Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth; the holidays and the aftermath have kept me away and left this blog to lay here and languish.

We did have some munchies Christmas Day before the big meal. I saw this olive dip recipe on 30 Minute Meals. This is a must if you're an olive lover which I am in a big way. The luscious crackers are from Dawn's Vanilla Sugar blog. They are a must try too.

Olive Dip -

1 cup large olives with pimiento
1 clove garlic
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup ricotta cheese
celery and carrots, cut into sticks

Place olives in food processor and grate in garlic, add cream cheese and ricotta cheese. Pulse the cheese and olives into a fairly smooth spread. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Savory Italian Crackers -

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Parmesan, grated
1 stick salted butter, cold & cut into chunks
½ to 1 ts Rosemary (depending on taste preference)
3 sun-dried tomatoes (on oil)
2 dashes of cayenne (optional)
1/2 ts salt
a dash or two of half & half or cream (if needed)

In a food processor combine flour, cheese, butter, rosemary cayenne, salt, and sun-dried tomatoes.Pulsate a few times until the dough forms dough-likeness, take it out of the food processor and place it on your kitchen counter or cutting board.Shape the dough into a log and place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Use a really sharp knife, slice the dough into ½ inch thick slices. These are supposed to look rustic, so no need to shape them into some sort of uniformity.

Bake the cookies for 10 - 12 minutes, until lightly golden brown. They do cook fast, keep an eye on first batch until you see how fast they do brown because the bottoms brown a lot faster than the tops.

Let them cool a bit before eating. As they cool they will harden a bit.

Note: If dough batter is very dry and hard to form into a log, add a dash or two of half & half and it will come together perfectly. If you do add in the half & half please make sure to add in as little as possible as it only takes a tiny amount; add too much and you can ruin the dough.

Deviled Eggs - Boil 1 dozen eggs. Peel boiled eggs, cut eggs in half lengthwise, place yolk in a bowl and set white aside. Mash egg yolks with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tablespoons of mayo, 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard and 1 teaspoon dill pickle relish. Fold mixture with fork until thoroughly blended. Add a touch more mayo if needed. Spoon mixture into egg white and garnish with paprika. Great retro appetizer!

Before the carnage!

Ok, this is the real reason I haven't been posting much. I have turned into a video game junkie!

After Santa's visit...

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Story of Mr. Bingle

Hope you ar eenjoying the Christmas videos I have been posting. These are sentimental to me and it's just not Christmas without watching these at least once each Christmas Season.

I hope you and your families and a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!!!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Truffle Cups

I haven't made these in about five years. I got the recipe from a local TV station in New Orleans. I thought I had lost the recipe and came upon it going through one of my cookbooks that survived the Katrina flood. I make them to give away to our neighbors as a little thought for Christmas.

When you see how easy these are you'll start whipping them up even with three days to go!

Truffle Cups -

1sheet waxed paper (16x12 inches)

1/3-cup Polaner or Smuckers Raspberry or Black Raspberry all-fruit spread

2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. almond extract

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1-1/2 cups Vanilla Wafer Cookie crumbs

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Place the fruit spread, butter, and almond extract in a medium microwave-safe bowl.
Stirring halfway through the cooking time, microwave on high until the spread is melted (which will take approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute).

Drop in the chocolate chips and stir them until they too, have melted.

Then add the cookie crumbs and the powdered sugar to the chocolate mixture.

Make sure that everything is well blended.

Finally, shape by teaspoonfuls into balls.

Then place the chopped almonds on the sheet of waxed paper and roll the balls in almond bits.
For best flavor, serve them at room temperature.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

12 Yats of Christmas

I normally do not post on the weekends, but I scheduled a few goodies this weekend; afterall, it's Christmas and a time for giving. Besides, it's just not Christmas to a native New Orleanian without Benny Grunch and the Bunch!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'll Sow YouMine...

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies extended an open invitation to everyone who would like to share their collection. Now Natashya has quite a collection of cookbooks like I've never seen before.

This is my small collection. I am not complaining, or not I do not want anymore cookbooks. My collection has quite enough to keep me entertained for a while. Besides, where in the world could I find a better collection of tried and true recipes than right here with my blogosphere friends on their blogs?

I have tried and posted many of your recipes and hope that you know I do it out of admiration and in accordance drool factor.

