April 29, 2011

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

I know it's hard to imagine (after reading my other posts) that I eat anything other than just sugar based foods; but believe me when I tell you that I do occasionally make regular food.  I do try to keep it interesting however, because I bore quickly of the same ol things.

While checking out my book shelf the other day I stumbled upon this recipe from a cute little cookbook created by my cousin for her Bridal Shower.  Goat Cheese, Shrimp, what's not to love.

My mom and I made these while she was visiting and they turned out so delish.  Very flavorful, you can really taste the goat cheese.  I think I used more shrimp then it originally called for but I don't think you can go wrong by adding as much shrimp as you want!

The mixture above is the chopped, cooked shrimp, goat cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, garlic, salt and pepper and cilantro.

Divide the mixture into thirds and spread it evenly on three large flour tortillas.

Top with another tortilla and add either butter or oil to a large skillet to brown.  Lovely aren't they?

Easy, quick, and delicious - can't beat that on a busy week night.

The recipe says it was given to her by Julia Dichiaro (thanks Julia).

8 Medium cooked shrimp (peeled & deveined)
4 oz. of goat cheese, softened. 
1 cup grated Monterey Jack Cheese
1/2 tsp. pressed or finely minced garlic
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
6 large flour tortillas
butter or margarine

Cook the shrimp and then chop it into small bite-sized pieces.  Mix the shrimp, goat cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, garlic and salt and pepper in a medium sized bowl.

Divide the mixture into three even amounts and add to the middle of three tortillas. Spread out evenly leaving a small space around the edge of each tortilla.  Top with another tortilla.  Melt some butter (or oil) in a skillet large enough to fit the tortilla.  Place one quesadilla and cook until brown and then flip over. 
You can keep each warm while the others are cooking by placing them on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.

Use a pizza cutter to slice into pieces.

We served this with Salsa and sour cream but the original recipe served it with Verde Sauce.  I plan to make this sauce eventually and will post it when I do.


April 27, 2011

Cranberry Obsession Snow Cake

Sorry I haven't posted in a little while.  My mom was visiting from Oregon.  We made stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Here's one of what we made.

This was by far the most steps I've gone though to make a cake.  Here's the low down.  It is a spectacle.  It's really a show piece.  Fun to have tried, but I don't think I would make it again.  Don't get me wrong, there are aspects of the cake I might repeat.  The cake itself was very dense, and had a wonderful vanilla flavor.  The cranberry middle was delish.  The white chocolate curls on top, to die for.  The frosting....wasn't what I expected.  It was called a buttercream but it was unlike any buttercream I've made in the past.  There was no confectioners sugar involved.  Regular sugar yes.  I took a ton of pictures so keep reading. The frosting was very mellow, had the texture of whipped cream and tastes like vanilla with a slight hint of butter.  Just wasn't what I'm used to with buttercream.

We made this cake over a two day process.  We made the cakes one evening and let them cool over night.

The unusual steps for this batter were when you're about to add the flour, it says to add the flour in 5 batches, and after each addition you add 1/4 Cup of water.  Start with flour, and end with flour. 

I just covered these and let them cool overnight in their cake pans.

The next morning we made the cranberry filling.  Start with 3 Cups of cranberries (I used frozen - not thawed) add the sugar and preserves and 1/4 Cup water.  Heat over high heat until the cranberries begin to pop.

This is after the cranberries have started popping.

Now add in 3/4 C. of whole cranberries and then let cool.

Now, for the strange buttercream frosting. :)  Start by putting 1 inch of water in a 2 quart sauce pan and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Put egg whites, salt and sugar in a bowl and place on the simmering water.  I used my kitchen aid metal mixing bowl so I could then move it right over to the mixer after this step.  Whisk constantly until hot to the touch.  About 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Mix the egg whites on high speed until tripled in volume and side of bowl is cool to the touch. About 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put another bowl over the same pot of simmering water - with the heat off.  chop 4 oz. of good white chocolate and melt slowly, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat when melted and let cool to room temperature.

Once the egg whites are cool to the touch start adding the butter, a little at a time.  Reduce the speed to low and mix until smooth and fluffy.  About 10 minutes.

It's been 10 minutes.

Time to add in the melted chocolate.

Fold the chocolate in by hand using a spatula. Now, you're finally done with the buttercream.

Now, scrape off the golden color from the cakes.  My mom did this for me. :) Apparently this is how you get a pure white cake!

Place one cake layer on your cake stand.  I put some waxed paper around it so that I could easily pull it out once it was assembled.  Pile on the cranberry filling, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edge.

Now, place the second layer on top. 

Begin to frost it by only putting a thin layer on it just to cover it. 

Now put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  This will keep the crumbs off of the final layer of frosting.

Add the additional frosting now.  I didn't use all the frosting I had, just try to make it even.

