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Sunday, October 19, 2014

It's Fall Again!

So my dear friends it is once again my favorite time of year! I live for the time when I can use & eat apples & cranberries :)  I started my baking season with one of my all time favorite recipes...Cranberry Buttermilk Cake. Its a recipe I found a while ago & it is quite simply perfect. Tart but not overly sweet & incredibly moist. You can also swap out blueberries for the cranberries(the adjustments are in the original recipe). It is also foolproof which makes it even better. I am sharing the recipe here with a link to the original recipe from www.alexandracooks.com
I truly hope you enjoy it as much as I do :)

CRANBERRY BUTTERMILK CAKE

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
the zest from 1 orange zest
1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with orange zest and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the cranberries with 2 tablespoons of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the cranberries.

4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes, then check for doneness by touching the top gently or by inserting a toothpick. If necessary, return pan to oven, check every five minutes or so — it took my cake a little bit over 45 minutes to cook. (Note: Baking for as long as 50 minutes might be necessary, especially if you made the batter in advance.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving

http://www.alexandracooks.com/2011/12/16/cranberry-buttermilk-breakfast-cake/

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pasta!

Hello All! So as I've said in a previous post, I am a serious carb junkie! My favorite of these wonderful starches is definitely pasta without a doubt! Maybe it's the Italian in me  :) One of my favorite pasta dishes is the classic Fettuccine Alfredo. Now I must say I think I'm a good cook but I admit my father (who is Irish/German) makes a killer Alfredo sauce! So here today I am sharing his recipe for this awesome, easy classic. I happen to like grilled chicken with my Alfredo so feel free to serve it with or without it :) BUON APPETITO!

Bobby's Alfredo: For 1lb Fettuccine
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick butter (I like to cut it down a bit to 1/2)
5-8 oz. Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese (use the best you can get)

Directions:
*Boil water for pasta*
1) In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic & sautee until very lightly brown but not burned.
2) Add cream & raise heat to med-high. Bring to bubble. Reduce to simmer & add cheese.
3) Simmer until slightly thickened.
4) When pasta is done, toss in sauce & serve.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Quick and Easy 3

So my life lately has been a whirlwind with so much going on that coming up with something fast for dinner has been paramount. I dug into my recipe book the other night and was instantly hit with an old classic...QUICHE! How on Earth could I have forgotten about it? Quiche is fast,easy & satisfying-perfect!
I usually have all the ingredients on hand and its so versatile so I can change it up any way I want. Here is my tried and true recipe for my favorite Quiche...hope you enjoy it!

Classic Quiche:
Ingredients:
4 strips bacon*
1 small onion,diced
9 in. Frozen pie crust
1/2 cup cheese,cubed(whatever you like-the classic is Gruyere but I like cheddar)
2Tbsp. Grated parmesan cheese
3 eggs,lightly beaten
1/2 c. heavy cream or half & half
1/2c. Milk
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1) Place oven rack in lowest position & preheat oven to 375
2) Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon & cook 3-4 minutes until crisp, turning frequently. Remove & drain on paper towel. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of fat from the pan. In the same pan, cook the onions over medium heat until they wilt, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes.
3) Crumble bacon and sprinkle over the pie crust along with onions & cheese.
4) In a bowl, whisk together eggs,cream,milk & seasonings. Pour into crust. Place on a baking sheet & bake 45-50 minutes or until firm but not dry.
Serve warm or room temperature

* If you want a vegetable quiche just replace the bacon with 1/2 cup of your favorite cooked veggies.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Smoothie Craze

We are all trying to stay healthy especially with Summer coming. I have recently lost 60lbs & feel awesome. Like many of you, I have gotten into the whole smoothie/juice craze that has swept the nation. I have always had a passion for my fave Jamba juice which is amazing & very healthy(try it soon if you never have!). The only problem is I don't have a Jamba close by! They did finally came out with frozen smoothie kits you can find in your grocery store. They are a little pricey at $3.69 a bag which gives you 2 drinks & really isn't that bad considering a small juice at the shop costs about $5. Today I am going to share with you my tips for making your own frozen smoothie kits at home. It's really not that hard. All you need is some non-fat yogurt,fruit & veggies, a sheet pan, icecube trays & a few ziploc bags. Whatever you do just use fresh produce! Ok, here we go!

AT HOME SMOOTHIE KITS: Each kit makes 1 8oz drink
Ingredients:
1) 2 cups of your favorite fruits & veggies(my faves are strawberries,peaches & spinach*), rinsed & dried well with paper towel. If possible use a salad spinner for leafy veggies.
2) enough yogurt to fill an ice cube tray
3)fresh lemon juice

Directions:
1) Prepare fruit. Berries can be left whole, stone fruits & banana can be cut in chunks.
2) Mix lemon juice with 6 Tbsp. water in a bowl. Give stone fruit & bananas a quick dip in the water & let dry.
3) Place fruit on a sheet pan & place in freezer until fruit is completely frozen-at least 12hrs. If using spinach or other leafy greens, puree them in a blender with a few tablespoons of water & freeze in ice cube trays.
4) Fill an ice cube tray with yogurt & place plastic wrap on top & place in freezer until frozen.
5) When fruit & yogurt cubes are frozen, place 4oz(mixture of fruit & yogurt cubes) in small ziploc baggies. Label bags!
To make a smoothie,combine 1 4oz bag of your mixture with 8oz juice(I like orange juice) & blend in a blender. You can also use a combination of juice & coconut water if you'd like.

