Big weekend, Passover, Easter, baseball Opening Day, Final Four…
We had a quick and wild storm pass through yesterday which left me a lot of time to cook. I wanted to whip up a batch of Tomato-Spinach Soup, but son-of-a-cheese-biscuit, I completely forgot to buy spinach when I was at the store, so I browned some ground beef, added diced tomatoes, carrots, green beans, garlic, onion, spices and barley to make a nice tomato-barley soup instead. I might have forgotten the spinach, but I did find a small pork roast that was perfect to make a slow-cooker BBQ pulled pork for sandwiches for the weekend. It was simple and came out tasty, so I’ll probably post that recipe next week.
Next up, cupcakes. In January, my not-yet-year-old car had an issue. I was running errands with Bixby in the back, I got out, locked the car and it made a funny sound. When I went to try and open it back up, the door locks didn’t work. Not with the fob or with the actual physical key. Inside were Bixby, my purse and MY PHONE. I borrowed a phone from a total stranger, called roadside assistance and was told it would be 3 to 4 hours (!!) before they could help me. I live in a town where you can drive anywhere in less than 15 minutes. What the frack! I was more than frantic so they put me through to my dealership where I related my story (not nicely, may I honestly add). After the service manager verified everything, he and a driver drove an hour round trip to get Bixby and me. They jumped my car which unlocked my doors and we took it in to the shop to find out the battery was defective. Free new battery, treats for Bixby in the back of their shuttle van and we were back on our way.
I had planned on taking them treats for weeks, but a persistent cold kept me from baking for them. I thought it would be terrible to take them sweet treats laced with a virulent cold virus. So yesterday, I finally bought the ingredients for cupcakes and I’ll drop them off on my way out of town.
These are my favorites: Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes, recipe here.
And speaking of Bixby – a quick update with lots of photos here.
Need something to take to a holiday dinner, how about this beautiful Coconut Lemon Cake, picture above and recipe here. I love it and am seriously thinking of baking one today.
How are you spending your weekend? What’s on the menu? What food traditions do you have for the holidays and/or sporting events?
For tonight’s featured recipes, I thought it would be good to have a couple of recipes for those Easter Eggs the Easter Bunny will be bringing. I love a good deviled egg, so here is the basic recipe with several variations:
- 12 eggs
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (more if needed)
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- smoked paprika for garnish
saucepan, bowl, plate
Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and cover with water. Heat on high until water begins to boil, then cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and leave covered for 14 minutes, then rinse under cold water continuously for 1 minute.
Carefully peel eggs, slice in half lengthwise and scoop yolks into a large bowl. Arrange whites on a large serving plate. In the bowl, mash yolks with a fork, add mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well until mixture is creamy – add more mayonnaise as needed. Scoop or pipe into the egg white halves, garnish with paprika.
Green Chili Deviled Eggs
- 12 hard boiled eggs, halved
- 2 tbsp finely chopped green chilis
- 1 tbsp finely chopped pickled jalapenos
- 1/4 mayonnaise
- dash of lime
- salt and pepper to taste
- cilantro leaves for garnish
Remove yolks to a bowl, add remaining ingredients, except cilantro, mix together, add more mayonnaise as needed, until creamy. Fill egg white halves and top with a cilantro leaf.
Tomato and Bacon Deviled Eggs
- 12 hard boiled eggs, halved
- 1 small tomato, quartered
- 4 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
- 1/4 mayonnaise
- 1 tsp yellow mustard (or ground mustard if desired)
- dash of vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Remove yolks to a bowl, add mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper mix together, add more mayonnaise as needed, until creamy. Finely chop 3 of the tomato quarters, dice the final quarter into small pieces and reserve for garnish.
Gently fold in tomatoes and bacon crumbles and fill egg white halves. Top with small diced tomato pieces.
Finally, here is something to NEVER do with your Easter leftovers. Have a great weekend – TaMara
I debated about a recipe exchange this week, it’s been a busy, snowy week and I was contemplating curling up with a good book until spring. But then I made these great oven baked chips and thought, I must share.
There was lots of cooking this week, for a change, so the recipe exchange will be, as JefferyW often posts, be made up of tidbits.
Starting with a new chocolaty Nutella Brownie, recipe here, that also happens to be gluten-free.
JeffreyW made some great looking Buffalo Chicken, photos and recipe here.
Chuck roasts were on sale, so I made a Slow-Cooker Pot Roast, full dinner menu and recipes here.
And for the pet lovers, a really quick Bixby Update is here. To say he is trying my patience would be kind. Puppies.
What’s on your plate this weekend? We’re digging out from about 20 inches of snow, but the sun is shining, so that’s a plus. How about you?
Tonight’s featured recipe happened because I was at the store and grabbing a bag of frozen french fries (don’t judge) and saw they had bags of oven potato chips. I thought that sounded good and easy to make, so I passed the bag by and instead made my own.
