BOLICHE (STUFFED SPANISH EYE OF ROUND ROAST)

  • IMG_5998IMG_5999
  • 3-4 lb beef eye round roast  (have butcher make a hole in the middle of the roast about the size of a 50 cent piece.  Do not go all the way through to the other end, see note*)
  • 9.5 oz. ground chorizo
  • 1.5 lb. ham slice, cut into small chunks
  • 5 oz. sharp cheddar, cut into small chunks
  • 3 T capers
  • 3 T green spanish olives w/pimentos
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 large onion, cut in strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 1 T oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 packet Goya Sazon con Azafran
  • 1 large pinch Saffron
  • 1- 28 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C good red wine
  • 1/2 C water
  • Adobo Seasoning, garlic salt, paprika or smoked paprika for seasoning
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 lb. small potatoes (added the last hour)

*Note:  When you purchase the “Boliche” or Eye of Round roast from a good Spanish or Cuban meat market, the butcher will usually stuff it for you!  But if you live somewhere (like the Keys) and you only have Publix, you have to stuff it yourself!  So ask the butcher to cut a hole in the center of the roast about the side of a 50 cent piece!  If you are lucky enough to buy it stuffed, skip part 1!

Directions:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cooks for 3 hours, checking and basting every hour.

Part 1:

Mix the ground chorizo, ham chunks, and cheddar cheese chunks in a bowl.  Stuff the IMG_5994roast tightly.  Secure the open in with large wooden skewers and cut off any part of the skewer that sticks out too much: (Note:  This will make too much stuffing, place the leftover stuffing in a plastic bag and freeze for the next roast, or use in omelets!)

Part 2:  Sprinkle the roast with Adobo seasoning, garlic salt, and paprika.  Add 1/3 C olive oil to large roasting pot which has a lid.  Heat oil to med.-high.  Brown the roast on all sides to seal in the juices.  When browned, remove from the pot and set aside.  IMG_5984IMG_5986





Part 3:  In the same pot as the beef was in, add the strips of onion and bell pepper, and IMG_5996garlic, saute for 3 minutes.  Add saffron , oregano, olives, capers, pinch of sugar, and Sazon seasoning.  Saute another 3 minutes.  Deglaze with 1/2 C good red wine.  Turn down the heat and simmer about three minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and water and stir well.  Place the roast back in the pot and spoon some of the sauce on top of the meat.  Cover and place in the pre-heated 325 degree oven for 1 hour (set your timer).  After the 1st hour, turn the roast and baste, (set your timer again).  After 2nd hour, add the potatoes around the beef and turn the beef (set your time again).  Cook a total of 3 hours.    When roast is done, take the pot out of the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes.  Skim all the fat that has come to the top and discard.

Serves 6-8:  Serve slices of roast with lots of tomato sauce gravy on top with some potatoes.  (Traditionally served with black beans & rice and fried plantains)  It can be made ahead of time and reheated in the oven.

IMG_6001 

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NO-BAKE STRAWBERRY/BERRY CREAM OREO CHEESECAKE with STRAWBERRY COULIS

This is one of those simple recipes that looks extraordinary!  Your guest will rave!  It’s also great for the last days of summer and is cool and light.  There is no baking and it is best to leave in the freezer until serving.  I hope you enjoy it!

IMG_5911IMG_5913

IMG_5975CHEESECAKE:IMG_5897

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened (2-8 oz. packages, can use low-fat version)
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 T real vanilla extract
  • 2 T good Strawberry Jelly or Jam    (an additional 2 T strawberry jam set aside)
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • l lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in to thin slices,  lengthwise (7 left whole with tops chopped off for decoration)

BERRY CREAM OREO CRUST:

  • 24 whole Berry Cream Oreo cookies (there will be about 6 left in the package, enjoy with coffee or give to the kids!)IMG_5896
    1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

OPTIONAL:

1 bag of sliced almonds for decoration

Preparation:

In a food processor, add the Oreo cookies and blend until the texture is like coarse meal or IMG_5899 crumbs. Add the melted butter and blend in the food processor until well combine.

Place the ground crumb mixture into a springform pan or (9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie IMG_5900pan) which you IMG_5898have lined with a round piece of wax paper, cut to size.  Press firmly the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides evenly. Try to make the crust about 1/8 inch evenly all around.

Refrigerate the crust for at least an hour before you add the filling. This will help prevent crumbling when you want to serve it.  Makes 1 pie crust.

While crust is in the refrigerator, beat cream cheese, sugar, 2 T strawberry jelly, and IMG_5904extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth (about 1 1/2 minutes).  With a large spoon or spatula, gently stir in whipped topping until totally combined.   Set aside in the refrigerator.  Slice the strawberries into thin slices, lengthwise (leave 7 whole with stems removed for garnish if you desire).

Take out the crust from the refrigerator and add a layer of cream cheese mixture.  Then a layer of  sliced strawberries on IMG_5905top of 1st cream cheese layer. Now layer the rest of the cream cheese on top of the slices of strawberries and spread around evenly.  Refrigerate 3 hours or until set (or place in the freezer for 1 hour).

Before serving, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan.  Make sure to run a very sharp knife around the side of the pan for easier removal.  (Take care to remove the cheesecake from the bottom of the spring-form pan, you might have to use a thin knife to help lift the bottom in one spot to get started, it helps to use a very flat spatula:  also, be careful not to break the cheesecake.)  Place on a serving dish.  Use the remaining strawberry slices to decorate the top and around the sides. (see pictures).

Place 2 T Strawberry jelly in a small bowl and IMG_5910microwave for 30 seconds.  Brush melted jelly on top of the strawberries.   (If you chose to decorate with sliced almonds, hold the entire pie with one hand from the bottom over the sink and use your hands to scoop almonds and pat around the sides of the pie, making sure most stay on the pie, the rest will fall into the sink).     Keep the decorated pie in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Cut while semi-frozen, it will be easier to cut and serve.  Place it on a dessert plate that has been drizzled with Strawberry Coulis.   It will thaw fast.  Serves 8

OPTIONAL:   STRAWBERRY COULIS

  • 1  16 oz. Frozen Sliced Strawberries (Publix brand is great), thawed

Place the entire amount of the frozen sliced strawberries with the syrup into your food processor.  Process until fully pureed.   Use a drizzle spoon or plastic squeeze bottle to decorate the bottom of the dessert plate before placing the slice of cheesecake on top.

IMG_5914

 

IMG_5916

Drizzle Spoon

IMG_5917

Drizzle unto dessert plate!

Simple Strawberry Coulis

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

BEST EVER TOASTED COCONUT CREAM PIE

IMG_5801

Ingredients: (serves 6 to 8)

  • 1 pie crust, pre-baked according to package directions (I use Pillsbury).

FOR THE TOASTED COCONUT TOPPING:

  • 1 C flaked, sweetened coconut

FOR THE COCONUT CUSTARD:

  • 1 1/2 C  coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 C half and half
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 C flaked, sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coconut flavor extract

FOR THE WHIPPED TOPPING:

  • 2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 tsp. coconut flavor extract

Instructions:

Prepare pie crust according to blind-baking instructions of recipe.  Set aside. (It’s important to weigh down the pie crust while baking it by placing wax paper on top of the pie crust and add weights.  You can buy weights just for this purpose, or use dry beans.)

For the Toasted Coconut Topping:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet.  Place into 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until coconut has begun to turn brown.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the Coconut Custard:

Pour coconut milk and half & half into a liquid measuring cup.  Add egg yolks and whisk together until well blended.  Set aside.

Add sugar and cornstarch to a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium low heat.  Whisk egg and milk mixture together once more and then slowly begin to add the egg and milk mixture into saucepan containing the sugar and cornstarch, whisking together constantly.  Bring custard mixture to a boil (still whisking).   Once boiling,  change to a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and continue to stir constantly.  Boil one minute while stirring.

Remove from heat and add butter, coconut, coconut extract and salt, stir to combine.  Spread custard into pie crust.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until set, at least an hour.

For the Whipped Topping:

Add sugar and heavy whipping cream to large bowl.  Beat on high with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form.  Add the coconut extra and whisk just until combined.

Spread whipped cream on top of coconut custard.  Top with toasted coconut.  Refrigerate until ready to serve (keep refrigerated).    Sooooo delicious!

 

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LIMEY CRAB SALAD WITH TOMATOES AND AVOCADO

IMG_5781
Ingredients:  (serves 6)

  • 6 T fresh squeeze lime juice
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 T very finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1 1/2 T chopped cilantro (fresh), plus some extra for garnish
  • T honey
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat (get the best available)
  • 2 Hass avocados, diced small
  • 1/2 C minced red onion
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into 6 1/2 inch thick slices
  • fresh tortilla chips for serving
  • favorite spring mix lettuce

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeño, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Always Taste!!  Set aside.

In another small bowl, toss the crab with 3 to 4 tablespoon of the dressing and mix gently, breaking up some of the lumps of crab.  Salt and pepper to taste.   In a third small bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing; season with salt & pepper.

Set out 6 dessert/salad plates.  Place a handful to salad greens on each place.  Place one slice of tomato on top of the salad greens, season with salt and pepper.  At this point, it is very helpful to have a ring mode!  If you have a mode, place it on top of the tomato and then add the avocado mixture (you need to divide the avocado mixture into 6 separate piles).  If you are using the mode, place the crab meat mixture on top (again separate the crab mixture into 6 separate piles).   Pat down the crab and avocado inside the ring mode and then lift the mode.  (If you do not have a mode, just pile on top each item, it will spill over slightly).  

Note:  You can stop at this point and wrap each plate with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  When you remove from the refrigerator, there might be some water on the bottom, make sure you hold the mixture and tilt the plate to drain!

Garish with the extra chopped cilantro.  Drizzle the remaining dressing on top and serve with the homemade pita chips.

Homemade Pita Chips:

  • 1 package pita
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • garlic salt

Cut approx. 6 pita’s into four pieces.  Gently pull each piece of pita apart, making two out of one.  Place each piece on a large baking sheet.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so that they don’t burn.  You can make these the day before and put into a zip lock bag!IMG_5779 IMG_5780

 

Posted in Soups and Salads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

SPICE GRILLED KEY WEST PINK SHRIMP WITH YUM YUM SAUCE AND JASMINE RICE

This is an easy and impressive dish for you or your company.  It’s “semi-homemade” and it is delicious.  Follow these simple directions and sample plating for a great dinner!  You can increase the amount of shrimp by 6 for each additional serving or decrease to make for 2! IMG_5636 IMG_0919

IMG_0915Serves 4 with 6 shrimp each:

Ingredients:

  • 24 large Key West Pink shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 to 2 packages fresh rosemary
  • 1 -Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Season Blends “Seafood Magic”
  • 1 -16 oz. bottle Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce
  • olive oil
  • Jasmine rice -prepare according to package directions ( salt & butter for the rice)

Optional:  Cherry tomatoes, balsamic glaze, and chopped fresh rosemary  for garnish

First,  clean and devein your shrimp (unless you get the fish market to do it!), rinse well and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

Second,  you should start preparing the Jasmine rice, according to the directions on your rice package. (Since I was making this recipe just for 2, I used one cup of rice, if you are making for 4, use 2 cups of rice).  Rice usually takes 20 minutes to cook.   While it’s cooking, start seasoning and skewing the shrimp.

Strip the leaves from the lower half of each rosemary sprig to make a skewer (you’ll need 8 skewers).  Thread shrimp onto skewers 3 at a time.  Brush both sides of the shrimp with olive oil then lightly coat with a sprinkle of the spice mixture on both sides.    Heat stove top grill on high heat.  Place shrimp on grill and cook 2-3 minutes per side until opaque.  Set aside.

