Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Family Favorites

Josh’s Churros

All of the years I lived on the near south side of Milwaukee and lived in California, I never had a Churros.  Josh introduced me to them when he and I vacationed in California and went to Old Town in San Diego.  They are one of his favorite dessert.

Vegetable oil, for deep frying
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 stick butter
1 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
4 eggs

Fill a deep-fryer or large Dutch oven halfway with vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees F.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a large shallow bowl, set aside.
Combine the butter, water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, lower to a medium heat and add the flour, and nutmeg, stirring constantly until it comes away from the pan and it forms a ball. Transfer dough to a bowl and use an electric mixer to help cool it off so you do not scrabble the eggs when you add them. At this point you can whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, until it becomes a smooth batter. Transfer the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip.  Working in batches, carefully pipe 4-inch long ribbons directly into the hot oil to fry. Fry until golden, turning if necessary, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels. Transfer the churros into the sugar/cinnamon mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately while still warm.  Traditionally served with a hot chocolate dip although it is not necessary.  Great by itself.

Hot Chocolate Dip

4 ounces dark chocolate
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons sugar

Christmas Brunch

Fresh Fruit

I like to take small animal cookie cutters in Christmas shapes and cut out melon and mix it with grapes and Mandarin cherries.  The grapes and cherries  are the Christmas tree bulbs and I have shapes of Christmas trees, candy canes, stars and angels that I use to make the melon shapes.  Cut your melon very thinly from the sides to have whole pieces.  You can use a muskmelon for the stars and angels. watermelon for the candy cane, and honey dew melon for the Christmas trees.  Save all the left overs after you have cut out the shapes for a banana smoothie for your brunch.

Banana Smoothie

1 ripe banana
4-6 oz. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Ice cubes
Slice the banana into the blender.  Add vanilla.  Add 3 to 4 ice cubes (smaller ice cubes are better).  Add low fat milk to about 1" from the top to allow room for expansion and blending.  Blend for about 35 - 45 seconds. 


Add other fruit such as melon from above, strawberries, blue berries or add chocolate syrup for a chocolate banana smoothie.  Let the kids make their own.  

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Pancakes

1 cup rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 1 /4 cup soy milk or rice milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sift the rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, soy yogurt, rice milk, and oil, and pour into the flour mixture. Stir briefly just to combine.  Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake onto the heated griddle, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip the pancake and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until the pancake is golden brown on both sides.  


You can add blue berries or ripe bananas.  Or you can put an X of precooked bacon in the pancake and make a kiss and hug cake.  To make faces on your cakes pour the eyes and mouth first the add the remaining batter over the face and a face should appear since it fried longer and will be a little darker.  Kids love fun touches.  Add little ears and you can have a Mickey Mouse cakes.  Or for those kids that like pirates use the bacon at the bottom of the pancake for the crossed bones of a skull and try to pour the cake batter in the shape of a skull (upside down pear shape).

Thought I would share one more picture of eggs and bacon for pirate lovers.  When I saw this I saved it to help this old lady remember a great idea for kids and eggs.  My above idea was born out of this.  Isn't this clever?

Hash Brown Potatoes


The secret I learned years ago when I worked at Hayes Café was to use Lawry Salt on the top of your hash browns.  This is how Hayes taught me to make hash browns.  Boil 10 large  potatoes only half done and grate them.  They will finish cooking when you fry them.  Do not over boil them.  You can peel them after they have cooled. You can also grate a small onions the same as the hash browns and mix with the hash browns.  Hayes and I do not use the onion.  Make sure you oil the skillet well and it is good and hot.  I love to use my cast iron skillet for these.  Drop the mixture into your pan and let it get golden brown on the bottom. Do not play with it.  You'll see the edges get golden brown.  Salt with Lawry’s Salt  before turning them.  Flip only once and brown on the second side.  The more oil you put in the pan, the crisper they will be but don’t make it too oily.  Watch closely so they do not burn. 


You can now buy hash browns and Southern hash browns in the grocery store and most of the work is done for you.  You can also oven roast the Southern hash browns by mixing the potatoes in oil and salt and pepper to taste.  I also like to add onion powder, paprika, and garlic powder and mix with my hands before putting them on a cookie sheet and putting them  in the oven to brown.  Get creative.  

Chocolate Cheese Ball

8 oz. whipped creamed cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
2 Tbs strawberry jelly (optional)
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Mix the creamed cheese, sugar, vanilla, jelly and chips until smooth.  Roll in a ball and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Once hard, roll in nuts and serve with thin choclate wafers cookies for spreading cheese on.  Great for holiday buffet.

Banana Foster French Toast

4 croissants cut in half
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cream

Mix  cinnamon, sugar and cream together for dipping custard.  Dip 1/2 croissant in custard and fry in butter until crispy. 

