Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Years ago I lived in Milwaukee as a VISTA volunteer and became good friends with many Mexican friends that introduced me to their beautiful culture.  I would eat often with them.  I was first introduced to tortillas in 1966.  Sylvia, a friend of mine told me they were their eating utensil.  They often did not use silverware, but used tortillas to pick up their food by tearing off a piece of tortilla and picking up what was on their plate.  To this day I only use tortillas as utensils when I make my Mexican scrabbled eggs with chorizo sausage and cheese. I've taught my sons to do it also.

Tortillas are also used to wrap many dishes like burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, tacos, etc. Like many of their sauces, tortillas are a staple in the Mexican diet.  They are equal to our bread.  Some of the best food I have even eaten, I have eaten with a tortilla so still celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I’m sharing and celebrating  one of the important foods in the Mexican diet, the tortilla. 

Flour Tortillas

2 c. flour (you may use white corn flour or wheat flour)
¾ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. shortening or lard
¾ c. warm water (must be very warm to melt the shortening or lard)

Combine all ingredients until it forms a dough.  You may do this in a food processor to make it easier.  Roll into a big ball and take about 1" to 2" pieces off. Pat flat with your hands and roll thin with a rolling pin unless your are skilled at flipping them from hand to hand to pat into a round tortilla.  I am not so must use the rolling pin.  Get them as then as possible. 

Put a griddle on the stove and let the sides cook until there are slightly browning.

Keep the tortillas under a towel to keep them warm and from drying out.  I put them in large baggies to save them for all the many uses they serve.  You can reheat them by putting them over a gas open fire, on a griddle or in the microwave.  Always serve them warm and keep them under a towel to preserve the heat. 

Hope you have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours

Monday, April 29, 2013


Guacamole is my favorite Mexican condiment.  If I’m eating out, I always order it on the side of anything I order.  But then I love avocados.  I love them in salads and on a sandwich.  They have been pretty reasonably priced lately too.  When I lived in California, people had avocado trees in their back yard.  Wish we could grow them here.  A young boy in our neighborhood used to come to our door when they were in season and sell them a dozen for a dollar.  Now I usually pay a dollar for one.

2 ripe avocados
1 medium lime
1/4 cup red onion
2 tablespoon cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper

Chop your onion and put in a strainer.  Run under water and rinse it well.  This takes the bite out of the onion.  Slice and pit your avocados.  Chop your avocados and chilantro.  Deseed the jalapeno and chop very finely.  Chop your garlic finely (I like to use the store bought chopped in the bottle.  It is already finely chopped).

Place your avocados and lime in medium bowl, and lightly mash with fork.  The lime keeps it from turning brown.  Leave some texture to the avocado so you have some chunks.   Stir in remaining ingredients.

I love guacamole on all of my Mexican dishes, but then I love avocados.  You may also chop some tomato and add it to the guacamole, but I like mine without.

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mexican Chili Con Queso

Yesterday we had book club and we celebrated Cinco de Mayo early with a buffet of Mexican foods.  It was excellent.  We had make-your-own taco salad with all kinds of fixin's, home made tamales, Spanish rice, and mango salsa with blue tortilla chips with flax seeds.  I made a churros cheese cake (already shared in previous blog) and took a chili con queso for torilla chips or to put on the taco salad.  Thought I would share the chili con queso recipe today.

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican blend
1 cup cubed Velveeta or Cheese Whiz
1 cup fresh or canned hot salsa
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Hot sauce to taste (I go really heavy on the hot sauce)

Over medium heat brown your ground beef.  Add a chopped onion and brown onions with the ground beef until they are tender.  Add garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to season the meat. Drain off any excess grease.

Still over heat, add your Velveeta and cheddar cheese and let it melt.   

Add about a cup of hot salsa.  I put my salsa in a small food processor to chop it as fine as possible but if you like it chucky skip that.  You may wish to add more salsa if you want more heat.  I already shared my salsa recipe with you, but you can use store bought if you like.  By using store bought salsa, this saves you cutting up jalapenos, tomoatoes, onions, etc. Everything is already done for you.  

Taste and adjust seasoning to how hot you want it.  I add hot sauce at this point and make it even hotter.  You can also add addition chili powder and cumin after tasting.  Keep tasting until you are happy with the seasoning and heat. 

I put it in a small crock pot and serve it warm with tortilla chips.

You can freeze this in two or three baggies and store it in the freezer for later if you have any left over.

I have more Mexican recipes and will share more tomorrow.  Have a great Sunday.  Just realized I did not share my normal Sunday brunch but change is good.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mexican Grilled Corn

This is a street food that is sold by vendors on the street.  Take your Iowa sweet corn and you have Iowa Mex.  It is so tasty!

