Friday, September 20, 2013

Summer's Not Over Yet! Summer Favorite - Savory Watermelon and Bleu Cheese Salad

Most people follow the notion that summer ends with Labor Day. Alas, not I! I won't give up summer until it gives up on me! Despite that I love fall so much, and the foods that come with it, I'll cling onto summer just a little bit longer with this salad. Enjoy! 

Savory Watermelon and Blue Cheese Salad

Watermelon and Bleu Cheese Salad
photo credit:
1 (12- to 14-pound) seedless watermelon
2 tablespoon champagne vinegar
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 ounce(s) blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)

1.  Cut watermelon into 1/2-inch-thick chunks.
2.  Place watermelon chunks in large bowl. In small bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; drizzle over watermelon salad.
3.  Add blue cheese and toss very gently to coat.
4.  To serve, divide among 12 large paper cups or small bowls, or decoratively arrange on large serving platter.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Love of Disney Brings me to Ireland and Bread & Butter Pudding

I admit it - I love Disney! We like to go as often as we can, and take the checkered kids with us. As a matter of fact, we will be travelling there in January to celebrate the checkered baby's first birthday, first trip and first haircut! On one of our trips, a few years ago, we ate lunch at a restaurant called Raglan Road. It's located in Downtown Disney. We were on the dining plan, so we were allotted an entree, a beverage and a dessert. After my meal, I chose the Bread & Butter Pudding for dessert (you already know how much I LOVE to make bread pudding, so this was a must). It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! And I'm not talking just amazing, but slap your mama TWICE amazing! I happened to find the recipe online and vowed to make it someday. Here it is!
Raglan Road’s Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding with Crème Anglaise and Caramel

1 loaf Pullman or Texas toast
1 pound Kerry gold butter softened
1 pound sugar
1 quart Crème anglaise (see below)
1 cup raisins soaked in Irish mist or water

1. Combine the sugar and butter, spread evenly on the bread slices to make sandwiches, stack together and cut off the crust.
2. Cut the "sandwiches" in ½ on an angle (from corner to corner)
3. Butter the inside of 8 oven proof cups or preferred baking dish. One by one dip the "sandwiches" in the anglaise and place in the baking dish, layer the bread and a sprinkling of soaked raisins as you go until done.
4. Bake covered in a Bain Marie (double boiler) at 375 degrees for 35 minutes until it rises a bit. Remove the cover and bake an extra 10 minutes until slightly brown.
5. Carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with anglaise and caramel sauce.

Crème Anglaise

6 egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean split or a teaspoon vanilla extract
1 quart heavy cream

1. Heat up the cream and the vanilla bean on the stove until it almost starts to boil. Meanwhile combine the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk well.
2. When the cream reaches the almost boiling point, turn off and remove the pot from the stove. Temper the yolks, by ladling a small amount of cream to the bowl and mixing well. Then add the yolk sugar mixture to the cream, whisk well so that it does not curdle. Place over low heat for 2 minutes, whisking until it starts to thicken. Strain and allow to cool at room temperature.

Caramel Sauce

½ pound butter, chilled
½ pound brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream


Combine the sugar and butter in pot and cook over medium high heat. Whisk well to combine, when sugar is melted and it starts to boil turn off the stove, remove from the heat and whisk in the cream to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature.

All Things Buffalo - Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

My checkered Mom had her Labor Day picnic a few weeks back and asked me to bring an appetizer and a dessert. I hate bringing the same old, same old, so I needed to find something that would wow the picnic guests. Every once in a while, I love a good buffalo chicken wing, but I didn't feel like making them, knowing I would be serving them at the checkered twins' birthday party a few weeks later. So I made these instead! They were a hit and I'll most definitely be making them again soon! Enjoy! 

