Thursday, July 30, 2009

easy peasy blue cheesy .....salad dressing




so i have been craving a blue cheese lettuce wedge, but with a twist. i wanted to make a stellar blue cheese dressing, not the stuff from a jar or bottle. i did a little research and combined a few recipes and came up with what i believe to be a real keeper( maybe i should jar or bottle this stuff). the dressing, after sitting overnight, is chunky, cheesy, thick, creamy and flows nicely down the lettuce(note the blue cheese waterfall) wedge giving plenty of coverage. it is downright delicious, even big j, a ranch man, piled it on after a little sampling. i was shocked. i just put the ole hidden valley back on the fridge door. this simple salad only got better with the addition of diced locally grown tomatoes, one yellow and one red. i am always amazed how something so uncomplicated can be so unbelievably good. enjoy.

beth's easy peasey blue cheesy salad dressing

simply whisk to combine in a bowl and allow to refrigerate overnight, the following:

1 cup mayo-i use duke's
1 8oz sour cream-i use daisy light
1/2 cup buttermilk
one large spring onion, white only, that i grated on a small hand grater
one clove garlic, that i grated on a small hand grater
a heavy dash, like a tsp of worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 dashes of hot sauce
2 tsp of sugar
5 oz crumbled blue cheese(you can add more, but this was the size of the container i bought, for me it was perfect)

you must allow this dressing to sit overnight for the flavors to truly develop.

the blue cheese waterfall.....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

easy peasy caprese salad

it's hot, so for supper tonight i threw together a quick, cool caprese salad for myself. the others were here, but they were not interested in sharing my flavorful little insalata, fine by me. i had recently bought some locally grown orange and yellow tomatoes and couldn't wait to try one. i choose an orange tomato and sliced it alternately layering it with fresh mozzarella, a few julienned leaves of my window basil, a splash of fruity olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar, finishing with a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and coarse black pepper. how can something so simple be so amazing? instead of licking the plate this time, i sopped up the juices with some nann bread. now that's amore. enjoy.

Monday, July 27, 2009

chicken pot pie, dang easy, dang tasty

so pam, over at for the love of cooking, one of my favorite food blogs ever, posted a beautiful chicken pot pie. i want pam to take pity on me and invite me over for dinner one night. it doesn't matter that she lives clear over yonder on the west coast. i will come bearing gifts. how about a smithfield ham and a big ole can of peanuts? well, it is more likely that i will be stuck here munching those goobers while dreaming of her food. pam's mexican creations make my over cheesed heart pitter patter and my overindulged stomach growl. anyway....

her pot pie recipe sounded so wonderful that i had to give it a try. it is 99% pam's with a dash of beth. i am not such a hot pastry chef, so i cheated and used store bought pie crust. when i unrolled the crust, it was too small and too round for my oval baking dish, so i used a cookie cutter to cut circles which i overlapped on top. it worked beautifully. i pretty much followed her filling recipe to a " t" with the exception that i added both sliced celery and pinch of thyme to the mushroom/onion/garlic saute. the pot pie was delicious. big j and i ate over half in one sitting and polished off leftovers tonight. c wouldn't taste any pot pie even if it was spoon-fed to her by a jonas brother. little t, boxed mac and cheese was calling his name. folks, please give pam's chicken pot pie recipe and her delightful site a visit. it will be worth your while. go do it now, go do it for the love of cooking or in my case, for the love of eating! enjoy.

p.s.- i am thinking next time, beef pot pie with a cheesy crust? holey moley. oh, and sorry for the one and only "not so good" picture. i was too busy shoveling it in.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

blueberry oatmeal squares, done my way


when i saw these over at culinary in the desert i just knew i had to give them a whirl. go have a look see at joe's blog. he is an amazing cook. he always kicks my salivary glands into overdrive. well, when i went to make these the other day i didn't have quite everything to do it joe's way, so i did it my way. i only had two cups blueberries, instead of three. i didn't have an orange or even orange juice, so i used sunny d(tangy original) and skipped the orange zest. i also only had quick cooking oats, no old fashioned. regardless, the squares turned out moist, delicious and blueberry-ee. the whole family loved'em. a tasty way to get a little superfood into their diet. i mean, butter is a superfood, right? this is the south ya know. anywho, i will make these again, but next time it will be the right way. enjoy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

