Awww mom! Curry AGAIN?!

I blame the Germans. Really. I do. I knew nothing about curry before my ex got stationed in Mannheim Germany. I also knew nothing about German candy (which btw leaves American candy in the dust) Schnitzel (*drools*) or just how wonderful a country it was in general. I’ll talk more about Germany later I’m sure. I still miss it 23 years later (omg, I’m old). But today I’m bitching at them about my love for Curry. The Germans love curry. While I wasn’t exposed to it much there because I was a young stupid American afraid to try anything new, I did try curry ketchup. As I got older and more adventurous, I started to try things outside my comfort zone. Curry anything was one of my attempts and I love it.

The first time I tried Curried Chicken Salad was from the deli department of one of those large “we sell gourmet foods (I originally went there looking for German chocolate. Go figure.) as well as booze” types of stores.  Being the cheap bastage that I am, I didn’t want to continue to pay $5.99 a pound for it (and this was years before curried chicken salad became a trend and you could find recipes for it all over the net so I shudder to think what it costs now) so I tried to recreate it. I have tweaked it some over the years but basically it is still the same recipe I made up about 15 years ago. Even if you’re not a curry fan, try this version. This cold chicken salad is chock full of grapes giving it a subtle sweetness along a mild curry flavor. It is great served on a croissant or just eaten straight or as you know is the norm for me with something I like, hidden away in the fridge in a tub labeled “Spinach” and eaten on the sly when no  one is looking. 😛 This is an extremely simple recipe which makes it even better.

CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD

  1. 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  2. 1 cup mayonnaise
  3. 1 1/2 cups seedless grapes (you can cut them in half if you want. Personal preference thing there)
  4. 1/4 cup raisins
  5. 2 green onions, sliced thin
  6. 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  7. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  8. 1/4 cup apricot preserves (can use Peach preserves or even mango chutney)
  9. salt to taste
  • Put your chicken in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is done. You can just cut the largest piece in half and make sure it isn’t pink. But don’t overcook. You can end up with rubber chicken even if it’s been cooked in water. When done, set aside and let cool. Chop into bite sized pieces.
  • While it’s cooking, make your sauce. It’s very difficult.
  • Take all the rest of the ingredients. Dump them in a bowl. Mix well. See. I told you it was difficult.
  • Mix the chopped chicken into the sauce. Taste for seasoning. It will have a bit of a gritty feel at first so as good as it tastes, let it sit for 24 hours or so before you eat it. That gives it time for the spices to dissolve.

 

 

You Put Da Lime In Da Coconut

 

And then you feel better,
Put the lime in the coconut, drink them both up,
Put the lime in the coconut, and call me in the morning.

One of the strangest songs ever written. Every time I think of it, I think of the Muppets Episode where Kermit sang it.  Yes, I realize my TV viewing leaves something to be desired… like maybe sophistication and intelligence but in my defense, I’ve been surrounded by kids since I was 21. What do you expect? Just please…. don’t get me started on The Fresh Beat Band *shudders* or Yo Gabba Gabba. I’ve been known to rant on the subject of our children’s brain cells being fried by the junk they advertise as educational television these days. Not to mention the perception kids must have of adults as babbling idiots by the time they reach school age if they watch those shows. Ok, I got myself started didn’t I? Ummm…oops?

Sunny Dayyyy… chasing my caressss awayyyyyyy!!! Lalalalalalalalalaaaaaaaa. Can you tell me how to get- how to get to Sesame Street!?

Now THAT was good kids TV. Cute puppets, kids learned their letters and numbers as well as moral lessons. We already know I’m easily amused so stop laughing; it’s not nice. Sesame Street taught you that. I know it  did. 😛

I’ve also mentioned that I love anything curry. So today I was playing around and wanted to do something interesting with the boneless pork Loin roast I had. Methinks I succeeded. I cut the roast into chops and marinated them in a coconut milk/lime/curry marinade and then cooked them up in the same marinade. By the time it was done, they were fall apart tender infused with the luscious taste of the marinade which had cooked down into a creamy sauce. I served this with a spicy peach & cranberry chutney I’ve been making for years, an extra squeeze of lime over the meat, basmati rice that we covered in the sauce and Broccoli florets. I tried to carry the flavors over from the sauce to the chutney and I think it worked well here.

