Monday, January 10, 2022

I LOVE MY AEROGARDEN!

 











 
 
 
 
 
I have always cooked a lot with fresh herbs and I found them to be very expensive and hard to keep fresh. So last month I bought this Aerogarden so that I could grow my own. It came with little seed pods for basil, dill and oregano and all I had to do was add some water to the little tank and put the seed pods in the water. Turn on the grow light and within days they began to sprout! I was so excited! They grew very quickly and so I moved them to this little pots on my window sill so I could have fresh herbs whenever I want them. I just snip off what I need and they continue to grow.
 
 
But I wanted more herbs.... so I ordered more little seed pods. This time I got Rosemary, parsley, and cilantro. Now they are sprouting! I do nothing....other than put a few drops of plant food in the water once a week. And Voila I have herbs. So today I bought another Areogarden and I plan to plant more herbs and lettuce! 
 
Love this little gadget. Its on sale this week at Amazon so I just bought another one!  If you want one, please click on this link and you can use the Welcome Home code that helps me feed the homeless, both four legged and two.
 
 
 

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Saturday, January 08, 2022

My Mom's Coconut Cake

 


















Every year before my Mom moved to heaven I made her favorite Coconut cake. In total I probably made 67 of these cakes and each and every time I lit the candles and presented it to her, she would go on and on about how her daughter could make the best coconut cake in the whole world. She was the one who taught me how to make it when I was young and yet she insisted I made it better. I would light up as bright as she did over that cake. To know my Mom thought I was the best cook was quite an accomplishment in my life. I miss making this cake for her each year... and I cry each time I make it.

Mom's Coconut Cake

1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups cake flour
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
 
Buttercream Frosting:

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 box confectioners’ sugar, (16 oz.), sifted 
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut for topping

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line each with parchment paper. Grease paper and dust with flour.


 







 











Mix butter and sugar on medium-high speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add extracts and mix. The mixture will look a bit lumpy.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer on low speed and add dry ingredients, alternating with milk, in three parts. Mix just until combined. Fold in coconut.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the tops of each. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until tops are browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 30 minutes. Then, remove from pans to finish cooling on wire racks.



 



   




 

 


 

 

  Frosting:

Using an electric mixer on low speed, combine cream cheese, butter, and extracts. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix just until smooth.

Spread frosting on first layer. Place the second layer on top and frost the top and sides. Sprinkle top and sides with coconut.


 











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Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Steak Tacos

 


















Who doesn’t like tacos now and then. Sometimes I just crave these things…whether I make them with chicken or shrimp or fish, I always have room for tacos. This weekend I made steak tacos with an easy citrus marinade. I love this recipe for the most tender grilled or stove top steak tacos!

















 

 

 

  Steak Tacos

 

 For the  Steak and Marinade 

1 pound flank steak, (or use Sirloin) trimmed of all excess fat
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
Juice of 1 medium orange (about 1/4 cup)
Juice of 1 medium lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
salt, for marinade and for grilling the steak
black pepper, for marinade and for grilling the steak
Canola oil, for coating the grill or butter for skillet

12 small corn or flour tortillas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

Toppings

 

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese              
chopped fresh cilantro
diced onion  
diced tomatoes
Avocado
cilantro

In a medium mixing bowl or large measuring cup, stir together the olive oil, garlic, orange juice, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Lay steak in dish and pour marinade over the steak. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 5 hours (do not marinate for more than 5 hours or the steak will break down and soften too much).



























When ready to grill, remove the steak from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while you prepare any toppings and preheat the grill. 

To cook on the grill:

Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over medium-high heat.  Brush the grill grates with oil. Remove the steak from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Grill the steak for about 3-4 minutes per side, flipping once, until medium-rare. Move steak to a cutting board and cover with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes (this allows the juices to sink into the meat), then cut the steak into thin, 1/4-inch slices, slicing it across the grain.

 


























To cook on the stove:

Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add butter and IMMEDIATELY add the steak to the pan. Sear for 3 minutes without moving the steak. Turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for medium rare to medium (or cook longer for desired doneness). Remove from pan and allow the steak rest on a cutting board, covered with foil, for 5 minutes.

 











  










While the steak is resting, warm the flour or corn tortillas. I like to double up on my tortillas but you can use one or two.

To warm the tortillas: place them in a dry skillet heated over medium-high or heat them on the grill for about 30 seconds per side, until warmed through. Or you can use the microwave and warm for 10 seconds.




























