Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mexican Appetizer - Crunchy Corn Cups

I had to take a Mexican appetizer to a party this weekend and needed something that was quick and delicious. I finally found a recipe for spiral pinwheels and made those. They were horrible. Not at all what I was expecting. So it was back to the drawing board and back to the store at the last minute to whip up something different.

An ex-co-worker suggested these and they were great.

So easy and quick to fix. Try them if you have a party and want something a little different. They went over very well at the party. I could have eaten the entire platter of them myself. We had margaritas with them. I do not have any pictures because they got eaten before I could snap one. But trust me, delicious.

Mix together:

8 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
one egg
1/2 cup frozen whole corn kernals

Put about a teaspoon in Tostito Scoop chips. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until set. Then top with chives and/or jalapeno slice. Serve warm.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

CEiMB - Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes or as they say in Alabama, if you can't eat shrimp, substitute chicken!

I'm allergic to shrimp. What makes it doubly bad is that I used to love shrimp and ate it all the time. So when my friend Pamela of Cookies With Boys chose this dish as our Craving Ellie challenge this week, I knew it would be good, but would not be one that I could eat myself. I decided to make it anyway and just substitute good ole chicken for the shrimp!!

First let me say that I was so happy when Pamela joined this group because she is one of my favorite bloggers. I love reading her posts. And you will too. She is funny and smart and always has something wonderful on her blog to eat! Check out this recipe which is posted on her blog!

This was an extremely easy dish to prepare. I cooked up some chopped chicken in the skillet with a little olive oil, and then finished the recipe as it was supposed to be for the shrimp. I did add just a touch of white wine to the sauce and used dried dill instead of fresh.

I served it ladled onto a big ole piece of french bread that I had drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the broiler. Some green peas were the side dish. YUM.

I will definitely add this to my monthly list of foods I serve up and I think it would even be nice to serve to guests. I'm going to have the leftovers on Saturday for lunch over some pasta!

I hope you all have a great weekend! Give some hugs to your loved ones, chow down on some good food, and sit back and relax with a good book!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TWD - Crunchy Toffee Bars

Every time I bake with toffee chips, I think of Heath Ledger. You get it, right, Heath Toffee / Heath Ledger. I know I'm weird. But in honor of the Oscars this week, I thought a photo of Heath was appropriate.
He was a great actor with a brilliant future ahead of him. Sad. Of course, my real photo choice of the week was going to be my personal favorite Hugh Jackman. Since he was the host of the Oscars, I think it only fitting that we post a photo of him, as well, right? After all, he IS the sexiest man alive. I knew he could act, and look pretty, but dang - he can sing and dance too!

Okay girls - get your minds out of the gutter and back to the matter at hand. Truly, get serious! We are here to talk about crunchy toffee bars. Let me just say that I am glad I made these earlier in the weekend because I ended up having to spend some time with a nice young doctor at the ER due to a severe asthma attack! It's heck not being able to breathe folks. It has now turned into acute bronchitis. Not sure which is better, but at least I can breathe. I just cough my lungs out every time I breathe now.

Since the yankee has decided all my baking is going to his hips, or his stomach, or wherever, I decided to just make half this recipe. It really was easy to whip up. My only problem was it was hard to spread the chocolate on top of the hot dough mixture. Was I supposed to let the base cool first? The instructions weren't too clear on that I thought. Or maybe my brain was foggy from no oxygen going there. I used milk chocolate instead of bittersweet in these because I am not a fan of the bitter. My toffee bits also had some chocolate in them because the hubster picked up the wrong package at the store. God love him. He tries. These bars were a bit too rich for my taste. Too buttery and chocolatey. And not crunchy really. I'm thinking I did not cook the crust long enough. Maybe they will be better in a day or two?Thanks to Whitney of What's Left on the Table for choosing the toffee bars. Whitney is a very creative blogger. The recipe for these bars will be posted on her blog so jump over there and try them today!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

CEiMB - Nutty Granola!!

Any Neil Diamond fans out there? I've never liked him myself, mainly because of that stupid song he sang about Cracklin Rosie. Yikes. But he did a song called "Crunchy Granola Suite."

