Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baby Back Ribs

My son kept asking for me to make baby back ribs. I do not recalling if he had ever had baby back ribs before. Why he wanted them? I have no idea. Then we went out to eat and my oldest daughter order ribs. It isn't something she normally orders but she was nice enough to share with my son. Well, he loved them. So, my son has continued to ask for me to make them. I broke down and did it. He told me I did a good job. Guess what he wants me to make him for his birthday meal?
I have never made baby back ribs. I asked the young butcher at the counter about them since I had no clue. He brought me over to the beef section. Luckily, my husband had asked the person packaging the meat section and he was able to give us baby back ribs. See how knowledgeable I am since I couldn't even tell you if baby back ribs was beef or pork. I learned it is pork.
This week I am going to blog the meal I made in sections. So today will be the baby back ribs. Tomorrow will be the coleslaw then followed by baked beans and corn bread. You will need to start the ribs and beans the night before. It is a perfect Sunday meal. Enjoy!

Baby Back Ribs
Dry Rub
4 Tbsp brown sugar, tightly packed
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp onion powder

1 rack of baby back ribs
1 bottle of barbecue sauce (I used Jack Daniels Original No. 7)

Combine all the dry rub seasonings in a bowl. 
Place the ribs on a large piece of aluminum foil with the shiny side down on top of a baking sheet.
Rub down the ribs on both sides with the dry rub. 
Cover the ribs with half the barbecue sauce. 
Place the baking sheet with the ribs inside the refrigerator over night.
Preheat the oven the next day at 300 degrees.
Cook the ribs for 2 1/2 hours and the internal temperature is 160 degrees.
Remove from oven and brush with the remaining barbecue sauce.
Let the ribs rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.
Did you already know.........
-Other names for baby back ribs are pork back ribs or loin ribs.
-Piglets are not used to make baby back ribs but the name is from the where the shorter ribs are found on the hog.
-Baby back ribs are meatier than spare ribs.

Monday, January 30, 2012

American Beauty Cake

Do you watch pageants like Miss America? We normally do not but recently we saw a child beauty pageants television show and my youngest daughter thought it was great. She was ready to enter any pageant she could. I didn't want to discourage her but I have a full time job plus a hockey schedule for my youngest son at this time. So, I took the easy route and said, "You know dear those dress cost a lot of money so you really should talk to Grandmom about making you one. Since it is late, you will have to call her tomorrow." Lucky for me, she forgot all about it. However, today she went with my sister and Mom to look at wedding dresses so she may remember after all.
The only reason why I bring up pageants is this week on PQ was the American Beauty Cake picked by Alice of This Home Plate. My cake will not win any pageants for beauty. Now, talent is another category and it would rock. As my son says, this cake is Awesome! Since my cake didn't look the prettiest no matter what angle, I included a more attractive subject. My son didn't care because he was eating.
This cake takes a day to make since it needs to be frozen for at least six hours. It is a rich, decadent dessert. I did cheat and used store bought mousse. Please check out the other members cake for recipes of the mousse. I would definitely make this again especially for a special occasion like an anniversary. My son enjoyed making it with me since all he did was help with the whip cream but took credit for making the whole dessert. Doesn't he look proud?
American Beauty Cake
1 cup unsalted butter
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Dark Chocolate Glaze:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
Place the cake pan in a roasting or baking pan to make sure it fits.
Set a metal bowl over a saucepan that is holding  2 inch of simmering water.
Melt the chocolate and butter in the metal bowl stirring until smooth. 
Remove the bowl from the saucepan.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together.
Whisk the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture until well combined. 
Stir in the vanilla and mix well.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the cake pan. 
In the roasting pan, fill the pan with hot water to come about two-thirds of the way up the side of the cake pan. Be careful no water enters the cake pan but just surrounds the cake pan.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely in the pan and the cake will settle back down after rising. Do not remove the cake from the pan.
On the cooled cake, spread the mousse filling the pan to the top.
Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours or up to 3 weeks.

