Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze

I think we all look for different ways to make our good old comfort food - meatloaf.  This is a combination of three different recipes that I came up with.  I usually make a meatloaf with a vegetable puree - carrots, onions and celery.  It makes the meatloaf moist and very tasty - even cold the next day (which I prefer).
I had some veggies left from my veggie pizza (see below) and I  roasted the vegetables and pureed them as I do with my original recipe.  No one will know what is in there...for those picky eaters, just a moist, flavorful meatloaf - comforting as can be.

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 lb. ground veal
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place zucchini, mushrooms, onions and garlic on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and red pepper flakes to taste.  Toss and bake until vegetables are tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Let cool.  Process into a puree.

Whisk together the eggs and herbs in a large bowl.  Add the meat, steak seasoning, breadcrumbs, cheese, 1/2 cup of the ketchup, 2 Tbsp. of the balsamic vinegar, and the cooled vegetable puree and mix until just combined.

Mold the meatloaf on a baking sheet.  Whisk together the remaining ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.  Brush the mixture over the entire loaf.  Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours.  Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

~Adapted from Bobby Flay

Three Cheese Garden Pizza

This pizza is very quick, has no sauce, but is loaded with cheesy goodness and lots of veg.  I made this at my first Pampered Chef cooking demonstration.  Everyone loved it!
  • 1 pkg. refrigerated pizza crust
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 4 oz. whole mushrooms
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly brush 1 tsp. of the oil on pan.  Unroll dough onto bottom of pan, gently stretching and pressing dough to cover bottom.  Add pressed garlic to 1 Tbsp. oil and brush evenly over dough.  Bake crust 7 minutes.

Grate cheddar and mozzarella cheese.  Add grated Parmesan cheese and Italian Seasoning and toss lightly.
Slice onion, tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms thinly. 

Remove pan from the oven.  Sprinkle half of the cheese mixture evenly over crust; layer with onion, zucchini, tomatoes and mushrooms - in that order.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Cut into squares.
~Pampered Chef
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Croissant Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

How sweet and buttery can you get?  I looked at a few recipes for old fashioned bread pudding, Ina's version which was made with about 5 cups of half and half.  I'm sure it's delicious - maybe for a special occassion, but this bread pudding is for an everyday dessert.  Don't get me wrong, the bourbon sauce makes it super special!

  • 3-1/4 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6-8 mini croissants
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisans (optional)
Tear croissants into small pieces and place in a large bowl.  Add sugar and cinnamon.  Mix milk, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  Let bread soak up with mixture while your oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter prepared pan.  Pour croissant mixture into pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until center is set. 

Bourbon Sauce:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp (or more!) Bourbon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. white corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and boil for one minute.  Mixture will foam up.  As it cools, the foam will disappear.  Add chopped pecans to the sauce if desired.  Serve warm.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Southern Pate` - AKA Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento Cheese spread is a southern comfort food.  It is as basic as peanut butter.  Pimento cheese shows up at tailgate parties, picnics, bridge clubs, church events, wedding feasts and funeral gatherings.  There are hundreds of variations for this spread.  Maybe y'all may be lucky enough to have a recipe handed down from past generations. 

It is great to serve on crackers or celery, on a hamburger, chili dog or in a grilled cheese sandwich. The traditional pimento cheese sandwich is served between two sliced of white bread (crusts removed, pinky up).

  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped pimento
  • 1 Tbsp. grated onion
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped dill pickle
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
The sandwich is an essential part of the Master's Golf Tournament in Augusta, GA.  Wrapped in waxed paper, these sandwiches sell for $1.25 at the food tents at the Augusta National Golf Club.  I wonder if Tiger will "swing" by and grab one!

I decided to make a grilled cheese with tomato and bacon ..........yummmmm.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reuben Eggrolls

I made my traditional corned beef and cabbage for St Patrick's Day yesterday.  I received the following recipe in my email the other day and I knew it would be a winner for leftover corned beef.  What else can you do with it besides hash or another sandwich.  This also gave me some inspiration that you can put anything in an egg roll!  How bout a mexican style egg roll with rice and beans and cheese or maybe even a stromboli egg roll!  These make great appetizers or party snacks.

Let's get started.
  • 2 cups of cooked corned beef, diced
  • 1 cup cooked cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh sauerkraut
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese, diced
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • Egg roll wrappers.
In a medium bowl combine corned beef, cabbage, sauerkraut and swiss cheese.  Mix lightly until combined.