IMG_5630

How it looks before I put the shrimp and drizzled the balsamic glaze.

PLATING:  Place a nice amount of Yum-Yum sauce on the bottom of a plate.  Spoon about a cup of the cooked rice into a one cup measuring cup or ramekin.  Press the rice down in the cup.  Invert the cup onto the center of the plate on top of the Yum-Yum sauce. Place two skewers of shrimp on top of the rice.

Optional:  Cherry tomatoes, cut in half, spread around the outskirt of the plate for garnish.  Drizzle balsamic glaze over the finished plate.   Sprinkle chopped rosemary over finished product.

Serve with a side salad and dinner is ready!

Try it with this salad:  Watermelon & Feta Salad  :

http://wp.me/p121O6-34

 

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

OSSO BUCO IN SLOW COOKER WITH EASY CREAMY POLENTA

This is one of those dishes that is perfect for entertaining.  You can make it ahead and let it cook all day.  Keep it warm in the slow cooker and enjoy your company.  It is delicious and very impressive!!  Be prepared for leftovers, as the portions are large.  You can serve this over white or yellow rice or parmesan risotto!  If you can go to a good meat market, ask the butcher for veal shanks cut cross-wise with as much meat on them as possible.  A good side vegetable would be haricots verts (French green beans)!
IMG_5464IMG_5462IMG_0879

IMG_0881Serves 4  (Can double for 8)

OSSO BUCO

  • 4 veal shanks (or pork shanks) (3 to 4 lbs.)– About 1 lb. each and 1 1/2 to 2 in. thick
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 med. red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C good white wine such as a Chardonnay (If you can’t drink it by itself, don’t use it)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 C crushed tomatos
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme

GREMOLATA (garnish)                                                          IMG_5456

  • 3 T finely chopped parsley
  • 1 T finely grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced

Instructions:

Generously season shanks with salt & pepper.  Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high head and add the shanks.  Brown on all sides and remove from pan.  (Usually takes about 10 minutes).

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until the onion softens (about 4 min.).  Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan.  Now add the carrot, celery, tomatoes, broth, oregano, and thyme, and bring to a boil.

Transfer the shanks to the bottom of a slow cooker, then pour the broth/vegetables mixture over the top.  Cover and cook until veal shanks are tender–about 6-7  hours on low.   Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic and lemon zest (2 lemons to make 2 T zest) to make a gremolata.   (Place the leftover lemons is a plastic bag after zesting, refrigerate for later use)   When Osso Buco is ready, get a large spoon and spoon out as much grease as you can from the top and discard.

Serve the shanks on top of the creamy polenta and sprinkle with the gremolata. (Remove shanks with a spatula to keep in tack)

EASY CREAMY POLENTA

  • 3 C chicken broth
  • 1 C polenta
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 lb. Brie, Camembert, or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large, covered baking dish, mix together broth, polenta, and salt. Cover, and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove polenta from the oven, cut the cheese into cubes after removing any rind, and stir into polenta until completely melted.

Return polenta to oven for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered, until slightly browned and bubbly.

Note:  Polenta is also known as “Italian Grits”, so if you can’t find polenta, you can use old fashion grits!

IMG_5458IMG_5460 IMG_5459IMG_5461

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

SPANISH BEAN SOUP WITH CABBAGE

20140419-140225.jpg

20140419-131029.jpg

  • 1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, diced
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 3 T Sofrito
  • pinch Saffron
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 large can of whole tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 1 large breakfast ham with bone in (or leftover hambone with some ham)
  • 2 large cans garbanzo beans (28 oz.),  drained, then, 2 cans water measured in can
  • 2 chorizos, cut up round
  • 1 small head of cabbage, cut in 8ths
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut up in cubes
  • 1 package Sazon (Goya), or Vigo Yellow Food Flavoring & Coloring
  • salt & pepper to taste

Use a very large pot! Add olive oil to the pot. Chop the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Add this trio to the pot and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add oregano and 3 T Sofrito (you can buy a jar of this in the Latin section of your grocery store, Use Goya or Iberia). Add pinch of Saffron, stir and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the large can of whole tomatoes, squeezing  the whole tomatoes with your hand before adding, make sure the tomatoes are  broken up.  Include the tomato sauce from the can.    Stir and leave on low-medium heat. Cut up the breakfast ham, discarding obvious fat. Add ham to the pot (including the bone). Cut up the two chorizos in rounds, and add to the pot.   Stir. Drain the large cans of garbanzo beans and add to the pot, discard any liquid from the cans. Measure two cans of tap water (use the garbanzo beans can) and add to the pot.   Stir.   Cut the base of the cabbage off and discard along with outer leaves and wash.  Cut cabbage head in 8 pieces, add to pot. Peel and cut potatoes in large cubes and add to pot. Add 1 package of Sazon or Vigo Yellow Food Flavoring. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cover and let cook for about 1/2 hour on medium (stirring occasionally) until the cabbage, beans and potatoes are soft! Serve with a side of toasted Cuban bread and enjoy!

Posted in Soups and Salads | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

STRAWBERRY & CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

IMG_4722Last minute party!!  Need a quick, yet delicious cake??  Use what you have on hand.  Always have a box of yellow or white cake mix in your pantry, along with chocolate chips and nuts in your freezer.  Keep 8 ounces of cream cheese and butter in the refrigerator.  You can put together this cake in an hour, including baking time!!  Use an aluminum -throw away pan for baking and you can take it to any party and not worry about getting the pan back!  I always keep some on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Yellow or White Cake Mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C water
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 16 oz. Fresh Strawberries container
  • 1 C Semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)
  • 1/3 C chopped pecans or walnuts (whatever you have, even sliced almonds)

Optional:  Throw away aluminum 11 by 14 cake pan and powder sugar for dusting

Spray 11″ by 14″ pan with Pam for baking, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Follow the directions on the box of cake mix.  It usually calls for 3 eggs, 1 C water, and 1/3 C vegetable oil.  Place the cake mix in a large bowl, add the eggs, water, and oil and beat ingredients together at med.-high speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until well blended.   Add 1/2 C chocolate chips into the batter, stir around gently with a spoon.   Pour the cake mix into the pan, spread around, and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Stick a toothpick into the cake and make sure it comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 -8 oz. package cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 stick of butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 C powder sugar

Place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer about 3 minutes until well blended.  Add vanilla, blend.  Slowly add the powder sugar while beating slowly until fully incorporated.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When the cake is baked, place it on a cooling rack and let it completely cool.

When it’s cooled, top the entire cake with the cream cheese frosting.  Spreading it evenly around the entire cake.

Decorate:  Rinse and pat dry the strawberries.  Pull out 6 nice strawberries from the pack, leave the stem on and make side by side cuts along the length of the strawberry, but not cutting through at the top.  Then spread the strawberry open and set aside.  Do this to all 6 strawberries.  Cut the tops off the rest of the strawberries and discard the stems.  Then cut each strawberry all the way through in thin strips.  Place 4 of the flared strawberries around the corners and two back to back in the middle.  Then place each piece of the cut strawberry around the outside of the cake.  See the picture and follow the design!  Sprinkle 1/2 C chocolate chips and 1/3 C chopped walnuts, pecans, or sliced almonds.  Optional:  dust with powder sugar.  Refrigerate.  Serves 10-12.20140209_200325

Posted in Desserts | 4 Comments

Chicken Fricassee

IMG_4720

IMG_4717IMG_0768This is a great dish to make a lot of, it taste as good the next day!  I always make a lot and have at least three meals from it.  This dish serves 6 to 8 people for dinner.  I wouldn’t hesitate to make this for a dinner party.  You can make it ahead and just warm it up right before you serve it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Publix Mojo Marinade
  • salt and pepper
  • combination of skinless chicken pieces (I use 2 large chicken breast, cut in half, 4 thighs, 4 drumsticks-your choice of pieces)
  • 1 C flour for dusting chicken pieces
  • 1/2 C olive oil (or more as needed)
  • 3 med. red potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 C white wine
  • 1 C water
  • 1 C stuffed green olives
  • 1/2 C golden raisins
  • 1 – 6 oz. bottle of Kirby Sofito

(Serve with white rice, peas, and small piece of Sweet Red Pimiento)

Add the skinless chicken pieces to the Mojo Marinade (either inside 2 plastic bags or a plastic bowl-covered); refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and blot on paper towels.  Reserve 1 C marinade.

Salt and pepper the chicken pieces liberally on both sides.  Lightly dust the chicken with flour.  Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.  Fry the chicken in small batches, turning once, just to a light browning (about 4 min. per side).

Have a large casserole pot ready on the side burner and place the fried chicken in the casserole pot (do not have burner on).  After all the chicken has been browned, add the cut up potatoes to the frying pan with the existing oil (you might have to add more oil).  Fry the potatoes to slightly brown, about 4  min.  Drain on paper towels, and add to the chicken in casserole pot.  Next fry the onion and bell pepper until translucent, about 3 minutes.   Drain on paper towels and add to chicken pot.

Add tomato sauce, wine, water, stuffed green olives, raisins, cup of reserved marinade  and 6 oz. bottle of Sofito to the chicken pot.  Stir gently.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the chicken is done, about 30 minutes.  Do not overcook.

Serve the chicken pieces over white rice and add plenty of the sauce & potatoes.  Top with peas and a slice of pimiento.

Posted in CHICKEN, ENTREES | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

EASY CORN CASSEROLE

This is a great recipe for a side dish served with a honey-baked ham or turkey!  Easy to prepare and always a crowd pleaser!IMG_4065IMG_0699

  • 2 cans whole kernel corn (1 drained)
  • 1 can cream corn
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 package of corn muffin mix
  • 1/2 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional: red pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease casserole bowl with a little butter.  In a large bowl, stir or whisk together the 3 cans of corn (1 can of the whole kernel corn is drained & the other can should still have the water),  corn muffin mix,  sour cream,  melted butter, and cheddar cheese.  Sprinkle with a little red pepper before baking.   Bake 45-55 minutes, until golden brown.  Serves 6

Posted in Sides & Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

PINA COLADA RUM CAKE

IMG_3986 IMG_0674

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Classic Golden Butter Cake mix (preferred mix) or Classic Yellow
  • 1/4 C (4 oz.-1 stick)  unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 8-oz. can crushed pineapple in juice, drained (reserve juice to make 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 C reserved juice of crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 C Malibu Rum (or any light rum)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray Pam for baking into a bundt pan.  Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, butter, eggs, 1/4 C reserved juice and 1/4 C Rum, beat at low speed to combine.  Beat at medium speed for two minutes.  Fold in drained crushed pineapple.  Pour batter in prepared pan  Bake 33-36 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  While cake is baking, prepare glaze.

GLAZE:

  • 1/2 C cream of coconut (Coco Lopez)
  • 1/2 C Malibu rum
  • 1/4 C confectioner’s sugar

Shake cream of coconut can well before measuring.  Add cream of coconut to small saucepan and heat just until bubbles form.  Remove from heat and stir in rum.  Set aside.  When cake is done baking, set on rack.  Use a thin bamboo skewer to poke holes in cake.  Pour half of glaze over warm cake, letting it soak in.

When cake is cool, turn onto serving plate.  Whisk together remaining glaze with confectioner’s sugar until smooth and drizzle over top of cake.

