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Sunday, March 31, 2013

GARAM MASALA DEVILED EGGS and MUSHROOM STRATA and BAKED HAM WITH HONEY APRICOT GLAZE

Happy Easter!!

GARAM MASALA DEVILED EGGS


6 eggs
4 tablespoons mayonnaise or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
smoked paprika
chives

Place eggs in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch.
Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl filled with cold water, to cool completely.
Once cool, remove shells. Cut each egg in half lengthwise and remove the yolks to a bowl.
Mash yolks with mayonnaise, garam masala, red pepper, salt and pepper.
Spoon or pipe mixture into egg whites, dividing mixture evenly. Sprinkle with paprika and top with chopped chives.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2012
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

MUSHROOM STRATA


2 pounds of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
salt and pepper to taste
12 slices of white bread, crusts removed, buttered, and cut into cubes
4 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cans cream of mushroom soup

Saute vegetables in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and put into the bottom of a 9 by 13 casserole dish.
Add 10 slices of the cubed bread and mix.
Combine eggs, milk and mayonnaise, season to taste with salt and pepper, and pour over the casserole.
Sprinkle one cup of cheese over the top.
Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
Pour the cream of mushroom soup over the top, sprinkle with remaining bread cubes and grated cheese.
Bake at 350F for about 1 hour.
Enjoy!

BAKED HAM WITH HONEY APRICOT GLAZE


1 (5 to 7) spiral sliced, fully cooked smoked ham
1/2 cup honey
3 ounces orange juice concentrate, thawed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons apricot jam
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat oven to 325F.
Place ham on rack in a shallow roasting pan. In a medium bowl, make a glaze by mixing together the honey, orange juice concentrate, soy sauce, apricot jam, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
Bake ham for 30 minutes, then pour the glaze over the ham. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.
Remove from oven, let stand 5 minutes and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 2008
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

HORSE THEMED BIRTHDAY PARTY

Even though Elise didn't want me to make her cake, she did let me take care of the party favors - and we were both thrilled with how they turned out. I ordered a chocolate mold online and made the white chocolate horses. Then I found the little metal pails, bandannas, ribbon and horse themed charms at Hobby Lobby.

 
We also both loved the cake that Ricks bakery made for her (actually cupcakes very cleverly placed and decorated)


It was a great day out at Rico Enterprises - the kids all helped groom and saddle the horses - and enjoyed the riding - a HUGE thanks to Rachel Sargent for hosting us.




And there was a fun pinata filled with candy to end the festivities - in the shape of a horse, of course!!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MAPLE CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING and COOKIES AND CREAM CUPCAKES and VINEGAR CAKE

This month heralds the end of the "Wilkin birthday season" - we celebrate everyone in our family between October and March, including my husbands business. My daughter was the only one who wanted a birthday party this year, so it was all very low-key and wonderfully simple. She was also the only one who didn't want me to make her cake, so the following were all for the boys in the family.

MAPLE CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING


2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1 cup buttermilk
FROSTING
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple flavoring

Heat oven to 325F.
Grease and flour 2 (9 inch) round cake pans.
To prepare cake, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Add maple flavoring. Divide batter evenly between pans.
Bake cakes 25 to 30 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Let cool in pans on wire racks 20 minutes. Invert onto racks, let cool completely.
To prepare frosting, beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.
Add powered sugar and maple flavoring. Beat just until smooth.
Frost the cake and decorate as desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine, February 2011
relish.com/

COOKIES AND CREAM CUPCAKES


1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 chocolate and creme sandwich cookies (such as Oreos), broken up
FROSTING
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Beat in sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
On low speed, alternately beat flour mixture and sour cream into butter, beginning and ending with flour. Add milk and vanilla, fold in cookie pieces. Divide batter among prepared cups.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove cupcakes to a rack, let cool.
FROSTING
In a bowl, beat sugar, butter, sour cream and vanilla until good spreading consistency.
Once cupcakes have cooled, spread with frosting, and top with cookie pieces if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Family Circle, May 2008
www.familycircle.com/recipes/

VINEGAR CAKE


1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa, plus more for dusting the cake
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Heat oven to 350F.
Mix dry ingredients together. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix well. Pour into an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool and dust with cocoa.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish, January 2013
relish.com › Baking

Monday, March 25, 2013

POTATO SNOWBALL POPPERS

Here in Northwest Arkansas it is supposed to be Spring, however it seems the snow flurries keep on coming. I thought these were fun for a wintry evening and although I served them as part of dinner,  they would be wonderful as an appetizer too - perfect to pop in your mouth.