smack yo mama good crash hot potatoes







look at these puppies. they have got to be some of the best taters i have had in a long time. i had seen the recipe over at the pioneer woman's site quite awhile ago, but had yet to make it. we had sliders with caramelized onions for dinner last night, so leftovers were on tonight's menu. i needed to make a side dish that might distract from that fact. it seemed like a good time to give ree's crash hot potatoes a try. i was not disappointed. the recipe couldn't be more simple. i had a half bag of red bliss potatoes i needed to use anyway. while i boiled them till fork tender in a large pot of salted water, i drizzled a generous amount of olive oil on a cookie sheet. once the taters were done, i placed them on the cookie sheet and smashed each one flat with my potato masher. i then brush more olive oil on top(starbucks is helpful at this step, but not necessary) and sprinkled copious amounts of kosher salt and black pepper. oh mama.
i then popped these tubers into a 450 degree fahrenheit oven for about 25 minutes. They came out so crispy and crusty. i couldn't resist dolloping sour cream on mine, wishing i had some chives. big j smothered his in ketchup wishing, i don't know what he was wishing, probably that he didn't have to eat sliders two nights in a row.
regardless, the potatoes were a big hit with him. he has already requested them for sunday breakfast with bacon and eggs. i think i can oblige. enjoy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

peanut butter m&m's, if loving you is wrong

i don't wanna be right and boy am i soooo not right.

okay here's the deal, i have a huge butt, i mean huge problem. i bought peanut butter m&m's today and i can not stop eating them(one reason for first "huge" mentioned). it started in the car on the way home from the store, then progressed simply to the open bag on the kitchen table, then swiping some from my son's share when he looked the other way, even to racing the dog to the stray one on the floor when it jumped ship. i won. it is so sad. i need an intervention. i also need to be honest with you. i have had a little help from my boy or so i keep telling myself, my husband, daughter, dog and whoever else might listen, but really, how much can a 34 lb. preschooler eat? i mean i can blame him for almost any reasonable random amount. i mean anything to make me feel better and justify my overindulgence. "gawd, travis must be having a growth spurt. he ate, like, i dunno, half a bag of peanut butter m&m's". truth is what i really bought the bag, ahem, bags for were to use them in baking, but what? i searched the net and only came up with the same ole recipes, your everyday "substitute chocolate chips for m&m's" kinda rubbish. i don't want that. i want m&m excitement! i want a m&m epiphany! i want a m&m culinary masterpiece!

you can help me. i want your ideas. please leave me suggestions in my comment box about what i can do with these addictive little gems and i will pick one and give it a try. surprise me. i need a challenge. i need something to do. it is not like i have two kids to tend or never ending laundry or a house to clean or supper to fix....
what! you have never had peanut butter m&m's? well, we might have to remedy that. jeez, maybe you need the intervention, not me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

lime jello cheesecake flop

don't make me mad, you won't like me when i'm mad....little hulk humor there....

ahhhh, this didn't go so well. it was suppose to be a lime jello cheesecake pudding that i found over at not quite nigella.( lorraine has a wonderful site, a great read, so poke around a bit) well, i am not really sure what went wrong. what i did wrong. the recipe produced a pale green fluff that tasted really delicious. it is sweet, limey, cheesy and pineappley(i know it's not a word). the addition of the crushed pineapple really gives it that extra ump. my problem? the consistency. it didn't set up like i was expecting. i wanted it to be scoopable, but it really didn't get firm or even slightly firm. i am thinking i used the wrong size box of jello, but to be honest, i didn't want to dumpster dive to check. i have made plenty of jello salads in the past, you know the cottage cheese and pineapple combos, but i am crushed(little pineapple humor now) that this one flopped. oh well.....life goes on.
we still ate it, of course.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

german plum cake, sehr gut

so i had bought some super sweet plums from trader joe's the other day thinking that my fruit loving husband would eat them. he ate one. great, now what? they were starting to look kinda pitiful and i sure hated to loose 'em, so i jumped on the net and found this recipe for a german plum cake. it had great reviews, looked easy, and i had all the ingredients on hand. i have never cooked or baked anything involving plums, so this was a first. i have had a few german plum desserts when i was an exchange students over twenty-five years ago. jeez, gaaaawd am i that old? give me a minute, i need to go cry.

