Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Superhero

Do you have a favorite Superhero? Superman is my husband's favorite. we have the collection of Smallville on DVD, all the seasons of Smallville. We have many Superman movies even Superman Returns. My youngest daughter's favorite Superhero is Supergirl. She is a Daddy's girl! My son's favorite is Spider-man (which is why our dog is named Parker). My oldest daughter says her favorite is Wolverine. Can you tell who my favorite Superhero is?
I saw this recipe for a pudding drink and I figured I would try it. My oldest did not like it since she isn't a big fan of pudding. My two little ones loved it. Since they are such a fan of this drink, I figured I would post it. I am going to post the original recipe but I used vanilla pudding. 

 White Hot Chocolate Drink

1 1/2 Tbsp white chocolate flavor instant pudding mix
1 1/2 cup milk
Toppings if desired: whip cream, crushed peppermint candies, or chocolate

Directions:
  1. Mix the milk and pudding mix in a microwavable mug.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute on high.
  3. Top with the desired toppings. 
Recipe adapted from Disney Family Fun.
Did you already know........
-Wolverine and Spider-man are from Marvel comics.
-Superman and Wonder Woman are from DC comics.
-Superman was first published in 1983.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sore Back

My husband said his back hurt so our two youngest children volunteered to message it. So, my husband laid down to see if it would help. My son squeezed the back of his neck like he was chocking my husband. Then my son and youngest daughter karate chopped his back. Just in case my husband wasn't in enough pain at this point, they pushed their elbows into my poor husband's back. My son asked, "Doesn't this feel good, Daddy?"  Lesson learned: if you want your back to feel better, do not allow my two young children to help you out. Days later he is still recovering! My husband is so thoughtful that he volunteered for them to do my back next. I ran away.
I asked my son what kind of birthday cupcakes would he like. He said he wanted Power Rangers. I said not what type of decorations but what type of flavor did he want. He thought about it and told me he wanted banana. How many little kids ask for banana cake? I make banana bread all the time but I have never made banana cake before. I figured Martha Stewart would have a recipe for a banana cake. I am glad I trusted my instincts because these cupcakes are great. The cupcakes have a subtle banana taste. To top the cupcakes, I used a buttercream recipe found in my now favorite book The Pastry Queen. 
Banana Cake
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
4 very ripe large bananas, mashed
3/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  5. Add 1 egg at a time incorporating well.
  6. Add the bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  7. Slowly, add about 1 cup of the flour mixture at a time and incorporate well. Continue to add the flour mixture until all combined.
  8. Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full.
  9. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  10. Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before frosting. 
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart. There is a link for a caramel buttercream recipe which I have not tried.
Did you already know..........
-Bananas are harvested everyday of the year.
-Bananas are the most popular fruit in the U.S.
-The Cavendish banana is the typical banana eaten in the U.S.
-Other types of bananas are Goldfinger, Latundan, Red bananas.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

PQ: Pound Cake Rum or No Rum?

Rum or no rum? Rum or no rum? Dilemma's of life! This weeks Project Pastry Queen was the Totally Rummy Pound Cake picked by Shawnda. I just couldn't decide if I wanted to go with Rum. Why? It isn't because we don't like rum in this household. (If you shy around alcohol, you need to be absent from my husband's birthday bashes.) Since it was my son's birthday weekend, (yes weekend since it was a sleepover), I figured I would make a twist.
I decided to substitute the rum with lemons and blueberries. A lot of snow has melted and I am crossing my fingers for Spring. I really do try to ignore that groundhog especially when he predicts 6/8/12 more weeks of winter-remember I live in Maine.
I thought maybe one loaf pan would be enough. I was wrong. Since I had a lot of batter left over, I did a lot of mini loafs. Another great thing about mini loafs size is they are easier to ship to family members.

