Archive for October, 2010

Turtle Cupcakes

We made these cupcakes last weekend, I just haven’t had the chance to post anything since then. These are yet another cupcake recipe from the 100 Best Cupcake book. The recipe said they should make 54 mini cucakes, but I didn’t have a mini muffin pan on hand when I made them, so we ended up with 18 regular size cupcakes instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 package  brownie mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Dark frosting
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted (and even though we made less cupcakes, we chopped our pecans into slightly bigger pieces, so that we didn’t have that many pecan pieces left over from this amount)
  • 12 caramels
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream (we used 1)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 18 standard muffin cups with paper baking cups.

2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Stir in chopped pecans. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3. Bake 18 minutes or until done. Let cool completely.

4. Frost cupcake. Top with pecans (to make it look like 4 paws and a head).

5. Combine caramels and 1 tablespoon cream in saucepan. Melt over low heat until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth. Add additional 1 tablespoon cream if necessary to thin mixture. Spoon caremal evenly over cupcakes (to make the turtle bodies. We had enough caramel for our 18 cupcakes without having to decrease the amount of caramels).

Verdict: The cupcakes were a little too sweet tasting, which is odd because I’ve made this brownie mix before and they weren’t overly sweet, so I’m not sure why the cupcakes should be. It was also a little too much trouble for cupcakes that are just going to taste like a box mix. And maybe I’m a little upset over the fact that our turtles didn’t look so much like turtles as they did dead starfish.

T

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Cheesy Beef and Tomato Bake

This is the first recipe I’ve tried from the Pillsbury site.  The site had some very interesting looking recipes which I hope give me at least a couple of ‘keeper’ dishes.

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs lean ground beef (minced meat)
  • 1 (1 ounce) package of onion soup (I think we used Lipton)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped (we used diced tomatoes from a can)
  • 1 1/2 cup instant white rice, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced (we omitted)
  • 1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese (we used cheddar-mozzarella)

1. Heat oven to 400F. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Cook ground beef in large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked. Drain. Stir in soup mix, chopped tomatoes, rice and water. Bring to boil. Pour into prepared casserole. Cover tightly with foil.

3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Uncover, top with sliced tomatoes (which we did not do) and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Verdict: Not a keeper. It was an interesting dish, not horrible and kind of tasty. I think it’s the onion soup. I’ve tried two recipes with it and haven’t really liked either one.

T

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Chicken Lasagna Roll-Ups

This is a recipe I got from Kraft. Their recipes are usually pretty easy and, on the most part, delicious.

  • 6 uncooked lasagna noodles
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked, cut into strips
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cook noodles as directed on the package. Drain. Rinse with cold water.

2. Mix chicken, ricotta cheese (as I do not like ricotta cheese, we made some without it for me, then we made some with ricotta cheese and the chicken for my sister, then some with no chicken and  just the ricotta cheese and the Parmesan mixture for my grand-mother, who was visiting this weekend), Parmesan cheese, egg and Italian seasoning.

3. Spread one-sixth of the chicken mixture on each noodle. Roll up tightly. Place each, seam side down, in an oven dish with a bit of tomato sauce spread over the bottom (this isn’t in the recipe, but it’s from my mom, who says that a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the dish will keep the noodles from sticking and burning).  Pour the rest of the sauce on top and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

4. Bake 30 min.

Verdict: I liked the non-ricotta chicken versions of them, though I felt the seasoning was a little off for me. I will need to experiment to see what I might like better.

T

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A quick twist to gravy

This past month I have been cooking up a storm since the hubby has been renovating the bathroom. I tried to make roast beef with gravy from scratch and it was sooo good

I used a 4 lb eye of roast beef. Seasoned with basil thyme and rock salt  and a little oil (all mixed in a bowl and brushed on.) Bake at 350 for about an hour (till meat thermometer reaches beef temp)

The Gravy:

Ingredients:

2 cups beef broth

 1tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

In sauce pan melt butter and add flour over med / high heat

Gradually add beef broth and mustard over med heat. Stir often till reach thick  consistency. Drizzle over roast and sides such as veggies or potatoes. I have also substituted the Dijon mustard for a maple mustard (tis the season) and it was YUMMY.

