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Monday, September 30, 2013

Dessert Crepes stuffed with Nutella and served with Berries and Caramel Sauce

As you all know, usually I make crepes and use them instead of pasta when I make manicottis or even lasagna.  Last night I decided it was high time I used them for a dessert.  I have to say it was one of the easiest desserts I have ever made and it looked like a slaved over it all day! 

I'll go through the steps to make this all work! Begin by making your crepe batter in your blender.  You can do this an hour before or a day before...whatever fits you schedule!

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tbs melted butter

Add the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds.  That's it.  Put this in the refrigerator for at least an hour. 

While that is chilling, I cut up the strawberries and combine with some raspberries.  You can also get the Nutella out and ready to go.

Cook the crepes ahead of time, because you will be serving them cold.  Get a small non-stick fry pan and spray it with a little vegetable spray.  Pour just enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan and cook just until the top has solidified.   Use a rubber spatula and work the tip of it around the edges of the crepe until you can get underneath it.  Flip and let the other side cook for about a minute.  I like to let it begin to get a little brown.  Transfer it onto a wire rack and finish cooking the batter.

This step I found a bit tricky but I have since learned why I had a little trouble.  The caramel sauce is very easy to make, it is all in the technique.  When you are caramelizing sugar, you have to catch it just when it starts to get that beautiful caramel color.  If you go to much further, it begins to harden, which isn't good!  Here you go...

In a small pan, bring to a boil 1/3 cup of sugar and 3 tbs water.  Let this boil just until you start to see it change color from clear to a light caramel color.  Carefully add 1 1/2 Tbs of butter and whisk until the butter is melted.  Remove from the heat and add 3 Tbs. of milk and 1/2 Tsp vanilla.  Keep whisking until it is blended.  Now, my sauce came out more like a light glaze, which was really good.  If you would prefer a thicker, more traditional caramel sauce, use cream instead of milk.    As I said, this was a bit tricky.  The first time I made it, I caramelized the sugar a bit too much.  I also used way too much milk and it came out too watery, so I dumped it out and started over again.  
And now for the magic.  Take a crepe and spread a thin amount of Nutella all over it.  Fold in half and then half again.

 add some berries and drizzle with the caramel sauce.  Shake on a little confectioners sugar.

How beautiful is this?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kale Soup with Chourico

Isn't it funny how as soon as we have a couple of cool nights, all I want to do is make soup?  I never thought about it all summer long.....up until now.  I've had Kale on the brain lately, not sure exactly why, but I decided tonight was the night for Kale soup.  This has got to be one of the most healthy soups around.  Here are the ingredients:

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large vidalia onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves chopped
4 bay leaves
1 pound of Kale, coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper
1 can Cannellini beans
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2-3 boxes of chicken broth (you can always add more if needed)
1 pound diced Chourico, casing removed

I begin by cooking the potatoes and onions with a small amount of olive oil in my soup pot.   Next, add in the garlic and bay leaves.

Now is the time to add the chopped kale.  Cover your pan and let the kale wilt.

Once the kale has wilted, add your tomatoes, chourico and chicken broth to the pot and bring the soup to a full boil.

Lower the heat and simmer until the kale is cooked and the potatoes are tender, probably for about 30 minutes.

The only thing left to add is a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese...... So delicious.  I hope I have made my Portuguese friends proud with this soup!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Flavorful Chicken in a Coconut Curry Sauce

Last night was one of those nights when I simply felt like eating something cooked in a sauce and spooned over rice.  I began looking around my kitchen for possible ingredients.  I found a package of frozen chicken thighs,  a vidalia onion and a sweet potato that I thought would all work well together.  And now for the flavors...I have a mixture of coriander, cumin, cloves cinnamon, turmeric and cardamom that I bought from a spice shop in Cincinnati.  It gives a really nice curry flavor to any dish.  I did find a recipe that gives measurements:

1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch of cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Once you have this together, set it aside and cut your onion and sweet potato.  Saute in a little olive oil until it just starts to become tender.  

