Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Party 2008

This past weekend we had a holiday party for our family and friends. I decided this year to take off the day before, so I could get all of my cooking and baking out of the way and wasn't exhausted come Saturday night. We had a huge turnout and it was great to see people catching up and also getting acquainted with one another. I made some new recipes this year that I absolutely loved how they turned out and they seemed to have been a hit with everyone as well. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the food (maybe someone will send me some!), but at least I can share the recipes!

2 - 3 oz. boxes of pineapple jello
1/4 cup coconut milk
coconut rum (see amounts below)
cold water (see amounts below)
- Chill rum in freezer for 2 hours before making.
- Dissolve the jello according to box directions in 2 cups boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Depending on how strong you want your shots follow these guidelines:
> For mild shots add 1 cup cold rum, 3/4 cup cold water 1/4 cup coconut milk
> For stronger shots add 1 & 1/2 cups cold rum 1/4 cup cold water, and 1/4 cup coconut milk
- Mix with a spoon, then ladle into 1.25 oz. shot glasses of your choice. (You can either pour the mixture into the shot glasses or use a turkey baster to transfer the liquid into the cups.)
- Put into refrigerator. If you want a fast set put them into the freezer for an hour. Or make ahead and freeze for a while and then bring out about an hour before the party.

Review: Absolutely love these jello shots! Some people like them stronger. I, personally, like when you don't taste the alcohol, but know it is there, so I don't make them too strong. I have seen recipes where people omit the "extra" water and use all rum. Another tip is to spray the Solo cups (available at Party City) with Pam, which makes it easier for them to slide out.

1 can (19-ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
Coarse salt and ground pepper

In a food processor, combine cannellini beans, olive oil, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon); season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Puree until smooth.
Place puree in a serving bowl, and lightly sprinkle chili powder over the top, if desired. Serve dip with toasted pita chips.

Review: Super simple to make and I was surprised at how much I actually liked this! I am not big into hummus, but this may swing my vote. (haha) I actually doubled this recipe (which in my Cuisinart food processor was a bit of a chore) and doubled everything except the lemon juice. I just used 1 lemon and thought it was perfect.
1 lb. package Ziti pasta or Rigatoni
24 ounces ricotta cheese
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
- In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Review: This will be my baked ziti recipe going forward. Of course, I didn't have one before, knew in my head what the ingredients should be, so this was perfect for tying it all together. I have read some reviews that said they would cut down the amount of ricotta, you absolutely can do that. I really enjoyed this. I made a double batch for the party and it filled up 2 half-trays, which worked out perfectly for 40 people (along with the rest of the food). I make my own sauce, so not exactly sure how many ounces of sauce I put into it, but it was the equivalent of 4 large (24 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes and whole tomatoes with one small can of tomato paste, which are cooked down to remove excess water). I made these ahead and put them in the fridge and then baked for 30 minutes ahead of eating. I kept them covered with foil.

1 pinch salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 lemon wedges

- Mix together salt and flour in a small dish or plastic bag, then coat chicken and shake off excess. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour from chicken, then brown in hot oil until both sides are golden-brown, and the inside has turned white and firm, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
- Remove the chicken, and set aside in a warm place. Pour white wine into the skillet, and allow to boil as you dissolve the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice, and allow to come to a boil, cook for a few minutes until reduced by half.
- Sprinkle the cubed butter into the boiling sauce. Swirl and shake the pan vigorously to dissolve the butter, thus thickening the sauce. The butter must never come to rest, or the sauce will separate and become oily. Once the butter has completely incorporated, remove from heat and stir in capers.
- To serve, pour lemon-caper sauce over the chicken, and serve with a wedge of lemon.
Review: Another of my faves and one that had several people asking for the recipe (including Heidi and Michelle (of the Baking Buddies blog)'s mom! =). I had never made this before, but decided this would be relatively easy to make and if nothing else, should be good for a party dish! The recipe above is for 2 servings. Luckily, Allrecipes.com has a servings conversion, which I took full advantage of and besides the reviews was one of the reasons I picked this recipe, as I had bought 10 lbs. of Perdue Chicken Tenders at Costco and needed to convert the recipe based on the pounds of chicken I had! This turned out to be 27 servings! The best part is when you convert to 27 lbs., the conversion takes you literally, so it told me 13 1/2 pinches of salt - lol! Can you imagine counting that out?!

Needless to say, I just took a large Ziplock bag, poured in some flour and shook in some Lawry's Seasoned Salt. I used that to coat the chicken and cook them in 2 separate pans (one dutch oven and one nonstick pan) to cook them faster. The nonstick pan took longer and didn't brown as well. I either sprayed the pans or put in olive oil after each set of chicken tenders to make sure they didn't stick to the pan and then once cooked put them straight into the half trays (the double batch made for 2 half trays). After all of the chicken was cooked, I used the dutch oven to make the sauce.

