Monday, October 27, 2014

Asian Inspired Couscous

When my father in law became ill last December, a friend of my mother in law's, brought us dinner one night.  I had never had couscous until that night.  Can you believe it?  Oh man, love at first bite!  I mean, yea, I polished that stuff off so fast nobody else had a chance.  I mean if they had tried to go for it, I might have actually stabbed someone with my fork, kind of good.

I decided to do some experimenting.  I do have a recipe for Couscous Almondine here on the website.  When I got to thinking about it, I mean, the options are endless.  There is almost nothing you can't flavor this stuff with!  I had some veggies to use up, and decided I would see if I could make an Asian flair work with my couscous.  It did, and it did it well!  You could really add any veggies you want, these are what I had on hand, and enjoy.

Take time to try couscous if you haven't ever done it.  As long as you flavor your broth or whatever you pour over it, well, it will taste awesome.  You could use veggie stock as well for this.  It takes 5 minutes and your side dish is done.  It's a beautiful thing!

You will need:
1 1/3 cups couscous
2 cups chicken stock (I also add one tsp. chicken soup base for more flavor)
1 T soy sauce
8 oz. can of bamboo shoots, left whole or chopped
8 oz. can of water chestnuts, chopped
1 cup of peas and carrots (I use a frozen mix, you want 1 cup total)

In a large bowl add your couscous.  In a medium put bring your chicken stock, soy sauce and veggies all to a boil.  Using a strainer over the top of your couscous, pour the liquid in, leaving the veggies in the strainer. 

QUICKLY cover the bowl of couscous tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 5-7 minutes.  When the time has come to uncover, fluff WITH A FORK, and add in veggies, REFLUFFING again. 

This is a flavorful side dish, a meatless main dish, you do with it what you wish but eating it, is at the top of my priority list!  So flavorful, full of veggies and SO easy!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Clam Dip

Retro?  I don't know about that.  Maybe, maybe not.  This is the word my husband used to describe this dip.  He said, "it is kind of like green goddess dressing used to be.  You could get it at all the supper clubs or everyone made it".  I agreed, simply because I had nothing to come back with. 

It is so different for him growing up all over the world, ending up on near the South Jersey shore, where his parents were from and met.  Then there is me who grew up in a town of 2,000 people, no stop lights, not even ONE, many streets didn't even have stop signs!  Seafood was not the specialty of the region and I don't think I tried my first seafood until I was probably 28 or so.  In our supper clubs, we had, salad yes, clam dip, no.  Now if you want to discuss beef tongue, I can be an active participant! (heaving)

Anyway my husband asked me to make him some clam dip.  We actually did it together since I won't do anything but touch a clam, cook a clam and serve a clam, so I needed taste testing, and I needed a pro!  It is so funny how he reacts when I hit something right on, that triggers his memories and his tummy.  Cute, cute, cute, cute, etc........

Expect another clam recipe soon, we did a couple with clams this day.  I wish I could find affordable fresh clams, and I can get "fresh" clam, but for the low, low price of my right arm.  We used canned, if you wish and have access to affordable fresh, by all means DO IT!!!

Here we go!

1/4 cup Hellman's
16 oz. sour cream
2 tsp. parsley
2 6.5 oz. cans of minced clams (drain juice but save it)
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
Approx. 1 T. clam juice

This couldn't be easier  Ready?  Mix all ingredients together, leaving the clam JUICE for the very last addition.  You may not need the entire tablespoon, it simply depends on the consistency you want from your dip.  Place in an airtight container and refrigerate at least 3 hours, over night is best by far!

You can reserve a few clams to put on top.  With everything mixed in, it is hard to tell exactly what it is.  Make sure people know the goodness inside and sprinkle a few on top!

Enjoy this throw back from my husbands childhood.  He loved it, and it made his heart happy.  THAT my friends, is a win, win situation!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Bloody Brain Shots (Alcoholic)

Gross, right?  I know and you KNOW I love that!  I love gross stuff at Halloween.  I love gross stuff all the time, to be totally honest.  But when it is gross and you can eat it.  Perfection. 

I had never heard of a Bloody Brain or a Brain Hemorrhage as they are sometimes called.  When I saw them recently I knew I had to try them at home.  They couldn't be easier, OR more disgustingly delicious!  I imagine my annual Halloween Costume party, and having a vampire or zombie at the door with a tray of these, offering one to each guest as they arrive.  Let me rephrase, the annual Halloween Costume party my husband and I vowed to have each year since it is our anniversary and we have never had.  Yeah, that's the one. 

You don't need the finest of liquor for these.  Just choose what brand you like and move with it.  It is just as simple as density, you use these particular liquors for the look obviously and the fact one is more dense than the other. 

