Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sweetened Condensed Milk Caramel part 2

Regina inspired me.  Yesterday we baked with  Sweetened Condensed Milk Caramel. We made chocolate thumbprint cookies and filled them with the caramel and chopped up M&M's.  They were easy, look festive and taste great. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sweetened Condensed Milk Caramel

I am in love with caramel made from sweetened condensed milk. My sister Eileen told me about this last spring, but I never quite found the time to try it out. Finally, this fall I made the time! Yes, the few minutes it took to peel the paper off a can of sweetened condensed milk and submerge in a crockpot full of water and leave it on low for 8 hours. Yup, that's it! 
Caramel & Chocolate Ganache Bites

I finally did this and discovered it worked. My next concern, what to do with it? Sure, you can dip apples in it, or even marshmallows or any other tasty treats (Eileen placed it alongside her chocolate fountain, I believe, at her daughter's First Communion celebration). Since discovering it actually worked and how easy it was, I have been on a quest to find new uses. Below, take a look at what we have done with this little bit of caramel yummy-ness.

First, for Thanksgiving we made Milky Way Tarts. We used the store-bought graham cracker crumb crusts in the small sizes. Filled them with: a spoonful of caramel, topped with chocolate mousse and then drizzled with melted chocolate and more caramel. They were a huge hit. So huge, that I didn't get my own, just tastes of my daughters'.:)

Next, we were going to a party and I wanted more bite-sized, so we got the phyllo shells and baked them for a few minutes, layered a little caramel and some chocolate ganache, then drizzled with a little more caramel.

In the midst of all of this, we also discovered that it is delicious on fudge topped with a little sea salt. 

Next up: I will be looking for chocolate cups (or breaking down and making my own) and filling with some combination of the above. Thinking a little caramel, a little mousse, and a little ganache. After that, maybe on some shortbread, with some chocolate of course! Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Update, February 2015: We just recently used this delicious caramel as the filling for a cake for my mother's 80th birthday. My mother loves chocolate and caramel. We made a wonderful chocolate cake, filled two layers with this delicious caramel and topped it with the best chocolate frosting. It was wonderful!

Shrimp Appetizers - Two Ways

I love, love, love shrimp in most ways. It is truly one of my favorite things to have and I love how many things you can do with it. I thought I'd share with you two great shrimp appetizers that we have discovered this fall. They are both, homey and cozy and delicious, as well as elegant and beautiful. The perfect appetizer!

The first, Shrimp & Chorizo Tapas, a friend brought to a dinner party. George and I loved it so much, she brought it to a party we were having. It is to-die-for. (Thanks, Alicja!)

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and saucte 1 lb sliced chorizo until it begins to brown around the edges, about 7-8 minutes. Add 1 1/2 c thinly sliced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4-6 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp minced garlic, cook, stirring for another minute. Add 1/4 c of sherry, cook 1 more minute. Add 1 1/2 lb. peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp, 1 Tbsp Spanish paprika, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 c of sherry and 1/4 c olive oil, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 Tbsp minced parsley, remaining tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper; stir to combine and remove from heat. Serve immediately on small plates with accumulated cooking juices spooned over top and pass some nice crusty bread to accompany it, or in a large dish surrounded by crusty bread. Serve with more bread than you think necessary or people will be licking the dish clean! It is THAT good! 

The second, Shrimp Bruschetta, was a recipe my daughter and I saw Giada DeLaurentis make and my daughter requested for her confirmation party. It was soooooo good. It will certainly become a go-to appetizer for us, I think. (We enjoyed the leftovers the next day just as much!)

Toasts: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice a 1 lb. ciabatta loaf into 14 1/2 inch-thick slices and arrange in a single layer on a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes, rub with the cute side of a garlic clove and set aside.