3 bananas sliced and quartered
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup pecans
1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat sugar, syrup, pecans and vanilla in sauce pan.  When heated, add bananas and nuts.  Serve over the French toast.  Great for a special Sunday brunch.

Chocolate Sauce

I wrote this recipe down some time ago from a show I was watching and don't remember who to give the credit to, but it is the best chocolate hot sauce I have ever had.  

1 3/4 cup cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
2 3/4 cup simi sweet chocolate chips
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Over low heat, heat cream, sugar, butter, salt and vanilla.  When warm, add the chocolate chips until melted.  Cool for 15 minutes before serving over ice cream, cake or what ever your pleasure.  The secret is the brown sugar!

Egg Nests

In these easy and charming bites, shredded potatoes are baked in a muffin tin to form crunchy cups, which are then filled with scrambled eggs to make a festive and kid-friendly finger food.

1 (3 1/2-cup) bag frozen shredded potatoes, defrosted
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 eggs
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1/3 cup finely diced bell peppers (optional)
3/4 cup diced cooked breakfast sausage

Heat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, 1/4 cup of the oil, salt, and pepper. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the potato mixture into each cup of a 12-serving muffin tin. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of each cup (a shot glass works well to press these out), then bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the nests from the oven and allow them to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, Heat a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining oil  to the pan and heat. Add the onions and peppers to the pan and saute until both are soft and the onions are slightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook until heated through. Add the egg mixture and stir until the eggs have set and small curds have formed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the potato nests from the muffin tin and place them on an ovenproof platter or cookie sheet. Fill each cup with some of the egg mixture. Serve warm.

Bird's Nest (or Toad in a Hole)

When ever Sam stays at my house he starts his day with a bird's nest.  You butter both sides of Texas Toast and using a small glass cut a hole in the center of the bread.  In preheated pan, place your hole and bread in the fry pan and break an egg into the hole.  When the toast is crispy brown, flip the bread over and fry on the other side.  Sam likes to dip the fried bread circle in the easy over egg.  He also sometimes likes to sprinkle shredded Colby cheese on the  top to melt once it is flipped.

Christmas Candy and Gifts

Pretzel Turtles

This is my favorite Christmas candy I make.  You can go wild with different variations, but my favorite has to be the turtles.

1 bag round pretzels
2 bags of Rolos
1 bag of pecan halves

Put 1 Rolo in the pretzel and top with 1 pecan. I cover the cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Put in preheated oven at 250 degrees for 10 minutes.  As soon as you take out of the oven press slightly on the pecan to push the Rolo and pecan down to fill the pretzel.


Put vanilla, chocolate candy wafer or colored mint wafer in center of pretzel and put an M & M on top for color and decoration.  Can get M & M’s in mint now also.

Before oven

After oven

Oreo Truffles

Here is another candy I make for Christmas that is so beautiful, I give them as gifts.  It is like a miniature chocolate cheese cake.

1 bag Oreo cookies
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 oz. dark chocolate, melted or white chocolate or almond bark ( I use white chocolate chips or simi sweet chocolate chips)

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside 6 Oreo cookies, and finely crush the rest of the cookies in a blender or food processor.  If using a food processor, add the cream cheese in large chunks and pulse a few times to until the candy consistency is that of dough. If you don’t have a food processor, stir together the softened cream cheese and crumbs until the candy is well-mixed.  Place the candy in the refrigerator to firm up for about 1 hour. Using a teaspoon form 1-inch balls and roll between your hands until they are round. Place the candies on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate them while you prepare the dipping chocolate and cookie topping.   Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted, stirring after every minute. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, but do not let it harden.  Coarsely chop the reserved cookies, creating cookie chunks approximately 1/2” in size (for truffle in picture 2)   Dip the candy balls in the melted chocolate and place on the foil-lined baking sheet. While the chocolate is still wet, top each with a sliver of cookie or what ever decoration your choose. Repeat with remaining truffles, and refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate has hardened.

Variation: This recipe is also delicious using mint-flavored Oreos and sprinkle with crushed candy cane or dip the balls in almond bark or white chocolate for white truffles.  You can sprinkle with colored sugar or nuts also.  Try drizzling white chocolate over the chocolate truffles  or vice versa for professional look.  I just melt chips in a baggie and cut tip off of bag and drizzle as in pictures 6 and 7 above.  These make wonderful gifts to give to your friends.  Put in a small cellophane bag and tie with a ribbon. 

White Chocolate Truffles
Dark Chocolate Truffles 
Drizzled Truffles

Microwave Cashew Brittle

This recipe is so super simple and is also worthy as giving as a Christmas gift.  