You will need:
1 oz.  Peach Schnapps
1-2 straws Irish Cream Liquor
Splash (maybe 1/2 tbsp. to 1 tbsp.) Grenadine

Amounts are sort of "approximate" since shot glasses are different.  Fill with peach schnapps about 3/4 of the way.  Add your "brain" with the Irish cream.  You can do the "brain" a hundred ways.   Using a straw is what I recommend.  Dip a straw in a tall glass of your Irish Cream put your finger on the end and then while still holding the end with your finger to keep the Irish cream in, put it barely under the surface and let spurts of it out until the straw is empty.  OR, you can do the same method only move it in circles around the shot glass floating it on top.  No matter how you do it and if it ends up looking like a brain or not, it is gross, gruesome and awesome!!  Maybe yours will turn out like an autopsy! Next, gently drip or drizzle in your grenadine. 

If I made video's this would be the perfect video, this has to be the most approximate, unspecific set of directions I have ever written, but I think anyone with any experience in the alcohol department will get it.  HA!

Maybe you could serve these sitting next to this Meat Face Meat and Cheese Tray.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Candy Corn Peanut Butter Candy

Think Butterfinger friends.  Think Butterfinger. 

As I ranted last week, I had to buy like a 4.5 or 3.5 lb bag of candy corn last week for a recipe.  They claimed to have no smaller bags.  Psshhht, whatever.  So after I used 1/2 cup out of it, what in the HECK was I going to do with the rest of it?  I had no ideas, except that I wondered what I could do with them if I melted those babies down.   Why didn't I just take a few and do it myself?  I have no idea.  But I went searching around in the world of Google and found this recipe at aboutfood,com. Normally I don't make other peoples recipes but this was to intriguing, and way to easy to not share with you all.

This calls for only 3 ingredients.  Candy corn, peanut butter and chocolate.  Oh and sprinkles if you are cool like me.  This was so easy, I don't even have much else to say about it.  ALTHOUGH.....make sure you do score the candy corn mixture like you are supposed to, because those babies will challenge your sharpest knife.  You can cut them however you like really, fat bars, skinny bars, "bites", the choice is yours.  I did a few skinny and few fat and a few bites. 

You will need:
3 cups of candy corn (traditional flavor)
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
12 oz. chocolate chips for dipping
sprinkles (optional)

Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment (or foil) and then spray it with non stick cooking spray.  I leave the ends long so I can lift my goods right out as you all know.  Set aside and in a large bowl microwave your candy corn, 30 seconds at a time.  The first few times it will seem it will never melt.  DO NOT over heat it, or it will get hard on you, thus 30 seconds and stir.  When it is melted, add the peanut butter and combine completely.  If you find the candy corn stiffens up on you, you can microwave it another 10-20 seconds to loosen it up so it can be combined easier.  When that is done press it into the bottom of your baking dish and make sure it is even and as level as you can get it.  NOW......  take a knife and score the bars however you will want them.  The world is your sandwich, make it how you want.  When these chill they will become very hard yet crispy.  (again, think Butterfinger).  Now, into the fridge and let chill about 1 hour. 

Melt chocolate chips, and add about 1 tsp. vegetable oil.  I find it makes dipping easier, by thinning the chocolate just a WEEEEEE bit.  Remove the bars from the pan, and using a large knife, cut along your score lines.  Now start dipping.  As these come to room temp they will soften, and become chewy.  Dip them, and place them on a parchment or foil lined cookie sheet and immediately sprinkle if you are sprinkling, so they will stick.  When you are done, refrigerate again for 30 minutes to an hour and dig in.  If you serve these chilled they will be almost the consistency of a Butterfinger, if you serve them at room temp, they will have more of a chewy consistency, but delish, either way!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Halloween Treat Crunch

I am in a Halloween state of mind.  After all besides it being my "littles" first Halloween, and they live here, AND it is a great chance to scare the H-E-double hockey sticks ouf of my sisters, it is also my anniversary.  I will have been married to my angel for 11 years this year.  Or wait, is it 12 years?  No, I think it is 12.  Anyway, we love celebrating all things Halloween, nothing to hideous or horrid, just fun.

This will be an easy treat for a Halloween party, or that last minute, "Mom I need to take something to so and so"  and you need to be there in 30 minutes.  Use whatever you have on hand and call it a success!!  I used items I find typical of Halloween or in Halloween colors but the world is your sandwich, make it how YOU like it.  It is an easy, no bake.  Wait.  You DO have turn on the oven, and let your chocolate melt but.......even that you COULD do in the micro and then spread on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  So technically...........oh Lordy, nevermind.

