Friday, December 25, 2009

Cashew-Lemon Shortbread Cookies

It's Christmas and one of the many traditions we have is my two girls and I make cookies together.

This year I thought I would try a few new recipes. This one was a huge hit. For sure we will be making them again!

Cashew-Lemon Shortbread Cookies
from Santa's Favorite Cookies 

1/2 cup roasted cashews
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
Additional sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Place cashews in food processor; process until finely ground. Add butter, sugar, lemon extract and vanilla; process until well blended. Add flour; process using on/off pulses until dough is well blended and begins to form a ball.

2. Shape dough into 1-1/2-inch balls; roll in additional sugar.

Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets; flatten slightly with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.

3. Bake 17 to 19 minutes or just until set and edges are lightly browned. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beer Bread

This is comfort food for me. My mom made this bread all the time when we were growing up. Yesterday she told me she was making it and I could taste it. She gave me the recipe over the phone and I just had to make it, right then.

You don't bake bread you say? Well, start! There is nothing like homemade bread. This bread is SO EASY! There really is NO EXCUSE! No kneading, no rising....just mix and bake. It's really THAT easy.

The only thing you need is cheap beer. You know the can you have left over from a party because someone liked this cheap beer (not dark beer) and now you'll have that can until the next party? That beer.

Beer Bread

12 oz of beer
3 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 350˚F. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a greased and floured bread pan. I like to line the pan with parchment paper to make removal easier. Bake for 1 hour. The bread will be a beautiful golden color and sound hollow. When it looks's done.

If you do not have self rising flour on hand (which I didn't yesterday) you can make your own.
1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Make enough for the recipe above and you're set.

See, really no excuse.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Julie Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

By now you have probably seen the wonderful movie, Julie and Julia. If you haven't you have got to see it. One suggestion, don't go on an empty stomach and don't eat a hot dog in the theater as you are watching this movie.

I loved learning more about Julia Child. How she got her start in cooking, her wonderfully romantic relationship with her husband and how she loved food and Paris.

In the movie they make Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. It just looks absolutly delicious in the movie I couldn't wait to try it. My husband has been telling me he was going to make this dish for me for years. Really, years. After taking him to see the movie my husband started thinking about Boeuf Bourguignon again.

My wonderful husband made me Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. It happen to be his birthday dinner. (yes he made his own birthday dinner. I'm a horrible wife) It was so delicious. I just can't describe it. I'm not a writer, I'm a photographer. So, the best way I know is my description of this wonderful dish.

I highly recommend you make this dish. If you don't have the book, get it or borrow it!

Tortellini Soup

or as we call it Tortellini Zuppa.

This is a family favorite in the Fall and Winter. I like to freeze the left overs in small individual containers. It's a very easy and fast.

Tortellini Soup
from Woman's Day Magazine 4 March 2003

Serves 4 as a main dish
Active: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Sprinkle the soup with finely shredded Parmesan cheese and accompany with crusty Italian bread.

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium ribs celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cans (14 oz each) fat-free- chicken broth
1 pkg (9 oz) refrigerated tortellini (I like to Italian Sausage, but the 3 cheese is good too.)
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed
1 bag (6 oz) fresh baby spinach
1/2 to 1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp pepper

Heat oil in a 4-qt saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Saute until soft. Add broth and 2 cups water.

Bring to a boil; stir in tortellini and simmer as package directs. Stir in remaining ingredients; heat through.

Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tuna Salad

This recipe brings many fond memories to mind. When my husband and I were first married we would visit our good friends in South Pasadena. Almost every visit TC would make this wonderful salad for us. Now when I make this salad I think of all the wonderful visits we had in South Pas.

We still see our wonderful friends, M & TC (who is a BMCC member, BTW), but they are no longer in South Pas.

Now when we visit with M and TC there are four little girls playing together. So many new memories we have and continue to make with them. All around food. Our visits have always and continue to be around wonderful meals.

Thank you TC and M for all those wonderful South Pas visits, and thank you for all the wonderful recipes you have given us over the years. This is one of many.

I made this salad yesterday for a school fundraiser meeting. It was such a hit I had to add it to the blog. I can't believe I hadn't added it before! I also made Harvest Cobb Salad and served a wonderful french bread along with it. It would also be nice for a light dinner.

Tuna Salad

2 cans (6 1/8 oz ea) Solid White Tuna
1 rib Celery, finely diced
1/3 cup peeled & finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons, dill pickle relish
1 hard cooked egg, peeled & coarsely grated or chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
about 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Gently flake tuna with a fork with out mashing. Mix remaining ingredients except mayonnaise and toss togther. Add just enough mayonnaise to moisten blend well.

Makes 2 large salads, 3-4 small salads or 4 sandwiches


Sorry there is not picture. I thought for sure the recipe was on the blog already. I'll try and make it again soon and take a picture before it's all gone.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Camping Menu

Two weeks ago we went on a family camping trip. I thought it would be fun to post what our menu was for the few days we were there.

For dinner on our first night we made Kindergarten Jambalaya.
We make this a lot at home, but it was the absolute BEST at camp!

