Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Paella with Roasted Cuban Bread

Paella

When I was younger, I helped pay my bills thru the fast paced world of waitressing.  And my favorite restaurant to work in was Bahamas Breeze.  It had such a fun islandy atmosphere and for a chain restaurant, the food was amazing.  When my now-husband would come to visit me, he would always get the Paella.  So when they posted the recipe online, I knew I had to share it with everyone.  Of course, I altered things to make it my own.  It is an easy to make meal, and serves an army (we had enough leftovers for two more meals, so I freeze it to have on a night I am too rushed to cook).  It is great served with Roasted Cuban Bread (recipe below).  They also have lots more recipes posted on their site, so if you love Caribbean inspired food, you should definitely check it out.

Ingredients:
3/4 lb chicken tenderloins, cut into quarters
1/2 lb jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
1/2 lb fresh jumbo sea scallops
1/2 lb fresh fish cut into 1" chunks (I usually use Mahi, Shark steak or Calamari rings)
4 tsp Creole seasoning (I use Tony Chacheres)
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
5.5 oz package chorizo diced
1 dozen fresh mussels
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 Vidala onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
16 oz pkg cooked yellow rice
1 tbl fresh cilantro chopped
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish


Heat 1 tbl oil over medium high heat in a pan.

Cook onions and peppers until onions are browned and translucent.


 

 
Season the chicken, shrimp, scallops, and fish with the creole seasoning in separate bowls, tossing to coat evenly.
 

  




Heat the 2 tbl olive oil in a large deep sauté pan over medium-high heat.

Add the chicken and cook about 1 minute, so that all sides of the chicken pieces are cooked on the outside.

 Add the fish, scallops, and shrimp and sauté until the chicken is partially cooked.
Add the chicken stock, chorizo, tomatoes, and mussels and cook until the chicken is cooked completely (about 3 minutes).



 



Lower the heat to medium and add the peas, rice, onions, peppers and chopped cilantro.
Stir the ingredients to evenly mix.
Continue to cook and stir the paella until all the chicken stock is absorbed by the rice.

 
Place on a serving platter and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.
Serve with Roasted Cuban Bread




Roasted Cuban Bread
Ingredients:
2 large - Vine ripened Beefsteak tomatoes
1¼ cups - Tomato marinade (see recipe below)
1 loaf - Fresh Cuban bread, ¾ pound
6 tbsp - Garlic herb butter (see recipe below)
¼ cup - Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup - Fresh basil leaves, sliced crosswise 1/8"
1 sprig - Fresh basil for garnish

Garlic Herb Butter
Ingredients:
4 tbsp Lightly salted butter, softened
2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Fresh garlic, minced
½ tsp Fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp Scallion, sliced 1/8"

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mash with a fork until evenly blended. Can be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated.

Tomato Marinade
Ingredients:
½ cup White wine vinegar
¼ cup Fresh orange juice
1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp Fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp Fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp Brown sugar
¼ tsp Salt & black pepper, fresh ground

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until thoroughly blended. Can be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 450º F with rack in the middle of the oven.
Wash tomatoes and remove the core, then cut into ¼" slices. Lay the slices in a glass dish and pour the marinade over them. Set aside while preparing the bread.
Slice bread lengthwise with a serrated knife to create a top and bottom. Spread half of garlic herb butter on the cut surface of each half of the bread.
Place bread, cut side up, on a sheet pan. Place in the oven for 3-4 minutes until the bread is lightly toasted. Remove from oven.
Lift tomato slices from the marinade and drain. Lay slices, slightly overlapping, on the toasted bread. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for 1-2 minutes to just melt the cheese. Remove from oven and transfer to cutting board.
Cut each half loaf, crosswise, into 8 pieces. Sprinkle with sliced basil leaves and arrange on a warm serving platter. Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Party Mix

Yes friends, another wonderful find from Pinterest. This one comes courtesy of Shelly at Cookies and Cups.  It was called "Santa's party Mix", but after making the hats, my son told me "They can't be Santa's hats.  They look more like Elf hats, cause Santa's head is way too big for them" I figured just be safe and call it the Christmas Party Mix.  After making the hats, the options of what to do with the mix are endless, so feel free to try some of my suggestions below, or change it up and throw in your own ideas.

Santa/Elf Hat Ingredients:
1 bag Carmel bugles
1 bag red candy melts
mini marshmellows
1 jar white nonpareils
1 Tbl shortening

Empty the bag of candy melts into a microwave safe bowl.  Add the shortening on top, and place in the microwave.

Heat for 30 second intervals at 50% power until completely melted and smooth.



Place a large sheet of waxed paper out for the candy coated bugles to rest on.


Take the bugles and begin to dip each one into the melted candy, making sure to cover them completely.




Lay them each on the waxed paper, allowing to cool and harden (at least 10 minutes).









Reheat the melts, and dip the bottoms of each bugle into the candy, and then into the nonpareils.


Place each bugle back onto the waxed paper to harden again.


Reheat the melts, and dip the tops of each bugle into the candy, and then press a mini marshmallow on top.

Place the bugles back onto the waxed paper until fully hardened and ready to be mixed into the party mix.


Party Mix:
3 cups mini pretzels
1/2 cup craisins
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
2 cups Cinnamon Chex
2 cups holiday M&Ms (red and green)


Toss this all together with the bugle hats and serve.

If you want the mix to be a bit sweeter, you can try either the cocoa version or white chocolate versions below:

Cocoa version:

Toss together...
3 cups mini pretzels
1/2 cup craisins
1 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts
2 cups Rice Chex
2 cups holiday M&Ms (red and green)
1/4 cup hot cocoa mix (or Ovaltine)
Bugle Hats

White Chocolate Version:

3 cups mini pretzels
1/2 cup craisins
1 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts
2 cups Rice Chex
2 cups holiday M&Ms (red and green)
8oz white chocolate chips
Bugle Hats

Mix together pretzels, craisins, peanuts, and chex.  Spread out on waxed paper lined baking sheet.
Melt white chocolate according to instructions on package and then drizzle over mix.
Pour mix into a bowl and stir to coat evenly.
Dump mix back onto waxed paper and spread out and allow to cool and harden.
Break apart and toss with M&Ms and Bugle hats.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Potato Pancakes

Happy Chanukkah! Every year for Chanukkah I make my Bubby's chicky and her latkes. I'll never give up her chicky recipe, but since this is the season for giving, I'll share the latke recipe. It's very easy (especially if you have a food processor to grate the potatoes and onions in a matter of seconds) and tastes so much better than the boxed versions.





Ingredients:
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 lbs potatoes peeled and grated
1 small sweet onion grated
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
applesauce

In a bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients.
In a separate bowl, combine the potatoes and onions. Squeeze out excess moisture from the potato mixture.

 
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and then stir in the potato mixture and the flour mixture, mixing until throughly combined.
In a non stick skillet, drop potato mixture by 1/4 cup fulls into the oil.
Cook, turning only once, 4 minutes each side until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels and serve with applesauce.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cheddar Bacon "Crack" Bread

While getting ready to throw together a last minute holiday party this past weekend, I decided to search my new addiction, Pinterest, to find some new yummies to make for the party. They were all such a success that I promised I would post recipes all week. Some recipes I tweaked (as usual), a couple I left as is, but all I have linked to their originators, because without them my party would not have been as delish!

This first one is a pull apart sourdough bread recipe. It is so very simple to make and was so addictive that after putting 2 whole loafs down on the party table, walking away to get my camera, and coming back, they were already too demolished to take a photo of the finished product. Next time I make it (which will be quite soon as I'm already craving it), I'll make sure to get a photo and add it here. This recipe is thanks to Steph at Plain Chicken.