anyway, (sniff, i'm okay) i whipped up this cake and to my delight it was wundervoll! the plums were so sweet and their flavor really popped. the cake itself has hints of lemon and vanilla that compliments the fruit. the cake is also dense, buttery and moist. don't opt out of the topping. it is the cinnamon streusel that pulls it all together. keep an eye on this one, especially if your oven runs hot. i actually baked mine at 350 degrees fahrenheit and starting checking at 20 minutes. this cake can burn super fast and or get super dark on the bottom before you realize it. not good. i served it with sweetened whipped cream. enjoy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

chef george francisco's signature panna cotta




george francisco is an acclaimed chef. he is the chef at jonah's, a gorgeous beach resort outside of sydney, australia. george has cooked for the likes of julia child and disney (my two personal favorites), just to mention a few. he has traveled all over the world enjoying exciting adventures. thank gawd, 'cause i need someone to live through. george has been my friend since i was eight years old and for me, my more exciting adventure is his return home to virginia. i am so fortunate to be able to enjoy his culinary escapades. one of his most recent success stories is the fame of his fun signature dessert from jonah's, a vanilla panna cotta. it is jiggly and woobly and makes you think of a, well, i'll let you decide. it even has its own video on youtube thanks to chocolatesuze. i was so fortunate that the chef treated us all to one at a recent cookout he hosted at his parents home. i think it was quite possibly the most delicious thing i have ever eaten. i literally licked the plate. (i did it when no one was looking, jeez)

ladies and gentleman, i give you the jiggly boobie, as demonstrated by julie.

video if you would like to watch a video of george plating these not so perky beauties, go here . also, here is another good video from the taste of sydney 2009.

oh, and here are a few fun cookout photos...
george, the grill master george's parents and jim, julie's hubby
george and julie
my little man travis and julie's claire. "travis loves claires"
(personally, i love e-claires)

Friday, July 17, 2009

good friends never really go away

see these two people, julie and george, they are my friends. i mean lifelongers. julie, i see regularly, lives close by, full time working mom, kids, chats on the phone, etc... george, an accomplished chef, i don't get to see so much, in fact decades have passed. he is an aussie transplant who came home to holiday with his son. we just spent four hours talking and drinking coffee, picking up where we left off so many years ago. it only took seconds, eye contact really, for the comfortable familiarity to come back into play. why is that? what makes a person that special in someone's life? i don't know, but why does it take reaching midlife to realize how much we do miss and need them? do we crave the reminiscing and hearty laughs? is it the fact the we are weighted down with life? death? divorce? kids? that we don't have time to realize what we are missing. who knows? the one thing i do know is that i have two great friends, regardless if one is right around the corner or on the other side of the world.

wanna found out more about chef george ? look here, and here, and here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

benne seed salad dressing

i made some wonderful benne salad dressing the other day. benne seed, for those folks who do not know, is sesame seed. i apologize for the unappealing snapshot, but i had the hardest time trying to keep it from separating. i couldn't snap the picture quick enough. you will have to take my word on how good this salad dressing is. i found the recipe on recipezaar and it's here. it is loaded with sesame flavor and lends itself well to fresh veggies, especially broccoli and cucumbers. it was also pretty dang tasty on my baby spinach salad topped with fresh strawberries. enjoy.

fyi, the recipe calls for toasted benne or sesame seeds. i simply toasted them in a dry frying pan till brown, over medium heat, stirring often for about 4 minutes. keep an eye on them, they will burn quickly.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

bittersweet chocolate sauce

so, i picked up a dagoba chocolate bar at a local candy outlet for a steal. i love dagoba chocolate. it is one of my all time favorites and the darker the better. this particular bar was dark, but not as potent as others, and now i wished i had bought more. i really didn't want to eat it out right, but rather use in a recipe of some sort. i remembered an old cook's illustrated mag i had at home somewhere and its bittersweet chocolate sauce recipe. i dug around till i found it and bingo, we had a winner. i had problem though, i was short on chocolate. luckily, i had a bag of hershey's special dark chocolate chips to fill in the gap. they worked perfectly. i whipped up this luscious, sinful, decadent, dark chocolate sauce in a matter of minutes. holey moley it is good. it is such a silky sauce, not like a hot fudge sauce, thick and gloppy. i served it with some fresh strawberries and cherries. we were all smacking our lips over this one. i am thinking this sauce would be great on cake, especially pound cake. (i might have to throw one in the oven today) anyway, one thing, you will need to reheat once it is refrigerated, it gets like a truffle filling, which really ain't so bad either. enjoy!

cook's illustrated bittersweet chocolate sauce

1-1.25 cups of heavy cream
1/4 light corn syrup
4 tbsp. of butter
pinch salt
8 ounces of good quality chocolate

bring one cup of heavy cream, corn syrup, butter and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. off heat, add chocolate while gently swirling saucepan. cover and let stand five minutes. uncover and whisk gently trying to not create too many bubbles until combined. if necessary, you can consistency by heating adding the additonal cream.