(makes 1 bundt cake)

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

HERB-CRUSTED BEEF TENDERLOIN with HORSERADISH CREAM SAUCE

IMG_3952

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole prime beef tenderloin (3 to 4 pounds), trimmed
  • 1 T Kosher salt and 1 T cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 slices hearty white bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 T and 6 T  fresh parsley, chopped (divided)
  • 2 tsp.  and  2 T fresh thyme, chopped (divided)
  • 1/2 C and 3/4 C  grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 2 T and 4 T olive oil (divided)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

(Have the butcher at your favorite meat market trim, tuck, and tie the prime beef tenderloin.)

Combine 1 T salt, 1 T pepper, and 2 tsp. sugar in a small bowl.  Rub mix all over the prepared beef tenderloin.  Transfer tenderloin to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, pulse torn bread in food processor to fine drums.  Transfer bread crumbs to bowl and toss in 2 T chopped parsley, 2 tsp. chopped thyme, 1/2 C Parmesan, and 2 T oil until evenly combined.  Wipe out food processor and process remaining 6 T chopped parsley, 2 T chopped thyme, 3/4 C Parmesan cheese, 4 T olive oil, and  2 cloves of minced garlic until smooth paste forms (scrape sides).  Transfer her paste to small bowl.  (These ingredients can be made ahead and set aside until ready to assemble.)

After the tenderloin has set at room temperature for 2 hours, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.   Roast tenderloin for 20 minutes, then remove from oven.  Using scissors, cut and remove twine.  Coat tenderloin with herb paste, followed by bread-crumb topping.  Place back in the oven (same temperature) and roast until thickest part of meat registers about 130 degrees (for medium-rare) and topping is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  (Use an instant read thermometer.)  (If topping browns before meat reaches preferred internal temperature, lightly cover with foil for remainder of roasting time and remove while roast rests.)

Remove from oven and let the roast rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes on wire rack before cutting.  Transfer to cutting board and carve.  Serves 6 to 8

Using a spatula or hands, spread herb paste evenly over the top and sides of the tenderloin.

Using a spatula or hands, spread herb paste evenly over the top and sides of the tenderloin. Then press the bread-crumb mixture evenly onto the roast, using the other hand to catch the crumbs and keep them from falling through the rack.

HORSERADISH CREAM SAUCE:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 2 T prepared horseradish, drained
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • dash of salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in bowl.  Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

IMG_3959

Great menu for a dinner party, a lot can be made ahead and keep warm at 170 degrees in the oven!

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HONEY-RICOTTA PUFFS

It doesn’t get any easier than this, the surprising flavor will have everyone wanting this again and again!

Honey-Ricotta Puffs

Honey-Ricotta Puffs

  •  1 package Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells:
  • images1 container 15 oz.  of Part-skimmed Ricotta (I prefer Sargento)
  • 2 T honey – more to taste if you like it sweeter.  (get one with a squeeze bottle to use for garnish and topping)
  • 1 package fresh strawberries (cleaned, stem removed and cut in half).
  • Powder sugar and sliced almonds for garnish

Prepare Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells according to package directions.  When baked, let cool slightly, use a knife to help remove the tops.  Set aside pastry and tops in a plastic bag or tupperware until right before serving (can be made a few hours in advance).

Mix together the Ricotta and honey in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.   Wash, remove stems, cut in half, and pat dry the fresh strawberries, store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Right before serving dessert:  Set out 6 dessert plates, drizzle the plates with honey.  Place the puff pastry shells on top of the honey.  Spoon approx. 2 T of the Ricotta/honey mixture into the center of each pastry shell (use it all up!), put the tops on the side of the shell.  Divide the sliced strawberries between the shells and place them on top of the Ricotta/honey shells.  Sprinkle each shell with sliced almonds.  Drizzle the finished dessert with honey, moving back and forth.  Shake some powder sugar on top.  Serves 6.

Note: Make sure guess have dessert forks and butter knife to assist with eating!

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

BACON,ONION, & CHEDDAR QUICHE / HAM, ONION, ASPARAGUS, & SWISS QUICHE

IMG_0616

While you are at it, why not make two great quiches, one to eat right away and one to freeze!  The mess is the same!!  This is a fool-proof recipe and makes a delicious quiche.  They freeze very well too!

Let’s get started! 

IMG_3901BACON, ONION, & CHEDDAR QUICHE

IMG_3919

BACON, ONION, & CHEDDAR QUICHE

  • 1 whole Pillsbury Refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 whole sweet onion (diced)
  • 2 T butter
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 C half & half
  • 2 C grated sharp cheddar cheese
  •  salt & pepper to taste
  • Option:  set aside some bacon pieces to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Saute the onions in the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and slightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

IMG_3907

My cute little microwave bacon cooker!

Fry the bacon or cook in the microwave until crispy.  Chop into bite-size pieces, set aside to cool.

Roll out the pie crust and press it into a large deep dish pie pan.  Crimp the edges with your fingers or fork.

Whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix in the onions, bacon, and cheese.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust.  Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 min. or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

HAM, ONION, ASPARAGUS, & SWISS QUICHE

HAM, ASPARAGUS, ONION, & SWISS CHEESE QUICHE

HAM, ASPARAGUS, ONION, & SWISS CHEESE QUICHE

  • 1 whole Pillsbury Refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 whole sweet onion, (diced)
  • 8 whole large eggs
  • 1 1/2 C half & half
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 -5 oz. package diced ham
  • 1/2 lb. (tips only) fresh asparagus (chopped)
  • 1-8 oz. package shredded swiss cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Option: set aside some ham and asparagus pieces for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Fry the onions and asparagus tips in the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and slightly browned.  Set aside to cool.

Roll out the pie crust and press it into a large deep dish pie pan.  Crimp the edges with your fingers or fork.

Whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then add the onions/asparagus mixture, ham, and swiss cheese, mix with spoon.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust.  Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 -45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

IMG_0610IMG_0612IMG_0614Note:  If too much quiche liquid and you have leftover, make some little crustless quiches, cook only 30 minutes!

Posted in ENTREES, Sides & Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

PUMPKIN BANANA RAISIN BREAD WITH VANILLA-MAPLE DRIZZLE

Time for some fall baking!  All these ingredients, I had around the house and I got the inspiration when I was going to throw out the very ripe bananas.  Why not start off with this delicious fall classic!  I also slimmed it down a bit with using a sugar/stevia blend that cuts the calories in half, but tastes just as good.  This also freezes very well!

IMG_3900

IMG_0578 IMG_0581 IMG_0587INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 3/4 C Domino Light-sugar/Stevia blend (or 1 1/2 C regular sugar)
  • 1/2 C softened butter (1 stick) -room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice   or   (1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. ground cloves)
  • 1 C chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 C golden raisins

VANILLA-MAPLE DRIZZLE:

  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3 T half & half  (more if needed to make creamy)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9 by 5 loaf pan with Pam for baking, and prepare a 6-set muffin pan lined with cupcake paper,  set aside.

For Loaf:  Combine sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until mixture is creamy.  Add pumpkin and smashed bananas; continue beating until well mixed (mixture will appear lumpy).  Measure flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and spices into bowl.  By spoonfuls, sift dry ingredients into another bowl to lighten and blend.  By spoonfuls again add dry ingredients into the pumpkin/banana mixture and beat at low speed just until moistened.  Stir in raisins and nuts by hand until blended.

Spread 2 T each into prepared muffin tins, add the remainder of the batter into the loaf pan, spread evenly.

Bake the muffins approx. 30 minutes and the loaf approx. 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Drizzle:    While loaf is baking, make the drizzle:  Whisk sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and half & half in bowl.  Add more half & half if needed to make a smooth, thickish glaze.  Set aside.

When done, cool 5 minutes; remove the loaf from pan and cool completely before drizzling with Vanilla-Maple Drizzle.  Once cooled completely, use drizzle spoon to drizzle glaze back and forth several times on the loaf!  Save leftover drizzle and add more drizzle on each piece of pumpkin/banana bread before serving!  Serves 12IMG_3893IMG_3895 IMG_3896 IMG_0589

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

QUICK SHRIMP & MUSHROOM MARINARA

If you love mushrooms like I do, this quick marinara sauce is perfect!  With the addition of good shrimp, the outcome will please the best of palates!

IMG_3555

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 pint baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 pound cleaned and deveined Key West Shrimp
  • 1 T sun-dried tomato paste
  • 2 T fresh basil, finely chopped or 1 tsp. dried basil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Spaghetti of choice, cooked according to package directions
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste when servingIMG_0435

Heat olive oil in large sauté pan, add onion and bell pepper, cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the pint of cherry tomatoes, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Using a potato smasher, smash the cherry tomatoes to make sure they are opened. Cook 3 minutes more. Add the mushrooms, basil,  and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes more. Add 3 cups of tomato sauce and 1 tablespoon of sun-dried tomato paste. Stir, cover, and let simmer on low for 15 minutes.  Add the shrimp, stir, and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes.    Serve immediately over cooked spaghetti.  Top with grated cheese.  Serves 4IMG_3551

IMG_3554

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

KEY LIME PIE WITH FRESH BLUEBERRY TOPPING (lighter version)

  IMG_3512imageIMG_3508

Yield 8 to 10 Servings

Graham Cracker Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 C butter, melted
  • 3 T sugar blend

Preparation:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar.
  3. Stir ingredients to combine.
  4. Press the graham mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9″ pie pan.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely.

Set aside.

Key Lime Pie Filling

Ingredients:

  • 14-ounce can (low-fat) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed key lime juice (about 11 to 12 key limes)
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh key lime zest

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice and key lime zest.
  3. Use a whisk to make sure all ingredients are combined.
  4. The combined ingredients will naturally thicken slightly.
  5. Pour key lime pie filling mixture into the cooled graham cracker crust.
  6. Bake pie for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pie looks almost all the way set.
  7. Remove pie from oven and let cool to room temperature.
  8. Cover pie and place in the refrigerator as it is best served cold.
  9. To serve top pie with fresh whipped cream and slices of fresh key lime.

Blueberry topping for Key Lime Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blueberries (rinsed and dried)
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec

Preparation:

  1. Heat the orange marmalade and liquor in a small saucepan over medium heat until completely melted.
  2. Arrange blueberries in a single layer over the key lime pie.
  3. Using a pastry brush, brush a layer of melted jam over the blueberries.
  4. Let cool.
Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

HONEY YOGURT CHICKEN SALAD

IMG_3513

(Serves 4)  This is a lower fat version, made with yogurt instead of mayo!

  • 3 large chicken breast (bone in with skin)
  • 1 1/2 C red grapes halved
  • 2 ribs celery, diced small
  • 1/2 C pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries
  • 2 apples, peeled, seeded and diced
  • Optional:  bibb lettuce, ciabiatta bread for serving

Dressing:

  • 1 C pain Greek yogurt
  • 3 T honey
  • 3 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper

Instructions:

IMG_3438

I cooked 4 pieces of chicken, but only 3 went into this chicken salad recipe!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange chicken pieces on rimmed baking sheet which has been covered with foil.  Drizzles with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on both sides.  Rub each piece all over to ensure that the oil, salt & pepper are well distributed.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Let rest and cool for 30 minutes.

In the meantime:

When chicken is cooled, remove and discard the skin and bones. Chop in bite size pieces.  Place cut chicken in large bowl.  Add grapes, celery, pecans, and apples.  Mix gently.

In a separate bowl, mix yogurt, honey and Dijon mustard, add salt & pepper to taste.  Pour yogurt mixture over the chicken mixture and mix well.  Set aside in refrigerator.

Serve large spoonfuls of chicken salad on top of bibb lettuce for presentation.   Serve with a side of toasted ciabatta bread or pita bread.  Note:  You can make it the day ahead, but it will dry up slightly, you can mix up another patch of yogurt dressing and freshen the salad up with a couple more heaping tablespoons of dressing and mix.