I put in 3 cups of a white wine and 3 cups of chicken broth, then added 1 stick of unsalted margarine at a time. I was hoping to use less margarine, but the taste wasn't quite right, so I ended up using 3 sticks. I also used 5 lemons (rather than the 3 cups per the conversion). I debated whether or not to add the sauce as I wasn't serving it until the next day, but thought it would be a good marinade, so poured it over top of the chicken.

The next day, I put it in the oven with the 2 trays of ziti and set the oven for 375 degrees for 30 minutes and then put the oven on warm. It seemed to work out well and I would definitely recommend this. I even got compliments that it looked like I had gotten the party catered!

Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Snowmen!!

So I had made the Marshmallow Snowmen to give to people at work. Mike really liked how they turned out so he asked me to make him a few. I decided to step them up a notch and give them a hat. I think this will be my new annual holiday treat!

Here they are all packaged up and ready for delivery!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving at the Lundgrens - 2008


Here are the Turkey cookies I made for Thanksgiving. I had so much fun making these..and they were a hugh hit with my family. I brought a few over to Kevins friends the day before Thanksgiving and they loved them. The girls want to get together next year so I can show them how to make them for their families. Im glad everyone thought they were as cute as I did =)


From appetizers, to the main course...to desserts...we had a great day pigging out on delicious foods.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Candy Begins....

Candy #1

Every year my candy making for the holidays usually starts the weekend after thanksgiving, but this year it started before Thanksgiving. That's because Kathleen had said she was making these candy turkeys for thanksgiving and when I saw a picture of them I had to make them as well.

I only on made five of them, because I didn't think many adults would eat them. Since my almost 3 year old nephew was really the only child that was going to be there. But to my surprise they all went. Mike was upset that he actually didn't get a chance to have one. Who knew!!

Candy #2

So last year I had a made my peanut clusters for a bunch of people at work as my holiday gift. But this year I have a lot more people I want to give something to, so the search for something as cute as the turkeys began. I even had Michelle helping with the search. What we came across were Marshmallow Snowmen. Chocolate covered that is.....

What you need to make these cute men....

Marshmallows (b0dy)
White chocolate
Mini m&ms (nose & buttons)
Mini chocolate chips (eyes)
Chocolate Sprinkles (mouth)
Pull and peel twizzlers (scarf)

They are fun to make and once you get a system down, only takes a few hours to make around 27 snowmen.......I would have made more, but I ran out of marshmallows.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

December Cookie Recipe: Chocolate Chippers

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year (followed by Halloween and Thanksgiving). I can remember baking cookies with my mom every year. She would bake batches and batches of cookies and put them in tins, which she would then serve for a Christmas party, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. She always made the same couple of cookies - Chocolate Chip, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Graham Cracker Yummies (my fav), Sugar Cookies (which of course, I always HAD to decorate), and Doggie Turds (of course, if you ask her, she'll say they are called Oatmeal Logs or something, but I know better - despite the name, they are a wonderful oatmeal and confectionary sugar based cookie dipped in chocolate and actually is a recipe passed down from Karen's mom).

Well, despite my mom's recipes, I am on the hunt for my own traditional cookies (p.s. Graham Cracker Yummies are always on my list). With December just a couple of days away and our yearly girl's baking weekend coming up in a few weeks, I thought I would start experimenting before the actual day, so I can figure out what I am going to make this year. Tonight, Biz and Justin invited us over for some fajitas and margaritas (yahoo!) and altho the Mexican Wedding Cakes probably more fit the bill, I took a look in my trusty BH&G 1965 ed. "New Cook Book" and stumbled across a cookie called the Chocolate Chippers. I have been craving a chocolate chip cookie (sorry, ladies, not THAT kind of craving ;) and this one seemed to fit the bill.

My mom always had a copy of the BH&G cookbook around when she baked. As I use it more and more, I think it may have been moreso because they use a lot of Crisco in their baking. My dad is lactose intolerant and Crisco is perfect, because there is no trace of milk products (aka butter) and if there was butter, she would use margarine or non-dairy creamer instead of milk. I don't think I started using butter until a few years ago when I realized the flavor was that much better (and no trans fats!). Of course, in this day and age, fortunately unlike some other allergies, my dad can use Lactaid and safely ingest milk-based products (although he still doesn't drink a glass of milk, but then again never did, even before he became lactose intolerant, which started when he was 18, but the doctor didn't diagnose him until he was 28!).