I hope you will all join the juice craze and lets get healthy!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Quick and Easy 2

Hello All!
Sorry for my absence lately...getting ready for a craft show I'm doing for my jewelry business. Since my life has been so hectic lately, I have needed to reach into my quick & easy recipes quite a few times! Everyone is looking for different ways to cook our favorite things most commonly chicken and the good old pork chop. I remembered this sweet & sour pork chop dish that my father used to make years ago that I haven't had in a long time so I decided to make it tonight-all I have to say is I'm so glad my father & I both remembered what went in it! Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!
*P.S.-This can be made on the stovetop or in the oven!*

Sweet & Sour Pork Chops
Makes 4-6 boneless chops 1 in. thick
1 1/4c. Ketchup
3 Tbsp. Soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Cider or red wine vinegar(I sometimes like to add just about a teaspoon more)
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 20oz. can pineapple chunks,juice reserved
1 red pepper cut into chunks

Directions:
1) If making in oven heat to 350 or heat your large skillet to medium high
2) For sauce: In saucepan,add all ingredients except the pepper & pineapple chunks & heat just until hot.  Add pepper & pineapple.
3)Brown pork chops in 2 Tbsp vegetable oil & drain.
4) If making on stovetop, return chops to skillet & add sauce. Cook with vented lid until chops are done. If making in oven place chops in baking dish & pour sauce over. 5)Cover with foil & bake until chops are done about 20-22 minutes depending on the size of chops.
Serve over white rice

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

YAY! Another post about chocolate...

Well My Friends, it's been a while since I wrote a post about my favorite ingredient-chocolate. I sadly gave up baking for Lent(call me crazy-everyone has!) but I have been craving sweet creation! I decided there was only one way to get around my Lenten sacrifice & still have the satisfaction of eating a yummy chocolate dessert without baking-Chocolate Cream Pie! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! Its so simple & so sinful :) I hope you will all enjoy it!

Chocolate Cream Pie
Serves 8

Ingredients:
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups milk
2 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 pre made Oreo cookie crust
sweetened whipped cream
chocolate shavings

Instructions
1)In a small pot, stir sugar, cornstarch and cocoa powder together.
2)Whisk in milk and place over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken.
3)Once hot and thick remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate and vanilla.
4)Pour into pie plate and cover with plastic wrap. **Be sure to place the plastic wrap directly on the filling**.
**Refrigerate for 2 hours or until completely chilled and plastic wrap comes off clean**.
5) Spread homemade whipped cream over pie & cover with chocoloate shavings

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dinner for One

Sorry for the long absence everyone! Just been so crazy busy. Well I think that even with the busiest schedules there are those rare times where we find ourselves alone for dinner. One of my all time trusty faves for those times is a good old sandwich-but not just any sandwich,a panini. Crispy bread,yummy prosciutto & mozzarella with homemade roasted peppers-how can you go wrong? Its satisfying,easy & the best thing-hardly any cleanup! So fix this yummy sammie & relax-you've earned it :)

Prosciutto,Mozzarella & Roasted Pepper Panini
2 pieces of Ciabatta bread,thinly sliced
3 slices prosciutto
2 slices mozzarella
2 oz. roasted red peppers

Preheat a grill pan or panini press
Build your sandwich making sure everything is in even layers.
Drizzle with olive oil
If using a grill pan,weight down the panini with a heavy pan.
Brown 2-3 minutes per side until cheese is melted.
Enjoy!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chilly Days,Warm Nights

Well Readers, if you're like me, you're getting sick & tired of all the cold & snow! On days when the weather is cold we need something nice & hot to keep us warm & satisfied. One thing comes to mind-a steaming hot bowl of soup. My favorite soup ever is Potato Leek. Many years ago, I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful chef who gave me the best recipe for this beautiful soup. I have tweaked it just a bit with the addition of one of my favorite ingredients-pancetta! Let's face it-everything's better with bacon but that's another post all together :) This potato leek soup is great served hot but can also be served room temp or even chilled. Also, if you add shredded rotisserie chicken to it its amazing! I hope you all will try & enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

POTATO LEEK SOUP

Ingredients:

4oz butter
1 Spanish onion,diced
1 bunch leeks,white & light green parts split,cleaned & sliced thin
2 quarts chicken stock
1 pint heavy cream
2 lbs. Russet potatoes,diced small
4 oz. pancetta, diced

Directions:
1)In a large pot, sautee pancetta until browned but still soft. Remove & drain on paper towel.
2)melt butter; add leeks & onions. Sautee until wilted.
3)Add chicken stock & bring to boil. Cook 15 minutes.
4) Add potatoes-cook until very tender
5) Season well with salt & pepper.
6) Stir in heavy cream & return pancetta to pot. Serve with chopped chive or fried shallots(optional garnishes)

Hope you all enjoy this recipe...don't forget to Live, Love & Eat!! :)