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 ears corn
4  tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 lime, quartered

Get out the grill and preheat itl to medium.  Great day for grillin'.

Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt and chili powder in a small bowl.

Grill corn, turning occasionally, until marked and tender, 8 to 12 minutes total.

Spread each ear with 1 tablespoon of the sauce and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan.  Sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper to taste . Serve with lime wedges.

I have book club today and we are doing a Cinco de Mayo theme.  Looking so forward to the great weather, company, conversation, and last but now least Mexican food.  Hope you have a great day.  The weather is suppose to be picture perfect.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rice Atole (Mexican Rice Pudding/Arroz Con Leche)

I'm still sharing Mexican dishes in honor of Cinco de Mayo.  Some foods are common to many nations.  This is a simple Mexican rice and milk dish that will warm you and please you.  

1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups water
2 small cinnamon stick 
4 cups warmed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or more, to taste)
3/4 cup sugar

In a large saucepan, combine water, rice and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover pot and heat for 10 minutes or until water is absorbed.  It will not be fully cooked though.

Add the warmed milk, cover and continue to cook over low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes stirring after 10 minutes. The mixture will thicken as the rice absorbs the milk.

Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to simmer (uncovered) for 3 to 5 minutes to dissolve sugar completely.  It will thicken even more as it cools.

Place into individual custard cups. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon for garnish. Serve warm or cold, for dessert, snack, or breakfast.

I'll share another Mexican dish tomorrow.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicken with Mole Sauce

4 to 5 lbs of skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar or to taste
1 1/2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 tbs. peanut butter
4 tbs. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt to taste
1 chipotle pepper (use a green pepper if you can't find a chipotle)

In a stock pot add the chicken broth and orange juice over low heat.

Brown the chicken thighs in a frying pan with the olive oil over medium heat. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side. Partially cover to keep the splatter down and to keep you from getting burned.

As the chicken pieces get done, place them into the stock pot with the chicken broth. Once all the chicken is done browning simmer the chicken in the stock pot with a lid for 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to cool.

In the frying pan that you used to brown the chicken, add a touch more olive oil and add the minced onion and cook, stirring frequently for 20 minutes over medium to low heat to caramelize. The onion will cook down and turn a nice golden brown and become very sweet.

This is where the good flavor develops. Now add the minced garlic and stir frequently for 3 minutes.

Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, sugar, unsweetened chopped chocolate to the onion and garlic mixture and sauté for two to three minutes more.

Pour the onion mixture into the chicken broth and add the following to the chicken broth pot:

Peanut butter
Chili powder

Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. In the mean time de-bone the chicken and tear or cut into bite size pieces.

Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes and then pour into a blender and puree the sauce for 20 seconds.  Only fill the blender half full in that it will still be warm and will expand.  Cover with a towel when you blend it for safety.

Pour the sauce back into the pot and add the chicken. Reheat on the stove until the chicken is heated through and serve.  Sprinkle the chicken with sesame seeds if you like for more texture.  Serve with white or red rice.

This mole can be used for almost any meat.  Just substitute your chicken with pork or beef or pour it over you favorite burrito.  

It is a lot of work, but the complex sauce is worth every minute of it.  You will fall in love with this sauce and find many uses for it.  

Remember, good things come to those who wait.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Grilled Mexican Skirt Steak

Here is another Mexican recipe for the grill (indoors or out).  We are finally suppose to get some weather that will encourage us to grill outdoors.  You can make this into an sandwich or put it in a tortilla for a roll up.  It is complete with mayo, steak sauce and black bean recipes.    

Grilled Mexican Skirt Steak

1 medium red onion
Vegetable oil
1 pound skirt steak
2  24 inch baguettes
Simple Mashed Black Beans (see recipe below)
Chipotle Steak Sauce (see recipe below)
Avocado Cilantro Mayonnaise (see recipe below)
2 cups shredded Mexican cheeses

Grill the onions over medium heat.  Brush both sides of the onion slices with a little oil, sprinkle with salt, and lay in a single layer on the grill. Grill, turning at least once, until richly browned and soft, about 10 minutes.  Put on a cutting board.

Grill the steak.  Brush both sides of the steak with a little oil, sprinkle with salt and lay on the grill.  Grill, turning at least once, until the steak is medium (or more well done if you like) about 7 minutes.  Transfer to the cutting board.  Chop the onion and steak into small pieces (about ½ inch).  Put in a skillet and keep warm on the grill.