Let me hear that, let me near that
Crunchy granola Let me hear that,
let me near that Crunchy granola suite
Drop your shrink, and stop your drinkin’
Crunchy granola’s neat
Sing it out
Alright Da da da daDa da da da daDee dee dee doDeedle-ee dum dum
I’ll have a double please

This week for my CEiMB group, we made granola. I have never been a granola fan. It is mostly too sweet for my tastes. I would go so far as to say I hate granola bars and cereal of any kind. I did love the granola grabber cookies we made in our TWD group. Anyway, I made this home-made granola last week and I have to say that we have not been able to keep our hands out of the huge baggie of granola. I have been eating it every morning for breakfast with yogurt, but also as a snack when I get home from work. I can't seem to get enough of it! I keeping telling myself it is healthy and not big in calories.

I used sliced almonds, pecans, whole cashews, and sunflower seeds as the nuts in it. I added some golden raisens and dried tart cherries to give it some flavor.


I also have to share with you all about my shopping excursion the other day. First to Target to buy a candy thermometer - cost was $10.00. Man is that sucker big. But it worked great on my frosting for TWD.

Then I headed to T.J. Maxx. I always love to look in their cookware section to see if they have any good bargains. I got myself a couple of new playtoys for the kitchen. One was a pan I could easily use for Kugelhopf. It only cost $6.99. Of course, now that I actually have a Kugelhopf pan, I'll probably never make Kugelhopf, right? I also bought a tiny canister for $3.99 but I am not sure what I will store in that. Those purchases just felt really good! I love bargains.
Thanks Leslie at Lethally Delicious for choosing this recipe. It made me think outside the box and prepare something I never would have thought about cooking for myself.

TWD - Chocolate White Out Cake

Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater chose the Chocolate White Out Cake for us this week. The photo is on the cover of Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Baking From My Home to Yours. Ever since I purchased the book I have wanted to try this cake. I tasted it back in November when my friend Amanda at work made it for my boss's birthday. It was delicious and I couldn't wait to try baking it myself.

Since it was Valentine's Day on Saturday I thought it would be the perfect day to bake the cake and take it to my dance friends on Saturday night. I wanted to make it perfectly. That sentence alone should be a warning that nothing ever goes the way you plan.

I did not have a candy thermometer so it was off to Target for a purchase. They only had one kind and it was big. But it worked. Upon returning home, I realized I did not have the right sized cakepans. Mine are nine inch. I had one eight inch so I decided I would make a tall cake in that and make a flatter cake in the nine inch for the crumbs. I measured all the ingredients precisely. I followed Dorie's instructions precisely.
My cake came out the size of a one-layer cake. I knew I would be able to cut it in half, but not in thirds. So I used the one good layer and cut it in half to make two (using dental floss to cut through the cake - worked great), then I used the nine inch layer and after it fell apart, tryed to put it on top as a third layer. It's under all that meringue so I figured who would know?

Then, I got worried about the egg whites not being cooked. I guess the hot syrup cooks them, but I was afraid of killing all my friends with uncooked egg whites so the cake stayed home while we went to meet our friends. Am I like the only person on earth that worries about stuff like this? My mom always told me that the lemon juice in a lemon icebox pie cooked the raw yolks in it. Now really, can that be true even? Seems bizarre to me that lemon juice would "cook" anything.

The cake was delicious, but I'm not a meringue person so I would have loved it much much better if it had been topped with loads of fresh whipped cream.

And let me just say, it wasn't the prettiest cake I have ever made. I had a lot of trouble getting those crumbs on the sides. I had crumbs all over the countertop, all over the floor, and all over me, but not so many on the cake itself! I can't wait to see your photos and to hear how you got those crumbs to be perfectly placed on the cake like Dorie's was!! I needed help for sure.
Of course my "friend" Simon Baker dropped by and even after assessing the kitchen mess, was very willing to try a piece for himself. In my dreams of course. If you have not gotten hooked on watching the Mentalist on Tuesday nights, you are missing out! He not only is a hottie, but he uses his brain! You gotta LOVE his curls!

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day filled with lots of love and surprises!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers - Real Spaghetti and Meatballs

Rebecca of Ezra's Poundcake chose Spaghetti and Meatballs from the Barefoot Contessa's collection and it was a great choice! Thanks Rebecca. Go on over to her blogsite to get the recipe and try it out for yourself. We are always up for some good pasta.