"Crack" Bread


Ingredients:
1 unsliced loaf of round sourdough bread
8-12 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese block, thinly sliced
3 oz bag real bacon pieces (both Hormel and Oscar Meyer make them...they are in the salad dressing aisle)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 Tbsp powdered Ranch dressing mix


Preheat the oven to 350*

First (with a very sharp bread knife) cut the bread into strips lengthwise without cutting all the way thru the bottom (remember, this bread stays as one, and pulls apart).


Then, turn the loaf and cut in slices the other way, creating pull apart cubes.






Now take the cheese slices, and tuck them into each cut, basically surrounding each cube with cheddary goodness.









Now take the bacon pieces, and sprinkle them over the top, pushing them into all the cracks and crevices.

Mix together the ranch mix and melted butter, and pour over the top of the bread.

Wrap the entire loaf with foil, and place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.


Now place your loaf on the table and make sure not to walk away, because by the time you get back, it will have disappeared!

Pin It

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Caramel Almond Eggnog Custard

Looking to make a super delish dessert using that leftover eggnog from last night's party? Than look no further, as this custard is so decadent people will swear you picked it up from a gourmet restaurant!

Ingredients:
2/3 cup super fine sugar
1 3/4 cups dairy eggnog
3 eggs well beaten
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup thinly sliced roasted almonds

Preheat oven to 325*
In an 8" skillet, cook 1/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar begins to melt. Gently shake the skillet as you cook the sugar to evenly distribute the heat (Do not stir at this point).
Reduce heat to low and cook an additional 2 minutes or until the sugar has melted and is golden brown, stirring often with a wooden spoon.
Immediately and carefully pour the caramelized sugar into five 6oz custard cups or fluted molds. Tilt them slightly to coat the bottoms evenly.
Arrange the cups on a 13x9x2 baking pan.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggnog, eggs, remaining 1/3 cup sugar and spice. Beat with a wire whisk until combined but not foamy.
Divide egg mixture evenly into the custard cups.
Pour boiling water into the baking pan around the cups (being careful not to get any into the cups) to a 1" depth around the cups.
Carefully place baking pan with cups into the preheated oven and bake 45-55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Carefully remove the cups from the oven and baking dish, and set to cool on a wire rack.
Cool slightly and then cover with Saran wrap and chill for 4hours.
Gently loosen edges with a knife. Invert a dessert plate over each cup and then carefully tun custard cup and plate over together.
Slowly remove custard cup leaving custard on the plate with the caramel sauce on top.
Sprinkle each with roared almond slices and serve.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Seafood Chowder

At this point it is getting cold, even here in Florida, so that means it is time to break out my soup recipes! This chowder is very simple and quick to make, and is a very hearty meal. I usually serve it with a loaf of hearty bread (like italian or cuban)and it is very filling.

Ingredients:
4 oz clam juice
4 oz crab meat
8 oz chopped clams
7 oz chopped scallops
8 oz talapia
3 potatoes
1 medium onion minced
1 Tbl butter
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/4 tsp celery salt
2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbl lobster bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon found in the soup aisle)
Paprika
Dried parsley

Peel and dice potatoes into medium size cubes and boil until tender.
Saute minced onions in the butter until translucent.
Add thyme and celery salt. Cook 1 more minute and remove from heat.
Place talapia into a large saucepan and pour whipping cream over it. Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer slowly about 10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
Remove fish and add onions and scallops to the cream.
Bring to a slight boil, and then reduce heat again to simmer about 4 minutes until the scallops are opaque.
Flake fish and add it back into the pan along with the scallops, crab, clams, clam juice, bouillon, sour cream, salt, pepper, and milk.
Stir thoroughly until the bouillon is completely dissolved.
Add cooked potatoes and simmer another 5 minutes or until it is heated completely.
Serve into bowls and sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas

Thanksgiving was only a few days ago, and already I am so burnt out on turkey sandwiches, turkey dinners, turkey salad and just the mention of turkey. But there is still so much left over, so why not make something delicious with those leftovers that is so out of the ordinary for the holiday season that you won't even realize you are eating turkey yet again (or at least until the tryptophan kicks in). I got this recipe from Publix and altered it a bit...it is so yummy!

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh salsa
2 cups chopped turkey (or once you are done with turkey, chicken works well too, and it's a great recipe to use a leftover Publix Mojo rotisserie chicken)
3/4 cup refried beans (La Preferida is my absolute favorite and comes in organic which is even better!)
2 10oz cans enchilada sauce (again, La Preferida...comes in mild and hot too)
6 10" tortillas (I prefer the corn/flour mix ones or just plain corn...adds a better flavor than just the plain flour, and is more hearty)
1 2.25oz can sliced black olives with jalapeno (drained)
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 350*
Grease a 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray
Stir chicken, beans, and 1 can of sauce together.
Spoon mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla and roll the tortilla up around the filling. Place the rolled tortilla/enchilada into the baking pan seam side down. Repeat with each tortilla.
Pour remaining can of sauce over the enchiladas. Sprinkle salsa, olives, and then cheese over the enchiladas.
Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Baked Apples

So Thanksgiving is here and you still haven't made a dessert? No fear, this no fail recipe is quick and easy to make, and will make your home smell so good when company arrives. It serves 4 people, so multiply the recipe as needed.

Ingredients:
4 Honeycrisp apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
4 Tbl butter
pumpkin pie spice
Warm Caramel Sauce (see the pumpkin bread pudding recipe for this)

Preheat oven to 400*
Slice off the top of the apples and scoop out the cores, leaving a well in the center.
Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, cranberries and nuts until well blended.
Stuff each apple with 1/4 of the mixture.
Place apples in a deep baking dish, topping each with a 1 Tbl pat of butter and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
Fill the bottom of pan with water 1/8 way up and bake for 50-60 minutes until apples are tender.
Drizzle warm caramel sauce on top and serve.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cake

My mother always made this cake for us growing up, and it has now become a staple in my home as well. It is very simple to make and is a great alternative to the classic pumpkin pie.

Ingredients:
1 lg can pumpkin
Yellow cake mix (I usually buy the deluxe, with pudding in it...makes it even more moist)
3 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup softened butter
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix 1 egg, melted butter, and cake mix minus 1 cup (save for topping). Press into a greased and floured 13x9 cake pan.
Beat 2 eggs well and mix with pumpkin, milk, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Pour into pan on top of cake.
Mix remaining 1 cup of cake mix, softened butter, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, cutting together until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of pumpkin.
Bake at 350* for 1 hour 10 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
Cool and serve with whipped cream topping.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

I have been making this recipe for years, and it is always a hit at every get together. I have coveted it for all this time, but decided after numerous requests, that I will finally share it with you guys. The recipe calls for it being made in cheesecake pans, but I have also made this as mini cheesecakes in the baby baking cups/mini muffin pans (see photo) and they turn out fantastic (which is great for a party).