Topping: In a medium skillet, heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil over med-high heat. Add 1-2 sliced shallots and 1 chopped clove of garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 2 minutes. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Cook about 2-4 minutes, remove the shrimp and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

In the same skillet, add 6 chopped Roma tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes start to soften, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat to high. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook for 2 minutes.Stir in 1/4 c chicken (or veg) stock and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add 3 Tbsp chopped tarragon, 1 c packed chopped arugala, 1/2 c marscapone cheese and cooked shrimp. Stir until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the toasts and serving plates and drizzle with the sauce.

I hope you will enjoy these great recipes!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Marsala Mushroom Cream Sauce over Beer Braised Beef over Mashed Potatoes

Made this dish last week. It was awesome! A hit with the entire family. Such perfect comfort food for chillier weather. Doesn't it just look comforting?

This recipe is assembled in 3 parts. I took the recipe from the Mushroom Channel, but made some changes. 

Beer Braised Beef

1 (2 1/2 lb) boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 2-3 inch chunks.
1/2 c flour
4 Tbsp veg oil
2 med yellow onions, halved & thinly sliced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 (12 oz) bottles of lager beer
3 beef bouillion cubes
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 6in sprig rosemary

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season beef generously with salt & pepper and place in a ziplock bag with added flour. Seal and shake until the beef until each piece is dredged and coated in flour. Add 3 Tbsp of oil to a large heavy duty pot and heat over med-high heat. Brown the beef on all sides, then transfer to a plate. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pot and add onions, cook for 20 minutes until soft and slightly carmelized. Stir in balsamic vinegar, beef and boulion (*I used broth). Bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom. Add beef and juices back to the pot and give everything a good stir. *Cover pot with a lid and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. (*Instead of placing in the oven, I put it in the crockpot on low and left it for 4-5 hours. It came out perfect.)

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, washed and quartered
1/2 c butter, sliced
3/4 c buttermilk

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add potatoes and cook for 20 minutes until fork tender. Carefully strain and place in large bowl. Add butter and allow it to melt. Stir in the buttermilk. Using potato masher, carefully mash until creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.

(*This is what they recommended. I made regular mashed potatoes. I love to make mine from baked potatoes, so I baked the potatoes while the beef was cooking in the morning. Then I scooped and made the mashed the potatoes with butter and milk. I covered them and reheated at dinner time.)

Marsala Mushroom Cream Sauce

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp oil
8 oz cremini mushrooms
8 oz button mushrooms
3/4 c marsala wine
1/2 c heavy cream
fresh thyme, salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat butter and oil. Add sliced mushrooms and saute 3-4 minutes. Add marasala wine and cook 5 minutes. Stir in heavy cream and thyme. Reduce the heat to med and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To serve: Layer in a bowl - mashed potatoes, beef, sauce. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't... and it is SO worth it. It was decadently delicious! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Recipe request: Jambalaya

Maureen, I can’t find Michael’s Jambalaya recipe anywhere? Would you (would he) mind sharing it here where we can archive it?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Death By Chocolate - Choc Mousse Help

Hi All:

For the Dunican family Death by Chocolate Recipe, I have always used a box mix for the Chocolate Mousse layer. Unfortunately, I have had a really hard time finding it since we moved to PA. In NY it used to be with the pudding mixes or in the baking aisle. I can't find it with either here. The last time I made it I had to use something totally different. (I am not a fan of using pudding in my DbyC). I am bringing DbyC to a party in a few weeks and started looking around for it already because I remembered having trouble and again, I am not finding it in the stores around here. Has anyone else had trouble finding it near them? Is there another place I should be looking for it? I'm wondering if it is a local thing, or if the chocolate mousse in the box is no longer readily available. Would love to hear if you all have had a similar experience. 

Maybe I'll stock up on it next week when we are in NY...



