Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Flounder with peppers and olives

Like everyone else out there, we are trying to improve our eating habits. I have been researching different recipes and diet plans to find more healthful meals for my family. One blog I found that I love is Kayln's Kitchen.

Kayln's blog has many recipes following the South Beach diet and the recipes are low carb and low on the glycemic index. This is important to me now because someone I love was recently diagnosed with diabetes and I want to be able to make fabulous meals for her so she does not feel like she is missing out on all the goodies that were a part of her diet.

With this change of eating, not only are we going to be leaving out sugar and flour, we are also going to be adding more fish to our diet. I am not a big fan of fish but I love almost all other seafood. I can eat fish if it is very flavorful so I am always on the look out for fish recipes with a lot of strong flavors. I found this recipe on Kayln's blog. I had flounder in my freezer so I used it instead of tilapia.

Even if you don't like fish, give this a try. The topping is great and I bet it would be good on chicken breasts as well. I think we will be giving it a try on other fish and chicken.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Not Shrimp Scampi

Really, it's not shrimp scampi. It's all the elements of scampi but different. Scampi is lemon, garlic, butter, and parsley. This is similar but I used lime and cilantro. I exchanged scallops for shrimp. I always put a pinch of cayenne pepper in my scampi but since I was going in a different direction with the lime and cilantro, I traded the cayenne in and used a pinch of chipotle chili powder. It turned out great. Everyone at dinner that night raved about it.

My favorite Shrimp Scampi recipe can be found here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stuffed Steak

I found steak cut for roulades in the grocery store the other day. I love making rolled steak but really I had no idea what I was going to do with it when I picked it up. I had some asparagus and red bell pepper that were getting a little past their prime. I pulled out the steak, asparagus, and bell pepper.

I tried to think what would go with all of these things. I decided to make a mustard and horseradish marinade and roll up the vegetables. It turned out delicious. My husband raved over it. I knew then I had to quickly put down what I did with the marinade so I would not forget. I need to go back and pick up more of those roulades because I am not sure if it is something they will always have because I had never seen them before that day.

For the marinade:

2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons horseradish
Olive oil to thin
3 cloves minced garlic

Rub over the meat and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Take the roulade and put two asparagus stalks cut in half, thin sliced red peppers, a thin slice of onion and a slice of fontina cheese. I skewered the rolls and grilled them about 10 minutes on each side.

They were so tender and the vegetables were crisp. The cheese melted and turned almost into a sauce inside the meat.

I can not wait to make this again but with different vegetables and a different marinade but I will also make it just like this again because it was so good.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sweet potatoes: crash hot style!

We love The Pioneer Woman's Crash hot potatoes. I've even blogged about them here. They are delicious and a favorite around here.

One day I checked my menu and saw I had crash hot potatoes on the list but I was out of white potatoes. Sweet potatoes were on sale so I thought why not? We love sweet potatoes with brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. What if the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter are melted into the potatoes?

The night we had these we were having barbecued chicken so I added a little of the seasoning to the potatoes. A little cumin and chipotle chili powder were added to the cinnamon and brown sugar. Sweet, spicy and delicious.

I followed the steps for the regular crash hot potatoes: peeling, slicing, and boiling until slightly tender. Mash the potatoes down and sprinkle with the sugar and spice mixture. I poured melted butter over the top of the potatoes. (Make sure to use the nonstick foil or parchment paper or you will be blasting the pan.) Bake until the potatoes get crispy on the edges and the sugar and spice mixture caramelize. YUM!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Spicy Honey Chicken with a bonus salad recipe

I found another blog I love. It's Our Best Bites. It's one of those where I followed a link for one thing and ended up checking out all the recipes they had ever posted. I've made a few of them recently and they have all been top notch.