Use a vegetable peeler to grate chocolate curls onto the top. 

Slowly pull the wax paper out from under the cake.  Now you have a nice clean cake stand.

Now, you're finally done.  Doesn't it look beautiful?

Sorry for the bad lighting, it was sunset at this point.  I'm glad I made this cake, I feel really good about it.  I think it turned out exactly as it was supposed to. 

We found this recipe from the December 2008 Sunset magazine.  It was the cover shot.

10 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans.
3 1/2 cups cake flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
7 large egg whites, at room temperature

Cranberry Filling:
3 3/4 cups cranberries, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups cranberry or cherry preserves

5 large egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
12 oz. white chocolate (bars or a block, not chips), divided
1 lb. unsalted butter, cut into pieces at room temperature

1/2 cup colorless liqueur such as creme de cacao or kirsch (We had Kirsch on hand but did not assemble the cake with it so that my daughter could have some.  If anyone wanted it we put it on the individual slices).
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter two 9 inch cake pans.  I used cooking spray and it worked fine.

For the cake: In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together on low speed until light and fluffy.  Add egg whites in 3 batches, scraping inside of bowl as needed.  Beat in flour mixture in 5 batches, adding 1/4 cup water after each addition.  You will begin and end with flour.  Make sure the flour is completely blended before adding the water.  Pour the batter into the cake pans; making sure each has the same amount.  Smooth the tops.

Bake until the center is done, using a toothpick to test.  Takes about 40 minutes.  Cool completely on a cooling rack.  I didn't have any problems getting these to come out cleanly.

Cranberry filling: Put 3 cups of cranberries, the sugar, preserves and 1/4 water into a saucepan and cook over high heat until the cranberries begin to pop, about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.  Transfer to a bowl, add the remaining 3/4 cup of cranberries and chill until ready to use.

Buttercream: Fill a 2 quart sauce pan with an inch of water and heat over low heat.  In a separate bowl put the egg whites, salt, and sugar and whisk together.  Place this bowl on top of the pan of simmering water and heat until hot to the touch.  Keep whisking constantly.  About 3 - 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the bowl of warm egg whites in a bowl for your mixer and whisk on high speed until tripled in volume and the side of the bowl is cool to the touch.  About 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop 4 oz of chocolate and place in a bowl over the simmering water you just used.  Stir until it melts and then remove from the heat.  Let cool to room temperature.

Once the egg whites are cool to the touch, reduce the mixer speed to low and start to add the butter a little at a time.  Keep mixing for about 10 minutes. 

With a rubber spatula add the melted chocolate and fold in gently. 

To assemble: Rub the tops of the cake to remove the golden brown layer and reveal the white cake beneath.  Place one cake on a cake stand. Use wax paper on the bottom of the cake stand, just beneath the edges of the cake for easier clean-up. Pour the cooled cranberry filling onto the cake, leaving about 1/2 an inch of space around the edges. Top with the second cake and press down slightly.  Put a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.  This will help keep the crumbs from spreading onto the final layer of frosting.

Once chilled, add additional frosting all over the cake, making it as even as possible.  Now use a vegetable peeler to grate the remaining white chocolate bars into curls on top of the cake.  Now remove the wax paper from under the cake.  This cake is best served at room temperature.

Serves 16
Takes about 2 1/4 hours, plus cooking time.

April 19, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Scones

I bought a bunch of lemons.  I'm telling you this because you will see this ingredient in a lot of recipes until I use them all up.  I hope you like lemons.

While searching for the perfect recipes for my lemon weakness I found the perfect one to start things off in these Lemon Blueberry Scones.  I hardly ever make scones.  I have no good reason for that, I really like them, they aren't complicated, they're yummy, and their pretty.  See? No reason why you shouldn't go whip some up right now.

I really enjoyed these and surprisingly, so did my daughter.  Really, I was shocked.  She does love blueberries though and the lemon flavor is only coming from the lemon zest so it's very mild. She calls them cookies....hey whatever helps her eat them.

Another plus to this recipe?  I got to use my brand new food processor.  Can you make these without a food processor?  Of course you can.  But it was really fun to see what mine could do.  I was impressed.  I think I'll keep it.

Add the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and pulse briefly just to blend.

Cut the cold butter into cubes and toss them in, then cover each piece with flour.  Add the lemon zest too.

Pulse again until the mixture looks like coarse meal.  12 pulses were recommended, and that's what I did.

I used frozen blueberries, do not thaw if using frozen.  Otherwise use fresh.

Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and pour in the heavy cream.  Mix until just combined.

Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until no longer sticky.  Try to do this quickly,  you do not what the heat in your hands to heat up the butter in the dough.  It needs to stay nice and cold in order to bake up tender and flaky.  Form into an 8 inch circle.