To make the glaze:
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
In a sauce pan, combine the corn syrup, whipping cream, and vanilla. 
After the mixture boils, pour it over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth.
Allow the glaze to cool at room temperature.
To assemble:
Remove the cake from the freezer and dip the bottom of the pan in hot water. 
Invert the cake onto a plate and then invert the cake onto another plate so the mousse part is on top.
Pour the glaze over the mousse making sure the glaze needs to cover the sides of the cake.
Allow the glaze to set at least one hour.
After the glaze sets, cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen cookbook.
Don't you love his million dollar smile with the missing tooth? He looks like a hockey player.
Did you already know......
-In 1921, a beauty contest was sponsored in Atlantic City to increase newspaper circulation.
-In 1923, Miss Mary Katherine Campbell wins the title Miss America two years in a row. Since her winning, a new rule was instated that no woman can hold the title for more than once.
-From 1929 to 1932, the contest is discontinued due to the Great Depression and bad publicity.
-Miss Maine has never won Miss America.
-The 2012 Miss America winner is Miss Wisconsin, Laura Kaeppeler.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mushroom Burgers

I am going to share something with you. After you read what I'm going to tell you, you may want to send your condolences and you can. It may make me feel a little better. You see I am not even 40 years old but my oldest daughter is 18 years old today. 18! 18! It is just shocking. How can this be? I remember being pregnant with her and unable to move so I tried to do a cart wheel. Don not try this stunt. It doesn't work. Your feet will not move off the ground. However, my daughter did decide to enter the world a couple of days later. Maybe it helped? I will never know. 
As I've shared before, my oldest daughter loves hamburgers. She could eat them everyday. The other day I was craving a mushroom burger. I occasionally go to this tavern and I order their mushroom burger. It is so good. So this is my creation of trying to duplicate their burger. It was similar but I liked the results a lot. 
 So I made two of them. One for me to eat. The other one to photograph. I have to try it before I photograph because if it isn't good why take the photo. Good logic, huh? After I took the photo, I went to my daughter's room and asked her if she wanted a mushroom burger because there was one on the counter. She went into the kitchen and then came to find me. She was not happy. "Where is the burger?" Misunderstanding her, I reply, "What do you mean? It is on the counter." "No, it is not. What happen to the hamburger?" I found this to be very funny and replied, "No dear, I asked you if you wanted a mushroom burger. I did not say mushroom hamburger." She then informed me that my mushroom burger is not a burger. She ate it any ways. She even grudgingly told me that she liked it a lot. I will continue to call this a mushroom burger especially since the tavern does.
Mushroom Burger

2 large portabella mushroom caps
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
2 strips of roasted red pepper
1/2 cup of fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
2 slices of Provolone cheese
2 hamburger buns ( I toasted mine)

  1. Remove the stems of the mushrooms and clean well.
  2. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  3. Brush the caps with the oil mixture.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat.
  5. Spray the skillet with cooking spray and add the spinach leaves.
  6. Saute the leaves for about 3-5 minutes until they are welted. Set aside in a small dish.
  7. Add the roasted red peppers to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes.
  8. Set aside with the spinach.
  9. Mix the spinach and red peppers with the Parmesan cheese.
  10. Add the caps stem side down into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Flip the cap and cook the other side for 5 minutes.
  11. Add the spinach leaves and red pepper cap to the middle of the portabella mushroom cap.
  12. Top the mushroom cap with a slice of Provolone cheese.
  13. Remove from the skillet and place on top of a plate to allow the juices to settle before placing on the bun (which I should have done).
Recipe from Sweet Morris.
Did you already know...............
-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lewis Carrol were born.
-In 1880, Thomas Edison received a patent for his incandescent light.
-In 1888, the National Geographic Society was founded.
-The #1 song on US charts was "All for Love" by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting.