Anyhow, as usual I digress, one lifesaver that Crisco has come up with is their individual Crisco sticks. These things are excellent! No more buying the big tub, which I would never use before it went bad (is that possible with this stuff?!) and scooping it into a measuring cup and then back out into the mixer (you get the idea), now you just cut it like you would cut a stick of butter. Yes, you pay more for convenience, but it is one convenience I don't mind!

Chocolate Chippers

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces (I used Nestle Chocolate Chips)
1/2 cup broken/chopped nuts (optional, I omitted)

Oven 375 degrees

- Cream together shortening, sugars, egg, and vanilla till light and fluffy.
- Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture, blending well.
- Add chocolate pieces and nuts. If desired, add 1/2 cup crushed peppermint stick candy.
- Drop from teaspoon 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.
- Bake 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from pan immediately.

Review: I absolutely LOVED these cookies. I will definitely make again this Christmas season. Now, BH&G says the recipe makes 3.5 dozen. I didn't come close to this. I used the medium cookie scoop (also from Pampered Chef) - p.s. I will never do cookies any other way; I used to use the 2 spoon method - you know, the way your grandmother or mom would have taught you back in the day, scoop some cookie mix and then use the other spoon to drop it onto the cookie sheet - no longer necessary with a good metal scoop!! Anyway, I used the medium scoop and only got 21 cookies out of it. Needless-to-say, I will probably at least triple the recipe when I make it for the holidays (as hope to give away some cookies as well). I also tried a new feature on my stove, which I haven't used in the past - the Convection Bake option. When you put in 375, it automatically drops it to 350. I don't know if it made the cookie better or not, but I definitely think I will try this feature again. I hope you enjoy these cookies as well!

September/October Recipe: Paprika Chicken & Egg Noodles

I thought I would hit two birds with one stone for September and October. Of course, my husband and I eat chicken like it's going out of style (mainly because it is the better meat health-wise). Similar to Michelle, I am always looking to change it up a bit (although do have some old stand-bys when I don't have time to follow a recipe). The great thing about chicken is that you can really eat it so many different ways and add so many different types of spices to it and it just adapts to however you are cooking it.

Another great thing about chicken is that Costco sells it in this HUGE 10lb. bag of Perdue chicken breasts in different sizes (but not as JUMBO as they seem to make them in the supermarket these days). Makes it very convenient as I don't have to bring them home, cut them up and freeze them and whenever I plan on making chicken for dinner, I just take 2 pieces out and defrost them.

Anyhow, I had a Pampered Chef party several months ago and bought their cookbook called "29 minutes to dinner." There were 2 main reasons I decided to buy this cookbook, maybe three. 1) It has pictures. A cookbook with pictures is always a big plus for me. I am a very visual person and pictures just helps spark the creative juices flowing. 2) The P.C. consultant actually had a list of the Weight Watchers points per recipe, which was a HUGE plus! 3. It's small, won't take up too much room on my shelf! =) Oh yeah, and did I mention it's only supposed to take 29 minutes to the meal?! So make that 4 reasons! When I come home from work the last thing I want is to make a meal that takes an hour. Anyhow, I thumbed through the book and found a recipe that had both chicken (September recipe theme) and pasta (October recipe theme). I figured it was a win-win, or was it?

Paprika Chicken and Egg Noodles

8 ounces green beans
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
8 ounces mushrooms
1 medium onion
3 tablespoons butter, divided
8 ounces uncooked egg noodles
2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill
Sour cream (optional)

- For noodles, bring salted water to a boil in a 4-quart pan. Cut green beans diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Lightly spray a 12-inch skillet with vegetable oil; heat over medium-high heat 1-3 minutes or until hot. Meanwhile, dice chicken into 1-inch pieces; sprinkle with paprika, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, if desired. Cook 5-7 minutes or until centers of chicken are no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside.
- As chicken cooks, cut mushrooms into quarters. Cut onion in half lengthwise; then into -inch wedges. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to skillet. Cook and stir mushrooms and onion over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, add noodles to boiling water and cook 2 minutes. Add green beans to noodles. Cook, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until noodles are cooked to desired tenderness. Carefully remove ¾ cup of the cooking water for use in sauce. Drain noodles and green beans using large colander.
- Add chicken and cooking water to skillet; stir to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce is thickened and chicken is heated through.
- Meanwhile, toss noodles and green beans with remaining butter. Snip or chop dill.
- To serve: Divide noodle mixture among serving plates; top with chicken and sauce. Sprinkle with dill and garnish with sour cream, if desired.

Serves four.

Nutrition values per serving: 500 calories, 20 g fat (8 g saturated), 49 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 31 g protein, 150 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium.