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 lb softened cream cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 lb caramel cubes
1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla bean paste
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
4 cups apples peeled, cored, and medium diced (Granny Smith or Honeycrisp are my favorites to use)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Caramel Sauce

Preheat the oven to 325*
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 1/4 cup sugar, cutting together until the crumbs are soft and hold their shape.
Press into the bottom of 2 8" springform cheesecake pans
Combine the cream cheese and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a bowl and beat at medium speed until the sugar is dissolved and the cheese is fluffy.
Mix the heavy cream and caramel pieces together over a warm water bath. Stir frequently until the caramel has melted completely. Remove from the heat and cool.
Mix the sour cream, eggs and vanilla with a whisk until the are completely combined.
Slowly add to the cream cheese and mix until it is smooth and combined.
Add the melted caramel, mixing until it is completely absorbed by the cheese mixture.
Mix together the apples, cinnamon, and 1/8 cup sugar, coating the apples completely.
Pour the apples into the cheese mixture, stirring until mixed in thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into the two cake pans with the crust until the pans are 2/3 full.
Place the cakes on a sheet pan, and pour some water on the pan so that it is 1/8 of the way full.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the cheesecake puffs in the center and the top is a light golden brown.
Cool completely and then remove from the pans, placing on a serving platter.
Chill in the fridge until ready to serve (I usually chill overnight)
Serve with a drizzle of caramel sauce on top.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

The first time I made this recipe I thought I was in heaven. I love this time of year because of all the yummy pumpkin infused goodness that comes with it, and this recipe is definitely one of those your family will look forward to each year.

Ingredients:
1 1 to 1 1/4 lb pumpkin
3 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups eggnog
5 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup golden raisins
8 cups french bread cut up into 1" cubes
Warm Caramel Sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350*.
Cut pumpkin into quarters, cleaning out seeds and strings.
Place pumpkin, cut-side down, on a lightly greased baking pan. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until almost tender.
Remove peel, cut baked pumpkin into 3/4" cubes.
In a large bowl, stir together milk, eggnog, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spice. Sprinkle raisins on the bottom of an ungreased 3 quart rectangular baking dish.
Spread bread over raisins.
Pour egg/milk mixture over the bread. Let it sit for 5 minutes, letting the bread saturate slightly.
Carefully stir in the cubed pumpkin.
Bake for 50 minutes or until the pudding is puffy and a toothpick comes out of the center cleanly.
Cool pudding slightly (it will fall in the center, that's okay!) and then drizzle with warm caramel sauce.

Warm Caramel Sauce:
In a saucepan, melt 10 caramel squares with 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth.
Stir in 1/4 tsp crushed anise seed and 1/4 tsp rum flavoring.
Cool slightly before pouring over pudding.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I decided the next couple week's recipes will be dedicated to some delicious and unique desserts you can make for you family get togethers. And since pumpkins and apples are fall traditions, they will be the basis of these recipes. Today is a wonderfully rich knock off of Cheesecake Factory's Pumpkin Cheesecake. It is decadent and creamy...everything you could want from a cheesecake.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbl melted unsalted butter
1 cup + 1 Tbl granulated sugar
3 8oz packages softened cream cheese
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin
3 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350*
Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1 Tbl sugar in a bowl. Cut together using a fork to coat the crumbs but keep it crumbly.
Press crumbs into bottom and 2/3 up the sides of a 8" springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes and then set aside.
Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add pumpkin, eggs, and spices and beat until creamy.
Pour into the pan and bake 60-70 minutes until the top becomes a little golden
Cool to room temperature
Place in fridge and chill (preferably overnight)
Top with whipped cream and serve!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Apple Pot

Now that back to school time is upon us, why not make a cute little apple pot as a gift for your new teacher! It is great for their desk, and can be used to store all sorts of things!


Materials Needed:


  • 3 inch Terra Cotta Clay Pot
  • 3 inch Terra Cotta Clay Saucer
  • Small Wooden Spool
  • Fun Foam
  • Paint
  • Clear Acrylic Sealer Spray
  • Glue (hot glue gun preferred)
Instructions:
Wipe down your terra cotta pot and saucer with a damp cloth and let dry completely.

Paint the clay pot and saucer red (figure 1) - let dry. Paint a face on pot (figure 2). Paint the wooden spool green. Once all your paint is dry, spray it with the clear acrylic sealer.


Flip the saucer upside down and place it as a lid on top of the clay pot. Glue the wooden spool on to the bottom of the saucer (figure 3). Cut a small leaf shape out of fun foam and glue it to the wooden spool. Your apple is now done! A great place to keep treasures, candy, or other small items.






Of course, if you don't have the time to make a gift, you can still show your appreciation with a gift from our website. Our beaded badge holders make a wonderful teacher gift as it allows them to wear their school id badge with style.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Back to School Flower Pens


With it getting closer and closer to back-to-school time, we are going to start giving out some great tips on back-to-school crafts that will get your kids excited about going back. What better way to cheer them up than with flowers? This craft is for a flower topped pen or pencil.

You'll need: a silk flower, stick pen or mechanical twist pencil, super glue, and floral tape (optional items are crafters' tape (can usually be found in the scrapbooking aisles...it's double sided and will state that it holds ribbon, paper, etc) and ribbon)

-First, cut the stem off the silk flower to about 2" long.
-Strip off any rubber exposing just the wires.
-Place a dot of super glue under the flower and place it centered on top of the pen/pencil.
-Wrap the wires around the pen/pencil, keeping the flower centered on top of the pen/pencil.
-Now wrap the entire pen/pencil with floral tape to keep the wires covered and in place.
-If you want the "natural look, you are done! But if you want it to be brighter, keep going...
-Wrap the pen/pencil with the crafter's tape, removing the top side of protective paper as you go to expose the sticky side.
-Now wrap the pen/pencil with the ribbon, pressing gently to make sure it adheres as you go.
-Place a dot of super glue along the top seam and bottom seam of the ribbon just to give it added strength.
-Let it dry, and you are ready to write your schoolwork in a bright sunny style!

Of course if you don't feel you are crafty enough, or just don't have the time, we do sell these pens at my craft site Dayna Lane Gifts. Otherwise, have a great time getting ready for school and keep a lookout for more great back-to-school craft ideas!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sea Creatures Mask

So I've been inspired by my planning for our trip to Key West in August for the Lobsterfest craft fair to do some beach themed crafts.  This one is a Sea Creature Mask and is a lot of fun to make, whether you can do it at the beach or at home in a sand box.

What you need:
Beach stuff such as shells, sea glass, driftwood, etc
Plaster of Paris
Water bucket
String

What to do:
In a perfect world, you would do this project at the beach, picking a moist hard packed strip of sand just above the wet tidal sand.  But if you are landlocked, just pour some sand at least 3-4 inches deep and 10 inches tall (an old cake pan works great for this), and wet it and pack it tight.

1) Dig an oval/face shaped hole into the sand that measures about 5-8 inches tall by 2 inches deep.
2) Arrange you beach findings to make a face.  Remember to tell your kids that they are looking at the face in reverse, so to put the side they want showing face down into the sand.
3) Mix the Plaster of Paris in the water bucket based on the package instructions (if you are lucky enough to be at the beach, just use seawater).  A standard box will make 3-6 masks, depending on their sizes.  Usually a think creamy consistency works best.  Too runny and the plaster will seep under your findings and cover them up, too thick and the plaster will dislodge messing up the mask.
4) Pour the plaster over your hand, held about an inch or two above the hole, to break it's fall and make sure your findings don't get disturbed.  Make the plaster layer about an inch thick.
5) Tie a knot at both ends of your string.  When the plaster begins to thicken, press the knots into each side of the mask to create a hanger.
6) Once the plaster begins to harden, but is not too firm, dig the sand away from the mask (rather than just pulling the mask out).  Then use water to gently wash away any flaws as you will have a few moments to manipulate the plaster's surface before it hardens completely.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  Pictures will be posted soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tequila Lime Chicken

Tequila Lime Chicken

A long long time ago, when I was in high school, I was on the Dance Team so we had to be at every football game.  After games, we always ended up at Applebees, and for awhile they had this amazing Tequila Lime Chicken on the menu.  But a few years later I went off to a college where there were no Applebees (and when I went home to visit, they had taken it off the menu) and so I had to find a recipe to help curb my cravings.  This recipe I found (and as usual, modified) actually was tastier than the one I loved!