Heat your oil to about 350 degrees.  While oil is heating, make the egg rolls.

Lay one wrapper with the points facing you like a diamond.  Brush with egg wash.  Add another wrapper directly on top and brush again with egg wash.  Place 3-4 tablespoons of the corned beef mixture on the wrapper closest to you.  You can also add about 1 tsp. of the Thousand Island Dressing before closing up the egg rolls.

Fold both sides over toward the middle and push down filling towards you.  Begin to roll from the bottom to form egg roll.  The egg wash will seal the egg roll.
This should make about 8 egg rolls.  Let egg rolls set for about ten minutes, covered with a damp paper towel.  Carefully add about 4 egg rolls into the hot oil and fry for about 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and drain on paper towel.  Serve with grainy mustard or Thousand Island dressing.

Source:  Simple Comfort Food
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Risotto

The asparagus looked so fresh in the market today,  I decided to make a Spring Risotto.

Before I get on with the ingredients, we all know we need to have a good broth simmering.  I had some chicken broth but not enough for the 6 cups I needed.  I went to the freezer and had a small container of frozen stock!  Excellent right?  Wrong - make sure you mark your container when freezing.  What I had in there was a container of egg whites!  What a mess I had.  I just tossed it in the broth I had and went about my business.  Somehow the egg whites burned on the bottom of the pot and I had globs of egg white floating in the broth.  Ok, lets start fresh.

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 oz. genoa salami (or proscuitto) diced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. minced onion
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer broth in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook salami in 1 Tbsp. oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until crisp, about 3-5 minutes; remove and set aside.  Add asparagus to pan; saute until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, then remove and set aside.

Sweat onion and garlic in remaining 1 Tbsp. oil until translucent.  Stir in rice and saute until each grain is coated in oil.

Deglaze the pan with wine and stir until completely absorbed.  Add broth to the pan in 1/2 cup increments; simmer and stir frequently until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next, about 30 minutes.  Stir in 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, asparagus, peas and carrots and Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper; top with crispy salami.

~Adapted from Cuisine at Home

Friday, March 18, 2011

Comfy Cuisine has a new baby!

Hello everyone!  Happy Friday!

I wanted to share with you a new addition to my blog - Beauty From your Kitchen!  Everyone can enjoy a natural spa experience right in your own home with these homemade recipes.  The ingredients are truly natural, taken from fresh products that have "scrubbing" qualities.  Simple as ever, inexpensive, and you probably have the ingredients somewhere in your kitchen or garden.

I've just started this addition.  The link is on this page (no, it's not an advertisement) or you can go directly to

I will be posting weekly, facials, scrubs, masks and soaps.  I hope you'll join me!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spinach Spaghetti Frittata

This recipe is a leftover  spaghetti make-over!  This frittata can be served hot, but tastes better at room temperature.  Great to have for lunch or even to take on a picnic.  No leftovers?  It's worth boiling some fresh.

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
  • 2 cups cooked spaghetti
  • 1 cup cubed mozzarella or other cheese
  • 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Defrost and thaw spinach and squeeze out excess water.  In a frying pan heat 1 tsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter and saute onions and garlic until softened.  Add cooked spaghetti and toss to coat.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Add the Parmigiano, salt and pepper and basil or parsley.  Add cubed mozzarella.  Add spinach to spaghetti mixture in the pan and saute for a few minutes.  Add egg mixture and smooth the top with a spatula.  Cook over medium-low heat until the frittata is browned on the bottom and set.  Invert a plate larger than the frying pan over the pan and turn out the frittata.  Heat the remining butter and olive oil in the pan, and return the frittata to the pan to brown the other side.  Carefully turn out the frittata and serve at room temperature with fresh sliced plum tomatoes or your favorite marinara sauce.

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~Adapted from Ciao Italia

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pretzel Sandwich Rolls

I've always had a weakness for a soft pretzel - from the mall, even a street vendor.  They just seem to taste better when you are watching a parade!  Smothered with lots of yellow mustard...yummmm!  This is a sandwich version - think of the things you could put in the middle of this!

  • 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. half & half
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 to 4 cups bread flour
  • 3 Tbsp. baking soda
Combine warm water, dark brown sugar and honey in a mixing bowl and stir.  Add the yeast and stir to dissolve.  Let stand until mixture begins to foam, about 5 minutes.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter, add half & half and add to yeast with teaspoon of salt.