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fluffy Dinner Rolls

     I love fresh rolls. If a restaurant serves great tasting rolls, I am so there. I love Panera bread and I am so glad that I do not live close to one. Can you imagine having a futuristic button to press and out came your request like a vending machine but everything was fresh? What would you have in your futuristic vending machine? Panera bread? Godiva chocolate? Fresh picked strawberries?
     My sister is so good since she follows a gluten free diet but pasta and rolls are my down fall. No wonder my sister is so small. I know this is the way to convince you to make these rolls, huh? 
     The best thing about these rolls are how short the start to ready to eat time. I only had a couple of hours to make rolls before my guests were arriving. I needed rolls for meatballs. I normally buy the store rolls but they are gummy. Then you place a meatball inside and it is a bigger mess. The rolls were perfect to serve with the messy meatballs. My husband liked these rolls but his pick would be the Texas Roadhouse copycat rolls posted earlier.

Fluffy Dinner Rolls
3/4 cups milk
4 Tbsp butter
3/4 cups hot water
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 package of active dry yeast

  1. Microwave the milk with the butter for 90 seconds. 
  2. Preheat oven to 170 degrees F.
  3. Measure the hot water from your faucet. The water needs to be slightly uncomfortable to the touch.
  4. Add the hot water, milk and butter to a mixer.
  5. Add the sugar, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Mix for 1 minute.
  6. Add the yeast and mix then add one cup of the remaining hour at a time. Stop adding flour to the mixer when the dough has come together and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  7. Continue to mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  8. Stop mixing and cover with plastic wrap tightly to trap the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Coat the inside of a 9x13 pan with butter.
  10. Spray your working area with cooking spray.
  11. Place your dough onto your working area and cut the dough into 24 pieces. 
  12. Roll the pieces into balls and place into your buttered pan.
  13. Place the pan into the warm preheated oven and let rise for about 20 minutes.
  14. After the dough has risen, turn the heat to 350 degrees with the dough staying in the oven.
  15. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
 Recipe adapted from Jamie Cooks It Up! 
Did you already know...........
-In 1981, Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. was founded by Louis Kane and           Ron Shaich.
-In 1993, Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. purchased Saint Louis Bread Co, a chain of 20 bakery cafes.
-In 1999, the company sold all of the Au Bon Pain business units and renamed the company Panera Bread.
-In 2010, co founder Ron Shaich opened Saint Louis Bread Co. Cares which is a non profit cafe which patrons pay what they can.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

PPQ: Petite Pavlovas

     Last weeks, I made Creme Brulee for the first time ever. The main reason why I had never made it before was because I was afraid of the kitchen torch. Isn't that funny? I just would think about all the times my Mom would tell me not to play with fire. Then she went and bought me the kitchen torch one year for Christmas. I didn't use it because I needed the butane. So, the next year (I am serious that a whole year went by) my Mom bought me the butane. Then there was no excuse but to try it out. It wasn't as scary as I thought. I did think it was sort of cool. 
      Since I could make the Creme Brulee, then I figured I could make the pavlovas too. Don't worry I didn't try the kitchen torch on it. This weeks Project Pastry Queen pick was by Emily at A Gift Nutmeg. The pavlovas are not hard to make but please use caution when it is in the oven. It could brown too dark. 
     I will share something that surprised me. My husband liked it. Yes, my husband who doesn't eat fruit and occasionally the hidden vegetable liked this dessert. My youngest daughter likes the pavlovas. She keeps asking for the big marshmallow dessert. I took a vote if the family wanted a lemon filling or a raspberry filling. The raspberry won.
Petite Pavlovas with Raspberry Cream and Fresh Fruit
4 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. With a pencil, trace four evenly spaced 4 inch diameter circles onto the parchment paper. Flip the paper over but make sure you can see the tracing.
  4. In a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and the pinch of salt on high speed for 2 minutes. The meringue should have formed soft peaks.
  5. Continue to beat the meringue at high speed, while adding 1/8 cup of sugar at a time. The meringue is ready when stiff peaks form.
  6. Spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper using the penciled circles as a guide. 
  7. The meringue circles should have a 1 inch rim.
  8. Bake the meringue for about 1 hour. Check the meringues after 30 minutes to ensure they aren't turning brown.
  9. After the meringue has baked, keep them in the turned off oven for at least one hour or over night.
Filling and assembly:
1/2 cup of raspberry or berry jam
1/2 cup of whipped cream
fresh blueberries, strawberries, or other fresh fruit.