Review: Well, not my favorite chicken recipe, but it was good. It was definitely something different and may just be the way I cooked it, so I might try again just to see if I change my mind. I used dried dill (didn't have fresh) and light sour cream, which helps cut some of the calories. I also don't think I used the butter to also cut calories and use yolk-less egg noodles, which cuts down on the cholesterol. haha Maybe it's cutting down on all of these calories is why it wasn't as good as I hoped, but then again you can still have good tasting food without the calories. So try it, you might like it and if you aren't worried about the calories, go all out!

Weight Watchers Points: 11 points per serving

Daring Bakers Challenge: Shuna Fish Lydon's Caramel Cake

Like a lot of my fellow Daring Bakers I was excited to get back to something sweet. I was also very happy that it was a cake this month. Since this is/was my birthday month I thought it would be the perfect thing to make for my celebration.

Thank you to our DB hostess and helpers this month for a great selection they are the following: Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex from Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie , Jenny of Foray into Food and helping them with the alternative baking side of things is once again Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go .

This month's recipe comes from Shuna Fish Lydon's website: http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2006%20…%20he-recipe/

Author: Shuna Fish Lydon

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Review: I made this cake for my birthday and thought it came out great. The cake part itself was very straight forward and I did not have any problems with it. The cake to me was dense but really tasty. The caramel gave it a nice flavor that was unique and very pleasant.

The part I really enjoyed and loved was the caramel syrup. I think I could have cooked it a little bit longer but I was afraid of burning it. It taste SOOOOO good and I would make it again in a heartbeat. I used it as a sweetener for my coffee and even got other family members to do the same. It kept very well in the refrigerator for several weeks before we finished it.

The part I didn't really like was the brown butter buttercream (which is why I didn't include the recipe above). I have decided that I am not a fan of homemade buttercream and unless it is required I don't think I will make them again. My husband doesn't really care for them as well and it is sort of wasted on us.

Friday, November 21, 2008

KAF Soft Molasses Cookies

For a while now I have been wanted to make some kind of molasses cookies. One reason was because my husband requested them. Another reason was because I bought a jar of molasses thinking I didn't have any in the house...to only find out that I had a jar at least 3/4 full. So I figured this would be a good way to use up some of that molasses. I was also thinking about making a gingerbread house this year for the holidays but with an almost 3 year old boy in the house...it isn't going to happen.
I actually had this recipe bookmarked for a while now but what made me decide to make it was that it was today's post on the King Arthur Flour blog...Bakers' Banter. I was also having company over on Monday for brunch and though this would make a great addition to my other desserts.

Review: This is an easy to make cookie recipe in every way. I also think by using a cookie scoop it makes it all that much easier. I rolled mine in a combination of sugars...course sugar, granulated sugar, both course and granulated and none at all. By far to me the course sugar wins it because it adds a nice crunch to this cookie.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

I am always searching for new recipes to try out for dinner. I just feel like I make the same thing over and over again. I am sort of a person who needs variety but at the same time I like the comfort of making the same thing over and over again.

One day about a month ago while my son was taking his late nap I decided to watch Oprah. I can't remember what the show was about but her chef friend Cristina Ferrare was on it. Her segment was making meals for less. She had a few women cooking at home with her and she was basically showing them how to turn 2 roasted chickens into multiple meals.

The recipe that really caught my eye was for Chicken Enchiladas. It is something I have had out many time at Mexican restaurants. I know Heidi even has talked about making it once for dinner. When I saw what the recipe was and how easy it sounded I wanted to try it out.

To be honest for me to buy a whole chicken and roast it is not a hard thing. However, it is cheaper as well as less time consuming if I go to my wholesale club and buy a rotisserie chicken. I used the dark meat for this recipe and save the white meat for another meal.

Review: I was so excited and surprise on how yummy this recipe came out. I have made it a couple of times and really can't wait to make it again. I do have some notes on the recipe that I feel is important to share with you. I only needed use one 16 oz can of beans which was all my supermarket had instead of the 2 cans the recipe calls for. Maybe there are smaller cans out there which is what they might have had in mind. I also used a small can of sliced black olives instead of the kalmata olives the recipe calls for (I think the black olives are cheaper). The first time I made it I used a bag of a cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese mix. The second time I made it I used just cheddar and I couldn't really tell the difference. I also used sour cream the first time and cream cheese the second time and I also couldn't tell the difference. The one problem I had both times was that my enchiladas stuck to the bottom of the pan. The first time it was worse because I didn't use enough sauce (I used only one 8oz jar because that was the only size the supermarket had...it wasn't until I got home that I realized it was suppose to be a 16oz jar). I also find that I can only fit 5 and not 6 enchiladas in my pan...maybe I stuff them too much or don't roll them tight enough. It isn't that much of a problem since we don't eat all 5 in one sitting any way. They are very filling and I can eat 2 but I am SO stuffed after that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

August Recipe: Chip's Grilled Bluefish

My husband and my birthdays are 6 days apart and for our birthday present this year, my parents took us on a fishing charter out of Norwalk, CT into the Long Island Sound. We had such a good time and learned a lot from Captain Frank. www.judithlynncharters.com/index.html

We fished for fluke (summer flounder), bluefish, lobsters, and crabs. (Unfortunately, the lobster was too small and had to be thrown back.) I was the first one to catch a fish (go me!). It was unfortunately an inch smaller than is allowed, so it went back (bummer! but I still get the title for First Fish! =).

