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Friday, December 31, 2010

10 Favorite Recipes from 2010

Yet another year is coming to an end. It’s ridiculous how fast time goes by. Every year I say that the New Year will be better than the last but life happens and each New Year has its ups and downs. So in 2011 I’m hoping that life will be filled with a lot of joy, few sorrows, and a hell of a lot of good food!

Here are ten of my favorite recipes from the past year in no particular order. It was hard to choose, so I went with the first ones that jumped right out at me.

These babies are simple perfection. I’ve not met one person who could resist them. Thanks again for the recipe K!

Oh how I love this recipe… Sweet, sticky, and tangy. Perfect for dinner or as an appetizer.

Brent would not stop eating it when I made this a while back. He keeps asking me to make it again.

In 15 minutes you can have dinner on the table. That is all the time these delicious little tacos take. They are light and fresh yet still filling.

 Still my favorite pesto to date. I was eating it with a spoon.

If I ever enter a sammie contest, this would probably be my entry. I loved everything about this sandwich and how it all just blended so perfectly together.

 These mashed taters take just a teensy bit of extra effort but the payoff is huge. We made these for Mother’s day and they went beautifully with the Prime Rib dinner.

 I ate this entire dish by myself in one sitting. My thighs have still not forgiven me.

 I love pretty much every type of stuffing except maybe the boring old plain cornbread kind. This one is different with a nice spicy flavor that is anything but ordinary.

Sometimes I am so thankful for this blog because it forces me to write down every recipe I make. This was one of those recipes that came out so perfect that I’m glad I will never have to wonder “What the hell did I put in that again?”

Honorable Mention: Creamy Leek Gratin. When I made this dish, my camera malfunctioned and I was unable to get a photo. I’ve been thinking about it ever since and should make it again. The only thing I will do differently is double the recipe so I can eat more of it!

I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year! Cheers!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Supreme Breakfast Taquitos

I’m sure that I’ve mentioned before on here that I am a big fan of breakfast for dinner. It’s especially convenient on nights when Brent is working late since I usually take that time to catch up on stuff around the house that I need to do…like washing the floors or doing homework.

Speaking of washing floors, can I digress for a moment? I like to keep a fairly clean house, which was not impossible with two cats, a dog, Brent and me. But ever since we got Gravy it’s been a nonstop battle to keep them clean. Who knew one little 5lb dog would cause so much more dirt?

Anyway, back to business. So I have a small confession. I have a strong affinity for those taquitos you can find at gas stations. Yes, I know they are so very terrible for you but they are just so friggin’ tasty. This recipe is a home version of those taquitos.

Supreme Breakfast Taquitos

*Serves 2
(printable recipe)

- 6 flour tortillas
- 4 eggs
- splash of milk or heavy cream
- ¼ cup bell pepper, diced
- ¼ cup onion, diced
- 4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- ¼ cup bean dip or refried beans
- 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- vegetable oil for frying, roughly 1/3 cup
- S&P to taste


1. Add butter, peppers, and onions to a small sauté pan and sauté over medium high heat for roughly 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add eggs and milk to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Once peppers and onions are fragrant and translucent adds eggs to pan and scramble until eggs are cooked thoroughly, adding bacon halfway through the process. Remove from heat and set aside.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shrimp and Scallop Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto Pasta

Many times I let ingredients in my fridge inspire me for an answer to that never ending question of “What to make for dinner?”. This dish was inspired by the roasted red pepper pesto I had in the fridge from this post. Feel free to use store bought if you don’t wish to make your own pesto.

Shrimp and Scallop Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto Pasta

*Serves 2
(printable recipe)

- 1/3 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1/3 lb bay scallops
- 2 leeks
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup prepared alfredo sauce, I like Buitoni
- ¼ cup red bell pepper pesto
- a few handfuls of fresh spinach
- 4oz thin spaghetti, cooked per package instructions
- salt and pepper


1. Place fresh spinach in the colander you plan to drain pasta in. Slice leeks in half and cut into 1/3 inch slices using only the white and light green parts. Fill a large bowl with water and rinse leeks to remove dirt. Remove from water and drain excess.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cherry Almond White Chocolate Swirl Bark

Can we postpone Christmas for just a week? Maybe two? I swear there is not enough time to get everything that needs to be done – done! On the upside I only need to buy one more gift and I’m done with shopping!

