Friday, February 27, 2015

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

I love shrimp. It is probably one of the most versatile of all the ingredients I use in cooking. There are so many ways to prepare it. I prefer to buy raw shrimp and cook them myself, rather than buy them pre-cooked. They just taste better.  This is one of my favorite recipes and I serve it hot or cold. It makes a delicious salad.  It is wonderful served warm over rice and just perfect in a lettuce wrap! I think you'll like it too.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined 
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon of lime zest
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and prepare shrimp. You can leave the tails on or off. 

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot and sizzling add the shrimp and garlic and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook shrimp until they begin to curl and start to turn pink.  Do not overcook or shrimp will be tough and rubbery.  Once shrimp are just pink, remove to large bowl stop cooking process. 

Toss the shrimp with the lime juice and cilantro and season to taste. Top with lime zest.  Serve hot over rice or refrigerate to eat cold or in a salad. Or add them to lettuce leaves to make wonderful lettuce wraps.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

♥ Cheese Quesadillas

I only had cheese today for my quesadillas but even without all the extras they are so good. Gooey cheese oozing out of a crisp and buttery tortilla. How simple can you get and how delicious can it be?

Cheese Quesadillas

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas ...
1 cup grated cheese, Mexican blend cheese
4 tablespoons butter
Sour cream, for dipping
Salsa, for dipping
Guacamole, for dipping

Heat skillet on low heat with just a pat of butter. Lay a tortilla in the skillet and sprinkle cheese on top leaving about an inch of space around the edges. Warm the tortilla over low heat. The cheese will begin to melt a little. Lay another tortilla on top and continue to cook on low. Slightly lift up the edge of the bottom tortilla to make sure it is brown and then with a large flat spatula, flip it over, holding the top tortilla down with your finders as you flip. 

Allow the tortilla to brown for about two minutes, then using a spatula, gently lift the edge so you can check to make sure it has browned enough. When it is brown and cheese is all gooey, transfer to individual plates or a large platter. Repeat with remaining butter and tortillas. Top them with the sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

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♥ Tortilla Bake

This is a quick and easy meal to make and there are so many things you can add to it to make just the way you like it. I keep mine pretty simple and on the mild side, but you can give it as much kick as you want by adding spicy peppers and chilies and other seasonings.

Tortilla Bake

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion
1 packet taco seasoning
4 medium corn or flour tortillas
2 cups Mexican Blend Cheese
1 (10 oz) enchilada sauce, mild or hot
4 oz sour cream for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through; drain. Return the beef and onions to the skillet and add taco seasoning. Stir in the enchilada sauce. Leave on low heat to simmer for 10 minutes.

Spray a 9 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Lay the first tortilla in the dish and sprinkle meat mixture on top, taking it all the way to the edges. Then sprinkle a layer of cheese on top. Cover with another tortilla and repeat until you use all four tortillas. Sprinkle top layer with more cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until heated through. Serve with your choice of topping such as sour cream, salsa or guacamole.

Other optional ingredients you may want to add....

Green or red chilies
Jalepeno peppers
whole corn
Refried beans
green or red peppers
black olives
Pepper Jack Cheese
hot sauce

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Warm Apple Fritters

There is nothing quite like warm apple fritters on a cold morning with a fresh cup of piping hot coffee and a warm fire going with fur babies at your feet and home made bread baking in the oven. Will you join me?

Warm Apple Fritters

1 cup All Purpose Flour ...
¼ cup Sugar
¾ tsp Salt
1½ teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
⅓ cup Milk
1 Egg
1 cup Chopped Fuji or Gala Apple
Oil for frying


2 cups Powdered Sugar
1½ Tablespoons of milk or more as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla Extract, optional

Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon. Stir in milk and egg until just combined. Fold in chopped apple.

Pour oil into large deep skillet so that it is approximately 2 inches deep. You can also use a large soup pot or dutch oven or even an electric fryer. Heat oil to about 375 degrees. Your oil is ready when a small piece of fritter dough floats to top. Carefully add dough to oil in heaping tablespoons. 

Cook until brown, about 2 minutes, then carefully flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack. Fry fritters a few at a time.