I found the only bottle of Chianti we had in our wine fridge, and as I photographed it I was thinking maybe I should drink it instead of cook with it. But I managed to withhold and put it in the sauce. I'm not a big fan of drinking red wine anyway. I'm a white wine girl. Love Muscata, Pinot Grigio, or just a good chardonnay. But I have to say Reisling is my all-time favorite.
I did not change the recipe much, but I did not use the fresh parsley because I forgot to buy it at the store. I used fresh ground turkey for my meatballs mostly for good health purposes, but for taste as well. I loved the meatballs, but the sauce was not my favorite. I think I prefer a sweeter sauce and maybe it was the wine that I used, but the wine taste seemed to overpower the tomato taste. Next time I make this I might try a different wine. The yankee likes his spaghetti smothered in fresh grated parmesan. I like mine plain.
It was delicious and a great Sunday night dinner for us!

Friday, February 13, 2009

awards

It's always such fun and such an honor to have a fellow blogger bestow an award on you! My friend, Pamela at Cookies with Boys sent these to me. I always enjoy Pamela's posts. She is funny, creative, and always has something good cooking on her blog. Plus, I just love chatting with her! Thanks Pamela for these.


Now I have to follow the rules and pass these along to other deserving bloggers. I'm not sure how many I am supposed to pass to, so I will just choose a few of my favorites. With so many wonderful, talented bloggers out there, it is a very hard task for me to choose. Some of my favorites have already been "awarded." I love to read all the following because they photograph well, they are fabulous cooks, and/or they bring me such joy with their humor! If you haven't received these already and want these awards, come on over and pick them up!!! Just know, even if your name isn't mentioned below, I love you all and you have all been an encouragement to me!

Drum Roll. . . in no particular order. . .

3. The Blond Duck at A Duck in Her Pond
4. Teanna at Spork and Foon
6. Maria at Twos Peas in a Pod
9. Natalie at What's For Supper
10. Jennifer at Jen-B's Cooking Carveout

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CEiMB - Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly was teriyaki chicken thighs. Jessica of Johnstones Vinblanc chose this delicious recipe! Thanks Jessica. Jessica loves beagles so I'm a fan of hers already. I have a good beagle friend next door to me named Weezie. Weezie is a sweetheart and loves to watch television. She tickles me doing that.

While I love chicken, I think the thighs are my least favorite part. However, these really were tasty. A few of the edges burned just a bit in the broiler, but not enough to hurt them thank goodness. Probably because, as usual, I was trying to do two things at once. My good friend Shelby at TWD had some delicious looking granola on her blog this week. I decided to try that and I was mixing that up as my chicken was in the broiler about to set the house on fire! By the way, the granola is to die for. Check out her blog for the recipe. Her photos always make everything look fabulous. I can't wait to have this granola for breakfast over my yogurt!

I had also been practicing my violin. After three lessons, I have moved on from twinkle twinkle to Lightly Row. I was trying to hum and get the tune memorized in this old brain of mine while I was cooking. The song just doesn't end right. You know I just have to have closure on everything. It's who I am. And this song ends with two notes that do not sound anything at all like ending notes. What's a girl to do? I mean I can't re-write every song that doesn't end the way I think it should, right?

Back to the chicken (I get distracted so easily, can you tell?) I substituted cayenne pepper for the red pepper flakes and I substituted apple vinegar for the rice vinegar.

The thighs had to be marinated in the teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes, then placed on a broiler pan.
Cook in the broiler for 8-10 minutes on each side. Ours were a little under done, however, when we sat down to eat, so I had to pop them in the microwave for a minute or two. My DH says he is taking the leftovers to work for his lunch tomorrow! I served them up with wild rice and some steamed vegetables. Delicious. Definitely try these. I'll make them again and again, but next time I might try using breasts instead of thighs.

My ONLY problem with this recipe is I HATE cleaning the broiler pan. Messy messy job. But I love this recipe and thank you Jessica for choosing it!!
Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press or minced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Directions
Combine the soy sauce, sugar, sherry, vinegar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and stir until the sugar dissolves. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and add the chicken. Seal the bag and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator, turning once, for 1 hour. The chicken can be marinated for up to 4 hours.
Heat the broiler to high. Arrange the chicken on a broiler pan skin side down and broil until brown and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and broil until almost cooked through, about 8 minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cook until the seeds turn golden brown and the chicken is done, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Monday, February 9, 2009

TWD - Floating Islands? Or Sinking Ships?

