Friday, May 30, 2008

birthday picnic

my son, brewer, turned 3 on tuesday. we had a birthday picnic and he had a fabulous time:

initially i wanted to get all the food from subway for the adults and lunchables for the kids, but i am on a i opted for pb&j 's shaped like dinosaurs for them and egg salad on croissants for us.

for his dessert? dirt cake full of bugs and worms.

and the favors...homemade caramel popcorn with a neat lolipop. i didn't make near enough. :(

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

the leftovers...

having a 3 year old and a 15 year old computer forced me to stop short on last night's post. i wanted to share two more things. the first is something i did with monday night's dinner. in the last post i mentioned i used a leftover chicken....monday night my mom grilled some boneless chicken breasts. she has mastered this by cooking all her meats on high heat in a grill pan. when they were finished all i could think about was how great some grilled pineapple would be on top. well, the only pineapple we had was some crushed in a can. so at the same time we both said, "chutney!". the recipe i found was fantastic!!

Pineapple Chutney:
~1/2 c. onion
~1/2c. honey
~1/2c. white wine vinegar
~2 1/2 c. chopped pineapple
~2t. curry powder
~1/2t. ground ginger
1/2t. salt
1/8t. pepper flakes
~~~in heavy saucepan mix all ingredients. cook over high heat until boiling, stirring frequently. reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally until tender and thick. about 20-30 minutes.

(since this was all last minute it only cooked for about 5-10 minutes. but the pineapple was crushed so it was fine. plus, i just tossed all these ingredients in without doing the full recipe. next time i will follow directions....even though it turned out great)


we had a LARGE(hormones anyone) piece and a half of the chicken left the next night, so i decided to do the bbq sauce. this is something a found online about 2 years ago and have used it many times since...anytime we need bbq sauce. its spicy and just plain freakin' good! i made it up and tossed the shredded chicken right in for the sammies....

Spicy Yellow Mustard BBQ Sauce:
~8T. yellow mustard
~6T. sugar
~1c. cider vinegar
~2t. chili powder
~1t. black pepper
~1t. white pepper(wowza!)
~1/2t. soy sauce
~2T. butter
~~~put all ingredients EXCEPT soy and butter into a saucepan. simmer for 10 minutes. take off the heat and add the remaining 2 ingredients. thats it. its done.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

dinner: something old, something new

i have really been contemplating starting those monday posts on what you have planned for dinner all week. i'm gonna start....soon...i promise.
of course tonight was a total whim. but, on a good note, i started at 3:00!
i typically cook for my parents and we eat together. i like my son to have a sit down dinner and with daddy on tour i have to scrounge around for other however, my mom is having dinner at some fancy smancy restaurant with drug reps, so it was just my dad and us. i knew i needed to do something with the leftover grilled chicken from last night. so i decided to make some yellow mustard bbq sauce, shred the chicken and make bbq sandwiches.
i have been very interested in homemade bread lately. i tried the no knead bread last week(must have done it wrong cause is wasn't orgasmic like everyone says, but still good. i mean i ate the whole fucking loaf) and today i made oatmeal rolls for the bbq. it was a bread machine recipe. so for an hour and a half the machine did the work.

Oatmeal Rolls:
~3/4 c. plus 5T. luke warm water
~3T. soft butter
~1 1/2 t. salt
~3T. sugar
1t. onion powder
1/4 c. oatmeal
3c. all purpose flour
~envelope active dry yeast