Thursday, September 20, 2012

September Meals

As always, when September rolls around, we suddenly find ourselves busy, like many of you, juggling school schedules, sports, activities, and more. Then throw in a few back-to-school-nights, and the question becomes not only, "what am I going to feed them?" but "WHEN am I going to feed them?" We really enjoy sitting down to a family meal, but it is just not always possible. So I try to look at about 2 weeks worth of our schedule and plan for meals when we can sit and eat together, and plans for eating in shifts. I also plan for days when I'll be able to do some work on the meal before I put it on the table, and for days when I need it to be good to go whenever we walk in the door. So for the first few weeks of school, here are some of the meals we have gone with - it is a mix of some old favorites and some new ones that I pulled from websites and/or magazines. Overall, I'd have to say my family has been pleased.

Old favorites:
Baked Stuffed Potatoes - This is always a favorite in my house and the best part is that it can be easily tailored to individual tastes (and what I happen to have on hand). I bake my potatoes, then slice them in half and scoop out the insides. I mix this with a little butter, milk and salt... AND some steamed, chopped broccoli and cauliflower. It ups the veggie factor of the meal, plus I get to mound the inside on the potato when I refill which just makes it looks so pretty (see photo). Also, if I offer the veggies as a topping, the kids have the option of NOT putting it on, but when it is already inside it, it is a done deal. I usually also add in some shredded cheddar cheese because when I pop it back in the oven, it gets nice and melty. YUM. Then I serve with toppings. Some great ideas: bacon, sour cream, chives, chili, more veggies, more cheese, salsa, and anything else you can think of that your family might enjoy. Serve with a salad and we are good to go!
Chicken Divan - I know we have the recipe on here somewhere. An old family favorite. I have switched from using cream of chicken soup in the sauce to using cream of broccoli soup. AND I always double this - one recipe for dinner, one for the freezer.
Black Bean Soup - This could not be easier and is another recipe that changes based on mood and/or what I have in, but is always a hit at my house. I usually drain and rinse about 3 cans of black beans, add in salsa or diced veggies and a can or two of diced tomatoes, some seasonings, some broth. I like it a little chunky, I usually use my immersion blender to make it soup-like, but still leave some chunks and add cilantro in at the end. I usually serve this with quesadillas and toppings for the quesadillas or soup, such as corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, diced onion, salsa, sour cream. 
Tomato Soup & Cheesy Breadsticks - Much like the black bean soup, I throw in a mix of canned tomatoes, broth and veggies and blend. Then I wrap 1/2 mozzarella cheese stick in a crescent roll and bake for time on can. So easy, so yummy. Family favorite! (One of the new recipes I came across adds bacon and white beans to a tomato soup. May have to try this)
Korean BBQ Flank Steak - This recipe is also on the site. It is from Aunt Sarah on a visit a few years ago and has been a go-to grilled steak recipe here since. We love this one and the leftovers are great for a steak salad the next day for lunch.
Fajitas/Tacos/Burritos - Some version of wrapped Mexican-style food, choose meat, fish, bean or veggie and put it together as you wish. Easy to please everyone.

Some New Quick & Easy Favorites:
Thai Pork Wraps - I posted about this recipe that we found in the September issue of Rachael Ray's magazine and it is now a must-have in the rotation. I made our second batch last week and froze in single-size servings to be pulled out when needed before or after practices, etc. to accommodate different schedules. As I was packaging it, Holland came in and asked if she could have a bowl before soccer practice that day. 
Pan-fried Chicken - Marinade: 3 TBSP canola mayo, 2 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce, 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice, 1 TBSP chile pase. Marinate chicken breast in this for at least 15 minutes. Then dredge in 1 1/2 c panko bread crumbs. Heat large nonstick skillet over med high and cook chicken in two batches, 4 minutes each side. The flavor was great. Next time I'll try baking, though. 
Skinny Scampi - Spaghetti squash, cut in half, cut side down in large microwavable dish, add 1/3 c water and microwave on high until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove seeds. Meanwhile, heat 1 TBSP olive oil over med heat, add 1 chopped red bell pepper and 1 chopped clove of garlic and cook about 3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined; 1/4 c vegetable broth and 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice and cook, tossing occasionally, until the shrimp are firm and pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 tsp. lemon zest and 2 tsp. chopped flat leaf parsley and remove from heat. Using a fork, rake the spaghetti squash lengthwise to remove the flesh. Toss the squash with 2 tsp olive oil, season with salt & pepper. Serve shrimp on top of squash (serves 4).
Lamb & Turkey Burger - From Cooking LIght, this recipe had mixed reviews, but some are never going to like lamb, and some are never going to like burgers. Those of us that enjoyed it, really enjoyed it. I did not use the sauce with the recipe and instead did a chop of cilantro, mint & parsley, mixed with a little lemon juice and mayonnaise. We served it with a tomato-cucumber salad - thinly sliced cucs and tomatoes, tossed with chopped parsley, olives, lemon juice and olive oil. A bigger hit than the burgers with some!