Ingredients:

Marinade:
1 cup water
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce (Oy Vey's Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade is my favorite)
2 tbl lime juice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp mesquite liquid smoke flavoring
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp gold tequila (I use Sauza Gold)

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
Spanish rice
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 cups crumbled corn chips (or I found some tri-colored tortilla strips in the dressing aisle next to croutons that work perfect for this)
Salsa

Mexi-Ranch Dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbl milk
2 tsp minced tomato
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp minced canned nacho  jalapeño slices
1 tsp minced onion
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dried dill weed
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp chili powder
Dash garlic powder
Dash ground black pepper

Prepare marinade by mixing together all the marinade ingredients.  
Pour over the chicken in a shallow bowl or in a ziploc bag and marinate for 3 hours to overnight.
Prepare the Mexi-Ranch dressing by mixing together all the dressing ingredients and chill  3 hours to overnight as well.
Preheat the grill and cook the chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side.
While the chicken is cooking, preheat the oven to Broil.
Arrange the cooked chicken in a baking pan.
Spread a layer of the dressing (there will be plenty left over for dipping) on top of the chicken, and then sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese on top of each piece.
Broil the chicken for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
Spread a bed of corn/tortilla chips on a section of 4 plates.
Place a dollop of salsa on top of each chicken breast.
Slide a chicken breast on top each bed of chips and serve with yellow rice.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spicy Southwestern Cornbread

Spicy Southwestern Cornbread

Ingredients:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbl baking powder
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 jalapeño peppers chopped
1 small can creamed corn
1 small can whole kernel sweet corn
1 can drained black eyed peas
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil

Preheat oven to 400*
Grease a 9x13 pan
Mix together cornmeal, flour, salt, baki soda, and baking powder
Whisk together eggs, oil, and buttermilk
Add dry ingredients to buttermilk mixture and mix until combined 
Add onion, peppers, corn, and peas and stir gently until combined
Pour mixture into pan and bake in oven for 40-50 minutes until top is lily browned and toothpick comes out clean from center


Variations:

Caribbean Cornbread:
Omit onion, peppers, and peas.  Instead add 1 can crushed pineapple drained and 1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Sweet & Cheesy Cornbread:
Omit onion, peppers, and peas.  Instead add 1/4 cup raw sugar and 1/2 cup whole milk mozzarella shredded cheese.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Coconut Shrimp with Pina Colada Dipping Sauce

Coconut Shrimp with Pina Colada Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:
1/2 lb large shrimp, deveined and butterflied
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup plain bread crumbs
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup Pina Colada mix
3 tbs spiced rum (I use Captain Morgan)
1 tbl powdered sugar
Vegetable oil (for frying)

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup Pina Colada mix
1/4 cup water
2 tbl crushed pineapple drained
2 tbl + 1 tsp sweetened coconut flakes
3 tbl + 1 tsp powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
3 tsp cold water

Make the sauce first by mixing the 1 cup Pina Colada mix, 1/4 cup water, pineapple, 2 tbl +1 tsp coconut, and 3 tbl +1 tsp powdered sugar in a small saucepan.
Heat on medium low until the sauce begins to simmer, stirring frequently.
Let mixture simmer slowly for 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch and 3 tsp cold water together until cornstarch is dissolved.  
Add liquid cornstarch to mixture slowly and let simmer 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature while the shrimp is prepared and cooked.
Mix bread crumbs, 1/4 cup cornstarch, and coconut in a deep bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine Pina Colada mix, powdered sugar, and rum.
In another bowl, place 1/2 cup cornstarch.
Heat oil for deep frying (either in a deep fryer, or enough in a deep pan to cover the shrimp as they cook).  Oil is ready to fry shrimp when it reaches 375*.
Coat shrimp in cornstarch first, then in the Pina Colada mix,and finally dust with the bread crumb mix.
Second coat with the Pina Colada mix and then the bread crumb dustings again.
Place prepared shrimp into the hot oil and fry until golden brown.
Remove from the fryer and drain on a paper towel to help remove some of the oil.
Serve hot with the room temperature dipping sauce.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Broccoli Bites

Broccoli Bites

Ingredients:
3 eggs
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup shredded Colby cheese
1 16oz box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed drained and dried
3 tbl bacon pieces (Hormel makes great bacon pieces found in the dressing aisle next to the croutons)
1 tbl diced yellow onion
2 tbl powdered onion ring mix (this can be found at any grocery store, by the bread crumbs, hush puppy mixes, and shake and bake)
Italian bread crumbs
Vegetable oil

Beat eggs with a whisk until well blended.
Place all ingredients (except the bread crumbs) into the bowl  and stir together until throughly combined.
Refrigerate mixture for at least an hour to help bind the mixture, making it easier to handle.
Place bread crumbs in a shallow pan.
Using an ice cream/cookie scooper, scoop about an 1/2oz portion of the mixture and roll in the bread crumbs.  
Place them on a cookie sheet, making sure they don't touch, and refrigerate another hour.
Heat oil to 350* in a deep fryer or deep frying pan (make sure you use enough oil to cover the bites as they cook).
Take bites out of the fridge, and form them into balls.
Roll the balls in the bread crumbs to give a second coat, making sure they are well coated.
Place the bites in a fryer basket or in the pan, making sure they don't touch and stick together.
Fry for 1 minute, then remove and place onto a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Serve hot.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cheddar Biscuits

Cheddar Biscuits

2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Finely grated parmesan cheese (the kind you sprinkle on pizza)

Preheat oven to 350*
Mix together Bisquick, cold water, cheddar cheese, and parsley until smooth.
In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.
Drop heaping spoonfulls onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and brush with the butter mixture.
Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and serve.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Flavored Candied Popcorn

Flavored Candied Popcorn

I remember as a kid, one of my favorite things to get at the fair was candied popcorn.  Mixing the flavors and trying out new ones was all so much fun and tasty too.  So when I stumbled upon this recipe, I had to stifle my screams of joy.  This is such a fun treat to make for your kids, and you can play with the mixtures to color coordinate for holidays too (Think cherry and blueberry for Fourth of July).  So get creative with this and have fun!

Ingredients:
10 cups popped popcorn (if you like Kettle Corn, you can use buttered microwaved popcorn for a salty sweet taste, otherwise just use plain stove or air popped popcorn)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 3oz package your choice fruit flavored gelatin powder
1 tsp flavoring (same as gelatin flavor, or get creative and use a coordinating flavor such as coconut flavoring with pineapple gelatin to make Pina Colada popcorn)
1 tbl corn syrup
3 tbl water
Butter for greasing

Preheat oven to 300*
Grease a 1/4 sheet pan or 2 8x12 baking pans
Generously grease with butter a heavy 2 quart saucepan
Distribute popcorn evenly in baking pan and place in oven to keep warm
Heat greased saucepan over medium heat, and combine butter, sugar, gelatin, corn syrup, water, and flavoring.  
Cook until a candy thermometer reads 250*-265* or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a rigid ball
Remove popcorn from oven and pour mixture over popcorn, stirring so that it all is evenly coated.
Return popcorn to oven and bake 5 minutes.
Stir again, and bake 5 more minutes.
Remove from oven and pour popcorn out onto a foil covered surface.
Let cool completely and then break into clusters.
This can be stored in a airtight container in a cool dry place (that is, if your kids don't eat it all first)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Solar Flare T-Shirt

With this simplified batik technique, kids can turn a plain T-shirt into a summery top that will brighten up even a rainy day.