Assemble the tortas.  Cut the baguette in half, then split each half lengthwise.  Scratch out most of the soft bread from the top and bottom.  Smear the bottom pieces with beans and lay face down on the grill to warm for a minute.  Flip them over and spoon a portion of the filling into each piece.  Splash about 1/4 of the chipotle sauce over the meat on each piece.  Smear each top baguette piece with avocado mayo, then press in a portion of the cheese. Set each top piece over a bottom.  Turn the tortas over the fire until the cheese is melted and the bread is crisp, usually about 8 minutes.  Cut each half in half and serve.

Simple Mashed Black Beans

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 15-ounce can black (or other color) beans, drained

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium.  Add the garlic and stir for a minute.  Add the beans.  Use a potato masher or back of a large wooden spoon to mash the beans into a coarse puree.  Remove from the heat and stir in enough water to give the beans an easily spreadable consistency, usually about 2 tablespoons.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon.

Chipotle Steak Sauce

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
3 canned chipotle chilies en adobo
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

In a food processor or blender, combine, the tomatoes, garlic, chilies, oregano and vinegar.  Process the sauce until smooth.  Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Simmer 15 minutes; remove from the heat and stir in water, if necessary, to give the sauce the consistency of steak sauce.  Taste and season highly with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons.  Cool, pour into a bottle and refrigerate until needed.

Avocado-Cilantro Mayonnaise

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 avocado
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, avocado and cilantro.  Pulse until mayo and avocado are thoroughly combined.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/4 teaspoon.

Tomorrow I'll share a Mexican mole sauce I fell in love with.  

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Salsas

Cinco de Mayo is Spanish and, it means the fifth of May.

Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated in all parts of Mexico. It is celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla (130 miles southeast of Mexico City) and some other small parts of Mexico.  Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) is a celebration of a great battle won at great odd against the French army in Puebla back in the 1500’s.

Interestingly enough, it is celebrated heavily in the United States and other countries. In the United States, it is celebrated by Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike. They celebrate the culture, customs, and traditions of Mexico with emphasis on food and drink along with their culture.  We Americans need little excuse to celebrate. 

So in celebration of celebrating, I’m going to share a few simple Mexican recipes with you.  Like your Puerto Rican culture, the Mexican culture uses many sauces to add flavor to their dishes.  I’ll share some very simple salsas with you today.  It is not just for dipping.  Use it as a condiment for flavoring meat, sandwiches, wraps (tortillas), tacos or other Mexican dishes.

Super Simple Roasted Salsa 

This one is for when you have the grill out and has a grilled char taste to it. 

6 large red ripe tomatoes
1 medium onion
3 jalapenos (cut if you don't like heat and make sure to deseed)
4 garlic cloves

Char the ingredients.   Light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until they are covered with gray ash; position the grill grate and let it heat for a couple of minutes. Lay on the tomatoes, onion halves, jalapenos and garlic. (To keep the garlic from dropping through and to make cleanup easy, I typically lay one of those perforated grill pans on the grill grates, heat it up, then lay on the vegetables.)  Grill the ingredients, turning occasionally, until they are well charred—about 10 minutes for the garlic, 15 minutes for the chilies and 20 minutes for the tomatoes and onions.  As they are done remove the ingredients to a rimmed baking sheet.  Let cool. Peel the garlic.  If you wish, you can pull the charred skins off the tomatoes.

Finish the salsa.   In a food processor, combine the garlic and chilies.  Pulse until coarsely pureed.  Add the tomatoes and any juices that have collected on the baking sheet, and pulse until roughly chopped.  Chop the charred onion and place in a bowl.  Stir in the tomato mixture, along with a little water (usually about 2 tablespoons), to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon.
Mexican Salsa

1/2 medium white onion
1 small jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded (if you want to cut the heat)
6 large red ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Chop your onion, chili, tomatoes, and cilantro.  Scoop the onion into a strainer, rinse under cold tap water (this takes the bite out of the onion), shake off the excess and transfer to a food processor.  Add the jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro and lime.  I like to put mine in the food processor so it is not chunky.  If you like your chunky, chop by hand and stir well, taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon.  Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  Give it some time to marry and the flavors to combine. 

You do not have to use ripe tomatoes.  You can use those canned tomatoes you put up last summer also.  

I'll share more Mexican recipes in the next week.  

Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Crispy Smashed Baked Potatoes

I got some nice new red potatoes this week and made up small smashed potatoes with them yesterday.  You can go simple or over board with them.  I piled on the fixin’s.  

New potatoes
Salt and Pepper
Seasonings of your choice
Sour Cream
Cheddar Cheese
Your favorite baked potato topping

Boil your potatoes until they are done (about 20 to 30 minutes).  Stick a knife in them to see if they are done.  Put in a bowl with a little oil (olive oil or vegetable) and salt and pepper.  Cover each potato well.