Measure out 2 cups of flour and add to bowl.  With mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix until incorporated.  Add additional flour 1/3 cup at a time until dough is no longer sticky and pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Knead on low setting for 5 minutes.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface.  Divide into 8 equal portions.

Shape dough into balls, pinching the bottom together and then rolling lightly with the ball of your hand.  Place on lightly floured baking sheet and cover lightly with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

While rolls are rising, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.  Bring heat down to a medium simmer and add baking soda.  This foams up quickly so add one tablespoon at a time.  Now the fun begins.  The fun part only because it means one thing - you are getting closer to eating one of these delicious rolls.  When rolls are ready, carefully drop rolls into the baking soda bath one at a time with the side that will be the bottom facing up.  Poach for 30 seconds, carefully turn the roll over in the liquid and poach for another 30 seconds.

With a slotted spoon, remove the rolls from the water and place on a lightly greased baking sheet, seam side down.  Glaze each roll with lightly beaten egg wash coating all sides.  Sprinkle with pretzel salt.  With a sharp, straight edge, cut a slash or an "X" in the top of each roll.
Pop these little darlings in the oven for 15-20 minutes and get ready for an awesome pretzel roll!

These would be great for a hamburger roll or even a breakfast sandwich!
Me? - I'm just going to have a cheese and mustard sandwich - Enjoy!

~Adapted from Instructables

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hostess with the Mostess - Chocolate Cream Cupcakes

You can keep your Ho Ho's, Ding Dongs and Ring Dings - we want real Chocolate Cream Cupcakes but still have the taste we remember.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp. instant coffee
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Make batter:  Heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl.  Whisk water, cocoa, chocolate chips, and coffee in large bowl until smooth.  Add sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined.  Whisk in flour mixture until incorporated.  Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Bake until toothpick comes out with a few dry crumbs attached, 18 to 22 minutes.  Cool cupcakes in tins 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.

Prepare filling:  Combine water and gelatin a large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.  Microwave until mixture in bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, about 30 seconds.  Stir in butter, vanilla and salt until combined.  Let mixture cool until just warm, about 5 minutes, then whisk in marshmallow creme until smooth; refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.  Transfer 1/3 cup marshmallow mixture to pastry bag and reserve remaining mixture for filling cupcakes.

Assemble cupcakes:  Microwave chocolate and butter in small bowl, stirring until smooth, about 1 minute.  Cool glaze to room temperature.  Cut cone from top of each cupcake.  Insert the tip of a knife at at 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch from the edge of the cupcake.  Cut out and remove the cake cone.  Cut off all but the top 1/4 inch of the cone, leaving a circular disc of cake.  Eat the bottom of the cone.
Fill cupcakes with 1 tablespoon filling each and replace tops.
Frost with 2 teaspoons cooled glaze, and let set 10 minutes.  Using pastry bag, pipe curly cues across glazed cupcakes.  Can be stored at room temperature 2 days.
This is the moistest cupcake I have ever made - skip the filling even.  Think of the possibilities that you can fill these with!  Peanut Butter Cream, Raspberry Jam.....they are the bestess!
~Cook's Country

Grow your own Garlic!

I thought I would change things up a bit this weekend with the arrival of Spring.  I have a small garden every year that includes tomatoes, kirby cucumbers (for pickles), parsley and zucchini.  This year I'm going to try Garlic.  Now is the time to plant!  It's easy and fun, even if you're not usually much of a gardner.  You also get the reward of eating your home-grown garlic crop!

Garlic is grown from the individual cloves.  Each clove will produce one plant with a single bulb - which may contain up to twenty cloves.

When planting garlic, choose a garden site that gets plenty of sun and where the soil is not too damp.  The cloves should be planted individually, upright and about an inch under the surface.  Plant the cloves about 4 inches apart.  Rows should be about 18 inches apart.

As garlic reaches maturity, the leaves will brown and then die away.  This is the cue that it is time to harvest your garlic crop.  It's important to dry the garlic properly, otherwise it will rot.  The bulbs should be hung up in a cool, dry place.  After a week or so, take them down and gently brush off the dirt.

~Garlic Central

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shrimp Scampi with Angel Hair Pasta

I know my last three posts have been a pasta dish, but I think you know me by now!  I've been searching the globe to find this recipe which is a copykat from the Cheesecake Factory version.  I've finally found someone who broke the code!  I order this whenever I go there.  Their shrimp are not curled up, but "stretched out".  I though the only way I could do this was to put toothpicks in them to prevent them from curling up.  This worked OK, but I had a hard time removing them, so I wouldn't recommend it.