Hope this gives you some ideas of new recipes to try. Would love to hear some of your favorites.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


What do you make with your ready-to-be-tossed bananas, besides banana bread (muffins) and smoothies? I’m ready for something new.

Also, any ideas for what I can make with leftover corn muffins? We had neighbors over for the Patriots game on Sunday, and I overbaked (surprise, surprise).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thai Pork Wrap-Ups

Trying to get into Back to School and fall activity mode, I did some pre-planning for easy meals. I just found this in the new Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine in an article on 16 FAST IDEAS and had it tonight. It is great for a quick meal. It comes together very fast. In this case, I made it ahead of time and popped it in the freezer - took it out and had it for a quick-on-the-go-dinner. These are ingredients that are easy to have on hand and ones I intend to make sure I have in. Whether I cook it a-up ahead of time or make it on the go, we will be having this one again. We really liked it.:)

**Two notes: 1. It says it serves 4. I have some large nephews that I could see eating all, or at least half, of this meal in one sitting. 2. If you like it spicy, feel free to add some extra sriracha sauce on top at the end. It is delicious!

1 lb. ground pork
1 clove garlic, grated
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 c chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp brown sugar
1 head butter lettuce
veggies of choice -- bok choy, peppers, onions, grated carrots or zucchini, whatever you have on hand! It is a great way to add in a lot of veggies. Chop them and sauté them with the meat.

Cook pork and garlic in oil over high, 7 minutes. Off heat, stir in next 5 ingredients. Serve with lettuce. Serves 4.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to school breakfast

Today I made Pumpkin waffles a great fall treat and nice for the first day of school.  But as every year I struggle with breakfast especially Erin, she loves big breakfast pancakes, waffles and such.  But does not like them frozen she is out the door by 6:45 so it is hard to do fresh of those and get her out on time. This summer she got better about eating Smoothies for breakfast but even that is time consuming I made a double batch of the waffle mix and plan to freeze in cups so she can pull out one cup of mix at night and make a waffle in the AM.  What works in your house?  Here are some of the suggestions form other years as well. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Camping for 40

Brad is taking the High School Cross Country team on an overnight campout 40 people. I am in charge of the food.  We are doing easy, filling foods that they can run on.  Runs before each meal.
Spaghetti Dinner
 Breakfast - Granola Bars/Fruit/Bagels

 Lunch PBJ Sandwiches/Fruit

I'm looking for suggestions or help on quanity

I'm thinking 16 lbs of spaghetti, 6 jars of sauce, 8 -10 loaves of bread, 10 -15 lbs of baby carrots

10 -12 boxes of granola bars, 50 -60 beagles, butter and honey, 5 bunches of bananas, 5 bunches of grapes

lunch  - 6 loaves of bread, 3 large jars of Peanut butter, 50 -60 apples

Stuff for S'mores

Kids are to bring power bars for snacks.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Eggplant Recipes? What is your favorite way to use eggplant? I love Eggplant Parm, Grilled Eggplant (especially in the Grilled Veggie Terriene, previously posted), Garlicky eggplant with Meat Sauce (will post later)and Caponata. I want some new ideas as it is so good and plentiful at this time of year! Share your favorite recipes PLEASE!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pull apart cupcake cake

