baking mix....I try and keep things easy for my busy viewers and readers!

Also, add some more sausage, if desired!  I used ready to serve sausage patties, that just needed to be warmed in the microwave, then I chopped them up!

PS.....I am still going to do the Waffle Sandwich thing!  =)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

This Takes The Cake!!





This cake is light and moist and refreshing!  The perfect treat to bring to your next picnic, family reunion or potluck!  Everyone loves it!








Margarita Cake

Cake

  • 1 boxed cake mix, white or lemon (I like the lemon for more citrus flavor)
  • 1 box (4 serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2/3 cup prepared Margarita Mix (without alcohol)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lime

Glaze

  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons prepared Margarita Mix (without alcohol)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an angel food tube pan or bundt cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Place all cake ingredients in a large bowl.  With an electric hand mixer, start beating on low to combine ingredients.  When dry ingredients are moistened, increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times.

Pour cake mix into prepared pan.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

Let cake sit for 20 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

While cake cools mix powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of Margarita Mix, adding more Margarita Mix if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.

Using a wooden or metal skewer, poke 20 - 30 holes in the top of the cake.  Pour glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake.  

You can make this in a 13" x 9" cake pan, too, just cut back the baking time to 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean!

Think outside the box and try a Strawberry Margarita Cake!  Use strawberry margarita mix instead of regular, a strawberry cake mix and skip the lime zest!  Top it with Strawberry Margarita Glaze or whipped cream with sliced strawberries!  (I have to thank Ashley for the idea!)

You can use the Margarita Mix with alcohol for an adult party, if you would like....use the same measurements!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Freezer to Dinner in One Hour!


This has probably never happened to you.....

You walk in the door after a long, hard day at work (and a really bad start to your morning) and the first question that greets you is...."What's for dinner?"



Rewind......

Earlier in the day, after you found your daughter's gerbil had made a new bed out of your shoe, the toilet had overflowed and there was no hot water for your shower....the last thing on your mind was taking something out of the freezer for dinner.

So, now what?  Don't worry, I've got you covered with this super easy dish that uses frozen chicken breasts and gets dinner on your table in an hour!  Add some noodles, rice or mashed potatoes and you have dinner!

OH, one more thing....don't tell the family, but, this dish is VERY healthy!  YAY!!!



Baked Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts


  • 3 or 4 frozen (or thawed) boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
  • 1 can (14 ounces) quartered artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 cup sliced white or crimini mushrooms
  • 3 - 4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thin on the diagonal (optional)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth (can be fat free)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Place chicken breasts in a single layer on bottom of baking dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Evenly layer the artichoke hearts, mushrooms and scallions over the seasoned chicken breasts.

In a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth and flour together, pour over chicken, artichokes and mushrooms in the baking dish.

Place, uncovered, in oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until chicken is cooked thru and the juices from the chicken run clear when cut into with a knife.  Remove chicken from pan and stir juices to blend.

Serve with rice, brown rice, mashed potatoes or noodles.

Serves 4

If you don't like artichokes, use broccoli!  No fresh mushrooms, add a can of mushrooms!  No scallions, finely chop some onion!

Don't sweat it...YOU'VE got this!!!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Asian Style Cucumber Salad



I love Seaweed Salad....the kind you get from your favorite sushi place!  Unfortunately, my budget doesn't always allow me to indulge my "habit"!




So, after much research and reading, I decided to recreate the dish using some more common ingredients, namely cucumbers AND nori.

Traditional Seaweed Salad is often made with Wakame, which is a dried Japanese seaweed.  It's hard to find and kind of expensive.  Nori is the dried seaweed sheets you find in the Oriental section of your grocery store that is used to make sushi rolls.  Though nori is an optional ingredient, I find it adds that "sea" flavor that you get in Seaweed Salad....it's a hard flavor to describe, but, I really like it!


To julienne the cucumbers, I used a "julienne" peeler that I found at a garage sale....I don't use it for much, but it came in handy for this recipe!    You are looking for very thin, narrow strips of cucumber!  And, leave the skin on....it adds texture and color!


Asian Style Cucumber Salad


  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 English cucumbers, thinly julienned*
  • 2 sheets dried nori (sushi wrappers), cut into thin strips, optional
  • 3 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In medium bowl, mix together rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, garlic and scallions.

Toss in cucumbers and nori (if using) and toss to coat.  Allow to marinate for 30 to 60 minutes, stirring several times to distribute marinade completely.

Drain mixture, place salad in bowl and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds.

Serves 4




*If using regular cucumbers, cut cucumbers in half and remove seeds with a spoon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Asparagus Bundles




A wonderful springtime vegetable combined with flaky crescent pastry creates a unique side dish!