 


Materials
  • Cardboard
  • White cotton T-shirt
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 4-cup measuring cup
  • Squeeze bottle
  • Fabric spray paint
  • Spray bottle
Total Time Needed: Weekend Project
Instructions
  1. Solar Flare T-shirt - Step 1 Cut the cardboard to fit inside the T-shirt (this will keep the fabric paint from bleeding through later). Mix the flour with water (it should be the consistency of mustard) in the measuring cup right before you're going to apply it so it doesn't have a chance to become gluey and difficult to use. Pour the mixture into the squeeze bottle and then use it to draw a sun pattern on the T-shirt. Let it bake in the hot sun for a couple of hours until hardened.
  2. Solar Flare T-shirt - Step 2 Spray the shirt with the fabric paint (we used Tulip brand) and let it dry in the sun.
  3. Solar Flare T-shirt - Step 3 Remove the cardboard, then have your child peel off the flour paste to reveal her summery design. Wash the T-shirt according to the paint manufacturer's directions.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Danish Kringle

Danish Kringle

Ingredients:
4 cups unbleached flour
3 tbl sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened slightly
3 large eggs, separated
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup milk
Filling (three choices below)
Icing (recipe below)

In a large bowl, blend flour, sugar, and salt. 
Add butter and cut in with a mixer on low speed.
Heat milk to 105* to 130*
In a small bowl, beat egg yolks lightly.
Combine yolks, yeast and milk, stirring to dissolve yeast.
Add mixture to flour and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms.  Make sure not to over beat!
Put dough in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 48 hours.
Prepare fillings of your choice below.
Divide dough into 4 equal parts.  Return 3 parts to bowl, cover, and refrigerate while working with the first part.
On a lightly floured board, roll dough out into a 8"x20" rectangle.
Turn dough so that the 8" end is in front of you.
Spread filling down the center about 3" wide to within 1" of each 8" end.
In a clean bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy.  Increase speed and beat until whites hold a stiff peak.  Don't over beat or the whites will become dry and separate.
Spread a fourth of the whites over the filling.
Fold over one 20" side of dough, and then the other so that there is about a 1 1/2 " overlap of dough covering the filling.  
Pinch dough together at the seam and both 8" ends to seal.
Gently place Kringle seam side down on an ungreased baking sheet, shaping into an oval or horseshoe shape.
Pierce in several places with a fork.
Roll and fill remaining 3 Kringles, placing each on a separate baking sheet.
Cover all with a clean towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400*
Bake each Kringle individually 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Prepare icing while Kringles bake.
Remove Kringle from oven and while still hot, gently press tops with a paper towel to expel any trapped air.
Spread 1/4 of icing on each while hot.
Serve warm.


Pecan Filling:
6 tbl unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Spread on dough (will cover 2 kringles) and spread egg whites on as directed above.
Sprinkle with nuts and continue with recipe.

Almond Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 8oz can almond filling
1/4 cup milk

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.
Beat in almond filling and milk until smooth.
Makes enough filling for 4 Kringles

Fruit Filling:
1 16oz can fruit in juice (my favorite is the red tart pitted cherries)
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbl cornstarch
1/4 tsp almond extract

Drain juice from fruit into a measuring cup to make about 2/3 cup juice.
Add juice to a small saucepan with the sugar, salt and cornstarch.  Set aside for 15 minutes.
Place saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly while bringing to a boil.
Cook and stir while mixture thickens.
Remove from heat and stir in extract and fruit.
Allow to cool and then proceed with the recipe.
Makes enough for 2 Kringles.


Icing:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbl milk
1/4 tsp pure vanilla bean paste (can substitute for extract, but the paste makes it just a bit smoother and tastier)

Beat all ingredients together to form a thin icing.
Makes enough for 4 Kringles.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cuban Ropa Vieja Recipe

Growing up in Miami, I had the pleasure of learning all there is to know about delicious Cuban food.  But when I moved away to Atlanta (and then Massachusetts), I couldn't find any quality Cuban food anywhere.  Luckily I found this recipe along the way to give me just a taste of what I was missing.  Even now that I have returned to sunny Florida, I still make this as homemade ropa vieja just can't be beat.

Ingredients:
1 Tbl vegetable oil
2 lbs beef flank steak
1 cup beef broth
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 small vidalia onion, sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
Mojo marinade (I use Badia brand, available in the ethnic aisle in your local grocery store)
Yellow rice
Black beans (see recipe below)

Marinate the steak overnight in the Mojo marinade.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Brown the steak on both sides (about 4 minutes per side).
Transfer steak to a crock pot.
Pour in the beef broth and tomato sauce, then add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato paste, cumin, cilantro, olive oil, and vinegar.
Stir until well blended.
Cover and slow cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 10 hours until beef shreds easily.
When ready to serve, shred meat and mix in with the sauce, and serve with rice and beans.

Black beans
Ingredients:
2 cans black beans
1 vidalia onion diced finely
1 green pepper diced finely
2 Tbl minced garlic
2 Tbl chopped black olives
1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients together and place into a small crock pot and cook on Low for 1 hour.
Serve on top of yellow rice.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shell Pets


If you haven't noticed by the ridiculous heat, it is officially summer.  So what better way to spend your days than to make some fun summer crafts with the kids.  Most of these items can be found (if you are lucky enough to go to a beach this summer), otherwise you can get them at your local craft store.  Once again, this great craft idea comes from Disney's Family Fun website.
Materials:
  • Clean shells
  • Tacky glue
  • White pony beads
  • Permanent black marker
  • Piece of driftwood
Instructions:
  1. For each critter, select 2 shells of like size and shape. Set one top-side down and glue a pair of bead eyes to the edge opposite the hinge.
  2. Then glue the other shell in place atop the first one, as shown. When the glue is dry, draw pupils on the eyes.
  3. Finally, arrange your clam critters atop the driftwood and glue them in place.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Footprints in the Sand

A great way to pass the day at the beach is with some great arts and crafts that even the hardest to please kids will love. Combined with my love of all things Disney, Family Fun actually has a great website and a section dedicated to arts and crafts for the kids. They have projects you can do outdoors, even at the beach! My favorite is this one as it not only gives them something fun to make at the beach (or you can do at home if nowhere near the water), but it's also a keepsake to remind you of your fun this summer.


Materials:
Plaster of Paris
Small bucket
Freshwater
4-inch lengths of string, optional

Instructions:
Choose a site to cast your molds -- the moist, hard-packed sand near the water's edge works best.
Firmly press both feet into the sand. The prints should be about 1/2 inch to 2 inches deep. (If your child can't press down that hard, he can use his finger to dig down into the print, following its shape.)
Mix up the plaster, according to the directions on the package, so that it has a thick, creamy consistency. Pour the wet plaster gently into the footprints.
To make hangers, tie a knot about a half inch in from each end of the pieces of string. As the plaster begins to harden, push the knotted ends into the plaster and let dry.
After 20 to 25 minutes, gently dig the footprints out of the molds and brush away any excess sand. Set sole-side up in the sun for about an hour to let harden.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beef Sirloin Tip Roast with Bacon Recipe

1 3lb sirloin tip roast tied
1 cup water
1 medium vidalia onion diced
2 tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 strips bacon uncooked
2 tbl minced garlic


Preheat the oven to 325*
Line a shallow roasting pan with tinfoil
Place the roast in the center of the pan and sprinkle the salt, pepper, and thyme on top.
In a separate pan, heat the oil over medium high.
Cook the onions and garlic together until onions become browned
Pour the onion/garlic mixture on top of the roast (it's okay if some falls off into the pan)
Layer the bacon top top of the onion covered roast, covering it completely (think bacon blanket...mmm).
Pour water over the bacon & into the pan.