1 cup cashew nut halves
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

In a 1 ½  quart microwave safe dish stir together sugar, syrup, salt and nuts. Microwave on high 4 minutes. Stir well. Microwave 4 minutes more. Stir in butter and vanilla, microwave for 2 minutes longer.

Add baking soda and stir until light and foamy. Immediately pour onto a silt pad and spreading out thin. Cool.  A pizza pan is about the right size.

Corn Flakes Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy

Sawyer and I made these this year and I think we are going to start a new tradition of make it together each year from now on.  I also made some with dairy free chocolate chips and peanut butter for Saylor.

1 package (6 oz., 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch morsels
1/2 cup peanut butter
5 cups Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal
In double boiler melt chocolate and butterscotch chips; combine peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat.

Add Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal. Stir until evenly coated.  Drop on waxed paper into small cookies.  Store in airtight container.

Microwave Method:
In microwave safe bowl, microwave chocolate morsels, butterscotch morsels and peanut butter on HIGH for 2 minutes or until melted. Stir until smooth. Follow remaining steps above.

Variation:  This is similar to the chocolate covered nuts recipe I have made each year.  Replace the corn flakes with cashews or peanuts.  Give all 3 as a medley of chocolate candy as a gift.

Cupcake in a Jar

Using what ever cake mix you like make cup cakes.  The featured one above is chocolate cupcakes that I put Heath bits and chocolate chips in the mix before baking them.  Put a cup cake in a jelly jar and using baggie that you have filled with whipped topping and cut off the tip of the baggie, pipe in whipped cream and sprinkle the top with Heath bits.  Put in another another cupcake and more whipped cream topping it again with Heath bits and a little chocolate syrup and caramel topping.   Great idea for bake sales or I brought to book club and it went over really big.  Whipped cream makes it lighter.

Variations:  Using the idea of the red velvet cheese cake recipe below, make red velvet cupcakes and Jello cheese cake pudding and put into a jelly jar.

Using a spice cake for cup cakes, layer with my apple pie in a jar (or canned apple used for apple pie) and whipped cream.

Use a ginger bread cake recipe and make cupcakes and top with whipped cream.

Use a yellow cake, canned strawberries and whipped cream for a strawberry short cake in a jar.

Go crazy and think up your own ideas.

Red Velvet Cheese Cake

This is a beautiful presentation with cream cheese frosting on top, a layer of red velvet cake, a layer of cheese cake and the bottom another layer of red velvet cake.  Fit for a very special occasion. 

1 box red velvet cake mix
1 can of cream cheese frosting (add additional cream cheese if you use store bought or make your own frosting with cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.)
Shortening to grease pan
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. almond extract (optional)
2 cup sugar
4 tbs. all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
4 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

For Cheesecake:

Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease 2  9” pans with  shortening,  Cut recipe in half and only make 1/2 in  blender at a time.  Put the milk, almond extract, sugar, flour and salt in the blender. Crack the eggs on side of blender, letting eggs slip into blender. Cover blender with lid. Blend on high speed for about 15 seconds. Cut the cream cheese into little cubes on the cutting board, using the table knife. Add cream cheese to blender. Cover blender with lid. Blend 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the greased pan.  Bake for 48 to 52 minutes or until the cheesecake is slightly jiggly when pan is shaken.  Put pans in larger pan and pour water ½ way up the side of the cheesecake pan and put in oven.  Place it on the wire cooling rack when done. Let cheesecake cool for 1 hour. Put cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but no longer than 48 hours.

Red Velvet Cake:  Follow directions on box and bake as directed. Make two 9” round cakes.  Cool on racks.  I find that the box cakes are as good if not better than many homemade cakes.  It is simpler and they are very moist.  I prefer to just buy the red velvet cake mix when making cupcakes or a cake. 

To assemble cake, lay first red velvet cake round on plate up side down and frost with cream cheese frosting (I do not like the store bought frosting because it lacks the cream cheese flavor so if you use store bought add more cream cheese to it.)  Place first cheesecake up side down on top of red velvet cake.  Place second red velvet cake up side down on top of two layers assembled.  Frost with cream cheese frosting.  Place last cheesecake upside down on the 3 layers assembled.  Frost and decorate edges with piped frosting. 

Extremely rich.  Cut into small pieces.  Feeds 16 or more.

Chocolate Cheese Cake

24 Oreo Cookies, crushed (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup  (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup  sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp.  vanilla
1 pkg. (8 squares) Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
4   eggs

Heat oven to 325ºF.  Mix crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 13x9 inch foil-lined pan. Bake 10 min.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 45 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil to lift cheesecake from pan. Top with berries.  Serves 16 people

Much more of my favorite recipes tomorrow.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

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