Cut the circle into 8 triangles.

Place the triangles onto your cookies sheet that has been covered with parchment paper.

If you choose do use the glaze, spread some heavy cream over the top of each triangle.

Sprinkle sugar on top.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until the tops have begun to turn golden brown.

The inside is nice and moist while the sugar on top makes a nice sweet little coating to bite through.  The lemon flavor is very mild and goes beautifully with the blueberries.

Lemon Blueberry Scones
Recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures found here

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen, but not thawed)
1 cup heavy cream

Optional Glaze:
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the cubes of butter to the bowl and use your fingers (carefully) to coat the butter with the flour mixture and distribute it evenly. Add the lemon zest. Pulse until the mixture requires coarse meal (about 12 pulses) then transfer to a large bowl. Add the blueberries and gently toss to mix. Stir in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until the dough begins to come together, about 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top and knead by hand just until it comes together in a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds.

Gently press the ball of dough into an 8-inch circle. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 8 wedges and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. If you want to glaze the scones, brush the tops with the cream and then sprinkle with the sugar.
Bake until the scones are light brown, about 12-15 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.

April 15, 2011

Cheesy Meatloaf

It's slightly possible that I went a little overboard on this meatloaf. I can also tell you that this was LOADED with flavor. I am one of those people who always eats meatloaf with ketchup.  I just am.  But this didn't need it at all.  I actually felt a little guilty for leaving the ketchup off my plate, but I got over it.

In the picture above I've got 2 pounds of ground beef, ketchup, Italian Panko bread crumbs, egg, A1 sauce, and 1 package of onion soup mix.

Mix it thoroughly - you'll have to use your hands, sorry.

Put half of the meat mixture in a loaf pan, then form a tunnel in the middle - not all the way to the edges.

Use whatever type of cheese you want for the middle.  I used sharp cheddar.

Top with bacon, cut each strip in half to fit a loaf pan or you can use the whole strip length wise.

Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes or until the center is no longer pink.

I've made a variation of this meatloaf before here This time I decided to jazz it up a bit more by adding the cheese and the bacon.  I really enjoyed this.  It was very flavorful, and very filling.  All the spices in the onion soup mix, Italian bread crumbs and the A1 sauce really work well together.  Very moist, with a nice smoky hint from the bacon.  Delish.

Here's what you'll need:

2 lbs ground beef
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
3/4 C Italian Panko Crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 C ketchup
2 Tbsp A1 sauce
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (your choice on how much to use) I used two thick slices from a block of cheddar.
3 slices of bacon, cut in half

Preheat the oven to 350

In a bowl add all of the ingredients except the cheese and bacon.

Halve the hamburger mixture and put into a loaf pan.  Make a tunnel in the center of the meat - length wise.  Add your cheese.  Top with the remaining hamburger mixture.  Add the bacon to the top.  Cook for about 75 to 85 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.

April 13, 2011

Scottish Shortbread

I've been on a mission lately to make a homemade twix bar.  Sounds funny I know.  Recently I found a blog where she had actually made her own version of a twix bar and I made it too.  That very weekend.  I found that recipe here.  However, when I made them they didn't taste like the twix that you buy in the store.  Don't get me wrong, they were excellent in their own right but just not like we're used to.  So I've been trying little things here and there to make them.  I haven't perfected it yet, it's a work in progress. I can tell you however that these shortbread cookies are the perfect cookie for twix bars (if that floats your boat).

There are only three ingredients here, but man they make a yummy shortbread.  The dough starts out pretty sticky, but you add some flour as you go along.

Add flour until you get a nice tender dough that isn't sticky. 

Roll the dough out to your desired thickness.  I say that because the recipe says roll it out to 1/2 inch thickness.  That's a little thick for a twix bar but I tried several different thicknesses and they all came out just fine.

Line your cookies sheets with partchment paper.  These don't spread out that much so you can put them fairly close together.

Poke holes in the tops with a fork and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  I baked mine for 20 and they were perfect.

These don't get golden brown or anything when they're done.  They pretty much stay the same color so watch the first batch until you know how hot your oven gets and how long they'll take.

These aren't a soft chewy cookie but they have a wonderful buttery taste (they better with as much as we used) ;)! These are great plain, but you could certainly dip half of them in the chocolate of your choice or crumble them for crusts, on top of cobblers, or wherever your imagination takes you.

I found this recipe here


2 Cups softened butter
1 Cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cream the butter and brown sugar first until well combined.  Slowely add 3 1/2 cups of flour until you get a sticky dough.  Pour the dough out onto a well floured work surface and slowely add more flour while kneading until you get a tender, smooth dough.

Roll the dough to 1/2 thickness - mine varied from 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick. Place onto a cookies sheet lined with partchment paper.

Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness.  Move to a cooling rack.