  1. Mix the jam with the whipped cream. 
  2. Spoon on top of the meringue and top with the slices of fresh fruit.
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen Cookbook.  
 **Use the left over egg yolks for Creme Brulee**
The inside of the pavlovas
Did you already know..............
-The dessert is named after the famous Russian ballet dancer 
  Anna Pavlova.
-The dessert was first created in 1926 after Anna Pavlova toured 
  New Zealand and Australia. 
-The desert is a meringue based dessert with a crisp crust but a soft filling.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Orange Chicken

Happy Chinese New Year!

Today is the Chinese New Year. It is now the year of the Dragon. The Oriental Dragon is a symbol of good fortune. I wish you all some good fortune. 
 When we order Chinese, I normally do not order Orange Chicken. It is just too expensive to try something new unless it is at the buffet. My oldest daughter is always asking me to cook up a Chinese dish. My oldest daughter loved this dish. We served our chicken with rice.
Orange Chicken
For the marinade and sauce
3/4 cup chicken broth, low sodium
1 1/2 tsp orange zest, finely grated
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
6 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lb chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water

For the chicken coating
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cup canola oil

  1. In a saucepan, add the chicken broth, orange zest, orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper. Whisk well.
  2. Remove 3/4 cups of the mixture and add to a large zipper lock plastic bag.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the bag and remove the excess air before sealing. 
  4. Refrigerate for only 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Heat the saucepan mixture over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water until smooth.
  7. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan. 
  8. Continue to simmer until the sauce becomes thick and translucent about 1 minute. Remove from heat to cool.
  9. Whisk the egg whites until frothy and add to a pie plate.
  10. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Heat the oil to 350 degrees.
  11. In a second pie plate, combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and cayenne pepper. 
  12. Drain the chicken of the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. 
  13. Coat the chicken in the egg whites and then coat in the cornstarch mixture. Shake off any excess coating.
  14. Carefully add the coated chicken to the hot oil. Work in batches so the oil isn't over crowded.
  15. Turn the chicken in the hot oil.
  16. Cook the chicken until golden brown or until cooked through about 5 minutes.
  17. Remove the cooked chicken with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. 
  18. Make sure the oil is at 350 degrees before repeating with the remaining chicken.
  19. Coat the cooked chicken pieces with the sauce.
Recipe adapted from Smells Like Home. Originally found on Cooking at Home with America's Test Kitchen Cookbook.

 Did you already know...........
-People born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Dragon are suppose to be warm hearted, energetic, charismatic, lucky at love, and egotistic.
-People born under the Dragon are natural born leaders.
-Some famous people born under the Dragon sign are Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony, Florence Nightingale, John Lennon, and Bruce Lee.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Football Crackers

My husband loves football. He watches it while he eats his dip and crackers. I decided to give his traditional snack a creative twist. The kids preferred this twist. Can you tell what we will be watching this weekend?
 My oldest daughter is very creative so she took the football themed twist to another level with her background.
Football Cheese and crackers
3 slices of cheddar cheese
1 package of chicken sausage, buffalo style
1 sleeve of crackers
food dye

  1. Take the cheese and using a biscuit cutter press only half of the cutter into cheese. 
  2. Flip the cheese over and cut into the second part of the cheese to form the shape of a football.
  3. Cook the sausage according to the directions. Slice the sausage into 1/2 inch circles.
  4. Top each cracker with the cheese and sausage. Can add dressing in between each layers to hold the items together.
  5. Top the cheese with food dye to look like the stitching of the football if desired.
Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven
 Did you already know...........
-Football evolved from rugby and soccer.
-In 1869, Yale and McGill played the first game of football.
-In 1892, the first professional football player was paid $500 for one game. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Banana Bread