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake
1 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted lightly (optional)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease bread pans with cooking spray.
  3. Arrange the toasted almonds on the bottom of the bread pans.
  4. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy about 1 minute.
  5. After scrapping down the sides, add the sugar. Beat for 2 minutes on medium-high speed until incorporated.
  6. Scrap down the sides of the bowl again and then add 1 egg at a time until mixture is fluffy about 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  8. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and alternate with the sour cream until all the flour and sour cream is incorporated on medium-low speed.
  9. Stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and the lemon juice. Mix well. 
  10. Gently fold in 2/3 cups of the blueberries. 
  11. Spoon the batter evenly into the pans about 2/3 full. Top the batter with the remaining blueberries.
  12. Bake the pound cakes for about 1 hour and 20 minutes for the large loaf pan and about 30 minutes for the mini loaf pans. If the top is browning too quickly before the loafs are completely cooked through, cover the cakes with parchment paper. The pound cakes are done when the cake springs back when touched lightly.
  13. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen Cookbook.
Please check out the other Project Pastry Queen members posting of the Totally Rummy Pound Cake or if desired a glaze for the pound cake. Then you will have to decide rum or no rum in the glaze. Enjoy!
Almond crust
Did you already know.............
-In 1934, Myers's Rum was introduced in the US. 
-(Prohibition ended in 1933 for any curious minds.)
-Myers's Rum is made with pure Jamaican molasses.
-Myers's Rum is matured for about four years in oak barrels.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Southern Charm

Did you know Southern charm is an inheritable trait? My son must have received this trait from his Southern Grandfather. Now, I will admit honey works better than vinegar with me. My son knows this so he continues to call me, his sweet, sweet Momma. "Sweet, sweet Momma, can you make this for dinner?" "Sweet, sweet Momma, can I play the DS?" He even tries for extra points with, "I want to hold sweet, sweet Momma's hand." I will admit I try to be strong and not fold but wouldn't you if someone is calling you sweet? I guess I could change the blog's name to Sweet, sweet Momma but then I would feel old.
In celebration of my son's birthday, I wanted to make him one of his favorite dishes. He loves macaroni and cheese in the blue box. I refuse to make it. I will buy it since it is a dish my oldest daughter likes to cook. She adds tuna fish when she makes it.
I have made this dish several times before and it taste a lot better than the blue box. It is perfect for a weeknight. I know all the ingredients and there is no unknown orange powder going into the meal. The original recipe calls for elbow macaroni but I used Campanelle pasta to be fancy. You didn't realize macaroni and cheese could be fancy, huh? Also, I doubled the original recipe to feed six people as a meal.

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

1 lb  Campanelle pasta
7 Tbsp of butter, unsalted
4 eggs
12 oz evaporated milk, 2%
1 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


Directions:
  1. In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions to al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot.
  3. Add the butter and allow the butter to melt. Toss to coat the pasta. 
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the pasta.
  6. Add the cheese and stir.
  7. Over low heat, stir the pasta for about 3 minutes or until the mixture is creamy.
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.
Did you already know........
-The Italian word campanelle means bells.
-Campanelle pasta is a fluted, hollow pasta with a ruffled edge.
-Other substitutes for campanelle are gigli, riccioli, fusilli, ziti, etc.
-Check out the National Pasta Association link for even more unusual shapes of pasta.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fruit Smoothie

The other morning my son and I walked outside. We could hear a loud strange noise coming from the next street over. My son turned to me and asked me what could it be. (I think the noise was someone testing their generator) I asked him, "Doesn't it sound like aliens invading?"  Unconcerned, he shrugged and asked me, "What should we do?" I told him  not to worry since I eat my young. I did playfully try to chase him. He thought it was funny. Later in the car, he asked, "What would we do if aliens invade?" What would you do?
I told my son that he would probably go into hiding with his two older sisters with the pantry full of food while Daddy and I would have to fight. (So if we are ever invaded, you will know where to find me.) He told me he would fight too. I wasn't sure if it was just the thought of being stuck hiding with his two older, bossier sisters because that scared him more than facing aliens.
I still was surprised since I would have thought he would be happy with a pantry of food at his disposal which consisted mostly of cereal. I probably have more boxes of cereal than cans in my pantry. So next time you were wondering why I didn't blog that day, we probably ordered pizza, cereal, or a smoothie. I love smoothies. To me, it is a healthy treat. I didn't add any sweeteners to mine but the children did to their smoothie.