I apologize. I'm afraid it is just "sinking ships" for me. I had an extremely busy weekend and so no TWD this week for me! But head over to Tuesdays With Dorie and see what all the other fabulous bakers did with this week's challenge chosen by Whisk: a food blog by Shari. Shari is one of my favorite blogs to visit. She always has such beautiful photos and is amazingly creative! I can't wait to see how everyone's floating islands turned out.

As my friend Pierce always says, "there's always next week's challenge!" Dang, he's a tasty morsel for an "older" guy, doesn't he? If my weeks clears up and I'm able to cook, check back on Thursday for some Teriyaki Chicken Thighs. Yum. Have a GREAT week!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

CEiMB - Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip

This week in my CEiMB group, my really good friend Cathy of the Tortfeasor made a fantastic choice with the warm spinach and artichoke dip. Cathy and I work together and we have some really good laughs about our cooking experiences. If you have never read her blog, you have missed a treat. She never fails to make me laugh. She is such a kind, caring person and that showed through even in her choice of recipe for us this week. I'm sure there were lots of recipes she personally wanted to try, but she thought of everyone that might be going to Superbowl parties and how this would be easy for them. And she was right!

It was easy and quick to mix up . ..
and then easy to bake. I used a big jar of marinated artichoke hearts instead of the frozen.

We usually spend superbowls with our good friends Tom and Rachel and Randy and Phyllis. This year Rachel hosted. I took the spinach dip and some fruit and Rachel served us some great chili, cornbread, mexican pizza and a great chocolate chip pie. Phyllis also brought a chocolate pie.

Apparently it is really difficult to pose sampling the spinach dip.

And beer might have been involved.

One thing I loved about this dip is that it did not have parmesan cheese in it. I'm not a fan of parmesan in anything. We all loved this dip. What little tiny bit was left the next night we dished out on our plate as our side dish to go along with ham and fruit. We scooped it up with frito scoops.

Thank you Cathy. We truly loved it.

And now to leave you with a little eye candy. Lately I've just really been into the Lost men! My girlfriend once said that Locke was "sex on a stick," but I much prefer Sawyer, Jack, or Sayid!!!
Recipe:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic
1 (9-ounce) package artichoke hearts, defrosted, rinsed and dried
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out.
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese)
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are light golden but not browned. Remove from heat and cool.
In the bowl of a food processor combine artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, mayonnaise, Neufchatel, mozzarella and salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Add cooled onion-garlic mixture to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
Transfer mixture into an 8-inch glass square baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Serve with pita wedges or crudites.

Monday, February 2, 2009

TWD - World Peace Cookies

Jessica of Cookbook Habit chose the World Peace Cookies for this week's baking adventure in our Tuesdays with Dorie group.

My friend at work, Amanda, talked to me about these cookies before I made them. She said they wouldn't look that special when you cut them, or even when you take them out of the oven, but then when you put them in your mouth it will rock your world. She said and I quote, "World Peace Cookies changed my life!" She's so cute. I couldn't wait to try them after all that. My life is in a constant state of change anyway.

So I was going to make them to take to a superbowl party. Got all the ingredients out. I really loved that I had all the ingredients I needed already in my pantry. My new salt was just begging to be used. Wait, what is that amaretto doing in this group? Yikes, that is for a different recipe.
Not sure how that got in the picture.

Once I got them rolled into logs, okay don't say it, don't even think it, I mean it, I can read your mind, (people these are chocolate cookie logs for pete's sake!!!!! They are supposed to look good and chocolatey) I realized you have to chill them for three hours. So they did not go with me to the party.

After winning $25 in our work superbowl pot (lucky ducky that I am), I came home to bake the cookies. They cut into slices pretty well and it made exactly 36 cookies! I couldn't wait for them to come out of the oven. I did let them cool and then my DH and I bit into one. It was a good chocolate cookie. I didn't see rainbows or fireworks, but I did manage to eat about ten of them. Yes, in one sitting. I'm not sure they changed my life, but I liked them.
As my friend Marilyn would say, "these are some darn sexy cookies sweetheart!"


I wonder if JACK on LOST would like to share a cookie with us?Check back on Thursday for some delicious spinach and artichoke dip and a bit more about the superbowl.