One of the first things I made was the spicy honey chicken. It was great but next time, I would add a bit more heat. We loved the glaze and made sure to have a little extra. I also followed the directions and made the mango and avocado salad with the honey citrus vinaigrette. They were both delicious and great for a quick summer night meal. Throw the chicken on the grill and with the salad, you don't have to heat anything in the kitchen. Those are my kinds of meals in the summer.

I'm not going to post the picture of my salad because if you click the link above, the picture there is much more beautiful than mine. Just know, we made it and we loved it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Corn fritters! A great way to use the corn coming out of the garden

Thank you to the Pioneer Woman. Ree knew just the recipe I needed and just when I needed it. As soon as I saw her put corn fritters up, I had to make them. I've only ever had them once before, in a restaurant with my husband in Pennsylvania. They were put on the table instead of bread and served with honey. My heavens they were delicious. I mean they must have been, because that trip was easily ten years ago. It's amazing I can not remember what happened last week, but if there is food involved, I can remember back decades.

These were as good as I remember, crispy and light. I hope there is more leftover corn in my future so I can make more.

For the recipe and a better how to than I could do, check out Ree's corn fritters. One thing, Ree says she uses maple syrup. I like honey better. Give them both a try and let me know which you prefer.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm back! White chocolate strawberry pie to celebrate!

Life has been crazy. My class has kept me busy and all of the end of the school year stuff to be done, but now I can finally see my way clear. The school year has ended and I had my final class today. I've been cooking, I just haven't found the time to blog. Hopefully I'll have a couple of new things up over the next few days. Keep looking.

I will celebrate the end of my class by posting this delicious pie. White chocolate strawberry pie. All I can say is YUM!

White Chocolate Strawberry Pie

9 inch baked pie crust
4 oz white chocolate baking squares (1 oz each)
2 tablespoons milk
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp grate orange zest (optional)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
whipped cream or melted white chocolate for garnish

In a double boiler or microwave, melt 4 squares of white chocolate with milk. Cool to room temperature. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in orange zest and melted chocolate. Fold in whipped cream.

Spread this into the baked and cooled crust. Arrange strawberries on top. Top with more whipped cream or one melted square of white chocolate and drizzle on top for garnish. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

I made two pies, doubling everything. I used a full 8 ounce block of cream cheese.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


This was one of our Mother's Day desserts. It's tradition for us to always have strawberry shortcake but we always have one other dessert for the folks who don't like strawberries. This year I decided I wanted to make a tiramisu. I LOVE tiramisu but I it isn't something you have regularly. It took many trips to many stores, and finally I had to go to Cary to pick up the marscapone cheese and the lady fingers.

It was so delicious. It is so quick to come together (after you find all your ingredients) It's something many of my family had never tried before and all the ones who had tried it, love it.

The missing spoonful is compliments of Aunt Deborah. She had never had tiramisu before so she had to sneak a bite before dinner.

This recipe came from Food Network. It has heavy cream in the cheese mixture instead of raw egg yolks. I'm scared of raw eggs, especially with a dessert that had to travel and not stay refrigerated until ready to serve. This recipe turned out great.


* Expresso Syrup
* 1/3 cup water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2/3 cup strong brewed espresso coffee
* 1/4 cup Italian or domestic brandy, optional
* Mascarpone Filling
* 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 pound mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
* 1/2 pound savoiardi (imported Italian ladyfingers), domestic ladyfingers, or sliced sponge cake
* Finishing
* Cocoa powder for dusting the surface


For the syrup, combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, cool and add coffee and optional brandy.

For the filling, whip cream with sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold cream into softened mascarpone.

To assemble, place a layer of the savoiardi, ladyfingers or sponge cake slices in the bottom of a shallow 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish. Sprinkle with half the syrup. Spread with half the filling. Repeat with remaining savoiardi, syrup and filling, spreading the top smooth, using a metal spatula.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving. Immediately before serving place cocoa in a fine strainer and shake a light coating on surface.