Fruit Smoothies


2 cups blueberries, frozen
2 kiwi, chopped
16 strawberries, frozen
1 cup mint leaves, torn
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup milk
optional: agava syrup, honey, or sugar to taste


Directions:
Blend all ingredients until smooth.


Recipe adapted to a smooth from: Williams-Sonoma. For additional juice recipes or to adapt to a smooth, check the link out. 
Did you already know.............

-Extraterrestrial Highway is 92 miles long located near Area 51.
-Area 51 is an Air Force Base located about 100 miles from Las Vegas.
-"No federal funds have been spent searching for radio signals from extraterrestrials since 1993" according to the New York Times article.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blackened Chicken

Have you ever been to Mardi Gras? Our oldest son went last year. I figured it would be better not to ask a lot of questions. I have been to New Orleans. I stood on the corner of Bourbon Street when I was 19 years old. Mardi Gras had ended the week before so I thought it would be tame. I was surprised at the shops and what some of the shops sold. 
Isn't it funny how worldly you think you are at 19? On that day, I walked with two friends down the street gawking. Did you see that? I think my friends did not want to tarnish all of my naivety and took me over to the water. Please don't feel for me. I was the one who wanted her photo taken under the Bourbon Street sign. 
 New Orleans was a beautiful city and it was the first place I ever tried blackened chicken. So in celebration of Mardi Gras, here is blackened chicken. 

 Blackened Chicken

1 1/2 Tbsp parika
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1  Tbsp olive oil
3 chicken breast
cooking spray

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all of the spices. Set aside.
  3. In an oven safe skillet, heat the oil on the stove top over medium heat.
  4. Add the chicken breast and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Turn the chicken over and the side facing up spray with cooking spray.
  6. Sprinkle a little of the mixed spices on top of the chicken.
  7. Turn the chicken over and repeat on the other side with the cooking spray and the seasoning. Cook the chicken for 2 minutes.
  8. Turn the chicken over again and cover the skillet with foil or an oven proof cover.
  9. Transfer the skillet to the oven.
  10. Cook the chicken in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Time will vary depending the thickness of your chicken breast.
Recipe adapted from Cooks.com.
 Did you already know..........
-Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday in French.
-It is the last day of the several weeks of celebration in New Orleans. 
-Mardi Gras is the day before Lent begins.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Fudge-Pecan Cake

