Creole-style wings

The next time you're thinking of making some chicken wings at home... try something other than barbecue or plain baked. Add some spice to your life :)


1 pkg chicken wings (12-14 in a pack)
garlic powder
chili powder
cayenne pepper
black pepper
onion salt

To create seasoning, mix 1 tbsp of each of the seasonings in a small bowl; mix well.
Cut the ends off each chicken wing and then divide that in half (at the bone). Season the meat, and cook (first covered) in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Uncover chicken and cook for an additional 25 minutes. Serve with veggies, fries or whatever you choose. Mine were served with the red beans

Hot Red Beans + Rice

Beans can be tricky. Most people believe that you have to soak them overnight, or for at least 4-6 hours, before you are able to use them in any dish. Well, I have a little trick, that was passed on, for that.

Shhhhhh, cook the beans for 20 minutes in a covered pot of boiling water, first. Drain, and then use.

Small red beans
onions, small, chopped
bell peppers, chopped
jalapenos, diced
smoked sausage, sliced
tomato paste
green onions, chopped
rice, cooked

Pre-cook beans (as mentioned above). Place beans in a large stewing pot, cover beans with water (water should be directly above the beans) over medium heat. Add all other ingredients except jalapenos. Cook for 2 hours stirring only once. Cook another 1 hours, then stir again. Add jalapenos and cook for 1 more hour. Test one of the red beans with a spoon. Bean should be soft and easy to mash. Cook in 30 minute increments until this is achieved.

100th Post & Brauts

So in all of this excited to get back to "bloggin" about my life... I completely forgot out celebrating my 100th blog post. It's aways a milestone that any "true" blogger wants the rest of our community to know about... I'm not exception.

Wooo. Hooo. I blogged 100 times already (well actually this is my 104th posts).

Now, on to the food. One thing that my husband and I love quick and easy food. Brauts "should" fall into this category, however, after a friend of ours (Tony) explained the proper way to cook brauts, there anything but "easy" to prepare.
Easy would mean you could boil (like a hotdog), fry (like a hot link) or microwave (like, well.. both). You have to grill brauts... that's the only way.

Brauts (however many you plan on eating)
hot dog buns

Place brauts on a hot grill (outdoor grill or George Foreman is fine). Rotate braut until it has a even browned tone all the way around. Pour about 1/2 a beer (per 3 brauts) in a shallow pan. Place brauts in the pan, and allow to sit for about 15-20 minutes (BE CAREFUL NOT TO EVER POKE THE BRAUT - you'll lose all the juices). Remove brauts from pan and either plan them back onto the grill for 2 minutes (to get hot) or inside of an oven, preheated, on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes.

While the braut is warming up, slice up an onion and also dip inside the pan of beer. Wrap the onions in foil and place on the grill. Cook for 5 minutes.

Place braut inside bun, put onions on top and drizzle mustard.

Now that's a BRAUT!


Monogrammed cookies

So, one of my closest friends' daughter will be getting married this May.
Hmm, now that I think of it, I think she's getting married on my anniversary.
Anyhoot, Bren wanted to know if I could monogram some cookies for the happy couple to use as favors for both the wedding and shower.

Here is how the came out: (colors = chocolate and "Tiffany" blue)

Shrimp & Roasted Redl Peppers

I decided to add another veggie to my "shrimp-for-the-week" dish.
I added all of the normal stuff (mushrooms, shrimp, green onions), but this
time I added sweet, roasted red peppers and red wine. Yum....

1 lb shrimp
1 carton of mushrooms, sliced
2 slices of rosted peppers (from a jar)
2 tsp, minced garlic (in a jar)
1/2 onion, chopped
green onions, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c red wine
3 tbsp butter

Add butter and oil to skillet, let get hot. Add onion and garlic to pan, season with salt and pepper, sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and peppers, cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and reduce by 1/2. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp is done. Serve over whole wheat pasta. Garnish with chopped green onions.

This dish is slightly "darker" than my other dish. NO doubt because of the red wine used instead of the normal white wine. It's very flavorful.

Straw-Black-Berry smoothie

I'm back...I'm so sorry for staying away... I've been a)busy, b)celebrating my birthday and c)having computer troubles. I get so frustrated whenever my computer becomes slow. It doesn't seem to matter that I've erased almost everything and that all of my files are now loaded via a disc... it doesn't matter. Oh well.

Now on to better news.
I've decided to eat a smoothie-a-day to get in some of the fruit that I normally don't eat. This food came up in a conversation we were having at school, when my instructor mentioned that she makes her smoothies with tofu (I'm not going there yet).

RECIPE: (yields ~2 cups)

1/2 c nonfat (or lowfat) yogurt, plain
1/2 c strawberries, fresh
1/2 c blackberries, frozen
1/2 c orange juice

Alternatives... use soft tofu, instead of yogurt. Use tea instead of orange juice, for a bigger does of antioxidants.

Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend... and enjoy.
The blackberries are really "tart" so you may need to either add more strawberries, or some sugar. Add 1 tbsp at a time..


Happy Birthday to me!

