Monday, February 27, 2012

Orange Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Muffins - SRC Reveal

After taking a break in January, it's time for the Secret Recipe Club  to start back up!  This month's blog chosen for me was Food Babbles .  Kate is a sometimes stay-at-home mom who loves food, photography and writing.  She was featured on Bon Appetit's "What People are Cooking" Column!  So creative!  I chose her recipe for Lemon Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Muffins  and just swapped out the lemon with orange.  Orange and chocolate are great together - along with the cheesecake - delicious combination!

You will need:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
2-1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1-1/4 cup milk (I used buttermilk)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange marmalade

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
- Beat together cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together egg milk, brown sugar, butter, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
- Spoon batter into muffin cups to 3/4 full. Top each portion with 1 tablespoon cream cheese mixture and 1 teaspoon jam.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove muffins and cool on rack. Store in airtight container.
 These muffins were very moist and have just the right amount of sweetness.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Savory Beef Broth and V-8 Soup

Buy some bones!  Roasting beef bones intensifies the flavor and deep brown color of beef broth.  The broth takes 3 to 4 hours to simmer, but the V-8 soup takes about 5 minutes to prepare!  I never was a big fan of cilantro and rosemary, but I have to admit that this made a really good broth!  Those two flavors cannot be detected, but gave it great flavor - don't leave it out!

Savory Beef Broth

4 to 5 pounds meaty beef bones (shank, neck)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 large leek, white part and part of the green, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
2 garlic cloves
1 sprig fresh rosemary, cilantro and parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Place beef bones in a large roasting pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Roast in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes, turning and basting several times.
Mix in the chopped onion, carrots, and celery and continue roasting for 20 minutes, basting occasionally to brown evenly.  Transfer the bones, meat and vegetables into a large stock pot.
Deglaze the pan by adding half cup water, and use a spoon or a spatula to scrape and dissolve the food particles in the pan.  Add the deglazing liquid to the stockpot along with enough water to completely cover the meat bones.

Cut the unpeeled onion in half and place cut side down in a 10-inch non-stick skillet.  Cook on high heat just until the bottom of the onion is almost black (this helps add additional color and flavor to the broth).  Add the onion into the stock pot with the other vegetables.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skimming any impurities from the surface of the broth.  Simmer for 3-l/2 to 4 hours.  Check seasonings and adjust.  Strain through a fine strainer to remove the bones and vegetables.  Allow broth to cool and refrigerate.  Once chilled, the excess fat will rise and harden on the surface and can be easily removed. 
 The broth gets very gelatinous from the bones.
 Broth can be frozen or refrigerated.  Makes about 4 quarts of broth.

Put one quart of broth aside and let's make the soup!

The broth takes a while to cook, but once you have it, you can make this V-8 soup in about 5 minutes.  It so reminds me of Campbell's Vegetable Soup! - only better!

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 quart Savory Beef Broth
1 (46 oz. ) bottle V-8 juice (or use the spicy one if you want)
1 lb. frozen mixed vegetables
8 ounces uncooked small alphabet pasta or any small pasta (I looked all over for alphabet pasta)
6 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste.

 Place the meat in a large stock pot, and cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.  Drain the meat except for 2 Tbsp. of the juices.
Add beef broth, V-8, mixed vegetables, pasta and 6 cups of water.
Simmer 20 minutes or until pasta is tender.
Mmmmm Mmmmm Good! 

~Adapted from Hubert Keller &
Mrs. McEvers 
 Sunday Night Soup

 Come join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Orleans-Style Garlic BBQ Shrimp

These shrimp are cooked in a skillet, not on a grill:  barbecue - in this case, refers to the sweet-hot sauce served with them.  Serve this with plenty of crusty bread for mopping up that mouthwatering sauce.