Make glaze by stirring milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl. Drizzle over apple fritters. Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side. Best served warm.

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Breakfast Stromboli

I'll make you a promise my friends...if you make this you'll love it. It's the easiest recipe to make and it is absolutely delicious! Flaky, buttery, puffed pastry filled with scrambled eggs and cheese and whatever else you'd like to add. ...I made this with just egg and cheese (my favorite way) but I also sometimes add bacon, ham, steak, even crab and shrimp. I also change up on the cheese and use Cheddar, Jack, Swiss or whatever else I feel like that morning.  

Breakfast Stromboli

1 box (2 Sheets) Pepperidge Farm frozen puffed pastry
5 eggs
1/4 cup evaporated milk                                                 
1 egg+ 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
5-6 slices of cheese (your choice)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pastry dough from package and allow to partially thaw for about 15 minutes on a cookie sheet that has been spray with non stick cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Unwrap dough and smooth out seams with a little water on your finger tips. Then mix the egg and water to make a wash and brush all over pastry sheet.

Beat eggs with evaporated milk until blended well. In large skillet, add butter and beaten eggs along with salt and pepper to taste. Scramble eggs until just set. Do not overcook as they will continue to cook in the oven. Remove eggs to a plate and cool completely. I put mine in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool them quickly.                                

Next spoon eggs onto bottom half of pasty sheets leaving at least 2 inches of space on both sides and bottom. If you choose to add ham or bacon, lay strips on top of eggs. Follow with 2 or 2/12 cheese slices cheese slices to cover meat. I usually overlap the cheese to completely cover the meat and eggs.

Next pull top of dough down over the bottom filled portion of dough to cover the egg, meat and cheese filling. Pinch dough together all the way around and fold over or crimp with a fork to make sure it is sealed all the way around. Make a small slit in the top and brush the remaining egg wash all over the top and sides.

Bake on center rack of oven (Leave enough room on top as these can puff up to 2-3 times the size). Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees until golden on the outside. Slice and enjoy!

NOTE: Sausage doesn't work with this one as it is too greasy and the dough will absorb the grease. Also, I make two and keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week or so. They go fast so you probably won't have any to freeze! 

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Breaded Pan Fried Rockfish

There is a real treasure of the Chesapeake Bay and the top recreational sport fish here in Maryland.  The Rockfish, also known as Striped Bass or "Striper" as we call it, is the official fish of the State of Maryland.  It is an amazing fish that is so buttery and so delicious you'll want to make it time and time again. 

Breaded Pan Fried Rockfish 
                      (aka Striped Bass)

4 center cut rockfish fillets; about 2 ½ inches thick
1 cup of whole milk
1 egg slightly beaten
1 cup flour for dredging
1 cup panko
2 tablespoons olive Oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pour milk in a large bowl and soak your fish for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, lay out  3 pie pans or shallow bowls for the flour, egg and panko. Season the panko with salt and pepper and Old Bay Seasoning. One at a time, dredge the fish pieces in flour, shaking off the excess.  Then dip them in the egg, and then coat each fillet with the panko crumbs. 
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large heavy skillet; set to medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to ripple (not smoke), carefully add the fillets. Do not crowd the skillet. You may have to fry in batches depending on the size of your fillets.

Sear the fillets on the first side without touching them for about 3-4 minutes. You want to leave it alone so that a crust can form to hold the fillet together when you flip it to the other side.  Cook the fillets with the skin on to ensure that they don't fall apart in the pan. Fry the skin-on side first, then flip the fillets and cook the skinless side.  Next, carefully flip and sear on the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes. The fish is cooked when it is opaque in the center and flakes nicely.  Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if desired.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

I love roasted vegetables!  I actually started eating more vegetables when I learned that you can roast them to bring out the intense flavors.  There is something about caramelizing them in the oven and then adding garlic, or sea salt or Parmesan cheese to  intensify those flavors even more!  If you have never roasted cauliflower in the oven, now is the time to try it!  It's so good!