I was really excited to get fluke, as I really like flounder. I wasn't so excited to get bluefish. I remember bluefish as being one of my fav fishes as a child, but made it a few years ago and it just didn't do anything for me. At the end of the fishing trip, we ended up with about 4 lbs. of both. Turned out the bluefish was 10x better! We froze most of the fish and just finished the rest of it last week (October). We used the below recipe found on http://www.recipezaar.com/ on both of the fish and also passed it to my parents, as they had just as much fish as we did!

1 lb bluefish fillet, with the skin on

3/4 cup Hellman's mayonnaise (not fat free)
1-2 large onions, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
Old Bay Seasoning or cajun seasoning (optional)

1. Preheat Grill.
2. Lay pieces of Bluefish, skin side down, on UNGREASED aluminum foil.
3. Allow enough foil to make a package, sealed at the ends and folded at the top, allowing room for fish to steam.
4. Spread mayonnaise over the top of the fish, it should be very thick, if needed add more, the fish should look like a thickly frosted cake.
5. Lay onion rings on top of fish in several layers, sprinkle with seasonings.
6. Sprinkle with pepper and optional spices, drizzle lemon juice over top.
7. Bring together foil and fold to make a seal lengthwise over fish, fold in ends.
8. Remember to keep air space on top of fish.
9. Place fish on preheated grill, close cover.
10. Grill at medium-high heat, about 350-375 for 15 minutes, depending on thickness if fillet.
11. After 15 minutes, carefully open package to check for doneness, you want it just barely done.
12. Fish is done if it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
13. Leaving foil wide open, use a sharp knife or two tined fork to make several holes in the bottom of the foil.
14. Without disturbing the fish too much, make a few holes right through the fish and through the foil.
15. Close the cover to the grill and allow the juices and mayonnaise to drip through the foil onto the fire, this will get very smokey but you get that delicate smoked flavor.
16. After a few minutes of "smoking", remove foil and fish by just sliding if off the grill on to a platter or lifting it, foil and all carefully as not to break it.
17. Using a large spatula, gently slide fish off the foil onto a serving plate, the skin of the fish will stay stuck to the foil.

Review: Well, we obviously used the recipe more than once, so we like it! This helped keep the fish moist and flavorful. The recipe says to "frost or ice" the fish in mayo. I actually found this to be way too much mayo the first time around - it just didn't completely "melt" and was still residual, so I cut it down substantially the second time around and just put a thin layer on top. Also, I didn't use the Old Bay Seasoning the first time (didn't have it), but bought it and used it the 2nd time and really enjoyed the flavor on the fish. Captain Frank had skinned the fish when we got back to the dock, so I didn't have the skin on, but don't think this overall affected the fish, except when made on the grill (where it stuck to the foil). The second time I did it in the oven and it was fine without the skin (not burned or sticking to the foil, of course, I think I may have sprayed the foil with cooking spray to avoid this the 2nd time around =). Enjoy!

July Recipe: Blueberry Buckle

Wow, so it has been 3.5 months since my last entry! And probably almost as long since I have even been on the blog - how sad is that?! I took a new role at work and since June, there has been little time for anything else. Hours have been long and weekends fly by so fast, that I've blinked and Monday has already arrived. *sigh* However, being that I do work in the financial industry, I won't complain too much, as at least both my husband and I still have jobs.

I am home sick today (I blame it on the stress of work along with the cold weather!), so figured I would take a few minutes and post my various recipes for the past few months! P.S. I am really inspired right now - I'm watching Martha Stewart and there are 2 sisters that started a cupcake shop in Georgetown (DC) and now have a very successful shop making 900 cupcakes per day (at $2.75 per cupcake, do the math!). See, girls, there is still hope for us to open up our own shop!

Anyhow, back to my topic, my July recipe, Blueberry Buckle. I remember my mom making this for our Annual Family Picnic the first Saturday in August each year. I had made one myself years ago, but had such a craving for this the past summer and thought it was a perfect fit for our July recipe. The recipe comes from Better Homes & Gardens: New Cook Book (1965).

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup sugar
1 well-beaten egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries

Cinnamon Crumbs:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly cream shortening and sugar; add egg and mix well.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Pour into well-greased 11 1/2 x 7 x 1 1/2 inch pan. Top with blueberries. Sprinkle Cinnamon Crumbs over berries.