24 jumbo shrimp, peeled (or unpeeled as I did), tails left on
2 tsp. Creole or Cajun Seasoning*
1/4 cup canola oil
4 cloves, garlic, minced
1/2 cup beer
5 Tbsp. hot sauce (tabasco if you really want these hot, otherwise use Frank's)
5 Tbsp. Worcestershire
Juice from one lemon
6 Tbsp. unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
Crusty French Bread for serving

Put the shrimp and Creole seasoning into a bowl and toss to coat; set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add the oil and garlic to the skillet and cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute.  Add the shrimp and cook, flipping once, until the start to turn pink, about 30 seconds.  Transfer the shrimp to a large plate and set aside.  Add the beer, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and lemon juice to the skillet and stir well.  Bring to a simmer and cook 5-7 minutes.

Whisk in the butter, a few pieces at a time (the sauce will start to thicken).  Return the shrimp to the skillet and toss to coat.  Return the skillet medium heat and cook until the shrimp and cooked through, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer the shrimp sauce to serving plate and serve with chunks of warm, crusty bread.

These are not as "hot" as you would imagine from the ingredients in this recipe.  They are well spiced, full of flavor and I left the shells on to make them more messy and fun to eat!  The sauce is so good you will be sucking if off the shell!

Embrace the city's joie de vivre!
Hearty and carefree enjoyment of life!

*Chef Paul Prudhomme's Cajun Seafood Magic
~Adapted from Saveur and Commander's Palace, New Orleans

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

This recipe is dedicated to a dear friend who we lost recently.  Michelle of La Belle Cuisine  lived in the heart of Cajun Country.  These are recipes that she has collected from some of the best restaurants and chefs in the South, and I am happy to introduce you to her and her amazing website.!  Filled with beautiful art, clever quotes, you are sure to spend quite a bit of time browsing through her collections of Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

1 lb dried red beans
10 cups water (I added one chicken bouillon)
1 ham bone or ham hock*
1 lb. smoked sausage cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup chopped scallions
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. Creole/Cajun Seasoning**
Crushed red pepper to taste
1/4 cup ketchup (my addition)
Lemon juice, just a splash
Tabasco sauce to taste
4 cups hot cooked rice

Rinse beans well and drain them in a colander.  If you remember to cover them with water and let them soak overnight, great.  Otherwise, place beans in a large pot, cover them with water and "fast soak" by bringing to a boil and letting them stand off of the heat, covered, for 1 hour.

Drain beans, return to the stove and add 10 cups fresh water.  Add ham bone, garlic, onions, bell pepper and seasonings.  Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook very slowly, partially covered, for 1-1/2 hours.  Stir the entire mixture just once about every half hour.  Add the smoked sausage and cook another hour, partially covered. 


Beans are ready to serve when a rich natural "gravy" is formed.  Serve over rice with garlic bread and a fresh salad.  How many hungry people will this recipe feed?  Are they Cajuns?

~ Adapted from La Belle Cuisine
*I used a smoked Turkey Leg
** Chef Paul Prudhomme's Cajun Magic Seasoning

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Perfect Buttermilk Skillet Fried Chicken

  Here's what I'm going to try tonight!

Lip smackin, finger-lickin good!
 2 Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
2 tsps. plus 1 Tbsp. black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 3-4 lb. chicken cut into 10 pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)
One 24 oz. bottle of peanut oil was the perfect amount.

Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl.  Season chicken with spices.  Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover and chill overnight.
Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour.  Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl.  Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Pour oil into a 10-12" cast iron skillet to a depth of 3/4".  Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer register 350 degrees.

Working with 1 piece at a time, dip chicken buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl.  Dredge in flour mixture; shake off excess.  Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet.  Fry, turning with tongs every 1-2 minutes until skin is deep golden brown and chicken registers 165 degrees, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs legs and breasts.
I went 12-14 minutes for the bigger pieces and dark meat if you don't have a thermometer.
Remove chicken from skillet and transfer to cooling rack.  Let cool ten minutes. 

~Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shell Macaroni and Tuna Salad - Costa Rican Style

Sometimes the country tastes like the green of the lush vegetation that surrounds it; mountains, plains, and tropical forests.  The rain transforms the green, making it more intense, deeper, and at those times, there is nothing better than a good cup of coffee, a tortilla with cheese and warm conversation.

8 oz. small shell macaroni
2 cans chunk white tuna in water, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. mustard (I used Country Dijon)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook macaroni shells according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  In a large bowl mix all the ingredients until well combined.  Chill.  