Posted in CHICKEN, Soups and Salads | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MANGO BREAKFAST BREAD PUDDING (fast & easy)

IMG_3380

Sprinkle with powder sugar if you like!

IMG_3379

Sprinkle with cinnamon and dot with butter!

IMG_3377

  • 1 loaf Publix Breakfast Bread
  • 1 -14 oz. can sweetened condense milk
  • 1 C milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1  tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 mango (peeled, seeded and diced)
  • 1 small can fruit cocktail or diced pears (drained)
  •  butter & powder sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Tear Publix Breakfast Bread in small pieces and place in large mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix sweetened condense milk, milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon (blend with whisk or fork).   Add liquid to bread and mix well by hand, making sure bread is in small pieces.  Add diced mango and fruit cocktail or pears and mix again.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes to absorb.

Place mixture in an 8 by 8 square baking pan which has been rubbed with a pat of butter.  Place in pre-heated oven for 1 hour.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with cinnamon and dot with a little butter and let cool to firm up.  Can serve room temperature or chilled.  Refrigerate leftovers.  Sprinkle with powder sugar when serving if desired.  Great served with Vanilla ice cream!

Note:  This is a very versatile recipe, you can use raisin bread or other types of bread with fruit.  You can also put whatever you might have in the pantry, such as diced peaches, it’s just as good!  This is made with breakfast bread, but really is for dessert anytime!!

BONUS:

If you want to make this extra special for dinner parties, etc.  Top with this very delicious YOGURT, HONEY, TRIPLE SEC SAUCE:

  • 2 C plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T Triple Sec

Blend all the above ingredients together in a small bowl until well mixed.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Drizzle on top of bread pudding before serving.

Note: you can substitute Amaretto or other liqueur. 

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

CHICKEN TAGINE WITH QUICK PRESERVED LEMONS, OLIVES & CAPERS

IMG_0363

I bought my tagine at Home Goods, it’s made of clay.  You can make this dish in a dutch oven if you do not have a tagine.  You’ll also need a heat diffuser.
Chicken Tagine is usually made with preserved lemons.  That takes 3 weeks in the refrigerator to cure.  Below is a quick way to make preserved lemons and these can be stored in an air tight container in your refrigerator until ready to use.IMG_0361IMG_0368

Ingredients for dish:

  • 8 skinless chicken thighs (or mixture of white and dark meat, skin removed)
  • 1 large onion, sliced in wedges
  • 1/4 C fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. curry
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads (optional)
  • 1/3 C green olives, pitted with or without pimentos
  • 1/4 C capers
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1 C water

Remove flesh and seeds from the preserved lemon, set rinds aside.  Add the olive oil to the bottom of the tagine.  Arrange the chicken in the tagine (flesh-side down).  Distribute the onions all around.  Add the garlic and then layer the rest of the ingredients as follows: salt & pepper, cilantro, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, curry, saffron, olives, capers, and parsley.  Place lemon rinds around the top in a circle.  Add water.  (Note: you can mix the dry spices in one bowl and sprinkle evenly into the dish).

Cover and place on a diffuser over a medium-low heat.  Give the tagine time to reach a simmer, if you do not see steam or hear the tagine simmering within 20 minutes, slightly increase the heat.  Maintain the lowest heat setting required for maintaining a gentle, not rapid, simmer.  Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for 90 minutes.  Then turn the chicken over so that the flesh side is up.  (Note: if drying out, add 1/3 C or more of water).  Cover the tagine again and allow the chicken to finish cooking approx. 30 min. more.

Take the tagine off the heated burner and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.  You should taste and see if it needs more salt & pepper.  You can serve this with couscous or white jasmine rice.  Serves 4

Chicken Tagine

Chicken Tagine

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

CHOCOLATE SOUR CREAM STRAWBERRY NUTELLA KAHLUA BROWNIE CAKE

IMG_0344IMG_0329IMG_0334

O.K., the name is a mouth full, I didn’t even mention the Cream Cheese Frosting!  But, if you want something pretty simple, but is delicious and elegant, you’ll want to make this cake.  The batter will be very dense and you’ll have to spread it around the three – eight inch pans with a spatula.  It’s great for a large dinner party or celebration!!

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1 box Devil Food’s cake mix (Duncan Hines)
  • 1 box (3.75 oz.) chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 C sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1/3 C Kahlua

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 lb. (4 C) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for Whipped Cream:

  • 2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar

Additional ingredients:

    • 2 pints Strawberries, Hulled And Sliced
    • 1/4 cup Sugar
    • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 jar Nutella
  • package sliced almonds

Instructions for cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray Pam for baking on 3 -eight inch cake pans, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper cut to size.  Set aside.  Put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Mix on low first, then medium speed for 1 or 2 minutes to combine well.  Place in heated oven for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before going on to the next step.

Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries by stirring them with the sugar and the vanilla. Let them macerate for 15 minutes, then drain off the excess juice.

Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until soft peaks appear.  Make sure the cream, bowl and paddle are cold if you can, it whips better.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Turn one layer upside down on a serving platter.  Spread half the Nutella over the surface of the first layer.  Spread half the whipped cream on top of Nutella and top with 1/3 strawberries.  Place the 2nd layer on top and repeat with the same layers.  Top with the 3rd layer of cake.

Frost sides of cake with the cream cheese frosting, then frost the top.  Place slice strawberry in single layer with the point up, along the bottom of the cake.  Place slices of strawberry on the top in a circular pattern until top is covered with sliced strawberries.  Fill in gaps with sliced almonds on top and press almonds around the sides of the cake.  (see pictures).IMG_3156

To serve:   (Optional) Cut slice (not to thick) and place on dessert plate.  Place dollop of whipped cream, a few strawberries, and sprinkle with sliced almonds and shake some powdered sugar on top!IMG_3167

 

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

EASY CRAB BISQUE

IMG_2905

  • 1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of asparagus soup
  • 1 (10 3/4 oz.) can of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/4 c half and half
  • 1/2 lb. crab meat
  • 1/4 c dry sherry

Combine soups, milk, half and half, crab meat and sherry in heavy saucepan and bring to gentle boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

Presentation:  Serve in soup bowl with a sprinkle of crab meat and chopped parsley, have a splash of sherry available on table. Also you can top with toasted croutons or french bread rounds.IMG_2903

Use good quality Blue Crab Meat!

Use good quality Blue Crab Meat!

Posted in Soups and Salads | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

COUSCOUS AND ITALIAN TUNA SALAD

IMG_2906

  • 2 C Israeli couscous (10 to 12 oz.)
  • 2 (7 oz.)  jars Italian tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 C good olive oil
  • 3 T capers, drained
  • 1/2 C pitted, Kalamata black olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 C jarred roasted red peppers, medium diced
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 C chopped scallions (6-8 scallions)
  • 1/4 C julienned fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 C pine nuts (toasted for a few minutes)

Cook couscous according to directions on package, set aside.

Combine the tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, olives, red peppers, garlic, salt and pepper in large bowl.   Toss gently, do not brake up the tuna too much.  Add the couscous into the mixture and blend.  Cover and set aside for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Toast the pine nuts for two minutes (watch carefully), and add to the mixture.   Just before serving, stir in the scallions, basil, juice of 1/2 lemon and stir.  Taste for seasonings, add more salt and/or pepper if needed.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note:  Serve on top of bibb or romaine salad leaves, place homemade toasted pita wedges on side.

2nd Note:  You can actually make this dish the day before, mixing all the ingredients.  Cover well and place in the refrigerator.  Let sit at room temperature before serving!

PITA WEDGES:

  •   6 pita bread
  •    good olive oil

Slice each pita bread into 8 wedges.  Split wedges in half.  Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with a little sea salt,  and toast in oven until crisp.IMG_2900IMG_2901

Italian Tuna in Olive Oil

Italian Tuna in Olive Oil, You can find this at Gourmet stores and Italian MarketsIMG_2908 IMG_2907Our Mah Jongg Group!  Everyone enjoyed our lunch!

Posted in ENTREES, Soups and Salads | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

FRESH SPINACH, MUSHROOM, GOAT CHEESE TORTE

PERFECT for Mother’s Day Brunch, delicious. This dish can be prepared a day in advance.  Reheat uncovered in a 350-degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.  It’s also very healthy and figure friendly.  Serves 12.

IMG_2823IMG_2820IMG_0260IMG_0261

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 finely diced onion
  • 8 ounce package baby portobello’s, cleaned, thinly sliced and cut in half
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat or fat-free milk
  • 1 C small curd cottage cheese
  • 1/2 C Bisquick
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 4 packed cups of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 C graded white sharp cheddar cheese
  • 5.3 oz. container Chavrie goat cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with Pam and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion; cook for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms and season with a little salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring the mushrooms every few minutes for about 8 minutes.  Add the fresh spinach and stir around for the spinach to wilt, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Tilt the frying pan and let all the water pool, soak up the excess water with clean, dry paper towels.  Discard the paper towels.  After the mushroom, onion, spinach mixture seems dry, pour into prepared 9 by 13 inch baking dish and set aside to cool.  Make sure it’s evenly distributed.

In mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cottage cheese, Bisquick, cheddar cheese, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure it’s well incorporated.

Pour the liquid mixture into the baking dish over the mushroom, onion, and spinach.  Using a teaspoon, place dollops of the goat cheese evenly throughout the torte.

Place torte on top of a baking sheet and bake for 50 to 55 minutes.  Make sure you insert a wooden toothpick in the center and if it comes out dry, it’s ready!

Let stand for at least 15 minutes.  You can serve right from the baking dish, or invert it onto a rectangular plate.  Decorate the plate with fresh spinach leaves and cut some leaves for garnish.

Posted in ENTREES, Sides & Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EASY SEMI-HOMEMADE SWEET AND SOUR SHRIMP with easy fried rice

IMG_2500image

image

  • 1 pound large fresh shrimp, (I prefer-Key West Pinks)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, largely chopped
  • fresh pineapple chunks (about a .84 lb. container-already cut-produce dept.)
  • 1 – 9.5 oz. jar of Duck Sauce (I like Saucy Susan-located in the Chinese food section)
  • 1/2 lemon juice and zest of lemon
  • small piece of ginger (peeled)
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • splash of soy sauce
  • OPTIONAL:  La Choy Chow Mein noodles for garnish (adds great crunch)

Clean and devein shrimp, rinse well and set aside to drain.  Place 2 T olive oil in large fry pan or wok.  Heat to medium-high heat.  Add onion and bell pepper to the fry pan and saute for about 3 minutes or until the large chunks of pepper soften.  Add shrimp, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add juice of 1/2 lemon and the zest.  Add 1/4 tsp. of  zest from the peeled ginger.  Fry the shrimp, for about 3 minutes, make sure to stir and turn the shrimp.  Add the jar of Duck Sauce, stir.  Add the container of fresh chunk pineapple, stir.  Add splash of soy sauce, and more salt and pepper to taste.  Saute for 2 minutes, blending well.   Serve along with fried rice and top with chow mien noodles.  IMPORTANT:  MUST SERVE THIS IMMEDIATELY, PINEAPPLE IS AN ACID AND WILL MAKE SHRIMP (OR CHICKEN) MUSHY IF LEFT TOGETHER TOO LONG!

