Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pecan Tassies

Judy Walker gets credit for introducing me to this new family favorite.  Well actually it's my husband's favorite.  If pecans are in it, he's all over it.  The homegirlz like to nibble on plain pecans. I like the Christmasy flavor of these tassies.  To be honest, I was swooning when I saw the dough was made of cream cheese.

It's three days before Christmas so let's get these baked!

Yield:  approximately 48 Tassies
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter
2 cups all-purpose flour


3 large eggs, well beaten
2 cups brown sugar
4 cups chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Pastry:   Blend the cream cheese, margarine and flour. Divide into 6 equal portions, then divide each portion into 8. Spray tart or muffin tin with non stick cooking spray.  Press the dough into tart tins or small muffin tins.  The pastry will cover the bottom and sides of the mtart or muffin tin.  

For the Filling: Combine the eggs, brown sugar, pecans and vanilla. Pour into the pastry-lined tart or muffin tins.  Only fill 3/4 full. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

*After the tassies are baked and cooled, they can be frozen

Make these today so you can swoon too!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Grand Marnier Cranberries and Apples

A couple of nights ago we decided on paninis for dinner and I wanted something light as a side, but I wanted something REAL with a real depth of flavor.  If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know I love to cook with Grand Marnier.

So I pulled out everything I could find that said Christmas to me. 

1 can jellied cranbrries
Orange Marmalade
Grand Marnier
Cinnamon Sticks
1 winesap apple

Empty the can of jellied cranberries in a medium pot, add one peeled, cored and cut up the apple, one cinnamon stick, 1 tablespoon orange marmalade, 1 ounce of Grand Marnier, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.  Heat over medium-low heat until the jellies have broken down.  Let them hang out so the flavors can marry, at least 20 minutes.

If soup isn't your thing or if you're looking  for a change of pace,
then this is the ticket...gooey, double cream brie with smoked turkey and a side of warm Grand Marnier Cranberries and Apples.  (I put a little EVOO on the bread instead of butter or margarine...makes whole lot of difference.)


Just doing what I do, passing along the good stuff!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Smoky Mountain Carbonara

Smoky Mountain Carbonara - doesn't sound right does it?  But boy, oh boy does it sure taste right!  On a cold winter's night, wrap your self around a big bowl of Smoky Mountain Carbonara!  Better than a Snuggie!

Cook 5 slices of chopped bacon (or 2 to 3 slices of pancetta and 2 slices of bacon) in a large skillet over medium heat until almost crisp,

Sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon over the bacon and until the bacon is crisp. Remove bacon from skillet with a slotted spoon and reserve.   Remove all but one 1 teaspoon of the fat in the skillet.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together 2 cups of whipping cream, 1-1/2 cups of freshly grated parmesan and 5 large egg yolks until thoroughly blended. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 lb. of fettuccine or thick spaghetti and cook until al dente.

Pour the egg/cream mixture in to the skillet and warm over medium-low heat.

Add the fettuccine to the cream mixture and toss over medium-low heat until the sauce coats the pasta  (do not allow to boill).

Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a large wide serving bowl add thereserved bacon/pancetta. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Let it snow!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Coconut Bundt Cake

This is a cake recipe from Foodnetwork's Down Home with the Neely's.  A really simple cake to prepare from scratch.  The coconut milk makes it moist and flavorful.  One thing I really like about Bundt cakes, they always come out looking great!  Wonderful idea for holiday gift giving!

Nonstick baking spray
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
Pineapple Glaze, recipe follows
1/2 cup flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray and dust with flour.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Once incorporated, add the extracts. Stir in the coconut milk and beat until combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake 5 minutes before turning it out onto a rack. Let cool completely on the rack.

Once the cake has cooled, ladle the glaze over the cake, and top with flaked coconut. Let glaze set before serving. Transfer the cake to a platter or serving dish and slice.

Pineapple Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons pineapple juice

In a mixing bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and the pineapple juice together until smooth.