Asparagus Bundles      


  • 12 – 16 asparagus stalks
  • 1 package crescent dough sheet (or crescent rolls)*
  • ¼ cup apricot preserves or chutney
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan, Provolone or Monterey Jack cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Divide crescent sheet dough into 4 equal rectangles.

Divide apricot preserves equally among crescent dough and spread evenly over dough.  Sprinkle each dough rectangle evenly and equally with shredded cheese.

Remove ends from asparagus stalks and cut all stalks to the same length, approximately 1 inch longer than crescent dough.

Place asparagus on dough rectangles with tips sticking out from the dough.  Bring dough over the top and pinch to seal seam to create bundles.  Place each bundle seam side down on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 15 – 17 minutes until dough is golden brown.

*If using crescent rolls, divide into 4 rectangles (2 rolls make a rectangle) and press seams together before spreading with preserves.

Serves 4

TIP:  Make this a full meal by adding 4 slices (approximately 2 ounces each) of smoked ham from your deli!  Cut each ham slice in half.  To assemble:   place one slice on top of cheese, add the asparagus, and then place other slice on top of asparagus.  Seal bundle as indicated!

Cordon Bleu Pasta

Using fat free chicken broth and low fat cream cheese plus reduced fat cheese to create the sauce lowers the fat and calories in this delicious "comfort" food casserole!

Cordon Bleu Pasta

1 pound tube shaped whole wheat pasta
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cubed
1 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 ounces low fat cream cheese, at room temperature and cubed
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup cubed smoked ham, from the deli (low sodium, if possible)
1 cup shredded reduced fat Swiss cheese
¼ cup minced parsley
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Several dashes of hot sauce, or to taste
½ cup Panko Crumbs
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 13” x 9” baking dish (or equivalent) with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over med-high heat, stir in 1 – 2 tablespoons salt and add the pasta.  Boil pasta, stirring occasionally, according to package directions, removing pasta two minutes before package states.  Drain and return pasta to the pot.

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium sauce pan over medium high heat, lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Add onions and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes.  Add cubed chicken and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to lightly brown chicken.  Pour in ½ cup chicken broth and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together remaining chicken broth and flour, until well blended.  Whisk into chicken mixture.  Add cream cheese and add to chicken broth, stirring until cream cheese is melted.

Stir chicken mixture into pasta, add scallions, ham, Swiss cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and hot sauce and mix well.  Pour mixture evenly into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with Panko crumbs and lightly spray crumbs with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until bubbly.  Place dish under broiler for a few minutes to brown the top, if desired.

Serves 6

Fresh Orange Muffins


By using fresh oranges and zest to make these muffins, it's almost like eating sunshine....full of healthy fiber and Vitamin C!


Fresh Orange Muffins

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 medium oranges
¼ cup orange juice
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin (either a regular size 12 or a large size 6) with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and ginger until well blended.

Zest both oranges into flour mixture and mix well.

Peel oranges (and seed, if necessary) and place in blender with additional orange juice.  Blend oranges and juice on high for 30 seconds, or until oranges are pureed.  Add egg and butter and blend on high again for 10 seconds.

Add orange juice mixture to flour mixture and stir until dry ingredients are just moistened.

Fill muffin cups ½ full.

Bake for 18 – 22 minutes for regular muffins, 21 – 26 minutes for large muffins, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool for 5 minutes and remove from tins to a rack.

If desired, drizzle with orange icing.  Combine 1 cup powdered sugar with enough orange juice to create an icing that will drizzle over the muffins.

Makes 15 regular size muffins or 8 large size muffins.

Orange Whip






This is a wonderful recipe for an after school kid's treat OR a light dessert!  The perfect cool treat for a hot summer afternoon!




Orange Whip

2 medium navel oranges
1 box orange gelatin, sugar free
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup evaporated milk, chilled
1 cup fat free frozen whipped topping, thawed

Roll oranges gently on counter to help release juice.  Cut oranges in half, between navel and stem end.  Carefully, cut between skin and meat of the fruit, being extremely careful not to cut thru skin.  Using your fingers, remove all the meat of the orange and place in a blender.  Repeat on all four orange halves.  Clean orange halves of all remaining meat and set aside.

Blend the oranges on high speed until they are pureed.  Pour into one cup measure (adding water or orange juice to make one cup of liquid).

In medium, microwave safe bowl, bring one cup water to a boil.  Add gelatin to water and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.  Add orange mixture to gelatin and stir to blend well.  Refrigerate until mixture is almost set.