My son has nice, thick hair. His hair is so thick that when it becomes too long, his hockey helmet doesn't fit. Then he complains it hurts. Don't we all wish we had thick hair problems?  This weekend, I finally took him to get a haircut. While we were at his appointment, the hairdresser asked him to look in the mirror. He looked up and said he was having a staring contest with .............himself. His reflection blinked the same time as he did informed us. Lesson learn: it will always be a tie (you hope) if you have a staring contest with yourself. I guess if you are going to race your shadow and want to win make sure to run towards the sun. You should win every time. If not, you need to exercise more or be checked out. 
This week for Project Pastry Queen, I picked the Mexican Chocolate Fudge-Pecan Cake. This cake is rich, rich, and rich. My husband loved it but he wanted his glaze without pecans. My youngest daughter suggested to make the glaze and pour it over ice cream next time. My oldest daughter concurred with my youngest daughters suggestion. I made a small heart shape cake and little Bundt cakes. I will admit I forgot to toast my pecans and (as you can see) chop them but I think it tasted wonderful just with all the chocolate glaze on them.
Mexican Chocolate Fudge-Pecan Cake
Cake:
1 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Directions for the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Grease a Bundt pan or cupcake tin generously. 
  3. Dust pan with flour and shake off any excess flour. Set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. 
  5. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.
  6. Add the water and whisk until smooth. Do not let the mixture boil.
  7. Remove the saucepan from the heat. 
  8. Add the sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla to the the cocoa mixture.
  9. Whisk until smooth.
  10. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 
  11. Whisk until completely incorporated. There may be lumps.
  12. Pour the batter into your greased pans about 2/3 full.
  13. Bake for 40-45 minutes for the Bundt pan or about 20 minutes for cupcakes. The cake is done when the cake pulls slightly away from the sides of the pan and it feels firm to touch.
  14. Allow the cake to cook in the pan for 20 minutes. 
  15. Remove from the pan by loosing the sides with a knife. 
  16. Spoon the glaze (recipe below) over the cool cake. 
Glaze:
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup high-quality coca powder
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Directions for the glaze:
  1. Arrange the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. 
  2. Toast the pecans for 7 to 9 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  3. Remove and allow to cool and chop.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
  5. Add the milk, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar. Whisk until glossy.
  6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt, and pecans. 
  7. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake (or ice cream).
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen cookbook. 
 Please make sure to check out the other Project Pastry Queen members posting and variations of this wonderful dessert.
Did you already know............. 
-It is believed Christopher Columbus was the first to introduce Europe to the cocoa bean.
-Chocolate didn't become popular in Europe until 1519 when Hernando Cortez observed the Aztec ruler drinking a beverage containing the cocoa bean. He introduced the drink to the rulers of Europe.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ham, Cheese, & Fried Egg Panini

As a kid, did you look through the toy catalog and want all the toys? Did you care if it was a doll or a truck? I didn't. My mom would tell us we could only pick one or two items out of the catalog. I thought that was the most impossible task. 
As an adult, I have the same problem but with the William-Sonoma catalog. I would like one of these or two of those. Once in a while, I will break down if the price is right and purchase something like a lunch box with cookie cutters for $10. I thought that was a pretty good deal. My son thought it was great since it was for him. I do actually look at the recipes in the catalogs. Since I have an underutilized panini press, I decided to make this recipe. My family said this was a must make again meal.
Ham, Cheese, & Fried Egg Panini
yields: 4 sandwiches
1/2 tsp minced shallot
1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp Champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
12 oz. Black Forest ham, thinly sliced
4 baguette rolls, sliced horizontally
6 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
1 Tbsp mayonnaise/ Dijon mustard (optional)
1 cup mixed salad greens
4 eggs 
2 Tbsp chives, chopped

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the shallot, honey, vinegar, and olive oil.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat the electric panini press.
  3. In a large skillet on medium heat, add 1 tsp vegetable oil. 
  4. Working in batches, brown the ham slices about 1 minute per side. 
  5. Transfer the ham on top of the open baguette rolls.
  6. One the other side of the baguette rolls, brush with mayonnaise/mustard or the shallot oil mixture.
  7. Add the salad greens to the shallot oil bowl and toss to coat the salad. 
  8. Top the ham with about 1 oz. Gruyere cheese per a sandwich.
  9. Cover the cheese with the other side of the baguette roll.
  10. Place 2 sandwiches at a time in the panini press and close the lid.
  11. Cook the sandwich about 4 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
  12. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
  13. In the large skillet used for the ham over medium-low heat, add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.
  14. Crack one egg into the skillet; cook the egg until the whites turn opaque.
  15. Flip the egg over and cook about 1 minute or until desired doneness.
  16. Open the sandwich and add the egg on top of the sandwich. 
  17. Top the egg with the mix salad greens and sprinkle chives on top.
  18. Close the sandwich and serve.
Source adapted from William-Sonoma January 2012 catalog.
Did you already know........
-Panini means sandwich.
-If you don't have a panini press, use a handheld grill press, brick covered with tinfoil, waffle iron, or a heavy skillet placed on top of the sandwich (or my oldest daughter's suggest use a clothes iron).
-In the early 1960s, Panini sandwiches could be found in sandwich shops around Italy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rosemary French Fries