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

1 medium head cauliflower (4-5 cups florets)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves finely minced garlic
Sprinkling of sea salt

dash or two of pepper
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line your baking sheet with foil for easier clean up.

Cut and break cauliflower head into small, bite-sized florets then wash the florets and pat them dry with a paper towel.  Next, place florets in a bowl and coat with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic.  Toss the florets to coat in oil mixture.

Spread florets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper (and a pinch of red pepper flakes if using) to taste and bake in hot oven for 12-15 minutes.  Then with a spatula, flip florets over and roast for another 10 minutes or until golden and tender.  Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

I love this recipe from my friend Ruthanne's blog at Easy Baked. So much so that it inspired me to make my own chocolate cheesecake this past weekend, which is coming up next.

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

9 oz. chocolate wafer coo

kies (I use chocolate animal crackers)
1/4 c. margarine (melted)

2 (8oz.) packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened)
1/2cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels (melted)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (divided)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Crush cookies into fine crumbs and add melted margarine. Combine well and press into the bottom of a 9-Inch Springform Pan
  • Beat softened cream cheese with sugar until smooth.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating in between each one.
  • Add remaining cheesecake ingredients, beating until smooth.
  • Pour into crust and allow to sit at room temp for 30 minutes.
  • Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 60 minutes,
  • Turn off oven, open oven door a little and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and run knife around edge of pan. Remove edge of pan.
  • Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature before adding toppings.

  • Put 1/4 cup of whipping cream into small saucepan and heat just until bubbling at edges. Turn heat off, add white chocolate chips, cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, stir until smooth.
  • Repeat this process in another saucepan with the milk chocolate chips.
  • Pour white chocolate over cheesecake and then drizzle with milk chocolate until entire cheesecake is covered.
  • Chill overnight before serving.

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    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    The Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake

    This is one of those desserts that you take a bite and automatically close your eyes and take it all in. Cheese cake so creamy and smooth that it just makes you want to delay swallowing! And then with that decadent topping of chocolate, and caramel and nuts. Really. Seriously. Is there anything better?

    The Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake


    1 1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers (about 40 cookies)
    1/4 cup butter, melted


    3-8 oz packages Cream Cheese
    1 can sweetened condensed milk
    1/2 cup sugar
    3 eggs
    3 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon pure vanilla
    3/4 cup chocolate chips


    1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
    1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
    1/4 cup chopped peanuts or pecans

    Mix crushed vanilla wafers and melted butter in a bowl and press into bottom of spring a form pan. At this point you can completely wrap the bottom and half way up the sides of the pan with heavy foil to keep any water from seeping in, or you can find a slightly larger sized pan and set your spring form pan inside it.
    Next place your spring form pan into a larger pan filled a quarter way up the sides with very hot water. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with and condensed milk until creamy. Add the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix until combined. Remove about a cup of the filling mixture and set aside. Then melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for about a minute or until just melted and mix with the cup of reserved filling.

    Pour 1/2 of the white filling into crust, then top it with the filling, then top that with the last 1/2 of the white filling mix. If desired, you can take a knife and gently swirl colors. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes on the middle rack of your oven. Your cake will be done when it is set on the edges but the middle should be a little jiggly. 

    Turn off the heat but leave the cake in the oven. Open the door and allow to cool for another hour. Then chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Remove outer ring from the spring form pan and top with mini chocolate chips and nuts. Then drizzle caramel sauce all over the top and allow to drip down the sides. Store covered in the refrigerator.

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    Chewy Chocolate Fudge Brownies

    Now how pretty is that photo? Can you almost taste it? Who doesn't love a good brownie with a cold glass of milk now and then? Especially the chewy kind with chocolate frosting on top? I made these this past weekend...just for you my friends. 

    Chewy Chocolate Fudge Brownies


    1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup white sugar
    3 eggs
    2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
    2 cups all purpose flour

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, eggs, vanilla, and salt until well blended. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, begin melting the butter. When the butter is half melted, reduce the heat to low and add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is mostly melted. Remove from heat and keep stirring until smooth. Whisking constantly, slowly add the chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture, mixing until well incorporated. Fold in the flour.