Insert oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast, and place into the oven.Roast until the thermometer registers rare (145*) or medium rare (160*).
Transfer meat to a serving board or platter.
Remove bacon and cut strings from roast.
If you like chewy bacon, replace on top of the roast and serve with it. If not, you can remove it and quickly fry it until it is crisp (and then using it in a side dish like mashed potatoes).
Pour pan drippings into a small skillet and heat to boiling, whisking the entire time.
Continue boiling until drippings are reduced and thickened.
Spoon sauce over roast and serve immediately.

*for a change of pace, omit the thyme, onions and garlic.  Instead rub 1/4 cup apple butter on top of the roast prior to adding salt, pepper and bacon.  This gives it a sweet applewood bacony taste.  Yum!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Good Wife's Guide

Sometimes, when things get crazy and my son is reminding me why animals in the wild eat their young, I just need a good laugh.  A friend had posted this on Facebook a few months ago, and I figured it was just the thing I needed...it both gives me a laugh and a re-found perspective on how much easier things are for us today to be a woman.  Yes, I know, there are still many more things that need/can be changed, but this is not the time for a woman's movement debate.  It's just the time for a good old fashioned chuckle, giggle, or guffaw (or as we say today, LOL).  I hope you all enjoy this nostalgic article from Housekeeping Monthly as much as I do!

(Oh, and for you young moms, remember that "gay" back in the 50's meant happy.  So no, they weren't suggesting have a threesome ready for when your hubby got home from work.)





Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Seafood Paella with Roasted Cuban Bread

When I was younger, I paid my bills thru the fast paced world of waitressing.  And my favorite restaurant to work in was Bahamas Breeze.  It had such a fun islandy atmosphere and for a chain restaurant, the food was amazing.  When my now-husband would come to visit me, he would always get the Paella.  So when they posted the recipe online, I knew I had to share it with everyone.  Of course, I altered things to make it my own.  It is an easy to make meal, and serves an army (I made it last night for Father's Day dinner & we had enough leftovers for two more meals, so I froze it to have on a night I am too rushed to cook).  It is great served with Roasted Cuban Bread (recipe below).  They also have lots more recipes posted on their site, so if you love Caribbean inspired food, you should definitely check it out.

Ingredients:
3/4 lb chicken tenderloins, cut into quarters
1/2 lb jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
1/2 lb fresh jumbo sea scallops
1/2 lb fresh fish cut into 1" chunks (I usually use Shark steak or Calamari rings)
4 tsp Creole seasoning (I use Tony Chacheres)
3 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
5.5 oz package chorizo diced
1 dozen fresh mussels
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 Vidala onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
16 oz pkg cooked yellow rice
1 tbl fresh cilantro chopped
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Heat 1 tbl oil over medium high heat in a pan.
Cook onions and peppers until onions are browned and translucent.
Season the chicken, shrimp, scallops, and fish with the creole seasoning in separate bowls, tossing to coat evenly.
Heat the 2 tbl olive oil in a large deep sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat.
Add the fish, scallops, and shrimp and sauté until the chicken is partially cooked.
Add the chicken stock, chorizo, and mussels and cook until the chicken is cooked completely (about 3 minutes).
Lower the heat to medium and add the peas, rice, onions, peppers and chopped cilantro.
Stir the ingredients to evenly mix.
Continue to cook and stir the paella until all the chicken stock is absorbed by the rice.
Place on a serving platter and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.
Serve with Roasted Cuban Bread




Roasted Cuban Bread
Ingredients:
2 large - Vine ripened Beefsteak tomatoes
1¼ cups - Tomato marinade (see recipe below)
1 loaf - Fresh Cuban bread, ¾ pound
6 tbsp - Garlic herb butter (see recipe below)
¼ cup - Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup - Fresh basil leaves, sliced crosswise 1/8"
1 sprig - Fresh basil for garnish

Garlic Herb Butter
Ingredients:
4 tbsp Lightly salted butter, softened
2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Fresh garlic, minced
½ tsp Fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp Scallion, sliced 1/8"

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mash with a fork until evenly blended. Can be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated.

Tomato Marinade
Ingredients:
½ cup White wine vinegar
¼ cup Fresh orange juice
1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp Fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp Fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp Brown sugar
¼ tsp Salt & black pepper, fresh ground

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until thoroughly blended. Can be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 450º F with rack in the middle of the oven.
Wash tomatoes and remove the core, then cut into ¼" slices. Lay the slices in a glass dish and pour the marinade over them. Set aside while preparing the bread.
Slice bread lengthwise with a serrated knife to create a top and bottom. Spread half of garlic herb butter on the cut surface of each half of the bread.
Place bread, cut side up, on a sheet pan. Place in the oven for 3-4 minutes until the bread is lightly toasted. Remove from oven.
Lift tomato slices from the marinade and drain. Lay slices, slightly overlapping, on the toasted bread. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for 1-2 minutes to just melt the cheese. Remove from oven and transfer to cutting board.
Cut each half loaf, crosswise, into 8 pieces. Sprinkle with sliced basil leaves and arrange on a warm serving platter. Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry Margarita Parfaits Recipe

Strawberry Margarita Parfaits

recipe photo

Prep Time 35 Minutes
Total Time 2:35 Hrs
Makes 6 serving

1/4
cup fresh lime juice
2
tablespoons orange juice
1
teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1
tablespoon tequila
1
tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur
2
teaspoons grated lime peel
1
(14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1
cup whipping cream, whipped
1
quart (4 cups) fresh strawberries, sliced
  1. In medium saucepan, combine lime juice and orange juice. Sprinkle gelatin over top; let stand 1 minute to soften. Heat over low heat until clear and dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool 5 minutes.
  2. Add tequila, liqueur, lime peel and condensed milk to gelatin mixture; mix well. Fold in whipped cream.
  3. Rub the outside rims of your glasses with a cut lime and dip each glass lightly into a plate of sugar.
  4. Divide one-third of the strawberries among individual 10-oz. parfait glasses. Top with half of the tequila mixture. Top with half of the remaining strawberries and all of the remaining tequila mixture. Top with remaining strawberries. Cover glasses with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
  5. Top with an extra dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with grated lime peel. 

Ingredient Substitution
If you prefer a nonalcoholic dessert, use 2 tablespoons orange juice in place of the tequila and orange liqueur.
This dessert provides nutrition and great taste, thanks to 2/3 cup strawberries per parfait. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants that can help maintain healthy cells.


Nutrition Information:
1 Serving (1/6 of Recipe)
  • Calories 375
    • (Calories from Fat 160),
  • Total Fat 18g
    • (Saturated Fat 11g,
  • Cholesterol 65mg;
  • Sodium 100mg;
  • Total Carbohydrate 46g
    • (Dietary Fiber 2g,
    • Sugars 44g),
  • Protein 7g;
Percent Daily Value*:
  • Vitamin A 14.00%;
  • Vitamin C 50.00%;
  • Calcium 22.00%;
  • Iron 2.00%;
Exchanges:
  • 2 1/2 Starch;
  • 1/2 Fruit;
  • 3 1/2 Fat;
Carbohydrate Choices:
  • 3 ;
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mosaic Picture Frame

With Father's Day right around the corner, I thought it might be fun to post this great Mosaic Picture Frame craft to do with your kids.  It can get messy when doing with little ones, so either do this on your porch, or spread out tons of newspaper (or in my son's case, a giant tarp).  All the supplies can be either purchased at your local craft store, or you can be more eco-friendly and use found items.

