Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Do you know what I did last night? My husband and I and our son went to see Pink in concert! She was playing at The Patriot Center in Fairfax County, Virgnia. We had an absolute blast! I was so worried on the way there that I would be the oldest person in the crowd but didn't need to worry about that at all. There were all ages at her concert (a 4 year old sat in back of us and 2 women that had to be about 70 sat in front of us.). I'm telling you the one 70 year old lady knew just about every word to each song that Pink sang. I kid you not. I didn't know she had such a varied audience!!! I think we need to go to rock concerts more often! I hadn't been to one in many years so this was a real treat. My son who is 10 was telling his classmates that he saw Pink last night and they didn't believe him! Oh well.... I still think one of my favorite concerts from years back was seeing Cat Stevens. I don't know if many of you remember him but he was quite popular back in the 1970's. I had a huge crush on him.....he was just gorgeous, with a deep, sexy voice! I had wanted to see him so badly and waited hours in line for tickets to his concert only to be told that they were sold out when it was almost my turn to purchase them. Luckily a friend of my cousins worked at the venue he was playing at and he allowed us to sneak in. This is but one of many adventurous stories of my teenage years!
Let's get on to this recipe. I found this on Allrecipes. This is definitely comfort food. I have lots of ground beef in the freezer and was looking for a recipe other than meat loaf or hamburgers and came upon this one. It's very good. I tweeked it just a little and my changes I will put in parenthesis. I also had some red skin potatoes to use before they started growing eyes, arms and legs, etc... (yes, I have had a batch grow legs one time)! This is definitely a different recipe for garlic mashed potatoes since most of the recipes I've tried always use some milk or cream and have the garlic roasted beforehand. These are very good - I was skeptical but they were good! Give these a try if you want some good, old comfort food! p.s. warning - not for the calorie conscious!!!!
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons crushed buttery round cracker crumbs (I used a bit more)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used only a dash)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning (I used Lawry's seasoning salt 1/2 - 1 tsp)
2 (4 ounce) cans sliced mushrooms with their juice (I used 1 can)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups milk (I used 1 1/2 cups)
3 cubes beef bouillon (I used 1 1/2 cups beef broth)
(I also used 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup)
In a medium bowl mix together the ground beef, egg, cracker crumbs, onion, salt, pepper and seasoning salt using your hands. Shape into 6 patties about 1 inch thick.
Fry the patties in a large skillet over medium high heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until browned. Drain off grease, and remove patties to a platter and keep warm.
Melt the butter in the same skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook and stir for about 2minutes. Sprinkle the flour over and mix in until blended. Stir in the milk and beef broth and soup. Cook and stir over medium heat until smooth and starting to thicken. Return the patties to the gravy and cook over low heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes (the original recipe on Allrecipes yielded 100 servings!....this one is for about 4 servings.)
2 pound unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
5 ounces butter, room temperature
2 ounces Romano cheese, grated (I used Parmesan...that is what I had on hand)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I used 1/2 tsp and you could taste it well)
Boil potatoes in a large pot until slightly tender; drain. Stir in butter, cheese, garlic, salt and oregano. Mash with a potato masher or with an electric mixer.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
It's been a rainy day here. I had lunch with a friend today that I hadn't seen in nearly two years so we played a lot of catch up. Ever since I have moved my dad down here to Virginia from Long Island I find I have less and less time to get together with friends. He is in a dementia unit in a Veterans Home down in Richmond where I also have a house and my two older sons live. Between visiting my dad, my mom and stepdad, my older son and wife and granddaughter, my middle son, spending time with my husband and 10 year old son.....I do find it hard sometimes to fit in time with friends. It really is important to get together with friends. Girlfriends are what keep you sane!!! Don't think I am kidding here, because I am quite serious. We share our happiness, sadness, triumphs, joys and miseries with our girlfriends. Who in the world can understand us like our girlfriends...no one. I've learned so much from 2 older girlfriends that I had for many years that have passed on. These ladies had so much wisdom and I learned a lot from them. They were both older than my own mom! I loved them dearly. I also have some friends that are my own age and then there are a few that are quite a bit younger. You learn different things from different people. Moving on here.......
I found this recipe at Hot Oven Warm Heart. This is a terrific banana bread recipe that is very different from any other ones I've made since it contains cooked apples. It is a really good bread and I definitely recommend it. It's especially great for this time of year when apples are in season and it's a nice twist on the usual banana bread.