Sorry there has been so much time in between posts. I'm taking a class that is taking up a lot of my time. It will be over the end of June and I will have my life back. I haven't even done that much cooking lately except basic meals to feed the family. I have so many recipes marked "to try" once I get more time. Thanks for checking back even though it's been so long.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

O-R-E-O! Cake

Dark chocolate with cream filling, oreos are one of the favorite cookies. What if you made a giant "oreo" out of cake? Here is what happens when you try it.

It looks a little like is double stuffed because the weight of the top layer started squishing out the filling.

This was the dessert I took for Easter dinner. We had many fruit desserts (lemon pie, key lime pie, carrot cake) so I thought we needed something chocolate. It was a big hit because everyone loves oreos and everyone loves chocolate.

I used my favorite devil's food cake recipe I found at Food Network. It's rich, dark, and delicious.

The filling is

8 oz brick of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
8 oz cool whip, thawed
12 oreos, crushed

Put the filling between the two layers so it resembles an oreo. I made a ganache (cream and chocolate) to pour over the cake just to dress it up a bit.

It was delicious and a fun cake. Everyone kept saying, that cake looks like an oreo.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu

So easy and so simple. Chicken stuffed with ham and an artichoke spinach cheese spread. Instead of breading and frying it, I decided to try it on the grill. It turned out great. Everyone is always looking to cut a few calories and grilling was a good choice.

The chicken was tender and slightly smokey since we use smoke chips in the grill all the time. The ham was also slightly smoked so it was well complimented by the grill.


Butterfly chicken breasts
Fill ham slice with cheese spread.
Tuck ham into the chicken breast.
Thread a skewer into the chicken breast to keep the ham and cheese inside.
Grill until done.

I found by filling the ham with the cheese, it did not ooze out like it usually does. It keep the cheese in the chicken and I'm glad it did. It was a great meal.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pork Chops in a Fire Roasted Tomato sauce

I have mentioned before I like Rachael Ray's recipes. Many of the recipes found here on my blog have come from Rachael's 365 book. I recently picked up her Big Orange Book. At first, I did not think there would be many recipes there I would like to try but at a second look, I picked out a few to try.

This was really good, but I think next time I would make it with chicken. The tomato sauce was great, tangy and a bit sweet. I served it with sticky rice because I did not have any polenta in the pantry. Along the side was roasted brussel sprouts with fennel.

Pork Chops in a Tangy Fire-roasted Tomato Sauce

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Orange Chocolate Bundt cake

I needed to bake a cake for Sunday dinner dessert, but I could not figure out just what I wanted to bake. I went searching around my favorite blogs and I found a recipe for this orange chocolate bundt cake on Joy the Baker's site. I love her blog and her recipes. Not to mention, she takes the most beautiful pictures. If you get a chance check it out.

Here is the cake in one of my favorite Nordic Ware pans. I think I've mentioned here before my love for Nordic Ware. Everyone kept asking me where the chocolate was when I said it was an orange chocolate cake.

They were surprised when I cut into the cake and they saw the chocolate ring. It was moist and delicious. The perfect cake for a warm spring Sunday dinner.

You can find the recipe on Joy's blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Blogger-versary!

One year! I started this blog on a whim a year ago today as a way to keep track of my recipes and share them with a few friends. It's been a lot of fun and I hope to continue. I am going to be working on my photography and maybe one day I will finally figure out photoshop.

Thank you for checking out my blog during this time. I hope to continue posting recipes and photos for time to come.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes from this year:

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Oatmeal Creme Pies

Asparagus and Gruyère Tart

Chocolate Overload Cake

thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

French Onion Steak and Asparagus

Again, it's all about Rachael Ray. I am hopelessly devoted to her recipes. They are quick, easy and Yummo! I'm sorry. I just couldn't help myself. This time it isn't a recipe from the 365 book, but from her Big Orange Book. It was also featured on her show.