Using a hand mixer, while beating at medium speed, add vanilla and evaporated milk in a steady stream.  Continue beating until gelatin is light and frothy. 

Place orange halves in or on top of small bowls (to keep them upright), fill evenly with orange gelatin and level off top (you will have extra orange gelatin).  Return orange halves to refrigerator to firm completely.

Add whipped topping to remaining gelatin mixture and beat with hand mixer, on high, until well blended.  Place in refrigerator to firm.

Makes 4 orange bowls plus 4 servings of Orange Whip.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Perfect Soft Boiled Eggs and A Priceless Memory

The largest single chicken egg ever laid weighed a pound with a double yolk and double shell.....OUCH! But, it made a GREAT omelet!

Eggs are so yummy and they pack so much nutritional wonderfulness for only 70 calories! Check out their nutritional value!

I was struck a few weeks ago with a memory.....not sure how it came to 

me, or what triggered it. You know the kind....OUT OF THE BLUE, something out of your past hits you "up long side the head"! I've talked before about my mother and the kitchen....not her best venue, but put her with a group of people and she could tell you everything about them in 4 minutes....but, I digress!

Mom used to make the VERY BEST soft boiled eggs when I was growing up. They were perfectly done EVERY TIME! The whites were fully cooked, but not hard, and the yolks were warm and runny! The perfect place to dunk toast! They were Dad's favorite breakfast, but we were only blessed with them on special occasions!

I can make the perfect hard cooked egg (NEVER boiled), but I have never tried the "ever elusive" PERFECT Soft Boiled Egg, so I went on the hunt for every trick and technique I could find and I tried MANY!
Some techniques were just weird, but, I tried them anyway.....like this one.....one half inch of cold water (DON'T cover the egg with water), put in your egg, high heat to boiling for 4 minutes, turn down heat to medium for 3 minutes, immediately shock eggs for one minute in cold water.....tried it TWICE.....no runny yolk!

Warm water, put in egg...count the minutes, turn heat up, count the minutes, turn heat down, count the minutes, put in cold water, count the minutes, stand on your head, count the minutes, turn around five times, count the minutes.....I would not have thought there were so many ways to cook the PERFECT Soft Boiled Egg.

So, I went back to the basics! I tried it a few times, tweaked the seconds (not minutes) and my eggs came out PERFECT

They were so perfect, in my mind, I was sitting at the retro linoleum kitchen table with my parents (rest their souls), dunking buttered white toast into my PERFECT runny yolks. It was heaven!

Soft Boiled Eggs

4 large eggs
Large Pan with a lid
Water

Place enough water in the pan so the eggs will be completely covered by one inch of water. Bring water to a boil over high heat.

Set a timer for 5 minutes (don't start it, yet)!

Using a spoon, slip eggs into the water (if you just drop them in, they will hit the bottom of the pan and crack). Cover the pan and start the timer.

Prepare an ice bath to shock the eggs immediately after the 5 minutes is up. Let them sit for 20 seconds, remove and peel.

I needed to leave my eggs in the boiling water for about 10 seconds after the timer to get the perfect consistency I wanted....fully cooked whites and the PERFECT runny yolk. Less time if you like your whites partially set or longer if you like your yolk slightly congealed!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A "NON" Guilty Pleasure!

I'm in love!

I'm in love and I have found a wonderful "NON" Guilty Pleasure!


If you know me (and if you don't know me, you'll get it), you know my weight fluctuates like the tide......comes and goes!  I love food!  When I go somewhere, I want to try all different kinds of food and beverage....my downfall!  


Sometimes, I can stop after a few bites.....sometimes NOT!  All the wonderful flavors and different textures are so tantalizing that I WILL over consume.  If I only disliked food more!  HA!  Not a chance.....too many foods to try and fall in love with!


And, I dearly love peanut butter!  I love to eat peanut butter right out of the jar from a spoon, on a banana, in celery, on bread, on bagels, on waffles, in cookies, in frosting.......YUM!!!!  OH, and one spoonful is NEVER enough!


But, I have found something to satisfy my cravings for peanut butter!


Check out PB2!  Only 1.5 grams of fat per serving (2 tablespoons) and just 45 calories.  It has 5 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 5 grams of carbs!  WOW!!!




You're thinking.....FAKE!  Here's the ingredient list:  roasted peanuts, sugar and salt!  It comes in a powder and you add water!  It tastes GREAT and it isn't gritty!


I love this stuff!  I haven't found it in stores, but you can buy it from Amazon or from it's creator, Bell Plantation!  


Complete disclosure, it is more expensive than peanut butter, but if you have virtually eliminated peanut butter from your diet because of the fat and calories, PB2 might just fit the bill!




