Thursday, May 22, 2014

Movie In Your Mouth Popcorn Cake

I love this recipe.  Just ask my "bat wings" how much I love it.  I feel so ashamed!

I was hungry for popcorn with marshmallows in it.  I am not generally a mixer or salty and sweet but, when I mentioned to my husband I was thinking of this he was on top of the world!  We are lovers of the movies and this cake, is like a bite of a movie theatre.  All of the usual movie theatre suspects, in one bite?!  Yes!  You are VERY welcome!

I think this is so festive and what a fun alternative to a real cake!  How fun would this be on a sweet table for any party!?  Decorated and ingredients matching a theme would be really cool too!  Make it your own.  No bake, no muss, no fuss. 

This is so easy and feel free to change out my candy choices for ones you might like better.  Just make sure you can buy them at the MOVIES!!

3.5 ounce bag of microwave BUTTERED popcorn, popped
10.5 ounce bag of marshmallows
1/4 cup butter
1 cup Twizzlers cut into bite size pieces
1 1/4 cup plain M&MS (divided)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

In a large bowl place marshmallows and butter.  Microwave 1 minute at a time until mixture is melted and creamy.  Stir in popcorn and mix.  It might take a couple of minutes to get it combined evenly!  Stir in Twizzlers and 1 cup of  M&Ms and place into a Bundt pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Spread out evenly without pressing TO hard.  You want it to be in there solid but no need to squish it to death.  Chill for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.  Turn out  on to a plate when chilled.  (might need to run a knife around the edges and insides)

Melt white chocolate chips and place into a piping bag or just use a spoon, and drizzle the top heavily with the white chocolate.  Immediately take your extra 1/4 cup M&Ms and sprinkle on top

Let sit at room temp for 15 minutes.  Serve!

NOTE!  REMOVE all OLD MAIDS from your popcorn.  This is SO important, you don't need anyone breakin' their grill on your popcorn cake!  I forgot one, and I am the one who found it.  No broken teeth but, not a pleasant experience!

Enjoy your mouthful of "the movies"!!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Fresh Green Bean Salad

Sounds light and refreshing, doesn't it?

Now we all know I am not known for health food recipes, or even really, remotely healthy recipes, but occasionally I give it a go.  Let's be honest, we are all, wait... MANY of us are trying to live healthier, be lighter, and more active and I am no exception to that idea.  I just happen to like to cook  really delish stuff that might not be the healthiest choice.  That will not change, however, I will be trying to incorporate a few healthier dishes as well.  

This will be perfect for the summertime.  If you have a garden it will be even more awesome.  Nothing is more gratifying than strolling out to your backyard crops and picking fresh veggies, that you have planted, nurtured and grown, to feed yourself or your family.  I mean, it doesn't get much better than that as far as foodies go!  This salad is a great side dish,  and I have a feeling it will accompany a few grilled chicken breasts or steaks this summer!  It is also perfect for a bbq or picnic, no mayo to worry about!

You can certainly add finely minced onion to this recipe, and you could use fresh garlic.  Nobody but me in my family enjoys raw garlic, so I opted for garlic salt (2birds 1 stone ya know).  Keep that in mind when you are making that choice for the recipe. Here we go!

1 lb. fresh green beans, (ends snapped and cut into approx. 1-2 inch long pieces)
1 medium cucumber, diced ( I did NOT peel mine but feel free to do so if you like)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/3 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Bring a medium pot full of water to a boil.  Add in a generous amount of salt and add your green beans.  Let boil for 4 minutes.  No longer!  Drain them into a colander and immediately toss them into a bowl of cold water and some ice.  This is an, "ice bath" and "shocks" the green beans so they stay bright green and immediately stop cooking.  You want them crisp tender.  (I hate that phrase fyi).  While they are being shocked into submission, take care of your tomatoes and cucumbers and put into a large bowl and then, make your dressing!

To make the dressing, add all ingredients into a small bowl.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

Drain green beans again, and then dump into a clean, lint free kitchen towel.   Make sure they are all dry and then add them to the large bowl of tomatoes and cucumbers.  Pour your dressing over and toss those veggies quite a few times to get them all coated.  Now you can serve this immediately but let me assure you, if you make this the night before, or even 2 hours before, and you chill it, they will come!   It is one of those dishes, the longer it sits, the better it gets!

Enjoy my friends! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pepperoni Bread

Oh man.  It has been one of THOSE days.  I got out of bed just to take some Excedrin migraine and go back to bed.  At 11am I still hadn't knocked this baby out, but life goes on, right?  I had bread to make!  And making bread is what I did!

This is an age old recipe, but......  I just never shared it.  I got this recipe so long ago from someone I taught with.  I can't believe I can't remember her name.  I will think of it, you know, in the middle of the night.  Anyway it is just an easy recipe to throw together.  I used frozen bread dough, if you have a great recipe for a white bread dough, feel free to make your own.  Headache people, it means convenience!  So enjoy this as an appetizer, a picky, serve it with a meal, whatever you want.  Just enjoy it!