I was fortunate to get to Costa Rica a few years ago.  My son picked up "The Best Recipes Costa Rica" Cookbook for me on his last visit.  Everyday comfort foods of the region.

~The Best Recipes Costa Rica

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jeannie's Sausage Pie

I pulled out some of my old recipes today to try and make something different, something I haven't had it a while.  And there it was..............Jeannie's Sausage Pie.

1 prepared pie crust, baked**
1 lb. hot sausage, removed from casing
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 Rome apple, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 cup milk
Garlic powder, dried basil (to taste)

Brown sausage, remove from pan and drain.
In same frying pan, sautee onion and red pepper until soft.
Add sausage, apple, cheese and spices and pour into pie shell.
Beat eggs and milk then pour over pie.
Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 50-55 minutes.
Let set before serving.

You can change this up to your liking.  Use sweet sausage, mozzarella cheese...
It's all good!
Serve with a simple salad.
**I used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust and baked as directed for 10 minutes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Qdoba Style - Grilled Chicken Burritos

Qdoba is a small Mexican restaurant chain that has the best burritos - EVER!  It's not a hop, skip and a jump from here, so I'm trying to duplicate these magnifico burritos at home.
(Photo courtesy of Qdoba)

The Marinade

2 lbs. chicken tenders*
Juice from one fresh orange and one fresh lime
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
1 chipolte chili with sauce, diced
1 clove garlic minced
Combine all ingredients and marinate chicken for at least one hour or up to 4 hours.  *I like to remove the tendon from the chicken tenders.  Hold the end of the tendon and hold your knife parallel to your cutting surface and slide along the tendon to remove.

The Rice

2 cups long grain rice (I always use Jasmine Rice) rinsed well
Juice and zest of one fresh lime
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups water
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Combine ingredients and cook rice as directed on package.

The Black Beans

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (15.5 oz.) can Black Beans, undrained
1 tsp. oregano
1 packet Sazon Goya without Annatto
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. 
Bush's Grillin Beans makes a fabulous Black Bean Fiesta that would go perfect with this burrito!  Black beans simmered in a zesty chipotle sauce with crisp corn and red peppers.  Save an extra step for preparing the burritos!
1 package Burrito Size (grande) flour tortillas
1 8 oz. package Sargento Authentic Mexican cheese blend
Sour Cream
Cholula Original Hot Sauce
Earlier in the day prepare marinade, add chicken and refrigerate until ready to grill.  I used my George Foreman grill.  Fit as many tenders as you can on grill.  Cook on high for 5 minutes.  Repeat with remaining tenders.  Cover with foil to keep warm.
Whatever juices accumulate in the drip tray, I add to the chicken to keep it moist.
  In the meantime, prepare black beans and rice.

Steam flour burrito in your microwave covered with a damp paper towel for 45 seconds.
Fill with rice, beans, chicken and cheese and condiments of your choice.
“Grillin’ Bold this Memorial Day? Bush’s has the beans for it. Come join the cookout with Cookin’ Canuck and Hoosier Homemade sponsored by Bush’s Grillin’ Beans

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I never had much luck baking cakes from scratch.  When I saw the ingredients in this recipe, I had to have another go at it.  This WAS a CRAZY COOKING CHALLENGE  for me!

Cocoa-Almond Coco Cake

3 cups cake flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can (13.5 oz.) light coconut milk
3/4 cup (1-1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
2-1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.
2-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds, chopped

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream
10 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla.

The recipe was for a three-layer cake.  I only have two cake pans so its a two layer cake.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour two or three 9-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottom of each with a circle of wax paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a second medium bowl, whisk together sour cream and coconut milk.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in almond and vanilla extracts.  On medium-low speed, beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with coconut milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-low speed until blended.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons water and beat on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.  Add coconut and almonds and beat for another 30 seconds.  Set aside.

For the Chocolate Ganache: Heat cream in a small pot and medium-high just until it simmers.  Immediately pour over chocolate in a medium bowl; let stand 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and mix until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.

Where's my Duncan Hines?
Too many bowls
But if you love to bake - it will be ok.