Boneless Pork Loin Chops in a Coconut Curry Sauce

  1. 3.5 pound pork loin roast, cut into chops of desired thickness ( I made 10 chops from it. This gives us enough for 2 meals. You can make them thicker or thinner but that will affect cooking time so be aware of that. This can also be cut in half just using boneless chops for less people if you don’t want to use a whole roast)
  2. 2 15 ounce cans coconut milk
  3. 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  4. 1/4 cup lime juice
  5. zest from one lime
  6. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  8. 1 teaspoon onion powder (NOT onion salt)
  9. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  11. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Put your chops in and push them down under the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Longer is even better. You can marinade for up to a day. Mine was in for about 3 hours and I think it would have been even better for a full day.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 about 20 minutes before you need to get the meat started. Foil line a 13×9 inch pan then spray it with cooking spray. That will reduce your mess plus the chops won’t stick as much.
  • Put your chops, one by one, into the foil lined pan. Carefully pour 1 1/2 cups of your marinade over the chops (just discard the rest) and cover the pan with more foil. Cook in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on how thick you cut your chops, uncovering the pan after 45 minutes to give your sauce time to thicken up some. When you can  easily pull a piece off of a chop with a fork, they are done. Serve them with the chutney and preferably with some rice to soak up all the saucy goodness. Make sure you squeeze some lime juice over the meat for each serving. It adds that indefinable oomph that makes the dish great.

Sweet & Spicy Peach Cranberry Chutney

  1. 2 15 ounce cans sliced peaches in juice or light syrup
  2. 1 15 ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce (you can also do this w/out the cranberry sauce if you just want a Peach chutney. I have done it both ways.)
  3. 1/2 cup raisins
  4. 1 red onion, chopped
  5. 1 clove minced garlic (again; I used the kind in the jar. Ninety percent of the time, it works perfectly for your garlic needs)
  6. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  9. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use less if you don’t like spicy)
  10. 1 cup packed brown sugar
  11. 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • Dump everything into a medium sized sauce pot. Stir well to combine. Cook over medium heat until reduced by about half and thickened. This will take anywhere from an hour and a half to 2 and a half hours. Stir frequently to prevent sticking and if it starts to stick, turn your heat down to about 3 or 4 on an electric stove, low heat on a gas stove. This can be used the day it is made but it’s even better the next day.

 

 

 

I Scream Scones

 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!!!! I crack me up. I scream scones. Get it? Huh? Huh? Huh? You get it right? Don’t you? Sigh. No one ever understands the mind of a comic genius. Or me either for that matter 😛

I’ve always loved Scones. They are one of those things that I feel always need to be eaten wearing a fancy dress, big feathery hat and with ones picky sticking out as you drink English breakfast tea. I have to say, my husband and boys look great in a fancy dress and feathered hat. What?! They wanted the scones. I have rules! Conditions! Lots of emotional issues! Nobody forced them to wear the dresses. Well, not real force anyway. There were no weapons involved unless you count scones filled with ham, cheddar and dill as weapons. The sad part is that they all looked better in the clothes than I ever did. Something there is not right.

But seriously (I see you rolling your eyes at reading me say the word seriously. I can be serious sometimes!) I do love scones. But they have to be made a certain way. They have to be wedge shaped. None of the round ones for me. They have to be served with some sort of horribly decadent spread. Yeah, you’d never expect that last part from me huh? I’m just such the queen of healthful eating says the woman who ended up having a can of Hormel chili and Tostitos for dinner last night. and they have to be flaky. I can’t stand dense flat scones.