Here is a very simple treat for the holiday season. Only 4 ingredients, takes less than 20 minutes to make (not counting the couple of hours it needs to set), and it’s fairly inexpensive as well… all plusses in my book during an always busy time of year.

Cherry Almond White Chocolate Swirl Bark

* Makes about 2 dozen pieces
(printable recipe)

- 16oz semi sweet chocolate, best to use the baking bar and not chips
- 4 oz white chocolate, ditto^^^
- 10oz jar or maraschino cherries
- ¾ cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped


1. Prep your cherries by draining the liquid, rinsing them, squeezing out the excess liquid and chopping.

2. Break up both white chocolate and semi sweet chocolate bars. Set aside in separate bowls.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Cream Cheese Muffins

There about a zillion different recipes for this type of muffin. This is mine. There really isn’t anything more to it! Please note in step 3 there are two different methods to choose from.

Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Cream Cheese Muffins

*Makes 24 muffins
(printable recipe)

- 8oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 3 eggs
- 1 15oz can plain pumpkin
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup of water
- 1 box vanilla cake mix
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2oz plain pumpkin seeds


1. Soften white chocolate in the microwave for about 45 seconds. You want the chips melty but NOT melted. Add to 8oz of softened cream cheese and mix together with a wooded spoon.

Place on a large piece of wax paper and create a 12 inch log. Wrap ends tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

2. Combine eggs, pumpkin, water, cake mix, oil, and spices. Stir to combine then beat for 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer until smooth.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What can your freezer do?

I read this article earlier today and since the freezer is in the kitchen... I wanted to share. The article gives lists 6 different ways your freezer can come in handy. I actually only knew one of these.

Check it out: Alternate Uses for Your Freezer

How many did you guys know of before reading the article?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto

So what do you do with a bunch of roasted red bell peppers? Make pesto of course!

There is about a zillion ways you can make pesto, and truth be told I don't follow the same exact recipe every time. It depends on what I have on hand when I make it.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pesto

* Makes about 2 - 2 1/2 cups
(printable recipe)

- 2 cups roasted red bell peppers
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
- 4-5 basil leaves
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or almonds
- salt and pepper, to taste


1. Toast your nuts on a dry sauté pan over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Nuts will turn golden in color.

2. If using jarred peppers, drain them. You can also make your own.

Friday, November 26, 2010

How to Basics: Roasted Red Bell Peppers

A couple of months back I did a How To basic on caramelized onions. I wanted to make this a regular monthly addition, but somehow August turned into November really fast. There is a link for a printable version at the end.

Three things you need to know about roasted red bell peppers:
- There are three different ways to roast them
- They will keep in olive oil up to a week in the fridge
- Do not rinse them, some char is good

What you’ll need:
- red bell peppers – you can use any color really
- a zip lock bag OR a bowl and plastic wrap
- a grill or oven


Step one - Start with clean peppers!

Step two – Choose your method:

Gas Burner Method
- Place one pepper directly over the flame of a gas burner. Use a medium flame and allow blackening all over, rotating the pepper. Each side will take about 2-3 minutes.

Just placed on the burner

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Recommendations

Thanksgiving is a mere two days away. I can’t believe it. This year we will be traveling to spend the day with his father’s side, and while I won’t be making anything this year (I offered and was graciously turned down by the lovely southern ladies in his family) I wanted to share some recipes I have posted previously that I may have made if we were in town. I’ll be bringing some bottles of wine instead for the occasion, it’s not in my nature to show up empty handed!

May I suggest?


Sweet lil Smokies – beef cocktail links wrapped in bacon and covered in brown sugar and baked. These are heaven on a plate.

Hot Crab and Artichoke dip – very cheesy! Warmed pita bread makes a great vessel for this dip.


Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots, Sage, and Pancetta – a fabulous new way to eat potatoes and a great sidekick for a turkey dinner.

Fully Loaded Green Beans – Sautéed green beans with onions, mushrooms, and bacon. Very yummy.

Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes – if mashed potatoes aren’t your thing, these would be fantastic.

Cheesy Baked Leeks aka Leek Gratin – I probably would have made this to bring with us. It’s been one of my favorite things as of late, and would be a very delicious substitute for pearled onions.