Molly wants a pull apart cupcake cake for her birthday. Didn't give any suggestions. I can only find a few examples on line - a turtle or an owl.  Has anyone made one? Or seen cute ones? 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Awesome General Tso's Chicken

General Tso’s Chicken Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal, 2 to 3 as a main entree 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced into 1-inch cubes 1 1/2 cups cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 3 peanut or vegetable oil for frying, plus 1 tablespoon for stir-frying 8 dried whole red chilis, or substitute 1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, for garnish Scallions, green parts thinly sliced, for garnish Marinade: 1 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry 2 egg whites Sauce: 1/4 cup chicken stock, or substitute water 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice vinegar 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce 1 teaspoon chili paste 1 teaspoons sesame oil 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1. Prepare the marinade: In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and egg whites. Coat the chicken to the marinade mixture and let sit for 10 minutes. 2. Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the chicken stock, tomato paste, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, chili paste, sesame oil, sugar, and the 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Stir until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Set the sauce aside. 3. In a large bowl or deep plate, toss the 1 1/2 cups cornstarch with the salt and pepper. Coat the marinated chicken in the cornstarch and shake off any excess before frying. 4. Heat the 3 cups of peanut or vegetable oil in your wok until it registers 350°F on an instant-read oil thermometer. Working in 2 or 3 batches, add the first batch of chicken cubes and fry until golden brown on the outside and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. 5. Drain the oil into a heatproof container and save for discarding. Wipe the wok with a paper towel to remove any brown bits, but don’t wash. 6. Reheat the wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add another 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat the base and sides. Add the dried chilis and garlic to the wok and stir-fry until just fragrant, about 20 seconds. Pour in the sauce mixture and stir until thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. 7. Return the chicken to the wok and stir well to coat with sauce. Transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Garnish with white sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with white rice and vegetables. You have got to try this!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Inspiration from the Produce Aisle!

Although I enjoy cooking, too often the planning, shopping and preparing, not to mention the cleaning, becomes a chore and is not so enjoyable. Lately, I have felt very uninspired and uncreative, and I've felt like our meals have shown that. This week began not much differently, except that it was so hot on Tuesday when I went shopping that I just went right to the produce area and loaded up on fresh fruits and veggies. Thus, my week was born and we have had a week of salads and sandwiches.

The best part, it has been one of those weeks that I have done well thinking ahead and prepping extra to make the following days a little easier. Yeah. 

Tuesday - Grilled steak, peppers and onions sandwiches with salad
I shopped, came home and prepped fruits and veggies for the week and marinated steak and chicken breast. 

Wednesday - Make Your Own Tacos
I cooked some bacon and grilled some chicken breast first thing in the morning.
Make you own tacos: sliced grilled Chicken breast, avocado, tomato, Corn & Chili Salsa (trader joe's), black beans, sour cream and salad

Thursday: Sandwiches
BLTs (Bacon that I cooked Wed) &/or chicken and apple salad (reserved some chicken breast from Wed), black bean salad (beans, avocado, tomato and corn & chili salsa - all leftover from make your own tacos), roasted baby potatoes

I'm not sure what we are having tomorrow, but I boiled the baby potatoes (white, red and purple - so pretty) and then roasted half for Thursday's dinner. The other half I chopped and put a little olive oil and vinegar on and am planning to turn into a potato salad to accompany something, probably grilled.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

4th of July Party

To celebrate my 14-year-old son's birthday he wants a "Hot Dog Extravaganza"! So we'll borrow the menu from our "Franks N Stein" Halloween Party! Of course we'll have the ketchup, mustard, hot dog relish, Saurkraut, bacon and cheese.