We eat a lot of chicken breasts here because they are so versatile and quick to cook. I've been looking to expand our protein horizon. I saw this recipe which uses london broil. I do not use it often because I am always afraid it will turn out more pot roast like than like steak. This one came out perfectly tender and juicy, just like a sirloin. The price of london broil is much better than sirloin or other steak cuts so we may add this cut to regular rotation.

I was trying to round out the meal but wanted something other than the regular salad and baked potato usually served with steak. I found some of the year's first asparagus and decided to make homestyle potatoes. The Gruyere sauce was great for dipping the asparagus.

To find the recipe and instructions, check our Rachael Ray's daytime show site.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rosemary Orange Chicken Breasts

Rachael Ray 365 to the rescue again. Seriously, even if you hate her on television as much as I do, you should look into this book and many of her other cookbooks. The recipes of hers that I have tried have been great about 98% of the time. Once in a while there will be a dud, but luckily for us it isn't often.

I found some wonderfully fresh vegetables while shopping this weekend. I am so excited spring is around the corner and there will be more fresh vegetables to come. I picked up some baby bok choy because my Thai neighbor Oy used cook it and we thought it was delicious. I miss her, and not just for her cooking skills. I was on my own to figure out what to do with the bok choy this time.

I browsed my 365 book for the millionth time and came across a recipe for Rosemary-Orange pork chops. I had chicken breasts thawed out for dinner so it became Rosemary-Orange Chicken. It was wonderful on chicken and I can't wait to try it on pork chops. Give this a try, it's a great spring dish.


* 1 orange, juice and zest of, navel
* 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
* 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
* 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* salt
* fresh ground pepper
* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
* 4 pork loin chops, 1 inch thick (or in my case chicken breasts)


In a medium sauce pot over high heat, combine the zest and juice of the orange, brown sugar, chicken stock, rosemary, crushed red pepper lakes, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lover the heat to a simmer and cook until reduced by half.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with the EVOO. Season the chops with salt and pepper, then add to the hot skillet. Cook the chops for 5 minutes on each side. (or until done) Pour the glaze over the cooked pork chops. Toss to coat and transfer to a serving platter.

I grilled my chicken breasts outside because it was a wonderful warm spring day. For the bok choy I mixed orange juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, and a little red pepper flake. I poured some of it on before grilling it and reserved some for when it came off of the grill.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

I love watching Food Network. One of my favorite new shows is Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell. She makes the most delicious looking and sounding foods. They are restaurant quality meals but she breaks them down so they are easily prepared at home. From the moment I saw her make these braised short ribs, I knew they would be made in my kitchen. I even bought a new enameled cast iron pot with this recipe in mind.

This recipe takes a little time at the start, but once you put it in the oven you can just let it cook away. I would say you could forget about it until the timer goes off, but with the wonderful smell that will come from your oven there is no way you can forget about it.

I decided to pair the beef ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes. The peppery horseradish did a great job to help cut the richness of the beef ribs. If you haven't given beef short ribs a try, you should. It was wonderfully warming on a cold winter night.

Braised Short Ribs

Recipe courtesy Anne Burrell

Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 3 hr 30 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 8 servings


* 6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds)
* Kosher salt
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 cloves garlic, smashed
* 1 1/2 cups tomato paste
* 2 to 3 cups hearty red wine *
* 2 cups water
* 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
* 2 bay leaves

* I used beef stock with balsamic vinegar added for the acid because I do not cook with wine


Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.

Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Eastern North Carolina Bar-Be-Que (pork shoulder)

In my opinion nothing beats Eastern NC pork bar-be-que. It is pork, a shoulder or a whole pig, cooked over smoke and seasoned with a peppery vinegar sauce. In the western part of the state, they use a tomato based bbq sauce and in some parts of South Carolina, they use a mustard based sauce. We love the tangy and spicy vinegar sauce. Now I love beef brisket in a spicy tomato based sauce, but for pork it has to be the peppery vinegar.