Bake at 350 degs. for 45-50 minutes. Cut in squares. Serve warm. Makes 8-10 servings.

Cinnamon Crumbs: Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter till crumbly.

Review: Well, I have to say, it wasn't as good as I remember, UNTIL the next day when it got a little moist and what I would call gooey. This is how I remember it and the way I enjoy it. It is a great breakfast treat or coffee cake type recipe and one that brings back warm summer memories. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Pizza

I was really excited when I found out that this month's challenge was homemade pizza. I have a pizza dough recipe that I have been using for a long time now but I don't know it just isn't the same anymore. So I have been looking for a new one and I have also been experimenting with the old one.

I had planned to make this for dinner one night but we went out instead which was ok since you can leave to dough in the frig for up to three days. Which ended up being perfect because we were having some friends over to watch the football games. I wanted to get a picture of all of us taking turns tossing the dough but it just didn't work out that way. We were way too hungry to take pictures. I did manage to get a picture of one pizza that came out awesome...chicken with black bean salsa.

Review: My husband really liked the taste of this dough and I think that was because the flavors had time to develop in the refrigerator. Since the dough I usually make only rises for 1 hour this was in there for 2 days. The only little problem I had was that I felt like I added a lot more flour when kneading it because it just seemed too wet. I have to say this recipe was fun to make and yummy but not my replacement pizza dough recipe. I need one I don't have to plan ahead to make or take out of the freezer to defrost. I will definitely make this again since the dough flavor was very good!

Please visit our host for this month's challenge Rosa's Yummy Yums for the full recipe.

P.S. October marks my one year membership with the Daring Bakers . Below are pictures of each challenge I completed from last year. June I did attempt to make but failed and so there was no picture. July I did not make due to the fact that I had really bad morning sickness and the thought of making a cake totally grossed me out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thinking Ahead for Once...

This past weekend we decided on our next Holiday Cookie Baking Day. It got me thinking about what I wanted to make this year. Of course on my list is my sugar cookies which I wouldn't be allowed in my in-laws house without them. I also have to see what this December's challenge will be for the Daring Bakers. Last year's Yule Log was a great addition to the Christmas dinner table. I will also have to figure out how many people are coming so I don't make more then we can eat.
So here is my first attempt to making something to add to my list of things to make.

Caramel Popcorn
14 cups freshly popped popcorn (made from about 1/2 cup popcorn kernels)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, plus additional for greasing
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Toasted Nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 250F. Lightly butter a large baking sheet; spread popcorn and nuts (if using) on sheet. Keep warm in oven.

2. Mix butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan; stir frequently until simmering and sugar dissolves. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan and continue cooking undisturbed until temperature reaches 248F (firm-ball stage).

3. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. The mixture will roil vigorously; continue stirring until smooth.

4. Drizzle sugar mixture evenly over popcorn mixture; toss well with flat metal spatula or spoon.

5. Bake 45 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet, then store in a covered container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Review: Oh my goodness...I am in love with this popcorn. Not only was it simple to make but it really came out well. I had to put it away so I didn't eat it all before Mike got home from work. I think it is something I am going to defiantly make for the holidays but I want to see what Mike says about it. I think you can total jazz it up by adding the nuts and even chocolate covered nuts. One thing that was sort of weird about it was it felt greasy but that could have been because it was still on the warm side when I was eating it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

KAF Challah

I think it was about a month ago that we had to order something from amazon. Of course I was in one of those situations where I only need $0.65 more to get the free super shipper savings. I really did try hard to find something cheap to get but nothing I wanted/needed qualified. So I decided that if I had to spend more money that I would get something I would enjoy. It wasn't hard for me to decide on getting a new cookbook and it was even easier for me to decide on what type of cookbook.

I am continuing or should I say expanding my love for King Arthur Flour. I bought the cookbook King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion which is an amazing cookbook. It has everything any baker begging or advanced would want to know how to make. I have been wanting to make something from it ever since I got it but time wasn't on my side.

Then I decided this past week was perfect time for me to break it out because of the Jewish Holiday Yom Kippur. The night before you are suppose to fast my mom has always made a very nice meal for the family. So I decided to do the same for my family this year and knew just the right thing to make from KAF...challah.

