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.

    Photography is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home 2014
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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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    Friday, February 13, 2015

    "No Need For The Grill Ribeyes."

    I call these my "No Need For The Grill Ribeyes."  

    Why?  Because you don't need one to get that incredible flavor and tenderness!  A big juicy Ribeye steak just doesn't get much better than when it is cooked in a hot skillet. Don't get me wrong, I think a grilled steak is awesome, but when you can't always grill you can get the same incredible taste by using ...this stove top method.  

    Now it's not just about throwing a steak in a frying pan. It's about flash searing to keep the juices and flavors in. And you'll need a large heavy skillet for this. Preferably a big cast iron skillet that is well-seasoned.

    No Need For The Grill Ribeyes Steaks 

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Take your steaks out of the refrigerator and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle Montreal Steak Seasoning on both sides of each steak. Allow them to sit on the counter at room temperature for about an hour before you're ready to cook them. This will get rid of the cold spots and your steak will cook evenly.

    Heat the olive oil in a 12-14 inch skillet over medium high heat. You do not want to crowd them or they will steam and not sear.

    Once the skillet is VERY hot you are ready to add the steaks carefully to the hot sizzling oil. The oil should just start to ripple across the bottom of the pan and it just be just starting to smoke a little. One way to test it is to sprinkle a tiny bit of water dances and if it sizzles across the skillet, you'll know it is ready for the steaks.

    Cook the steaks on the first side on medium high heat for about 2-3 minutes or until they have caramelized well.  Do not touch them while cooking. You want a nice sear on each side to lock in the juices.  Using tongs, flip the steaks on the other side without moving. Allow the steaks to cook another 2 minutes or so for medium rare as shown.  If you want medium well, add one more minute to each side.

    Once they have seared on both sides, put the skillet in the oven and bake at 400 to 450 degrees for 2 more minutes.

    Once your steak is at the desired temperature, place it on a plate and tent it with a sheet of aluminum foil and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

    How I Know My Steak Is Perfect

     I have used this "hand"  method for years when checking my steaks ...

    For Rare Steaks: touch the middle of the steak with your fingers. It should have a similar feel as when you touch your cheek. It should have plenty of give and cushion.

    For Medium Steaks: touch the middle of the steak with your fingers. It should have a similar feel as when you touch your chin.

    Well-Done Steaks: touch the middle of the steak with your fingers. It should have a similar feel as when you touch your forehead.

    Temperature and Descriptions if you like to use a thermometer

    Rare: Bright red center with outside brownish-gray. The center will be warm, but not hot. (approximately 125 degree core temperature)

    Medium-rare:  Reddish-pink instead of red. (approximately 130 degree core temperature)

    Medium:  A band of pink through the middle of the steak as shown in photos. (approximately 140 degree core temperature)

    Medium-well: Very slight hint of pink in the middle. Otherwise, it will be primarily cooked through and will feel quite firm. (approximately 155 degree core temperature)

    Well-done: A well-done steak should show no hint of pink whatsoever. Its center will be grayish-brown throughout and the outside will be nicely charred. (approximately 165 degree core temperature)

    The perfect meal!  Serve with a nice side salad and baked potatoes or even chunky steak fries as shown in the photos.

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    Wednesday, February 11, 2015

    The Faded Rose

    The Faded Rose

    The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read, 
    beneath the long, branches of an old willow tree. 
    Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown, 
    for the world was intent on dragging me down.

    And if that weren't enough to ruin my day, 
    a little boy approached me, all tired from play. 
    He stood right before me with his head tilted down 
    and said with excitement, "Hey! Look what I found!"

    In his hand was a flower, and a pitiful sight, 
    With its petals all wilted from no rain and no light. 
    Wanting him to leave and go off to play, 
    I faked a small smile and then shifted away.

    But instead of retreating he sat next to my side, 
    and then he declared with overacted surprise; 
    "It sure smells pretty and it's beautiful, too. 
    That's why I picked it; just for you."

    The flower before me was already dead, 
    no longer vibrant of it's colors of red. 
    But I knew I must take it, or he'd never leave. 
    So I reached for the flower thinking that's just what I need.

    But instead of him placing the flower in my hand, 
    he held it mid-air without reason or plan. 
    It was then that I noticed how I'd been so unkind. 
    It was then that I'd noticed the little boy was blind.

    My voice quivered as I thanked him for what he had done. 
    I told him he'd picked the very best one. 
    "You're welcome," he smiled, and then ran off to play, 
    unaware of the impact he'd made on my day.

    I held that old flower up to my nose 
    And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose. 
    I sat there and wondered how he managed to see 
    such a self-centered woman sitting under that tree.

    How could he have sensed my self-indulged plight.
    Perhaps God had blessed him with a truer sight. 
    Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see, 
    the problem wasn't the world; the problem was me.

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