I started these with Ina Gartens Cheddar Dill scone recipe here On Food Network but changed them up quite a bit. I also made a oh so yummy caramelized onion cream cheese spread to go on them. The spread is good enough to just eat off of a spoon. Which I did. A  lot. Together, the scones and the spread give new meaning to “Bloody good old chap!”. Ok, so they are delicious. I just wanted to type something that was going through my mind in a British accent. We’ll get to my penchant for talking and thinking in foreign accents another time. I’ve traumatized you enough for now.

Ham, Cheddar & Dill Scones

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 5 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 pound extra-sharp yellow Cheddar, grated
  • 8 ounces diced ham (you can use leftover or they have small packs of already diced in the packaged meats section of most stores. Also, make sure your ham has been patted dry with a paper towel or your dough will be too moist)
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill weed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine 4 cups of flour, the baking powder, dill and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the butter is in pea sized crumbs. Stir in the cheese and the ham. Combine  well. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture.  Mix until they are almost incorporated.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 minute, adding a bit more flour if needed to make a smooth cohesive dough. Divide dough in half and pat each half doen into a greased 9 inch cake pan. Score the tops of each dough round into 8 pieces. Bake at 400 for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked on the inside. Serve with butter or the “Omg, I love this” caramelized onion spread.

Caramelized Onion Cream Cheese Spread

  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 small onions, cut into half moon slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

Slice your onions in half then slice thinly into half rings. Add the olive oil to a  medium sauce pot. Over medium heat, add your onions to the pot. Stir to get all the onions covered in oil. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Let the onions cook until wilted and soft, about 10 minutes.  Uncover the pot and turn your heat up to medium. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and stir to combine. Stirring frequently to prevent burning, cook the onions until they are a nice golden brown color. This may take up to 20 minutes or so. Take them off the heat and let cool.

When the onions are cool, add your butter, cream cheese and salt to the pot with the onions (why mess up more dishes?). Beat well until mixture is creamy and well combined.  There ya have it… it’s done. The hardest part of it is cooking the onions.

 

 

Honey, I’m Home

When I was a kid in the late 60’s and early 70’s (I was born in ’64 so I guess I can claim kid-dom up until about 82 or so but I mean little kid here) the music that was around was much simpler and dare I say much more innocent most of the time. I grew up listening to country or “Country and Western” as it was known back then. In those days, it wasn’t the trendy music it is now. You listened to it because you loved it. I also was exposed to AM Pop music; artists like Gilbert O ‘Sullivan, Simon And Garfunkel, Carly Simon, James Taylor and Bobby Goldsboro. They are still singers that I love to be honest. I remember Bobby Goldsboro having a song called “Honey”. It is the worlds saddest song (with REM’s “Everybody hurts” still in first place for worlds most depressing song) about a man whose wife dies while he is at work and how he misses her. The romantic child I was then thought it was so cool that she died and he loved her enough to nurture some stick of a tree for her and I just knew I would grow up to have that kind of love. I conveniently forget about the part where she dies. Alone. By herself. No one there to help. Dead as a doornail. You get the point. I still love the song though. My dad always told me that it reminded him of my mother and made him think of her when he heard it.

I heard that song today on my media player. No, you do not want to know what other songs are on there. It would simply clarify my extreme old age and senility for you. I prefer you believe I have all sorts of modern songs with the modern attitude that goes with them and that I spend my days getting cool tattoos and having people come up to me and say “I just had to tell you that I hope I look as good as you when I’M 25!”. I do not, I repeat do NOT, have Donny Osmond singing “Go Away Little Girl” on my media player. I swear I don’t. If it is there, my husband must have put it there.