When I was a little kid, we lived in Hawaii. In our backyard was a banana tree. My Mom said any time we saw a banana on the tree we wanted it. We did not want to eat it when it was ripe. Today I still prefer my bananas with a little green on them. When they are all yellow, bananas seem slimy to me. My children enjoy their bananas the same way I do. 
If we still have any bananas that are ripe, I will either cut them up and freeze them. They make a great addition to smoothies. I will also make banana bread for gifts.
Banana Bread
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease 2 loaf pans.
  3. Cream sugar with the butter until well blended.
  4. Mix in the eggs and blend well.
  5. Add the bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
  6. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt until just moistened.
  7. Bake the loaves for one hour on the lowest position rack in the oven.
  8. Check with a tooth pick and it should come out clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf.
  9. Allow the loaves to cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans. 
  10. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
  11. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days or 10 days in the refrigerator.
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker 40th Anniversary Edition Cookbook.
Did You already know..............
-A cluster of bananas are called a hand.
-Banana beer is available for purchase.
-Americans on average purchase 28 pounds of bananas a year.
-A pound of bananas are roughly 3 medium bananas.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicken and Rice Soup

My husband hasn't been feeling the best lately. I asked him if he wanted me to make him some soup. His request was Chicken and Rice. I have made this recipe several times before for him. My husband loves rice. He prefers rice over noodles so this is his favorite chicken soup.
Chicken and Rice Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped 
3 carrots, shredded
2 celery stalks with tops, chopped
2 cups of rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp flour
2 quarts of chicken stock
1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded
3 cups of water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large pot.
  2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add one cup of rice and stir for 1 minute so the rice toast.
  5. Clear a corner of the pot with no vegetables. 
  6. Add 1 Tbsp oil and add the flour to a corner of the pot. 
  7. Stir the flour and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Add the chicken stock and water. Cook for 5 minutes.  Stir.
  9. Add the other cup of rice and stir. Cook for 10 minutes.
  10. Add the cooked chicken and season to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Recipe created by Jen of Sweet Morris.
Did you already know........
-The flu vaccine lasts at least a year.
-Over 200 viruses can cause the common cold.
-Many studies have shown hicken soup and other hot liquids will make a person with a cold feel better.

Monday, January 16, 2012

PPQ: Creme Brulee

I received The Pastry Queen Cookbook last month. The neat thing about finally having the cookbook is I can now participate in the Project Pastry Queen. Each week a member will pick a recipe from the cookbook for us to try.
This weeks pick is Espresso Creme Brulee. Since I already have crazy children, I decided to try the rather sweet variation and top it with bananas instead. My husband helped me make this recipe. This is an awesome recipe. If you are looking for a special dessert, this is the one to try!
Creme Brulee
1/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
7 large egg yolks
2/3 cups plus 1/2 cups sugar
1 banana, thinly sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray 6 six ounce ramekins with cooking spray.
  3.  Heat the milk with the cream in a pot over medium-high heat.
  4. While the milk is heating, scrap the vanilla bean pod in half and scrap the inside of the pod with a knife. Add the vanilla pod and scraped beans into the heating milk.
  5. Bring the milk to a boil and remove immediate from the heat.
  6. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until well combined.
  7. While whisking continuously, slowly add a little of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture at a time. 
  8. After blending thoroughly, pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve to remove any vanilla pod and any overcooked egg. 
  9. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and fill the dish with hot water until it reaches 3/4 up the outside of the ramekins.
  10. Fill the ramekins half way with the custard.
  11. Carefully, place the dish into the oven without allowing any of the water bath to touch the custard.
  12. Bake the ramekins for 1 hour. The custard should just set and jiggle when shaken but not browning or bubbling.
  13. Allow the custard to cool for 30 minutes. 
  14. Top each custard with a single layer of thinly sliced banana.
  15. Top each custard with a thin even layer of sugar. 
  16. With a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar or broil the custard in the oven 4 inches from the flame until sugar is caramelized and lightly browned.
  17. Serve immediately. 
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen Cookbook.  
Did you already know.................
-Creme brulee is a custard topped with a hard caramel.
-Creme brulee means burnt custard in French.
-The recipe can be found in a 1691 French cookbook by Francois Massialot.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jalapeno Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