Sprinkle in at least 1 tbs of the seasoning mixture you just made and add a can of coconut milk.  Also add in a generous tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger and garlic.   Now for the chicken.  I used 6 boneless chicken thighs, but feel free to adjust your quantities if you need to make a larger amount.  I cut them into large, bite-size pieces and add to the pan.  Simmer on low for about 15 minutes.  Taste the sauce to make sure the flavors are present.  I added a bit more of the seasoning mixture because I really wanted them to stand out.

While this is cooking, I made a quick batch of rice.  I always use chicken broth instead of water because I think it gives the rice a nice flavor.  

When the chicken is tender, turn off the heat and add the juice of 1 lime and some roughly-cut fresh basil leaves.  

All that is left is to get out your bowls and serve.  This was exactly what I felt like and the flavors were absolutely amazing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Here's something quick and easy...chicken wings - buffalo or honey mustard parmesan style

Here are two very easy ways to prepare chicken wings, where you don't actually have to make your sauces!  I am always one to make everything from scratch, but when I find something already made that is just as good, I am happy to share it!  Let's start with the wings.

I season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.  I bake them in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  I turn them and season the other side and bake for another 20 minutes or so.  You want them to have a little color.

Remove from the oven and drain the liquid.  Now for the sauces....

One half of the wings get the Sweet Baby Ray's Buffalo Chicken sauce.

The other half gets a dousing of Ken's Honey
Mustard Sauce.

Back in the oven for about 10 minutes or so.  That's it!  How easy is that?  The chicken fell off the bones....  I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on the honey mustard wings just before serving them.  I cooked up some rice pilaf and roasted some broccoli and everyone was happy!

Every time I go to the store, I look at all of the different sauces on the shelves and never know if they are actually any good.  I thought it would be helpful to let you know that there are some you can buy that are really delicious.  Give them a try sometime!

Apple Upside Down Cake.... Who needs the "pine?"

This morning was such a dreary start to the day....gray, misty, cold.  I needed to do something to do that would pick up my spirits and that, of course, is making my way to the kitchen to make something.  Cooking has the same affect on me that gardening does.  I get so wrapped up and focused on what I am doing, that I forget all the bad and get lost in total enjoyment.

I pulled some sorry-looking apples out of my refrigerator and began to think of what I could do with them besides make an apple crisp or apple pie.  I decided I wanted some kind of pretty cake when it dawned on me..... Could I make a pineapple upside down cake and use apples instead of pineapples?  Why not?  I couldn't think of one reason why it wouldn't work, so I got down to business.

I mixed all the dry ingredients in a bowl:

1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 1/ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

I heat my oven to 350 degrees.  In a 9-inch square pan, I place 1/4 cup of butter and place the pan in the hot oven.  Once the butter is melted, I add 2/3 cup of brown sugar and spread evenly in the pan.

Peel and core two apples. Slice and place on top of the melted brown sugar..

Sprinkle with cinnamon and a little nutmeg.

All that is left is to make the batter.

 Place all your dry ingredients in the mixer and add 1/3 cup of shortening.  Mix until blended.  Pour in 3/4 cup of milk and 1 egg and mix on high for about 3 minutes.  Pour the batter over the apples.

 Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes

As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, lay your inverted serving plate on top of the pan and flip over.  You want to do this while the brown sugar/butter mixture is hot.  Leave the pan like that for a couple minutes so all of the brown sugar can drip on the cake.

This was so yummy.  I highly recommend serving it warm, so that the brown sugar can seep into the cake.  A little scoop of vanilla icecream wouldn't hurt, either!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yet another delicious stuffed pork many is this?

Here we go again...How many different ways do you think you can stuff a pork tenderloin.  One of these days, I will have to count the ways I have come up with!

This time:

maybe 2 cups of croutons
1/2 cup of Craisins
Unmeasured amount of Parmesan cheese!  maybe a handful
1 apple, diced (feel free to add more if you would like)
fresh parsley
salt and pepper
maybe a tablespoon of dried onion
Enough chicken broth to moisten the croutons
twice around the bowl with olive oil
Maybe about a cup of fresh mozzarella, diced
maybe 2 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

Mix in a bowl and set aside while you get the pork ready to stuff.... Make sure to take a taste of the stuffing, in case it needs more salt, pepper, or anything else you can think of.  Butterfly the tenderloin so it lies flat on the counter.  Pound with a meat mallet so it is nice and flat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread out the stuffing.  What's new this time?  I roll the tenderloin up from one end to the other instead of from one long side to the other.  The rolls are so much bigger, but it is a lot easier to keep them rolled up.  Use some twine to tie them together.  Brown on all sides, place in a roasting pan and cook at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.