As I was saying though, I heard the song Honey today and decided to make something with honey in it in honor of the worlds saddest song. So I made cupcakes. Lemon Honey cupcakes with a lemon honey frosting. The recipe originally comes from Womans Day I took the liberty of making some changes to the batter because when I tasted it (Hey! It’s quality control!) it had minimal lemon flavor. To be honest, it had minimal flavor period. No offense to Womans Day. They do however have a nice tart sweet lemony frosting that I loved. perhaps too much since I ended up with three cupcakes with no frosting. Oops. If you like Lemon, you’ll like these. 😀  While you’re cooking these you should go to youtube (*points to link below) and listen to the song Honey.  You can listen to it and weep while you wish you had a love like that. Minus the dead part. The dead part sucks.

Lemon-Honey Cupcakes Recipe

  • Cupcakes-
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 3 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Lemon-Honey Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 7 to 8 tsp lemon juice
  • Few drops yellow food color

1. Cupcakes: Heat oven to 350°F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sour cream, milk, lemon extract, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl until well mixed.

3. Beat butter, honey and sugar in large bowl with an electric mixer 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended.

4. With mixer on low speed, beat in half the flour mixture, then the sour cream mixture. Beat in remaining flour mixture until just combined.

5. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove cupcakes from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

6. Frosting: Beat butter, honey, lemon extract  and lemon zest in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamed, about 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in confectioners’ sugar until blended. Beat in lemon juice and a few drops food color until mixture is fluffy and pale yellow.  Taste about 47 bites of the frosting to make sure it’s lemony enough. Vow never to eat sweets again. Eat more anyway.

7. Spoon into a large ziptop freezer bag, snip off one corner and pipe onto cupcakes, or just spread frosting onto cupcakes. Or just eat it all and tell everybody that the cupcakes are really lemon muffins thus they don’t need frosting.

*Points down to song link*

 

Honey

 

 

 

Y’all Come Back Now Ya Hear?

If you’re reading my blog, chances are you’ve watched a show or two or five hundred on The Food Network at some time or another. Chances also are that you have very strong opinions on the hosts of those TV shows. Like Rachael Ray. She drives me batty. If I hear her say EVOO one more time instead of just saying extra virgin olive oil, I am going to reach through the screen and knock her upside the head with her garbage bowl. What’s with that bowl anyway? She tries to tell us that it’s a time saver. Ummmm…. how? I mean, really, how hard is it to walk to the trash can (that she prolly has right under a counter anyway) and toss some stuff in there as opposed to making more dirty dishes? And that thing that comes between two slices of bread? It’s a sandwich dammit, a sandwich! Not a freaking “sammy”!! Ok, sorry, I’m calm now.

Then there are the Neelys. All I have to say is get a room. You’re a cute couple but get a room. K? Thanks.

I am so not even giving an opinion on Sandra Lee. Kwanzaa Cake. Look it up on Youtube. That’s enough said right there.

But the queen of Food TV will always be Paula Deen. Love her or hate her, she reigns supreme there. Personally, I have mixed emotions when it comes to her. On the one hand, I love the majority of the food she makes. I mean, she uses ample amounts of butter, sugar and cream. Is there something in that NOT to love? But on the other hand it’s like I said. Mixed emotions. She seems so sweet and country and like you’d love to sit down with her and have a cup of coffee (not like Sandra Lee where you’d need a bottle of Vodka… and then a drink for yourself too) with her and gossip. By the same token, you would want to make sure your husband was locked up in a nunnery (heh. The mental image of my husband in a habit is pretty cool. Yeah; I need to get out more.) because Lord knows that if there is a male around, Miss Paula will be hitting on him. I swear, that woman makes Tiger Woods look virginal. Plus, I have lived in the south for well over 20 years now and I have never… I mean never, heard anyone use the word Y’all as often as she does or drawl quite as deeply unless they were trying out for a remake of Gone With The Wind.

But…like I said, her food is amazing if you like fat and calories. And you know you do. Quit shaking your head no and telling yourself that yes, you really DO prefer Tofu over heavily buttered biscuits smothered in jam. No one believes you. Since we both know that you want the biscuits, I’m here to supply you with some biscuit love, southern style. These are one of Miss Deens recipes and they are quite yummy. Cornmeal biscuits with a blackberry butter. Next time however, as much as I adore Blackberry jam (it’s rather a jam addiction of mine) I want to try making an Apricot Honey butter too. Mmmmm….

