Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Key Lime Cake

I had a special request by a friend of mine to make a Key Lime Cake. I must say this is one of my new favorites!
It was so moist and tangy, even the kids liked it!
Here are a few pictures of how it all came together ~
Bon Appetit!
Zest....lots and lots of zest!
Dry ingredients, including the sugar...

Add the eggs, and key lime juice

Mix just until ingredients are blended

Add sour cream and canola oil
Add key lime zest
This is the glaze. Powdered sugar  key lime zest and juice and a small splash of pure vanilla
Voila! Key Lime Cake with Key Lime glaze!
Light and refreshing ~
Serve as a dessert, or with coffee in the morning!
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I played "Chopped" in my kitchen with leftovers.....

I needed to make dinner, and I had NO IDEA what I was going to make. It was only 5 o'clock so I had plenty of time to think about it......
Hmmm, let's see. I have leftover steamed rice, and some ground beef. That's a good start.
Here's some of the ingredients I found in my pantry:
Baked beans, canned tomatoes with diced green chili's, tomato paste, baked beans, yellow onion, ....and tons of spices to choose from.
In the freezer:
Corn, peas, and green beans, bananas, watermelon
In the frig:
Corn tortillas, sour cream, milk, several hot sauces, pickle juice, pepperoncini juice, (I save the juices for cooking) butter, scallions, jalepe├▒os, green, and red bell peppers, and a few other odds and ends.

Let's get started!

Saute' the onions and peppers in a little canola oil

Add the (already cooked) rice to the onions and peppers, add a little hot water and salt, stir, and cover , put  the heat on low and steam for @ 20 min

I added grated onion and jalepeno to the ground beef, once browned, I added the canned tomatoes

Add the canned beans, (I rinsed the beans first to cut some of the sweetness) continue to stir over medium heat

Add frozen corn, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, mix well

The beans were still super sweet, so I added more fresh jalepeno, pepperoncini juice, and some chicken stock, continued to stir

Heat the corn tortillas in a 375' oven, turn over, add shredded cheese, return to oven, under broiler

Finished dinner!
Put the tortilla with melted cheese on a plate, add a spoonful of rice, then a ladle if the meat mixture, a little more shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and garnish with a few scallions for added color and flavor

It had a very "Tex-Mex" flavor. The sweetness from the beans, mixed with all of the different spices, gave it wonderful sweet and spicy flavor. The sour cream on top balanced all of the flavors well.

All I need now is a name for this dish.....anybody?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stuffed Peppers.....the perfect side dish.

It's so cold outside! I love this kind of weather, it makes cooking just that much more pleasurable!
So most of you know that cooking is what I LOVE to do...the sad thing about cooking in my house is that nobody wants to join in on the fun, so what I do is pop a movie into my laptop, pour a glass of wine, and just start cooking! ( I guess I need the background noise)
Pepper stuffing in the making

1/2'd peppers, salt and peppered with a drizzle of olive oil

Stuffed and ready for the oven

London Broil, salt, pepper, olive oil, and high heat= nice grill marks, finished off in the oven x 10 minutes = perfection!

I am a frugal chef, so I purchased a piece of London Broil, added a little salt & pepper, and olive oil, and it was ready for the skillet.
I buy most of my produce from the local Mexican Market, so I had a lot of red and yellow peppers that were just dying to be stuffed...so that's what I did!

Stuffed Bell Peppers:
Slice the peppers in half, remove seeds and membranes, add salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil to peppers and roast in a 375' oven for 10 minutes. Remove, set aside.

For the Stuffing:
One large leek, washed, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 cups fresh spinach
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
Mozzarella cheese, grated
salt and pepper
1 cup roasted tomatoes (quarter @ 10 Roma tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil, add fresh herbs, and bake @ 375' for 30 minutes)
Saute' leeks in the butter and olive oil until tender, about 7 minutes. Add fresh spinach, saute' another 5 minutes, add cooked brown rice, and mozzarella cheese, stir to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff each pepper, bake at 375' for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

London Broil:
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add to heated grill pan. Sear on both sides, place pan in oven at 375'  for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil, let meat rest for 15-20 minutes, slice against the grain and serve with stuffed peppers.

Don't forget the Pinot Noir!

Monday, December 27, 2010


I can't believe how many people have been talking about chocolate covered bacon, and bacon with EVERYTHING.....The price of a store bought piece of  chocolate covered bacon is outrageous, so I decided to make it myself......I suggest you do the same, or if you are pressed for time, I will make it for you!
One day prior notice is all I need.

Crispy bacon

Melt chocolate in a bowl over boiling water

I found that brushing the chocolate onto the bacon worked best, then refrigerate.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baking: It's not as bad as I thought !

I have always HATED baking! I mean, I really, really did not like to bake........