One of my old time favorites: Spicy Onions (sautee sliced onions cut in half, once they are soft, add in tabascco, ketchup, salt and pepper, I don't measure just shake and taste. Should be well coated but not to saucy, simmer until desired tenderness and sauce consistancy. Sometimes, I also add a bit of cooking wine to them:)

The Chicago Dog (which we experienced last summer when visiting my brother)
mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato slices, pickle spear, Sport Peppers (imported from Chicago), and a dash of Celery Salt on a poppy seed bun (we could not get these in NY)

Thai Dog: Thai peanut sauce, diced cucumbers and chopped scallions.

Chili Dog: mustard, homemade chili, chopped onions and nacho cheese.

Of Course we have to have my homemade Baked Beans (my neighbor Kathy's recipe):
1/2 pound Bacon, browned and crumbled
1 medium onion, chopped and browned in 1T bacon fat
In crockpot, combine 2 large cans of B&M Baked Beans, 1 can Kidney beans, 1 can Butter Beans. Add bacon and onion. Then stir in 1/2 C ketchup, 1/4 C molasses and 1 t dry mustard (Coleman's). Original recipe also called for 1/2 pound of browned ground beef or turkey, I have never felt it needed it. Cook until heated through.

We'll wash it down with Beer and Root Beer! And finish it off with Carvel Ice Cream cake:) HAPPY 4th of JULY to all!!

Friday, April 20, 2012


After school the girls often have popcorn for a snack. Erin now has braces so that is out. I want a quick,easy, simi health but filling snack to have on hand. We all love trail mix. I was thinking of having a container and making seasonal snack mix. I might do 2 containers and keep one peanut free for when we have peanut allergy friends over. Here is a link to one fun one, Seasonal snack mix. I'd love to collect a whole bunch to keep it interesting. I like one I posted here a while ago.
Southwest snack mix, maybe without the popcorn.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quick Spring Dinner Ideas

With Baseball, Art Shows, concerts, etc... in full swing I try to plan ahead and use the crock pot for meals that whenever someone gets home to eat there is dinner ready! For tonight I decided to try Shephard's Pie, as I had leftover Lamb from Easter. All I needed to do was make Mashed Potatoes and mix frozen veggies and gravy with the lamb. I will post later to let you know how it turned out! Thursday I will be doing

Beer Brisket (from Prevention Slow Cooker)
2 large onions
3-4 Lbs Beef Brisket, fat trimmed
1 bottle of beer
1/2 c chili sauce
2 tsp dried steak seasoning

Place onion in slow cooker, top with beef. Mix chili sauce, beer and steak seasoning. Pour over beef. Cook on low 10-12 hours. Thinly slice across grain. Use slotted spoon to remove onions and place on top of meat. Drizzle some cooking liquid over meat and serve on rolls!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Freezer Meals (Mostly Crockpot)

My daughter and I spent an hour and half prepping meals today to fill our freezer. Here is what we did:
Chicken Teriyaki
Pork Loin Teriyaki (used the same ingredients - teriyaki marinade, broccoli, carrots & pineapple, then added pork to one, chicken to the other)
Chicken Tacos
Beef Tacos (onion, peppers, salsa - one with chicken and one with browned ground beef)
Shredded Roast Pork (BBQ sauce, can of cola)
Pineapple Skirt Steak (pineapple, olive oil, lime, garlic and soy sauce)
2 bags of meat sauce
While she chopped and put together the most of the bags, I browned ground beef for tacos, meat sauce and lasagna, browned sausage for sauce and lasagna, cooked the sauce and put together the lasagna.