You will need:

8 cubes of white chocolate/almond bark ( I wish I could tell you how much that was but let's be honest, I had a couple of packs already opened and well, ya know...)
1 Butterfinger bar
1/2 cup candy corn
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup mini oreos or 10 large oreos.  Roughly chopped and a few left whole. 

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set your almond bar on top like so......

After 5-7 minutes, it will be melted, but you won't know because it will hold its shape.  So I poked mine with an offset spatula to find it was in fact all melted and spread it not to thin, and not to thick, you want your "stuff" to stick so do it like so..........

Then I sprinkled all my goodies on top.  Place another piece of parchment on top and press those treats into that melty goodness.  Remove the parchment and it will look like........ SO.......

Now let it sit for 30-45 minutes on the counter or about 10-15 in the fridge.  Break it up or cut it up, just get it in your belly!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Clamato Soup

This blog is again being brought to you by a request of George Simmerman, my deeply darling husband.  He has been on a clam kick.  So imagine this....  We are driving, blaring some 80's music, car concert to the max, we were singing our signature duet, "Endless Love" and he turns it off and says, "OMG, can you make me Clamato Soup".  First of all dude, you better get that radio back on, my best part is coming up.  Secondly, umm, sure.  He drove straight to the store, told me what ingredients he wanted in it, and in we went.  This is how he described what he wanted, (after Endless Love was over).  "I want a really brothy soup.  I don't like Manhattan Clam Chowder, and New England is my favorite but boring, can't we just make our own?  I want potatoes and clams in it.   That is it.  Don't try and tell them they can add what they want, (you can) but MY version is going to be this and it is going to be awesome." 

So the Clamato Soup was born.  It is brothy, you could add an extra potato, but since I don't eat clams, his word is, it is exactly what he wanted.  And when I tell you this man is honest, he is sometimes brutally honest, so you know when you get an opinion it is truly his opinion.  Both a blessing and a curse!

32 oz. Clamato Juice
2 6.5 ounce cans of minced or chopped clams WITH juice (if you can get fresh, great)
1 lg. can of diced potatoes, drained (if you use your own potatoes peel a large one and dice)
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a medium sauce pan,  Let simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with some oyster crackers or a crusty baguette to soak up the broth!  This will serve 4 as a starter.  Might I suggest you double the recipe because the next day the flavor, if even possible, gets better!  (words from my husband)


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Apple Crisp Cupcakes

Bet you never heard of one of those before?  HA!  Me either.  The name just seemed to flow.  You know sometimes, for me anyway, I try to name my recipes something fun.  I mean, eh, sometimes it happens sometimes it doesn't and sometimes, there just IS no name for something so odd.  With this one there is that whole is it a crumble is it a crisp, is it a this or is it a that, it's just Pat. (Sorry, if you are a SNL fan from back in the day you will get that reference).

Now these babies are by far one of the best things I did with the apples my sister sent over.  She said she had gotten a bunch and wanted to share.  Ya know, sharing is caring, so thanks Patty!  I suspect her family was so sick of apples they were going to organize an overthrow of mother government if she didn't just get rid of what was left. 

Anyway, you know how I feel about cupcakes, and apples are one fruit I DO like.  I don't like apple crisp or crumble because I want like 1/4 inch of apples and then 6 inches of crisp or crumble so, I just did it my way.  I didn't want them to be seen as merely glorified muffins, so I added something unexpected.  FROSTING.  Now they HAVE to be cupcakes!  Ready to get started?

For the CUPCAKES you will need:
White box cake mix.  (yellow would work fine)
1/2 T ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 granny smith apples  (any apple will really be fine) chop them fine, I did NOT peel mine, if you choose that kinda craziness, go for it.

Preheat your oven according to package directions.  Mix cake mix per the directions on the box and in addition add the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and chopped apples.  Mix to combine completely and fill your cupcake holders.  FYI I never get 24 cupcakes, I don't know who ever does but I got about 16-18.  Now do NOT bake yet, we have another step....

For the CRISP you will need:
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
4-5 T. butter

Use a fork, pastry cutter or your good ol' clean fingers and combine, until the mixture sticks together when squeeze in your hand.  Add to the top of each cupcake.  Just divide it up equally.  Now bake as per package directions.  When they are done, let cool completely.

For the FROSTING you will need:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3-4 T. milk

In a bowl beat on high all ingredients EXCEPT MILK.  Add that last so you can stop when the consistency is to your liking.  Whip this a long time, you won't ever completely get the brown sugar texture smooth but, pffttt, who cares?!  Dollop or pipe a small mound on top of each one and enjoy!