To assemble:  Spread filling in between cake layers and ice cake evenly with  chocolate ganache.
~From Family Circle


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Quick Minestrone

This is one of the best Minestrone I have made.  I wish it made a bigger pot!

1/4 lb. pancetta, diced
6 cups chicken stock
6 medium garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 Tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained (or cannellini)
1 35 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (crushed by hand)
4 cups diced zucchini
2 cups diced potato
1 heaping Tbsp. basil pesto
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 cups tubetti pasta, or other small pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain and transfer the pasta to a large bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.

In a large stock pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil.  Add the pancetta and cook until crispy.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, celery and carrots.  Cook until vegetables are soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chopped herbs.  Raise the heat to high.  Add the beans, tomatoes, zucchini and potatoes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in basil pesto.  Add the cooked pasta before serving.  Serve with Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil with a dollop of basil pesto.

~Adapted from Michael Chiarello

Friday, February 3, 2012

Baked Penne with Veal Bolognese

The sauce for this pasta is more of an Italian-American Meat sauce made with ground beef and veal.  I usually use a mixture of beef and pork.  I think the veal gives this sauce a more authentic italian taste.

Sugo di Carne

Three 35-ounce cans Italian Plum Tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground veal
1-1/2 tsps dried oregano
1 cup dry red wine
Pepperocino to taste
1 lb. penne pasta
1 lb. container whole milk ricotta cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Heat the olive oil in a heavy 4 to 5 quart pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and pepperoncino to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden.  Add the garlic and cook ,stirring until the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Add the ground beef and veal and season lightly with salt.  Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the meat changes color and the water it gives off is boiled away, about 10 minutes.  Continue cooking until meat is browned.  Add the oregano, then pour in the wine.  Bring to a boil and cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated.

Pass tomatoes through the blender and add to the meat mixture.  Bring to a boil, adjust the heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring often until the sauce takes on a deep red color, 2 to 3 hours. Add salt and pepper to your taste.  If you have a piece of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese rinds (save them!) and add to simmering sauce.  This sauce can be prepared in advance and refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

When sauce is finished cooking, cook pasta according to package directions to al dente.  Place cooked pasta into a 13 x 10 baking dish.  Add about 4 cups of meat sauce and dollops of ricotta cheese and grated Parmesan cheese to the pasta.  Stir gently until well combined.  Top with additional 2 cups of meat sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly. 

This makes quite a bit of sauce - enough to feed a small crowd and have enough left over to freeze in small quantities for a quick pasta meal for one or two.
~Adapted from Lidia's Italian American Kitchen

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nutty Pimiento Cheese Balls and last minute Superbowl Snacks!

I am not a Football fan.  This year for Superbowl - all I know is the Giants are playing.  Could never follow the game.  Hard to get enthusiastic about something you don't understand.  But ask me to make the party spread and I'm there!!!  I've just put together a few "foodball" recipes that can be quickly made for Sunday's game.  These bite-size pimiento cheese balls are a huge hit! 

Nutty Pimiento Cheese Balls

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack (I used Hot Pepper Jack)
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. drained, chopped pimientos
1 tsp. grated onion
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans

Process cream cheese in a food processor until smooth.  Add Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and pulse to combine.  Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.  Place pecans in a medium bowl.  Roll the cheese mixture into 1-inch balls and coat evenly with pecans.  Serve the cheese balls at room temperature or chilled. (Makes about 3 dozen).

Spinach Stuffing Balls

These mouthwatering morsels of savory spinach, herbed stuffing, Parmesan and Italian seasonion taste just as juicy as beef meatballs.  Serve with marinara sauce or roasted red pepper puree.

2 cups finely crushed herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup melted butter
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
For the Roasted Red Pepper Puree:

1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine stuffing mix, spinach, Parmesan cheese, melted butter, eggs, garlic powder, oregano and black pepper.  Shape into walnut-sized balls and place on a baking sheet.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until heated through and browned.  Place ingredients for red pepper puree in food processor and pulse until incorporated and smooth. (Makes about 24).

You might also like:

~Adapted from Eating Well and Kaboose 
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