I usually do not post on the weekends, but in the spirit of the Christmas Season, I have some Christmas videos I hope you have time to stop by and view.

I'm hoping to make my Raspberry Truffles Sunday and if I do I'll post them Monday.

Have an wonderful weekend and enjoy the Reason for the Season!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jacques-Imo Pasta

I don't know what it means I just like the word(s). It comes from from a Mardi Gras Song, "Iko". Kind of gives you an impression of by mood when I was preparing dinner Tuesday night.

There was Apple Bread to bake to take to work, the homegirlz were wrapping presents for their friends, I had presents to wrap. We are preparing for a two week visit from my Mother who arrives Sunday. Actually, I was very excited about all of the activity to the point of being slightly hyper; if you can believe a forty-something woman can be hyper.

I knew I wanted pasta but I wanted something different. I was even plotting how to sneak in mushrooms and green things into dinner. Some of you may remember the homegirlz are revolted by mushrooms and anything green. I needed to be crafty; forget that, I was going for it.

Jacques-Imo Pasta -

Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a high-sided pot over medium high heat. Brown 3 slices of smokey bacon chopped. When bacon is halfway cooked add 1/2 small onion finely chopped, 1/2 lb. baby bella mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and saute until mushrooms start turning golden brown. Add 1 bay leaf, 1 clove of garlic minced and one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. Lower heat to simmer and season with salt and black pepper. Cover and let simmer while you boil 1 lb. of penne rigate pasta to al-dente and drain.

Add one cup of heavy cream just to blush up the color a bit.

I was having a hard time getting a picture after the blush due to the steam of the boiling pasta.

After the pasta is drained, return pasta to the pot and sprinkle liberally with dried basil. Pour Jacques-Imo sauce over pasta and gently fold to coat pasta with sauce. Add 1 cup of froze geen peas, they will heat up with the heat of the pasta and sauce.

Garnish with shaved Parmigiana-Reggiano.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Apple Bread

Monday evening when I arrived home from work, I walked to the mailbox, opened it, and found a box addressed to me from Gigi. I was totally thrilled and hadn't even opened it yet, but isn't that the magic of Christmas? Inside of the box I found a really sweet Christmas card and a huge bag of shelled pecans. I was ecstatic - Georgia pecans and I was touched by Gigi's kindness. Gigi wrote on the outside of the plastic bag that she shelled these pecans on her way to and from Missouri. Gigi saying you amaze me would be putting it lightly.

The pecans were right on time since I was planning to bake some apple bread to take to work. I work with four hungry guys that will eat anything that won't eat them first.

While this bread is baking, your house will smell like Christmas. When it comes out of the oven to cool you will hope the wonderful smell never ends!

Apple Bread -

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a standard size bread pan - this one is 8" x 4" x 3".

Cream one stick of softened butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Turn off mixer and add to bowl 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon apple pie spice, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 cup apple sauce, and 2 large eggs. Mix together until thoroughly blended.

Gigi's pecans before I chopped them. Gently fold in to bread batter 1/2 cup of chopped pecans and 1 cup of raisins.

The homegirlz go crazy over pecans. I walked out of the kitchen for 2 seconds and return to find Lauren in pecan heaven.
Pour batter into prepared bread pan and bake for 1 hour.
A nice accompaniment is apple butter cream cheese. Oh, please no groaning, it's the holidays! You can't eat bread dry! Soften one 8 ounce package of cream cheese. Whisk or beat the softened cream cheese with 1 cup of apple butter until smooth.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Spicy Cocktail Nuts

Something about the Christmas holidays and the cold weather makes me crave pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, all kinds of nuts. I'm not the only one evidently, since nuts are in great abundance in the produce section of the grocery store.

I remember as a child during the holiday season, we had a wooden bowl in the kitchen with an assortment of nuts. These were the kind that needed to be shelled. We always went after the pecans and the walnuts. As I'm writing this, I'm wondering if my own children know how to shell a pecan or a walnut. Probably not, I bet if I gave them a bottle opener and a Coca-Cola bottle with a metal cap, they would not know how to open it and think I was totally nuts!

This is an easy recipe to make and I guarantee once you put these out for your family and friends to eat, they will not be able to stop themselves. The combination of the sugar and the spice is one of my favorite flavor combinations. This recipe is from Emeril Lagasse's book, "New Orleans Cooking".