OH.....did I also mention it comes in a chocolate peanut butter flavor, too?  =)






PS....So, I'm back at the Double W, and being more "in tune" with what I'm eating....OH and I dusted off my bike!




Thursday, March 22, 2012

Country Potatoes and Pork Chops





Wonderful comfort food!  Easy to prepare and will please everyone in the family!




4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 ¼ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups prepared packaged country gravy*
3 or 4 boneless pork chops (3/4” thick)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Place potato sticks in baking dish.  Mix in Cheddar cheese.  Pour prepared gravy over potato/cheese mixture.  Bake uncovered for 60 minutes.

Place pork chops on top of potatoes and push the chops slightly into the potato mixture.

Bake for 20 - 35 minutes more, or until pork chops are cooked thru (cooked to 145 degrees) and potatoes are tender.

Serves 4

*Read back of gravy package, some packaged gravies make 1 cup, some make 2 cups.  There is no need to heat gravy, just whisk the mix into cold water and pour over potatoes.

Balsamic Shrimp




This is a wonderful appetizer that you can serve warm or cold!  Or have it as a main course paired with a salad!  



1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, leave tails on
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon The Olive Oil Experience Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ inch piece of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup The Olive Oil Experience Traditional Balsamic Vinegar or Pineapple Balsamic Vinegar
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley

Mix the shrimp with the garlic, olive oil, ginger and sesame oil in a bowl and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours.  The shrimp can marinate for up to 6 hours.

In a sauté pan, over medium high heat, melt the butter.  Add the shrimp (reserve marinade).  Sauté shrimp for 2 minutes, stirring and flipping shrimp until it just starts to turn pink.  Add marinade and continue sautéing for 2 more minutes.

Reduce heat to low, add the balsamic vinegar, one third at a time, stirring continuously so it coats the shrimp. Keep adding balsamic one third at a time, stirring and tossing the shrimp so that a glaze forms. 

Remove shrimp to a shallow bowl, drizzle with remaining sauce from pan and sprinkle with salt and parsley. 

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Broccoli Rice Casserole



An easy casserole for a holiday dinner or potluck!  Either bake and take, or take and bake it there!





3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound frozen broccoli, thawed and drained
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, cubed
2 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack or Provolone cheese
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
Several dashes of hot sauce or to taste
1 cup crushed Ritz Crackers
3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an oven safe baking dish lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter, sauté onion for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli to pan and sauté for 5 more minutes.  Stir in cream cheese and soup, heat until the cream cheese melts.  Stir in rice until well blended.  Season broccoli mixture with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.  Mix together cracker crumbs and melted butter, sprinkle on top of broccoli mixture.

Bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until light golden brown and bubbly.

Lemon Breakfast Cake

Could there be anything better than cake for breakfast?  Don't worry, you won't need an excuse to make this for your family, co-workers or that special brunch!



1 box lemon cake mix
1 box (4 serving size) instant cheesecake pudding mix
1 cup whole milk Ricotta cheese
½ cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons lemon extract
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 13” x 9” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat together cake mix, pudding mix, Ricotta cheese, oil, eggs and lemon extract on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour into prepared pan.

Mix together sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over cake batter.  Swirl sugar/cinnamon mixture into batter.

Bake for 35- 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly, cut into squares.

Serves 16 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Some More S'Mores, Please!



I love s'mores!  Heck, what's not to love!  Graham crackers....chocolate and marshmallows!  There is ONE thing I don't like about s'mores....the chocolate DOESN'T melt!  The chocolate stays hard and crunchy!



Well, problem solved!  Meet my No Bake, no campfire needed idea for S'Mores!





No Bake S'Mores Cake

1 jar (12 or 13 ounces) marshmallow cream
¼ cup milk
18 graham cracker rectangles
1 large box of instant chocolate pudding, prepared according to package directions for pudding
1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
Chocolate Sprinkles (optional)

Remove lid from marshmallow cream, heat on 50% power in the microwave for 75 to 90 seconds, until you can squeeze (or easily spoon) half of marshmallow cream into a medium bowl.  Add milk to the remaining marshmallow cream in the jar, replace lid and shake to mix the milk with the marshmallow cream.  Pour mixture into bowl with the first half of the marshmallow cream and stir to mix well.  Place this mixture in a quart size resealable bag.  Cut a small piece from the corner of the bag.



Lay 4 graham cracker rectangles and one square (rectangle broken in half) on a plate, 







spread one fourth of the pudding over the graham crackers, all the way to the edge.  








Squeeze one fourth of the marshmallow cream over the pudding.


Repeat layers three more times, ending with the marshmallow cream.  Place in refrigerator for one hour to firm up layers.