IMG_2495

EASY FRIED RICE:

  • 2 cups cook white rice (I prefer Jasmine)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper -large chopped
  • 1/2 onion-diced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C frozen peas
  • splash soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs

Add olive oil to medium fry pan.  Add bell pepper and onion and saute for 3 minutes.  Add cooked rice (use leftover or make fresh, can even use package microwave rice).  Fry the rice for about 2 minutes.  Move rice mixture to one side.  Scramble two eggs, season with salt and pepper and fry in fry pan, stirring to cook the egg.  Mix the cooked scramble egg into the rice mixture.  Add frozen peas, large splash of soy sauce.   Season again with salt and pepper to taste.   Mix well and cook for an additional 2 minutes to blend.

Note: You can make this same recipe with chicken, just use cut up chicken breast instead of shrimp and saute it longer!

IMG_2496

Duck Sauce

Duck Sauce

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

SWEET AND SASSY STUFFED BELL PEPPERS

image

image

  • 4 large red, green or yellow bell peppers (or one of each)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 T Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground meat
  • 1 -8 oz. can tomato sauce (Hunts basil, garlic, & oregano)
  • 2 T Goya sofrito
  • 1 T fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 C golden raisins
  • 1 C cooked white rice (use boil in bag or microwave rice)
  • 1 jar your favorite Marinara Sauce (24.5 oz.)
  • 1/3 C shredded sharp cheddar for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

(White rice and peas for serving)
image

Wash the large bell peppers. Cut a circle around the tops, throw away the inside and the seeds, wash out well. Cut the bottoms slightly in order for the bell peppers to stand up properly. Drain the peppers upside down on paper towels. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop 1/2 of red bell pepper and 1/2 onion. Use large fry pan. Place olive oil in fry pan. Over medium-high heat, sauté chopped onions and red bell pepper until translucent, approx. 5 minutes. Add ground meat and brown the meat evenly. Add 2 T of sofrito and mix. Add 1 can tomato sauce, cook on medium for about 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Add golden raisins, parsley, and cooked white rice. Mix well and sauté 5 minutes more. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Place the 4 bell peppers in a large baking dish, stuff each pepper with the hamburger mixture, packing it down. Pour the jar of marinara sauce on top and around the peppers. Cover with foil and baked for 1 hr. and 15 minutes. Uncover the peppers and top with shredded cheddar, leave uncovered in oven for 5 minutes more until cheese melts. Serve with white rice and peas on the side. Pour marinara over top of pepper and rice as desired.  Serves 4, can be made ahead and reheated.

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

RICOTTA, MASCARPONE FILLED CREPES WITH MINI-CHOCOLATE CHIPS, BLUEBERRIES, OR STRAWBERRIES

IMG_2424IMG_0174

IMG_2421

Basic Crepes:

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 C reg. milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. butter, melted

Place flour, salt, sugar, milk, and eggs in a blender.  Mix on high until completely combined, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.  (If the batter separates, mix it again before cooking the crepes)

When ready to cook the crepes, melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in an 8 inch crepe pan over medium heat.  (If using an electric crepe pan, temperature should be 375).  Swirl the butter around as it melts to coat the bottom of the pan.  Pour in 1/4 cup of the batter and immediately swirl and tilt the pan to create a thin, even layer.  (If the batter sets before the skillet is coated, reduce the heat slightly).  Tilt the skillet, sliding half the crepe off the skillet and onto a rubber spatula.  Flip both the spatular and crepe over so that the crepe lands back in the skillet, and cook for about 20 seconds more.  (Peek under the crepe to make sure it has some light brown spots).  Use the spatula to transfer the crepe to a piece of wax paper.  You should place another piece of wax paper on top of the crepe, and then stack each one you make, placing a piece of wax paper between each one.  You can now either place your filling in them, or store in a zip lock bag for later.  (makes 8-9 crepes).  (I made 4 desserts and froze the remaining crepes)

Filling:

  • 1 Pound Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup of either:  Mini Chocolate chips, or  Blueberries  or Strawberries (halved)
  • 1 C Mascarpone
  • 1 C Confectioners Sugar

Extra for Plating:  Sliced Almonds, Powder sugar for dusting and dollop of cool whip or whipped cream

Instructions for filling:

Blend the ricotta cheese, mascarpone, and confectioners sugar with a large spoon until well mixed.  Add in either the chocolate chips, blueberries or halved strawberries, fold in gently to incorporate.

Note:  you can make this mixture up to a day ahead and refrigerate it, up to the step of adding your choice of chocolate chips, blueberries, or strawberries, this needs to be added right before serving)

Chocolate Drizzle:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon corn syrup
DIRECTIONS:
1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, and then blend in the other ingredients.
2. Use a drizzle spoon or squirt bottle to drizzle chocolate on crepes.

PLATING:

 Plate the crepes by placing 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of filling onto the middle of a crepe. (Depending on how many you want to make and the size)  Roll over the crepe in order to cover the filling.  Place the crepe on your decorative dish.  Drizzle the chocolate over the top.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds, powder sugar and add a dollop of whipped cream!
Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

BOURBON KEY WEST PINK SHRIMP with BASIL, PINE NUTS, SUN-DRIED TOMATO RICE PILAF

IMG_2413

IMG_2417

  • 1 pound Key West pink LARGE shrimp (fresh), shells off, deveined; tails on
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 C Bourbon
  • 1/4 C orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 T reg. mustard
  • 2 to 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T unsalted butter

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil to large frying pan, heat on med.-high heat.  Add shallots and garlic, stir for 1 min.  Add a little salt and pepper.  Toss in the shrimp and season with a little more salt and pepper.  Add paprika and cook for about a minute, mixing it up.  Add the bourbon and orange juice.  Simmer the dish on med.-low heat for about 5 minutes, liquid should reduce about 1/2.  Stir in the honey, mustard and 2 T butter.   Stir until incorporated.  It’s now ready to serve!  Serves 4

Side Note:

You can place in oven ready platter, cover with foil and set aside (I refrigerated this dish for several hours, then let it come to room temperature before reheating).  Just reheat on warm in 180 degree oven approx. 20 minutes before serving.  This makes it a great dish for a dinner party!

RICE PILAF:

  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 C Uncle Ben’s rice
  • 3 T dried basil or 2/3 C chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 C toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 C sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 T unsalted butter

Place olive oil in large pot (with lid).  Heat oil on med.-heat.  Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add rice and stir 1 minute  Add broth and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook until broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Still in basil, sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.  Add 1 T butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.

Side Note:  Can make ahead, leave on stove at room temperature (covered), then reheated before serving.

Note:  Place rice in a small bowl, pack down, then invert onto plate for serving!

Note: Place rice in a small bowl, pack down, then invert onto plate for serving!

IMG_2414

Posted in ENTREES, Sides & Misc. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

CRAB CAKES WITH POMMERY MUSTARD SAUCE

IMG_0152CRAB CAKES INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound blue crabmeat (claw)
  • 1 pound blue crabmeat (jumbo lump)
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C fresh lemon juice (approx. 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 C fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt and  1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 C finely crushed saltine crackers (about 30 crackers)
  • 4 T melted unsalted butter

POMMERY MUSTARD SAUCE:

  • 1/4 C whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS FOR POMMERY MUSTARD SAUCE: (make first)

Mix whole grain mustard and heavy cream in a saute pan over medium heat, heat for 2 -3 minutes until warm, set aside.

DIRECTIONS FOR CRAB CAKES:

Heat the broiler to high.  Place the rack 4 inches from heat.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place paper towels on two separate plates and place each pound of crab meat on the separate plates, let drain on paper towels. (keep separate)

In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, egg (beaten by fork), mustard, Old Bay, 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Place crackers in a sip plastic bag and beat with a kitchen mallet until finely ground.  Add crumbs and small-size claw crabmeat to the mayonnaise mixture, stir well to combine.  Gently fold in large-size lump crabmeat to mayonnaise mixture just until combined.  Dividing evenly, form mixture into 10 cakes.

Place cakes on prepared baking sheet; drizzle with melted butter.  Broil until golden brown and warmed throughout, 12 to 15 minutes (move to lower shelf if tops brown too quickly).  Keep a close eye on them!

SERVING:

Serve crab cakes over (on top) of mustard sauce.

SIDE DISH:

Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salad (hit on link to see recipe)

http://wp.me/p121O6-3r

Friends from Mah Jongg enjoy my Crab cakes:

My Mah Jongg friends!

My Mah Jongg friends!

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CHOCOLATE CHERRY and NUTS RUM CAKE

IMG_2224IMG_0146Ingredients:

  • 1 can (21 ounces) Cherry Pie Filling
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 C melted butter
  • 1 package Dark Chocolate cake mix (regular size)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 package (13.4 oz.) Vanilla Instant Pudding & Pie filling
  • 1/2 C dark rum
  • 1/2 C canola oil
  • 1/2 C water
  • 3/4 C coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 C miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C sliced almonds
  • sprinkle of powder sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray Pam for baking on 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  Drain the Cherry Pie filling in a colander the best you can.  Pour Cherry Pie filling into the bottom of the baking pan and spread around evenly.  Add the melted butter over top.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar, chopped walnuts, and chocolate chips, set aside.

Place the cake mix in a mixing bowl, slowly add the rum, canola oil, and water as the mixer is on low.  Add one egg at a time (crack the eggs in a separate bowl).  Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Pour mixture over the cherry filling.  Place in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.  At 50 minutes, stick a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s ready.  Cool upright for 15 minutes on a cooling rack.  Carefully invert the cake on to it’s appropriate size serving plate.  Spread sliced almonds around the top.  When completely cool, or right before serving,  sprinkle with powder sugar.

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN RUM CAKE

IMG_2220

IMG_0147

Topping:

  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter
  • 1 C firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans pineapple slices (cut in half– reserve liquid)
  • Maraschino cherries

Cake: (use 10 inch cake pan)

  • 1 pkg. Duncan Hines Golden Cake Mix
  • 1 (3.4 oz.) pkg. vanilla instant pudding and pie filling
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 C pineapple juice from cans of pineapple slices
  • 1/2 C Malibu Rum (or use Rum you have on hand)
  • 1/2 C canola oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 10 inch cake pan with Pam for Baking.  Cut the pineapple rings in halves, reserve one ring for the center of your cake.  Melt the butter in your microwave.  Pour the butter into the bottom of the cake pan.  Add 1 cup of dark brown sugar, making sure you distribute it evenly and that the bottom of the cake pan is covered.  Arrange your pineapple slices and cherries on the bottom of your cake pan by placing a whole ring in the center and the halves around it.  Put a cherry in each half hole of the pineapple and one in the center hole.  Set aside.

Place the cake mix in your mixer bowl.  Add the pudding and pie filling.  Add the pineapple juice, rum, and canola oil.  Start the mixer on low speed and add one egg at a time (crack the eggs in a separate bowl first).  Once the mixture is incorporated, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour the batter over the pineapple slices and even it out.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 55 to 60 minutes.  At 50 minutes insert a wooden toothpick in the middle.  If it comes out clean, your cake is done.

Let it cool for about 15 minutes on a rack, then flip it over onto a serving plate.  You can sprinkle with powder sugar after it completely cools if desired.  Serve with a dollop of cool whip.

Light sprinkle of powder sugar.

Light sprinkle of powder sugar.

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

DEVIL’S FOOD PECAN COCONUT TUNNEL CAKE WITH VANILLA GLAZE

1st step– Coconut filling:

  • 3 C flaked coconut
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 C chopped pecans

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Set aside

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Devil’s Food cake mix
  • 1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding and pie filling
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 C water
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil

Glaze:

1/2 C Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style Vanilla Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour (or use PAM) on large Bundt Pan.  Mix cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil in a large bowl.  Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.