Put the potatoes on a cookie sheet and with the bottom of a glass, smash them down.

Put a tiny pat of butter on top and sprinkle again with what ever seasoning you would like to add.  You can use an Italian seasoning, onion and/or garlic powder or Lawry salt.  Put them into the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, flipping the over after 15 minutes or until they are golden and crispy.  The idea is to get them crisp on the outside.  They are already fully cooked. 

Set up an assortment of topping like crumbled bacon, grated Cheddar cheese, chopped chives and/or sour cream.  You could also do caramelized onions, chili, or steamed broccoli.  What do you like on your baked potatoes? Let everyone pick their toppings.  They make a new delicious potato side dish, meal in itself or appetizer.   

I thought this was a good time to share a copycat recipe for Lawry’s salt.  I love to use it on potatoes.  I always use it on hash browns or fried potatoes.  It goes very well with this recipe also. 

Copycat recipe for Lawry’s Salt

2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

This is a MSG free copycat recipe for Lawry's Seasoned Salt. Just mix together and store in an air tight container like a small mason jar.  

Have a great Monday, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Homemade Earth Friendly Weed Preventer and Killer

1 gallon apple cider vinegar
½ cup table salt
1 tsp. Dawn

Using a funnel, measure salt and Dawn into the gallon of vinegar.  Mix by shaking and put in spray bottle using the funnel. 

I bought the spray bottles for $1.00 at Wal-Mart in the clean supplies isle.  Mark sure you mark both you mixing container and the spray bottle.  Use the gallon jug for storage. 

To make up refills have the recipe on the bottle and jug.

Spray the weeds or area where you do not want anything to grow.  I sprayed the grass growing up between my bricks.  

Just like conventional weed killers, sometimes nasty weeds require two applications. But feel good that you're spraying something natural and earth-friendly, not a potentially harmful chemical.

Do not do it if it is going to rain in the near future.  Best condition is when it is sunny.  This will kill what ever is growing so be careful not to let the wind blow it onto flowers or your garden.

Not only are you saving money, but you are using a product that is earth friendly.  Good luck.

Blueberry Muffins

It is Sunday so it is Sunday brunch recipe day.  Here is my favorite blueberry muffin recipe that I’m sharing with you for your Sunday brunch.  Try the variation on the bottom with pecans to make them very special (I love pecans!).

1/4 cup sugar

1  can blueberry pie filling
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 stick butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 1/8 cup sugar with the eggs. Slowly whisk in melted butter until combined. Add buttermilk and vanilla and mix well.

Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter will come to the top of each muffin cup).  The batter should make 12 muffins.   Spoon 1 tsp. blueberry mixture into the center of each muffin. Using a toothpick or skewer, gently swirl the filling into the batter. Sprinkle sugar evenly over the muffins.

Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, until muffin tops are golden and just firm. Cool muffins in tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool for an additional 5 minutes.  Serve warm with butter. 

Variation – For topping your muffins add ½ cup of pecans to the sugar topping and put on top of medium heat until the pecans are candied.  Stir constantly.  Cool and sprinkle on top of your muffins instead of just sugar before putting the muffins into the oven.  It turns into a whole other muffin.

You can use almost any pie filling in making these muffins.  It does not have to be blueberry.  Try cherry.  Yum!

Serve with side dishes of scrabbled eggs and bacon or sausage and you have a complete brunch that will please your entire family.  

See if these don’t become your favorite muffins.  Have a great Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hot and Sweet Meatloaf

I love hot and sweet, so I am making a meatloaf that is both. 

1 1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup oat meal (you may substitute bread crumbs or dried instant potatoes)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (Optional)
Several drops hot sauce (to your taste)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup tomato sauce (You may substitute catsup if you don’t have tomato sauce)
2 eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 package of dry onion soup mix or chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Mix all the above ingredients together with your hands.  Shape the mixture into a loaf.  Bake it uncovered in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Make your sauce while it is baking.


1/2 cup tomato sauce or catsup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Whisk sauce ingredients together in a bowl.  Remove meatloaf after 30 minutes and pour sauce over the top.  Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees and return meatloaf to oven.  Cook 35 more minutes.  Take out and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Variation – Make mini meatloaves by putting them in muffin tins.  Cut baking time in half.  Add extra nutrition to them by grating carrots or chopping celery and putting it in the meatloaf.  You may also substitute the oatmeal with other fillers if you like (bread crumbs or instant dried mashed potatoes).  I use what ever I have.  That is the fun of making meatloaf.  It is using what you have.  I also make a savory meatloaf and layer it by cutting the meatloaf in half and putting half in the dish, then a layer with mushrooms and cheese in the middle and put the remaining meatloaf on top.  You can use this recipe, just leave out all the sweet and hot. I have shared that recipe in the past. 