POTATO SNOWBALL POPPERS


20 baby potatoes
salt and white pepper
3/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons horseradish

Heat the oven to 350F.
Cut a small sliver off the bottom of potatoes, as needed, for them to stand flat when filled. Place the potatoes in a medium pot, add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch and add a generous sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and let the potatoes sit until cool enough to handle.
Hollow out each potato, using a measuring spoon, reserving the scooped flesh in a medium bowl. Add the sour cream and the horseradish to the bowl and smash with a fork or potato masher, season with salt and white pepper.
Spoon the mashed potato mixture back into the hollowed out potatoes.
Bake on a baking sheet until heated through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray, December 2012
www.rachaelraymag.com/

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SWEDISH PANCAKES

I made these on a Sunday morning after the kids requested pancakes for breakfast.
I fixed mine the New Zealand way, with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar, while they dressed theirs up with butter and maple syrup - then chocolate chips, sprinkles and powdered sugar. Max decided because it was his birthday this month, he would put a candle in his and we would sing him happy birthday - it was so much fun we all determined it would become a new family tradition.

SWEDISH PANCAKES


4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons sour cream

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks until creamy. Stir in milk.
Sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Add to egg mixture. Stir in sour cream.
In a small mixing bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter.
Coat a skillet with cooking spray, place over high heat until skillet is hot. Reduce heat and place about 1/4 cup batter in the skillet. Cook until brown on bottom side (the batter is thick, so I didn't see any bubbles to indicate it was time to flip them). Flip and brown on the other side. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Serve with desired toppings.
Enjoy!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

LYCHEE MARTINI

After a week out of town for Spring Break, I was excited to be back in my familiar, cozy surroundings. I love, love, love to travel, and I love, love, love to come home.
We had errands to run during the day and while we were out and about, we stopped in at a favorite Mexican grocery store - my husband chose ox tail for dinner and I happened upon lychees, which were the inspiration for this cocktail. My husband cooked dinner, and we put the kids to bed and had a romantic date night in the comfort of our own home. Oh its good to be home.

LYCHEE MARTINI


5 ice cubes
1.5 ounces Bacardi
1 ounce peach schnapps
2 ounces lychee juice (I used the juice from a can of lychees)
1 lychee (for garnish)

Place ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour in Bacardi, peach schnapps and lychee juice. Cover and shake well.
Strain into a chilled martini glass, garnish with a whole lychee.
Enjoy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP POUND CAKE and BANANAS FOSTER UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

It seems like I make banana bread a lot in our house - there are always ripe bananas to be used up. As much as I enjoy banana bread and muffins, I was excited to find a couple of recipes that featured perfectly ripe bananas in a slightly different way.

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP POUND CAKE


3 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 to 4 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup bourbon, or milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan, set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, set aside.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Gradually add sugar, beating about 7 minutes or until light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each, scrape bowl as needed. In a bowl combine bananas, bourbon and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture, beat on low to medium speed after each addition just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 80 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, cool on rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, December 2012
www.bhg.com/recipes/collections/december/

BANANAS FOSTER UPSIDE DOWN CAKE


1/2 cup butter, softened and divided
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons rum
2 to 3 ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups baking mix
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a lightly greased 9-inch round cake pan (I put the butter in the pan and popped it in the oven as it was heating). Remove from heat, sprinkle with brown sugar and drizzle with rum.
Cut bananas into 1/4 inch thick slices, arrange over brown sugar mixture.
Beat sugar and remaining 1/4 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer, until blended.
Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Add milk, sour cream and vanilla extract, beat just until blended. Beat in baking mix and cinnamon until blended.
Pour batter over mixture in pan. Place pan on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen. Invert onto a serving plate, spooning any topping in pan over cake.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, November 2011
www.southernliving.com › Food › Recipes

Sunday, March 17, 2013

GUINNESS CUPCAKES and RED VELVET CUPCAKES WITH IRISH CREAM FROSTING

St Patricks day is here - and this year I plan to dress head to toe in green and eat dessert first.
I made the Guinness cupcakes for a recent dinner party and the red velvet cupcakes as the adult sweet treat during a play date, and both were fun additions to the festivities.

GUINNESS CUPCAKES


1 cup Guinness beer
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup cocoa
2 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
cream cheese glaze (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350F. Put baking liners into muffin tins.
In a large saucepan, combine beer and butter, heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa and brown sugar.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk sour cream with eggs and vanilla, fold in beer mixture.
Sift together flour and baking soda, fold into the batter. Pour mixture into prepared muffin tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes, remove from muffin tins and cool on a rack. Spread with cream cheese glaze.