Preparation:
While the steak is resting, warm the flour or corn tortillas. I like to double up on my tortillas but you can use one or two.

To warm the tortillas: place them in a dry skillet heated over medium-high or heat them on the grill for about 30 seconds per side, until warmed through. Or you can use the microwave and warm for 10 seconds.

Assemble the tacos: fill the tortillas with a few slices of beef. Sprinkle with cheese and any desired toppings. Enjoy immediately.










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Monday, December 27, 2021

Classic Chicken Parmesan

 




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is probably my favorite Italian recipe for chicken. What’s not to like about a chicken breast covered with a crispy bread coating smothered in a rich homemade tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese and served with your favorite pasta!

Classic Chicken Parmesan

2 large eggs
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
3 large chicken breasts sliced horizontally to make 6 fillets
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil for frying

Homemade sauce (see below) or Ragu Chunky Onion, Garlic
8 ounces mozzarella cheese sliced or shredded
1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil or parsley

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 
9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.



































 
 

Make your dredging station with 3 shallow pans or bowls.  Place flour in the first shallow dish. Place the beaten eggs in a second dish. Next, combine Panko, Italian crumbs, grated Parmesan, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste in a third shallow dish.

Pat each breast dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper before dredging. Dredge chicken into flour and shake to remove any excess.

Next, dip chicken in beaten eggs & then into bread crumb mixture (press to adhere to chicken). 

Preheat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown chicken on each side, about 4 minutes per side or until golden (it doesn’t need to cook through as it will continue to cook in the oven). Once chicken has browned, transfer to plate and set aside.  
 


































 
Place 1 1/2 cups of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish. Add browned chicken on top of the sauce. Top each piece with a tablespoon or two of sauce (I like very little sauce but you can use as much as you like).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top each chicken breast with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan. Don’t skimp on the cheese!
 























 

 
Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly and chicken reaches 165 degrees. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve over pasta.

 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For The Homemade Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
14 ounces tomato puree
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat oil in a medium-sized pot. Fry onion until transparent (about 3 minutes), then add the garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds).

Add the tomato puree, salt and pepper to taste, Italian herbs and sugar (If using). Cover with lid to simmer for about 8 minutes, or until sauce has thickened slightly. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.

 
























 
 
Serve:  Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve over pasta.

 

























 
NOTES:

    It’s best to use chicken breasts that are all approximately the same size so that they’ll bake at the same rate.  I usually slice mine in half to make them thinner so they cook evenly and faster.
 
    You can add as much or as little sauce as you like to the chicken. I typically spoon a little over the top, then put more sauce in a serving bowl for other that like more. 
 
      Use whole milk mozzarella cheese  but you could also use a fresh mozzarella cheese or fontina cheese. 
 
  You can make your own sauce or buy a 26 ounce jar of Ragu Chunky Onion, Tomato and garlic.  Or you can use whatever sauce you prefer.  I like Ragu Chunky sauces because I think they taste the most authentic to Italian sauces. 




 


 

 

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Friday, December 24, 2021

Pecan Upside Down Bundt Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mom's Pecan Upside Down Cake.....OMG this is the best cake ever. I will serve it warm with vanilla ice cream. I will serve it in a dish with a spoon to get every drop. I will serve it with pride because it was her favorite. Who am I serving it to? Me. LOL.  She would be so proud. Easy to make with my shortcuts and it slid right out of the pan and on to the plate. Isn't it gorgeous? Out of this world good!

Pecan Upside Down Bundt Cake

 

Topping

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 Cake

1 box vanilla cake mix

3 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup water

3 tablespoon sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your bundt pan by liberally spraying it with nonstick spray and set aside.

    Pecan Topping

Combine melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt into a medium bowl and whisk until the brown sugar is slightly dissolved. Add pecans and stir until combined. Pour evenly into the bottom of prepared bundt pan and set aside.


 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 


 

 

Cake

Combine cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, water and sour cream in a large bowl and mix according to package directions. Pour batter into prepared pan and on top of the pecan topping. Be sure to spread into an even layer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake in a 350° oven for 40-45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place onto a cooling rack for 10 minutes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 10 minutes run a knife around the edges of the cake. Then invert your Pecan Upside Down Bundt Cake onto a cake plate and cool completely. If pecans stick to the bottom of the pan just use your fingers to remove them and place them onto the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Store your Pecan Upside Down Bundt Cake at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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