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce, plus more for serving
2 pounds ground chicken
2 large eggs
2 ribs celery, minced (about 1 cup)
1 2/3 cups dried breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Blue cheese and/or Ranch dressing
Celery sticks, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Evenly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil and set aside
2. Place butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, whisking, until butter is melted and hot sauce is well incorporated. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl; let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
3. Add chicken, eggs, celery, breadcrumbs, and salt to bowl with butter mixture; using your hands, mix until well combined. Roll chicken mixture into firm, 1-inch round balls and place on prepared baking sheet; arrange the meatballs in rows so that they are touching on all sides. Transfer to oven and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
4. Take out of oven and let stand 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet. Place on a serving platter and drizzle with hot sauce; serve with dressing and celery sticks.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Polish Comfort Food - Haluski

I've alluded to it before and I'll say it now, fall is my favorite food time of the year! Pumpkin everything, comfort food, soups, fair food... oh, it's all so very wonderful!

As the weather gets cooler, I love breaking out my comfort food recipes, one of them being Haluski. It's a Polish dish, consisting of bacon, cabbage and egg noodles! What's not to love?! Be forewarned, though, this recipe is not for the faint of heart, or the high of cholesterol! It's very rich, filling and has lots of butter and bacon! A good every-once-in-a-while dish. But it's still oh so very good!

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!



1 pound bacon, diced
1 medium head of green cabbage
1 pound egg noodles
2-4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place diced bacon into a large Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Heat until just crispy. Do not drain.
2. Slice cabbage thinly and add to pot with bacon. Sautee until cabbage is soft.
3. In the meantime, boil egg noodles according to package directions.
4. Drain and add to pot with cabbage and bacon.
5. Add 2-4 tablespoons of butter, depending on your taste, and salt and pepper if desired.

6. Stir until everything is completely incorporated.

The Line-up

Haluski tastes even better as leftovers, fried in a skillet until lightly crispy!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Off the Cuff - Chocolate Cherry Brownies with Almonds

I'm not sure why the mood strikes at all crazy hours for me to want to bake. But last night at about 1030p, I decided it was a grand ol' time to bake brownies! I didn't want just plain brownies (when do I ever do anything just plain ol'?!), but I didn't have all the ingredients to make the ones with the cream cheese swirl (my favorite). So, I opened some cabinets and the fridge and found some things to make cherry brownies! Since the checkered husband doesn't care for nuts, I made half with and half without sliced almonds. Hope you like!

Chocolate Cherry Brownies with Almonds

Chocolate Cherry Brownies with Almonds

Your favorite brownie recipe (store bought or scratch)
Oil, eggs and water called for on the package

1 cup coarsely chopped maraschino cherries
1/3 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to temperature according to your favorite brownie recipe.  

2. Prepare brownie mix as instructed on the package (or use your favorite scratch recipe).
3. Add cherries and almonds and mix well.
4. Line a baking dish (I used an 11 x 7 to make them nice and tall!) with nonstick foil or parchment paper.
5. Spread brownie mix into pan and bake according to recipe instructions, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean.


The Line-up
Fresh from the oven!

Fall Favorite - Butternut Squash Soup

Fall brings the cool weather and my craving for all things soup! Here's one of my favorites - Butternut Squash Soup! And it's pretty easy too! Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes (or use frozen!)
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 (13 3/4 oz) cans chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Sour cream for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, combine squash, carrots, broth and salt.
2. Simmer, uncovered, until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes.
3. Puree soup in a blender or food processor (or with an immersion blender) with the butter.
4. Whisk cream into soup.
5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Crock Pot Creation - Cheesy Artichoke Chicken with Pasta

Fall is here and I absolutely love cooking for the season! One of my favorite cool-weather cooking methods is my crock pot. Or should I say crock potS! I have several! Not only does it make some of the best comfort food, but it's essentially set-it-and-forget-it, and that works for me!

Today, in the crock pot, I am making Cheesy Artichoke Chicken with Pasta. It's another one of those, add-what-you-like recipes. I think it would be really good with the addition of muchrooms, black olives, and maybe some bacon. Try it and see what works!

Cheesy Artichoke Chicken with Pasta
Cheesy Artichoke Chicken with Pasta
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used thighs)
4 oz roasted red peppers, cut into strips
15 ounces artichoke hearts, quartered
8 oz American cheese (about 12 slices)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 cups hot cooked pasta
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a 3 1/2-quart or larger crock pot combine chicken, peppers, artichokes, American cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and soup in the crockpot.
2. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
3. About 15 minutes before serving, add shredded Cheddar cheese.
4. Serve over hot cooked pasta.