After the first rise and braided for the second rise

Fresh out of the oven

Review: I am in love with this bread and I really can't wait to make it again. It was so easy to make and the results were amazing. I do need to practise my braiding technique and try different kinds (the one above is a four strand braid). The only thing is you need to have time on your side because from beginning to end it takes about 4 hours or so depending on how fast your dough rises. I have eaten a lot of challah in my life time and this was one of the best (mostly because I made it). It wasn't really sweet like some you get from the store are which I liked. It was really good for breakfast toasted with a little butter and honey.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cream Filled Cupcakes

Sunday we threw my brother and his fiance an Engagement party. My sister and I were pretty much in charge of all the preparing of food and desserts. We each made 2 salads a piece and I made all the desserts. I decided to make cupcakes (enough to feed 60+ people). Amanda's colors for her wedding are yellow and blue, so of course thats the color of the icing I made. To be a little different, I thought I'd try to stuff each cupcake with icing ( like a hostess cupcake ). I thought they came out AWESOME!! Rusty loved them =). Next time I might try stuffing them with more of a pudding or custard, instead of icing. I thought they were a little too sweet.

To actually stuff them was simple enough. First I used a regular cake mix and baked the cupcakes according to the box directions. After they were completely cooled, I used the smallest tip of a decorating kit and poked a hole right thru the paper liner on the bottom. Then I used the larger circle tip and squirted the icing into the whole already made in the bottom of the cake. Worked great =).

I'd definally make these again!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well last night started the Jewish New Year and tonight I am going to my parent's for dinner. I volunteered to make an Apple Spice Cake and I decided to try something new Honeycomb Candy. Since apples and honey are a traditional food during this holiday I thought it was the perfect thing to bring.

I thought I made the apple cake before but can't find any record of that. I know my mother-in-law made it for a family dinner once so many that is why I am confused. I got the recipe from MarthaStewart.com and it is linked above. I am going to wait until tonight to take a picture of it set up on the table looking pretty. This cake was really easy to make and smells awesome! Something I would definitely make again and again.

I remember a while back after watching a show on the food network that showed the host making the honeycomb candy. It just seemed to me like something I would like to eat and I was interested in tasting it. However it isn't one of those candies you can get in the store. I finally found a recipe (it is linked up above) that I had all the ingredients in the house and decided to make it.

Review: It wasn't that hard to make and I think the hardest part was waiting for the sugar mixture to get to the right color/temperature. The recipe above doesn't state a temperature but others I looked at all said to wait until it reaches 300 degrees. It was really fun to watch it grow when you put in the baking soda. I only tried a tiny piece of it which I liked but I will update this review tonight when I have a nice size piece with dessert. All in all I think I would make this again.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Lavash Crackers

I didn't know how to introduce this month's challenge so I stole what was presented to us fellow Daring Bakers for the intro.

This month we are making Daring Bakers history as our September challenge is vegan and/or gluten free. For the first time ever, the torch has been passed to « Alternative » Daring Bakers : Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl. We wanted to make something savory this month, and we chose the recipe for Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180).

I have to say that I don't know what I was thinking (I will blame it on the pregnancy) but for some odd reason I thought the due date for this was the 30th. I really planned on making this the first weekend I had but one thing after another happened. I ran out of yeast and then my eggplant for my dip was not good. So it got put off until this weekend.

I have to say that I was very excited about making this cracker because it is something that seems so much more difficult to make then it actually was. I think this time I actually timed it perfectly with my son's nap time. I made the dough just before I put him down and was able to bake it just before he woke up. He will be very happy to see what I made because he loves crackers.

Dough after 90 minute rise

Right out of the oven

All broken into crackers

A closer look at the cracker

Review: I wasn't worried about this recipe which sort of made me worry. I read it and thought that it seemed pretty straight forward but it is like a test when you think you aced it then you failed. The most time consuming part if it is waiting for the dough to rise but other then that nothing was really that bad. I decided to use my KAF artisan seed mix to top half of it and just kosher salt to top the other half. The only part that needs work in for me is getting the dough rolled up thin and even. I had parts that were perfect and parts that were a little too thick. This is something I would defiantly make for a party if I am organized and think ahead (which doesn't always happen). I think this recipe is a keeper and I will work in it to get it super thin. Thank you so much for this month's challenge.

Another part of this challenge was to make a dip/topping to go with it. I have made that but I haven't gotten around to taking a picture of it just yet. I made this dip up sort of because I did it from memory of something I had a long long time ago at a party.

Eggplant Garlic Dip

1 eggplant, cut into cubes
3 cloves garlic (more if you want it really garlicy)
1 cup ketchup

Saute the garlic with a little bit of oil in a pan for about a minute or two. Add the eggplant and cook until tender. Add the ketchup, mix together and let cook for alittle bit until it comes together. Cool and serve.

This recipe is really to your taste so you can add more whatever you love

Please visit one of the host blog's for the recipe to the Lavash Crackers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Candy

Yesterday I went to the store to look for one thing and found another! Heidi and I have this thing when we find new candy (at least to us)...and of course I had to buy it. Some times I don't buy the new candy just because it doesn't appeal to me. This new one is a whole different story because I have been thinking about the flavor lately with fall coming around the corner.