To make the tunnel cake:

Pour half the batter into the Bundt pan.  Spoon the coconut filling onto the batter, leaving batter on both the inside and outside of the filling.  Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of  the coconut filling.  Slowly, pour the remaining cake batter over the filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 25 minutes.  Invert onto a serving plate.  Cool completely.

Last step– Glaze:

Place frosting in microwaveable bowl.  Microwave on high 15 seconds, stir until smooth.  Drizzle over cake.

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

CRAB LOUIS APPETIZER/SALAD

  •   1 C mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C chili sauce
  • 1/4 C chopped scallion
  • 2 T chopped green olives with pimentos
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. bottled horseradish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat (use the best you can find)
  • 1 package lettuce greens of your choice (i.e.: Iceberg, spring mix)
  • small bottle of capers
  • 3 small tomatoes cut in wedges
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs cut in 4 wedges each
  • lemon cut in 6 wedges

Make dressing:

Mix together mayonnaise, chili sauce, scallions, green olives, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and salt and pepper to taste.    Divide dressing between 6 small condiment bowls.

Pick over crabmeat after draining, place crabmeat on a dinner plate and divide the crab into 6 matching piles.

Lay out 6 small salad plates or decorative plates.  Place about a handful of salad greens in the center of the plate.  Place a condiment bowl on each plate that contains the dressing.  Place 1 portion of the crab meat in the center of the each salad plate.  Surround the crabmeat with 2 tomato wedges, 2 wedged slices of hard-boiled egg, 1 tsp. of capers, and 1 wedge of lemon.  Serve with the dressing on the side.  The dressing amount will be added by the diner at the table.   Serve with additional salt and pepper on the side.   (Can be made several hours ahead, covered with plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator until serving.  The dressing can be made a day head, covered and refrigerated until use.)

Serves 6

Good Friends!Table setting (Notice the picture on the place card with the night’s menu)!

Posted in Appetizers, Soups and Salads | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

FIG ALMOND TART (Individual)

  • 2 package refrigerated pie crust (1 package if making one tart)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 3 1/2 ounces almond paste, at room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (1/2 log)
  • 1/3 C mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 T honey
  • 12 fresh figs, sliced, stems removed (one package)
  • 1/4 C apricot jam
  • 1/4 C sliced almonds for garnish
  • powder sugar for dusting
  • dollops of whipped cream (make your own or use cool whip)

Heat oven to 400 degrees and make sure oven rack is in the center of the oven.  Use 6 individual tart plates or 1 large tart pie pan.  (I used 6 small, individual tart plates.)  Slightly grease the plates with pam, wipe off any excess, set aside.  Roll out the pie crust and cut in large circles.  You can press together left over dough, roll it out again with a bottle or rolling pin and cut another circle (or square).  Place the cut out dough into the tart plates, press down and then trim any excess dough with a knife.  (If using one large tart pan, you only need one sleeve of dough. The filling will be the same.)

In a clean food processor, combine sugar, almond paste, mascarpone cheese, vanilla, and honey.  Blend until smooth.

Spread the almond filling over the dough. ( It will take about 1 heaping teaspoon full for each small tart. )   Arrange the figs on top of the almond filling.  Spoon the jam over the figs (about a teaspoon full) and spread around evenly with the back of the spoon.

Bake the tart until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes (approx. 30 min. if  1 large tart).  Take out and let cool on a cooling rack.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds for decoration.    Right before serving, top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with powder sugar.  Should be served warm or room temperature.  (I like to set the tart on a larger plate with a doily, sliced strawberry and two mint leaves, optional only!)

Serves 6

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

ITALIAN RICOTTA CAKE WITH COCONUT

 

  • 1 box white Duncan Hines cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 C plus 2 T. Wesson canola oil

Follow directions on cake mix box for 2 layers, but add an additional 2 T Wesson oil.  When cake is done and cooled, slice layers in half (now 4 layers).   I used 9″ pans, but you can use 8 ” too.    Refrigerate the cake until needed.   Then prepare the following icing:

  • 3 lbs. Ricotta cheese (fresh)
  • 1 lb. box 10X powdered sugar
  • 3 C chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 12 maraschino cherries (chopped)
  • 8 maraschino cherries (cut in half for decoration)
  • 1 Hershey almond bar, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Blend by hand all ingredients listed above (except the 8 cherries for decoration, set those aside).  Spread generous between layers of cake.  Cover top and sides with remainder.

  • 7 oz. bag shredded coconut

Cover entire cake with shredded coconut.  The icing will be a little loose and the coconut helps bind it.  Use your hands for this step.   Cut 8 cherries in half and place one half in the center, then place the rest around the top in a circle.  (can be a little messy, so place wax paper or paper towels under the cake.)

FINAL INSTRUCTIONS:   This cake must be kept in refrigerator and tastes better if prepared a day before serving.
Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

ANGELO’S CHICKEN SUPREME

My Mom found this recipe in a book.  My Dad had written it down years ago.  She remembered how delicious it was and that he prepared it for us a lot.  The only thing was that there were no measurements, so I recreated this wonderful dish with the amount of ingredients I thought would work, and it came out great!  The flavors blend well and this will make a great family meal!   Thanks Dad……
  • 4 pieces boneless, skinless split chicken breast
  • 8 pieces boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or any combination  you may like)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 C olive oil for frying                                                                       
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/3 C capers
  • 1 C Manzanilla olives (5.75 oz. jar)
  • 3/4 C golden raisins
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 C Hunt’s diced tomatoes with juice (I like fire-roasted)
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 C Sherry cooking wine
  • egg noodles (cooked as directed on bag)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Set aside large baking pan.  Place large frying pan on stove on medium-high and place 1 cup olive oil in pan.  Salt & pepper each side of chicken.  Fry chicken in batches for approx. 3 minutes per side in order to brown slightly.  Place the browned chicken in a single layer in the baking pan.  Place one or two slices of mozzarella cheese on top of the chicken.

When finished frying all the chicken, discard most of the oil, leaving a couple of teaspoon in the pan.  Add the chopped onions and bell peppers to the frying pan and sauté for approx. 3 minutes.  Add capers, olives, raisins, honey, can tomatoes with some juice, and sherry cooking wine.  Simmer all together for 3 minutes.  Pour all the ingredients and liquid over the chicken and mozzarella.   Bake uncovered for 1 hour.  Serve with cooked noodles, placing the chicken around it.  This is a great dish to serve “family style”.   Serves 6 to 8 people, freezes well.

Mozzarella balls in liquid

Sliced

Posted in CHICKEN, ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

CRACKED CONCH KEYS STYLE

  • CRACKED CONCH KEYS STYLE

  • 1 pound whole conch, pre-tenderized if possible
  • 2 cups four, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 T half & half
  • 1 cup canola oil for frying
  • lemon and limes for garnish
  • cocktail sauce or tartar sauce (your preference)
  • Purchase the best conch you can find from a fish market.  If you can find conch from the Bahamas, that is the best in my opinion.  I found this package at Key Largo Fisheries and it is already tenderized.  They run it through a machine:

You will still have to pound the conch with a mallet.  Place the conch inside a plastic bag and pound until the meat is almost breaking apart.  This is the trick to getting the conch meat really tender.

Prepare three plates; flour, beaten eggs with 2 T half & half, and panko.  Make sure to season each component with salt and pepper to layer flavors.  Take the pieces of the tenderized conch and dredge in flour, then dip in egg mixture, then coat with panko bread crumbs.  Finish coating all the conch and set aside.

Heat the canola oil on med. to med.-high heat.  Fry coated conch in oil until golden brown on each side.  Keep a close eye, it won’t take too long.  Transfer to dry paper towel to drain the oil.  Serve on a large platter with sliced lemons and limes.  Accompany the dish with cocktail sauce or tartar sauce if preferred.  Squeeze fresh lemon juice on conch right before eating.


Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

EASY CHICKEN CACCIATORE

Chicken Cacciatore


  • 4 skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts (cut in half)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 – 14.5 oz. Hunt’s Diced Tomatoes (w/sweet onions)
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 2 T Sofrito
  • 3 T capers, drained
  • 1/2 heaping cup pitted & stuffed Manzanilla olives, drained
  • 1/4 C coarsely chopped fresh basil for garnish
  • White rice cooked as directed on box
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour to lightly coat.  In large, covered frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Work in batches, and cook the chicken until browned on both sides, approximately 5 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to a plate with paper towels, and let drain.  You may need to add more olive oil as needed.  When chicken is all browned, add the onions, garlic and oregano to the pan, sauté until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the sofrito and stir well.  Add the tomatoes with the juices, broth, olives, and capers.  Heat to a slow boil.  Add the chicken back into the frying pan.  Simmer the chicken on low for about 45 minutes, uncovered.  Stir occasionally.    (You can make this ahead and cover on the stove, heat up again right before serving).
Serve the chicken over white rice.  Place rice on the plate, top with desired pieces of chicken.  Spoon juices over the chicken and rice.  Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil right before serving.
(4 servings)
Posted in CHICKEN, ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SHRIMP LOUIS SALAD

This is one of those salads that can be very versatile!  If you increase the portions, you can make a wonderful lunch or dinner.  You can also substitute the shrimp with real crab meat and it becomes Crab Louis Salad, also delicious!  This recipe is for 4, you can increase the proportions for more servings.

Fully plated.

DRESSING:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Hellmann’s Real Mayo, and you can also use low fat)
  • 1/4 Cup prepared French dressing
  • 1/4 Cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 Cup prepared Thousand Island dressing
  • 1 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • squeeze of 1/2 lemon

Mix all of the above ingredients in a medium size bowl, blend well.  Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  (Can be made the day ahead and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator).

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups baby romaine, or hearts of romaine
  • 1 ripe hass Avocado, sliced, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 lb. fresh asparagus, boiled in salted water for 3 minutes, until softened, drained
  • 1 – 6 oz. seedless cucumber, peeled and sliced lengthwise into quartered strips
  • 16 cherry tomatoes (4 for each plate)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced in quarters (2 quarters per plate)
  • Kalamata olives or your choice of olives (pitted)

Prepare all salad ingredients and group together for plating.

PREPARING SHRIMP:

Only use, for best taste, wild caught shrimp, no farm raised shrimp.

  • 1 pound shrimp (with shells), ask for the largest shrimp available
  • large pot of water (make sure there is at lease 1 to 2 inches of water covering shrimp)
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 T Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 T sea salt
  • 1 T whole peppercorns
  • 1 med. onion, peeled, sliced in quarters
  • 1 lemon, cut in half

Place all ingredients (except shrimp) in a large pot.  Bring water to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes.  After the 10 minutes, add the shrimp with the shells.  Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  Do not overcook!  Remove from heat and immediately place the shrimp in a bath of ice water, this will stop the cooking process.  Let the shrimp set up for 10 minutes in the cooled water, then drain the water.  Use a deveining tool and remove the shell, veins, and tails of the shrimp.  Cut the shrimp into 3 pieces each.  Set aside.

(You can now refrigerate the shrimp in an airtight bag or container overnight if preparing this recipe in advance).

PREPARATION AND ASSEMBLING:

About an hour before you are going to serve the salad, mix the shrimp with about 3/4 cup of the Louie dressing, add more if it seems to dry.  Place back in the refrigerator to let the flavors mix.  Make sure to taste the shrimp and add salt if needed.

PLATING:

Use 4 salad plates and 4 small containers to hold the dressing.  Place the container on the plate and fill each container with the Louie dressing in order for each person to pour the amount they want on their salad.  Fill the plate with the lettuce.  Arrange the cherry tomatoes, olives, asparagus, cucumbers, and eggs around the edges of the plate, leave room the the center for the shrimp.  At this point, you can cover the dishes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for later use, if not serving immediately.  Do not peel the avocado and place it on the plate until the last minute and right before serving or it will turn brown.