    Grease and line a 9 x 9 inch square pan with parchment paper. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake about 23 minutes, until the middle is just slightly underdone. Place on a wire rack to cool.


    12 oz. (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
    1/4 cup butter or shortening
    1/2 cup milk
    3 cups powdered sugar

    In the top of a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate chips. Carefully stir in the milk until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar. Spread evenly over the brownies, and let sit until completely set.

    To decorate with the swirl as I did in my photo.

    Melt white chocolate chips or melts and spoon into a Ziplock bag with a corner clipped, drizzle over the top of the warm glaze in a back and forth horizontal motion. Then pull a tooth pick , knife or skewer through the chocolate- 1st one direction and then back the other to make a fun design on the top.

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    Chocolate Filled Croissants

    Imagine a cold February morning and these are baking in the oven. The house is filled with the delicious aroma of warm chocolate and pastry and melted butter. There is fresh coffee brewing and the snow is falling.....need I say more? 

    Chocolate Filled Croissants

    1 (16 oz) package puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets)
    5 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips, divided
    1 egg
    2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional for sprinkling)...

    Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats as I did in the photo.

    Open package of Pepperidge Farm pastry sheets and cut each sheet of pastry into 4 (5-inch) squares, making 8 in all. Place 2 tablespoons of chocolate in the center of each square. Reserve about 1/4 cup of chocolate to drizzle at the end. Use more chocolate if you'd like for filling and drizzle. If you want bigger croissants, cut into bigger 2 (10 inch) squares, making only 4 larger ones and fill with more chocolate.

    Fold each puff pastry over the chocolate and press to seal.
    In a small bowl, whisk the egg together with a splash of water. Brush the top and sides of of pastries with the egg wash and bake until they are golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. They will puff up quite a bit so leave room when you put them in the oven to bake. Sprinkle on powdered sugar if desired.

    In a small, microwave-safe bowl heat the remaining chocolate at 50% power in the microwave for 1 minute, stir, and continue to heat it in 30-second increments until it’s melted. Drizzle the chocolate over the pastries. Serve warm! OH MY!

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    ♥ Custard Filled Neapolitans

    I love making little pastries and freezing them for when unexpected guests arrive during the holidays. I just take them out of the freezer and in 10 minutes they are completely thawed. Don't be afraid to make French Pastries. They are all the same basic ingredients starting with puffed pastry and a cream custard filling. These are delicious and easy to make. Serve large ones or cut them into small squares and put them on a pretty tray. 


    Custard Filled Neapolitans

    Puff Pastry:

    1/2 of a 17 1/4-ounce package (1 sheet) frozen puff pastry, thawed

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Unfold puff pastry sheet and trim edges to a 9-inch square. Cut pastry into nine 3-inch squares. Transfer pastry squares to the prepared baking sheets; prick pastry. Bake in a preheated oven for 18-23 minutes, or until golden. Carefully remove pastries from baking sheet. Cool on a rack. 

    Cream Filling:

    1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 cup half and half or light cream
    2 slightly beaten egg yolks
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 cup whipping cream

    In a heavy, medium saucepan stir together sugar, flour, and salt. Slowly stir in half-and-half or light cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Slowly stir about half of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Return all to saucepan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap and cool just until warm without stirring. In a small mixing bowl beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into warm pastry cream.

    For Vanilla Glaze:

    2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2-3 tablespoons boiling water

    In a medium mixing bowl combine confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Stir in enough boiling water to make a glaze of spreading consistency; set aside.

    Chocolate Drizzle Topping: 

    1 1/2 tablespoons melted semisweet chocolate

    Use the tines of a fork to separate each pastry square horizontally into 2 or 3 layers. (I did 2 layers in the photo). Spread about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of the pastry cream on the bottom layer. Top with middle pastry layers if making 3 layers. Spread another 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of the pastry cream on each middle layer. Finally, top with remaining pastry layers. Spread glaze over top of napoleons, then drizzle with melted chocolate. Chill up to 1 hour. If you want the effect I have used in the photo, simply make lines with the chocolate and then run a thin skewer or long toothpick through the drizzled chocolate.

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