They are similar to my Potato Wedges, but because they are sliced thinner, they are really crispy on the outside with a creamy center. I will be making them again. I used russets because that’s what I had on hand and it was snowing, so that’s what I used. I think they worked great for these.
Garlic and cayenne are optional, but don’t skimp on the salt and pepper. You can also use alternate spices or herbs, like rosemary, thyme, marjoram or parsley flakes. Maybe some chopped chives just before you take them out of the oven.
Oven Potato Chips
- 2 to 4 large potatoes
- light olive or vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- garlic powder
- cayenne pepper
baking sheet, mandoline or grater
Wash and scrub potatoes and slice into thick slices. Mix oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dash of cayenne pepper. Toss with potato slices and arrange on well oiled baking sheet.
Bake at 450 degrees, turn at about the 10 minute mark, or when browned on the bottom and continue to bake until nicely browned on the other side, approximately another 10 minutes. Watch carefully and remove any slices that are thinner and brown more quickly.
You can brush with more oil if needed as they bake. Serve piping hot.
I served these with my Cheese Stuffed Burgers and a side salad for a nice dinner.
That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, hope everyone is dug out – TaMara
We are prepping for the big storm (ok, not New England BIG, but looking at 8-16 inches of big wet flakes) and I almost forgot it was Friday. Since it was Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras this week, that always puts me in the mood for some Louisiana-style recipes and a trip to Lucille’s restaurant for their beans and rice (and boy am I going to miss living within walking distance when I finally move – and I am so tired of house hunting).
When I can’t get there, I make my own Washday Beans and Rice, recipe and full dinner menu here.
A trip to New Orleans a few years ago gave me my first taste of authentic Beignets at Cafe Du Monde and Po’boys at Johnny’s, I liked the sandwiches so much, I hunted down some recipes, (click here).
Looking for something fancier? How about Trout Amandine with Creole Meuniere Sauce (recipe here).
What’s on your menu for the weekend? I’ll be scanning travel sites looking for somewhere warm to vacation!
Tonight’s featured recipe (pictured above) is from JeffreyW:
Shrimp and Andouille in a Creole Mustard Sauce
- 1 pound uncooked peeled deveined large shrimp
- 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (recipe below)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise on diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
- 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 5 tablespoons Creole mustard
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Toss shrimp with Creole seasoning in medium bowl to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add sausage pieces, cut side down. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to bowl. Add shrimp to skillet; cook until browned and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, bell pepper, and thyme to skillet. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth, mustard, and vinegar. Stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Return sausage and shrimp to skillet. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
- 1/3 Cup Paprika
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
- 4 Tbsp Onion Powder
- 1/3 Cup Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 3 Tbsp White Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
- 2 Tbsp Dried Basil
- 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight container.
Makes about 10 oz.
Bixby hit 115 lbs this week and I’m thinking that raising a Great Dane puppy should be considered an Olympic sport. He exhausts me and then is so damn cute, I’m ready for another day of puppyhood. I’ll see if I can get him to do a diary update later this weekend. That’s it for this week. Stay warm – TaMara
I am not anti-Valentine’s Day, just don’t like all the expectations around it. In my mind, the best thing you can do is spend time in the kitchen together, followed by a movie or favorite show marathon. I’ve been wooed with the whole restaurant (crowded, rushed staff), flowers (overpriced), and chocolates (oh, who am I kidding, chocolate is never bad) and it was never as much fun as staying home and cooking something delicious.
Now don’t get me wrong – take me out for a hot air balloon ride, helicopter over the beach, or an impromptu night away, and I’m not going to complain and say, hey, let’s stay home instead. But most of the time, I’m good with some chocolate covered strawberries and a good grilled steak.
With that in mind, I’ve picked out some favorite sweet treats you can make and share:
I love a good Molten Chocolate Cake, recipe here.
Quick, easy and cute, Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies are always a hit, recipe here.
I have a complete Valentine’s Dinner here, if you need ideas.
What’s on your plate for the weekend? How about Valentine’s Day, it’s a week off, but got any plans?
Tonight’s featured recipe is a foolproof and yummy cake that’s quick and easy – the perfect way to end a nice Valentine’s dinner:
This is a pudding cake – which is basically an extra-large lava cake. And to make it even tastier, I substitute coffee for the boiling water. It doesn’t get any simpler than this.
- 1 cup flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup milk
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
- 1 cup very hot coffee**
- 8×8 inch baking dish, lightly oiled
Preheat oven to 350°
This is a pudding style cake, so you don’t want to over bake it. You’ll serve it warm and directly from the pan. When you cut into it, a thick, gooey chocolate center will be revealed.