For the apples:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the banana bread:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups very ripe mashed bananas (2 to 3)
Before you start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan.
To make the apples:
Preheat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and brown sugar and heat until bubbling. Add the apples and cinnamon and saute until golden and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To make the banana bread:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each flour addition. Stir in the mashed bananas until combined. Then stir in the reserved apples.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool further.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Well Julia's book is on sale so I have decided to buy it. It has so many good recipes in it. I have to say that in the past year since I started this food blog I've gotten way more confident in my cooking and baking and more knowledgeable. There are still tons of things I have never cooked before but I am not nearly as intimidated by certain recipes as I would have been before this blog. A year ago I would have opened Julia's book and immediately shut it and thought "No way can I make that." Now I'll at least try. Hopefully, if I'm having a hard time with a recipe or get frustrated that something is not going right, I don't just slam the food in the trash like I would have in the past.....we'll see. But I will try.
The following recipe is a perfect example of a recipe gone wrong - the cake was wonderful and the frosting was great UNTIL I added the salt. I don't ever remember adding salt to a frosting recipe but this one called for it and sure enough, ruined it. I would definitely recommend both the cake and frosting because they are tasty and quite simple to make, but don't use salt in the frosting. I won't even include it in the recipe below. These were found at Allrecipes. The cake is very similar to the original Hershey's Chocolate Cake. It's great since it's an easy clean up too!
Anyhow, the frosting on the cake in the picture is "stand by" canned frosting since the chocolate one was horrible with the salt!!! It never, ever hurts to have a "stand by" of any product already made for emergencies!!!
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Preheat over to 350F. Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.
In a large bowl, stir together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
Melt chocolate and the butter together. Let cool and blend in the sour cream and vanilla. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar until the frosting is of spreading consistency, beat well.
Monday, September 21, 2009
I finally saw the movie Julie & Julia and have to say that I loved it! Loved everything about it. I have read that some people felt they would have rather seen more Julia and less Julie but I don't feel that way at all. I enjoyed both stories very much. I think Meryl Streep will be up for an oscar for her performance. She was wonderful (as usual). Needless to say, now I want to try some of Julia's recipes. I looked through some of the book at Borders this weekend and it does look challenging. Although I do remember reading that if you follow her recipes exactly as written, you won't have a problem. We'll see. I haven't bought her book yet (it's $40 - hello???), but I'm sure it will be in my cookbook collection in the near future. I mean, how long can I put this off! I am going to try one of her recipes next week and we'll see how it goes.
The above picture is not one of Julia's recipes (are you surprised?)! This comes from the cookbook America's Favorite Beef Recipes from Time Life Books. I was going to post this later in the week or next week but my son enjoyed this so much this evening for dinner that I am posting it now hoping that if someone is at a loss as to what to cook for some picky eaters, this just might fit the bill. Please note that I did NOT use 1 tablespoon of chili powder as the recipe suggests. My son doesn't care for spicy food so I just sprinkled on some chili powder and added oregano and some onion powder for extra flavor. I also cooked this the day before and served it the next day. I believe that it gave the flavors a chance to blend into each other. I have to say I enjoyed it. My husband liked it and my son devoured two plates of it. So we will put this under "kid friendly." Enjoy! (This one is also an easy clean up....).
1 pound 80% ground beef
1 medium red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chili powder (I only sprinkled some on the meat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups cooked rice, cooled
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted (I think corn would be good, too)
3/4 cup prepared salsa (I used a little over 1 cup of mild salsa)
In large nonstick skillet, brown ground beef, bell pepper and garlic over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking beef up into 3/4 inch crumbles. Pour off drippings. Season with chili powder and salt.
Add rice to skillet; mix well. Continue cooking 2 minutes or until rice is hot; stir occasionally. Stir in peas and salsa; heat through.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Doesn't the name of these bars sound great? Well let me tell you they are as tasty as anything. And a little goes a loooong way! I made a large pan of these and had a ton. You can cut them up small because they are very rich, to say the least. I found these over at Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness. The glaze on these is made of white chocolate and pumpkin pie spice and to me that alone puts them "over the top!" I would make them again if I felt ambitious only because you make two batters for these bars and there is lots of clean up! But my son and husband and coworkers (yes, this batch made that many) really enjoyed them and so did I. These tasted best when they were freshly baked. You know how some things test better the next day> Well, these are best eaten very fresh. They are good for a day or two, they just had the best flavor when they were just out of the oven and still slightly warm. You can see the two layers of cake too! A pumpkin pie layer and a snickerdoodle layer. So good!