Cold meatloaf sandwiches the next day is a good thing.  Hope you have some left over.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Easy Danish Pastry

I’m sharing a very simple Danish pastry dessert that I found and have tried.  It takes very little work and is excellent. 

Cream cheese Danish

2 tubes of crescent rolls
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tbs. spoon lemon juice
1 egg

Combine cheese, sugar, lemon juice and egg set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Lay out one can of crescent on a baking sheet.  Spread cheese mixture over dough.  Put second tube of crescent rolls on top of the cheese mixture.  Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown. 

Frost while still warm with a vanilla cream cheese frosting.

Frosting Glaze

4 ounces butter
4 ounces whipped cream cheese
1 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Let the frosting melt and become a glaze over the pastry.  Slice and serve still warm out of the oven.  Sprinkle it with slivered almonds if you like. 

Warm out of the oven and easy.  Love it.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Green Wood Repair Oil

Damaged Wood

I have an old window that I did not want to refinish, but found this damaged green wood repair and cleaner recipe and had to try it.  I'm pleased with it so am sharing it with you.

Here are the before and after pictures.  I’m amazed at the difference with very little work.


Mix together 1 part canola or olive oil and 3 parts vinegar and shake it well.  I put it in a plastic bottle (used ¾ cup vinegar and ¼ cup oil) and shook it well (it will separate so you will need to shake it each time you use it).  I have plenty left over for future use. Dip a rag in it and simply wipe!  Look at the difference!

Damaged Wood Repair Cleaner and Oil

¾ cup vinegar 
¼ cup olive or canola oil

Shake well, dip a cloth in it and wipe wood.

I'm in the process of making a green weed killer with vinegar, salt and Dawn and will share after I have tried it.  With the rain, I haven't been able to test it.  If it works, I'll share it.  

Hope the rest of your day is a great one.  

Apple Sticky Buns

You can buy a ready made roll mix to simplify this recipe or use your favorite sweet roll recipe.  You decide.  I’ll share a sweet roll recipe below in addition to the simple box recipe with you.  The idea of this sweet roll is to serve it warm and sticky.

1 16 oz package Phillsbury hot roll mix
3 tbs. butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped (Granny Smith are best baking apple)

Sticky Bun Syrup

2/3 powdered sugar
¼ cup butter
2 tbs. maple syrup
1 egg white

Maple Glaze

¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs. maple syrup
Pinch of salt
3 tbs. milk

Sticky Bun Syrup
Whisk together the sugar, melted butter, syrup and egg white until smooth

Spoon the sticky bun syrup into large cake pans.  Prepare roll mix according to box directions, cover the dough and let it stand 5 minutes.  Roll dough on a floured surface into an 18 inch x 10 inch rectangle.  Using a pastry brush spread the melted butter over dough.  Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over butter.   Sprinkle apples over cinnamon and sugar.   Roll up the dough tightly, starting at the longest end.  As you are rolling, brush off excess flour from the dough with a dry pastry brush.  Cut into 1 inch slices with a serrated knife.

Place in prepared pan(s).  Cover pans loosely with saran wrap, and let rise in a warm place 85 degrees to proof and double in size (preheat your oven and then shut off, placing the bread on top of the stove to rise).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, uncover rolls and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and done all the way through.  Cool in pans for 5 minutes.

Maple Glaze
Prepare when rolls are almost ready.  Melt butter in a small saucepan over med heat, whisk in brown sugar, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt until blended.  Add milk, bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, simmer, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown and glossy.  Brush over the rolls when they are done baking.

Serve warm or you can reheat them in the microwave for 20 seconds.

Sweet Rolls from Scratch

2 tsp. active dry yeast plus 1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 cups milk
1 tbs. melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt

Add yeast and 1 tsp sugar to the warm water (not over 110 degrees F). Set aside.

Place milk in microwave for 45 seconds. Add butter to milk and stir in until butter is completely melted. Check the temp of the milk; it should be lukewarm, if not then allow it to cool until lukewarm.  If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

Once yeast has doubled in volume, add yeast mixture to milk mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and about 1 ½ cups flour and mix until it reaches the consistency of a muffin batter. Let rest for 10 minutes.  This is allowing the yeast to do it’s job.

Add egg and salt to the mixture. Beat well. Add 2 cups of remaining flour until the flour forms a soft dough.

Knead dough in mixer with dough hook until smooth and satiny.