I'll be around this afternoon and this evening to visit your blogs.  Please forgive my absence, 'tis the season!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pork Milanese with a Creamy Lemon Caper Sauce

Work really has me slammed this week!  Along with the holiday craziness and the rough weather we've all been enduring, don't you just want to have something for dinner that feels like a real treat?  Something luxurious, that's ready in a jiff?  Just tell me, do you want a new recipe for pork chops?

I knew you did!  The title brought you in didn't it?  Look how easy this is...
Creamy Lemon Caper Sauce:

Combine 1/2 cup of softened cream cheese and 2 healthy tablespoons of mayonnaise a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of milk until thoroughly combined.

Add in 1/4 cup drained and chopped capers, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, 1 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grounf black pepper and two tablespoons of lemon juice.  Whisk to combine, cover and refrigerate.  If you make this ahead of time, remove from the fridge one hour before serving to soften the cream cheese again.

Pork Milanese:

Season 4 to six center cut porkchops with salt and pepper.  Heat 4 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. 
In a shallow dish combine 1 cup of AP flour, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. in another shallow dish, whish together 2 lare eggs and in a third shallow dish pour 1-1/2 cups of seasoned Italian bread crumbs.  Season the pork with salt and pepper.
Dip the pork, 1at a time first in the flour,

then the eggs, then the bread crumbs.

When the oil is hot place the breaded pork in the pan.

Cook until golden and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes per side.

Transfer the pork to a serving platter and serve with the sauce alongside.

My daughter has testified! 

Have a wonderful, peaceful, relaxing and warm weekend!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ricotta Cookies

We woke up Saturday morning to this.  Oh we were warned, but the weather forcasters here are rarely right.  The white stuff kept coming down until early afternoon.
So what's a girl to do?  Make breakfast of course, but some members of my family prefer eating fresh snow.

Saints fans prefer a high fiber, Budlight for breakfast and find crafty uses for the bottle caps.  Did you know they make great snowman eyes and nose?  12 and 0 baby, lots of cause for celebration!

Lucy from sweets, savories, etc. posted an awesome cookie recipe a week or two ago and I had all of the ingredients handy so I made these wonderfully delicious cookies!

Ricotta Cookies:

1 cup butter, soften at room temperature
1/2 cup ricotta, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, blend softened butter with ricotta until creamy. Add vanilla and mix well. Add sugar gradually, beating until well blended. Add eggs & mix well. Slowly stir in dry ingredients & blend well. Drop from a teaspoon onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes, don’t over bake. Cookies will have only a small amount of golden coloring.

After cookies have completely cooled, frost with glaze & sprinkle with sugar sprinkles.

Glaze Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or flavoring of your choice
2 to 4 teaspoons milk

Makes approximately 70 Cookies.

Thank you Lucy, these were more than I hoped they would be!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Oven Fried Chicken - This is the Real Deal!

I have tried a couple of oven fried chicken recipes and they were not very good then I found this recipe from Down Home with the Neely's on the Food Network. This chicken turned out moist on the inside, perfectly cripsy on the outside and the flavor was incredible.  Another plus is you get the flavor of fried chicken sans the calories.  C'mon I'll show you!

You will need:

Nonstick cooking spray
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (3-pound) chicken cut into 8 pieces, skin removed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. If you have a wire rack, fit it inside of your backing sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray, if not, line your baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a pie plate or shallow bowl, whisk the eggs, mustard, honey, hot sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste, together until thoroughly combined.

Add the panko, salt and pepper, to taste, the paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder to another pie plate and whisk to combine.

Dredge the chicken through the wet mixture, then the dry mixture, patting the breading on so it adheres. Arrange on a wire rack or lined baking sheet.

Give the chicken a spritz of the olive cooking spray. This will help brown and crisp up the coating.