~egg white(just now realized i used the whole egg. oops)
~1T. water

~~~place water, butter, salt, sugar, onion powder, oatmeal, flour, yeast into bread machine. i'm assuming they named every single thing because that is the order you dump it in. i know bread machines usually tell you to make well's and such, but i was too lazy to look up my machines' thats how i took it.
~~~select dough cycle and start
~~~after cycle is finished, remove dough and knead on lightly flour surface for a short bit. cut into 8 equal parts and form into balls. gently flatten into 4 inch disks. (good luck. mine looked terrible and were all different sizes)
~~~ place on baking sheet and cover loosely with towel. let rise double in size for 40 minutes.
~~~wisk egg WHITE and water and brush on top. bake @ 350 for 20 minutes!

*they turned out pretty good. they even tasted very good as a sandwich, but to me they seem more like a dinner roll. they were huge, so 16 balls of dough would have been better...especially as a dinner roll.

Monday, May 19, 2008

ganache saved the day...

awhile back an uncle needed help catering a party at his bistro. he was in between chefs, but still had several parties booked. it was for a doctor who let it clearly be known that he was a doctor..if you get my drift. the client was very unimpressed with the organization and noone seemed to be able to give him answers. so, i guess i never blamed him for being an asshole even though i still wanted to fight him. finally, i stepped in! i stayed up all night figuring up menu options, price/head and mom pretty much took charge of it, but in reality if it wasn't for me nothing would have happened...haha (not to toot my own horn or anything)

well, the time was coming and none of the recipes were coming together. the night before and morning of my mom was running around like an insane person and yelling at everyone that was trying to help. (clearly not cut out for catering). she was suggesting that we try other things and is ALWAYS worried there won't be enough food, so she was spending all this money for back up foods. i tried to explain that you can't agree on a menu with a client and then give them something different just because it didn't work out. you just have to make it work out.

i am a highly stressed person, but in the kitchen i stay calm and hopeful. one thing on the menu were some chocolate pudding tarts that my mom saw in a magazine. never tried and i don't remember why they weren't gonna work, but she said last minute that we were gonna have to nip the idea. well, once again i knew i wasn't gonna walk in that fucking door without some sort of chocolate tart!

i was looking online and going through cookbooks and found a martha stewart recipe for a crisp coconut and chocolate pie. there was a picture which sold it for me. i told myself...."candice, get started and make these into indvidual bites. you will call them tarts!"

...and if i remember correctly we promised white chocolate too.....

so, here is the recipe for the 8-inch pie, but in mini tart form:

crisp coconut and chocolate pie:

~4 T. unsalted butter, softened

~11oz. sweetened shredded coconut

~8oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

~1 1/4 c. heavy cream

~~~preheat oven to 350. place butter and 1/3 of cpconut in food processor with metal blade. process for about2 minutes until mixture forms ball. (i was in a hurry and i dont think it ever became a ball.) sprinkle remaining coconut over mixture and combine with your fingers.

~~~use a mini muffin pan and press a spoonful of the mixure into each one. press hard leaving thin at the bottom and "fluffy" up the sides. no need to butter the pan because there is plenty in the mixture.

~~~start the timer at 8 minutes and keep an eye on them. notice the edges and take out when both the bottom and edges are browned.

~~~ let cool for just a short while and bang out onto a rack or counter. if they are cooked, they will come out well without breaking. let cool.

~~~place chocolate in heatproof bowl. bring cream just to a boil and pour over chocolate. (i let it boil a little longer then "just" and it worked great). let it sit on the chocolate for 10 minutes without stirring! then combine until smooth. let cool to room temperature and pour into tart cups. keep in fridge.

Monday, May 12, 2008

sweet and sour peppers

one of my favorite things to serve when i have a dinner party or get together is homemade eggrolls with sweet and sour sauce for dipping. lately, i have been using the sweet and sour sauce recipe to saute with peppers, onions and sometimes chicken. i had an extremely busy day today and no thawed i decided on just peppers and onions. i will serve this over rice. i also didn't have the strength to even search long for ketchup so this time i used heinz 57. haha Sweet and Sour Sauce:
~1 cup sugar
~1/2 c. vinegar(plain. i used apple cider once and it was WAY too strong)
~1/2 c. water
~3 T. ketchup
~1 T. corn starch

~~~in a sauce pan on med/high heat add vinegar, water and sugar. as the sugar is dissolving wisk the ketchup and corn startch in a seperate bowl to remove lumps. scrape into the simmering mixture and wisk until all incorporated. let come to a boil to thicken. use as a dip or add your veggies and/or meat(raw) and continue to cook. very good served over rice.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

birthday's past

my son is going to be 3 in about 2 weeks. so, since my camera is out of commission and i can't make any new posts i thought i'd post some pictures from his 1st birthday.
it was a pool party. (yes, it's warm enough to swim here in may). the theme was ice-cream sundaes. i also had icecream cones and snow cones. it was a hit.

his cake was copied from a cover and issue of gourment magazine. remember the one that was topped with cupcakes? i was pretty pleased with it's turnout. it was my first "themed" cake. i'm getting better ;) he got his very own. i am in love with long fancy. much as i love baggies filled with candy, bubbles and crazy straws i opt for a more handmade party favor. i figured i would get them in before the kiddo insisted on superman or ninja turtles or whatever is popular. i made two types of homemade cookies, wrapped them in mesh and tied them off with ribbon that matched the poka dots on his cake. geeky, i know.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

tuna fish on toast

a pretty big staple growing up was a meal called tuna fish on toast. it wasn't a once a week thing, more like once a month...the end of the month, if you get my drift. ($) we never knew any different. we LOVED it. my mom couldn't get the bread toasted quick enough.

it's also good if your loaf of bread is starting to get stale!

the original recipe, i believe, calls for a stick of butter. i wouldn't dare.

Tuna Fish on Toast:

~3 or 4 T. butter
~2 or 3 T. flour
~can of tuna fish
~~~on medium heat melt butter and flour and stir until melted together and fairly thick(like a batter). pour milk a little at a time while wisking. it will become thick like a gravy. you want it to be a pourable consisitency. the amount of milk is up to you...maybe about a cup give or take. with each addition of milk sprinkle with salt and pepper. then drain your tuna and stir in. always keep just at a simmer.
~~~toast bread and pour on top. it taste good to sprinkle some sea salt over top.

for my son i serve it over penne pasta. i understand him being weary of soggy bread. (which reminds me. don't be scared to REALLY toast your bread).
tonight i even tried the tuna over pasta and it wasn't bad. i started thinking how good it would be to add bread crumbs and parmesan and twice bake. Mmmmm

why not add biscuits...

i went ahead with breakfast as planned. but what is a gluttenous breakfast without some homemade biscuits!? i NEVER thought i would get them "down". my mom is the best biscuit maker in town and mine never turned out. but with some hard work and determination i am now the designated biscuit baker.

~2 heaping cups of self rising flour
~3 heaping T. of vegetable shortening
~1 scant c. milk
~~~mix flour and shortening with a fork or your hands until most of the flour is mixed with shortening and kinda lumpy.
~~~add milk and lightly mix all together with a spoon(or hands if that brave). mix JUST UNTIL incorporated. do not handle any longer then needed. this is what keeps them fluffy!
~~~pour out onto a floured surface, either a counter or cutting board. don't knead, just use your hands to form together and to press flat. use your fingers and hands instead of a rolling pin. then cut out with biscuit cutter and place them touching each other on a baking sheet. cook for 10-12 minutes in a 400 degree oven. (preheat)