To help speed things up and make it easier at camp, I cut everything up ahead of time. All I needed to do was dump things in the pan to brown. Which is the key to this recipe. Make sure each item gets nice and brown. Then dump everything together.

I also pre-cooked the rice, we had with the Jambalaya, at home. It was about room temperature when we had it. Since the Jambalaya was hot it worked out fine.

Breakfast the next morning was pancakes and breakfast sausage. Again, I pre-measured everything so it was easy to put together at camp.

Lunch was hot dogs and fruit.

Dinner on our second night was steak, potatoes and asparagus. Oh my gosh was it good.
My husband par boiled the potatoes, at home, that he had cut into wedges. He seasoned them with EVOO, salt and pepper and put them in a zip top bag. At camp he then put them on the griddle pan to cook the rest of the way and brown.

He did the same thing with the asparagus.

The steak, ah the steak.
That he grilled on a fire. Well, the wood had turned into coals by the time he put the steak on. It was grilled to perfection!

We had our delicious dinner with a glass of Castle Rock Pino Noir. Now this is a meal!

For Breakfast on our last morning (we always make it easy), we had instant oatmeal. I know, everything else we had and then we end with instant oatmeal. Well, if you camp, you know it takes twice as long to clean up and we needed to have time to pack everything up.

Next camping trip our girls have asked to stay longer. They are such great campers, this won't be a problem. Where to go next year? I would like to try camping near the beach. I love the redwoods, but it something different would be fun.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Opening a Banana

How do you open a banana? If you are like most people I know, you try to open it from the stem part. Sometimes it doesn't open nicely, the top gets smooshed, or you can't open it at all.

Check out this video on YouTube and you will learn how to
Open a Banana Like a Monkey!

Why am I just learning this?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Au Gratin Potatoes

Sorry I don't have a picture of this. I forgot.

I wanted something different (besides mashed) to do with potatoes to go with our meatloaf. I looked through six of my cookbooks before I found this. Good old Betty Crocker.

It was a big hit. Everyone loved it. I will be making it again, for sure.

Au Gratin Potatoes
1979 printing of Betty Crocker's Cookbook

Serves 6

2 pounds potatoes (about 6 medium)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded natural sharp Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

Wash potatoes remove eyes and cut into enough thin slices to measure about 4 cups.

Cook and stir onion in butter in 2-quart saucepan until onion is tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk and 1-1/2 cups of the cheese. heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Place potatoes in ungreased 1-1/2-quart casserole. Pour cheese sauce on potatoes. Cook uncovered in 325˚ oven 1 hour 20 minutes or in 375˚ oven 1 hour.

Mix remaining cheese and the bread crumbs; sprinkle over potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Cook uncovered until top is brown and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes longer. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

This Weeks Menu

Monday - Make your own pizza.
I usually buy Mama Mary's individual size pre-cooked pizza crust and have everyone make their own pizza. Lately the store hasn't had the individual size. I've been buying the package with 2 medium size. I make one for myself and the girls make the other. We have plenty of left overs for lunch.

Tuesday - Deli Dinner
We make our own sandwiches. I usually have a few choices of lunch meat. I cut up some fruit. For a treat, sometimes I'll have chips.

Wednesday - Meatloaf, Green Beans, & Potatoes
This I will pull from the freezer. I have about 3 loaves left of the 10 lb batch my husband and I made. I love having meatloaf in the freezer.

Thursday - Jambalaya

I can't forget to buy the shrimp on Friday morning.

Saturday - Chicken Bolognese and green salad
My husband will have to enjoy this Sunday for lunch. Which will be even better actually.

Sunday - Left Overs

Now, all I need to do is go shopping.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Sorry I don't have a picture, but I haven't made these yet. These are just too good not to post right now.

My daughters and I were lucky enough to have these at a friends house over the weekend. Delicious! Oh my gosh they were good. My daughters could NOT stop eating them. I don't think there was one single pancake left. When my friend told me there was cornmeal in the pancakes, I must admit, I was a little curious, but the cornmeal gives the pancakes a great texture and little crunch. Thanks MH for a wonderful meal!

Martha Stewart

Makes about twenty-four 4-1/2 inch pancakes

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
2 large eggs, separated, whites beaten to soft peaks
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle

Preheat electric griddle to 375 degrees. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add egg yolks, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps; fold in egg whites.

Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Use a pastry brush to spread remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter on griddle. Wipe off excess.

Use a 2-ounce ladle, about 1/4 cup, and pour batter in pools two inches apart. When pancakes bubble on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2-1/2 minutes, flip. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1-1/2 minutes.

Place on plate in preheated oven until ready to serve.

NOTE:  My friend uses half the buttermilk (1-1/2 cups). She has found it too runny otherwise. She also added smashed bananas. Very yummy addition.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Barbie Doll Cake

I made a Barbie doll cake for my daughters birthday party. I thought I would share how I did it.

You can purchase special cake molds to make the skirt. I did not want to pay the $17, especially since I already have things at home I could use. 

