Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Paella with Roasted Cuban Bread


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.

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
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
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
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.

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

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

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!

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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!

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.

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)
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.