Spread the thawed whipped topping on the top of the cake and sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.  Return to refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight, before serving.


To serve, cut into pieces and place on plates.


Serves 16

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beignets Aren't Just A Nawlins Treat!



Start celebrating Mardi Gras 2012 this weekend!

One of my favorite treats when visiting Nawlins  is Beignets and Café Au Lait at Café Du Monde!  I know, it sounds really touristy, BUT, for me, it is so traditional!  Something I have always done!  Now, will I stand in line…..usually not, unless it is really short!  There are times of the day when there is no waiting and it’s very easy to get my favorite treat!

And then there is always the pleasure of making beignets at home!  Honestly, it isn’t difficult!  It may take a little waiting time and you may need to clean up some splattering’s of grease; along with some wayward powdered sugar (actually, there may be a LOT of wayward powdered sugar!)….BUT, it is so worth it!

A powdered sugar hint.....when bringing the beignet toward your face.....DO NOT breathe in OR out when taking a bite!  Breathing out causes a snow storm....breathing in results in a coughing fit!

Make the dough up the night before and let it rise in the refrigerator, in the morning, simply roll out, cut out the beignets, let them rise one more time and fry!

Make sure you sprinkle the beignets with the powdered sugar before they cool!  Some of that sugar will melt into the beignets and just become tasty goodness!

This just may become your families favorite special Sunday morning treat!

Beignets    

1 envelope active dry yeast (always check the freshness date)
¾ cup lukewarm water (between 105 to 115 degrees)
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup evaporated milk
3 ½ - 3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco)
Vegetable oil for frying
Powdered sugar

Combine the yeast, water, and sugar in a bowl.  Allow yeast mixture to sit until frothy, about 5 minutes, then add the salt, egg, and evaporated milk, mix well.

Place in a food processor and add half of the flour, pulse several times until it starts to come together.  Add the shortening all at once and pulse several times again.

When the shortening is incorporated start adding the remaining flour, ¼ cup at a time until most of it is incorporated. The dough will be forming a ball.  Turn the dough onto a floured work surface to finish by hand.

Knead the dough adding just enough flour as necessary to make a non-sticky and smooth dough.  Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, loosely cover with a towel and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.

Remove from the refrigerator and punch it down, turn it onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/2" thick. With a knife working at a diagonal to the rectangle, cut into 2" wide strips. Now cut into diamond shapes by making diagonal cuts in the opposite direction.

Place the cut beignets on a floured baking sheet to let rise about 40 minutes in a warm place (Heat oven to lowest setting and turn off, leave door ajar for 5 minutes, then place beignets inside and close door).

Remove beignets, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan to 360-370 degrees. Place 2-3 Beignets into the hot oil at a time, being careful not to smash or deflate them.

When they are golden brown, flip them over until golden brown on the other side (They go pretty quickly so start checking them right after they go into the oil). Remove to paper towels to drain, sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar! Enjoy!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

If Y'all Knew Sushi, Like I Knew Sushi


I've tried before to make sushi at home....disaster! They were HUGE, funny looking, oddly shaped and lacked uniformity!  So, I put away my sushi mat and rice paddle.



But, the sushi making seed has been growing in my head for awhile and I decided to try again!  But, first, I would need instruction.  Classes?  Videos? 


NO!


I needed to watch sushi being made in person and watch the techniques!  So, I have made many, many, many trips to sushi restaurants to watch (and eat)....just for the sake of research (can I write that off?)


I don't have a recipe to post here, but, I did find some helpful hints at the website, Make My Sushi.  My sushi rice was a combination of several recipes because none of them sounded quite like what I was looking for, but included a sushi grade rice, rice vinegar, sugar and salt.


One roll was a take off on my husband's favorite roll at the moment!  You can find it at Jack's By The Tracks in Pascagoula, MS.  If you are down that way, check them out!  GREAT joint!  Music, sushi, fish tacos to die for and wonderful people!  (Did I mention a great beer and wine list, too?)  Just make it a destination!  Al loves their Crawesome - stuffed with crawfish tempura, cream cheese, asparagus.  On the outside, sesame seed, tobiko, spicy mayo and tuna!  




It was OK (what do you expect from me sitting in Northern Illinois trying to make Gulf Coast Sushi?).  It will hold him over until we get back south!



The second roll is a spicy tuna roll with tuna, spicy mayo, tobiko, cream cheese, asparagus and cucumber!  This one turned out MUCH better than the first!  



So, I have dusted off my sushi mat and rice paddle and I'm back at it!  Please, let me know if you have any ideas! 




Sayonara!

PS....Thanks, Alex for the title idea!