I would rather have french fries than chocolate. (My youngest daughter would disagree since nothing beats chocolate.) If I eat out with my Mom, she always shares her french fries with me if they are absent from my order. Isn't she the best? She also said she craved french fries with me. 
 Now, I know french fries are not the healthiest food out there. I don't count them as a serving of vegetables to my children. We try to limit fast food to our children. (The main reason is my son would rather I cook something that will taste good. He has told me so.) 
 Once in a great while, I will buy frozen french fries. They don't always taste the best. So, I went to one of my trusted sources and searched french fries. Sure enough, I found one and had to try it. 
 When my husband tried this recipe, he said I should always make our fries this way. I agree with him. I will never buy frozen fries again. I will probably attempt to make sweet potato fries without the rosemary. 


Rosemary French Fries
6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into even lengthwise wedges
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more for seasoning)
1/4 tsp pepper
11/2 Tbsp rosemary, chopped


Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. 
  2. Place the potato wedges in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Cover with hot water.
  4. Allow potatoes to soak for at least 10 minutes but up to 30 minutes.
  5. Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with 4 Tbsp of vegetable oil.
  6. Sprinkle the pan with the salt, pepper, and 1 Tbps rosemary. Set aside.
  7. Drain the potatoes.
  8. Pat dry the potatoes well.
  9. Toss the potatoes with the remaining 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil and 1/2 Tbsp of rosemary.
  10. Arrange the potatoes onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  11. Cover the baking sheet with foil and bake for 5 minutes.
  12. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes.
  13. Rotate the baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes.
  14. Flip the fries over and bake for another 5 to 15 and until golden and crisp.
  15. Remove from oven and transfer onto a paper towel lined plate. 
  16. Season with additional salt to taste. Serve warm.
Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats and originally recipe found at The New Best Recipe cookbook.
Did you already know..............
-At a White House dinner, Thomas Jefferson requested potatoes made in the French way to be served.
-Potatoes are grown in all 50 states.
-The potato was the first vegetable grown in space.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heart Pie Pops

Happy Valentine's Day
Every year, I purchase a box of chocolates for my honey (of course) and all the children. This year my youngest children would keep showing me what they wanted for Valentines which included chocolate, pink monkeys, and lots of candy. I informed them that I only purchase one gift for them so they need to decide what they want. They no longer wanted the monkey but chocolate.
Can I eat it now?
I wanted to make something fun for Valentine's Day. When I saw these heart pie pops at Williams-Sonoma, I figure I could make them. My daughter helped me so our pops have lots of sprinkles on them. Also, she helped with the food processor and rolling out the dough. I think she did a pretty good job. She thought they were really good.

Heart Pie Pops
Pie Dough (recipe follows)
1 21 oz can of cherry pie filling
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
sprinkles

Pie Dough (Pate Brisee)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into little pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup very cold water

Directions:
  1. Add the flour, salt, and sugar to the food processor. 
  2. Pulse for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the butter and pulse about 19 times.
  4. Continue to pulse while slowly adding the cold water into the food processor. Continue to add water until the dough comes together. Do not pulse more than 30 seconds.
  5. Turn the dough onto a clean surface and gather into a ball. 
  6. Cut the dough into half.
  7. Wrap each half of dough and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate for at least one hour before using.
Directions for the Heart Pie Pops:
  1. Combine the egg and water in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. Roll out the pie dough. 
  3. Using a heart shape cookie cutter, cut out two hearts. 
  4. Place one popsicle stick into the middle of one of the dough hearts making sure the top of the stick is about 1 inch away from the top of the heart.
  5. Add about 6 cherries in the middle of one of the heart pie dough. 
  6. Top the cherries with the other piece of dough. Seal the sides of the dough very well. 
  7. Brush the dough with the egg mixture.
  8. Sprinkle the desired amount of sprinkles on top.
Pie Dough recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes cookbook.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Did you already know.........
-The oldest discovered love poem was written on a clay tablet around 3500 B.C. by the Sumerians.
-In the late 1800s, Richard Cadbury invented the Valentine candy box.
-On February 14th, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell applied for the telephone patent.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wild Mushroom Soup