Leaving it in the mixer bowl, cover and let rise in a warm area until double in size (about 2 hours).  Cover with a dish cloth. 

Once doubled in size, punch down and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Press out the roll dough on a lightly floured surface (remaining ½ cup of flour is for the board). Shape into a long rectangle and follow the directions above to make the roll.  Let the rolls rise again until they have doubled their size.  Put a dish cloth on top of them while rising.  Follow baking directions as above. 

You may also use this recipe for making biscuits.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  It took a little longer than 15 minutes when I made these.  It depends on the weather I think. Just watch them closely because you don't want them to get too done after all that work you put into them.  
Variation – Add walnuts or pecans to the top after you have glazed them.  You can also use other fruits instead of apples if you like.  How about mixing your fruits like apples and cranberries (I'd chop and sweeten the cranberries with sugar first though before adding it to the apples).  Apples, cranberries and walnuts would be a great pairing.

It is a rainy day again today, making it a great day for staying inside and making something special.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tempura Shrimp

Yesterday I shared Long John Silver's breading so I thought today I would share a simple tempura batter with you.  I like to use it on shrimp, but you can use it on almost anything including veggies.

12 extra  large raw shrimp
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper for heat (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1 cup ice water
4 cups vegetable oil for deep frying
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel shrimp, devein and remove tails.  You may leave your tails on if you like, but I like to remove mine.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, egg, paprika, cayenne pepper, parsley and 1/2 cup ice water. Whisk in remaining water, 1/4 cup at a time, to thin batter. Place bowl in second bowl filled with ice water.

Pour enough oil into wok or heavy bottom deep pot to come about 2 inches up side; heat until the thermometer registers 375 F.

A few pieces at a time, dip the shrimp into batter; deep-fry until crispy and golden. Cook for about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt while it is still hot.

Serve with cocktail or tartar sauce.  I like them plain.  

Having thunder storm right now, so going to make it short and shut down the computer.  Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mock Long John Silver's Batter

Do you love Long John Silver's batter on their fish, shrimp and chicken?  I love it.  I found this recipe for a batter like theirs.  Try it and see if you don't agree.  

Long John Silver's Fish

1 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups hot water

In a mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients. Add the water and mix together very well. Completely cover and coat 8 fish (white), shrimp or chicken fillets with the batter. Deep fry until golden brown.

Do not over crowd the oil or it will not get crispy.  Serve it with cole slaw.  I like it so much I do not use the condiments with them, but you may.

Have a great Tuesday, be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cinnamon Candy Apples

Aren't they beautiful?  If you are serving any type of pork like ham, a pork loin or pork chops, try this as a side dish or light dessert.  They are simple to prepare but look oh so elegant.  

Red Hot Candied Apples
6 large, firm apples
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
6 thin lemon slices
1 Tbs. grated orange zest
¼ cup cinnamon candy
3 whole cloves
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
12 maraschino cherries

Peel and core your apples.  Slice your apples about a half an inch to 3/4 inch thick. 

Combine sugar and water in a large skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Add the lemon slices, cloves,  orange zest,  and cinnamon red hot candy and simmer until the red hots devolve.   Add the apple slices.   Simmer over medium heat until the apples are tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.  Turn the apples over once during cooking to make sure they are colored on both sides.

Remove apples and lemon slices to a very large serving dish.

Bring the syrup in the skillet to a rolling boil.  Boil until it forms a thin syrup (4 to 5 minutes).  Stir the cornstarch into the 1/4 cup cold water.  Stir into the syrup mixture and cook for about  minutes or until thickened.  

Allow to cool just slightly and pour over the apples.   Garnish each apple half with a maraschino cherry in the middle.  Now what kind of pork do you want to serve with it?  

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Apple Pizza

Here is a simple brunch idea that is simple.  A group was talking about apple pie for breakfast the other day and I guess this is pretty close to it.  You can also use the caramel sauce recipe from yesterday.

Apple Pizza

9 inch rolled out pie crust
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
4 medium apples (I'm  using my canned apples or you can use apple pie filling and skip the sugar, flour and cinnamon)

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup salted butter

1/2 cup caramel topping (use the recipe I posted yesterday)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll your pastry to fit a 12 inch pizza pan.  Fold under edges to give the pizza a bit of a raised crust. Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add peeled, diced apples and toss. Arrange the apples in a single layer over the pie crust to completely cover it or use the canned pie filling.

For your  topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and butter in a bowl. Mix well. Sprinkle topping evenly over the apples.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from oven and immediately drizzle with caramel topping. Cut into pizza slices. Makes 12 servings.

I love this because I can use up some of my canned apples and I'm using the store bought pie crust to save time and work. 

