Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge and many more challenges for me!!!

First off are my computer crashed on me. Yesiree folks my hard drive took the final spin an said good bye. I am devastated. I had backed up all of my documents so I think I am okay there but it is just such a pain and one of the worst times in my life to have had this happen. I know it is not the end of the world. I can still get emails via my iPhone and we still have T.'s laptop but it's just not the same. I also have most of my favorite blogs bookmarked on my computer so while I will be trying to keep up with you all I may fail miserably. My computer should be back up and running towards the middle of next week! I have the hard drive replaced but with it being the long weekend and all I am having some trouble getting the help I need! So see ya soon!

Anyway all of the pictures of this month's Daring Baker Challenge are in my computer. I do have one really crappy pic in my phone and one eclair that I shaped into a cream puff type shape in the fridge. so sadly these will have to do!

Onto my Daring Baker Challenge for this month. We got to make eclairs...Chocolate Eclairs to be exact. The challenge this month was hosted by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK.

This was such a fun challenge. I was even looking forward to doing it. I started it and finished it in one day. It really took only a couple of hours (that was even with me running to the grocery store for more eggs halfway through!!!). I think the reason that I really like this is because it was something that we all liked! Usually the challenges are a huge amount of food that takes days to make and no one in my house will have anything to do with it!!! I even had it done earlier in the month then normal.

I did have one major catastrophe. My eclairs came out of the oven looking wonderful. They were all high and puffy and I thought "well do I ever rock"!!! Two minutes after they were out of the oven they crashed and burned. They became flat as a pancake. I could barely even get a knife in between to cut them open. I think this may have something to do with the amount of humidity in South Florida in the summer time. Or is it something to do with baking at sea level? I seem to always have problems with things that need to puff or rise really fluffy. Even the bread that I bake in the summer is different from the bread that I am able to bake in the winter. Anyone know anything about baking in low altitude or high humidity?

Regardless I got them filled with some of the richest chocolate cream puff filling in the world and topped with some really incredible chocolate sauce. I decided not to do the glaze because I really thought there was quite enough chocolate in this already!

Thanks for a great challenge once again!!! Here is the recipe if anyone wants to try their hand at this incredible dessert!

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé(makes 20-24 Éclairs)•
Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

Notes:1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.Assembling the éclairs:•

Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)

Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk• ½ cup (125g) water• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces• ¼ teaspoon sugar• ¼ teaspoon salt• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour• 5 large eggs, at room temperature1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.Notes:1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.
Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk• 4 large egg yolks• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
Chocolate Glaze Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream • 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature 1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce. Notes: 1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.
Chocolate Sauce Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped • 1 cup (250 g) water• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream • 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar 1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, August 29, 2008

Pasta with Shrimp and Tomatoes, a surprise attack and a meme

My oldest daughter getting her Blue Belt!!!

First off the "surprise attack". My oldest daughter takes Karate and attends classes 2 nights a week. Last night was the first night in months and months that I have not taken her. T. took her. Well they must have only just gotten there and my phone was ringing. She was testing for her Blue Belt tonight and did I want to be there? Well hell yah!!! My youngest daughter and I got into the car and took off. We made it in plenty of time. How special is that! I was so incredibly proud of her. She is now more then halfway to her black belt!!! She has a few more colors and degrees of those colors to go through so it will be a few years yet but we are on the right track!!! Not bad for an 8 year old girl!

Now for the recipe:

With the "surprise attack" I needed to have a quick and easy dinner to prepare. I had some shrimp and basil so I decide to throw it together with some tomatoes and pasta and call it done!

Pasta with Shrimp and Tomatoes


1 pkg of you favorite pasta
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb of peeled and deveined shrimp
1-1/2 Cup of tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 Cup white wine
1/4 Cup parsley, chopped
1/4 Cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp fish or shrimp stock
2 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Place pasta in a colander.
  2. Heat olive oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, stirring constantly, until the garlic is tender, about 1 minute. Do not let the garlic burn. Add shrimp, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove shrimp from the skillet, and set aside.
  3. Stir wine, parsley, and basil into the skillet. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half, 8 to 12 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted . This adds a nice creaminess to the sauce. Add tomatoes and shrimp, and continue cooking until the shrimp are heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the shrimp mixture over the pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Loved this dish and was able to pull out some of the shrimp and sauce before I added the tomatoes for my tomato hater! I will definitely be making this one again!!!