Final preparation would be to spoon the shrimp evenly between the plates and peel and cut the avocado into quarters with each plate receiving one quarter.  Now serve immediately with the extra dressing on the plates for individual taste.

Posted in Soups and Salads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

HOW TO HAVE A “TEA PARTY”

Part of the invitation and theme.

You can have a wonderful “High-Tea” at home with your favorite friends.  This group of friends are my Mah Jongg buddies.  It was my pleasure to have them over for a tea-party and an afternoon of playing Mah Jongg.  Here is my menu and recipes for a diverse array of favorites.  Some are homemade, some are semi-homemade and some are store bought.  All and all, a great combination.

Mah Jongg Friends enjoy the Tea Party

Part of the spread!

APPETIZERS:

  • Stuffed mini-peppers with goat cheese (see recipe on blog)
  • Goat Cheese & prosciutto tarts (see recipe on blog)
  • assorted cheese tray:  brie, manchego, gouda, or your favorites!

 COCKTAIL:

Start with a festive glass of Champagne, my favorite is:      Francois Montang   (Great price for a tasty bottle of Champagne)               Drop in a couple of fresh raspberries.   You can add orange juice if anyone wants a Mimosa.

TEAS:

Pull out your beautiful silver service and trays!  I serve three types in three different teapots.  Make sure you have honey, sugar, various sweeteners, and cream.

  • Passion fruit
  • Organic Chai
  • Earl Gray
  • Selection of tea bags from Tea Forte

SAVORY TREATS:

Side note:  This antique is a “Slice a Slice”.  You can only get it on Ebay, but it makes perfect thin slices!

CUCUMBER TEA SANDWICHES:

  • 1 very thin, fresh bread loaf (use “Very Thin” white sliced bread from Partridge Farms–14 slices)
  • 1 English or seedless cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (can use low-fat)
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted soft butter
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh dill weed
Drain the cukes by laying them on a few layers of paper towels.  Sprinkle them with a few pinches of salt.  Let set about 30 minutes and pat the tops with another towel until dry. Take off as much salt as possible.
Meanwhile mix the cream cheese with the dill weed and add a slight bit of salt and pepper to tasted.  Spread one
side of each piece of bread with a thin layer of butter then with a layer of the cream cheese mixture (the butter will keep the bread from getting soggy.)  Top one of the slices with the cucumber slices, all slightly overlapping and top with the other piece of bread.  Cut the crusts off using a gentle sawing motion with a bread knife.  Cut in threes (oblong).  MAKES  21 sandwiches.

TURKEY, CRANBERRY AND WALNUT CREAM CHEESE TEA SANDWICHES

  • 16 slices, rye or pumpernickel bread
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced turkey (Boar’s Head)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/4 C walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 C dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2 to 2 1/2 inch round cookie or biscuit cutter
Combine cream cheese, dried cranberries and walnuts in a bowl.  Take one piece of bread and spread 1/4 cream cheese mixture in an even layer over the bread.  Top the cream cheese with one slice of turkey.  Place a second piece of bread on top and lightly press.  Cut crusts off and then cut with cookie cutter to desired shape.

GOAT CHEESE AND WATERCRESS TEA SANDWICHES ON CINNAMON-RAISIN BREAD:

  • 2 -5 1/2 oz. logs soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), room temperature
  • 1/2 C chopped watercress leaves
  • 20 thin slices cinnamon-raisin sandwich bread (buy at bakery and have them slice it thin)
  • 5 T unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 3/4 C finely chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/3 C chopped raisins
  • Watercress sprigs (for garnish)
Mix cheese, pecans,  raisins, and chopped watercress in medium bowl.  Season with salt.  Lightly butter both sides of the bread with softened butter.  Spread mixture evenly over 10 bread slices.  Top with remaining 10 slices of bread.   Trim all bread crust.  Cut each into four pieces.  Cover and store according to directions in Cucumber Tea Sandwich.

Tuna & Capers Tea Sandwiches

  • 4 cans (5 oz. ea.) solid white tuna packed in water, drained well
  • 1/3 C mayonnaise, plus more for spreading
  • 1/4 C finely chopped red onion
  • 4 Teaspoons caper, rinsed and drained, chopped
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T Dijonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled between your fingers.
  • loaf of very thin rye or wheat bread
In a medium bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, dijonnaise, onion, capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano and stir until thoroughly combined.  Lay out 20 slices of bread,  lightly butter the bread.  Top with thin layer of tuna mixture.  Then butter the top slice of bread.  Top the sandwich and with a serrated knife, cut all the crusts off.  Then cut the sandwiches in desired shape.

CRAB PUFFS:

  • 1/4 C mustard
  • 2 T mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 C jumbo lump crabmeat, chopped
  • 1 pkg. (9.5 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Mini Puff Pastry Shells (these are hard to find, you can also order these on-line from “The Vermont Country Store:  Pastry Shells set/3 pkgs. of 4 shells

In small bowl, combine mustard, mayo and Worcestershire sauce.  Add crabmeat and cheese and mix by had until well.

Remove “lid” from the mini puff pastries. Fill pastry shells with crab mixture and place lid on top.

Bake in pre-heated oven at 425 degrees on parchment-lined baking sheets for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

EGG SALAD TEA SANDWICH:

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1  tsp. tarragon vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C fresh chives, thinly sliced
  • unsalted soften butter for spreading
  • 20 slices very this wheat bread (Pepperidge Farm’s Very Thin Wheat Bread)
In a large stainless steel pot, place eggs then cover with enough cold water to cover by 3 inches.  Bring water to a boil over high heat.  Cook 1 minute, and remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes.  Remove eggs from pan and since under cold water to stop cooking.  Peel eggs and finely chop.  Place in a large bowl.   Let cool completely.
Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper, and chives.  Stir well.  Adjust salt and pepper if needed.  Mix gently with the eggs.
Spread the inside of each slice of bread with softened butter, and then one slice with the egg mixture.  Top with the other slice of buttered bread and cut off crusts.  Cut in 3 long pieces.  Store in an air-tight container layered between damp paper towels and chill until ready to serves.

WALDORF SALAD:

  • 2-3 tart apples-peeled, cored and chopped, such as Granny Smith
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 C seedless grapes, cut in half
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/4 C mayonnaise
  • 1/2 C Coolwhip
  • 3 T apple juice
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
  • 4 T chopped walnuts  plus 2 T for garnish
  • 1 small green onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 C raisins (or golden raisins)

In medium bowl, combine apples and lemon juice, and then add the grapes, raisins, green onions and celery.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple juice, cool whip, walnuts,  and celery seeds.  Spoon over the apple mixture and gently toss together.  Place in serving bowl and sprinkle with 2 T walnuts.  (cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in frig until ready to serve).

SWEET TIDINGS:

Have jams and spreads on the side:  Cotted cream, Strawberry Preserves, Orange Marmalade, Guava Jam, Lemon Curd, Old Farmhouse Chutney

DRIED CRANBERRY, WALNUT AND LEMON SCONES:

  • 2 T plus 1 C sugar
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 3 C all purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 T finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 C dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/2 C coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 C (or more) chilled half and half, divided

Position rack in top third of oven: preheat to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk 2 T sugar and 1 T lemon juice in bowl for glaze.   Whisk flour, baking powder, lemon peel, salt, and 1 C sugar in large bowl.  Add chilled butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse meals forms.  Mix in cranberries and walnuts.  Add 1/2 C half and half and 1 T lemon juice.  Toss with fork until dough comes together in moist clumps, adding more half and half if dough is dry.  Gather dough into ball; divid in half.  Press out each half on floured surface to 6 inch diameter (1 inch-high) round.  Cut each round into 6 wedges.  Transfer to baking sheet; brush with glaze.  Bake scones until golden and tester comes out clean, about 18 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

LUSH COCONUT, PINEAPPLE PUDDING CAKE

  • 1 box white or yellow cake mix
  • 1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 C water
  • 1 can (13.5 oz.) cream of coconut, divided (3/4 C used in cake batter)
  • 3 large eggs
Filling:
  • 1 box (3.4 oz.) vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 small can crush pineapple, drained
  • 1 C cream of coconut (remainder)
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts
Frosting:
3 C confectioner’s sugar
1 C butter (2 sticks)  room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T whipping cream
Chocolate drizzle:
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 C heavy whipping cream
1 T butter
EXTRA:
2 boxes Royal Edinburgh or other brand shortbread fingers (cookies), mini-bouquet of roses for decoration
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, flour or spray Pam for baking or two 9 inch cake pans, set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding, water, 3/4 C cream of coconut and 3 eggs; beat on low speed for 30 seconds, until blended, then beat on medium for 2 minutes.  Pour into baking pans.  Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.  Cakes are done with a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, remove from pans and allow to cool completely.
Filling:
Mix 1 package instant pudding in a bowl  with 1 C cream of coconut, use a whisk.  Add 1/2 C drained crushed pineapple, 1/2 C shredded coconut, and 1/2 C chopped walnuts, mix well.  Place in refrigerator to firm.
Vanilla Buttercream frosting:
In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter.  Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.
Drizzle:
Put chocolate chips in stainless steel small bowl.  Place heavy cream and butter in microwaveable bowl.  Put cream and butter in microwave for 2 or 3 minutes until almost boiling.     Add the very hot cream and butter mixture to the chocolate chips, wait a few seconds, then blend well with small whisk or spoon.  
Assembly:
When cakes are completely cooled, use a cake slicer (or large bread knife), to cut each cake in two.  Place bottom cake layer on serving plate:  place some of the icing in a plastic bag and make a small snip on one corner, pipe a ring of icing around the edges of the cake (this will keep the filling inside the cake).
spread with 1/3 of the filling  Repeat layers and process.  Top with remaining cake layer.
Frost top and sides of cake; drizzle around the top (close to end) some chocolate ganache, sprinkle top with remaining coconut.
Optional:  place shortbread cookies around the sides of the cake and top with mini-silk bouquet of roses or other flower.

VARIOUS Petit Fours:

Purchase these from the bakery at Publix, Wholefoods, or Fresh Market.  You can also find some in the freezer section.  I chose the following:  (Display on doilies and try to use some elevated and stacked serving pieces):

  • mini cream puffs
  • mini eclairs
  • chocolate cover strawberries
  • vanilla and chocolate cakes

EXTRA:  CAKE POPS

I bought a kit from Starbucks, everything was included.  Just follow directions!

I even provided lovely see-through boxes for guest to take home pastries and sandwiches that were left over!  You can order them on line at http://www.amazon.com.

Shortbread cookies and good cake slicer

Posted in Appetizers, Desserts, Sides & Misc., Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KEYS SHRIMP AND CHEESE GRITS

Simply Delicious!

My favorite shrimp cleaning tool.

Cheesy goodness!

  • 1/2 C half and half
  • 1  1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1  1/3 C uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1  1/2 C (6 ounces) shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 C (1  1/2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 1   1/2 pounds large (21 to 25 count) Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 C chopped green onions (save a few for garnish)
  • Cracked pepper
  • additional cheese for garnish

Bring 4 cups water, the half & half and salt to a boil in a large saucepan.  Gradually stir in grits.  Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from heat, stir in cheese and set aside, covered.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add wine, bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes.  Add shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.  Stir in onions and cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

Spoon cheese grits into 4 bowls, top with shrimp mixture, sprinkle with cracked pepper & a little salt;  garnish with cheese and a few green onion slices.  Makes 4 servings.