A new limited edition Hershey Kiss in the flavor of Pumpkin Spice. I was so excited because I have been thinking about these pumpkin truffles my neighbor let me try last year. These are almost as good (very close to it) and probably SOO much cheaper. I was thinking of all the things I could make with these kisses but I don't know if they will last long enough.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Watermelon ice pops - August recipe

I know Im posting this a bit late...but heres my August recipe. I had bought a whole seedless watermelon to bring up to Shinhopple one weekend and nobody cut into it. I searched all over for something to do with it. I couldnt eat a whole water melon by myself..LOL. I thought something cool would be good, since it was in the middle of summer. I found a recipe on the kraft food site for these ice pops. They are so simple to make:

2 cups water
1/2 cup COUNTRY TIME Lemonade Flavor Drink Mix
3 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 cup ice cubes

Now, instead of making the drink which was the original recipe, I though freezing them would make a yummier treat.

My first attempt with this was horrible...the country time lemonade made this so sour I couldnt stand it. Kevin who likes sour ( and lemonade ) said he couldnt eat it either. Way way too sour =(. I had to throw the whole batch right down the drain. My second attempt instead of using lemonade mix, I used raspberry ice mix from crystal lite. What a difference. The second batch came out great!! Kevin ate them very quick on those hot summer days. I'd definally make these again next summer. They turned out to be a nice cool summer treat.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Cafe Visit

Last week Mike had off from work and I wanted to do something other then running errands. So we decided to take a trip to the Culinary Institute of America (which is down the road from us) since the casual dining restaurant is only open Monday thru Friday.

We had lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe and I really wish I brought my camera with me. I did get a picture of my lunch on my phone but I don't know how to get that on here. Mike and I both had the same thing because I couldn't decide what I wanted fast enough...I did bring home the menu so I can study it and get something different the next time. We had a grilled Reuben Panini with french fries...oh my I think it was the best one I have ever had. Even the fries were and experience with the three different dipping sauces it came with (ketchup, aioli and malt vinegar). Just the right amount of stuff on the panini and it didn't fall apart when you bite into it.

I have to say that my expectation of the CIA was high but they delivered in every way. I can't wait to go back and sample more of it. We didn't get to have dessert there which looked so good because the little one was acting up. We are also going to try at one point to eat in one of the fancier restaurants but that requires some planning since reservations have to be made at least a month in advance if not more.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Chocolate Eclairs

When I found out what this month's challenge was going to be I got a little worried. A very long time ago I once tired to make Eclairs for a family event...and I failed beyond failing. They came out so hard and didn't puff at all. So this was going to be a real challenge for me to put that memory behind me and try again.

This month's challenge was hosted by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK. They got the wonderful recipe from the book Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé. I didn't make the whole recipe because we had a choice to make one thing chocolate and I picked to make the glaze but not the chocolate pastry cream.

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs
Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops ofthe éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted itshould fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Glaze (makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.

2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Review: It was SOOOO excited when my dough came out the way it was suppose to come out. I even got more excited after I baked them and they puffed like they should puff. This was truly a way to concur my fear of eclairs because I plan on making these again. I didn't make the chocolate pastry cream but I did try to make vanilla pastry cream. I found a recipe online and I thought everything worked out well but then when I tasted the cream it was not edible...very bland and not sweet at all. So fortunately I had a back up plan which I think worked out well. I made some chocolate pudding and filled the eclairs with that instead. Everyone loved them and they went so fast I didn't have a chance to take a picture of the completed eclair with the chocolate glaze and all. I had to settle for a picture with a pudding filled and topped eclair which were just as yummy! This recipe is defiantly one to add to the list of things to make again. Thank you so much for this challenge and getting me to try making these again!
Oh one little funny thing that happened when I had the oven door open when baking the shells...it melted the knobs on my stove...oops.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My First Harvest.

It wasn't too long ago when I shared the picture with you of our first siting of a zucchini. We had a lot of rain the other night so I went out in the morning to check on the garden. I was up a little bit worrying about it getting flooded again. To my surprise there it was full grown and ready to be picked. I was so excited and couldn't wait to tell everyone. I wasn't going to pick it yesterday but then realized I didn't have a good veggie to make for dinner...it was so nice to go out to the garden and realize that I did in fact have a veggie to make for dinner.

Zucchini still on the plant.

Fresh picked and sitting on my front step (I wanted to get a picture of it with my son but he almost tossed it down the steps)

Cut up and being sauteed in the pan.

There really isn't anything like the taste of a fresh picked vegetable and I can't wait for everything else to start popping up. I know we will soon have a bunch of yellow squash ready to be picked...which of course I will keep everyone updated on that.


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