From the top list: combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Combine milk, oil, & vanilla, mix well and add to flour mixture. Stir well. Pour batter into baking dish.
From the bottom list: combine sugar & cocoa and sprinkle over batter. Pour hot coffee over batter – DO NOT stir. Bake for 30 minutes or until center springs back when touched, do not over bake.
** for a stronger coffee flavor, double the ground coffee to water ratio when brewing, or use espresso.
That’s it for this week. I won’t be around next weekend, so no recipe exchange, so have a Happy Valentine’s Day. I’ll try and get a Bixby update over the weekend, he’s a little pill, really coming into his own strong personality. Did I mention, strong? – TaMara
I was on the run all week, so I didn’t even have time to make you hot cocoa, which was my original plan for the recipe exchange. Instead, I went looking through the archives and found my LA diary and thought, perfect for this dreary day.
This time last year I was planning my March trip to Los Angeles, dreaming of driving up the coast and getting ready to cook up a storm.
Since I’ve been wishing all month that I was making the trip again, I thought the least I could do was repeat the recipes from a night of cooking I did while I was out there. Nothing new here, but favorite, easy recipes – all at the request of my hosts. The menu for that evening was:
Chicken Piccata (recipe below).
Buttered Potato Pie (recipe here)
Tossed Salad with Cranberry Gorgonzola Dressing
Chocolate Walnut Flourless Cookies (one of my most requested desserts, recipe here)
This was the view for the evening:
Dinner was basically a cooking lesson in an awesome, if underused kitchen. It fun helping others find their innner chef. What’s going on in your kitchen this weekend? Besides California Dreamin’, what are you planning to help get through the mid-winter blues?
Tonight’s featured recipe:
Chicken Piccata with Herb Noodles:
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp basil, crushed
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon, sliced into very thin slices*
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp fresh snipped parsley
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
Combine breadcrumbs, basil, zest, and pepper in bowl. Mix ½ tbsp oil and garlic together. Coat both sides of chicken with oil/garlic and dredge in breadcrumbs. Over medium-high heat 1 tbsp ea. of butter and oil in skillet, add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken – keep warm – add lemon slices to pan, sauté 30 seconds, add water, parsley and juice, boil for 1 minute, spoon over chicken.
*Scrub well before slicing.
- 12 oz egg noodles
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp basil, crushed
- ½ tsp oregano, crushed
- ½ tsp rosemary, finely crushed
- ¼ tsp crushed garlic
- Sesame seeds, opt
saucepan, serving dish
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Melt butter in saucepan, add spices, mixing well. Toss with noodles. For an extra touch you can add 1 tbsp of sesame seeds.
That’s it for this week. I’ll try and get a Bixby update up tomorrow. He’s 7 months old and weighs 101 lbs now, as you can imagine any spare time I have is devoted to training and entertaining him. See you next week – TaMara
I’ve roasted my share of Cornish Game Hens, but I went looking for something a little different and found it here.
You MUST click the link to see the fun video.
From Patrick and Gina Neeley:
Roasted Cornish Game Hens
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon-pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 Cornish game hens, about 1 1/2 pounds each, rinsed and dried thoroughly
1 green bell pepper, large dice
2 stalks celery, large dice
1 onion, large dice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
For the full recipe and great video, follow the link.
See the full Christmas Eve menu here.
- 12 oz bag fresh or frozen whole cranberries
- 3 crisp red apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1-inch thick
- ground ginger to taste
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar*
- 1 cup water
Combine ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until softened, reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes. Cool fully before serving.
*I started with a full cup of sugar and it was much too sweet, so I added another 6 oz of cranberries to bring the tartness back. So I reduced the sugar in the recipe to 3/4 cup. If it’s too tart, you can always add more sugar. Because not everyone has 5 bags of frozen cranberries in their freezer to adjust with if there is too much sugar. ;-)
For the entire Christmas Eve menu, click here.
I’ve had this in my files to post for a while, so I thought it would make a good full dinner menu. I had run across two different techniques to improve on oven-baked chicken and decided to combine them to see what would happen. I will not make it any other way going forward.
The first thing that is different, you add the flour to the egg mixture, making a bit of a batter. Dip the chicken in it and coat completely. Hold up and let excess drip off, back into the bowl. Then place the chicken piece into the breadcrumb mixture.
Take a spoon and generously spoon bread mixture over the entire chicken. Using a fork, press the breadcrumbs into the egg wash. Turn it over gently and repeat on the other side. Place on a baking sheet (I like to use parchment paper for ease of clean up).
Bake according to directions below. This technique works well with boneless or bone-in and any meat you would dredge in flour or breadcrumbs. It coats piece evenly, creates a tighter seal and you lose less of the breading. By adding flour to the egg mixture the batter keeps the chicken very most and creates a great, crunchy crust.