I threw my towel over my shoulder (a necessity) and decided to be a professional today and did my "mise en place".
  • 1 lb. Extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 2-6 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large plum tomato, diced
  • 8-10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 large lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • Angel Hair Pasta
Soak shrimp in milk for 15 minutes.  Heat 4 Tbsp. olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Combine flour, parmesan, salt, pepper and cayenne in a medium bowl.

 Dredge the shrimp until well coated.  Fry shrimp along with whole garlic in the oil until shrimp are golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove cooked shrimp and set aside.

Leave garlic in pan, stirring frequently to avoid burning.  Add wine and lemon juice to the garlic in the pan and bring to a boil.  Let wine reduce by half.  Add cream and bring back to a boil, lower heat and reduce by half again.  Add basil and tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to slightly soften tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Return shrimp to sauce, remove from heat and cover to keep warm.  Serve with angel hair pasta.

Make sure everyone gets one or two of the toasted garlic on their plate!

~Adapted from "Momslikeme"
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cold Sesame Noodle Bowl

This is a great meatless main dish with the addition of edamame - my new favorite snack.  This recipe called for Chili Pepper Sauce.  I  just saw an Asian recipe using Sriracha Chili sauce.  I went to the Asian Market, put the Sriracha on the counter and the woman asked me, "Do you like spicy food"?  She shook her head and said, "this is really very spicy and I don't recommend it".  I didn't want to blow anyone's socks off with this noodle dish, so I went with the Chili Garlic Sauce sometimes called Sambal.  I'm not a huge fan of whole wheat pasta, but it worked good in this recipe.
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat or organic pasta, spaghetti or cappellini
  • 1 one-inch piece fresh gingerroot, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. hot water
  • 4 scallions
  • 1/2 medium cucumber
  • 1 cup frozen edamame, shelled and thawed
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain noodles and rinse under cold water.  Once cool, transfer noodles to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Grate ginger to measure one tablespoon.  Combine ginger, chili garlic sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar and hot water and whisk until combined.

Slice green onions diagonally and cut cucumber into julienne strips.  Cut carrots into long ribbons using a peeler and cut ribbons crosswise into 1-inch pieces.  Add veggies to noodles and toss with dressing.  Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

~Adapted from The Pampered Chef
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday is Pasta Day! - Pasta e Fagioli

Today is my pasta day, and so is Friday, Monday, anyday.  I love my macaroni!  This velvety soup is hearty and filling and tastes better a day or two after being made.  You can add the pasta just before you serve it, or cook the pasta in the soup, as I did. 
  • 1 pound cannellini (white kidney) beans
  • 4 quarts water
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup (about 6 slices) bacon or pancetta
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes with their liquid, crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 lb. ditalini or any small pasta
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Quick-soak beans by placing them in a large saucepan, covered with cold water and bringing them to a boil.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat and let stand uncovered 1 hour, then drain and continue with the recipe.

Pour 4 quarts of water and 6 cups of chicken stock into a large stockpot.  Add the drained beans, potatoes, rosemary and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat and then adjust to a gentle boil.  Let boil about 25 minutes.

Process the bacon and garlic to a paste in a food processor.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the bacon-garlic paste until golden, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the onion and cook about 4 minutes.  Stir in the carrots and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the contents of the skillet into the soup pot.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer until beans are tender, 45 minutes to an hour after adding the vegetables.  When soup is almost ready, take out the potatoes and mash with a fork and return to pot, add ditalini pasta and cook until al dente.  Remove rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.  Let soup rest for about 5 minutes, then serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

~Adaped from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pistachio Pudding Cake

I never had any luck with making a homemade cake from scratch.  So if I do make a cake, its usually from a boxed mix.  Nothing wrong with them, to me, it's still a homemade cake.  The Pistachio Pudding Cake is a throwback to the 70's when everyone was baking with some kind of jell-o or pudding.  I have memories of my mom putting lime jell-o into a drained can of sliced pineapple and having it plop out like jellied cranberry sauce!  Ahh, the good old days...........

The story of Jell-o and Gelatin.