N

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Odd Fruit of the Month

The other day I decided to try a fruit that is native to the eastern part of Spain. The locals call if cactus fruit, though if you google that name then you end up with a different fruit. So after a long online search I still have no idea as to what it is called in English. Luckily though, I took a photo!

As you can see in the picture it is a round orange fruit with a leafy stem on top. You’re supposed to cut it open and scoop out the insides. There were some large smooth seeds on the inside that you kind out just spit out. The texture inside was a kind of liquid but solid goo. I didn’t find it very sweet even though I heard that it normally is very sweet.

Overall verdict: I ate one and wasn’t motivated enough to eat the second one.  But one woman I spoke with (who convinced me to try it) told me that you either love it or hate it.

K

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Turkey Croquettes

Thanksgiving always means one thing: leftover turkey!

This year I was prepared with a recipe so it wouldn’t be another year of turkey casserole. I found this recipe online (it was either emailed to me by one of the many daily/weekly recipes sites I signed up to, or I found it randomly looking for recipes, I can’t remember). The recipe can be found on FoodChannel.com.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (the recipe called for a yellow onion, but I have honestly never really paid attention to the types of onions in recipes. Spanish, yellow, white, I just kind of buy an onion that looks good and use that one. I am not sure the difference.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (omitted, because I do not like celery)
  • 1 teaspoon sage (we didn’t have any, so we substituted thyme)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cooked turkey, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (we needed less, even though we made more potatoes)
  • 2 cups cold mashed potatoes (we used more, probably 1/4 to 1/2 cup more)
  • Canola, vegetable or other oil for frying

1. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook the onion (and celery), stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sage (or thyme) and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in the turkey and let cool to room temperature.

2. In a shallow bowl, whisk 2 eggs with the milk. Place 1 cup of flour and the breadcrumbs in two other separate bowls.

(We kind of went a different route from the online recipe, which asks for the potatoes to be prepared on the side and then to top them with some turkey and roll into balls.)

3. When turkey has cooled, mix in the mashed potatoes, remaining egg and 2 tablespoons of flour. Form balls out of the mixture (we made 15 ice cream scoop sized balls). Roll ball in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs. (We actually do a double-breaded croquette, and after the breadcrumb they go back in the flour-egg-breadcrumb for a second coat. And we still used less than 2 cups of breadcrumbs.)

4. In a pan, over medium heat, heat the oil. (The original says it should be 2 or 3 inches deep. We used a lot less than that, to fry them instead of deep-fry them).

5. Carefully place 3 or 4 croquettes in the pan (we did 4 at a time), turning as needed, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat with other croquettes (we left the prepared ones warming in the oven as we finished cooking).

Verdict: A keeper! Can’t make this recipe all the time, but it’s a good one for the leftover turkey we end up with after the holidays.

T

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Belgian Waffles

In the last couple of years I have recently developed a taste for waffles, thanks to a friend a work who makes amazing ones. I got a waffle iron and a couple of recipes, but have only tried one before this one. I found this recipe on the Phantom Gourmet website. If you have ever seen the show, they tend to feature very, um, rich and fatty foods. Foods that are definitely not good for you. The original recipe called for a Cherry Sauce that we did not make, because I like my waffles with syrup.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (we didn’t use, because our butter is half salted)

1. In a bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt, if using). Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add milk, butter and vanilla and mix to combine.

3. Add the sifted dry ingredients.

4. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold into egg and flour mixture.

5. Pour some batter into a hot waffle iron and cook until golden.

Verdict: Not a keeper. They tasted too much like egg (which could have been on account of the folding). Either way, I enjoyed the first waffle recipe I made better (I got that one from my friend at work) even though she said I made it wrong by using milk instead of milk powder for that one.

T

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