It's a gorgeous weekend here in Virginia. We'll be doing outdoor things today and taking advantage of the warm weather. My son just loves demolition derbies and that is where we are headed this afternoon! Tomorrow I am planning on meeting a friend to finally see Julie & Julia. I had been planning to see this since it opened back in July but have just not had a chance. I'm looking very forward to it. Hope you all have a great weekend!
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pumpkin Pie Layer:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cut white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree or canned
Glaze for drizzling:
1 oz. white chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Preheat over to 350F.. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan and lay a piece of parchment paper across the pan, so that it extends the pan slightly.
To make snickerdoodle layer:
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until well combined. Spread evernly in prepared pan. Set aside.
In a mixer bowl, with paddle attachment, mix together the pumpkin pie ingredients until well combined. Pour the mixture over the snickerdoodle layer, smoothing out the top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes (maybe more depending on your oven) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bars cool completely (about an hour). They will deflate a bit and remain a bit pie-like on the top layer.
After the bars are completely cool, place the chopped white chocolate into a bowl or zip lock bag and melt on low power. When it's completely melted, add the pumpkin pie spice and mix (or knead if using a zip lock bag). Use a spoon or cut a small corner off the bag and drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the bars and let it cool and harden. (I just frosted mine.)
Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator but bring to room temperature before serving. (Next time I would skip the refrigerator step - I didn't find it necessary).
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I was looking for a good chicken recipe for chicken thighs. I wanted something different but flavorful. I checked on allrecipes and found this one. It did not disappoint! What's also nice about this recipe is that most of the ingredients you will already have on hand. As I'm writing this I wonder why I didn't go to my huge, buldging folder of recipes that I've clipped out or copied that I want to try. I guess old habits die hard! I need to start trying some of the recipes that have just been sitting in that folder for months (could even be years!).
This is a very good recipe with a ton of flavor. The chicken was also nice and moist. I served rice and peas with this chicken.
1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces (I used 5 chicken thighs)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup prepared mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place chicken pieces in a shallow baking pan, skin side up. Combine the melted butter, honey, mustard, salt and curry powder and pour the mixture over the chicken. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours, basting every 15 minutes (I baked the chicken thighs for 1 hour), with pan drippings, until the chicken is nicely browned and tender and the juices run clear.
Monday, September 14, 2009
It's Monday and back to work and school. My son is not happy about going back to school but I'm glad that we're all back on somewhat of a schedule here. I'm also looking very forward to heading out to all the pumpkin patches that the fall season brings. There's lots to do in the fall. And lots to bake. I know that soon enough I'll be baking with apples galore so here is one more recipe using a summer fruit. I found this recipe at Jen's food site use real butter. She has so many great recipes but this one really caught my eye. It is absolutely delicious and it goes a long way. The lime and blueberry combination is so good. I'd never had lime and blueberry together and boy have I been missing something.
8 oz unsalted butter, softened (more for buttering the pan)
10.5 oz (2 1/3 cups) all purpose flour (more for pan)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp table salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsps lime zest, finely grated
6 oz cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature 2 1/2 cups blueberries, room temperature, washed and drained on towels
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tbsps lime juice, fresh (more as needed)
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl. Pulse the sugar and lime zest together in a food processor about 20 times until well blended. Beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed for about a minute until it is smooth. Add the lime sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). While the mixer is running, add the eggs one at a time making sure to mix well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. Beat in the lone egg yolk and mix everything together on low speed. Slowly add the flour mixture. Scrape the bowl down and beat on medium speed for 20 seconds and then gently fold in the blueberries. Pour batter into bundt pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air pockets and bake for 50-55 minutes or until it passes the clean toothpick test. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes and invert the cake. Let cool completely.
For Glaze: Whisk the powdered sugar and lime juice together until smooth. It should be just thin enough to pour. If too thin, add more sugar, if too thick, add more juice. Pour over the cooled cake and let the glaze set before serving.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Here are some pictures from my past weekend down at my house in Richmond. The little pink bundle that I am holding is my precious little granddaughter Farah, who is about 7 weeks old at this time. The other handsome dude is my youngest son Zach and the little guy and girl Selena and Poncho....I'll be back tomorrow with a recipe (at long last)! Hope you all had a nice weekend!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
If any of you have ever made this dish you will notice right away that I forgot to add the peas! How could I possibly forget to add them? Who knows, but it's not the first time I've forgotten ingredients and more than likely won't be the last! I found this recipe over at For The Love Of Cooking (Pam's blog). I just love her food blog and she has some great pictures on there. Everything, and I mean everything she makes looks so delicious! Please check out her site if you are not familiar with it.