This is VERY important, place the baking sheet on the upper rack of the oven and bake until the chicken is golden and crisp, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

Is that gorgeous or what?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Gift Ideas

Lainey Johnson from SAMCOR, LLC thought my readers would be interested in Denn'y holiday offerings. 

Since most everyone is trying to make their money go further these days,  Denny's treats look so delicious plus their prices are very affordable!  Great gifts for teachers, neighbors and great when you're on the run.

Time for Homemade? Shhhh… we won’t tell. Make Denny’s Holiday Pies your holiday pies. They make perfect, portable and affordable last minute hostess gifts too. Choose from oh so sweet pecan, spiced pumpkin, or traditional apple. (Whole pies: $7.99 to $9.99; Prices vary by store location)

‘Tis Better to Give… And Receive! There’s no better way to show your love to family and friends than making sure they are well fed, and according to the National Retail Federation, gift cards are the No. 1 requested gift.

Denny’s is giving consumers a $5 gift card with every $25 gift card purchase. Stuff them in stockings, take them to the office, give them to your favorite student or cash-strapped colleague…

A Denny’s gift card will let your special ones enjoy a special holiday meal, great burger or hearty breakfast any time (Gift cards are available at Denny’s, Walmart, CVS, and www.dennys.com).

Seasonal Treatables …It’s the most wonderful time of the year for peppermint cheer! Presenting an all new selection of festive holiday fare. These yummy holiday beverages are bursting with the flavors of the season. Thick, creamy hand-dipped chocolate or vanilla milkshakes topped with whipped cream, blended with peppermint and dotted white chocolate sprinkles are a treat all by themselves and double the fun when coupled with any menu item. A selection of soothing hot and cold drinks will relax even the busy last-minute shopper. (Holiday Beverages start at $1.70)

*Prices vary by store location.

Pancake Puppies™ with a Peppermint Twist…America’s first-ever breakfast appetizer, Denny’s Pancake Puppies™ are all about peppermint and the perfect alternative snack for Santa! These round, bite-sized pancakes are filled with peppermint white chocolate sprinkles, rolled in powdered sugar and served with warm syrup for dipping. This holiday finger food is really fun to share and makes a great portable treat. (Peppermint Pancake Puppies™ start at $1.99*)

*Prices vary by store locations

Traditional Edibles…Holiday Dinner Denny’s offers a tasty traditional holiday meal with all the trimmings – tender sliced roast turkey breast with savory stuffing, ladled with gravy, garnished with cranberry sauce and served with choice of one side and dinner bread. Relax, simplify and celebrate with family and friends on Christmas Day* and New Year’s Day*, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Holiday Dinner prices start at $8.99*)

*At participating locations

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Eating Tips Revisited

The staff at the Cafe' threatened strongly urged me to dust off this little chestnut and throw it out in the blogosphere again for your reading pleasure. This was originally posted on December 9, 2008 from an email I received.

Please ignore heed these tips!

I wouldn't be your friend if I didn't stop and take a deep breath and offer up the following Holiday Eating Tips. Many of you have read these before but with so much going on in everyone's lives these days, I thought it was my duty and my honor to bring these time honored tips to my friends in the blogosphere.

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory, celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, glass of wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Have a Great Holiday Season!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chocolate Delight

Want to learn how to keep your youngest homegirl and her friend out of trouble occupied for about twenty minutes?  Ask them to make brownies!  Not only did they make brownies...they, just read and look, it's almost better than sitting them in front of the TV with video games.

Once their brownies were baked and cooled, they carefully placed them in an 8x8 baking dish.

Oh why are they upside down?  They taste the same, right?

Then they made chocolate pudding and poured over the top.  I'm not groovin' on the blue nail polish.

You can't see this, but they are licking the bowl the pudding was in.

See?  Poor Courtney only got the knife they were using to scrape the bowl.

Then they iced it with whipped cream.  I'm kinda thinking they are kissing up to Paula Deen.

Homegirl with their creation.  Guess what?  They didn't share.  >: (

And that's how it's done!