Monday, May 5, 2008

last minute spirit and future breakfast

today was a VERY busy day in which i didn't plan a single thing for dinner. i arrived home at 6:45 with a hungry 3 year old and the inkling that my parents would be just as pooped as me. i went to their house and for the simple(and much needed) reason of wanting a pina colada, i went all "cinco de mayo". i didn't have a plan and grabbed stuff out the fridge and pantry. i sauted chicken with green peppers and onions and added some southwestern style salsa. then put on a boxed spanish rice mix. zatarains. my favorite.

..and while that cooked i made myself a pina colada. my son didn't understand why he couldn't have a "milk shake" too. luckily a capri-sun kept him happy. (those are a rare buy). i also made him a quick cheese quesadilla to snack on.

here is what i do to spice up my favorite frozen drink:

i use bicardi frozen mix which i pour into the blender first. then i fill half the cup with rum. and a trick i learned from my mom, a scoop of vanilla icecream. fill the rest with ice and blend. to top it off whip some cream and toast some coconut. it's perfect! (a tip: it seems that if you blend and then have to add more ice, the ice never blends completely. so just fill your blender up to the brim the first time).

after a few sips my parents arrived home very pleased that i had cooked. the chicken mixture was served over lettuce with beans, sour cream and pepperjack cheese along with the rice. yay mexico!

tomorrow i have planned to allow myself one more fattening, binge eating day. i am tired of my guttony, but must have a good breakfast tomorrow. i have just taken pork sausage out of the freezer.

pork sausage gravy over grits:
~crumble and brown pork sausage(remove casings if in links)
~use slotted spoon to remove cooked sausage and let drain on paper towl.
~keep pan on medium low heat and sprinkle 2 or 3 T. of flour onto pan drippings/grease. wisk until thick. add part water, part milk. start at half a cup each. as it simmers it will start to thicken. just keep adding liquids until your desired thickness. wisk often!
~most gravys need lot's of salt and pepper. you may not need any because the sausage is so full of flavor!
~add sausage into gravy and serve over grits.
~the grits directions are on the bag, or if you are from the south, you already know

this is very much like shrimp and grits, but without the yucky shrimp!

i will serve this with a fried egg over medium. CAN'T WAIT!

Saturday, May 3, 2008


when grocery shopping, i try my best to chose healthy, organic foods. however, i am broke ass poor. but i'm not going to use that as an excuse anymore. i am not a typical grocery shopper. i don't spend very much money on groceries. i buy the minimum: bread, milk, eggs, juice, peanut butter, jam, lunch meat, pasta, cheese, meats, veggies and fruits. as much as i LOVE sweets, i almost NEVER buy junk food. if i want something sweet, i bake. so, i guess i also buy flour, sugar, cocoa, baking chocolate.

well, i always tell myself i'm going to do better, but this time i mean it! i am ordering my first home delivered box of organic fruits and veggies. YAY!

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