CREAM CHEESE GLAZE

8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup half and half
1 teaspoon Guinness beer

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth, sift in confectioners sugar and beat until well blended. Add half and half and beat until smooth.
Spread glaze over cupcakes.
Enjoy!

RED VELVET CUPCAKES WITH IRISH CREAM FROSTING


CUPCAKES

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch salt
1 cup of buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of red food coloring
3/4 cup of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of sugar

FROSTING

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners, set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla together.
In a small bowl, stir cocoa and food coloring together to form a smooth paste.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and beat in a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat. Then beat in remaining flour mixture until just combined. Beat in cocoa mixture.
Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Bake cupcakes 15 to 20 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.
With an electric mixer on high, cream butter until smooth. Gradually add confectioners sugar (1/2 cup at a time) mixing on medium speed and scraping down sides of bowl after each addition, increasing speed to high for 10 seconds after every two additions. Add liqueur and vanilla and beat until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 2010
www.arkansasonline.com/

Friday, March 15, 2013

EGG PASTA WITH CABBAGE, POTATO AND BACON

St Patrick is one of the most recognized patron Saints of Ireland, and is celebrated on March 17th - the anniversary of his death in 461. It is believed that he brought Christianity to the Irish people, and "perhaps the most well known legend is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock" (from History.com http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day).
Early Irish immigrants to America introduced the tradition of corned beef and cabbage, this wonderful recipe substitutes bacon for the corned beef and includes another Irish staple, potatoes.

EGG PASTA WITH CABBAGE, POTATO AND BACON


6 ounces of bacon (I used Canadian bacon)
1 medium onion, diced
4 cups of cabbage, cored and sliced thin
1 teaspoon of sugar
olive oil, as needed
1 1/2 to 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 pound of egg tagliatelle
salt and black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Set a large pan over medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate.
Increase heat to medium and add onion. Stir to coat and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in cabbage, sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook, over medium-high heat, until lightly caramelized, about 13 minutes.
As cabbage breaks down, it should be lightly coated in drippings. If its dry, add a swirl of oil.
Meanwhile, add potatoes to the boiling water. Boil until al dente, about 7 minutes. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon from the pot. Add to cabbage mixture and season with salt and pepper. Saute until flavors meld, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Add pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente. In a large bowl, toss pasta with potato-cabbage mixture and bacon. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, February 2012
www.wallstreetjournal.com/

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

IRISH CREAM LIQUEUR

I made this last year, and distinctly remember not wanting to share, it was so wonderfully delectable.
I put together another batch of delicousness for this St Patrick's day celebration, with the firm resolution to let others try it. It is so quick and easy to make, it literally takes 4 minutes to put all the ingredients into the blender and 30 seconds to whip them all together. However, I think if anyone else wants a taste, they will need to be fast - so much for resolutions.

IRISH CREAM LIQUEUR


1 cup of half-and-half
1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups of Irish whiskey
1 tablespoon of coffee liqueur
2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds.
Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Shake well before using. Will keep for up to 2 months.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 2010
www.arkansasonline.com/

Monday, March 11, 2013

LITTLE GEM MINI MUFFINS

Despite the time change, my youngest son and I were up and about bright and early, and we decided to make muffins for the rest of the family. He loves to help me in the kitchen, so it was a lovely time cooking and chatting, and slowly waking up to the day.
These are delicious little gems - as precious as their name and the boy who helped me bake them.

LITTLE GEM MINI MUFFINS


2 cups flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 400F.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the blueberries and cherries.
In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla.
Spray or use mini muffin liners, in a mini muffin pan. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into a muffins center comes out clean, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Family Fun, April 2010
familyfun.go.com/recipes/

Sunday, March 10, 2013

POT ROAST MEATLOAF

My daughter requested meatloaf for dinner, and thankfully I came across this delicious looking recipe in a Jamie Oliver cookbook, I had taken out from the library.
I absolutely loved the simple but surprising sauce - it was incredibly rich and flavorful - and could have been a meal in itself. We have a hot smoked paprika powder that I used and I think that contributed to the wonderful flavor and depth of this dish.
In fact, I had to make this recipe twice to get a picture because the first time it was eaten so quickly.