Materials:
Wooden picture frame
Heavy duty craft glue
Grout (to save a step, try using pre-mixed grout with the sealant already in it)
Sealant (unless your grout has sealant included)
Tiles, upcycled china, sea glass, found items, etc
Large sponge or rag
Wooden popsicle stick
Tile cutter or nips (only if you are not using precut tile pieces or plate pieces)
Your favorite photo

1) Make sure your picture frame is clean.  Remove the glass so that it won't get scratched or dirty.  If it is an upcycled frame, make sure it is cleaned off well so that the adhesive will stick.
2) Unless you want a random pattern, draw a design to follow (such as shapes, maybe the word Dad, anything you want to stand out from the rest of the frame) on the frame.
3) If you are using uncut tiles or china, use tile nippers to cut pieces off in random sizes and shapes (do this prior to including the kids and make sure you wear protective goggles).  Do this by fitting the nippers over a section of the plate/tile and squeeze the handles firmly until a piece snaps off.  Repeat until you have the plate/tiles in ans many large and small pieces as you want.
4) Lay out the pieces of cut tiles, plates, sea glass, stones, etc on your frame, forming the design and pattern you want.  If you have a pattern laid out, do that section in a different color than the rest of the frame to make it stand out (ex, blue glass for background, yellow glass for the sun pattern, green for the word Dad, etc).  Lay them close together, but not touching, so that there are small spaces between.
5) Once you have the entire frame covered in a pattern you like, begin gluing each piece down in place.  Let it dry overnight.
6) Mix grout according to package instructions.  Using the wooden popsicle stick, spread the grout evenly over the mosaic frame.  Use fingertips to press the grout deep into all crevices.  Allow to dry a couple of minutes, and then carefully wipe off excess grout with a damp sponge or cloth (be careful not to wipe out any grout from the crevices).  Switch to a dry rag to wipe off any residual grout.  Let it dry overnight.
7) If you didn't use grout with sealant mixed in, wipe the mosaic frame off well, removing any left over dried grout and apply the grout sealant  according to package instructions.  Wipe off any excess and let it dry overnight.
8) Wipe down mosaic with a damp rag, and then polish with a dry rag to make the mosaic shine.  Replace the glass, put in your favorite photo, wrap, and wait for dad's big smile!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Margarita Flan Cake Recipe

Miracle Margarita Flan Cake


1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
3 eggs
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon very finely grated orange zest
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1/2 cup cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce) or caramel ice cream topping
1 (18.25 ounce) box butter cake mix, plus ingredients called for on box
1/2 cup Sauza Gold tequila
1 teaspoon very finely grated lime zest
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, Grand Marnier and orange zest together. Set aside.

Generously spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable-oil spray. Spread the cajeta or caramel sauce in the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions, substituting the 1/2 cup tequila for 1/2 cup of the required water, and adding lime zest. Fold coconut into the cake batter. Pour the batter on top of the cajeta in the pan. Gradually pour the milk mixture over the batter (the milk mixture will sink and the batter will rise).

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Unmold onto a serving platter. Let cool completely.

Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Per serving: Cal 366 (23% fat) Fat 9 g (5 g sat) Fiber trace Chol 58 mg Sodium 359 mg Carb 58 g Calcium 226 mg

Monday, June 13, 2011

Picture Puzzle DIY Craft

I don't know about the rest of you, but my son has become crazy about puzzles...especially when it's of something he loves.  So this is a great way for you and your children to make your own puzzles cheaply and with some great images as well.

Supplies:
Print out on letter sized paper (8 1/2" x 11") any photo you want (can be a family photo, a coloring book page off a website, a picture from a magazine...go crazy!)
8 1/2" x 11" piece of cardboard
Glue
Markers
Safety scissors

What to do:
Glue your photo onto the cardboard piece, making sure to spread the glue out evenly to get a solid connection.
On the back of the cardboard draw puzzle lines.  Make them as big or as small as you'd like, the more wavy and creative the more it will stimulate your child's mind.
Once the glue has dried, cut out your pieces along the lines you drew.
Flip it over, and your puzzle is ready to be reassembled over and over.

Friday, June 10, 2011

French Toast Bread Pudding Recipe

I've been craving bread pudding lately, and my son has been on a breakfast all day long kick (I swear, the kid goes thru a box of waffles a day!).  So, when I recently bought a box of Farm Rich Cinnamon French Tast Sticks at Sam's Club, it had this recipe on the side.  So I tried it out (with a few modifications of course) and man is it yummy.  In fact,my husband described it tasting like "cinnamon raisin french toast and apple pie had a love child". So here you go (and warning, it is best if you prep it the night before, which actually makes breakfast easy...just pop in the oven and eat!).

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 16ox box Farm Rich Cinnamon French Toast Sticks
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
1 apple diced


Cut the toast sticks into 1 inch pieces.
Layer the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pan with brown sugar
Sprinkle raisins and apples over the brown sugar
Lay the toast sticks onto the sugar (cinnamon sugar side up)in a single layer.  Press any extra pieces into the sides and corners, filling any gaps.
In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, eggs, vanilla, salt, and water.
Pour mixture over the toast sticks, pressing them down to wet them thoroughly.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350*
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Raise temperature on your oven to broil and cook an additional 2-3 minutes to carmelize the sugar.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
Invert onto a serving plate and dig in!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pina Colada Fruit Dip Recipe

As I sit at my computer working all night on networking and orders and the such, I realize I am STARVING!  So, I go to my recipe box, and found this one hiding.  Yes, I know I have to let it sit for 30 minutes before I eat it, but it is so worth it.  Plus, with all that I am doing, 30 minutes will fly by.  So for those who want to join me in my late night snack....

Ingredients:

1 20oz can crushed pineapple (don't drain)
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 4-serving size instant vanilla pudding
1 cup cool whip
fresh fruit
graham crackers

Mix pineapple, coconut, and dry pudding mix together. 
Gently fold in the cool whip. 
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Enjoy with fruit dipped in, on graham crackers, or with a huge serving spoon ( my favorite way :)  )

Friday, May 20, 2011

Baked Pancake & Hash Brown Casserole Recipes

Wow! Things have been so crazy around here lately, that I have completely neglected posting things for everyone, and for this I apologize. But, it has been good crazy, so I'm not too sorry :)

So, to make up for it, here Are two recipes to try out this weekend. They take awhile, but trust me, they are soooooo worth it!

Apple Dutch Baby Pancake

Ingredients:
2 tbl butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbl brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup thinly sliced granny smith apples

Heat oven to 400*
Melt butter in a 9" pie pan, brushing butter on the sides
Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top of the melted butter, and then arrange the apple slices on top.
Beat eggs slightly with a whisk
Beat in remaining ingredients until throughly mixed
Pour into pie plate on top of apples
Bake 30-35 minutes or until puffy and deep golden brown
Immediately loosen from pan and turn upside down onto a serving plate
Serve with powdered sugar


Hash Brown Casserole
1 2lb package frozen Hash Browns (or you can grate 2lbs of potatoes in a food processor for fresh...that's what I do!)
16 oz sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 stick butter cut into small cubes
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup bacon pieces
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350*
Place potatoes in a greased 9x13 baking pan
Season with salt and pepper
In a bowl, mix together the onions, sour cream, and soup mix.
Pour soup mixture over the potatoes
Sprinkle with the cheese and butter cubes
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until all is completely cooked and cheese is bubbly
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tie Dyed Cake Recipe

For my father's 60th birthday, I wanted to do something special. I had decided to make him a psychedelic cake (since long ago, my now middle school math and social studies teacher was actually a long haired hippie). I planned on doing a tie dyed fondant, but I really didn't want to stop there. So I searched and searched, and finally found a tie dyed cake recipe. Now I of course substituted the box cake mix with my own secret homemade cake recipe, and it still turned out perfectly tie dyed. So, you can either use the recipe below, or substitute your own cake recipe and just skip to the dying part. Either way it's a fun cake to make...and eat!