Spicy Cocktail Nuts -

1 large egg white
1 teaspoon water
1 lb. assorted shelled nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and water until frothy. Add the nuts and toss to coat. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, Essence, cayenne, and salt. Add to the nuts and stir to coat evenly. Spread the nuts on the prepared pan and bake until dry, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to separate. Let cool on the baking sheet. Serve warm or at room temperature.


1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container. Yield: about 2/3 cup

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cowgirl Chocolates

First, let me apologize for these awful pictures. I left my camera somewhere, my daughter's camera had a dead battery and she can't find her charger, so I was relegated to use my husband's SLR camera that I know nothing about and could not figure out how to take a picture without the blur.

I am participating in the Tastemaster program with Foodbuzz. Foodbuzz sends products for me to try out and I write about them. From time to time I will blog about a product they send and this is one of those times. Don't run away because you may find some really neat products you will be interested in trying yourself.
We sampled Cowgirl Chocolates yesterday. By we I am talking about Kaitlin and I. Cowgirl Chocolates are sweet, spicy gourmet chocolates. We could not wait to dive into this box of confections. The packaging of this product is fantastic. The round sticker is a sepia tone with a woman aiming a pistol. You know at this point this chocolate is going to be better than good.
Once we peeled off the red tissue wrap, this cute little red box was tied with a black ribbon. The ribbon was embellished with a silver cowboy hat button. When I spend money to send someone a gift, I really appreciate a company that pays attention to detail like Cowgirl Chocolates.

Each chocolate, well mainly chocolate truffles was individually wrapped in cellophane/foil. Each one was amazing. The assortment in this box was phenomenal. Kaitlin and I did get into a bit of trouble. Lauren came in the room and caught us and demanded her fair share.
If you order these for yourself, all I can tell you is yes, you do want to share how extremely wonderful these candies taste and no you don't want to share because they are that wonderful.
All of the flavors got two thumbs up, my favorite is the habanero caramel.
Red - raspberry and dark chocolate
Gold - Double dark chocolate
Dark Blue - Hazelnut Milk Chocolate
Copper - Cappuccino
Brown Pillow - Habanero dark chocolate
Clear - Habanero caramel
Aqua - Double dark chocolate
Silver - Milk chocolate
Orange - Ivory Orange
Fuchsia Red - Raspberry Lemon
Check out Cowgirl Chocolates!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brie en Croute

Several weeks ago, I saw Wee Brie on one of the blogs I read. I just can't remember which one and I have gone to several blogs search through several posts and can't find it.

When I first saw Wee Brie, I knew there had to be many fun and unique munchies to make with this wonderful cheese and being so close to the holidays, I didn't need any coaxing. I usually make a Brien en Croute to munch on before Christmas dinner and I thought I would play around and see if I could make individual Brie en Croute with the Wee Brie. This wasn't a slam dunk and is still a work in progress. Most of my blogosphere friends are far more talented and creative than I am so many together we can knock this out of the park.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. When butter is melted add 1 cup of chopped pecans. Brown the pecans in the melted butter for 3 to4 minutes, being careful not to burn the butter.

On a whole brie wheel, I use a sheet of puff pastry. With the Wee Brie, I started off using crescent rolls because they are buttery and I thought the shape would work well with the brie. This wound up being too small to wrap around the brie.

We moved on to the larger crescent rolls in a can and the size was much better. Top the brie with the buttery pecans, a little sprinkle of cinnamon and a little sprinkle of brown sugar.

Wrap the dough around the brie. On a brie wheel I pull the dough up to make it look like a bundle. The bundle wrapping did not work with the triangle shape of the dough. As you can see, the wrapping didn't come out real pretty. Bake at 375 degrees in a greased baking sheet for 13 to 15 minutes.

The little bundles browned very nicely.

I think when I make these for Christmas, I am going to top them with fig preserves. Fig preserves would put this over the top. These were still amazing.

Suggest a topping you would like to see on the Wee Brie bundles.

My thanks go out to Duckie for awarding me with the Proximity Blog Award. Duckie is the most fantasitc, taleneted writer next to John Grisham that I have ever read. She's whimsical and imaginative and makes me think I can Twirl. This award means: "This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!

Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."I'd like to pass it on to these fine folks:

1) Michele
2) Ralonda
3) First, Make a Roux
4) Aggie
5) Margie
6) Gigi
7) Lisa
8) Greg

Susan at Yum Ninja tagged me to mention 7 random things about myself. If Susan's blog is on your daily stops, you need to check out her blog. She is an amazing cook and baker; so very talented. I've done this tag once before, but instead of passing it on to 7 people, if anyone who stops by would like to continue this tag, please feel free to be tagged by me...it's the holidays not pressure. Ok, there's pressure because my mind is blank..I've asked the homegirlz for help, here they go....

1. Her favorite color is red.
2. She won't stop singing Christmas songs (she can't sing, really she can't please help us stop her).
3. She buys us pajamas every year for Christmas because you have to sleep in new pajamas on Christmas Eve.
4. She quit smoking in July! We are happy about that and so is our dad.
5. She drinks two glasses of red wine every night when she's cooking.
6. She likes to look at trees in the fall.
7. She always kisses us twice at bedtime and before she leaves for work and pretends like she forgot she kissed and hugged us all ready; we play along.

I'll be under floor dying of embarrassment but ya'll have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I'm running really late this morning getting this posted. I have been inundated with telephone calls from family in New Orleans. It's snowing there and they are very excited. My niece measured five inches of snow on the ground and my mother said it's coming down and looks very pretty. I think that weather is moving this way and we might get some of the white stuff tomorrow.

It's funny in Knoxville, and I don't know why, but when snowy weather is on it's way, people mob the grocery stores for white milk and white bread and I don't understand why. I have asked and asked and all everyone does is shrug their shoulders. Do people sit in a circle and eat white bread and drink white milk or what? I'm clueless since I'm not a snow bunny by birth. If anyone knows, drop me a line.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes -

Before you start boiling potatoes we need to get the garlic roasted. For this recipe, I roasted three heads of garlic. If you haven't roasted garlic before and want to learn how, click here
My family, especially my oldest daughter and me, love garlic and mashed potatoes, so I boiled 3 lbs. of peeled russet potatoes in salted water.

Drain the cooked potatoes and dump them back into the pot. Squeeze the 3 heads of roasted garlic into the pot with the potatoes.

Add 1 cup of low fat sour cream, I'm trying to keep this somewhat healthy, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional, I just like this in my taters), salt and black pepper to taste. Get out the hand mixer and put it on low to break up the potatoes. You'll need about 4 ounces of evaporated milk now. While the hand mixer is running, stream in a little evaporated milk at a time and raise the mixer speed up one notch. Keep streaming in the milk until you achieve the consistency of the mashed potatoes you like.

This goes great with meatloaf and roasted asparagus!

I've had several requests for red gravy and brown gravy. I wasn't thinking completely yesterday wherein I constantly mentioned red gravy. In New Orleans, spaghetti sauce is called red gravy. So if you make a meatloaf and you prefer non-brown gravy that's not ketchup use your favorite home made or jar spaghetti sauce. No offense because I am a ketchup lover from way back put putting plain ol' ketchup on a meatloaf kind of makes my tummy cringe. I've added ketchup to a sauce for meatloaf and it was good, but it wasn't brown and got a thumbs down from Mr. Katherine.
Here's how I make a brown gravy:
Make a medium brown roux - pour 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a pot and heat over medium high heat. Once the oil is heated add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Do figure 8's, but keep it moving. BE VERY careful not to splash or you will burn yourself. The mixture will gradually turn brown, you want to to be about a caramel color for this gravy. This will take about 10 minutes, but wow, the roux will get a nutty smell to it, it's heavenly.
Now add 1/2 onion chopped, 1/2 green bell pepper chopped to the roux, wow now your kitchen is really smelling good and people will come from every room in your home as will your neighbors, to see what you're cooking, seriously, they will.
Saute the onions and bell pepper until they begin to wilt. Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic and saute for another minute. Lower heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 dried bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Add 1-1/2 cup of beef broth 1/2 cup at a time and combine with a whisk. The mixture will be thick. Whisk in 1 cup of water 1/2 cup at a time until you get the desired thickness. Add more beef broth for more gravy volume. Lower heat to low and let simmer covered until you are ready to make a volcano with your taters!