POT ROAST MEATLOAF


2 onions
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
12 plain crackers
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

FOR MEATLOAF
Heat oven to 475F.
Peel and finely chop 1 of the onions. Place in a large frying pan on a medium high heat with 2 lugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the ground cumin and coriander. Fry, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes or until softened and lightly golden, then put into a large bowl to cool. Place the crackers in a food processor and pulse until they are fine crumbs.
Add to the bowl of cooled onions with the oregano, mustard and ground beef. Crack in the egg and add another good pinch of salt and pepper. With clean hands, scrunch and mix up well.
Pat the mixture into a football shape, rub it with a little oil, and place in a baking dish. Put it into the oven, and turn down the temperature immediately to 400F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
FOR THE SAUCE
Peel the other onion and chop. Peel and slice the garlic. Place the onion and garlic in a large pan on medium heat with 2 lugs of olive oil, the paprika and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for around 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly golden. Add the Worcestershire sauce, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and rosemary leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it slowly simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the meatloaf from the oven, slice and serve with the sauce.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution, 2008
www.jamieoliver.com/us/.../jamies-food-revolution/about_jamie_oliv...

Saturday, March 9, 2013

HUEVOS RANCHEROS WITH QUESO FRESCO

This made for a wonderful, lazy, Saturday brunch. I have been out of town the past 2 weekends and it was such a treat to be home with my family, and to enjoy a day where there was nothing but each others company and quality time.

HUEVOS RANCHEROS WITH QUESO FRESCO


1 (10 ounce) can of diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
cooking spray
4 large eggs
4 flour tortillas
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled queso fresco cheese, or feta cheese

Combine the tomatoes and enchilada sauce in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened slightly. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and lime juice. Set aside.
Place water and beans in a saucepan, partially mash with a fork. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until hot.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add eggs, cook 1 minute on each side or to desired degree of doneness.
Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spread about 1/3 cup of beans over each tortilla, top each tortilla with 1 egg. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce around each egg, sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup cheese.
Serves 4.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
www.cookinglight.com/

Thursday, March 7, 2013

SNICKERDOODLES and SNICKERDOODLES

My children all wanted a Guinea Pig this past Christmas, but not knowing whether this would be a long term love affair or a quick fling - as with the fish, mice, kittens and parakeets, I was reluctant to commit. We were fortunate enough to have dinner with friends right after the kids had written their Santa lists, and our friends happened to arrange the perfect match. It so happened they knew of someone looking for a loving home for a delightful Guinea Pig named Snickerdoodle. The kids were thrilled, and she continues to be adored, played with and loved and is seriously as sweet as her namesake.
The first time I made these cookies I picked the kids and their friends up from school.  However I was surprised to find them all huddled in the basement, and it wasn't until I was driving home and talked with my husband that I gained clarification - we were in the middle of a tornado watch. My daughter, who is frightened during a thunderstorm, was terrified - so of course we baked cookies. The boys and their friends thought they were the most delicious treats ever and the next time they came over, I baked up another batch, but used a different recipe.
Apparently all snickerdoodles are not created equal - although the cookies were devoured quickly and thoroughly both times, I think the addition of butter and brown sugar in the first batch helped make them richer and more flavorful.

SNICKERDOODLES


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided use
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 375F. Grease cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, shortening and sugars, reserving 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt, stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Add vanilla.
In a small shallow bowl, stir together the two remaining tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon. Roll the dough into balls one inch in diameter, and then roll each dough ball in the sugar mixture.
Place cookies two inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies are slightly crisp at the edges. Remove from sheet and allow to cool on wire racks.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from At Home in Arkansas, Brown Sugar Bakeshop, Little Rock Arkansas

SNICKERDOODLES


1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Heat oven to 400F.
Mix shortening, sugar and eggs thoroughly. Blend flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir into shortening mixture. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in mixture of 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Colins Cookbook, 2008
www.colinshope.org/Cookbook.aspx

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

CREAMY MEDITERRANEAN SPREAD and GUACAMOLE HUMMUS and SHISH TAWOOK

I was so excited to host a dear friends birthday dinner, and when I asked her what she would like, she mentioned Greek food.
We served the Mediterranean spread, and guacamole hummus alongside olives, feta, spanakopita and dolmas, and the Shish Tawook with Tabbouleh. These three dishes were super quick and easy to put together, and although the spanakopita and dolmas were a little more time consuming, they were worth it - delicious!
It was a flavorful, varied and fun menu, just like our fabulous guests.