I was also tagged for a meme by superfinefeline at Gastronomic Ruminations. Due to lack of time I used the answers to a meme I did a while ago and changed some around and added a new one!

6 Random things about me...
1. I once ran away from home when I was 16...spent the night trying to hide out in a park, slept in an apartment stairwell and realized that the life I ran away from was not nearly as bad as it seemed the day before!!! LOL

2. Used to suffer from Hyperhidrosis but found a product called drysol which has cured me!

3. Was diagnosed with ADD as a child but my Mom stuck it out and never medicated me (thanks Mom!). Funny thing is what goes around comes around. I am fighting the same battle with my youngest daughter...any advice out there??

4. This is my second marriage. First one lasted for a very, very, very short time (felt like forever).

5. I have been married for 12 years (together for 4 before that) to my very best friend! It even sucks when we fight because I can't go bitching to my BF because it is him!

6. I have an incredible and irrational fear of pond and lake water. I can swim in pools and the ocean but a lake or ponds with weeds and stuff in it will do me in!!!

I am not going to tag any one blogger on this but consider yourselves all tagged and take a few minutes and let us get to know you better! If you decide to do this let me know so I can come and read it!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Royal Foodie Joust for September!

Yummm...Ginger/Orange Quick Bread with an Oatmeal Crumb Topping

After missing out on doing the Royal Foodie Joust for last month I was suffering a huge amount of guilt and no matter what happened I was going to get it done this month. Well life happens and tends to get in the way of things and I didn't get it done as early in the month as I would have liked but I did get it done!!!

The Royal Foodie Joust is a monthly challenge that is hosted by my friend Jenn-The Left-over Queen. Every month the winner from the previous month is allowed to choose the 3 ingredients that must be used in the up coming challenge. Sounds like fun huh?

Last month's winner was Kittie from Kittens in the Kitchen.

Kittie's Picks:

Whole Grains (or at least they have to be whole at the start of the recipe!)
Ginger (in any form)
Citrus (any, in any form!)

As usual for me my days are too short and I have not nearly enough time in them to get everything that I wanted to get done done. My entry this month is a quick bread. And was it ever quick and simple to make!

Ginger/Orange Quick Bread with an Oatmeal Crumb Topping


1 1/2 Cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp zested orange rind
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 Cup milk
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a loaf pan. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and orange rind. Set aside. In a medium bowl and with a mixer, cream butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time beating after each. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, stirring until blended. Stir in the orange juice.

Pour batter into prepared pan.


2 Cups uncooked oatmeal
1/2 Cups brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick of butter, softened

Grind oatmeal in your food processor until finely ground. Add and all other ingredients and pulse until the mixture is a coarse meal.

Sprinkle the crumb topping on the batter and bake at 325 degrees for about 55 to 60 minutes.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack and remove from pan and allow to cool completely before serving.

This turned out delicious and I would love to make it again using fresh ginger and more crumb topping!!! Thanks again Kittie for great ingredient choices!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Have you ever seen one of these?

When I went to the farmer's market Saturday morning I only needed a couple of things. Tomatoes, onions, and some garlic. I paid for my things and then went over to the bakery and got some sweet treats for the girls and I. On my way back the biggest banana type thing I had ever seen caught my eye. Have you ever seen this before?

Apparently it is a Hawaiian Plantain. I took a picture of it in my hand so that there was some perspective on the size of this.

Guess what? It was delicious! It was so sweet and mild tasting and the flesh was a slight peachy color. I bought 2 of them and they were gone that day.

They can be treated the same as regular plantains as in cooked. But when these ones are nice and ripe like the one in my hand they are perfect for eating just out of the peel! I was also thinking that they would make a nice quick bread. I think they would give some banana bread some nice chunks in it!

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for these!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred

I have seen this showing up on quite a few blogs lately, so I thought I would post my version. Andrew, who co-runs Very Good Taste, has made a list of 100 things he thinks every omnivore should eat at least once.