Do you like mushrooms? I do. Do you like to call your sisters and invite them over for supper on nights you are serving mushrooms especially since you know they don't like them? I do. I also invite my two mushroom hating sisters over for their second favorite meal of seafood. They decide not to come over on those nights either. I really don't know why. 
Don't worry they get even. One sister has tried to convince my youngest daughter that she doesn't like mushrooms either. My youngest daughter has always eaten mushrooms with no problem until recently. I always give her the option of cereal. She normally picks the mushroom meal so I guess my sister will have to work harder.
Wild Mushroom Soup
1/4 cup butter, unsalted
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp finely ground white pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste
fresh chives, chopped for garnish

Directions:
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan.
Add the onion and cook until transparent about 5 minutes.
Add all the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir 1 Tbsp of flour at a time.
Return the pan to low heat.
Slowly, add the broth while stirring constantly.
Add the pepper, nutmeg, lemon juice, and sherry.
Simmer the soup over medium low heat for 10 minutes. 
Add the cream and stir until the soup is hot.
Add the cayenne and salt to taste.
Garnish with chives.

Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen.
Make sure to check out the other Project Pastry Queen members posts.

Did you already know............
-Another name for cremini mushrooms are baby bella, Roman, or brown mushrooms.
-Cremini mushrooms are portobello mushrooms. 
-Cremini (baby bella) mushrooms are harvested around 40 days while portobello mushrooms are harvested  around 45 days.
-Shiitake or button white mushrooms are excellent substitutes for cremini mushrooms.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Nutella Molten Chocolate Cake

I am going to surprise you. I know you have already read the title about what I am blogging about but I will still surprise you. Why is this dessert a surprise? Because this dessert is so surprising easy to make! Not only is it easy, the other surprise is how inexpensive it is to make. Now if you go to a nice restaurant like we did this past weekend, you will be surprised that it may cost $8 for one of these. I know just for one. We took a mini weekend trip up to the Bar Harbor area. (Yes, we know it is winter.) 
Since my youngest daughter was 100 months old, I told her she could get any dessert she wanted. Of all the dessert, she picked the $5 Oreo shake. I guess I don't make her enough shakes around here. See I am trying to distract you from the fact that I did celebrate my daughter turning 100 months. My husband just goes with it since he knows he'll benefit with a special treat! No, we didn't buy her a present. Let's not go overboard about this celebration. When she reaches 1,000 months and I'm still around, I'll buy her a present then.
I was really surprised how much the restaurant charged for this dessert since I make it all of the time at home for friends. I was able to make six of these for less than $8 plus I added a little of Nutella to mine! Aren't I fancy? Really, I just happened to have the Nutella still on the counter after making my daughter's lunch.
Nutella Molten Chocolate Cake


6 oz. of bittersweet chocolate (or a package of Baker's Baking Squares)
10 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup Nutella
1 3/4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
fresh berries, additional powder sugar, or chocolate fudge, etc for garnish


Directions:
  1. Grease six 6 oz. ramekins or oven proof glass bowls with cooking spray. 
  2. Microwave the chocolate, butter, and Nutella for about 2 minutes so all of the butter can melt. Stir well to combine.
  3. Add the flour and the powder sugar until well incorporated.
  4. Add the eggs and egg yolks. Beat until well blended.
  5. Pour into the 6 dishes.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. The cakes should be firm around the edges but soft in the center.
  7. Let sit at room temperature for 1 minute.
  8. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen from the sides of the dish.
  9. Place a plate on top of the ramekin facing down and flip. Top the cakes with your desired garnish. Wait a few minutes before serving since the insides of the cake will be really hot and gooey. 
Recipe adapted from the back of the Baker's Bittersweet Baking Chocolate Squares.
Did you already know.....
-Acadia National Park is adjacent to Bar Harbor.
- In the 19th century, Bar Harbor was a summer resort for the Rockefellers, Fords, Astors, etc.
-In Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain is where the sunlight of dawn first reaches the continental United States.
What we did in the Bar Harbor area!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cream Cheese Lemon Hearts