That's right... February 20th is SoCal Pastry Chef's birthday.
I turned somewhere between 25 and 45 today... so that gives you some homework this weekend.
Hopefully my night will be better than my day. I've been running errands and not sitting still at all.
Remember when you were a kid and the ENTIRE DAY was all about you? Hell when I was younger I even use to take off from work for my birthday.

Now it's just another day.


Fried Shrimp Salad

This past V-Day, along with steak, potatoes and mushrooms (this time with a red wine sauce) we had a shrimp salad. The contrasts of textures was a wonderful addition to the soft lettuce, sweet tomatoes, and semi-firm bell peppers.

Spring mix of lettuce
dressing (your favorite)
cherry tomtoes
red/orange bell peppers
shrimp (shell and tail off)
pancake mix (your favorite)
salt & pepper

In a small bowl, combine ingredients for your pancake batter. Season shrimp with seasoning salt, dip into batter. Deep fry in vegetable oil (eiter in a fryer or in a skillet. Drain and cool.

Combine remaining ingredients into a salad bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper. Toss. Top with crunchy shrimp then drizzle your favorite dressing.

Keepin' with the PORK theme...

...I ordered this little beauty after watching an "all about chocolate" special on the Foodnetwork. They talked about at least 5 different gourmet chocolate shops around the US, and Vosges was the one that caught my eye. At the moment they're focus is on their "Flying Chocolate Pig" chocolate bar. They have an entire tab dedicated to chocolate + bacon. YUM!

It's a piece of chocolate, shaped like a pig, wrapped with small ribbon. The chocolate is flavored with pieces of applewood bacon, alder wood smoke salt and deep milk chocolate (41% cacao). WOW!


Chocolate Butter Cookies

*Warning - Over consumption of these cookies could lead to a major "crash" from a sugar high. Recommendation - EAT. MORE. COOKIES. (then just go to sleep - you won't feel a thing).

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 8oz pkg of cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c confectioner's sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese. Add egg. Add vanilla. Mix in cake mix.
Refrigerate 2 hours. Form small balls in palm of your hand and roll in sugar.

Place 1 1/2" apart. Bake for 10 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Cool for 3 minutes, sprinkle tops with more sugar.

Oh. Em. Gee.

Carmel/Marshmellow Apple

One way to get someone to eat more fruit is to cover it with sugar. Hey, maybe the bad and the good cancel each other out, and then you've really ate NOTHING!
(does this work for you?)

Store bought carmel apple dipping kit
Apple(s) - I used 1
1 tbsp butter
5-6 large marshmellows

Insert stick into refrigerated apple. Melt butter and marshmellows on the stove over low heat. Heat carmel sauce in microwave.

Dip apple in carmel sauce, drizzle marshmellow mixture over apple. Wait until the apple cools (and hardens) or until you can't take it anymore. (I lasted 20 minutes)

How to warm a pig...

... put it in a blanket! (hello... is this mic on?)

Ok, so I know that some of us have this "fear" of childhood foods. We all have those foods we SWORE we would never eat again because mom made us eat so much of it as a child that we have no desire to eat it. Mine is pork chops!
Yes, I know they can be good, especially stuffed, grilled, etc.

I can't even cook them properly that's how much I don't like them anymore.

Pigs in a Blanket is one of my favorite childhood foods. It's good no matter what, and so easy to make. It ranks right up there with Sloppy Joes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (I mean, have you ever had a "bad" PB&J sammich?)

Pilsbury crescent rolls
Little smokies

Unroll crescent rolls; cut triangles in half (you get 2 for 1 that way).
Place little smokey on large end, top with some cheese. Roll up towards the point.
Do this like a gazzillion times.

Bake using the package instructions on the dough... and enjoy!


More Sweetheart Sugar Cookies

So, I'm still practicing...see my previous post about "Rains and Floods"
Take a look at these... I'm getting excited.

Mini Churros

So... I get tired of only being able to eat churros when I go to an amusement park, carnival or some other "event" where I have to spend lots of money just to get this tasty treat (same with those damn funnel cakes).

Well, thanks to the Food Network, and a true desire to have this treat, I decided to give it a whirl.

1/2 c butter
1 c water
1/4 tsp salt
2 limes zested (I only used 1)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
vegetable oil
pastry bag
large star tip (I thought mine was large enough... but NOT!)

Melt butter, water, salt and zest of 1 lime in saucepan. Simmer, then whisk in
flour, slowly. Remove from heat and whisk until mixture forms a ball. Slowly add eggs, one at a time. Spoon batter into pastry bag, fitted with large star tip and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Heat oil to 350 degrees.

Pipe 3" long sections (or however long you want) into the oil. Fry for 5-6 minutes, flipping halfway through. Drain on paper towels.
Add sugar and cinnamon to paper bag and when churros are slightly cooled, place in bag and shake. Serve warm.


Nice just Chicken & Rice

So... I'm in the mood for chicken and rice. But not JUST chicken and rice... Arroz co Pollo. I know what it translates too, but Puerto Ricos version of this dish is WAAAAAAYYYYY better than seasoning up a bird and cooking some rice in a cooker.