CORNMEAL BISCUITS WITH BLACKBERRY BUTTER

Blackberry Butter-

  1. 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  2. 2 tablespoons blackberry jam (I may have used more…just maybe 😀 )
  3. 1 teaspoon grated lime zest (don’t omit this; it makes the flavor of this spread)

Biscuits-

  1. 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  2. 2/3 cup cornmeal
  3. 1 tablespoon sugar
  4. 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 8 tablespoons (one stick) butter, chilled
  8. 3/4 cup sour cream
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  • To make the blackberry butter, mix together the softened butter, jam and lime zest. Stir.
  • To make the biscuits,in a large bowl mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  • With a pastry cutter or fork cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the sour cream until the mixture comes together into a ball. I started with a large spoon but ended up just using my hands to finish so that I could get all the flour mixture hiding in the corners of the bowl.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat to a 3/4 inch thickness. Cut with a 3 inch biscuit cutter. Re-pat the scraps (be gentle with the re rolled scraps. They get tough if handled too much) and roll out and cut.
  • Put on the baking sheet and cook until light golden broth, about 15 to 18 minutes depending on your oven. Do NOT over bake unless you like really crispy hard edged biscuits.
  • Serve these steaming hot with the blackberry butter.

 

 

I Need More Caffeine

I’ve never been a big coffee drinker. Tea has always been my caffeine of choice. That of course leaves me having to drink 14 cups of tea to get the same caffeine effect as one cup of coffee but that’s ok; the bathroom isn’t that far away from the kitchen or my computer desk.

I am however a fan of frou-frou girly coffee drinks. You know the ones I mean; the kind that have 95% of your daily calorie intake, lots of whipped cream, hopefully some sprinkles or at least chocolate syrup and the type that no grown man would be seen dead ordering or drinking. Which is why my husband always waits until  I order one and we are safely hidden away in the car before he drinks half of mine and I pout and slap his hand. But seriously…they taste like dessert. Need I say more?

So I decided I wanted brownies. But coffee drinks kept invading my mind. That left me with no choice but to make my brownies taste like a frou frou girly coffee drink. The best part is that these have even more calories and fat than one of those drinks  😛 and you can make some highly sweetened coffee topped with whipped cream and sprinkles to have WITH them! See. I think of your needs on a daily basis. It’s why I’m here. So make these, have some coffee with them and then go on a major cleaning spree due to excessive caffeine intake.

Mocha Dulce De Leche Brownies

  1. 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  2. 1 cup unsalted butter (yes- one cup.)
  3. 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  4. 5 eggs
  5. 3 cups sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  7. 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 can Dulce De Leche -you can either buy a can in the ethnic section of the store or make your own with This Recipe
  10. 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees or 365 degrees if your oven tends to run hot. Foil line and grease a 13×9 inch baking pan.
  • Melt unsweetened chocolate, coffee and butter in a bowl in the microwave on high power, stirring at 30 second increments until it is melted and smooth.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla on high speed for five minutes. yes, you read that right; five minutes.
  • Blend in chocolate/butter mixture, flour and salt using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and only until mixed; don’t over mix.
  • Pour batter into the foil lined pan. Spoon the dulce de leche  at even intervals onto the batter. If you have bought the small cans, rather than make your own, you may need 2 cans to get a decent amount on the brownies. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until top is crackly looking and toothpick inserted in center (make sure not to insert through chip or caramel) comes out mostly clean, i.e. a little bit of crumb on it but no liquid.
  • Let cool completely before cutting. If you don’t they will fall apart into a gooey mess and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it certainly isn’t pretty 😛

Cimmaminaminaminamin

I have often wondered how, with me as their mother, any of my kids made it past preschool age with any decent language skills. I was one of those parents who loved the way my kids pronounced words and couldn’t bring myself to correct them and ruin the cuteness. In my defense I didn’t talk baby talk to them. I was the type that would be holding my newborn infant and talking politics or Shakespeare because really there are just so many times you can look at your baby and coo “you’re so adorable… you look just like me don’t you… don’t you?” or “Oh. My. God. You have your fathers bowel habits don’t you? Could you please stop now?” I  just loved hearing it.