It certainly looks as though I need to expand my horizons here and start eating more Asian food!!!

Here's what to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

This was really fun to do!

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile-Alligator?
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam Chowder

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar - Cognac and a cigar but not together? Count or not?
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole Insects (chocolate covered ants!)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu (why risk it?)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill (depends how fresh?)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (these were my favorite when I was young)
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

This was really fun to do. It gives you some perspective towards the fact that what we think is normal to eat others think is crazy and vice versa!

Where do your foodie boundaries lie???

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Homemade Tacos

This is an older picture of a taco with pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa

It was a crazy, crazy weekend.

My youngest daughter has decided that she really likes competitive ice skating and wants to do another competition. Seeing as she is only 6 I have decided to let her only do ones that are at our home rink. Saves me travel and more chaos! With this though it means more time is spent at the rink. We had lessons on Friday night and Saturday.

T. was away for the weekend so I had decided that my youngest one could finally have her sleepover that I promised her for her birthday. So while T. was away I had a couple more 6 year olds running around the house screaming. I have to say though that I love this age. Their isn't the drama that comes with the 8 year olds...yet!

T got home late Saturday night and was able to help with all of the girls in the morning. At least running herd on them while we got breakfast was easier then because they were tired!

Once all the kids were gone we decided to spend some nice family time together and go and have a picnic. One of the great things about having a tropical storm or a hurricane pass through is that it really dries out the air. Today was just beautiful. 88 degrees with low humidity is beautiful in our books. We went to the Caloosahatchee Regional Park and had some lunch and then took a short walk to the river and hung out there for a bit. After this we came home and I tried to figure out meals for during the week. With the new skating schedule and school about to get reved up I needed a plan.

I decided that we would have pizza on Tuesday which would be the late night. Wouldn't get home from the rink until 7:30 but I could make the dough before hand and then T. (pretty please) could throw the sauce and toppings on it and throw it in the oven.

Another night we could have tacos. I have a really simple combination of spices that is so versatile I can use it on anything that I can find...chicken, pork, beef or even seafood. When I make a batch of it I make enough to last for 2 meals. No more as I think the mix loses it flavor after too long in a bag. I can make this whole meal and have it in the fridge ready to be heated up in time for dinner. Can't beat that!

Love the colors of all of the spices mixed together!



1-1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

¼ tsp cayenne

¼ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp paprika

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 lb of your choice of meat (buffalo (very lean), beef, venison (very lean), chicken, or pork)

1 cup of water


  • In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients but the meat. Set aside.
  • Brown you meat of choice (we have recently used buffalo, beef, and venison.)
  • Once the meat is browned add as much or as little of the seasoning as you would like. We find that this seasoning mix usually makes us 2 meals.
  • Add 1 cup water
  • Allow to simmer until the spice is absorbed and there is no liquid left.
  • Place as much meat as you would like in your lettuce cup.
  • Top with your choice of taco toppings (cheese, Pico de Gallo, hot sauce etc.)
This can be used with just about any meat or seafood. It can also be used to make nachos!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Pasta, Salad and an Award!

I love blogging and food bloggers are turning out to be some of the best people anywhere. I guess maybe it's because we all share a common bond and are doing this because we have such a huge passion for it. Pretty sure none of us are being forced to do this?

That's why it is so incredible when you receive an award from one of your blogging friends. It's a form of validity...hey, someone really likes what I am doing! My sincere thanks go out to Val from More Than Burnt Toast for giving me this award. It came on the end of a pretty challenging time so it was doubly appreciated.

Brilliant Weblog is a prize given to sites and blogs that are smart and brilliant both in their content and their design. The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.

Here are the rules to follow :
When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back.
Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’.

The hardest part about getting these awards is trying to come up with just a couple of names to pass this onto!

In no particular order:

Nikki - The Canarygirl
Robin at Caviar and Codfish
Jenn - The Left Over Queen
Heather at Gild the Voodoolily
Nuria at Spanish Recipes
Peter at Kalofagas
and last but not least Courtney at Coco Cooks

Thanks again Val!!!