Hope you have a wonderful Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hot Fudge and Caramel Sauces

With weather getting nicer each day, thought I would share a hot fudge and caramel recipe with you to use to  top your ice cream or other desserts.  These are simple and easy.  Your family is going to love you.  

Hot Fudge

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar and cocoa in sauce pan over medium heat. Add evaporated milk and corn syrup. Cook until boil over medium heat. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla.  Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator and heat in microwave when you need it.

Variation - I have also used a little brown sugar and it gives a completely different taste to the sauce.  Use 1/2 sugar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar and see which one you like the best.  I like them both.

Caramel Sauce

2 cups light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat whisking occasionally.  Cook for about 5 minutes, remove from heat and add vanilla.  Whisk to combine and return to heat for another minute until thickened.  Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator and heat in microwave when you need it.  

Tomorrow I'll share an apple pizza with you for your Sunday buffet that you can pour the hot caramel sauce over.  

Have a great Saturday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Friday, April 12, 2013


I was raised on meat and potatoes.  I have said this before but it still stands.   I have never met a potato I did not like.  I thought I would share a couple of easy potato recipes with you that take potatoes over the top.  

Potato Rounds

½ inch slices of baking potatoes
Salt & pepper
8 slices of cooked bacon
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Green onions or chives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of the potato slices with melted butter; place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown on both sides, turning halfway through cooking time. When the potatoes are done, top with the bacon, cheese, and green onions. Put the cookie sheet back in the oven until the cheese is melted. 

Seafood Potato Appetizers

Small new potatoes
Mild salsa to taste
½ cup sour cream
Chopped chives 
5 pre-cooked slices of bacon 
1/4 cup cream cheese 
1 Tsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
¾  Pound shredded thawed frozen shrimp (drain well)
Tiny shrimp 

Cut the potatoes in half. Put them in a bowl with some olive oil and toss with some salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 degree until the potatoes are golden and crispy.  Let them cool. With a melon baller, scoop out the middle without going all the way through, so you have a small  bowl.  Mix salsa, shrimp,  bacon and cream cheese and sour cream mixture.  Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste  Fill the potatoes with shrimp mixture. Top with one tiny shrimp and sprinkle with chives.  

Potato Bites 

This is similar to the stuffed shrimp potatoes but they have a bite to them.

12 baby red potatoes
3 tbs. butter
1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 medium sized fresh jalapenos, seeded and chopped
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
4 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped (you can leave this out if you are vegetarian)
1/2 tsp Kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Bake your potatoes like above until they are crispy.  Cut them in half and scoop out the potato. Save the scooped out potato to add to your mixture.  Mash it up.

In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook until they are beginning to caramelize.  Add the jalapenos cooking until jalapenos are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat and add the mashed potato middles until combined. Return to heat and add the bacon, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and stir until cheese is melted. Allow the mixture to cool a bit and fill the potatoes. Serve warm.

These have always been a hit when I served them. 

Hope you day is a hit.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thai Soup

I love Thai food.  There is a restaurant in the QC called Exotic Thai on 53rd that is wonderful.  They have take out too.  I like that most of Thai food has heat, but not too much heat.

I wanted to make some Thai soup but can't find many of the ingredients in little Maquoketa so decided to improvise.  I bought these products with the idea of combining the two and adding chicken broth and left over shrimp for a shrimp Thai soup.  As I was reading the instructions to make it, I see the product is made in China.  I have to read my labels better in the future.  I've had it before but never noticed.  The soup turned out well and I liked it, but I just can't justify buying the product again with the history of safety of food from China.

Here is a good Thai soup recipe should you be in the big city and you can pick up the ingredients.  You can substitute some of the ingredients and usually have to with the lemon grass.

1 pound frozen small shrimp (no shells and tails to make it easy to eat)
8 cups water
1 inch ginger
Lemon zest 
1 cup shiitake mushrooms (or mushroom of your choice)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 pound Thai noodles
1 lime juiced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
1/2 cup green onions
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Thai birdseye chilies (sliced thinly crosswise)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (I don't use because I can't justify buying for the few times I'd use it)
3 tablespoons roasted red chili paste (optional for extra heat)
2 stalks lemongrass (peeled and chopped, or lemon zest)

Bring the broth, lemon grass, ginger root and lemon to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.   If you are using large shrimp with shells, add just the shells and tails here.  I don't like to clean shrimp, so purchase it cleaned.  Strain for just the broth. 

Simmer the broth, shiitake mushrooms, chili flakes, chilies, fish sauce and roasted chili paste for 20 minutes.