Like Cimmamin for cinnamon. When my sixteen year old and fourteen year old reached puberty, I finally broke down and told them the correct pronunciation. Or when one of my older boys wanted picked up as a toddler, he would hold out his arms, give me a pleading look and say “hold you?”. He doesn’t do that anymore. I hope. I’ll have to ask his wife. Or  how the same child said “Yie” for yes until he was like 7.

Well, I had better get to the recipe now because when my kids see this post, it will most likely be the last one I ever write. Pray for me. 😀 These blondies are awesome. They are stuffed full of Cinnamon chips, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and finally finished with a cinnamon drizzle. Overkill, you say? Nahhhhh….. not if you love Cimmamin. I mean Cinnamon.

CINNAMON BLONDIES

  1. 1/2 lb unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  2. 1 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 cup white sugar
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  6. 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  7. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  8. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1 package cinnamon chips (sold in same area as the chocolate chips)
  11. 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  12. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  13. 2 to 4 tablespoons cream or milk ( amount will vary. You want enough to get a nice drizzling texture.)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil, using enough that some hangs over the ends of the pan. Butter the foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until thoroughly blended. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat thoroughly.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder , one teaspoon cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Add to the wet mixture. Using a wooden spoon (or some sort of spoon 😛 ) beat just until combined. Fold in the bag of cinnamon chips.
  • Spoon the batter (it will be very thick) into the foil lined pan. Spread evenly. I dampened my hands a bit and spread it that way. It won’t stick to you if your hands are damp. Just don’t get them soaked and turn your batter into soup.
  • Bake in the 350 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan set on a wire rack until completely cool. If you try to cut them or lift them out of the pan before they are cool, they will break. Not that I’d ever do anything like that though. Someone told me this. Yeah, that’s it.
  • When cool, combine powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Add milk or cream until it is a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled blondies.Cut into serving sized pieces… like 2 pieces. Don’t share. 😀
  • Unless you like when they kind of fall apart, you’re best off letting making these a day ahead, covering them well and refrigerating them before you try to cut them. They will firm up quite nicely then. Otherwise… it is goo city. TASTY goo city, but goo city nonetheless

 

A Very Cheesy Post

 

I’ve always been the indecisive sort. At least I think I have. Maybe. Yeah, I have been. I’ll let you know. That inability to make up my mind has extended to food too. I will buy something at the store because it sounds oh so good and then either forget that I got it in the first place or get it home and suddenly it doesn’t look as yummy as something else. It makes me an interesting cook I guess because my family gets different treats as my mood  changes but it sure makes eating a difficult proposition.

But with this dish I don’t have to make a choice between two of my favorites. I love French Onion Soup. Well, I love cheese and onions and beef and it’s kinda silly to melt some cheese, throw some onions on top of it and add a steak instead of making yummy French Onion Soup. Actually, now that I write that, it sounds pretty darn good. I think. But getting back to the point here…

I also love Mac & Cheese. I mean, what’s not to love? Cheese, pasta, butter and did I mention cheese? So when I found this recipe that combines the two foods, I knew I had to try it. I am so NOT disappointed here. In theory I had planned to make it for Easter dinner and reheat it at my daughters house when we got there, but…ummm… I had to try it right? Quality control is a large part of cooking. Right? Right? There’s still some left. A little bit. Maybe if they take small bites….

But here it is. French Onion Soup Macaroni and Cheese. This stuff is cheese crack, I swear. It’s also a bit more in depth than other recipes I have posted but I promise you, you won’t regret taking the time to make this. It will go with any meal or just BE a meal. Just make sure you do a bit of quality control before you let anyone else try it. You have to be responsible you know.