Dinner last night was a thrown together meal of pasta and salad. The girl's are back in school today after their Hurricane Day on Tuesday which means homework and helping with the homework and redirecting to get them to do their homework etc... You get the idea. Homework is not the best time in our household. While my oldest daughter was doing hers I decided to make some of my favorite summer pasta dish. Pasta with Basil, Fresh Tomatoes and Roasted Garlic. This time though I just didn't feel like roasting the garlic so I minced it up and tossed it in with all of the other ingredients. It made the raw sauce taste even fresher than it did before if that was possible!

Pasta With Fresh Tomato, Garlic and Basil

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 lb ripe plum tomatoes (I just use whatever is tasting good right them)
1/3 C fresh basil (chopped)
1 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 box of long thin pasta (angel hair, linguine, spaghetti)

  • Dice the tomatoes (if the have a ton of seeds squeeze them out).
  • Add the garlic, basil, capers, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Let stand for at least 20 minutes.
  • Cook pasta.
  • Mix sauce with pasta and serve warm or at room temperature. Add salt and pepper to taste.
I served the pasta with a herb salad mix and this nice, light and well balanced salad dressing.

Todd English's Lemon Vinaigrette


1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


• Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a jar. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Homemade Super Rich Chocolate Brownies

See this picture the brownie almost has a heavenly glow to it! Well deserved too!

Way, way back in April (seems like a lifetime ago doesn't it?) I spotted these brownies on Bake or Break-Adventures of an Amateur Baker. They looked so good and I knew that one day I would need them so I saved the recipe! I am so glad that I did because Tuesday was just that type of day. We had the girls home from school for a Hurricane Day (yep...up north you have snow days and here we have hurricane days???!!!). Luckily it was nothing to worry about but it sure was a long day!

Late in the afternoon, after we had polished of a bag of potato chips while playing a game of Monopoly Jr. (which I won), I decided we needed something with more sustenance than chips. I sought out my brownie recipe and went to give it a whirl!

These were so delicious. Rich, fudgy, chocolaty brownies. Now I am one of those strange people who has no preference as to how my brownie should be. Cakey or fudgey, who cares? Bring on the chocolate!!!

I made several changes to these because of what I had on hand. I had no semi sweet chocolate so I used some bittersweet chips that I had. I also used 1/2 cup of AP Flour and 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. I may have needed to add another egg after the flour swap but these were incredible!

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cookies.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8″square baking pan. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches hanging over the sides. Butter parchment paper.

In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stir together butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine sugar, eggs, and vanilla using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale, about 4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Spread evenly with spatula. Bake about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet. Let cool in pan about 15 minutes.

Lift brownies out of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Okay so inspite of everything we have really been eating!

See how nice and simple it looks...Pure comfort food!!!

I know it seems like all of my posts have been about the weather. In between all the fretting, worrying and trying to figure out what to do we have been eating, and quite well at that!

The other night we had some ravioli that we had bought at Costco. We've had it before. See here

This time we had some spinach that we needed to use up so I made a cream sauce with garlic, spinach and some Parmesan cheese. I then topped it with some fresh tomatoes. This was a nice and easy meal which we needed to help take some of the stress away. You'll see that most of the foods that we have eaten the past couple of days have been real comfort foods.

Funny how you turn to food isn't it?

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Short video of Fay

A really short video. The weather we are getting is really nothing. Seeing this it is hard to imagine a storm with winds above 75 miles an hour!

This is only gust of about 30-40 MPH!

As Always...


Final Fay Update...

Looks like we dodged the bullet on this one. The storm made landfall about 50 miles south of us on Marco Island. I know that 50 miles doesn't sound like very far but that puts us on the left side of the storm where there is way less weather to contend with.

It will still be a rainy morning with a lot of wind but nothing like it would have been.

Look out Jenn, she's coming your way!!!

To everyone in her safe and my prayers and thoughts are with you!

As Always...


Quick update

It's just after 3:00 AM and everyone is asleep. I just got up real quick to check the models and to see what was going on. I don't like when these things come at night. The noises outside are horrendous and it looks like it is just starting.