CREAMY MEDITERRANEAN SPREAD


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 ounces roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Spread cream cheese onto bottom of shallow dish (I will sometimes mix the cream cheese with store bought hummus). Combine remaining ingredients, spoon over cream cheese.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Family, Summer 2010
www.kraftrecipes.com/foodfamilyarchive/.../magazine_archive.aspx

GUACAMOLE HUMMUS


In a food processor, combine 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 3 cups fresh cilantro leaves, 1 garlic clove, chopped, and 1 ripe avocado, roughly chopped.
Process until finely chopped. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and juice of 1 lemon.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Everday Food
www.marthastewart.com › Food

SHISH TAWOOK


10 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces

In a large, sealable, plastic bag, combine garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, cardamom, salt and white pepper. Stir well. Add chicken and turn to coat it all over.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Prepare grill. Thread chicken onto skewers, dividing pieces evenly among them. Grill over medium-high heat, turning skewers at least twice, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes total.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, May 2008
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

BANANA PUDDING and QUICK PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

My oldest son was recently scheduled for a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy - it was time to take care of his sleep apnea, and maybe even eliminate the need for speech therapy and chewing with his mouth open (we are still waiting to see results on the latter two). It was very difficult to leave my child in the hands of virtual strangers and to watch him being wheeled away into surgery, even one that is commonplace. I wondered if we were doing the right thing, if everything was going well, and why I hadn't had another cup of coffee before leaving the house at 6am.
Thankfully all went well, and he did great, however he had complained of a sore stomach early in the morning, which I attributed to nerves. Unfortunately it was the flu, which hit both my boys, and was a miserable set back to recovery.
I tried to make the mandatory soft diet interesting and varied, but despite my best efforts he had no appetite and no interest in trying to eat anything, not even this rich, creamy banana pudding, or the soft, sweet pineapple upside down cake drenched in whipped cream. Thankfully he kept his fluids up, and as soon as he was able to eat solid food, his first request was for Eureka Pizza - sausage, light sauce, extra cheese.

BANANA PUDDING


3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
3 cups milk
8 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups vanilla wafers
4 ripe bananas, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Heat oven to 350F. In a large saucepan, combine 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt, stir until blended. Mix in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and boiling, boil 1 minute, then remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, then whisk in about 1/2 cup of hot custard until blended. Pour yolk mixture back into saucepan of custard, cook over medium heat, stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla until blended.
Place vanilla wafers on bottom of a shallow 2 quart casserole dish. Top with layers of banana slices and custard. Repeat layering, ending with custard.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and 1/4 cup sugar at low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar, increase speed to medium and gradually beat in remaining sugar. Beat until egg whites hold stiff peaks.
Spoon meringue over hot custard immediately, making sure that the meringue touches the baking dish on all sides (this prevents it from shrinking).
Transfer to oven and bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove pudding from oven and cool 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, October 2004
www.oprah.com/food/Banana-Pudding

QUICK PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE


3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple slices, drained
1 (18 ounce) package yellow cake mix

Heat oven to 350F.
Melt butter in an oven safe skillet. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over butter in the bottom of the skillet. Arrange 7 pineapple slices over brown sugar.
Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter over pineapple. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove cake and invert onto a large plate.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2013
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/?f=features-food...2

Monday, March 4, 2013

SPICY CHICKEN AND CORN CHOWDER and ROASTED CAULIFLOWER POTATO SOUP

I am hoping we have seen the last of the really cold winter weather - I'm ready for Spring and the joys of a warmer season.
However, I will definitely make the best of the remaining chill in the air and enjoy the pleasures that come with it - lighting the fire in the dining room and eating dinner in front of its warm glow, and cooking hearty fare.
These soups aren't too heavy, but have enough depth and vigor to stand up to the still cool weather.

SPICY CHICKEN AND CORN CHOWDER


2 cups chicken stock
2 chicken breasts
6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans corn
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup half and half
cilantro

In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add chicken and just enough water to cover, simmer, covered until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a plate and reserve broth. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces, set aside.
Cook bacon, onion and garlic in a pot over medium heat, until the bacon is crisp and vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.
Add corn, jalapeño, salt, pepper and red pepper to taste, and reserved chicken broth and cook a further 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in half and half, chicken and bacon and cook just until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Serve topped with cilantro.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 2012
ww.nwaonline.com/.../2012/.../icebox-cake-recipe-still-provides-chi...

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER POTATO SOUP


1 head cauliflower, core removed and cut into florets
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped shallot
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup buffalo sauce
blue cheese crumbles

Heat oven to 400F. Prepare a rimmed baking tray with foil and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower and potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, saute shallot in remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Pour in chicken stock, roasted cauliflower and potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered.
Puree in blender in batches. Add puree back to the pot and warm the soup to a slight simmer. Add cream, cheese and buffalo sauce (I made this soup for the whole family, so left the buffalo sauce on the side). Stir until cheese is melted and soup is warmed through.
Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles and drizzle a little buffalo sauce on top for an extra kick.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Noble Pig
http://noblepig.com/2013/01/cheesy-buffalo-roasted-cauliflower-potato-soup/