Friday, January 27, 2017

Chocolate Fudge Frosted Cake




















I love watching cooking shows and my favorites are Paula Deen, Ina Garten, Trisha Yearwood and old Tyler Florence's old reruns. So one day I watched Ina make a beautiful yellow cake and top it with a luscious chocolate frosting, I knew I had to make it. But a big cake is just too much for one or two people.  So I made a six inch cake and a half a dozen cupcakes out of the rest of the batter! I sliced a piece of cake, set aside a cupcake and froze the rest!  This recipe is for a 9 inch double layer cake.  You will have batter and frosting left over for your cupcakes.

Chocolate Fudge Frosted Cake

For the Yellow Cake




Line two 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray pans with nonstick cooking spray.























In a large bowl mix sugar and butter for a 3 minutes. Add oil and mix well again. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. 

Stir together baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour in a medium bowl. Alternate adding in some of the flour mixture, stirring to combine and then some of the buttermilk, ending with the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Divide the batter evenly in the pans. 

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with few moist crumbs. Don't over-bake or the cake will be dry. 
Invert cakes onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.




















Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

6 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (optional but good!)


Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature. Add butter to a large bowl and with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the butter until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 more minutes. 




























Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.


Again this makes a single 8 or 9 inch cake.  If you choose to make the smaller 6 inch cake as I did, you will have batter and frosting left over to make your cupcakes. 























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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Artichoke Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms





















Recently, I was having some old friends over for one of my home cooked meals. My plans were to make one of my favorite comfort meals like Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese.  But when one of friends informed me at the last minute that he and his wife had just recently changed their diet and were now vegetarians, I had to move quickly to come up with a new plan.  I bought some beautiful hamburger-sized Portebella Mushrooms and a jar of artichoke hearts and I put together a scrumptious meal that everyone would love. 

Artichoke Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms

6 medium to large Portobello mushrooms 
Extra virgin olive oil 
Salt and pepper 
1 large shallot, minced 
3 garlic cloves, minced 
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped 
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs 
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
½ cup chicken stock 
¼ cup sour cream 

1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese

Wipe any dirt off the mushrooms with a damp cloth, then remove each stem and, using a teaspoon, gently scrape out the gills and dispose.




























Place the mushrooms on the sheet pan and brush them on both sides with olive oil. Starting with the cut side down, broil the mushrooms for 3 minutes, turn them and broil for another 3 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and set the pan aside to cool. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, add the olive oil and saute the shallots and garlic until tender. Add some salt and pepper and remove from heat. Next add the chopped artichoke hearts to the pan and mix with the onions and garlic. Continue sauteing the mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Remove the artichoke mixture from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the breadcrumbs to the mixture and combine (a fork works best for this). Add in the Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and mix again. Add the chicken stock and the sour cream, and mix well – the mixture should be thick and bind together. 



Spoon the mixture onto each mushroom cap, pressing down so that the mushrooms are packed with the filling. Place the mushrooms in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Next Evenly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella onto each mushroom, return the pan to the oven. Bake or broil until cheese has melted. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.






























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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Shrimp and Asparagus Salad

























I love this recipe. It's perfect for that elegant luncheon with friends. The shrimp are tender and succulent, the asparagus is perfectly blanched to keep that slight crunch and the walnuts are the delicious added touch! The Vinaigrette has a wonderful light and citrus flavor with just a touch of dill that goes perfectly with the shrimp. This is a keeper my friends! 

Shrimp and Asparagus Salad 

1 pound cooked large shrimp, peeled, cleaned and tails removed
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut to 2 inch pieces
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic minced finely
1 cup walnuts, chopped and then lightly toasted in a skillet
salt and pepper to taste 



Blanch asparagus in boiling water for about 1 minute then plunge in bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.   Toast walnuts in a skillet over low heat for about 3 minutes making sure not to burn. Set aside.

In a large bowl add the chilled asparagus, sliced onions, shrimp, garlic and the toasted walnuts. Toss with chilled Lemon Dill Vinaigrette and season to taste if needed.  

Lemon Dill Vinaigrette 

1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon Juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon of dill or use 2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, shallot, dill, salt and pepper, and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth. With the blender on, slowly add the oil until emulsified.  Transfer the vinaigrette to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. 

























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Chef Salad With Homemade Ranch Dressing

























I love a great salad and a chef's salad is one of my favorites.  And what's a salad without homemade dressing.  I like blue cheese but this time I went with my homemade ranch dressing.  Oh Yum!

Chef Salad With Homemade Ranch Dressing

1 head of lettuce 
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup cooked ham, sliced into strips
1 cup cooked turkey, sliced into strips
3 medium whole fresh tomatoes, quartered
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

At least an hour before serving the salad, wash and dry the salad greens, and tear into bite-size pieces.  Wrap in paper towel, and place in refrigerator. Meanwhile, get your other ingredients ready. Peel and slice hard-boiled eggs.

Place lettuce in large bowl. Toss lettuce to lightly coat leaves with dressing.  Add more dressing if necessary and salt and black pepper to taste. Add the remaining ingredients and toss lightly. Serve chilled.

Ranch Dressing

1 cup of Hellman’s or Dukes Mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon dried chives
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dill weed
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.




