Last night was pretty uneventful. A bit of rain and a steady breeze. At about 2:30 the wind woke me up and that is the big thing right now. It's just really windy. I can hear and almost feel everytime a strong gust comes up and hits the front of the house. It hasn't started howling just whistling.

From the forecast models it looks like Fay may make landfall just to the south of us but a wobble in either direction can change all this. They are still saying that the worse will be from sunrise to midday.

Going to do some more rounds of the house and make sure the girls are tucked in nice and tight.

Will update again if possible when the sun comes up!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Go Away Fay!!!

Okay I need for everyone to take a deep breath and blow this one away from us.

All kidding aside. When I went to bed last night I felt pretty secure. During the day day yesterday all of the models had moved the landfall point of Fay up North from us. They were pointing to the Tampa Bay area and I felt a wee bit better (not for you guys up there). This morning I woke up early to get things organized for the first day of school for the girls and to check on this storm.

This is what I saw...

I swear the H is right over top of my house again!!!

It looks like now we would at least have an escape route. The other coast looks like they are in the clear for now so Miami might be a safe bet but seeing as it is a Category 1 we will be staying put. It looks like the worst of the weather will be midday Tues with conditions worsening starting this evening. I will try and keep you updated as we get more information.

Our local internet news station is You can follow the progress on this.

The kids need some breakfast to start their first day right so off to the real world I am!

Don't forget...blow real hard and send prayers and wishes for us down here!!!

As Always...


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Here we go again!

See the line crossing into Florida? Just north of our city!

Hold onto your drinks folks were going to be in for a bumpy ride!!!

We are now under a Hurricane Watch for our area. More than likely the girls first day of school is about to be canceled and they won't end up starting until later in the week or depending upon our power situation until the area gets cleared up.

This is one of those really weird storms that you can't really even evacuate from. The forecast cone (the big circles are where the storm is predicted to hit) covers pretty much the whole state. So as of right now we stay put.

Am I prepared? As much as anyone I guess can be. If I learned anything from Hurricane Charley it was that you can never be prepared enough. Batteries? Check. Water? Check. Food? Hahaha (we could survive months on our freezer and pantry alone!) check.

The one really strange thing I am doing to prepare is to make bread. In the aftermath of Charley the State made sure that we had water and ice but you could not for the life of you buy a loaf of bread. My family won't eat store bought bread so I am baking!

As the winds start to pick up tomorrow night we will probably loose power but I should still be able to charge my iPhone on our super handy, dandy tv/radio/severe weather/charger thingy!

Wish us luck, these storms are unpredictable as hard as they try to make the predictions. It may take a nice turn away from us. I'll keep you posted!

As Always...


Friday, August 15, 2008

What to do with left over steak?

Steak Salad!

We have been going full steam ahead this week. My poor Mom (leaves on Saturday) is going to need some time to get over this one!!!

Last night we had orientation at the girl's school. Seeing as it is going to be their first full year at this school we needed to be there for it. I think their teachers are going to work out wonderfully for both of them!!!

Anyway we had to figure out dinner around a 5:40 departure time for the school. I fed the girl's some left over pizza from Tuesday night before we went out and then made a salad for us adults. I decided that we would eat when we got back from the school. We had so much steak left over from my youngest ones birthday dinner the night before so we topped the salads with that. Pretty fast and yummy dinner!

T and my Mom topped theirs with mountains of Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing and I just used a nice light vinaigrette that I had made. Seeing as we didn't get home until around 7:30 this was a nice ready made meal!

***I wanted to thank everyone who left a comment on my post from yesterday. I always hesitate to put things on this blog that are really personal feeling like that but when you need a bit of support you guys are simply the best!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

A bit of a reflective mood today...

Youngest daughter blowing out her 6 year candle on the cake she decorated!!!
Happy Birthday Love!

So today is my youngest daughter's 6th birthday and I am just baffled by this. When did all of those years pass and where did they go? Yah, I have a bunch of memories but not my little baby girl! She was one of those little ones that just fit perfect...right up until now. I find that I have to move my head to hold her comfortably where as just a few minutes ago she just snuggled right in.