Chorizo and Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffing – not your normal savory stuffing, this has a definite spicy kick!

Other additions

Roasted Garlic and Cheese Biscuits – I love these. They melt in your mouth.

Shallot and Mushroom Gravy – If you want your gravy to have a little something extra, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.

Cranberry, Walnut, and White Chocolate Cookies – While pie is king on Thanksgiving, these would be perfect if you are still a little too full for a whole piece.

Got Leftovers?

Mashed Potato Pancakes with Mustard Dill Sour Cream – these are perfect for breakfast or dinner the next day.

All of these dishes have printable versions available for print if you like. While several of them are not written to serve a crowd, I promise they are easily duplicated to serve any amount of people.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Chorizo and Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffing

Or for you Southern Folk – Chorizo and Jalapeno Cornbread Dressing

In a word… this is NOM. Stuffing is by far my favorite item on a Thanksgiving Day menu. Personally, I love when there is a more traditional savory stuffing and then a different one to eat as well. I actually went to one home a long time ago and they had THREE stuffing dishes. It was heaven, let me tell you.

This stuffing is a bit spicy, so I probably wouldn’t stuff the bird with it if that is your thing. But the good thing about it is that it’s delicious and I believe would make an awesome side dish anytime of the year.

Chorizo and Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffing

*Serves 8-10
(printable recipe)

- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons of butter, divided
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
- ½ teaspoon celery salt
- ¼ cup sliced jarred jalapenos, rinsed and diced*
- 1 lb raw chorizo*
- 5 cups cornbread, dried and crumbled**
- 4 cups chicken broth
- pepper, to taste

* As I mentioned above this is a spicy dish. If you don’t like very spicy things you can reduce the jalapenos to 1 tablespoon and the chorizo to ¾ a pound.
** You can use fresh cornbread or the bag variety. If using fresh, crumble and dry out in the oven on a low heat.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dinner time in the kitchen

I officially have a new sous chef...

His name is Gravy. He’s a 3 month old puppy and is uber cute.

Did I mention we already have 3 other pets? Two cats and another puppy.

I feed them each day and they love me for that. The dogs gather by my feet and the cats perch on the ledge above the stove, waiting as patiently as they possible can. It's the same routine every day, twice a day.

Spooky was our first pet. We found her four years ago as a tiny kitten on Halloween night. Hence, the name Spooky. She was covered in dirt and axle grease. We fed her tuna, gave her a bath, and a home.

Annoyed that dinner is taking so long

OJ was our next cat and another stray in the area. We’ve only had him since January and I like to say that he adopted us. He purrs louder than Brent snores.

He doesn't take his eye of his dinner bowl

Rosco is my baby. Brent surprised me with him as a Valentine’s Day present this year. He was a BIG surprise. He will be a year old in December and he was only 3 pounds when Brent brought him home.

The happiest puppy I've ever met

Gravy… the most recent addition. Brent's friend had him, but circumstances changed and they needed to find another home for him. At first I was really against it, but he's a good fit to our barn home.

See why I couldn't say no?

I've told Brent no more pets, not even a hermit crab.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blogger Spotlight: Fancy Fast Food

Last month I started a Blogger Spotlight as a way to showcase blogs that I follow, find, and enjoy. This month I want to share with you one blog that I find truly unique and many of you may have already heard of it.
Yeah, it’s bad for you – but see how good it can look!

The concept is pretty simple; they take items ordered from a fast food establishment and create a meal that looks gourmet magazine worthy with no additional ingredients. They've been featured on the Rachael Ray Show and Nightline.

Check it out!

Especially the “Hawaiian Thanksgiving”.

The link: Fancy Fast Food

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Potato Pancakes

I love taking leftovers and giving them a makeover for their second appearance at the dinner table. Potato pancakes are one of my favorite ways to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

Potato Pancakes with Mustard-Dill Sauce

*Serves 4

- 2-3 cups day old mashed potatoes
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Vegetable or canola oil for pan frying
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon dried dill (double if using fresh)

Potato Pancake Directions:

1. Mix the tablespoon of flour into your mashed potatoes to help stiffen them a bit. If yours are really mushy, you may need to add a little more flour.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Any McRib fans out there?

I confess I’m not a fan of them… they kinda weird me out to me honest. However Brent loves them and will order two at a time when they are available. And every time he does, I comment about how I “don’t understand the fascination” with them. It annoys him that I always say this.