keeps up to three weeks in fridge. to reheat, pop into microwave at 50% power, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

simple fruit shortcake



this is a recipe for a simple shortcake. the cake is dense, sturdy, yet light and fluffy. it is not too sweet and has a subtle vanilla flavor. i paired it with fresh strawberries and blueberries that i macerated in sugar. topped it all off with some sweetened vanilla whipped cream. enjoy.

simple shortcake

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature is best
1/4 cup warm milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

in a mixer, cream the butter and sugar, about three minutes. beat in the the eggs and vanilla. now add the milk and continue to beat until mixture is well blended, about five minutes. in a separate bowl sift flour with baking powder. gradually add the flour combo to the creamed mixture. beat until combined. mixture will be thick. pour into either a prepared 9x13 pan or two 8 inch round cake pans. bake approximately 25 minutes till lightly golden.

with the round cake layers you can fill and top with your whipped cream and favorite fruit. i baked my cake in a 9x13 pan and make individual shortcakes by cutting large circles with a biscuit cutter.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

happy fourth of july!




we lit a few fireworks for the kids tonight, nothing special, but they get a kick out of it. do you like my son's attire, very sporty, huh? also, i apologize for the dirt and wood, big j took down a big ole cherry tree yesterday(i drove the front end loader), it made a big ole mess, but a perfect area for the sparklers and such. happy red, white and blue.

Friday, July 3, 2009

coconut dream pie


same as the chocolate dream pie, but i used coconut pudding and added about a cup of toasted coconut to the mix. fab-u-lous! i also blind baked a store bought pie shell rather than a graham cracker crust. go for the deep dish, this makes a ton of filling. enjoy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

white castle wannabes




when i saw this recipe over at the big red kitchen(a fun read, go check it out) i just knew i had to give these a try. i also just knew big j would love them, and he did. these super simple sliders were just that, super simple. let me take you through the steps, so hang on....
first, sprinkle dried onion all over a 9x13 pan, as many or as little as you would like. you see the naked side? that is for my four year old, little t. he won't eat the onions, no problem, mama hooked him up. next....
you need two pounds of ground chuck, don't go extra lean because you need the grease to soften up those onions and you want flavor, baby. i am sure they are called sliders for a reason, the grease helps them slide on down your gullet. anyway, pat your burger in your pan, pressing down firmly into the onions. now sprinkle with your favorite seasoned salt. i used adobo seasoning because, well, it was all i had. now cook about 25 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit , the meat will shrink and there will be a lot of grease. drain and pat the burger with a paper towel. now....
see how the meat has shrunk? also, i put my pan inside a larger one to prevent grease spillage overage. now the good stuff, place six pieces of sliced cheese, real cheese please, not that cheese food garbage on humongo the burger and pop back into the oven till melted, maybe two or three minutes. grab your pizza cutter and cut into nice little squares to fit these....
martin's potato party rolls, my personal favorite, split and ready to receive. you can use any size party or dinner roll you would like. top it off with a dill hamburger pickle chip....
and you got this!
white castle wannabes. enjoy, i know i did, so did big j, little t, lily the dog, but not so much c. i think she ate yogurt. she's no fun.

cauliflower cheese, good stuff, bad pic


gawd, that picture is crappy. wow, i am so sorry. i wasn't in the mood to take the hot dish outside to photograph in natural light and besides big j was hungry. he was standing there with spoon in hand to start eating once the lens cap was back in place. you will have to bare with me when i assure you how easy and oh so good this dish is. i don't know much about cooked cauliflower. i am use to eating the raw stuff with ranch dressing from those pre-made veggie trays. anyway, i bought a beautiful head yesterday and then rushed home to searched the net for ideas. i found this recipe, altered the units and got to it. man, i could have eaten the whole dish and came dang near close. give this a try and hey, don't forget to use a good sharp cheddar. make this and you won't have to be told twice to eat your vegetables. enjoy.

cauliflower cheese

one head of cauliflower cut in florets
1 1/3 cups milk
8 oz good sharp cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup butter(half stick)
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
nutmeg, salt., pepper
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

preheat your over to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

boil your cauliflower in salted water till tender, about ten minutes. drain and place in a casserole dish. in a saucepan, whisk together the butter, flour, and milk over medium heat. whisk till thick, maybe 3 or 4 minutes. add in 3/4 of your cheese, mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. taste to check your spices. pour this over your cauliflower. now mix the rest of your cheese with the bread crumbs, sprinkle this on top. bake for about 15-20 minutes till brown and bubbly. keep an eye on it. everybody's oven is different. it can burn quick.