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (the understood meat of poultry)
1 tbsp Creole seasoning (Zatarains)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 med onion, diced
3 celery sticks, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic (store bought)
2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 c long-grain rice
1 c chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, w/juice (14 oz)
1 1/4 c chicken broth
1 can green chiles, diced
1 bay leaf
2 tsp jalapenos, diced
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c frozen peas (leave frozen)
3/4 c frozen yellow corn (leave frozen)
2 tbsp chopped parsley, fresh

Add oil to large pot (dutch oven). Season chicken with creole seasoning (generously) on both sides. Add to pot and cook on both sides, 2 minutes a side. Remove chicken, and set to the side.

Add celery, onion, paprika and garlic to pot; cook 4 minutes. Add rice to pot, cook 1 minute stirring. Add 1 c broth and tomatoes to pot, cook 1 minute. Add chiles, jalapenos, salt, bay leaf, the rest of the broth and chicken to pot, and cover. Cook 20 minutes, stirring 1/2 way through. Add peas and corn the last 3 minutes. Top with parsley.

This recipe was WAY too easy to make, and came out VERY good.

Oooh, an award!

Thank you to Salt and Pepper for nominating me for this great award. Who knew "pork candy" would get me such praise. What's next... BUTTERED FAT (j/k)


Lemon Meringue Pie

The last recipe that I'll revisit is my all time favorite... Lemon Meringue Pie.

What is there to say... it's LEMON MERINGUE PIE!
It's also another DB challenge recipe (happy reading).

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

The (mini) Party Cakes

This next recipe is actually an old DB challenge recipe (so beware.... it's a long recipe). The reason my cake turned out to be "mini" cakes was because I didn't like way my 'normal' size cake turned out. So... I made a bunch of smaller ones, sliced them in half, filled them... and IT WAS ALL GOOD!

From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (pages 250-252)

Words from Dorie
Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.

For the Cake
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Whisk together the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in more lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Party Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

(I told you it was long .... :(

Pork Candy

I truly do not think I can say this enough. So this next "revisit" was a no brainer. Emeril is credited to showing me the true meaning of how to make bacon "even more happy" when he featured this on one of his shows. I can't remember anything else he cooked that night, but I will always remember THE BACON.

brown sugar

Take however many slices of bacon you are going to consume and set to the side.
In a medium bowl combine brown sugar and pepper. I can't tell you how much to use, but basically I think I used like 1 cup of sugar and 2 tbsp of pepper (sounds like a lot, right? - well there's some leftover for next time around).

Preheat your oven to 375. Place a cooling rack inside of a baking sheet.
Roll each slice of bacon into sugar/pepper mixture - be sure and coat every inch of ht bacon. Lay each slice of bacon on the rack, and bake until you can't stand the smell any more (roughly 10-12 minutes). Note: if you want crispier bacon, just let it bake a little longer.

Oh. My. God. It's the best!

Cheesecake Pops

So, since it's raining... and I'm dead tired... I decided to revisit some of my favorite old recipes.

First up... Cheesecake Pops. These are amazing. Just make a simple cheese cake recipe, once the cheesecake sets, roll into small balls; insert lollipop stick, and freeze. Dip in your favorite toppings, and your on your way.

(5) 8oz pkgs of cream cheese, room temperature
2 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 heavy cream
boiling water as necessary
lollipop sticks (30-40)
1lb chocolate, finely chopped (white chocolate is harder to use)
2 tbsp vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 325. Start boiling some water.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt until smooth (low speed if using mixer). Add whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time. Add vanilla and cream. Beat until smooth.

Grease 10" cake pan (not spring foam) and pour batter in. Place this pan inside a larger rosting pan with boiling (fill 1/2 up sides). Bake 35-45 minutes or until firm and light golden brown. Remove from water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold (4 hours or overnight).

Scoop 2oz ball and place on parchment paper, on a baking sheet. Insert sticks. Freeze pops, uncovered, until hard - at least 1 hour. After the pops are frozen you can then dip them into melted chocolate and decorate with nuts, sprinkles, etc.


Happy 2nd Birthday Chris!

Two years ago today my youngest son was born. At around this time, on that day, he had already received his bath, met his brother and sister and stolen the hearts of both mommy and daddy.

Today, my precious Chris is going through "bottle withdrawls" because TODAY is the day that we throw away the bottle and begin potty training (I know... what a horrible birthday gift).

Every year on his birthday I remember a picture that I took when we was only a few weeks old. The pic shows just how small he was... I mean "really" small (6lb 3oz). I also take a picture every year to show just how big he's gotten.

We had a party for him on Saturday, and lots of his friends/family showed up. We played the Wii (friendly competition), blocks, and ate lots of food. Chris tired out before the party was over, but we woke him up just in time to blow out his candles.

He is truly a special little guy. He's the smartest baby I know and has an incredible memory. He's able to make us smile and laugh any time he wants and we love him for being his own little person (with an attitude and all) already.

Thank you baby for making mommy so proud and happy every day.