Well, my son made it through his first two days of the school year. I think he is a bit worried about math and how much more difficult it will get. I've already warned him that there is no help to be found at home! His dad and I are by no means math experts....I am being kind here. I was lucky to just pass math in school let alone do well. Luckily, if things get really difficult, my oldest son should be able to help him. He's the math person and Lord only knows where that came from! Anyhow here is the recipe for the delicious chicken! It's the first time I have made this dish from scratch and certainly won't be the last.
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 chicken thighs with skin and bones
Paprika, to taste
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Dried oregano, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Cumin, to taste
2 tsp olive oil
1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
4-5 baby bell peppers
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 pinch saffron (I did not have this on hand)
1 cup rice
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped (divided)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven. Once the bacon is cooked, drain on a paper towel and then crumble, set aside.
Season the chicken thighs with a bit of each seasoning, to taste. Cook the chicken thighs, skin side down first, for 4 minutes each side. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate.
Add the olive oil to the Dutch oven over medium heat, once hot add the onion, bell peppers and a bit of each seasoning to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic then cook constantly for 60 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, saffron, rice, crumbled bacon and half of the cilantro. Stir until mixed thoroughly, taste the broth and re-season if needed. Add the chicken in an even layer and simmer over medium low heat, partially covered for 25 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the finished dish with the thawed peas and the remaining cilantro.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Can you believe a new school year is starting already? I don't know where the summer went. It just flew by. My son is excited about starting a new school year (5th grade) but also dreading it. I remember the night before the start of the school year very well. I don't think I was ever excited about starting school. I just dreaded school year after year! High school was a lot better than elementary school though. I went to a Catholic elementary school back in the late 60's and early 70's and there was nothing fun about them. Nuns are not fun teachers by any stretch of the imagination!!! Anyhow with school starting and fall coming, I am looking to have a more regular routine again and I'm hoping to be posting lots more than I did over the summer.
This recipe comes from the September 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living. It's a good cake and very moist. Not really one of my favorite apple cakes but still very good. I really enjoy baking apples cakes and pies in the fall. Such a great time to bake!
Granulated sugar, for pan
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan, plus 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus two tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
4 McIntosh apples (I used red delicious), peeled, cored and cut into wedges
1 cup blackberries (1/2 pint)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat over to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, and dust with confectioners sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together melted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, milk and eggs in another bowl. Whisk into flour mixture.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Arrange apples wedges over batter, and sprinkle with blackberries. Gently press fruit into batter. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over fruit. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bake until top is dark gold, apples are tender, and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Let cool. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The weather has just been beautiful here lately and it's putting me in the mood for fall. I wish it would stay like this all year. Unfortunately I read somewhere yesterday that the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a very severe winter. Frigid temperatures and lots of snow. Oh no! Snow is a bad word to me. I had enough of it growing up on Long Island to last me forever....This is my kind of weather, nice and cool in the evening and days of 65 to 70 degrees with no humidity! This is also the kind of weather that is great for baking. I don't particulary like baking when it's 90 degrees outside. I also have no talent when it comes to grilling. I just could never get the hang of it......
I've been taking advantage of all the delicious peaches still fresh in the stores. This is a peach cake that I found over at Reeni's blog. She originally found this in Gourmet. It's very good and easy to make. Reeni's cake looked much better and probably was. I made the mistake of thinking that it "looked" like there was enough fruit added after one large peach. Ha! It may have looked that way before it was baked but certainly not after. Will I ever learn to just trust a recipe? After it baked there was not nearly enough fruit in it. I will definitely use way more next time. I think this recipe also lends itself to using other fruits besides just nectarines and peaches. It's very versatile and I can picture it being great with blueberries too!
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 nectarines (I used peaches), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (you may want to cut this in half if you are not a big nutmeg fan)
Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle. Lightly butter a 9-in springform pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in extracts. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.
Spread batter evenly in pan, then scatter nectarines over top. Stir together nutmeg and remaining 1/2 Tbsp sugar and sprinkle over top. Bake until cake is golden brown and top is firm but tender when lightly touched (cake will rise over fruit), 45 to 50minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool to warm.