Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Soba Noodle Salad

One of my favorite Asian type salads to have is this one.  Its kind of a toss anything you want in there type of salad.  For me a few things are a must- peanuts, cabbage, onion and lettuce.  If you have pea pods, snow peas, carrots, peppers... they go great in there.  The dressing really pulls it all together.  Nothing could be more satisfying to me on a warm day than a salad like this.

Soba Noodle Salad
This makes two large salads

2 of the pre-measured pods of Buckwheat noodles or about three thumb sized stacks (does that make any sense?)
1 cup purple cabbage
1 cup matchstick pieces of carrot
1 onion diced
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 sprigs mint, minced
1 small head of romaine chopped
2 tablespoons Braggs Soy Liquid or soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup peanuts chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Boil the buckwheat noodles (soba noodles) for three minutes, drain and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the dressing ingredients together. Chop your veggies and through them in.  Then throw the Soba noodles in.  Mix well.  


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits

So this is what I had last night for dinner.  I pretty much did it the easy way.  Made my grits, added cheese.  In a seperate pan I cooked the shrimp and then just added it to the grits.  Sprinkled some salt and pepper over top and sprinkled it all with chives.

It was delicious.

But the next time I am going to make shrimp and grits I will do it this way.

Basic Shrimp and Grits

6 cups water
1 tbsp. salt
1⁄2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 cups yellow grits
½ stick butter
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined, lightly dusted with flour
1 lb. bacon
1⁄2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup scallions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
In a large saucepan, bring the salted water to a boil. Then, add grits and pepper and stir for about 30 seconds. Turn down heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the water is absorbed. If the grits are too thick, add some more water (or milk) and continue to cook, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and cheese.
Fry bacon in a skillet until crispy; drain and crumble. In the reserved grease, sauté shrimp until pink, just a minute or two, and remove to a holding plate. Don’t overcook your shrimp! Then, add parsley, garlic and scallions to the hot bacon grease and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until the scallions are transparent.
Spoon grits into a serving bowl. Stir in all the other ingredients, serve immediately—and enjoy. Serves 4 to 6.

Ahh, maybe not... 1/2 stick butter... a pound of bacon... 2 cups cheese.  Holy creminies.

This one sounds better.

Shrimp ‘n Grits Casserole
Serves 6 to 8
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup regular grits or quick-cooking grits
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Pepper Cheese
1 bunch (about 6) green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound small fresh shrimp, peeled and cooked
1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies (I used Rotel original), drained
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce

Bring the chicken broth and the salt to a boil in a large saucepan.  Stir in the grits.  If you’re using regular grits, cover, reduce heat and simmer until done—about 20 minutes.  If you’re using quick cooking grits, stir constantly until done—about 4 to 5 minutes.
Stir together the cooked grits and both cheeses.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the green onions, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir the onion/garlic mixture and the shrimp into the grits mixture.  Stir in the tomatoes and green chilies, the black pepper and additional salt if needed.  Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Kitchen Face Lift

This explains what I have been doing because there has not been that many posts as of yet.

My kitchen is getting a face lift.  A paint job is a quick way to make everything seem shiny and new.
What a contrast between the ceiling of before and the ceiling to come.

The ceiling badly needed to be painted.  I suspect it may have never been done.  It has been on my to do list for quite a while.  With small children when we moved into the house, it proved to be to big of a job to do for me.
An attempt to cover doorways.
When my husband announced that he wanted to go see his cousin, I thought this is the perfect time to do it.  A whole weekend to get it done.  Prepping the kitchen and hallway took literally about six to eight hours.  Finding enough drop cloths to cover all the doorways, cabinets, floors etc was a job in and of itself.  Taping it all up to the cabinets was quite a job too.

One day for the ceiling.

One day for the painting.

So three days of the kitchen being taped up.  Pretty challenging when there is a family to make meals for.  So, even though I missed a visit with Al's wonderful cousin and the rest of the fam, it was worth it. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pickled Eggs with Beets

I never thought in a million years that my kids would be wanting these eggs.  They do like hard boiled eggs most of the time but beets?  Bleck!  Never.  I am guessing it was the pink.  It was different and somehow looked silly enough to be edible.  Who knew?

The truth be told, my husband who hates beets, ate them too.

These kind of things have been in my family for a long time.  I think it is a Polish thing.  My Grandparents always had pickled eggs and beets around.  Eh hem, along with pickled pigs feet.  No, I have not made those yet.  Will I?  I don't think so.