(You can make just the grits, they are delicious alone!)

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

EASY HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES WITH THE GRANDKIDS

Now this is baking with love!

  • 1 C softened butter
  • 3/4 C firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 (12 oz.) package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet with oil or Pam, or use a silicone mat, set aside.    Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, water and eggs until light and fluffy (you can use a whisk, don’t bother with an electric beater!).  Mix flour with soda and salt: blend into butter mixture.  Stir in chips.  Drop 2 inches apart from teaspoon onto greased baking sheets, (you can bake in batches).    Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until light brown.  Cool on a cooling rack.  Makes about 8 dozen.

(You can cut the recipe in half)

The kids will love this!!

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

QUICK AND EASY EGGNOG-COCONUT CUSTARD PIE

  • 1/4 C butter (melted)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 C white sugar
  • 1/2 C flour or bisquick
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 C low fat Eggnog (or regular)
  • 1 C skim milk (or 1 or 2 % milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 C flaked coconut
  • sprinkle of ground nutmeg for finish
  • dollop of whipped cream
  • *Optional:  toasted coconut for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or spray a 9 inch pie pan.  Put butter, eggs, sugar, flour,salt, eggnog, milk, vanilla, and coconut extract into a food processor or blender (first nine ingredients).  Blend for 20 seconds.  Add the flaked coconut and blend for 5 seconds more.  Pour into a buttered 9 inch pie pan.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  The flour will settle to make it’s own crust.  (When finished baking, take out of the oven and top with 1/2 cup toasted coconut if  desired.)  Let cool for at least 20 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.  Store in the refrigerator.

Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TOASTED COCONUT CAKE WITH CRANBERRIES AND WALNUTS

  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 2 2/3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 and 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp. real vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
FROSTING & TOPPING:
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut, toasted
DIRECTIONS:
Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans (or use Pam for baking); set aside.  In a medium saucepan, bring cranberry juice to boiling; add dried cranberries then return to boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from heat; cover and let stand at least 20 minutes, drain.
Meanwhile, position two racks in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cup butter and the granulated sugar;  beat with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  With mixer on low speed, beat in the egg whites, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract.  On low speed and making three additions, beat the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, alternating with the buttermilk until combined.  Evenly divide batter among the prepared pans.
Bake cakes for 18 to 20 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in center of each cake comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.  Remove from pans; cool cakes completely on wire racks.
FROSTING:
In a large mixing bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Gradually add 2 cups of the powder sugar, beating well.  Slowly beat in coconut milk and coconut extract.  Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar until fluffy (beat in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if frosting appears dry).
Place one cake layer on a cake plate, spread with one-third of the frosting.  Spread the cranberries on frosting.  Place a second cake layer on cranberry filling.  Spread with one-third of frosting, te top with 2/3 cup of the walnuts and 1/2 cup of the coconut.  Top with remainig layer.  Spread with remaining frosting.  Top with remaining coconut and walnuts.
Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH WALNUTS

  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (15-ounce) can puree pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
CRUST:
  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 T dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted salted butter
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon.  Add melted butter.  Press down flat into a 9 inch springform pan.  Set aside.
Place cream cheese in food processor or bowl.  Either process in food processor or beat with electric mixer until smooth.  Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cram, sugar and the spices.   Add flour and vanilla.  Beat together until well combined.  Pour into crust.  Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour.
 Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the sides (this will help with cracking of the top).  Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the top and let sit for 15 minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.  Do not take the springform pan off until it has been refrigerated.  Leave the bottom pan on.  Now you can wrap it well and freeze it or serve it with a dollop of whipped cream.
Note:  it is recommended to use full-fat products in order to help with the top cracking.  If you do get cracks on the top, after all the recommendations, just fill in with more walnuts!
Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CARAMEL RUM CAKE WITH ALMONDS & CRANBERRIES & RAISINS

  • 1 box Duncan Hines German Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1/2 C dark rum
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1  3.4 oz. Chocolate Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
  • 4 eggs
  • BOTTOM LAYER (Top layer after baking and inverting!)
  • 1/2 C sliced almonds
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut
  • 1/2 C cranberries & raisins (dried-packaged)
  • MIDDLE FILLING:
  • 1/4 C caramel (such as Smuckers or Coronado Cajeta Quemada)
  • 1/4 C Red Raspberry Preserves-Seedless Jam (Smuckers)
  • 1/4 C sliced almonds
  • 1/4 C shredded coconut
  • GLAZE
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C dark rum
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 stick of butter
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray large Bundt cake pan with flour Pam or grease and dust with flour.  Place 1/2 C sliced almonds, 1/2 C shredded coconut, and 1/2 C cranberries & raisins on the bottom of the cake pan (bottom layer).  Set aside.
Mix cake mix, instant pudding mix, water, oil, and eggs in large bowl.  Beat for 2 minutes with electric mixer, until well bended.  Pour 1/2 of mixture into the Bundt pan, on top of the bottom layer.  Now add the middle filling:  1/4 C caramel,  1/4 C sliced almonds, 1/4 C cranberries & raisins, and 1/4 C raspberry jam.  Spread around evenly as you add.  Now place the remaining cake batter on top of the middle layer, even out.
Bake for 50 minutes.  In the meantime, while cake is baking,  in a small pot, melt 1 stick butter, add 1/4 C water, add 1/2 C powder sugar, and 1/2 C dark brown sugar, bring to a boil and then add 1/4 C rum, stir well and set glaze aside.
Take out cake from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Poke holes in the cake while it is in the Bundt pan and pour 3/4’s of the cake glaze over the cake.   Let soak in.  
When glaze has soaked in, turn the cake over onto the serving plate.  Pour any left over glaze on top of the cake.  Shake powder sugar on top and sprinkle with more sliced almonds for decoration.  Serves 10.
Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GRILLED FIGS WITH GOAT CHEESE WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO

Grilled Figs with Goat Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto

This is one of those recipes that just jumps out at you and makes you crave them!  The recipe was sent from Italy by a good friend, Gail and she got permission for me to post it from her friend Russell.  Once I read the recipe, I know it was post worthy!!  I hope you try it, your guest will be very impressed!

  • 6 Black Mission figs, cut in half
  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar, plus extra for dressing  (make sure you use good, aged balsamic)
  • crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • 1/2 log goat cheese
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 C Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved with a vegetable peeler (again, make sure it’s the real thing!)
  • parsley for garnish
Preheat the grill and brush with a grill brush to remove any excess crud and fat.  After brushing, run an oiled towel over the grates to pick up any loosened crud or soot.  You can also use a good cast iron grill pan on your stove top.  Drizzle olive oil on both sides of cut figs.  Grill the fig halves, turning once to get the grill marks and soften, approx. 2-3 min. per side.

Drizzle each fig half with balsamic vinegar and fill each fig center with goat cheese.  Sprinkle a couple flakes of crushed red pepper, if using, on top of the goat cheese and wrap each fig with a slice of prosciutto.  Paint the outside of each fig appetizer very lightly with olive oil and drizzle more balsamic vinegar over the top.  Shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top.  Garnish with parsley if desired.   Serve at room temperature and you can make ahead and refrigerate.  Take out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving.

My favorite balsamic, Buy it at Williams-Sonoma

Posted in Appetizers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EASY APPLE CARAMEL CHEESECAKE

Just delicious!


  • 1 can (21 oz.) apple pie filling
  • 1 graham cracker crust (extra-serving size)
  • 2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened (can use low-fat)
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C caramel topping
  • 12 pecan halves
  •  1/2 C chopped pecans
  • dollop of whipped cream for garnish (sprig of mint leaves makes it extra attractive)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Reserve 3/4 C pie filling, set aside.  Spoon remaining filling into crust.  Blend cream cheese, sugar and vanilla: beat in eggs.  Pour over pie filling in crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until center is set.  Cool.  Meanwhile, combine reserved pie filling and caramel topping;  heat to soften caramel.  Spoon evenly over pie.  Garnish edge with pecan halves; sprinkle chopped nuts over center.  Chill.  Servings: 12       (Note: can substitute blueberry pie filling or cherry pie filling also if you want it to be really special, you can make your own graham cracker crust and place it in a 10 or 12 inch spring form pan!)
Posted in Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BOLOGNESE SAUCE WITH PENNE

  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes
  • 1 C Chianti
  • 1  28 oz. size can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 C fresh basil, rough chop
  • 1/4 C cream
  • 1/4 C red wine
Place 2 T olive oil in large frying pan, on medium-high heat.  Brown the ground sirloin and break up with wooden spoon.  Add crushed garlic, oregano, hot pepper, Chianti, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper.  Stir well and simmer about 10 minutes.
Meantime, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.  Make sure to add about 2 T olive oil to the water and plenty of salt.
After the 10 minutes of cook time, add nutmeg, fresh basil, cream, and good red wine to the pan and simmer another 8 to 10 minutes.
Drain pasta and put in large bowl.  Pour Bolognese Sauce on top of pasta.  Grate fresh Parmesan-Reggiano cheese on top and about 1/4 C fresh basil, chopped.  Mix well and serve. (Serves 6)
Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOODY-GOODY HAMBURGERS

My cousin Cynthia gave me this recipe she found for the original “Goody-Goody” hamburger.  Those of you from Tampa should remember the Goody-Goody Drive In Restaurant in downtown Tampa when we were growing up.  It was a special treat to gather the family in the car and drive there to eat these mouth-watering, dripping and messy hamburgers right in the car.  Oh, how we looked forward to that outing!  Now you can recreate that flavor for your own family.  Here is the recipe with my twist!

GOODY-GOODY HAMBURGER SAUCE:

  • 3 T butter
  • 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 T lemon juice

Combine all in a small but heavy saucepan.  Cook low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  The tomatoes will break up as thy cook and will form a thick sauce (you can help it along smashing it with a fork).   Makes enough for about 6 to 8 hamburgers. (You can make this the day before and refrigerate, just heat before serving)

HINT OF BEER HAMBURGERS:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground Sirloin (try to find PRIME or 80/20 ground beef)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 C regular beer
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • Hamburger buns of your choice
Optional:  torn lettuce leaves or arugula, sliced tomatoes, dill pickles, sliced or diced onions
 -
Mix all the above ingredients together.  Shape mixture into 6 patties, about 3/4 inch thick.  (hint:  Form mixture into 6 evenly shaped round balls and lay out on parchment paper before forming into patties, this will help you make them all the same size.)  Separate patties with wax or parchment paper.  Make a small indention in the center of the patty before grilling.  Can be frozen. 
-
COOKING METHODS:
GRILLING:  Lightly oil the grill grate.  Grill patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done.  Turn only once and do not poke with knife or fork.
STOVETOP/OVEN:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Preheat a cast iron skillet over the stove at medium-high heat.  Add a touch of olive oil.  Place the patty in your skillet until the bottom has browned and you can see the juices emerging from the top of the patty.  Then, flip the burger over.  Place the skillet with the flipped burger in it into the heated oven for about 5 minutes for a medium temperature.  That’s it, you’re done.
-

FINISHING OFF:

BUTTER AND TOAST A GOOD HAMBURGER BUN IN THE OVEN OR ON THE GRILL, PLACE THE HAMBURGER PATTIE ON THE BUN, TOP WITH THE GOODY-GOODY SAUCE, A FEW DILL PICKLE SLICES AND CHOPPED RAW ONIONS.  OPTIONAL:  ADD LETTUCE  OR ARUGULA,  SLICED TOMATOES AND SERVE!  SERVES 6   

Posted in ENTREES | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment