Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bacon Mac

Isn't it weird how kids who are crazy for mac&cheese don't really like the real thing?  And the same kids who also like bacon don't like it when you put it in their mac&cheese?  Oh well....more for me!




I found this recipe at Cooking Light.  Does it really make it lighter just because I found it there?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm sure there are way worse macaroni and cheese recipes out there, but I found this one completely delicious!  In fact I'm about to go get some of the leftovers for lunch right now.  But before I do, here's the recipe so you can do the same.



Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 12 ounces strozzapreti or penne pasta
  • 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk, divided
  • 2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Bring 6 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add pasta; cook 8 minutes or until al dente; drain.
3. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add 1 cup milk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until it cools to 155°. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, onions, hot sauce, pepper, and bacon; stir. Add pasta; toss. Spoon into a 2-quart broiler-safe dish coated with cooking spray; top with 1/2 cup cheese. Broil 7 minutes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chocolate Kahlua Toffee Trifle

If you have a sweet tooth the size of Texas, this may be the recipe for you.  And if that sweet tooth likes things just a little boozy, then you're definitely in luck.



This is about as easy as falling off a log (but hurts a lot less).  Once you get the cake made, you're home free.  The hard part is letting it chill once it's all put together.  



If you're feeding this to children, you might want to decrease the Kahlua content just a little, it's quite powerful.  My kids didn't seem to mind :D


Here's the recipe...make and enjoy!
(from Yummly.com)

1 box cake mix (devil's food)
6 ozs instant chocolate pudding mix
2 cups milk
1 cup kahlua


Prepare cake according to box mix and cool.  

Cut the cake up into cubes.

Combine pudding mix, milk and Kahlua.

If it is too runny, set it aside in the fridge to allow it to thicken for 20 minutes.

It will make it easier to work with.

To assemble, use a pretty straight-sided glass bowl or trifle bowl.

Layer the bottom with 1/2 the cake cubes making sure to line the sides of the bowl


Pour 1/2 the the pudding over the the cake layer making sure to spread it to the side of the bowl so you can see the layer.

Spread 1/2 the Cool Whip on top of the pudding mix in the same manner.

Sprinkle 1/2 the Skors bits on top of the Cool Whip.

Repeat the layering with the rest of the ingredients ending with the Skors bits on top.

Chill overnight before serving (yeah, right)
16 ozs cool whip (fresh whipped cream)
1 package english toffee (skor english toffee bit or 6 skor candy bars crushed)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seven Sporadic Questions: BrownievilleGirl

I'm very excited to bring you a featured blogger for Seven Sporadic Question from across the pond for the month of November. 



 Eleanor from Ireland is the face behind Brownieville Girl, and I've been watching her blog for quite some time.  I love visiting her site for the delicious food and the warm, inviting atmosphere.  Let's get to know her a little better. 


 
 !

 
1.  What inspired you to start blogging?

My new year's resolution for 2010 was to push myself out of my comfort zone.  My two passions were reading and cooking/food - so they were the obvious outlets for my new bravery!!!
 
My first step was to do a couple of book reviews on local radio - I was so nervous, but got such a buzz from actually taking the risk and not making too big (!) a fool of myself!!!!
 
The next step was to do something with food - I had been enjoying reading some fantastic food blogs, and decided to take the plunge - I was so nervous, would anyone read it, would anyone like my writing/cooking/photos?  I'm so glad I took the risk.



2.  What's your favorite thing to make for a crowd?


I have a HUGE problem when I'm faced with catering for a crowd - I just can't stop!!!!  I write a list and say "that's it, no more" - but then I sneak on an extra salad or three, and then a dessert or two more!!  Actually the family love this failing of mine - there are always loads and loads of leftovers!!




Beetroot salad and Couscous salad
 
I love to cook salads and cold meats and fish - and I always have to try out some new ideas.
 

Three Bean Salad
 
 Then it comes to desserts and I really go to town!!



Chocolate Roulade

One of my favourite things is to sit with a block of post-its and go through my cookery books deciding what to cook for an event - the best part is that I'm not constrained by my family's likes and dislikes - I can really go to town!!!!



3.  What's your favorite thing to make for just you?

I rarely cook "just for me" - I do so much cooking every day (since my sister's passing, I cook dinner for her children every afternoon and then come home and cook a dinner here) that my idea of the perfect "alone meal" is probably a slice of batch bread with loads of butter!!!

4.  If you could invite 3 famous people (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be?  Any particular reason?

That's easy - I would invite my late sister, my late father, my other sister and my mother (I know that's one person too many but how could I leave one of us out???)  Once we got past all the crying and sadness - we would have a ball, there is one thing I can say about my family and that is that they are great craic, it would be an evening full of laughs and fun.
 
This time last year I would have said that Dad, Nigella Lawson and George Cooney would be on the list - although I don't know if my father would approve of me flirting with George all night!!  Actually he'd probably be busy flirting with Nigella!!




5.  When you think of your childhood, do any favorite dishes come to mind?


I am very lucky because my mother was a fantastic cook - really adventurous, I remember in particular the time she made stuffed cabbage by deconstructing the vegetable blanching all the leaves, and reconstructing it with a meat stuffing - scrummy stuff, but really hard work!!
 
Our local green grocer used to dread seeing Mum coming - as she was always ordering vegetable he had never even heard of - it's hard to imagine now that Avocado Pears were considered exotic!!
 
That all said, my fondest food memories are Sunday Dinners - it was a wonderful family time, we would sit for ages over dinner and chat.  We always had a roast of meat - usually beef and delicious roast potatoes - yummmmmmm!





Roast Beef  and Roasted Potatoes

6.  What do you have in your kitchen that you just couldn't do without? (besides your stove/oven of course)

Oh this one is difficult - every time a buy a new item for the kitchen I tell myself that it is totally essential!!!!
 
I think that I'd have to say my favourite pots and pans (which are properly non-stick, I've had too many years of useless pans!), or maybe it's my knives, or my Kitchen Aid mixer (makes baking so easy) - I can't make up my mind!!!!!



7.  What's your favorite part of blogging?  Do you think you'll keep doing it for a while?


This is the easiest question of the lot - the best part of blogging is the feedback I get from the people who are kind enough to read my blog.  I'm slightly embarrassed to admit how much I hover waiting to see what comments come in!!!!!
 
I consider the time I spend writing my blog and visiting other blogs as my "me time" and I can't imagine ever giving it up!



Hope you enjoyed reading more about Eleanor and her delicious food! I know I did,  and I learned a new word..."craic"--"Craic" or "crack" is a term for fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation.  Now I just have to find a way to work it into my conversation :)



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mississippi Mud Sheet Cake

I decided today that it was time to introduce my children to Mississippi mud cake.  The poor little darlings don't get enough sugar and butter in their diet, you know.  I can remember my mom making this a few times when I was a kid and I always loved it so much.  I went with this recipe I found at Hostess With The Mostess, because...well I just love a sheet cake.


At first I was a little disappointed with the flatness of the cake, but after all the deliciousness is added on top, turns out it's just perfect the way it is.  




Mississippi Mud Sheet Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into big chunks

½ cup cocoa

4 eggs, beaten well

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups sugar

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


Mississippi Mud Frosting:

One 16-ounce box (about 3 2/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar

½ cup cocoa

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

½ cup milk or evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups mini-marshmallows, or 3 cups marshmallows, quartered

Directions:

To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch pan. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the cocoa and cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until the butter is melted and the mixture is well blended, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the beaten eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour, salt, and pecans, and beat with a wooden spoon or spatula or with a mixer at low speed until the batter is well combined and smooth, and the flour has disappeared.


Quickly pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at the 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched gently in the center and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. *I only left mine in 17 minutes and that was plenty, the sides were just about to get crispy*


Prepare the frosting while the cake bakes; so that you will be ready to poor it over the hot cake. In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the cocoa, and stir to mix them well. Add the melted butter, milk and vanilla, and use a large spoon or mixer at low speed to beat everything together well. Set aside until the cake is done.


Remove the cake from the oven, scatter the marshmallows over the top, and return the cake to the hot oven form about 3 minutes, to soften the marshmallows.


Place the cake, still in the pan, on a wire rack or a folded kitchen towel. Pour the frosting all over the marshmallow-dotted cake, and cool to room temperature. Cut into small squares and serve.


*I didn't put the pecans in my cake, I sprinkled a few on top with the marshmallows*

Hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween!  Next installment will be another edition of Seven Sporadic Questions featuring my first blogger from across the pond. Stay tuned :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cafe Rio Pulled Pork

Just between you and me, I have no idea what or where Cafe Rio is.  But I kept reading the praises of the pulled pork by this name and really wanted to try it.  I'm pretty glad I did.