Pickled Eggs with Beets

My cousin puts pickling spices in hers.  Some people just put cloves.  Whatever your taste.  I like them plain.

3 cups water
1 1/2 cups (more or less to your taste) white vinegar
1 1/2  teaspoons salt
pickling spices if you like, me I like them plain
2 cups beats
6 hard boiled eggs

In a small pot boil the beets whole until tender.  They are much easier to skin when they are cooked.  If having pink hands bothers you, make sure you wear gloves.

In another pot boil the water and vinegar and salt.  Pour into the jar you plan to use to keep them in.  Let cool.

Dice cooked beets into pieces you can eat easily or slice them.  Whatever way you like.  Add them to the vinegar brine.  Add in peeled eggs.  After about a day they will turn pink.  As each day passes the pink will delve further into the egg.  These are fine in your refrigerator for a couple weeks.  I think they would keep longer but they kind of disappear before then around here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Get Your Granola Grabbers

I have a lot of cook books.  I mean like too many.  I have slowly and carefully donated about half of them to the library.  I am still pairing down.

I look at each book very critically and ask myself how much do I turn to this cookbook?  Is it inspirational? Have the recipes I tried in it been successful?  Do other people report good things about the book? Is it in keeping with my lifestyle? In other words, if the book is about mixed drinks = how often do I make a mixed drink?  Is the internet a viable alternative?

If I were to give you my top ten of the books that I kept and have been very helpful more than once, this one would be one of them.  Dorie Greenspans, Baking From My Home To Yours.  A fabulous baking cookbook. I was in Tuesdays with Dorie so I ended up making a lot of the recipes in the book.  Each one has been wonderful.  This one for cookies is no exception.

Granola Grabbers
Adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan

3 Cups Granola Without Fruit ( I used the recipe on my blog and just omitted the fruit and nuts)
3/4 Moist, Plump Raisins (dark or golden)
1/2 Cup Salted Peanuts
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1/2 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
1/3 Cup Wheat Germ
1 1/4 Stick (12 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1/2 Cup (packed) Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Put the granola in a large bowl and break up any clumps with your fingers. Add the raisins, peanuts, almonds, coconut and wheat germ and mix together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until creamy. Add the egg and salt and beat until well blended. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add flour, mixing only until it is incorporated, then steadily add the granola and fruit. Stop the mixer when most of the granola mix is blended into the batter and finish the job with a sturdy rubber spatula, making sure to get up any bits of dry ingredients left in the bottom of the bowl.

Scoop out rounded Tbsp of dough, pack the scoops between your palms and arrange the mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between them. Flatten the mounds lightly with your fingertips.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies should be golden brown but not firm. Allow them to rest on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring them to racks to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lemon Cream Cake

I never realized that I had posted Mutha sauce on Mothers Day.  Maybe kind of giggled a bit. Being the corny girl that I am, I would have posted it anyway.
I have to share this fabulous cake. I love it.  Very refreshing, especially after the barbecue flavors.  It has a welcoming, refreshing tartness.

I know, it may be a bit labor intensive but well worth it.  Following the recipe I put notes on how to cut corners if you so desire.


Crumb Topping


Dorie Greenspans Perfect Party Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours;
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups (295 mL) buttermilk
4 large egg whites (reserve yolks for lemon curd)
2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 ½ cups (337 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. Prepare 2 nine inch pans with cooking spray or butter.  Lay in a sheet of parchment.  Spray that. Coat with flour.  Preheat oven to 350F.

2.  Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

3. Whisk egg whites, buttermilk, and vanilla in large measuring cup.

4. With a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix sugar and lemon zest on low to release the zest’s oils. Or you could use your finger tips and rub the zest with the sugar.  Releasing a very wonderful aroma. Add butter and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

5. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and milk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Increase speed to medium high for a minute to incorporate more air.

6. Divide batter between two 9-inch round baking pans lined with parchment. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350*F or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pans, remove parchment, and cool completely on wire racks (right-side up).


1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
14 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
lemon curd (recipe follows) 

Beat cream cheese in a bowl for a minute, add in curd.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl whip heavy cream adding sugar very slowly. Whip until soft peaks form and hold their shape.

Fold in whipped heavy cream until incorporated.

Lemon Curd

4 yolks
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of two lemons

Whisk yolks and sugar together until combined and then whisk in the juice.  Cook in a double boiler, whisking constantly.  Swith to a wooden spoon and keep stirring as it heats.  You will begin to see the color and consistency change.  Keep heating it until it clings to the back of the spoon.