Valentine's Day is less than a week away. My youngest daughter has already completed all of her Valentine cards to her classmates and have brought them into school. I was the same way when I was her age.I always liked to give Valentine cards to everyone. I would even make one for my Mom.
I still really like to give Valentine's Day gifts. My husband leaves for work really early so I leave his box of chocolates in his cars so he will be "surprised"! Since I do this every year, I'm not sure he is really surprised anymore but he humors me. (It is also a good reminder for him about the day.) Guess what? He has never forgotten to give me something for Valentine's Day. 
I also give the children a small box of chocolate before school. On a normal day, the rule is no treats before 10:00 am. Valentine's Day is different so I allow one piece before school but only after they have eaten their breakfast.
My husband picked this recipe. The recipe is suppose to be bows but I just omitted the bottom part of the bow. I will give you a warning that the dough is thick so they are hard to pipe. I did make some as circles and some I just rolled into balls and flatten a little. These cookies are really good with a hint of lemon.

Cream Cheese Lemon Cookies
3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
powder sugar for sprinkling

Directions:
  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
  2. Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a medium bowl. 
  3. Add the sugar and continue to cream.
  4. Add the egg, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well.
  5. Slowly, add the dry ingredients.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Add a small amount of dough to a piping bag. 
  8. Pipe the dough using a large finely ribbed French tip (like Ateco #865).
  9. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Let cool and dust with the powder sugar.
  11. Cookies will store for up to 3 days in an air tight container at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies. 
Did you already know...........
-One legend about St. Valentine is there was a Bishop Valentine in Roman times who would perform secret marriages. He was later executed on Feb. 14th by the Emperor.
-On Feb. 15th, the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia (a fertility festival) to honor the Roman God Faunas.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teriyaki beef

This is a recipe my family have been making since I was little. My parents would make it and place it on skewers to marinate. Then they would grill it. When you live in Hawaii or Guam, you can grill all the time. I live in Maine. We have a lot of snow. I could try talking my husband into taking out the grill to cook this recipe but I know it isn't going to happen. You could suggest for me to do it but I try to spend as much time outside in the cold as I can. I run from the house to the car and from the car to the store. Sometimes I even get lucky by talking someone into warming up the car for me. Aren't they sweet? 
So I had to adapt one of my favorite recipes for indoors. I am glad I did. I think we will be having this recipe more often now. I have used the marinade on chicken and it is great. My family received this recipe from a friend over 30 years ago so I can not give you where the recipe originated. 
Teriyaki Beef 
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 inch fresh ginger
1 scallion, chopped
1 lb steak, chicken, or any other desired item you want to marinate
1 tsp vegetable oil

Directions:
  1. Add all the ingredients to a dish besides the lb of meat. Mix well so the brown sugar is incorporated. 
  2. Add the meat and marinate for 24 hours. 
  3. In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
  4. Add the meat and cook until cooked through. 
Recipe adapted from a family recipe.

Did you already know............
 -Guam is the largest island of the Mariana Island chain in the Northern Pacific Ocean.
-The tropical island of Guam is a US territory.
-Guam's motto is "Where America's Day Begins".
-45 % of Guam's population are the native people Chamorro.
-Guam is only 30 miles long.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Silken Chocolate Walnut Tart