Add noodles as directed on package.  Add the shrimp to the soup and simmer until cooked, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove the soup from the heat and add lime juice and cilantro.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with the chopped green onions.

The moral of the story is to read your labels.  I'll try to do better in the future.

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Avocado Shrimp Salad

I bought some avocados this week and I need to use them up because they are ready to eat.  I also have some frozen small shrimp in the freezer so I am thinking an avocado and shrimp salad.  Nice thing about a salad is that you get to use up what you have.  This would be nice with tomatoes or cucumbers, but I only have radishes so they are going in to add a little heat and color.  I like to make my own dressings so I'm sharing one with you.  If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use a regular milk and the vinegar in the recipe will make it a faux buttermilk.  That is what I had to do today. 

1 bag small cooked shrimp
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Lettuce or lettuce mix
2 ripe avocados
And what ever other veggie you have in the veggie drawer

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons buttermilk (or 3 tablespoons of milk)
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 finely chopped garlic clove

Place the thawed shrimp in a bowl and add the lemon juice and olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss to coat. I try to keep a bag of small shrimp in the freezer for a soups or salads.  

Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, buttermilk, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, and garlic in the blender.  You may use garlic powder to taste if you like, but I keep a jar of finely chopped garlic in the refrigerator for just such occasions. Process the dressing until smooth and creamy.

Divide your lettuce and veggies on serving plates. Top with shrimp and drizzle with the dressing.  It looks good enough to eat. 

Tomorrow I will use the left over shrimp in a Thai soup I think.

It is raining here again today.  We need the ground water though so I'm not complaining here.  That rain is greening up my grass and will bring me my May flowers.  Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

3 Desserts in One

You can make one large Macaroon brown recipe below and or you can make 3 different recipes.  Sal and I made 3 different desserts Sunday, keeping his brother Saylor and my mom in mind in doing so.  Saylor has to have gluten free so we made the brownie mix with my chocolate crinkle cookie recipe (with soy flour) and made cookies for Saylor.  My mom loves coconut so we made her macaroons.  With ½ the cookie dough we made the brownie bottoms.  Since we only made 12 brownies, we had left over coconut filling so we made faux Almond Joy candy for mom.  I’ll begin with my cookie recipe which is real close to a brownie recipe.  I have shared this before, but I’ll save you looking it up or you may use a box brownie mix and skip this entirely.

Chocolate Crinkle Recipe

This is Saylor's favorite cookie and we make them quite often.  You would never know that they are gluten and dairy free.  

½ cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour (for Saylor we use soy flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup powdered sugar

Mix oil, chocolate, granulated sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hours.

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet with cooking spray or use a silt pad.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into powdered sugar; roll around to coat and shape into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.  I use the palm of my hand and press them down a little.

Bake 12 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.  Do not over cook.  They will be like moist brownies inside. 

We used half this dough and made the coconut brownies first and still had enough left over to make 16 large cookies for Saylor.

Chocolate Almond Macaroon Brownies

This is so extremely easy and makes an outstanding dessert for coconut lovers. 

1 box of family size chocolate fudge brownie mix or my dough above
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 oz.) bag coconut
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate but you may use milk chocolate)
1/4 cup almonds (or nuts of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line regular sized cupcake pan with paper liners.

Make brownies according to package directions or as directed above in the cookie recipe.  Put the batter only half way up the liners. Because it is quite thick, we used a little water on our hands to pat it down to the bottoms of the liners.

Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. While they are baking, mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, cream and vanilla together.

Remove brownies from oven.  Take a spoon and push down the centers of the brownie.  Spoon in a large teaspoon of some of the sweetened coconut mix.

Place back in oven and continue to bake an additional 14 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow them to cool completely. 

Top with the almonds.

Melt your chocolate chips in a double boiler and put in a small baggie.  Cut the tip off of the baggie and drizzle on the chocolate. 

If you choose to make these into bite sized, make sure you cut the baking time in half and watch them closely.

Faux Almond Joy Macaroons

½ of your coconut filling

Or if you just want to make the macaroons:

1 packages sweetened coconut (7 ounces each)
½ can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ teaspoons vanilla
½  package of chocolate chips
½  bag of almonds (whole or slivered)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix all ingredients together. Spoon out dough with a small ice cream scoop or spoon. Put on parchment lined cookie sheet or silt pad. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Melt a package chocolate chips in a double boiler (I used semi-sweet but you can use milk chocolate).  I used an entire bag and used half for these bars and ½ for the brownies.  I put it in baggies and drizzled it on both after I had topped with slivered almonds and they had cooled.

Making a mess in the kitchen and 3 desserts was a lot of fun with Sal.  I hope you enjoy as much as we did.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.