I used the Pampered Chef large batter bowl. It is the perfect shape. The only issue when using the Pampered Chef large batter bowl is baking the cake evenly. If you purchase the cake mold (sold at Michael's and other stores where they sell Wilton products) the mold comes with a heat-conducting rod. This rod helps your cake bake evenly.

Not having a heat-conducting rod, I looked for tips online. I found a great tip at Instead of baking my cream cheese pound cake at 350˚F for one hour I baked it at 250˚F for 2 hours. It worked out great. The cake baked very evenly.

The cake skirt you make will be a little short if you want to use a regular Barbie or Barbie type doll. You have a few choices. You can purchase a cake doll which is just the top half. Instead of legs there is a pick (which is what I did). Another option is to purchase a cheap barbie type doll at the dollar store and just rip the legs off.

I used buttercream frosting for my cake. I purchased it at Cake Works in Campbell. Since I was making a bride doll, I knew Cake Works would have pure white and it saved me some time not to make it myself. It was worth the trip. 

I am just learning how to use a pastry bag and tips. I need more practice, but it was fun decorating this cake. This time I made the bodice of the dress with the frosting and the small flower tip. The first time I made a barbie cake I used fondant for the bodice. Either is fine. Just depends on what you are comfortable with and what look you want. 

The look was complete with flowers and veil from my daughters Barbie.

I had a lot of fun making this cake for my daughters birthday party. The most important thing is my daughter loved it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Easy Sticky Buns

My friend, and fellow BMCC member, posted this recipe on her blog. I had to try it.

It is so good I had to post it.

This is a must try recipe!

Easy Sticky Buns (makes 12)
A Barefoot Contessa Recipe

12 tablespoons (1 & 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

For the Filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1-1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll about 1/2 inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1-1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only. invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Herb & Cheese Chicken Tenders

This recipe is from Rachel Ray. It's a fun dish to make with the kids. I like getting the kids involved in making dinner. (when I'm not in a hurry, or cranky) They will eat better when they help prepare the dinner. Especially if it's something new or something they don't really like to eat.

This one can be messy. Might I suggest using disposable rubber/latex gloves when coating the chicken tenders. It helps with cross contamination and its easy clean up, especially if you have the kids help. I like to keep a box under my kitchen sink.

Herb & Cheese Chicken Tenders

Light olive oil, for frying
1 & 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup water

1 & 1/2 cups Italian-Style bread crumbs (eyeball it)
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (2 to 3 handfuls)
6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, stripped & chopped (2 to 3 tablespoons)
6 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
2 handfuls chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place a nonstick cookie sheet in oven with a foil liner.

Heat 1/2 inch oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat.

Season chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Beat eggs with water in a second dish. In a third dish, combine the remaining ingredients. Coat chicken in flour, then egg, then breads and cheese mixture.

Add chicken to the skillet and cook until deeply golden on each side, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to hot cookie sheet already in oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Cook 5 or 6 tenders at a time in a single layer, adding additional oil if necessary. If chicken browns too quickly, lower heat slightly. Serve chicken hot or cold with green salad, or complete as a parmigiana (make pasta with a tomato sauce).

Banana Cookies

So you have a few very ripe bananas sitting on your counter and you really don't want to make bread again. Try cookies. Yes, cookies. They are so good. Very cake like. I would like to try them in mini muffin molds.

My sister-in-law (and BMCC member) emailed us this recipe. Try them. They won't last long.

Banana Cookies

·                                 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
·                                 1 cup of sugar
·                                 1 egg, room temperature
·                                 1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 ½ large bananas)
·                                 1 teaspoon of baking soda
·                                 2 cups of flour
·                                 pinch of salt
·                                 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
·                                 1 teaspoon of vanilla
·                                 1 cup of pecans (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg & vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
2 In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.
3 Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.
4 Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.
Makes about 30 cookie

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jambalaya from Fun Friday

On Friday mornings I help in my daughters Kindergarten class. They call it Fun Friday for a good reason. They do an art project and it's cooking day. Sound like a fun day to me!

Today's recipe was Jambalaya. Not authentic (not spicy and no shrimp), but so yummy I had to share. Especially since my daughter loved it!

The rule in Kindergarten is if the kids don't like it, they don't have to eat it. The teacher tells them, "I am not your mother and I am not your father." They do need to circle Yum or Yuk on the recipe sheet.

Here is Jambalaya a la Kindergarten

1 lb smoked sausage - sliced
1 lb ground beef
1 green pepper - chopped
1/2 cup green onion - chopped
5 cloves garlic - minced
1-28 oz can diced/chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

White Rice - cooked

Brown the ground beef. Brown the sausage. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

Serve over rice.

Serves 4-6

I've been told (I have never had Jambalaya) that you can add shrimp. If you would like it spicy, use spicy sausage and peppers. From what I understand it's a dump type recipe. If there is something you have on hand that sound good, dump it in.

Any other tips and tricks for making Jambalaya? Leave a comment. I would love to hear about other versions. This was so yummy!