This is adapted from Food Network

but I did make some changes to it.

French Onion Soup Macaroni And Cheese

TOPPING-

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bechamel Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces Swiss Cheese or Gruyere, grated or cubed
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, grated or cubed

French Onion Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large white onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 pound pasta, cooked (I used plain old Elbow macaroni so as to not detract from the sauce which is the star of this dish)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Topping: Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl and set aside
  • Bechamel Sauce: Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir to combine. Stir constantly, for about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and whisk in the milk or half-and-half, adding a little at a time and cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Lower heat, season with the salt and pepper and add Swiss or Gruyere and Mozzarella cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Set aside.
  • French Onion “Soup:” Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add onions, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove cover, add shallots and honey, and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Remove pot from heat and add wine. Return to heat and stir to remove browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce sherry by half, then add beef stock and thyme and cook until almost all liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat.
  • Grease a 3-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Combine cooked pasta with onion “soup” mixture and bechamel sauce, and stir well to combine. Transfer pasta to baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumb/Parmesan topping
  • Bake until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving or do what I did and burn the crap out of your tongue because you have no patience. Eat half of this. Tell everyone else it’s horrible and they shouldn’t eat it. Hide the rest in the fridge in a container labeled “liver”.
  • I can also see making this in individual ramekins and coating the top with even more cheese. Or erhmmm, maybe the extra cheese is just a me thing.

You mean… This is GOOD For Me? Awwww- No Fair!

 

That’s pretty much the reaction I used to get from my kids when they were little and I would serve this. But then again, I have a knack for taking a perfectly healthy food and while keeping the health benefits, also injecting a healthy dose of decadence, fat and calories into it 😀

I have always loved oatmeal anyway, even when it is only adorned with a bit of sugar and some milk which is how I ate it as a kid. But make it this way and call it “Pie Lovers Oatmeal” and you won’t have a problem getting even the most zealous oatmeal haters to love it. Of course, once you serve this, you can forget ever being able to serve plain old oatmeal again but I’ll leave those little issues up to you to solve. I’m just here to cook 😛

You can also make this with other dried fruits. I use apples, raisins and cherries because it’s what I like best. But feel free to sub your favorite; this is pretty flexible in that sense. Dried Peaches are pretty good in it too.

PIE LOVERS OATMEAL

  1. 2 3/4 cup rolled oats (if you want to use steel cut oats, follow the directions for amount of oats and water for three servings but this won’t be creamy. It will be chewier and denser)
  2. 1 1/2 cups water
  3. 2 cups mixed dried fruits (I used 1 cup apples, and half a cup each dried cherries and raisins)
  4. 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cook the oats according to package directions, but with the simple addition of adding the fruits, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon with the oats and water.
  • Garnish with milk or cream (not that *I* would use unhealthy cream. I only suggest it for those of you who don’t have respect for your arteries *cough cough*) and butter.
  • Now wasn’t that easy?
  • Now eat it and convince yourself that you are eating something extremely healthy.
  • In reality, it IS pretty healthy, what with the fruits and the oats.
  • Makes two to three healthy sized servings

Happy Birthday To My Hubby!

Needs more cheese. What? Why are you looking at me that way!?

My husband turned 25 in his dreams yesterday.  On birthdays in our family, the birthday person gets to choose the dinner. My teen boys of course always choose to go out to eat because they are too young to realize how much better home cooked food is most of the time 😛 My 48 25 year old husband however prefers my cooking. He’s a smart man who knows when sucking up is a good idea 😀 So he chose one of his all time favorite meals, Chicken Parmesan.  I was really hoping that he would choose Chicken Curry but I guess wanting him to choose one of MY favorite meals isn’t nice huh?

The chicken I thawed out yesterday ended up being spoiled. Don’t you just love when you get meat from a reputable store only to open it up and get a whiff of hell on a Styrofoam tray? Sooooo… he gets his birthday dinner tonight instead.