McDonalds McRib Sandwich
Photo from

Don’t get me wrong! I enjoy a little fast food on occasion, it’s just that Taco Bell’s Cheesy Gordita Crunch is more my style. But that is a post for another day…

Back to the point!

If you are a McRib fanatic, you’ll be happy to learn that the McRib is back starting today (Nov. 2) for the next six weeks – at EVERY Mickey D’s!

If you aren't a McRIb fan, do you have one fast food kryptonite?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Italian Style Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are an easy comfort food that I happen to enjoy a great deal. I think they make a great dish for the coming (or already here for you readers up North) months. I actually do several types of stuffed peppers and this one is my take on my mother’s Italian style.

Italian Style Stuffed Bell Peppers

* Makes 4 peppers – serves 2 or 4 depending

- 4 large bell peppers, any color
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 cups white rice, already cooked
- 2 ½ cups your favorite red pasta sauce, I like to use a chunky vegetable one
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Salt and pepper


1. Start by cutting tops off bell peppers and clean out inside seeds and ribbing. Clean with cold water and pat dry. Remove stem from the cut off tops and chop the tops up to add to the stuffing. (Please tell this made sense!)

2. Brown your ground beef in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add garlic, onions, and peppers when beef is almost thoroughly browned. Remove from pain when no longer pink, and drain away excess grease. Allow to cool.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!!

My favorite holiday of the year! Where adults can act like a kid again and play dress up, and kids get to run around accepting candy from strangers. Something your mom always told you never to do!

It's our first Halloween in this neighborhood so it will be interesting to see how many kids we get. In our candy bowl we have: Reese's PB cups, Skittles, Kit Kats and Big Sour Gummy lifesavers.

I've been good and only had two so far...

What's in your candy bowl? Do you have any favorites?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beef and Cheese Empanadas

Let me start by saying thank you to everyone that voted last week in the appetizer poll. It was really interesting and fun to see what everyone voted for. When I added empanadas to the poll, it was really just an afterthought. I didn’t think anyone would really vote for them. I was surprised that so many people did! I liked the idea of you guys chiming in on what you’d like me to make, and will most likely do some more polls in the future.

The empanada recipe below is not the one I was planning to make. Not even close. Don’t get me wrong, the ones I did end up making are pretty tasty and I shamelessly devoured 4 of them. Still, I was personally disappointed that my original recipe didn’t pan out.

I’ll save you the long drawn out story of all the things that went wrong… but let’s just say that Sunday morning after 3 trips to the grocery store, 4 hours in the kitchen, and failed empanadas stuck to the walls of the kitchen… I ended up sitting on my kitchen floor crying hysterically with flour, dough, cheese, and meat stuck all over me while my puppy was sitting in my lap trying to lick the tears from my cheeks, and my poor boyfriend just looked at me trying to figure out why I was having a complete nervous breakdown over empanadas.

Looking back at that scene now, it’s pretty amusing.

Monday night I came home from work armed with new ingredients, and an easier method to make what I am affectionately calling now “Fakepanadas”.

Beef and Cheese “Fakepanadas”

*Makes 30 empanadas

- 1.5 lbs ground beef
- ¾ cup beef broth
- 1.25 cups medium salsa
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ¾ teaspoon dried cilantro
- Salt and pepper
- Couple of pinches red pepper flake
- ¾ cup bean dip or refried beans
- 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 12oz cans of biscuits, 10 biscuits in each can, butter or buttermilk – not flakey layers
- Cooking spray

1. Brown the ground beef in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until fully brown and no longer pink. Drain in a colander to remove grease and return to sauté pan. Over medium low heat add to the beef: salsa, beef broth, garlic, cumin, cilantro and red pepper flake. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

15 Minute Dinner: Cajun Scallop Tacos

On nights that Brent works his late shift I like to make meals that don’t take a whole lot of time and effort (or uses a lot of dishes) so that I have time to take care of chores or homework. A lot of times I make some sort of breakfast for dinner or an easy one pot pasta dish. One of my favorite go-to meals is some form of taco. I’ve made these tacos several times and it only occurred to me this morning to share them with you. Sometimes I go really simple and just top them with lettuce and salsa if that is all I have on hand. So this is really more of an idea to share really since you can change them up however you like!