I always bake the girls a cake for their birthday celebration with us and their big treat is to be able to decorate it however they want to. This year my youngest one wanted a layer cake with strawberries and white icing. I ended up using a box cake (yep...with everything that I have going on it was easiest also she wanted a confetti cake). I did make the icing twice. The first one was the 7 minute frosting. Note to self-do not attempt egg white frosting in Florida in the summer time! Ended up with a powdered sugar icing that worked just fine.

We decided to have her birthday party last night with just us. We have orientation for the girls at school tonight and it would have been to rushed. What does a 6 year old care as long as she has cake and presents!!! For her special dinner she wanted steamed clams. Pretty cool huh? So we had a 100 clams (I swear she ate 50 herself), steak, potatoes, and salad...oh yah and cake too!

Anyway another thing that has made me reflective, and I feel so sick when I really think of this, but I need to put it out there, 4 years ago today we returned to our home after evacuating during Hurricane Charley to find our home destroyed.

We lost our roof which in turn means that you have lost everything inside. I lost photos, keepsakes, furnitures and all sense of security in my home. It was such a sad time for us. We had to move out of our house for 6 months while the whole interior was gutted and rebuilt. I'd like to tell you that it is better and stronger than ever but I will never trust this house again. 4 years later I still have not wavered from that! Oh sure the house looks way better than it did. Who gets the opportunity to totally remodel your house from top to bottom??? I guess what I realized was that a house is just sticks and stones it's what's inside that is important!

We evacuate for every threat. Pack up the car with our emergency bag that is packed from the beginning of hurricane season, load up the dogs and head away from the threatened area. Is this hard? Oh yah, but not as hard as staying. People lost there lives during that storm. 29 deaths can be attributed to Charley. I know what can happen first hand but at least we were safe. It scares me to think how lucky we were.

As Always...


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Super Cereal

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new product that was showing up in the juice section of the supermarket. I am always looking for pure, fresh, all-natural food and this caught my eye! Tropicana Pure. It is being touted as the next generation of juices. Well whatever. Don't they all make the same claims? Generally I like to juice my own juices but I bought some of this.

Tropicana Pure 100% Juice-Raspberry and Acai.

Now we've all heard about the benefits of Acai by now. I actually like the flavor that it adds to juices that it is mixed with.

I came up with this to try and find something for the girls to help get them to eat a better breakfast. They loved this and I will be making it again and again!!!

Breakfast Quinoa – Super Cereal (serves 4)


1 Cup of Tropicana Pure 100% Juice Raspberry and Acai

1 Cup of Water

1 Cup of Quinoa (rinsed)

2 Cups of fresh raspberries

½ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp cinnamon

1/3 Cup chopped walnuts

Honey as a sweetener


· Combine the Tropicana Pure 100% Juice, water and quinoa in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil.

· Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

· Turn off the heat and let stand for about 5 minutes.

· Stir in the cardamom, cinnamon and raspberries.

· This makes 4 servings. Top each serving with some walnuts and drizzle honey to taste.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Some great food reruns!

One of my favorite things to do when we have people come to stay with us is to make them some of our favorite food. Everybody has one special thing that they LOVE for us to make.

My sister's is anything cooked in T.'s homemade red sauce with anything in it! Sometimes he will stuff a chicken and cook it in there and other times we will make goat cheese ravioli to go with it.

My Mom generally likes to have steak. She lives by herself and doesn't seem to get enough of red meat. We are defrosting some of our grass fed beef for dinner on Wednesday!

The other night though I once again I wanted something fast, easy, tried and true. Peter's Souvlaki recipe!!! Once again it was delicious and incredibly easy to make. Used restaurant bought tzatziki and some crusty bread and it would have been a meal in itself but this time I made a salad.

Doesn't that salad looks great? Pitted kalamata olives, tomatoes, lettuce, red onion and lots of feta cheese!

An incredible Greek salad. I made a simple dressing of lemon, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and oregano. I was the perfect balance to a delicious meal!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, August 11, 2008

So my Mom is here...and sausage and peppers!

Sausage and Peppers!