Sometimes you make something and you know it came out wrong. The thing is this dessert taste so good. It should have been silky. Mine was not. It should have more crust on the sides. Mine did not. Mine was like a delicious brownie on a tart crust.
When I was making this dessert, I had a feeling my tart pan wasn't large enough. So I had the brilliant idea of placing a parchment lined cookie sheet under my tart. I am glad since my tart did run over.
If you make this dessert, you should use a 10 inch tart pan. I even saw a 10 inch heart shape pan. I recommend this dessert for Valentine's Day. Since I made this dessert with the toasted walnuts, my honey would have know it wasn't for him but for me. Alright, I made this for the children and me! Also you can easily adapt the crust to make this a gluten free dessert and it would be worth making it.
Please check out the recipe and the other Project Pastry Queen members posting here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Buttermilk Corn Bread

I will admit that I love Jiffy's corn muffins in the little blue box. If I am going to make chili, I'll cheat with the corn muffins. My Dad would say that isn't cornbread. He is a Southern. At Thanksgiving, his family serve cornbread stuffing. My Mother is a Northern and I live in Maine. I make bread stuffing at Thanksgiving. What I'm trying to tell you is I like my cornbread sweet. Growing up, my Dad would make us cornbread in a cast iron skillet and it was good. I make it from a box.
The reason why I'm telling you this is because I went ahead and made corn bread from scratch. I did. Guess what? It was good. I even offered my Dad some. I would never think about offering my Dad Jiffy cornbread. I want to live. How do you like your corn bread? I guess I should ask if you eat corn bread? 
Buttermilk Corn Bread
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grease an 8 inch pan.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sugar.
  5. Quickly add the eggs and beat until incorporated.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and baking soda.
  7. Stir in the buttermilk mixture to the sugar butter mixture.
  8. Mix in the cornmeal, flour, and salt until well mix with only a few lumps remaining.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Recipe adapted from all recipes.

Did you already know............
-Jiffy is owned by Chelsea Milling Company in Chelsea, Michigan. 
-The Chelsea Milling Company has been family operated since the early 1800s.
-In 1930, Mrs. Mabel White Holmes' twin boys brought two motherless boys to her home. Mrs. Holmes noticed the boys were eating "frightful looking sandwiches" and had the idea of making a mix that would be easy to make. Her husband thought it was a great idea and started to produce the mix at the Chelsea Milling Company.
-When Mrs. Holmes was growing up, their cook would say the "biscuits will be ready in a jiffy".

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Boston Baked Beans

It is funny how certain foods make you think of someone close to you. When we would go to family gatherings, my Nana would bring her baked bean pot full of Boston baked beans. It was a tradition. Any time I have baked beans, I think of her even though she is no longer around. I will admit this recipe is close to my Nana's recipe but not quite what I remember. The recipe is very good.
I hardly ever use dry beans. I normally will buy a can before the dry just because it is more convenient. Growing up, my Dad always cooked using dry beans. I never watched him prep the beans. I just knew he started the beans the night before. The first time I went to prep dry beans; I had to call my Dad since I had no clue. I didn't realize they had to soak overnight then cook them then recook them. What? Now, I just follow the directions on the back of the package. I liked it better when my Dad did all the work. Don't you sometimes miss the convenience of being a kid?
Boston Baked Beans
2 cups navy beans
1/2 lbs bacon
1 onion, finely diced
3 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions:
Clean and sort through the beans. 
Soak the beans overnight in cold water.
Simmer the beans in the same water until tender for about 1 hour or longer if needed.
Drain but reserve the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Arrange some of the beans in a dish/bean pot. Layer bacon and onions on top of the beans. Continue to layer first with the beans followed with the bacon and onions.
In a saucepan, combine the molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and the brown sugar.
Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over the beans.
Add the reserved liquid over the beans to cover the beans. 
Cover the dish and cook for 3 to 4 hours. Remove the lid after a couple of hours and add more liquid if needed.

Recipe adapted from All recipes

Did you already know.........
-Boston baked beans tend to be sweetened with molasses or maple syrup.
-Before the Pilgrims arrival, Native Americans sweetened their beans with maple syrup.
-The Pilgrims and Puritans did not cook on Sunday to observe Sabbath. They would cook their beans on Saturday and leave them in the oven overnight so they were able to enjoy them hot the next day.