If you like, you can serve with marinara for dipping!  Use as much pepperoni as you want.  There are no boundaries on the love of pepperoni!

2 loaves of frozen bread
1 pkg sliced pepperoni
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbsp. Italian or Pizza seasoning
2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine 2 loaves of your frozen bread.  Roll out until desired thickness is achieved and a rectangular shape and drizzle half of the olive oil over the top.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, garlic powder and grated Parmesan cheese.  Lay the pepperoni to cover the dough, as much as you like and then top with grated mozzarella cheese.  Carefully roll the bread up, starting at one side (long side) moving up and down the side to roll it evenly.  Pinch the edge to the rolled dough when you get to the end, flip the sides up and lay seem and tucked end side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Rub the top with your remaining olive oil and sprinkle with some extra seasoning!

Cover with a lint free towel and let raise for approximately 1 hour.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes


Monday, May 12, 2014

Crab Cakes

Hello friends!  I am sorry for my absence but as most of you know I got a Mother's Day surprise to beat all sunrises!  My kids showed up with their new twins who we haven't yet met, to surprise me!  It was awesome!  So I took 3 days to spend quality time with my children and grandchildren and now am back and refreshed and ready to get back in the kitchen!

It is funny I made these last week, actually only 2 days before my son came to see me, as his crab cakes are the B-E-S-T!  However, I think mine are awesome so you are getting mine and maybe one day I will share HIS! 

It seems crab cakes we order out,  are often all breading and no crab.  Ick.  When I order a crab cake, there better be identifiable seafood IN it and it shouldn't just appear to be Stove Top Stuffing fried into a patty!  You know what I mean?  I like flavor dimension, I like color and I like a nice sweet crab flavor.  You can make this with imitation or real crab meat.  The choice is up to you, your taste and/or budget.  We had cocktail sauce and some horseradish mayo we used for dipping!  Try these and let me know what you think.  I think you will be one happy crabby cake eater!

12 oz.. crab meat (imitation or real)
1/4 cup Hellman's Mayo
1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp. parsley, minced
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 oz.. diced pimentos
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 tbsp. melted butter
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups bread crumbs (plus 1 extra cup)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl large enough to accommodate the mixture.  Place your 1 extra cup of breadcrumbs into a bowl to dust both sides of your crab cake before frying.  Preheat a nonstick skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter melted in it.  Take a handful of the mixture, make into a ball and slightly flatten it, carefully lay in bread crumbs, and then flip and coat the other side and then place in pan.  Fry on MEDIUM HEAT for about 2-4 minutes per side depending on the size.  I got about 10 crab cakes from this mixture.  When they are done, drain on a paper towel to absorb excess oil and serve with your favorite sauce!  You may need to add more oil and butter halfway through frying!

Enjoy the crabby goodness!

PS make these really small for party appetizers!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Scrumptious Crab Salad

The weather is getting warmer!  Finally!  Although admittedly, I don't mind the bitter cold, I DO mind the snow and ice!  You know the hot weather will get here and we will all be whining about how hoooooooot it is, right? HA!

So let me just give you a quick rundown of a few foods my husband strongly dislikes...
bell pepper

The list goes on, HOWEVER.....all of these things are in this crab salad that he deems "BEST EVER"

When my husband and I decided to make this, he wanted it loosely based on his favorite crab salad he had ever eaten from home at a place called "Mulford's Seafood" in Millville, NJ.  Imagine my surprise when he wrote a list of ingredients he wanted in it.  WHAT?  Where is my husband?!?!  I wasn't surprised he didn't want onions, I mean, he has now convinced himself he is allergic to them after all!  He is so adorable!  We tweaked, and twisted, and added and subtracted and came up with a salad he now says is his favorite.   I don't like crab salad, so when I tell you this is "amazing", that is all hubby talking!  Summer time is a huge sandwich season for us.  Cold salads, deli meat, etc.  Anything to not heat up the kitchen!

This is really easy to toss together and the longer you let it chill in the fridge, honestly, the better it gets.  Serve it on a salad, on a roll, rolled up in a tortilla, you name it, you can use it to carry this deliciousness to your lips!  I hope you like it!

12 ounces crab meat (imitation or real)
3/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup very finely minced green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely minced celery
1/3 cup finely grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped black olives
3/4 cup Hellmann's Mayo

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.  My husband says, "no, it needs to sit overnight".  I served these on buttered and toasted ciabatta rolls!