Gelatin has been around for centuries, unlike Jell-o.  Jell-o is made from gelatin, which is made from animal collagen.  A hundred years ago gelatin was only used to preserve foods, by binding and sealing them inside a moist, sticky, and gelatinous layer.  Aspic-wrapped ham is one example of how gelatin can preserve meat.

Jello was invented in 1845!  The inventor sold the patent to someone else, who in turn sold it to someone else after being unable to sell the product.  Finally, salesmen were sent out to give out thousands of jell-o cookbooks and demonstrate the product, and jell-o finally made it's mark and started to become popular.

By 1930, congealed salads were in vogue and lime flavored jell-o was a popular ingredient in these aspic and salad recipes.  Savory jell-o flavors became available in the 1950's such as Italian, mixed vegetable, tomato and celery jell-o .  These savory flavors are now discontinued in the history of jell-o.

The jell-o jingle was created in 1934,  J-E-L-L-O, you all know those five notes!

Chocolate jell-o was added to the history inventory in 1936 and was an instant pudding, which was made with milk.  The jell-o no-bake dessert line was launched in 1966, which allowed a cheesecake to be made in just 15 minutes.

"There's always room for jell-o" was coined in 1964.  Jell-o Pudding Pops were created in 1971 (loved those) and in 1971 arrived Jell-o 1-2-3, which was a dessert that separated into three layers as it cooled - remember that one?

The history of jell-o has had many false starts, and some flavors did not work out, but jell-o takes us back, and although it is not quite as popular today, we all have had jello at one time.

So for a throwback to the 70's, here's my Pistachio Pudding Cake - updated, of course.
  • 1 box Yellow Cake Mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 8 oz. club soda
  • 1 box Instant Pistachio Pudding
Mix all ingredients at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Batter will get thick.  Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.  Distribute batter evenly among cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool.  When cool slice cakes horizontally to form 4 layers.

Pistachio Cream Filling:
  • 2 pkgs. Instant Pistachio Pudding
  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 3 Tbsp. sugar
Prepare pudding mix using 3 cups of milk according the package directions.  Stir in pistachios and cream and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache:
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Combine chocolate chips, heavy cream and butter and microwave at 70% power for one minute.  Stir.  Continue microwaving at 10-15 second intervals until smooth and all chocolate is melted. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Assembly your cake layers, filling with pistachio cream filling and leaving the top layer unfrosted.  Chill for 30 minutes while ganache is cooling.

Drizzle ganache over entire cake.  Top with chopped pistachio nuts.  Chill until ready to serve.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fish & Hush Puppy Skillet

With Lent just around the corner, I thought I would get a head start on some different fish dishes.  I love a good fish and chips, or just breaded cod ,pan fried.  Hit any Southern restaurant on a Friday night and you'll be sure to find fried catfish and hush puppies on the menu.  All that frying is a bit messy, and not quite the healthy dinner.  With this recipe, you can skip the grease and get the same crispy taste with just a few tablespoons of oil. 

For the Hush Puppy:
  • 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
For the fish:
  • 1 lb. fish fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces (I used cod)
  • 1/2 cup fish-fry mix
For the sauce:
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. dill pickle relish
  • 1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Combine cornmeal mix, scallions, red pepper, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Whisk together beer, buttermilk and egg; stir into cornmeal mixture and set aside.

Heat 1/4 cup canola oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet until almost smoking.

Dredge each fish piece in fish-fry mix, then fry, on only one side, about 2 minutes.

Pour hush puppy batter over the fish in skillet.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake until hush puppy is golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes, then loosen edges with a knife.  Invert onto a serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve with ketchup tartar sauce.

~Adapted from Cuisine at Home

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Waldorf Salad Coleslaw

A Waldorf Salad is traditionally made with fresh apples, celery and walnuts, dressed with mayonnaise and served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer.

The salad was first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.  It was the maitre d'hotel who created this recipe.  The salad became so popular that Cole Porter featured it in his song "You're the Top".

This a version of the original salad.  Everyone seems so anxious for the warm weather to come, yours truly included!  This is a cool, crisp, salad, perfect for your first BBQ.

  • 6 cups white cabbage, cored and chopped (or shredded, whatever you prefer)
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, cut into julienne strips, plus apple slices for garnish
  • 2 ribs of celery, sliced thinly diagonally
  • l/2 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large bowl, stir together the cabbage, apple strips, celery and walnuts.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, oil and the vinegar until the dressing is smooth and combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss well.  Chill, covered for 2 hours.
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