You would have thought maybe that might simplify my life right? Um nope, it is still as crazy and as hectic as ever but now I am dragging one more body along for the ride!!! Poor Mom, but at least she gets to see the grand kids while we are doing it.

My Mom is truly wonderful. She comes to visit every year (from Canada) at the time of my youngest daughter's birthday. If you remember my oldest daughter was born on the 4th of July. Kind of special huh? So Grandma makes a special trip each and every year to help to make the youngest ones just as special! Pretty cool huh? Well this year was extra special as my youngest daughter had decided to be in a skating recital that was being held at our home ice rink and Grandma was going to be here for it.

This is the youngest one leading into her 1 foot spin!!!

The recital was Sunday and she did a great job...some rough spots getting her out there but once she was on she was a true superstar!

Needless to say we wanted a real nice and quick dinner. Seems like this is becoming a real theme around here huh? Nice and quick?????

Anyway we opted for Sausage and Pepper's. What could be easier then that! I already had the peppers. Remember back a month or so ago I ended up with a whole case of organic peppers that I froze? They went great with the all natural, no antibiotic or hormone pork sausages that I found at the grocery store. Added some garlic, onion, salt and pepper and a touch of oregano and topped ours with some sauteed jalapeños. This made for a great meal for all of us!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Friday, August 8, 2008

Black Beans and Rice

Black Beans and Rice

Now I am not going to tell you that these are typical Cuban, Puerto Rican, or any other Hispanic countries beans. These are just something that I have some up with that works really well for my family. I have tried them a bunch of different ways and this is what I keep coming back to. It's really all about the toppings anyway isn't it???

This really isn't a recipe but I just throw in what I have and to the amount that it tastes good. Last night I put in a bit too much cumin but that isn't a bad thing in my books!

Chop up an onion and some garlic and saute in some heated olive oil. When the onion and garlic are cooked add 2 cans of black beans or 1 lb of dried beans cooked per the directions on the bag. Add about 1/2 tsp of dried oregano, 1 tsp of cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and salt/pepper to taste. Cook to allow the the bean and sauce to thicken (about 20 mins) serve over hot rice. Top with tomatoes, pico de gallo, jalapeños, onion, sour cream or anything else you want!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Banana, Strawberry and Chocolate Chip Quick Bread!

See the moist pieces of strawberry and the nice dark chocolate all mixed into the banana bread? Pretty yummy let me tell ya!!!

I was feeling a little peckish after cleaning up the house so I went to my fridge and stood there. For some reason (youngest daughter) placed a half eaten banana in there and I also found a tub of sliced up strawberries. That with some chocolate syrup on top was my delicious snack.

While I was eating it though it hit me that those flavors would make a delicious quick bread! We love quick breads here. Me, because they are quick and simple to make and are relatively healthy and the rest of the family because it is CAKE!!!

Banana, Strawberry and Chocolate Chip Quick Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup banana, mashed (about 2 medium sized bananas)
1/4 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour (next time I will try 1/2 of it whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks (I used bittersweet but you can use what you like)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350
  • In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each one.
  • Add the banana and the milk.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the creamed mixture until just blended.
  • Using a spoon mix in the strawberries and chocolate chips
  • Pour into a greased 9X5X3 inch loaf pan and bake in your preheated 350 degree over for about 1 hr and 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
  • cool for 10 minutes in pan then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.
The whole family loved this one!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Burgers

This is T.'s burger. Sauteed onions, blue cheese, tomato and mayo.
How summery does that look!!!

Yeah, I know I keep going on about it but it's been so long since we have really had any beef that I was willing to feed my family. So once we picked up our all natural, grass fed beef order we tried several different things. We have a lot of ground beef so we made hamburgers the other night. Really nice and easy.

Form the meat into patties by first making a ball in your hand and then pressing flat. We never use any bread, egg or crackers to help them bind. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Usually we grill them but it was raining kind of heavy so I just cooked them up on the griddle!

Everyone here has their own preferences. The oldest daughter likes it with just cheese and mayo. The youngest one likes cheese, mayo and tomato. T. likes it as it is in the pic, and I like mine all different ways-sometimes mustard, relish, pickles and tomatoes, other times just with cheese and tomatoes. However we have them these were delicious!!!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A nice fast marinated chicken recipe!