13-15 lb fresh pork shoulder or ham
1 quart vinegar
3 oz. Texas Pete
1 Tbs crushed red pepper
3 Tbs liquid smoke
2 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs black pepper
4 oz. brown sugar

To make the sauce: Mix all ingredients well and heat to make sure brown sugar is dissolved. Makes 1 quart.

Wash meat with cold water and pat dry. Rub skin side with salt and pepper to taste. Cut 4 to 6 2" slits in skin and place in your smoker. We used hickory to smoke pork. After a few hours, cut deep holes into meat and pour enough bbq sauce on to cover meat. Smoke longer until a meat thermometer, reaches 165 degrees. Remove from smoker and slice or chop for bbq. Add sauce to taste. Required side dishes include coleslaw and hush puppies. You get extra credit if you serve banana pudding for dessert.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Park City Cashew Chicken

This is another Rachael Ray 365 meal. It is a favorite around here. It is spicy and a little sweet, plus the cashews add a wonderful crunch. I have said before how much we love stir fries and this resembles a stir fry but with less Asian flavors. It may seem like the chipotles and maple syrup should not go together, but they do.

I have made this recipe many times because everyone here loves it. One change I have made is Rachael's recipe calls for more chipotles than I use. The first time I made it, I cut back a bit on the chipotles and it was too hot for us and we love spicy food. Once we cut it back, it was much better.

The recipes I have found online for this is different than the one in the 365 book. Most of the online recipes include water chestnuts and garden peas. I think those added ingredients makes it more Asian. I choose to leave them out and follow the recipe in the book.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds chicken meat (tenders; skinless, boneless breasts; skinless, boneless thighs), cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons grill seasoning blend, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning blend by McCormick
2 to 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, such as tamari (eyeball it)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped (available in the international foods aisle), or 1 1/2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder **if you don't want super spicy food, cut this back to 1 tablespoon. You can always add more if you need more heat**
1 tablespoon ground cumin (a palmful)
2 to 3 tablespoons honey (2 healthy drizzles)
1/4 to 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (eyeball it)
2 to 3 tablespoons cilantro (a handful), chopped
1 cup raw cashews

1. Start the jasmine rice. Follow the directions on the bag.

2. While the rice cooks, make the chicken. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with the grill seasoning. Add the vegetable oil (2 turns of the pan) and then the chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides, season with the soy sauce, then move the chicken to 1 side of the pan. Add the sliced onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then mix the vegetables and chicken together. Add the chipotle chiles and cumin. Toss to coat. Glaze the chicken mixture with the honey and maple syrup and turn off the heat. Add the chopped cilantro and the cashews.

3. Spoon the rice into bowls, top with the cashew chicken and serve.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A different stirfry

This is another stir fry dinner we enjoy. It is quick, easy, and healthy. You can change up the vegetables to whatever your family enjoys. We used ground chicken this night and along with the broccoli slaw, I added a bag of coleslaw mix instead of the napa cabbage because our market didn't have any the day I was shopping for this meal. I love stir fry because of it's ease and it is great to have on a night when you need a quick dinner.

1/2 lb ground beef or ground chicken
1 TBSP toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 C broccoli slaw
1 C napa cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 TBSP lite soy sauce
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

1. Prepare rice according to its package directions

2. While the rice is cooking, in a medium skillet or wok, brown the ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink. Remove the beef from the skillet, drain and set aside.

3. Heat sesame oil in the skillet over med-high heat. Add garlic and green onions; stir-fry for 2 min. Add the broccoli slaw and cabbage; stir-fry for 2 min. Add rice and soy sauce, stir-fry for 2 min.

4. Return the cooked ground beef to skillet with rice and vegetable mixture and season with red pepper flakes, to taste. Stir until ingredients are well combined and heated through, about 2 minutes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rock Star fun! (fruit roll-ups)

Back in January, I left a comment on The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch in a contest where she was giving away customized fruit roll-ups. Amazingly, I won!