We finally have snow here. It has been one strange year. I am not complaining since I prefer the warm weather. Since it is so cold, I dress with lots of layers. I also dress my younger children in layers. 
 The other day my youngest daughter was walking outside and she didn't have her hat. My husband told her that she needs her hat while he is outside without his jacket. I don't even think we were outside but for five minutes but she still needed her hat. My oldest daughter follows my husbands lead and unless I remind her she will try not to wear a jacket.
I saw this recipe on Tasty Kitchen and I asked my husband if I should make them. He said yes then he wasn't feeling good and never got to try them. My oldest daughter devoured them. She isn't even a spicy girl. The recipe does call for Panko bread crumbs. I guess I was in a hurry since I didn't intentionally forget them. I really liked them. Next time, I am going to leave the bread crumbs off. My sister follows a gluten free diet so she could even try this recipe.

Jalapeno Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

12 large mushrooms, cleaned
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 oz. cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
2 oz. cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp salt and pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small skillet, saute the bacon until crisp.
  3. Take the stems out of the mushrooms and place the mushroom caps onto a cookie sheet.
  4. Chop the mushrooms stems.
  5. Saute the stems, pepper, onion, and garlic with the bacon. Cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly. 
  7. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and cheddar together.
  8. Add the cooked bacon with vegetables to the cheese mixture. Mix well.
  9. Top the center of each mushroom cap with the cheese mixture. 
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
  11. Let the mushrooms rest for 5 minutes to cool.

Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen.
Did you already know.............
-On average, January is the coldest month in Maine and July is the warmest.  
-The average temperature in Portland, Maine in January is 31 degrees and in July is 79 degrees.
-In 2009, Maine record low was -50 degrees.
-In 1911, Maine record high was 105 degrees.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


We recently were lucky to go to a Patriots Game. It was a lot of fun. Everyone was nice and no one acted to crazy including myself. My first NFL game and I forgot to bring my camera so I have no photos to share just the ticket stub.
 Well, this weekend my favorite team will be playing the Patriots. Of course, we are going to have company to watch the game. I like both teams so it will be a great game even if my team doesn't win.
For supper, I made empanadas for the first time. I had to create my own filling. My family will not eat raisins or olives. My youngest daughter wanted cheese so it could be more like a hot pocket maybe next time. I served the empanadas with sour cream and salsa. The meal was still very good and I made them in the shape of a football.

41/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 eggs
2/3 cup to 1 cup ice water
1 1/2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour and salt.
  2. Add the butter and pulse for between 20-30 times or until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
  3. Add the eggs and vinegar. Pulse 10 times.
  4. Slowly add the water and pulse until the dough comes together. 
  5. Knead the dough one or two times to bring the dough together.
  6. Cut in half and flatten. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 to 6 hours.
Recipe adapted from: Smitten Kitchen.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 jalapenos, finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 Tbsp of hot sauce or more for spicier
Salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Saute the onion and jalapenos for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef and brown.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and combine.
To assemble:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the dough into ten pieces.
  3. Roll out each piece into a circle.
  4. Add about 3 spoonful of the filling into the middle of the dough.
  5. Fold over the dough and seal the two pieces together.
  6. Brush with egg wash.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Does it look like a foot or more like a yam?
Did you already know..............
-Empanadas are like turnovers filled with meat, vegetables, or fruit.
-Empanadas are popular in Latin America, South America, and Southern Europe.
-Empanadas name is derived from the Spanish word"empanar" which means to wrap or coat in bread.
-They can be baked or fried.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Texas Road House Rolls Copy Cat