We labeled the bags and will just pull one out and pop in the crock pot when needed. I can't believe how easy it was with 2 of us doing it together and how much we got done. Yeah!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Crockpot dinner party

For our school silent auction the big push is hosting an event. So I am hosting a crockpot dinner and prep night. The idea is that some adults will join me for an evening. I will provide dinner (from the crock pots) and supplies we will do prep so they also go home with bagged meals that can be frozen, when needed pull out, put into a crock pot and have a meal or such. That is the big concept. Menu ideas :


Chocolate fountain (caramel or marshmallow creme in the crockpot to go with.)
Crockpot Carmel 

To keep it simple and easy, the prep meals to go will be the corn chowder and Fejoida. I will also probably send them home with a jar of caramelized onions. I will include all recipes. I am trying to come up with a non meat option along the lines of Fejoida. We will also have bread and salad with the meal. 
Any help or suggestions would be great, I'm a little worried about being overwhelmed.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Wings

5 1/2 pounds chicken wings, split and tips discarded
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle chile sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 drops hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon salsa
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt

1.Place chicken in slow cooker. In a medium bowl combine the chile sauce, lemon juice, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, salsa, chili powder, garlic powder and salt. Mix together and pour mixture over chicken.
2.Cook in slow cooker on Medium Low setting for 5 hours.


I would make them spicier next time. More hot sauce! I also removed them from the crock pot and broiled them as we like our wings crisper and "drier". They were so easy and very tasty!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Therese can't wait to make these and they come from a box mix.

These will have to wait as tomorrow we are having "Big Blue" Velvet cupcakes and Lemon Lime Cupcakes. Go Giants.

Friday, February 3, 2012

NE Patriots vs. NY Giants Superbowl

What are you making for Superbowl Sunday? While we will be rooting on the Pats, we are thinking we'll make food to honor both teams. NE Clam Chowder (Mom's recipe) seems like a must. In addition to that, for NY, we had a few thoughts - either pizza (a classic and a favorite of all of us) OR Holland's idea of "NY Street food," such as soft pretzels and hot dogs, OR Brendan's idea, "NY Deli".

I'll report back on what we choose, but would love to hear what others are making.

Prep Sunday for a Week of Meals

SELF magazine had an article this week about prepping for an hour on Sunday and cooking all week. The recipes were for one, but I increased them to feed my family of 6. I did not do the entire program, but we enjoyed 3 meals - the Chicken with Black Bean Mango Salsa (I added a little peach as well, I think next time I'd add a little red pepper for color also), the Drunken Sausage (after browning the sausage, I threw it all in the crockpot for the day, worked great!) and finally, the Cheesy Shrimp. All were big hits with the entire family!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mini-Appetizers & Desserts

I had posted on here asking for ideas for mini-appetizers and desserts, I thought I'd post the menu I ended up going with. It was for my Great Gatsby book club meeting, so I wanted to do finger foods that looked a little fancy — it was as much about the presentation as it was the food:).

Shrimp Cocktail Shooters
with Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce
For the Bloody Mary cocktail sauce, I mixed ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and vodka. Placed a spoonful in the bottom of a plastic shot glass. Skewered 2 large shrimp and 1 green olive together and placed them on the glass.

Caprese Sticks
One marinated mozzarella ball and one grape tomato wrapped in a basil leaf and skewered. I also placed these across the plastic shot glasses, just because I thought they looked cool.

Greek Salad Bites
Layered a cucumber slice, ½ kalamata olive, a block of feta cheese and a grape tomato.

Spicy Cucumber Cups—Two Ways
Filled ½ cucumber cups with a spicy crab dip (the pink one, pictured here. I purchased the dip at the fish stand. The others with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce, chopped peanuts and cilantro

Crisped Sopressatta with Olive Bread, Mustards and Tapenade
Placed strips of soppresatta in the oven to crisp up. Served with bread and little dishes of mustards and tapenade.

Chocolate & PB Mousse
Layered chocolate pudding, peanut butter mousse and chocolate mousse. Topped with Dove Peanut Butter Chocolate Baking Chips (YUM).

Friday, January 13, 2012


Nine years ago, when I started my in home cooking Personal Chef Service, I also started doing Thanksgiving prep for one of my dearest college friends. Her family loves my roasted pumpkin soup, and requests it year after year after year. The original recipe is delicious, but labor intensive.