Next came trying to figure out what to put on the fruit roll-ups. My nephew wants to be a rock star and he received a guitar for Christmas. He'll be starting lessons soon, so maybe he will be a rocker one day with a lot of money and he can take care of his favorite aunt. Maybe I better save one of these roll-ups for when he's older to remind him how much I spoil him.

This is what I ended up with:

This was his Valentine gift and he thought they were cool. He took a few to school and has become the coolest kid there. All of his buddies loved them.

Thank you Shelby!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valetine's Day! (Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake )

Valetine's Day screams chocolate. It helps that I consider chocolate a major food group. Add caramel and nuts, oh my!

In October, the Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) group made the Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie which was picked by Tammy at Wee Treats. From the day I saw all the pictures of everyone's creations, I knew I wanted to make this. I was waiting for the right occasion and I though what is better than Valentine's Day.

Instead of making it in a spring form pan, I decide to make it heart shaped. I have several heart shaped pans (remember, I love Nordic Ware) and I try to put them to good use on Valentine's day. I doubled the recipe and it made a bit more batter than I needed. I think one and a half of the batter would be enough to fill the heart shaped pan. The extra batter was used in a smaller heart bundt pan and I froze it for one day when we need an extra treat but I don't have time to bake.

for the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coffee extract
1 tbsp espresso

for the topping:

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup salted peanuts

butter a 8 inch springform pan. line bottom of pan with parchment paper. butter and cocoa powder over the parchment. put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

to make the cake:

sift the flour, baking soda and salt together.

melt chocolate and butter together using a double boiler. stir occasionally. take off heat just before all the chocolate is melted. whisk again.

in a large bowl beat the eggs and sugars together until well blended. add in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla, espresso and coffee extract.

slowly add in the melted butter and chocolate. gently fold in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

you will have a thick, smooth, shiny batter. pour the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan a bit to even out the batter.

bake the cake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean. transfer the pan to a rack and cool he cake for 15 minutes, then run a knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan.

during baking the cake probably will have puffed to the top of the pan don't be concerned if tit sinks a little or it if develops a crater in the center.

cool the cake to room temperature.
when the cake is completely cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper. wash and dry the springform pan, and return the cake to it right side up. refasten the sides around the cake.

20 minutes before serving make the topping:
put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients and then put the pan over medium-high heat.

heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber, 5-10 minutes.

lower the heat a bit and, standing back from the saucepan add the cream and butter. when the spatters are less vehement, stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps.

stir in the peanuts, and pour the caramel and peanuts into a 1-quart pyrex measuring cup or heat proof bowl.

spoon the peanuts on top of the cake. then spoon the caramel on top of those. you will have extra caramel leftover to use on something else - like ice cream! you'll have a layer about ¼ inch high. allow the topping to set to room temperature.

to serve, run a blunt knife between the caramel and the pan and simply remove the sides of the springform. if this isn't the case, hit the sides with some hot air from a hairdryer or wrap the sides in a towel moistened with hot water.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My 100th post!! Let's celebrate with a Chocolate Overload!

One Hundred Posts! Wow. Who knew? When I started my blog it was a way to keep track of things I'd made and to share recipes with a few friends. I don't have a following, and that is ok, this blog is still very much for my friends and me. I do wish more friends and family would leave comments just so I know you're still out there, but I still appreciate you taking the time to view the blog.

This cake is the one I made for my mom's birthday. She is such a chocoholic, this was the perfect cake for her. It is a Chocolate Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting decorated with dark and white chocolate curls and pirouette cookies. It is rich, chocolaty, and DELICIOUS.

The recipes for the cake and frosting both came from MYRecipes

Chocolate Velvet cake layers


1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (16-ounce) package light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 cup hot water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Melt semisweet chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH for 30-second intervals until melted (about 1 1/2 minutes total time). Stir until smooth.

Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer, beating about 5 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to chocolate mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Gradually add 1 cup hot water in a slow, steady stream, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in vanilla. Spoon cake batter evenly into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cakepans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


* 3 cups white chocolate morsels
* 3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
* 3/4 cup butter, softened
* 7 1/2 cups powdered sugar


1. Microwave white chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 3 minutes; stir until smooth.

2. Combine cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add melted chocolate, beating well. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at medium speed until mixture reaches desired spreading consistency.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chicken with artichoke and spinach dip

We love artichoke dip but since it is more of a party food, I rarely make it. Then one day I was trying to figure out something different to do with chicken breasts. I was looking in the pantry at a can of artichoke hearts and remembered I had purchased them to make artichoke and spinach dip for New Year's Eve but never made it. What if I put the two together? Chicken topped with artichoke and spinach dip? Turns out, it is divine.

Since it was after the new year and everyone has started watching their calories, I wanted to do a lighter version of the artichoke and spinach dip. This does not contain cream cheese like most artichoke dip but it does have a little mayonnaise and a bit of cheese, but when you divide it up as a topping for the chicken, it is not really a lot of it per serving.

Place four chicken breasts in a 8x8 pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Season with salt and pepper.

For the dip:

Artichoke and Spinach Dip
1 Tbl. olive oil
½ cup yellow onion, small chopped
6 – 9 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbl. mayo
3 Tbl. grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. sharp white cheddar, shredded
pinch salt and pepper
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs, dry
1 Tbl. butter, melted

Preheat the olive oil in a medium high-sided sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, or until slightly translucent. Toss the spinach with the onions and sauté for an additional 1 – 2 minutes, or until completely wilted. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the artichoke hearts, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, Dijon mustard, mayo, Parmesan cheese, white cheddar and cooled spinach mixture until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture over chicken breasts.

Toss the bread crumbs and melted butter in a small mixing bowl until the butter is completely absorbed. Evenly distribute the bread crumbs on top of the dip mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until the the chicken breast reaches 170 degrees.

I served this with couscous and roasted carrots.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stuffed French Toast at home

I love stuffed french toast at IHOP but we are really trying to cut back on our eating out. I know I can make it cheaper. Plus we can have it more often because the closest IHOP to us is almost an hour away.

It is so simple, it's crazy I have not made it before. If you love it in the restaurant, give it a try.

For the custard:
Eggs and cream. Just like any other french toast. How much french toast you are making will determine how much eggs and cream you will need. I also put a splash of vanilla in my custard.

For the stuffed toast:
I used brown sugar bread made by pepperidge farms. You could use any bread you like, but this added another flavor to the french toast. Spread a layer of cream cheese on each slice of bread. Top one slice with jam. You can make flavor you love depending on what ever jam you want to use. We love strawberries, so we used strawberry jam. Top with a slice of bread and dunk into the custard mix.

Cook it on a griddle until it's browned and crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. Top with powdered sugar and you can syrup or more jam.

We served this with sausage and grits. Three of us had this meal for the cost of one stuffed french toast meal at IHOP.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup for a snowy day

I live in eastern North Carolina where we do not get snow normally. We may get a few flakes during the winter, but it is rare for us to have accumulation. This week was one of those odd times where we actually got real snow. In our area, they are saying we received right around 5 inches.

What could be better than soup for a snow day? (Other than hot chocolate when you come in from playing) We love chicken noodle soup, so I started it early so it could cook and be delicious.

When I roast chicken, I save the bones and when I get a pot full, I boil them to make my own chicken broth. I had two gallon bags in the freezer I pulled out. I added sliced carrots and celery to the broth so they could cook and flavor the broth. I also added some chicken I had pulled from those same roasted chickens I had in the freezer. Those things warmed slowly in the broth because I kept it on low all afternoon.

After coming in from playing outside and warming up with hot chocolate, I turned the heat up on the burner and brought the broth to a boil. I added a box of orzo to the broth and cooked it until it was tender.