     Something about eating in a restaurant that gives you peanuts are cool. I have never understood how steakhouses would think to provide peanuts as an appetizer. I think of steakhouses as an out West kind of thing with cowboys. When I think of peanuts, I think of the South like Virginia. Any insight about the two combination?
     I do like steakhouses but we rarely eat at any since it isn't my husband's first choice. We have ate at Texas Road House restaurant a couple of times. The restaurant serves a basket of rolls which are great. When I saw this recipe, I figured I would try it. The rolls are great. I did freeze half the recipe. These photos are from the freezer batch since there were no left overs from the first batch I had made. Yes, they are really good. I even had purchased some cinnamon butter and it was the perfect combination.
Like Texas Road House Rolls

2 cups milk
3 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 envelope of active dry yeast
1/2 cup water, around 100 degrees
8 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tsp salt

  1. Warm the milk in a large pot with the butter and sugar. Heat the milk to just below a simmer and allow to cool about 100 degrees.
  2. Add the yeast to the water and allow to sit for about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the yeast water to the milk and stir.
  4. Add two cups of flour and mix.
  5. Add the eggs and salt to the pot. Stir.
  6. Add 5 cups of flour and mix. The dough should be soft and not overly sticky. If the dough is sticky, add a little of the remaining flour.
  7. Place the dough onto a clean, floured surface.
  8. Knead the dough about 5 minutes.
  9. Place the dough in a grease bowl and flip it over. Cover the bowl and let rise about 1 hour.
  10. After the dough has doubled, punch it down. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  11. Divide the dough into 20-30 pieces. (Freeze at this stage if desired.)
  12. Allow the pieces to rise about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  13. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Recipe adapted from: Eat Cake For Dinner originally posted on Good Stuff Maynard.
Did you already know.............
-In 1993, Kent Taylor opened the first Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Clarksville, Indiana.
-There are over 350 restaurants in 46 states.
-Employees are called "Roadies". 
-The restaurant's mascot is: Andy the Armadillo.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Burgundy Mushrooms

When I was a kid, I did not like mushrooms. I did not like the texture. Also, mushrooms really did not have much of a taste. As an adult, I really like mushrooms. I cook a lot with mushrooms as if you couldn't tell if you read my blog often.
When I lived in Colorado, I use to order marinated mushrooms. The dish was served as an appetizer and they were so good. The restaurant is now closed but I sure miss that dish. These mushrooms look and taste very similar to that appetizer. The recipe takes all day to make.
Burgundy Mushrooms
2 lbs white button mushrooms, cleaned throughly
1/2 liter of Burgundy wine
1 cups boiling water
1 sticks butter
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

  1. Add the mushrooms, wine, boiling water, butter, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, bouillon cubes, and garlic to a large pot. Stir to combine.
  2. Bring the mushrooms to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 hours covered.
  3. Remove the lid and continue to cook for 3 hours, uncovered.
  4. Add salt to taste after the 3 hours. 
  5. Serve with bread, as a side dish, or over meat.
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook.
Did you already know.........
-Burgundy wine is produced from the Burgundy region of France.
-Burgundy wine can be white or red.
-A red Burgundy wine is Pinot Noir. 
-A white Burgundy wine is a Chardonnay. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lemon Frosted Cupcakes

Do you have a favorite lemon recipe? Is it lemon bars, meringue, or lemon frosting? I love lemonade. Fresh lemonade is the best.  My husband knows if we are at a fair I will normally purchase lemonade where they will squeeze it in front of you. Then they will shake it up for you. How can I resist? The only problem is I end up having to share. I tell my children I hope they know how much I love them!

Since I still had some Meyer lemons, I decided to make lemon frosting. I really am glad. The lemon flavor is a subtle taste and not overbearing. My youngest daughter thought they were awesome.

Lemon Frosting
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp fine sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 Tbsp milk

  1. Mix the lemon zest and the fine sugar very well. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter, and lemon juice until smooth.
  3. Add a little bit of milk at a time if needed until the ingredients are fluffy.
  4. Add the lemon zest sugar to the frosting.
  5. Top your favorite vanilla cake/cupcakes recipe. 
Recipe adapted from I am Baker who had adapted it from a allrecipes.com.

Did you already know........
-The rind of the Meyer lemon is edible.
-Meyer lemons are available from November, December, and January.
-Meyer lemons are sweeter than traditional lemons so less sugar is needed.
-In 1960, the majority of the Meyer lemons in California were destroyed by a virus.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lemon Curd

I like lemons especially since they make me think of the spring. My Mom and favorite friend likes lemons too. I asked my favorite friend what type of cupcakes did she want for her birthday. She told me that her mom use to make her a cake with lemon curd in the middle. What a great plan? 
When I was in the store purchasing the ingredients, I found a package of Meyer lemons. How perfect! This lemon curd recipe makes a lot. Since I had some left over, I asked my Mom if she would like it. She told me that she will be picking it up. So next time you are thinking about just buying a jar, try making it instead.
Lemon Curd
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup fine sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
6 Tbsp butter, unsalted and cubed

  1. Have a bowl ready with a mesh strainer over it for later.
  2. In a medium pan, whisk the lemon juice, sugar, yolks, eggs, and salt.
  3. Add the butter to the pan and turn the heat to low.
  4. Whisk continually until the butter has melted.
  5. Increase the heat to just under medium heat and continue to whisk constantly until the mixture has become thick. The mixture will be ready when it begins to be jelly like.
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat and press it through the strainer.
  7. Store the lemon curd in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz.
Did you already know............
-Meyer lemons originated from China.
-Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.
-The lemon was introduced to America by Frank N Meyer in 1908.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cheesy, Corn and Kielbasa Chowder

My oldest daughter asked me to make her a corn chowder like the one I made before. The one I made with all the ingredients she liked. No wonder she was asking for that chowder. 
I asked my husband if he wanted soup for supper. He said sure but he wanted chicken noodle. I asked his if he wanted homemade. He said no. The can was just fine. I said alright and I would also make my oldest daughter's chowder. I think he is becoming suspicious of me because he asked what was in her chowder. I told him and he said fine. He didn't want me to make two soups. Opening a can and heating it up isn't hard but he said the corn chowder was fine. I think he likes the chowder too.
Cheesy, Corn and Kabassa Chowder
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 package of kielbasa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 russet potatoes, cubed
1 package (16 oz) frozen sweet corn
4 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 can (14 oz) cream corn
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chives

  1. Heat a large pot with the olive oil.
  2. Add the kielbasa and cook thoroughly.
  3. Remove about 1/2 cup of the kielbasa and set aside on a plate covered with a paper towel.
  4. Add the garlic, onion, and potatoes to the pot. Cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the sweet corn and cook for about 2 minutes while stirring.
  6. Add the cream cheese and stir constantly for about 1 minutes.
  7. Evenly coat the mixture with the flour and stir for 1 minute.
  8. Add the milk while stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
  9. Allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  10. Add the cream corn and stir. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  11. Stir in 1/2 the cheese into the chowder and stir. Once the cheese is melted, serve.
  12. Top each bowl with a little of the saved kielbasa, cheese, and chives.
Recipe from Jen of Sweet Morris.
Did you already know............
-Kielbasa means sausage in Polish.
-Kielbasa does not refer to a specific type of sausage.
-Kielbasa tends to be a sausage made from pork with the addition of spices and is often smoked.
-Other names for Kielbasa are: kolbasa, kobasa, kovbasa, kobasi, etc.