When done, remove from the oven and slice.

This version was a huge hit.   Everything was gone by noon the next day....guess they liked it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I have discovered the wonderful world of egg whites!

Over the past several months, I have watched my kids pull the eggs out of the refrigerator.  They begin breaking eggs into a bowl to make breakfast, but I notice they dump the egg yolks into the sink!  I can't help but think that they are throwing away the best part of the egg....the part with the most flavor, not to mention wasting a perfectly good egg yolk!

Recently I tried an egg white sandwich that had veggies and cheese, and I have to tell you it was delicious.  Not only that but it is so much better for you.  I went to the store and found a container of simply egg whites, and I thought, why not?  Let me give it a try - at least I would be preserving my supply of eggs with their yolks!   I have to admit I was a little leary about how they were going to taste...was I going to miss the yolk?

I begin my yummy breakfast by cooking some onions in my fry pan with a little olive oil.  All I had in my fridge for veggies was a jar of roasted red peppers, so I cut some of them up and threw them in..  I also found some fresh mozzarella cheese to throw in.  Pour in the egg whites and cook until they are set.   I am lucky enough to still have some fresh basil growing in a pot outside my back door, so I snipped a bunch of leaves and sprinkled them over the egg whites, along with some shredded cheese and a little salt and pepper.

 The best ingredient of all is the avocado.   As you can see, I added quite a bit~

I use my spatula and fold the omelet in half and leave it on the fire for just a couple of minutes more.  I couldn't believe how big it came out, so after sprinkling  a little more cheese over the top, I cut it in half.  I knew I would find someone here that would eat the other half!

So there you have it!  My new favorite breakfast!  What is so cool is that you can use anything you find in your fridge...what a great way to clean out your vegetable bin!  There are so many other ingredients and herbs  I want to experiment adding in - you'll have to stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How about some really good pancakes


Tonight is Tuesday night, and every Tuesday night I have dinner with my sister.  I really look forward to catching up with the only family I have left!  So, obviously I didn't cook anything in my new kitchen tonight.  I tried to think of something I make that is delicious and would be nice to share with everyone, and I came up with pancakes..... of all things!  But, I really do have a reputation for making some really good pancakes, so here goes!

I am going to share two recipes, the first of which calls for buttermilk, so if you don't have any, you can either improvise or follow the second recipe!   Here are your ingredients:

3 eggs separated
1 2/3 cups buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbs sugar
3 tbs butter, melted

Here is a simple substitute recipe to make buttermilk (adjust the amounts depending on how much buttermilk your recipe calls for):
  • Milk (approximately 1 cup) 
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice (if making two cups of buttermilk, use 2 Tablespoons...)


1. Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.
3. Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.

Making the batter is pretty much the standard.... beat the egg yokes.  Add in the buttermilk, then the baking soda and mix well.  Stir in the dry ingredients making sure the batter is smooth.  Mix in the melted butter.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into your batter.  Let it stand for about 20 minutes before cooking.

Get your pan nice and hot.  Ladle the batter on the pan.  My kids LOVE chocolate chip pancakes, so I cover each pancake with as many chocolate chips as I can.  I try to cover them with a little more batter so the chocolate won't stick to the pan when I flip them.

You may have to adjust your heat, once you see how fast or slow they cook.

Once I get the chocolate chip pancakes done, I love to make my personal favorites - banana pancakes.  Once you have covered each pancake with sliced bananas, cover the bananas with a little more batter.  These need to cook a little bit longer on each side than the chocolate chip ones do.

When they are done, sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar.  Oh my word.....these are to die for!    There is just something about using buttermilk that makes them so rich and fluffy.

Here is my standby pancake recipe when I don't have any buttermilk:

1 1/4 cups flour
3 tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder (make sure your baking powder isn't too old!  it really makes a difference)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
a splash of vanilla
3 tbs vegetable oil

The key is to mix just long enough to incorporate the ingredients.  If you over-beat the batter, the pancakes will come out flat!