Cajun Scallop Tacos

*Serves 2 (two tacos per person)
(printable recipe)
- 16 large sea scallops
- 1 ½ - 2 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1/3 cup chopped scallions
- 4 soft tortillas
- lettuce, shredded
- 1 haas avocado, sliced
- Small amount of oil
- 1 lime (optional)


1. Make sure your scallops are thawed and clean. Place in a small bowl and top with Cajun seasoning. I like a good amount of spicy flavor so I go with 2+ teaspoons, if you don’t like as much, go with less. Allow to sit for at least 5 or so minutes.

2. Heat pan to medium heat and add just enough oil to coat the bottom. Add scallops and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Scallops will start to brown and caramelize slightly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Appetizer Poll - Come into my kitchen!

This coming weekend Brent and I are going to a family gathering and I’ve been recruited to bring an appetizer.

All week I’ve been brainstorming on which appetizer to bring when all of a sudden a little light bulb went off:

Why don’t I ask YOU!

So below are a few that I think would be a hit (even though Brent’s brother will be upset I’m not making these) and you guys will pick the winner! I’m keeping the items slightly vague so I have a little wiggle room for the final result.

So please vote! I’ll have the poll open until Friday night.

And the nominees are:

Stuffed MushroomsWill be stuffed with sausage and cheese. This is one of Brent’s favorites.

Cheese SpreadThis is one of the easiest appetizers I make and has a ton of flavor.

Mini Party MeatballsMany options here, but I promise they will be yummy.

EmpanadasBeef? Chicken? Chorizo? I haven’t made my mind up yet! If you vote and have a preference let me know in the comments.

Poll is located to the right at the top of the page.

Thanks for your help!

UPDATE 10/23: SO after looking at the poll results, stuffed mushrooms and meatballs were tied with 4 each and empanadas had 3 votes. However, after reviewing the comments I realized this didn't add up. I'm guessing people were just voting in the comment section instead of in the poll widget. Since it was tied, I added in the comment votes as well...which created another tie between mushrooms and empanadas. I gave the tie breaking vote to Brent and he voted for beef empanadas! I'll be making them tomorrow and will have the recipe up later this week.

Thanks to everyone that voted! If your favortie didn't make it, don't worry I'll be sure to make the mushrooms soon and will share the recipe then!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spinach and Prosciutto Lasagna

Life has been crazy busy lately. You would think this is a good thing, but all I can think about is how Thanksgiving is right around the corner and then its nonstop chaos until 2011 arrives. Three weeks ago was Brent’s birthday, two weeks ago my dad was in town, and last week we went out of town for a lovely little vacation. And now the next week or so will be trying to catch up with life and focus on checking off about 167 things off my 500+ to do list. I’m ok with that, I love checking things off my TDL.
Back to the food.

I made this dish for dinner while my dad was in town. During his stay I didn’t want anything that took too much time away from chatting over a couple of cups of coffee with him. It’s actually my version of a Giada DeLaurentiis dish that I saw her make many years ago. So many in fact that this was the first meal I ever made for Brent (which I forgot actually), but he kindly reminded me of this as he ate it.

Spinach and Prosciutto Lasagna Rolls

*Serves 4

Ingredients:- 1 10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 2 1/4 cups ricotta
- 1/5 lb prosciutto, sliced and diced
- ¼ cup parmesan
- 2 cups mozzarella, divided
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 cups of your favorite red marinara sauce
- 1 cup alfredo sauce
- 10 lasagna noodles ( maybe throw one or two extra in case one rips)


1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package and drain when done. Separate noodles and lay flat to cool.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lunch on the Go

Recipe: Greek-ish Chicken Flatbread Sandwiches

I try to eat healthy during the day at work. This is something I did the other week for lunch. It was easy to prep and take to work.

Suggestions – If you plan on having chicken one night grilled, throw a couple of extra breasts on the grill and make these the following night. You could even use a rotisserie chicken to make these easier if you want, but I prefer the “grill” flavor.