Juicy skinless chicken thighs fresh off the grill!

Even during the summer my days are so hectic with the girls. I try to slow them down a bit but they love to be active. Today they ice skated for a couple of hour, we took a bike ride, and then my oldest one had karate before dinner time! Yep, everyday pretty much goes like this!

I need to work fast. I had about an hour before I had to take her to karate after getting home from the ice rink. In that time I made T. some homemade blue cheese dressing, whipped up a salad, emptied the dishwasher and refilled it, made a really quick marinade for some chicken thighs that I had bought and ran out the door...any crazy person want to follow me around for a day???

This marinade was so nice and quick and I think I will use it again and again!!!

Chicken Marinade


1/2 cup Tropicana Pure Valencia Orange with Mango
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
4 lg sage leaves, chopped
1-1/2 inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

  • Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender or a food processor. Blend until emulsified.
  • Marinate your chicken pieces for several hours or overnight.
  • Grill or broil your chicken til done.
As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!


Monday, August 4, 2008

I ate some ofal and liked it!!!

Calf's Liver with Little Onions, Sage and Aged Vinegar.

Last weekend I picked up my meat order in our local Taco Bell parking lot. Yeah, kinda ironic when you think about it. When I picked it up though I asked Elisa if she had any extra meat that we could buy. She told me about the rib steaks and them mentioned that she had some liver as well. I was so excited!!! She actually gave me 3 packages of liver for FREE!

I had just picked up the book that I had ordered from Barnes & Noble and was reading it on our way and their seemed to be a really cool recipe for liver! Check out this book,The River Cottage Meat Book For anyone who is interested in meat and the way that it should be, not the way it is. This is the book for you! In the first couple of chapters I was able to learn things that made this book so worth the money!

Now, just to let you know I grew up with a Mom that was from England during wartime. When we ate meat it was cooked. Dammit was it cooked!!! I remember eating liver as a child boiled up in some tomato type sauce. If I didn't eat it that night guess what was waiting for me at breakfast??? Needless to say I hated liver!!!

My oldest daughter always loved it and as a baby it was probably one of the first foods that she really ate. T. would cook it up for her and the 2 of them would just chow down. Personally the smell of it always made me a little nauseas!

Anyway, tonight T. Actually cooked it up for us and it was delicious! Nothing like I remember it being. The texture was still a little odd (creamy as my oldest one described it) but not entirely bad!

Would I do this again? You bet. I truly liked the flavor of it. I will need to get used to the texture only because it is something different!

Calf's Liver with Little Onions, Sage, and Aged Vinegar (from the The River Cottage Meat Book)


About 1 pound very fresh calf's liver
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 dozen baby onions, peeled but left whole
about 5 whole garlic cloves, peeled but left whole (we added this, not original to the recipe)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
Scant 1/2 cup aged vinegar (I used balsamic)
2 dozen sage leaves

  • Cut the liver into slices 1/3 inch thick and trip out any course tubes, then set aside.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over a low heat.
  • Add the onions and sweat gently. They mustn't take color quickly but should brown gradually as they cook, so that after 20 minutes the outside is nicely caramelized to a dark brown color and they are sweet and tender all the way through. Transfer to a warm dish and keep warm.
  • Add a touch more oil to the pan and turn up the heat so that it sizzles.
  • Lightly dust the liver with the seasoned flour and lay them in the pan. For liver nicely pink on the inside, turn after 2 minutes and cook the second side for just 1 minute.
  • Transfer to a warm plate while you finish the sauce.
  • Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, scraping up any crusty morsels from the base as the vinegar bubbles and reduces.
  • When you have about a Tbsp of sauce left, trickle it over the liver.
  • Heat up another small bit of oil and fry the sage leaves, turning them as they become crispy (this only takes a few seconds).
Here is something totally off the liver of the dogs!!!

See how much the puppy has grown...he's the 6 month old on the right!!!

This is why we have and their dogs have an incredibly precious bond. This is my youngest one just cuddling with the puppy!

As Always...

Happy Entertaining!!!