Roasted pumpkin soup
1 medium pumpkin, about 4 pounds
1 T butter
2 slices bacon, diced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
6 c chicken stock
½ c heavy cream, plus 1 c, for garnish
¼ c orange juice
large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
whole leaves flat-leaf parsley, as a garnish
1 T chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
Preheat the oven to 375°. Halve the pumpkin from top to bottom and place it, cut side down, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake until the pumpkin can be easily skewered, 45-60 minutes. Cool for about 20 minutes. With a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Scrape the pulp and reserve. Discard the skin. Melt butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the bacon is just turning golden, about 7 minutes. Add the pumpkin and stock and simmer until the pumpkin falls apart, about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes. In batches, puree the soup in a blender on high speed, 3 minutes per batch, until very smooth. Strain through a fine mesh into a clean soup pot and add the cream, orange juice and nutmeg. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, correct the consistency with additional water or stock. Chop 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper. Whip 1 cup cream to soft peak. Stir peppers into cream. Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Spoon dollop of chipotle cream into soup.

As my business grew, more people wanted Roasted pumpkin soup that I could start in their crockpots the day or two before Thanksgiving. Now, every year for Thanksgiving I make vats of roasted pumpkin soup with chipotle cream (one year I made eleven!), so I needed a modified recipe, I didn’t have time for cooking bacon from raw, cutting and cooking pumpkins, pureéing soup, and whipping cream (not to mention, fresh whipped cream doesn’t keep well for a day or two). Enter new recipe ... liquid smoke simulates smoky taste of bacon, canned pumpkin pureé and onion powder eliminate the need for roasting actual pumpkin and pureéing end product, and mascarpone cream is a nice substitute for the whipping cream, and also the tanginess of the mascarpone balances the sweet pumpkin soup nicely.

Slow cooker roasted pumpkin soup with chipotle cream
1 lg can pumpkin pureé
6 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock, for vegetarian soup)
½ t liquid smoke
%frac14; t onion powder
¼ t salt
1/8 t pepper
¼ c orange juice
1/8 t nutmeg, freshly grated
1 small tub mascarpone cream
1 T adobo sauce, from chipotles with adobo sauce
Place pumpkin, stock, liquid smoke, onion powder, salt, pepper, and orange juice in the slow cooker on low for 6 hours. Combine mascarpone and adobo sauce, store in refrigerator until ready to serve. When ready to serve, ladel soup into bowls, grate nutmeg over soup, and top with a dollop of mascarpone-chipotle cream.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Classic Creme Brulee

My daughter Holland has wanted to try making Creme Brulee. While I enjoy baking, I always thought it was something that took more time and patience (and possibly talent) than I had, so I had never tried. A friend of mine lent her a recipe book and blow torch, so this weekend, she gave it a shot. Early Sunday she mixed up and baked the custard. We let it cool and kept it in the fridge, then after dinner, together we torched it. It was delicious, and quite easy. I think we are all hooked!

Classic Creme Brulee
8 egg yolks
1/3 c granulated white sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 c granulated white sugar (for the carmelized tops)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is think and pale yellow. Add cream and vanilla and continue to whisk until well blended. Strain into a large bowl, skimming off any foam or bubbles.

Divide mixture among 6 ramekins or custard cups. Place in a water bath and bake until set around the edges, but still loose in the center, about 40-50 minutes. Longer baking time will be required for larger, deeper ramekins. Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cooled. Remove cups from water bath and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 tsp. of sugar over each custard. For best results, use a small, hand-held torch to melt sugar. If you don't have a torch, place under the broiler until sugar melts. Re-chill custards for a few minutes before serving. Serves 6.

*We used small ramekins and found 2 tsp. to make the sugar a little too thick, so we went with just enough to really give a thin coating. It was perfect!