About 5 yrs ago, I mentioned this to one of the chefs I worked with at Google. He thought this would be a good time to have me bake a (very large) cake for an important event. I was so nervous, I couldn't conceive the idea of performing such a task. This is when I met Miss Shanon, the pastry chef at Google at that time. Let me tell you about Shanon, talk about "Sunshine" that's her! Always happy, and smiling, kind, and patient, and best of all non-judge mental (lucky for me.) She helped me the entire time with that cake, all the while she was baking cookies, and breads for hundreds of hungry Googlers, she was so at ease the whole day.
Although I didn't take to baking right away, she instilled a confidence in me I never knew was there. She removed the fear I had, and replaced it with "you can do it." And I did just that; but not right away.

Moving on to present time:
I recently met  Miss Becky (through Shanon of course!) Becky and I literally had an "instant connection" like nothing I have ever had. She is bright and cheery and full of energy with such wonderful, inspirational ideas. She is a natural when it comes to baking.
So because of Shanon, and Becky, I have gained not only the confidence, but the excitement to bake! Shanon took the fear out of baking, and Becky ignited the desire within me to bake, that I didn't know existed. How did I become so fortunate to have these two wonderful ladies in my life? This, I don't know. What I do know is that because of them, I no longer fear baking, and I am now passionate, excited, and proud to bake. 
The good news: I have created a "platano bread" (recipe to follow) which tastes similar to banana bread.
The bad news: I don't have a photo because each time I bake one, it's gone before I can take pictures! (Which is also good news)  :)
 Update: photos added.

Carolyn's Platano (Plantain) Bread:
2-3 black plantains (over ripe)
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 lg eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon (Kosher) salt / use less if you use table salt
10 tablespoons (room temp) butter

Cream together the plantains, sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, add the butter. Mix together with your hands until the butter is well incorporated. Add flour/butter mixture to the wet ingredients 1/3 at a time until just blended.

Pour the batter into a buttered loaf pan and bake at 350' for 1 hour and 20 min.

Tip: After the first 35 min. of baking, I cover the top with foil, and continue baking. After 1 hour and 15 min, if an inserted knife comes out clean, it's done. If not, bake another 5 min. You might have to do this a couple of times.
Serve warm, (although none of the platano breads I have made, have made it to "warm" yet!)  ;)

Thank you Shanon and Becky!

I prefer to use a sieve to sift my dry ingredients

Use your hands to blend the room temp butter with the dry ingredients

Cream together the sugar, platano (or bananas,) vanilla, and sour cream

Add the flour-butter mixture 1/3 at a time

Mix just until blended

Remember to butter bottom and sides of loaf pan

I wish you could smell this bread!

Once again, it didn't last long. I should have taken a picture of  the kids behind me!
Be sure and let me know when you try this recipe!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Day ~ No "traditions" just lots of food, family, and football!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I get so excited for Thanksgiving! I love writing the menu, the shopping list, and the prep list. I love looking through old recipes, just as much as I love looking through my latest cooking magazine for new ideas.  This year I found a couple of old, fun recipes. One is a caramelized onion dip, which goes very well with chips and /or veggies. The other one is Parmesan cheese & scallion pastry rounds,  Yummmm! 

Thanksgiving is about being thankful, and sharing a meal with loved ones.
I am very happy that my daughter's (Cristina) boyfriend, Mario will be joining us for Thanksgiving this year. Mario is from Peru, so I am adding aji amarillo to our table which is a common condiment in Peru.  

What am I thankful for? My kids. I have the best kids a mom could ever hope to have.

Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetit!

Here are some pictures from last years Thanksgiving feast. 

Roasted Turkey, stuffed with fresh herbs, citrus, onions and garlic.
 Herb rub under the skin,  as well as
 all over the bird.

My great grandma's red hot apples

Baked acorn squash, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little brown sugar. Olive oil drizzled  on top.

The works!

My grandma's broccoli, cheese, and rice casserole.

Cranberry sauce, one of my favorite dishes to make.

Simple, yet tasty......cheese, crackers, fresh and dried fruit platter

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Perfect Day ~

The perfect day for me:

It's bright and early on a Saturday morning. I wake up my 16 yr old daughter Kitty, and off we go to begin our day. Our first stop is Peet's coffee. I order my usual, "medium coffee in a large cup," Kitty orders her drink of choice, and we head to the Farmers's Market in the city.
My heart starts to pound as we get closer to the market. The sights, the sounds, the smells....where do we begin? We start off perusing the front, then make our way to the bread store. I do believe there's nothing better than having a 'fresh from the oven' cheese pastry. We wander through the building making our way to where I believe is the best part of the market....the back. The hustle and bustle of the people, the music, and the samples! (This is the only place I taste samples.) The sweetest  pears, the fresh tomatoes, herbs for days!
We pick and choose carefully, all the while my mind is spinning with excitement as the ideas of what we will prepare for dinner fill my head.
Once we get home, I put on some music, open a bottle of wine, and start cooking!
 Bon Appetit!

Roasted beet salad, with mandarin oranges, and Spring Mix, tossed  in homemade raspberry vinaigrette.
The bread, the sausage, and the sauerkraut-oh my! This was such a wonderful end to a fabulous day!