Remove from heat and switch back to the whisk, adding in a lump of butter at a time, melting it before adding the next one.  Then chill.

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/3 cup butter

With a pastry blender or a fork, blend until crumbly.

If you want this cake but don't feel like putting forth all that effort here is a brief way to do it:

White cake mix for the cake.

For the filling part:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 cup whipped cream
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Whip the cream cheese with lemon zest.  In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream adding in sugar a little at a time.  Fold the heavy cream into the cream cheese.

Crumb topping (see above).

Sunday, May 12, 2013


First, let me say Happy Mother's Day.  Enjoy this day and pause for a moment to reflect on all the things you do as a Mother.  Even if you don't have children.  Reflect on the things you do to nurture, whether it is plants, animals, other peoples children, whatever.  Honor that. It's a beautiful thing.  Even though you may not do it perfectly, don't beat yourself up over it but rather focus on all the positives that come out of nurturing others.

I am so looking forward to some ribs with some Mutha Sauce on them.  I thought I had posted this great barbecue sauce before but I can seem to find it on my blog.

Making a batch of this kind of all started with the idea that my husband had to make ribs on Mother's Day.  So as you are reading this I hope to be enjoying just that.  I will let you know how that all went. 

The taste that really stands out initially when you make this sauce is the black pepper. It does mellow as it ages. 

You may or may not like a smoky flavor.  I find it repeats on me sometimes so I don't add it.  Certainly if you like smoky notes, add it in to your liking starting with a few drops and working your way up a drop at a time. That stuff is powerful.

Mutha Sauce

Source: Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse, by John Stage and Nancy Radke; Published by: Ten Speed Press
Read about their history here on the Dino Bar-B-Que Site
This recipe is slightly adapted and broken down into two sizes.  To be truthful I ended up one and halfing the give me a taste column.  We don't eat a ton of meat so this is plenty.  It does however go great in other dishes, such as baked beans.

Give Me a Taste     The Mother Load       Ingredients
1 tablespoon         1/4 cup                       vegetable oil
1 small                  1 large (about a cup) onion, minced                             
1 teaspoon            1                                 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon         1  teaspoons               black pepper
2 teaspoons           2  tablespoons            garlic, minced
8 ounces                28 ounces                  tomato sauce*
1/2 cup                  2 cups                         ketchup
1/4 cup                  1 cup                           water
3 tablespoons        3/4 cup                       Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons        1/2 cup                       cider vinegar
1 tablespoon          1/4 cup                       lemon juice
1 tablespoon          1/4 cup                       molasses
1 tablespoon          1/4 cup                       cayenne pepper sauce*
1 tablespoon          1/4 cup                       spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup                   3/4 cup                       dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon             1 tablespoon              chili powder
1/8 teaspoon          1/2 teaspoon              ground allspice

In a sauce pan or stock pot, depending on how big you are going to go, saute onion in oil until transluscent.  Add minced garlic, saute one minute more. Add remainder of ingredients.  Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes with a gentle simmer.

Store in glass jars.  You can freeze this too.

*I make my own hot sauce, which is actually more jalapeno than cayenne.  I also can my own tomatoes, so there is lot less salt and/or sugar in mine.

To purchase the book, click here.  To purchase bottled Dino sauce, click here. And no one told me to say that.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Coconut Cake: two recipes

This picture was the best I could do.  Seriously, this was really good, like, coconut candy bar kind of good. I will make it again, if not just to take another picture.

My husband who gave up sugar a couple years ago had a piece.  Which then turned into five more pieces over the course of two days.  It's just that good.

The recipe is from Bon Apetite and I altered it so much that I could call it my own.  I will give my interpretation as well as the original.  For my interpretation - somethings need to be tweaked a little.  Mine was very dense.  It took longer to bake and without the risk of it getting too browned on the outside I had to take it out of the oven.  Mind you the browning was moist and tasted of toasted coconut.  But I didn't know that when I took it out of the oven for fear of it being over dry.  I should not have been worried it was immensely moist and dense- kind of like a coconut brownie of sorts. I would say next time I might bake it in a cooler oven, like 325F for longer. Or maybe one less egg. But I don't know we so much liked it just the way it was.

The frosting may seem strange but it turned into almost a Mounds bar quality by the time it cooled.  Even more so after it sat overnight in the fridge.  It was that much better the next day. 

It disappeared.  It was a hit.