What you need:
1 box white cake mix
12 oz Sprite
6 different colors food gel dye (I used primary rainbow colors: red, orange yellow, blue, green, purple)
2 9" round or 8" square cake pans, greased
6 bowls
White frosting
either:
White fondant plus two other colored fondants of your choosing
Spray food dye in two colors

Preheat oven to 350*
Whisk together cake mix and Sprite until thoroughly combined (it will foam at first, but will go away as you mix)
Separate batter into the 6 bowls. Bowl one should have the most decreasing to bowl six having the least.
Add individual colors to each bowl slowly, mixing well and adding more until each color is vibrant and bright.
Pour half of bowl one into the center of your first pan. Next pour half of bowl two into the center of the pan, layering it on top of the first bowl's batter. Don't worry about spreading it out, it will do it on it's own as you add more batter.
Next add half of bowls 3-6 into the center of the pan, layering on top of each color.
Repeat in the second pan using the remaining batter. ***(see notation at the bottom for a different option)
Now slowly tilt the pans a bit to allow the batter to spread to the edges.
Take a toothpick, and gently run it across, allowing some of the colors to criss cross.
Bake 15-20 minutes, or until your toothpick comes out clean.
Let cakes cool, and they are ready to be decorated!

Option 1: Frosted only
Put a thin layer of frosting (or any other topping you want in between the layers) on the top of one cake.
Put the second cake on top, and frost completely.
Using 2 different (but complementary) colors of spray food coloring (which is easily found at any grocery store), spray a tie dyed effect onto the frosting.
Be creative, doing circles, lines etc.
Add any other decorative pieces (like a peace sign, happy face etc) if you want, and now your cake is ready to be enjoyed.

Option 2: Fondant 
Put a thin layer of frosting (or any other topping you want in between the layers) on the top of one cake.
Put the second cake on top, and frost with a light skin coat (also known as dirty frosting since the layer of frosting is thin enough to see the cake thru it).
Now is when you get creative. There is no wrong way...just like tie dying clothes, it's meant to be natural, organic, and fun!
Roll some of your white and 2 other complimentary colored fondants out in tubes (think play dough snakes).
Lay them side by side, and press together gently (and being creative, mush colors into another in some areas so they bleed together like tie dye).
Now roll them together into a spiral and put aside.
Repeat multiple times until all the colored Fondant is individually spiraled, leaving some of the white to the side to fill in any gaps.
Now put all the spirals together side by side to form a giant circle.
Press them together gently, filling in any gaps in between spirals with the left over white fondant.
Now, using a non stick rolling pin, roll it all out flat and smooth until it is the size you need to cover the cake.
Lay it on top of your cake and smooth down so it adheres to the dirty frosting.
Now decorate further as you wish (I let my then 2 year old son help with this.  He loved making flowers and smiley faces out of the fondant, and the "toddler touch" just added to the psychedelic look).


***when I made mine, I wanted it to be big. So I used larger pans, doubled the recipe, and double layer the batter. So in each pan I placed 1/4 bowl 1-6 and the did a second layer of a 1/4 bowl 1-6 on top. Below is a photo of how it looked prior to going into the oven.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pasta E Fagioli Soup Recipe

I thought winter was over, yet with all the posts I've been reading from friends up north, apparently the cold and snow is now quite over. So, to help everyone combat the cold (even for those of us in the south who are dealing with some nasty rainy days) I decided to post my favorite Pasta E Fagioli recipe. This is one of my favorite hearty soups, and I order it often, yet in ever seem to find one as yummy as this.
 

Ingredients:
3 tsp olive oil
2 lb ground beef
12 oz chopped sweet onions
14 oz diced carrots
14 oz diced celery
48 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked red kidney beans
2 cups cooked white kidney beans
11 cups beef stock
3 tsp oregano
3 tsp pepper
5 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
6 cups marinara sauce
8 oz ditalini pasta uncooked
Parmesan cheese freshly grated
Garlic bread

Sauté beef in oil until beef starts to brown.
Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer about 10 minutes.
Drain and rinse beans and place in large soup pot.
Drain beef and vegetables and add to pot.
Add remaining ingredients (minus the cheese and bread) and stir all together.
Simmer until carrots and celery are tender, about 45 minutes.

Makes about 9 quarts of soup
Serve hot with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top and a slice of garlic bread.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Broccoli Rice and Cheese Casserole Recipe

I'm always looking for a yummy side dish that everyone will eat, and this one definitely made the cut. I found the recipe a few years ago, and after many changes I finally got it how I like it...super creamy and cheesy and full of flavor! It makes 6 servings, but is so tasty that there are times it is gobbled up even brfore the actual main dish.

Ingredients:
1 medium sweet onion finely chopped
1 10oz package frozen broccoli
4 tbl butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 tbl minced garlic
2 stalks celery finely chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey jack/cheddar jack cheese
1 lb velvetta cheese, cut into 1" cubes
Celery salt
Pepper

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350*
In a skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onion and garlic until onions are tender and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
Steam the broccoli until thawed. Drain and set aside to cool.
Heat the velvetta until it is melted and smooth, and then mix into the rice. Let cool.
Add the cooled rice mixture, cooled broccoli, cooled onions, can of soup, celery, & 1 cup shredded cheese.
Add celery salt and pepper to taste.
Put into an oven safe baking dish or casserole dish.
Top with the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese and cover with either an oven safe lid or foil.
Bake for 20 minutes then remove lid/foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese on top bubbles.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Super Creamy Banana Pudding Recipe

Growing up, we would often have banana pudding as dessert (especially since it is one of my father's comfort foods). So when I went off to college, anytime I felt homesick I would make some banana pudding and I would feel like I was sitting at the table with my parents and sister. The only thing was, even though it tasted delicious, to me it was always so heavy and thick. But a few years ago a coworker shared this amazing recipe that featured a lighter and airy version of banana pudding and I was hooked. So give it a try...you never know, it could become one of your family favorites too!

Ingredients:
2 bags of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies (or if you're a traditionalist, 1 box of Nilla Wafers)
8-10 bananas sliced
2 cups milk
1 5oz box instant vanilla pudding
1 8oz package softened cream cheese
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12oz container cool whip thawed

What to do:
Line the bottom of a 13x9x2 baking dish with cookies side by side
Layer bananas on top of the cookies
In a separate bowl, combine the milk and the pudding and blend together with a mixer.
In another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together, mixing until smooth.
Fold the cool whip into the cream cheese mixture.
Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding, and fold together until well blended.
Pour 1/2 the pudding mixture over the bananas.
Layer the remaining bananas over the pudding mixture.
Pour the remaining pudding mixture over the bananas.
Cover with another layer of cookies.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Remember, the longer you let it sit, the more moisture the cookies will absorb allowing them to become mushy. So if you like the cookies crunchy, serve immediately. Otherwise, if you make it the night before you plan to serve it, the cookies will be cake like (my favorite way).