I hope you enjoy this as much as my dear husband does!!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Tres Leche Cake (with a twist)

Happy Monday friends!  Hoping you are all recovering from your first day after the weekend!  Hangovers?  To much yard work?  Bad Monday back at work?  Well, I am about to cheer you up in ways you didn't even know were possible.  I think, anyway. 

So, tell me why nobody has ever introduced me to this cake before?  I mean, seriously, this has got to be what heaven is like.  I am serious, one piece, and I am all in!  I have even declared it my new favorite dessert EVER.  Yes, I said, "EVER".  It baffles me  how you can pour all this milk over a cake and it doesn't get soggy, it just gets heavenly.  I twisted mine up a bit and incorporated my homemade dulche de leches as a layer of "frosting" between the cake and whipped cream.  I drizzled a bit more over the top and it was off the charts.  I really have nothing else to even say about this!

This cake could easily be made the day before and just do your whipping cream before serving.  The longer this cake sits with the milk, the better people.  Don't forget the cherry on top!  I have no idea why I said that, but I haven't ever seen a photo of it without a cherry on top.  I am a follower people, I am a follower!   Include the stem and see who can tie it in a knot with their tongue.  My husbands special gift. (stop looking at me like that)  Ok that is an entirely different blog post.

Let's get with it, I can't wait any longer!  ALL ingredients are in BLUE

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter (at room temp)
1 cup granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare either a 9x13 pan or a 9 inch round spring form pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray and if using a spring form pan, line the bottom with parchment paper.  Set aside. 

In a bowl combine flour and baking powder and also, set aside.  In a bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, giving each one a few seconds to mix with the batter.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.  When a toothpick comes out clean with no batter on it, you are done!  Place on a cooling rack and let cool for 20 minutes. 

Remove cake from spring form pan.  Peel off the parchment from the bottom and replace on the bottom of the pan and close it back up.  You will need the sides to hold the milk in while it soaks up!

Using a tooth, skewer or large fork, pierce the top of the entire cake.  Now in a bowl whisk together, 1/2 cup heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk.  When well combined, pour   S L O W L Y over the cake.  Let sit 15-30 minutes and all of the milk mixture will be absorbed into the cake. 

While this happens...
 Whip 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla to stiff peaks!

Now is where my twist comes!  I made Dulche De Leche the other day.  You can make it or not.  But it adds wonderful flavor!  If you choose to make a batch, after it has cooled, spread a layer of it on top of the cake.  Then spread your fresh sweetened whipped cream and add some cherries!

I chilled this for about 8 hours, and it was even better than the first piece I had.  Um, yea, I had 2 pieces.  I am so ashamed. 


Friday, May 2, 2014

Homemade Dulche De Leche

Am I the only one who thought dulche de leche was caramel?  I was wrong!  I found this out via Gretchen over at Woodland Bakery last week! ACK!  Who knew?!  Lots of people use caramel in its place, or call it caramel but it technically isn't caramel!  Anyway, I wanted to give this a try because, duh, I had to, that is why!  It looked beyond delicious.  But here is where my scatterbrain tendencies came in.  Umm, what am I going to do with it when I am done?

Good question.  You can put this on ice cream, in coffee, frost brownies or cake with it, I mean, the options are endless.  I might have accidentally dropped a spoonful into my coffee this morning.  (actually it was on the way to my mouth and slipped off into my coffee if I am honest)

Dulche de leche is distinctly different tasting than caramel, to me anyway.  It is not quite as sweet, but just beautiful in texture and flavor.  I can't wait to figure out what I am going to do with this. 

Admittedly it is a bit of a long process to make.  It will take you about an hour from start to finish.  This is one of "those" recipes, where you better get something good up on Pandora, or your Ipod, or somewhere and get your groove on.  Consider it the opportunity to give a one hour in home vocal concert, OR dance show.  The choice is yours.  It isn't complicated, at all, just time consuming.  Thanks Gretchen for educating me and for the recipe!

You will need:
4 cups whole milk
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Use a large heavy bottomed pot for this.  It will bubble up a lot!!  Bring your milk to a boil, once it is boiling, add brown sugar, baking soda, salt and vanilla.  Using a whisk combine all ingredients.  Reduce to a simmer and let the singing/dancing begin.  You can NOT walk away from this.  You just can't.  I mean you can, but, don't say I didn't tell you so. 

You will need a slotted spoon to skim the foam off the top ever so often.  Make sure to do this!  Whisk every couple of minutes or when it needs it and let continue to simmer until it becomes dark and eventually thickens.  If you don't keep this at an active simmer it will take longer!  Be patient.  I mean REALLY patient.  It will be so worth it.

When it become thick, like maybe a pudding or a bit looser than pudding, strain mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any bits that may have cooked on the bottom, then, pour into a bowl and let cool.  Refrigerate, it will continue to thicken the longer it is in there!!

This is when your imagination takes over.  Use it for something amazing!  I know what I am doing with mine!!!