Greek-ish Grilled Chicken Flatbread Sandwiches
*Makes 5 sandwiches

- 2 chicken breasts, grilled and cubed
o Side note: I actually marinated the chicken in the Greek vinaigrette for about 30 minutes before grilling.
- 5 flatbreads, I used whole wheat
- 6oz plain yogurt
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ¼ teaspoon dried dill
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
- splash of white wine vinegar
- 1 medium cucumber
- ¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 1/8 cup Greek vinaigrette
- ½ cup crumbled feta


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blogger Spotlight: Food, she thought

I want to share some blogger love for just a minute.

"Food, she thought. Eating, drinking and debauching my way through Los Angeles and the universe." - Liz

Food, she thought was one of the first blogs I started to follow when I became a blogger and there is a reason why: This blog is simply fantastic.

Liz’s words will make you drool and her pictures have a unique quality that I haven’t found in many other blogs. She tells a story. I can’t say it anymore simply than that. Many times I feel like I’m there…even though we live on opposite sides of the country.

I implore you to go check her out @  You'll be very glad you did!

Also, Liz is competing in Project Food Blog and I know she would love your support to make it to Round #4!

You can read her Round #3 “Luxury Dinner Party” Challenge entry here.

Rae ^..^

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to Basics: Broiling in a Gas Oven

Last month I kicked off a new "feature", where I demonstrate some basic element of cooking. Last month was my fool-proof way to caramelize onions. This month's How-To was all set, until my computer decided to devour my pictures. In my opinion, a "how-to" would be pretty pointless without pictures of the process so I will re-do it and post that for next month.

However, recently something funny happened. Well I found it funny, and I thought I would share it with all of you since it is cooking related.

Brent and I moved about six months ago, and now instead of an electric stove we have a gas stove/oven. We both have always had electric stoves and this was new and a bit awkward at first but now we are fairly efficient. Although I do find it annoying that I always have to look down under the pan to figure out how hot the heat is. One day we wanted to use the broiler to brown some cheese... I think I was making a frittata. Here is how the scene played out:

Me: Brent... it's not broiling.

B: What do you mean? Is the oven on?

(Why does he feel compelled to ask such questions?)

Me: Yes. There is no heating elements up at the top... its all below.
(Brent get up and inspects... just to make sure I was telling the truth)

B: Huh. You're right, there is only heat/fire under the oven where that drawer is. That's odd.

Me: Is it broken? How are we going to get gooey cheese on things if we can't broil? How am I going to be able to brown casseroles if I need too?

(To me at this point, this is clearly a sign of the Apocalypse. I'm not dramatic at all or anything.)

B: I don't know baby... I've never had one before.

Me: Well we are going to have to call [landlord's name] because this isn't going to work. I need to be able to broil.

B: I'll take a look at it later. It'll be ok.

Me: OK... I'll finish this in the toaster oven.

At this point let me clarify something. With an electric stove, there is a storage draw underneath that most people use to store pans or baking sheets.When we moved Brent asked why the baking sheets weren't under there like at the last house. My response was because it's too small and the "fire" is right there.

Do you see where this is going yet?

A few days later I decided to google about "how to broil with a gas stove" just for the hell of it. And guess what google said...

Use the drawer under the oven.

I called Brent and told him we were a couple of idiots...

The end.

Please tell me something like this has happened to some of you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Smokin' on Sunday

I love a good lazy Sunday...

Brent is smoking a nice pork tenderloin.

I hope none of our neighbors call the fire department.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Food Links!

I wanted to bring them back because I enjoyed looking for new foodie news. So each week I will be bringing you a few food related articles I find interesting.

Pero, I will be making one little tweak. Instead of just focusing on news articles, I thought it would be fun to include anything I find interesting on the 250+ food blogs I follow.

Celebrity Chef Disasters - Famous chefs discuss some of their big mess ups. I thought this was fun.

Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip - From Kevin @Closet Cooking. Oh dear me, I want this so bad. I would sit and eat this with a spoon. No bread, no chips, just me and a spoon.

Pumpkin Spice Latte - From Adrianna @Cozy Kitchen. Yes. You read that right...a recipe for everyone's favorite fall latte. She is my hero.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with a Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Glaze

I wish there was a shorter name for this. Good gravy.

This recipe is adapted from one I found in my BHG cookbook a while back. I remember it clearly as a Sunday night and I wanted something new and different for dinner. I have a lot of cookbooks and I rarely look at them, but this night I happened to turn to them for some inspiration. I’ve made these several times since that night and have tweaked the recipe along the way. I think I’ve finally gotten it to where I’m extremely happy with the results. These are sweet, slightly salty, and have a bit of heat to them. What more could you ask for?

Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp with a Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Glaze

*Makes two dozen shrimp

- 2 dozen large shrimp, shells removed
- 8 slices of prosciutto, sliced thicker than normal
- 1 ½ cups bourbon BBQ sauce (I used Jack Daniel’s No 7)
- 2 chipotle in adobo peppers
- 1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
- Scallions for garnish (optional)
- Salt and pepper

*Skewers would be helpful. Soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes before using.


1. Combine chipotles and BBQ sauce in a blender, food processor, or your magic bullet that someone convinced you to buy 8 years ago.

2. Remove sauce and divide in half. Add the bourbon to one half and stir together. This is your basting sauce. Use the non-liquored up BBQ for dipping.

3. Clean shrimp and remove shells. (You can leave tails on if you choose to.) Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.

4. Slice the prosciutto into 3 long strips.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meatloaf: Love it or Hate it?

Recipe: Yankee Meatloaf with Mushroom and Shallot Gravy

Brent has been wanting meatloaf for a while. Well actually he has been wanting Beef Stroganoff but I told him no because THAT recipe is already on the blog. I’m a cruel a girlfriend, aren’t I? Meatloaf was his second choice and he said he wanted my stuffed meatloaf. Again, I said no, THAT recipe is already on the blog.

So finally I told him I would make this dish for him and he was very happy with the end result. In fact, he ate half of it in one sitting. I’ve made this version several times before, but for some reason he acted as if he never tried it before. Boys can be so strange.

Meatloaf is one of those dishes that vary wildly from recipe to recipe. Mine is more meatball like in texture and not “loafy”. This is how my mother made it and I prefer it that way. I also prefer to cook mine in a loaf/bread pan. I find that cooking it like that makes a moister meatloaf, and again this is how my mother always did it.

Yankee Meatloaf
*Serves 4

- 1.5 lbs ground beef
- 1 small red pepper, diced
- 1 small white/yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, diced
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter or oil

Monday, September 20, 2010

Autumn Inspired Cookies

Recipe: Cranberry, Walnut, and White Chocolate Cookies

This recipe is a great example how I start out with one idea and eventually end up making something completely different. Fall is starting to set in. In Florida this basically means less humidity, since temps are still in the low 90’s for a few more weeks. Still, I’m ready for fall and wanted to make something that felt like autumn to me. So once I settled on making cookies, I took a standard chocolate cookie recipe and played around with the ingredients.

Cranberry, Walnut, and White Chocolate Cookies
Makes 6 dozen cookies
(printable recipe)

- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups walnuts, chopped
- 1 ½ cups dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 375° F. In a small bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir together.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine butter, both sugars, and vanilla. Beat together until creamy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I have a tear in my eye as I write this post...

Recipe: Cheesy Baked Leeks

Over the last two weeks I’ve developed, written, photographed, and eaten several lovely dishes. I also had my next “How to Basics” photographed step-by-step. But you see my desktop is currently getting a bit of an overhaul at the moment, so I attempted to get some work done on my laptop.

This was a big mistake. My laptop literally ATE all of my photos.

And of course, I delete them as they are uploaded so they are gone off my memory card now too. I cried. But not an all out sob or anything, I swear.

So now I have a conundrum. Post without pictures, or make everything again?

I’ve decided to go ahead and post each of them anyway. I’ve only done this once before, and I’m not a huge fan of it but oh well.

This is a recipe for leeks. Baked leeks with cheese, mushrooms, and bacon. I’ve never worked with leeks before, but we had several in the fridge for another dish and they needed to be used. So I grabbed several other things in my fridge and this is what I came up with. Ok that may be confusing... I've added leeks to recipes, but I've never made a dish where leeks were the main component.

In all honesty, I thought this dish was going to be a failure. It wasn’t. It was intoxicatingly delicious. I made it almost a week ago and I’m STILL thinking about it. I want so badly to make it again, but Brent hates repetition when it comes to dinner so I will need to wait for now.

Cheesy Baked Leeks
(printable recipe)
*Serves 2, maybe 3

- 3 large leeks
- ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
- ½ teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 clove)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- ½ cup shredded provolone
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
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