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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Orange-Honey Sticky Wings



























I am not into spicy hot wings. But I love sweet sticky wings like honey or honey mustard. Last year for the big Super Bowl game, I made the regular hot and spicy wings as usual, but I also came up with my own version of sticky wings with orange and honey and they were a huge hit! 


Orange-Honey Sticky Wings

2 pounds fresh chicken wings, cut in 2 pieces at joint or 2 pounds frozen chicken wings, thawed.
1 16 oz. can of frozen orange juice, thawed.
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
4 cloves of finely chopped garlic 
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
A pinch or two of red pepper flakes if you like them hot and spicy too! 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine honey, sesame oil, Worcestershire sauce, orange juice, brown sugar, and garlic in large bowl. Toss in your chicken wings. Arrange two 9 x 13 baking pans with your wings. Brush wings with a little additional sauce and cover with foil. 


























Bake wings at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil and turn wings over and brush with more sauce. Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to broil. Broil wings close to broiler element, turning occasionally, for 8 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Remove wings to a serving dish and spoon more sauce from the foil over top. 

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Nacho Scoops

























Listen, I'm all about throwing parties but I don't like to do a lot of work. So I am constantly looking for simple ideas that taste great and take minutes to make.  Put a tray of these little morsels out for the next football game and count how many times you have to put out a new tray! They are delicious. They are addicting.  Lately I have gotten very creative with what I fill them with but for now I will start off with the basic recipe.  If you can call it that!  


Nacho Scoops 

1 bag of Tostitos Scoops 
2 cups of Mexican Blend cheese 
1/2 pound of ground beef 




























In a large skillet, brown the beef and salt and pepper to taste.  Drain off all fat from beef and set aside in a separate bowl. 

























Lay out scoops in a baking dish. Choose any size depending on how many you're making.


























Fill scoops with ground beef and top with cheese.



























Add cheese up over the top of the scoops as it will melt down.

























 Bake in a 350 oven until cheese is melted. Serve warm! 


























Now let's talk about what  you can add to these if  you want to be creative:

Chili with or without beans
shredded chicken
different cheeses
Jalapenos
refried beans
chili peppers
hot sauce
lettuce and tomato
guacamole
sour cream

The sky's the limit!

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Caramel Cream Cheese Spread


























Need a quick appetizer when unexpected guests arrive?  I'm almost embarrassed to call this a recipe....it's more like a tip!  This is my go to when I'm caught totally off guard!  I literally throw this together in 2 minutes and they love it! 

Caramel Cream Cheese Spread

1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese
1 jar of caramel sauce (I use ice cream topping)
toffee bits or chopped pecans

bread rounds, crackers, sliced apples, pears, pretzels for serving

























Place cream cheese on a pretty serving plate. Pour as much caramel topping as you want evenly over cream cheese and let it run down the sides. Sprinkle with a nuts or toffee bits.
































Oh Yum!  It's especially good served with sliced apples or pears.






















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Crab Bites!
























These are my most requested party food. Whenever I ask, "what can I bring to the party,"  these always come up. I make them for my own parties too and needless to say, they are usually gone in less than 10 minutes. Of course this is my popular Maryland Crab Cake recipe just made into an appetizer. You can make them bigger and serve them for dinner.  

Crab Bites

2 slices white bread, crusts removed
2 teaspoons milk 
1 tablespoon Hellman's mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried parsley 
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon OLD BAY Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 pound FRESH jumbo lump crab meat

I make my own breadcrumbs by adding bread to food processor and pulsing until fine crumbs. Then moisten the crumbs in the milk.

Add mayo, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, baking powder, OLD BAY, salt, egg and the crab meat mixing very lightly so as not to break up to much of the crab. Using a small scoop or your hands form the mixture into small balls and lay on parchment paper on a baking sheet. 

























Refrigerate crab bites for 30 minutes which will help them hold their shape while cooking. You can choose to broil or fry.

If baking or broiling: Make sure you drop a couple of ice cubes onto the baking tray between the crab bites before you bake in a 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. This will keep the bottoms from burning while they bake.

To deep fry as shown in my photo: Fill your deep skillet with peanut oil or vegetable oil and deep fry your bites in batches until golden and crispy on the outside...about 5 minutes or less. Then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. You can also use a deep fryer with a basket to make these.















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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole





















I love making breakfast casseroles. Not only are they easy to make, I like to freeze them and heat them up anytime I feel like it.  There are so many to choose from, but I think this one is my favorite, especially when I have leftover ham. It has everything I love for breakfast, fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy hash browns, ham and lots of  cheese. Try it, you’ll start making breakfast casseroles more often! 

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

1 cup diced or cubed ham
1 (30-32oz) bag frozen shredded hash browns
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
8 eggs
2 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish with butter or
spray with non-stick spray.





















In a large skillet, fry the frozen hash browns until lightly crisp and golden. 
Pour hash browns into casserole dish and top with ham and ¾ cup of each
cheese.






















Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and milk.
Pour over hash brown mixture. Top with remaining ¼ cup of each cheese.

You can refrigerate at this point until ready to bake or bake immediately at
350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes or until eggs are set in the middle. 

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