Chicken Parmesan is one of those dishes that has a rep for being difficult and it’s really not. If you have ever made fried chicken and a side dish to go with it, then you can make this. I mean, what is it really other than fried chicken with an Italian flair with pasta on the side? The only difference is using bread crumbs as well as a flour mix and having to flatten the chicken somewhat. And truthfully, if it’s just for family and you’re not worried about pretty, you don’t really even need to worry about the flattening step. It will still taste fantastic. This is one of those dishes that can be more complex & fancy by using homemade sauce (which I usually do but am not describing here today), fresh mozzarella and basil and flattening out your chicken or using jarred sauce you have doctored up, bagged cheese and just frying the chicken without smooshing the crap out of it. When I make it it is usually a combination of both methods. So here you go; enjoy. 🙂

CHICKEN PARMESAN

This is the easy version of the classic favorite. It goes from frying pan into the oven to finish which ensures it is completely cooked as well as giving your cheese a nice golden color rather than the pale chewiness you get if you microwave it like some recipes suggest.

  1. 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2.5 pounds)
  2. 2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
  3. 1 cup all purpose flour
  4. 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash Italian Medley seasoning (you can use just plain Italian seasoning but the Mrs. Dash has more flavor)
  5. 1 tablespoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  7. 1 cup vegetable oil (you may need more)
  8. 3 large eggs
  9. 1/2 cup milk
  10. 1 to 1/2 pounds dried pasta (I use fettuccine because I love it but you can use whatever shape makes you happy 😛 )
  11. 1 tablespoon salt
  12. 1 jar spaghetti sauce  (again; can use homemade but this is the easy version)
  13. 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I use garlic, basil & oregano flavor)
  14. 2 tablespoons sugar
  15. 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  16. 1/4 cup chopped fresh Basil (I used the tube found in the produce section; it’s about as close to fresh as you can get if you don’t have any)
  17. 8 ozs shredded Mozzarella cheese (ok, so I use considerably more but I had to give an amount that wouldn’t make people cringe 😀 )
  • Preheat oven to 350 and line a 13×9 pan with foil.
  • In a large bowl, mix together your flour, bread crumbs, Mrs. Dash, 1 tablespoon salt and garlic powder.
  • In a smaller bowl, beat together the 3 eggs and 1/2 cup milk.
  • Dip your chicken pieces into the milk mixture. Let excess drip off then dip into the flour/crumb mixture. Repeat one more time in each. After each piece has been coated, set aside on a wire rack while you heat oil.
  • Pour the oil into a large pan, . You want at least 1/2 an inch of oil so use more than the cup if needed. Add chicken, making sure not to crowd the pan. You can always do a second batch but if you crowd, the chicken steams more than fries. When the oil reaches 300 degrees, (one of the best investments you can make for the kitchen an instant read thermometer. Trust me.) carefully lay your chicken in the pan. Let brown on one side (about 3 to 5 minutes) then carefully flip it to the other side to brown. Use tongs or a plastic spatula for this if you can because the coating is more delicate than a pure flour one would be and will fall off easily if pierced. Let brown on the other side (again, about 3 to 5 minutes) then transfer to the foil lined pan and put into the 350 degree oven to finish cooking.
  • While the chicken finishes cooking, start your sauce and your pasta. In a medium sauce pot, combine the jar of spaghetti sauce, the sugar, the can of diced tomatoes and the fresh basil. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently then turn heat down and let sauce gently simmer. Just before serving it, stir in 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions using a tablespoon of salt in the water..
  • When the internal temp of the chicken is 155 degrees f, top with the rest of the grated Parmesan and the shredded Mozzarella. Finish cooking until the internal temp of the chicken is 165 degrees F.
  • Top a serving of pasta with some sauce. Do the same with the chicken. Eat until you are ready to burst. This serves five to seven hungry people or two teenage boys, one grown man and a  not so hungry mom and toddler.

I think he liked it if the plate is any indication 😀