On the board tonight:
- Oven Fried Chicken
- Garlic Baked Potatoes
- Sliced Pears
Oven Fried Chicken
- 2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
- 2 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
- 2 chicken legs (or two additional thighs)
- 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 cups Panko
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup water**
- 1/8 tsp ea. salt & pepper (or to taste)
large mouth bowl, large plate and baking sheet lined with foil or parchment
Wash and pat dry chicken. In large bowl, add water, eggs, flour, oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Spread breadcrumbs and panko evenly on large plate. I often use extra seasoning in the breadcrumbs – garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and oregano, lots of pepper.
Take chicken pieces one at a time and dredge in the egg mixture, coating completely,
dredge in bread crumbs until lightly coated on all sides. See technique above. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until temp registers 160 degrees. I usually cover for 10 or 15 minutes with foil at the beginning to avoid burning the crust. For even crisper chicken, place a wire baking rack on the baking sheet and cook chicken on that. I don’t have one big enough, so I haven’t tried it.
** add more if needed
Baked Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Butter
- 4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and dried
- olive oil
- 2 to 4 metal skewers
- 1 or 2 large head of garlic
- olive oil
- 1 to 2 sprigs of rosemary, minced
- 4 to 8 tbsp of butter
Skewer each potato (depending on the size of the skewer you can sometimes get 2 on it, leaving room between potatoes). Rub oil liberally on potatoes and then coat with a light layer of salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile, peel white paper skin from garlic and slice off 1/4 inch off the top. Coat well in olive oil, place in a small baking dish (I saw a great recommendation making several and using a 6-cup muffin tin). Cover with foil and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cloves are soft when pierced. (Of course you can use a garlic roaster if you have one). You can cook this while you are prepping the chicken and potatoes, then reduce heat.
Once garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves out of their skins. Using a fork, mash garlic, butter, pinch of salt and minced rosemary to smooth paste. Serve with potatoes.
- 2 bone-in chicken breasts, 2 bone-in thighs, 2 legs (or additional thighs)
- 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 cups Panko
- 2 eggs
- 1 large head Broccoli
- 4 large baking potatoes
- 4 large pears
- parchment paper (my preference) or foil
- 2 heads of garlic
Also: rosemary sprigs, olive oil, salt, pepper, and butter
I was looking through the archives trying to decide which recipes to repeat and this one caught my eye, mostly because I had totally forgotten this cooking method. So reposting as an idea for your holiday dinner. For all the Thanksgiving recipes, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.
I’m never going to turn away mashed potatoes. Ever. But I do have a favorite style – unpeeled and hand mashed potatoes. I love creamy ones too, but with a good gravy, the hearty ones really hold up.
A while I ago I wrote about a mistake I made cooking potatoes and how I used a recipe I remembered from a few weeks before to save them. Well, I decided to try it for real this time. I could not track down the recipe, but did the best I could with what I remembered. I must have remembered pretty well. They turned out great.
This recipe uses unpeeled potatoes, but you can peel them and whip them for creamy mashed potatoes suitable for the fanciest Thanksgiving table. And don’t be startled, but you don’t boil the potatoes either, you cook them in cream and butter. Yummy.
Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- 1/4 cup half & half
- 1/4 cup water or broth
- 3 tbsp to 1/4 cup of butter
- 4-6 small garlic gloves, peeled and minced
- 6 to 8 medium potatoes (russet or yukon gold work best)
Add half & half, water, butter and garlic cloves to the pan and turn heat to low and let butter melt and liquid heat. Meanwhile, scrub potatoes well and cut small (not diced, but smaller than 1-inch cubes). Add to liquid and turn heat to high. Stir constantly until liquid begins to boil, turn heat down to medium-low, cover and let cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them and turn the heat lower if it looks like they might stick – if you feel like you need more liquid, add half & half. There is so much water in the potatoes, this technique works really well. And the potatoes are extremely creamy because you haven’t soaked them in water. When they are tender, turn off heat and mash to desired constancy.
Originally posted November 2011
In preparation for next week, I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite Thanksgiving ideas. Also, to see all of them, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.
This is by far the most requested dessert I make. This time of year every dinner I attend, this is what I am asked to bring. I’ll be making two tonight to take to various get-togethers this week. Easy, easy, easy and foolproof, but always a beautiful presentation. If you’re looking to wow, try this one. From 2009:
Cranberries are on sale! Buy them now, because I’ve got some great cranberry recipes coming up. I’m starting with this one, because if you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, this is the dish to take. It’s pretty to look at and it’s both sweet and tangy, perfect after a big dinner. You’ll wow everyone with it and it’s foolproof to make.
Cranberry Upside Down Cake
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
- ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
- 2 tsp butter, softened
8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl
Preheat oven to 350°
Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.
Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.
* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.