What I did:

Lori Lipsmacker Coconut Cake

frosting, well more like a spread
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1 box French Vanilla Cake (it's what I had on hand)
4 large eggs
1 can cream of coconut (not coconut milk)

Preheat over to 350.  Spray nonstick cooking spray on a 9 x 13. Set aside.

Beat cake mix with eggs and cream of coconut for about 2 minutes. Pour into prepared cake pan.  Bake 30 to 45 minutes.  It will be golden. Test with toothpick in center before removing from oven.

While cake is baking mix together cream, buttermilk, salt, sugar and coconut. Set aside.

When you remove the cake from the oven, immediately put on frosting.  Cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Try not to touch it for four hours.  I know it will be difficult.  After the four hours you can eat it but I highly recommend you don't.  Instead put it in the fridge for at least a couple hours, even better over night. 

And the original:
Laurie Osteen's Coconut Cake
click here to go to the Bon Apetite Website for the recipe.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
All-purpose flour (for pans)
1 15-16-ounce box yellow cake mix
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray. Dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Whisk cake mix, eggs, oil, and 1 cup milk in a large bowl until no lumps remain. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans; smooth tops.

Bake cakes until a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix coconut, sugar, sour cream, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon milk in a medium bowl to combine; set frosting aside.

Transfer pans to wire racks; let cool 5 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and spread frosting over tops of warm cakes, dividing evenly. Stack cakes. Let stand at room temperature, covered with a cake dome, or loosely tented with foil, at least 4 hours before serving.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chili Verde

You know last year at the end of the growing season I was over run by green tomatoes- from my garden and I had a few from my CSA.  With all those green tomatoes I had made some green enchilada sauce.  No tomatillos, just green tomatoes.  I did it, thinking, what the heck am I going to use this for?  How many times do I make enchiladas? But I also felt like, how many green tomatoes can I make or green tomato jelly can I use.  You know what?  I have used that green chili sauce in a casserole, with enchiladas and now with chili.  This and the casserole are my absolute favorites.  I never dreamed I would like green chili as much as I had this.  And yes, there is a scant 1/2 cup there because it disappeared before I had a chance to take any good pics.

It's a MUST MAKE again!


Chili Verde

1 green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large onion
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 pounds hamburger
2 cups salsa verde (use my recipe here or use a store bought or make some tomatillo salsa)
1 clove garlic
1 can kidney beans -1/2 cup whole and mash the rest
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup mutha sauce or barbecue sauce of your choice.  Mutha sauce will be posted next on this blog

Saute onions and peppers in oil. until transluscent.  Add ground beef.  Saute until the hamburger browns a little.  Add in garlic, cook one minute more.  Add the salsa, kidney beans (both whole and mashed), ketchup, mutha sauce and taco seasoning.  Cover and cook for about 40 minutes.

Serve with all the chili fixings you desire. We had it with cornbread. Delicious!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cottage Cheese Dill Bread

Absolutely fabulous bread.  I forgot how much I loved it.  I used to make it a lot.  It needs to be added to the rotation to be sure. I love that it makes two loaves.

Cottage Cheese Dill Bread

2 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs
5 1/2 to 6 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup finely minced onion (you can use dried onion)
1 tablespoon dill seed or 2 tablespoons dill
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Place the yeast, warm water and sugar in the bowl of the mixer – stir with a small spoon.  Add the cottage cheese, onion, dill weed and salt. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Mix in 3 cups of the flour, which you can add all at once, but keep the speed very slow at first – leave the mixer running about 2 minutes. Add another cup of flour, mix until completely incorporated. Repeat with a 4th cup of flour.

Leave the mixer running, and add additional flour, ¼ cup at a time, mixing until each addition is completely incorporated. This may take anywhere from ¼ of a cup to a whole cup. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, and gathers around the hook, it is almost ready. Keep mixing for about a minute and turn the mixer off. Test the dough by poking it with a finger – it should not stick readily. If it still sticks, add another ¼ cup, and when that is all mixed in, test again.

Once it is not sticky, knead on a medium speed for 5 minutes. {if you are doing this by hand, here is where you would start kneading it on a floured surface.} Flour the counter, and empty the bowl on the flour. Use a bench scraper or well floured hands to gather it into a ball, and knead it a few turns just to get it into a nice ball.

Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until it is well doubled in size. Punch down, and shape into two loaves. Place in well buttered 8 x 5 inch bread pans, and re-cover with the oiled plastic wrap. Let rise again, just until the center of loaves are above the edge of the pans – this is going to rise quite a bit more in the oven, so don’t let it get too high before you bake it.