This pork is so easy, and So tasty...a little sweet and little spicy.  I was rather full from test bites before dinner and didn't have much room left for the main event.  But I managed to muscle through it anyway.  Who could resist it in a taco rolled up with cilantro lime rice?  Not me!  



Here's the recipe from Mmm...cafe  Hope you like it!


3-4 lb. Pork Butt or Shoulder Roast
2 small cans El Pato Tomato sauce (found in the mexican aisle, this is a key ingredient)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
Wrap pork completely with foil, place in crock pot and pour ½ cup water around roast. Cook for 8 hours on low. Remove roast, drain juices, remove fat and shred. Dump the tomato sauces and brown sugar into the crockpot, stir together and add shredded pork back in. Cook two additional hours on low.


Cilantro Lime Rice
2 cups white rice
4 cups chicken broth
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
½ tsp. salt
2 limes, juiced
1 Tbs. butter

Combine rice, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and the juice from 1 lime in a rice cooker or saucepan. Cook according to package directions. When rice is cooked, juice the additional lime and add in butter. Stir to incorporate.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Petit Fours and Potatoes

I know I'm getting more and more sporadic as time goes on, not sure what my deal is.  But I recently got the wild idea for making petit fours for a baby shower.  I've always loved the idea of petit fours, they're just so...petite!  And I can eat way more than four of them.  This is the result, I'll say they turned out a little "rustic". 


They seemed to make everyone happy anyway, and were certainly tasty.  I just used a boxed cake mix, split it in two, and put raspberry jam in the middle.  I followed the process found at a blog called "Fly Through My Window" for the frosting.  It was fun, but pretty sure it's something I can put behind me now.

These potatoes, I've made them several times and they're SO delicious.  We love to eat them with grilled skirt steak with chimichurri...yum!



I'm not really sure where the recipe came from.  My husband printed it from somewhere a few years ago and we like it so much we've managed to keep up with the recipe.  Here it is...

Grilled Potatoes with Parmesan and Herbs

3 pounds small red skinned potatoes  (or whatever smallish potatoes you have on hand)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
3 tbsp grated Parmesan
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh oregano

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain potatoes and cool.
Prepare grill (med heat).  Cut potatoes in half, transfer to a large bowl.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and toss to coat.  Grill potatoes until golden, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.  Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil over and add remaining ingredients.  Toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper and serve warm. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins with Crumb Topping

I had a can of pumpkin that has been sitting on my counter forever, just begging me to do something with it.  I found this recipe from "Food & Wine" and saw that it required only ingredients that I already had, so I went for it.  Heaven forbid that I have to make a trip to the store!



These smelled delightful when they were baking...all cinnamon-ey and pumpkin-ey.  Smelled like fall may have actually arrived.  When I had one warm out of the oven, it really wasn't everything I had hoped for.  It just tasted like something was missing.  And the cream cheese filling didn't really stay in the middle like it was supposed to, but oozed up the sides and out the top a little bit.  That didn't really bother me, I enjoy oozing cream cheese.


When I had one later that had cooled off to room temperature, I liked it a lot better.  And you can never go wrong with crumb topping.  



Here's the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • Filling
    1. 1/3 cup cream cheese
    2. 1 large egg yolk
    3. 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Topping
    1. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2. 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    3. 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
    5. 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • Muffins
    1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    3. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    4. Pinch of ground cloves
    5. 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    6. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
    8. 2 large eggs
    9. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    10. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    11. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Cover and freeze until chilled, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers. Press the mixture into small clumps. Refrigerate the topping until chilled, about 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the brown sugar, oil and pumpkin puree. Beat in the dry ingredients until evenly incorporated.
  4. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Drop heaping teaspoons of the cream cheese filling in the center of each cup and spoon the remaining batter on top. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely.

I was really excited to get to try a Tervis Tumbler as a part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program.  I had never heard of them but thought they looked great.  You know how some girls have a thing for shoes?  I have a thing for anything that holds beverages.  Anytime I'm out somewhere and see some new or interesting water bottle or travel mug, I have a hard time holding back.  I'm not sure why really.  But I digress....  this mug is just perfect, and I love that it's insulated.  I hate when my glass gets condensation all over the place.   In fact, it was the perfect size to hold one of these....



Have you seen these at in the stores?  It's like a juice pouch for grown ups, except there's no straw attached.  You just throw it in the freezer, and in a couple of hours you have a delicious frozen drink.  And the tumbler kept it nice and slushy for quite a long time.