It is so nice to have items on hand in the freezer and pantry to make a delicious dinner. I loved not having to rush in from the fun we were having in the snow to make dinner.

Now the snow is melted, but we have wonderful memories of the snowball fights and sledding we tried to do. I must say, with as much fun as we had, I hope this is the only snow storm of the season for us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baked Ravioli with Italian Sausage

This is a great week night dinner. It is hearty and delicious, and great for these cold nights we have been having lately. We love lasagna but who has the time on a week night to put one together. Using cheese ravioli baked in spaghetti sauce gives you a lot of the same tastes of lasagna with little work.

The brand we love best is Buitoni found in the refrigerated section of the store. They taste much better than the frozen or shelf stable ones. For the lasagna taste, I use the four cheese ravioli which is filled with Parmesan, Romano, ricotta and mozzarella.

I used the recipe from Great Food Fast.


Serves 4 to 6

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, or oregano
* 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
* 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
* 2 pounds store-bought ravioli
* 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (pasta will continue to cook in oven). Drain pasta; return to pot.
3. Toss sauce with pasta. Pour pasta into a large gratin dish or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

You can also use your favorite pasta sauce. This night, I used some sauce I had in the freezer so it really did make for a quick and easy meal. Also for my carnivore husband, I threw Italian sausages on the grill while the ravioli baked.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chicken and Beef Stir Fry

We are trying to cut out a lot of restaurant eating because while we do not eat out that often, I feel guilty when we spend $40 on a meal I can easily make at home. There was a time I used to make stir fry pretty frequently but for what ever reason, I stopped. I am not sure why because we both love it and it is healthy unless you add a lot of sauces to it. Another good thing about stir fry is you can use whatever is on hand, so it does not have to be the same thing every time you serve it.

This stir fry went a little something like this:

3 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 sirloin, thinly sliced
snow peas

Marinate the meat in hoisin and soy sauce. With your pan smoking hot, add a little vegetable oil and cook the meat quickly and stir constantly. Remove the meat from the pan and add the vegetables, cooking them the same way. Add a little toasted sesame oil, more hoisin, and soy sauce. Mix about a tablespoon of cornstarch in 1 cup of beef broth. Mix it all together adding the meat back to the pan.

Serve over jasmine rice.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chicken Flautas

We lived in San Antonio, Texas for a few years and while we always loved Mexican food, it became a staple to us there. I was amazed when the grocery stores had tortilla makers in the store where you could watch and then buy hot, fresh tortillas. We would usually buy two packs and eat part of one on our way home. We were in heaven.

We tried to visit as many taquerias and try many different meals there. One of my favorite things I found out our most visited taqueria was Flautas. Crispy fried corn tortillas filled with shredded chicken which was topped with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

They are quite simple to make.

I marinated chicken breasts in my favorite mexican flavors then grilled it. When it came off of the grill, I shredded it and filled corn tortillas. I rolled them and secured them with toothpicks. They are then deep fried until golden brown.

Serve them 4-6 per person and top with your favorite things. Serve with refried beans and rice, and ice cold margarita, turn on some mariachi music and you will be transported to a taqueria of your own.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Candied Cocktail Wieners

It was only three of us hanging out after the pickle drop on New Year's Eve but we decided to make it festive and still have lots of party food. One new thing we tried was Candied Cocktail Wieners. They are easy and so yummy. The three of us ate all of them and that was with all the other appetizers we had.

Simple. Delicious. We'll be looking for an excuse to make them again soon.

Wrap cocktail wieners in half a slice of precooked bacon. I used precooked to cut down on the grease and to make sure the bacon got crispy. Roll them in brown sugar and sprinkle a little extra on top. Make sure to use reynold's release because it is sticky and would be a mess to clean up. Cook them about 15 minutes at 350.

However many you think you need, make at least that many more. Seriously, you'll thank me later.