Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Soup & Bread

Here it is, take your darn corn bread!

I have had too many request for Corn Bread this winter. I've been avoiding making this just because. Don't get me wrong....I LOVE CORN BREAD. It's just not my favorite thing to make. without further ado, I present to you.....

Corn bread.....with my favorite wintertime stew sancocho!!

My take on the well loved SANCOCHO STEW!!

Marinate the meat in sour orange juice (naranja agria) overnight if you can or for a 30 mins before you begin cooking.
  • Olive oil -- 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup recaito
  • 1/2 cup of sofrito
  • Tomatoes, chopped -- 2 cups
  • 2 quarts water
  • Meat, cubed (ox tails/chicken/pork) -- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
  • 2 pounds peeled and cubed Potatoes, yuca, yautía, sweet potatoes, ñame
  • 1/2 pound Pumpkin (calabaza), peeled and cubed (to me this is the best veggie in the stew)
  • 1 Green plantain, peeled and cubed
  • 4 Corn cobs cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons of Oregano
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • Cilantro, chopped
Cook it up!
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium flame. Add the meats and sauté until the meat is brown.
  2. Transfer meat & seasonings to stock pot and add water and root vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 mins.
  3. Finally add the pumpkin, plantain, corn, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the vegetables have begun to break down a bit.
  4. Serve hot with whatever you like =^_^=
Corn Bread
  • 2 boxes Jiffy corn mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
Blend ingredients, batter will be slightly lumpy. after blending let batter rest rest for 2-3 mins

Cook it up!
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Grease pan well, and sprinkle some of the dry mix on the bottom of the pan (this will give the bread a crunch)
  3. Pour in the batter and bake for about 20 mins.
Let bread cool and serve with whatever you like!

*In lieu of Jiffy cornbread mix, it’s easy to make your own mix from scratch:
¾ cup cornmeal
¾ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Passion of The Pancake!

In my house, Sunday brunch is lovingly known as "I-Mom". (a more economical and tastier version of I-Hop)
The star of breakfast is most usually some well cooked starch. My favorite is PANCAKES!!.....or french toast!

This morning I've decided to continue my use of the in-season CRANBERRY! The taste is soo tart and wonderful, it goes great with most starch and proteins.  I think these pancakes will go well on my Christmas breakfast menu.

What you need....

  • Pancake Mix (I used a "complete" mix with blueberries)
  • *eggs (maybe, depending on the mix you buy)
  • Water or *milk (depending on the mix you buy)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cranberries.
  • 2 tbs of powdered sugar to sprinkle on pancakes
  • Butter for the griddle and to top the pancakes
Prepare Pancake Mix (I used a hand mixer, it incorporates more air yielding fluffier pancakes) according to the box directions, adding 1/4 cup finely diced cranberries for each cup of mix used.  (I put them in a blender).

This recipe is really easy. Just add your favorite sides to complete the meal.

Eat & enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tri-force of Lemon Goodness!

Technically this is a do-over. The first time I tried making this, I didn't have eggs and opted to create a lemon -cream cheese filling.instead. It turned out OK, however it was no true "lemon bar". Here is how it looked with the cream cheese filling and a swirl of caramel....

My 12yo loved this version after 2 days, but I still craved something tangy and tart, so I decided to take another crack at the Lemon Bars AND add a twist!. This time I have everything I need to make it right.

What I used.....

For the shortbread crust...
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1+1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup chopped FRESH cranberries
 For the lemon filling....
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped Fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar for dusting
If you don't have confectioners sugar on hand, just put regular granulated sugar into the blender and process until you have a fine powder!

Heat your oven to 350 degrees F
  • Mix the flour and sugar well, then add in the softened butter and berries. Pat dough evenly into 9 inch round cake pan.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until brown. 

  • Combine eggs, white sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour and mix until smooth. stir in berries; pour mixture over hot crust.(Mixture will be slightly thin)
  • Bake 15 to 20 minutes more, until firm. Let cool completely in baking dish. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and cut into triangles. 
Eat and enjoy!!



Friday, December 18, 2009

Mac Xpress!!


On today's menu is Mac & Cheese. I have never tried making this before, but while looking in the ole' cabinets for tonight's main course I came across a box of macaroni and inspiration hit. I remembered the two blocks of cheddar in the fridge. A quick glance around the found the other few ingredients to complete the dish. Simple, fun, and good. Ryan (my 6 yo) grated the first half of the cheese, then my 12 yo Aaron finished up.

So without further ado I humbly present my mac & cheese.

Things I would change-----I used olive oil in place of butter. Use the butter! The olive oil leaves a very slight olive taste, which mac & cheese is NOT supposed to have. All in all borderline success!

            What you need!
  • 1/4 tsp flour
  • 2-1/2 cups of milk
  • 2 tbsp Margarine or butter (I put olive oil....Nooo...bad cook...)
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 box Elbows (about 2 cups), cooked 5 minutes and drained 
  Cooking it up!
  • In medium saucepan combine flour, salt, stir in milk.
  • Add margarine.
  • Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in 1-3/4 cups cheese until melted.
  • Add elbows.
  • Pour into greased baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
  • Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven 25 minutes or until lightly browned
Eat and enjoy. Maybe I'll do it better next time.....the taste is about a 7 out of 10. If you know a better recipe, send it to me. pleeeeeez!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Taqueria Style Tacos!

Real Tacos.......

With the stale taste of "Taco Bell" still in my heart, I was wary of accepting an invite to eat at a modest local eatery. Being the food lover that I am, I agreed in the hopes of just getting to eat some food and spending some down time out (something I rarely get to do nowadays). The place was very quaint, and small. One would have never expected to find a tiny restaurant there. But, despite my disbelief, there it was, nestled between the cold section and the household cleaning products! My befuddlement grew as I also noticed a small set table with various condiments on it.

We sat down and our order was quickly given in Spanish and the the man began cooking up what I later found to be the most amazing tacos ever! I never would have guessed that something that good could have come from such a tiny unassuming place. Needless to say I fell in love and in an effort to save money and gas running to the "taco place" for a fix, I've decided to take my best crack at recreating them at home.

I'd have to judge this attempt as a success!


* steak, cut into thin strips
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* corn tortillas
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 4 sliced up radishes

* I bowl chopped up Romain lettuce
* 1 diced tomato
* 1 cup crumbled Ecuadoran cheese
* 4 limes, cut into wedges
* 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
* a few Tb spoons of Central American cream
* spicy home made tomatillo salsa

Marinate steak strips in lime juice, adobo, and recaito
1. I a large skillet, Fry the steak strips & some of the onions, stirring constantly, until browned on the outside and cooked through, but not too firm, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

2. Heat the oil in the skillet, and quickly fry each tortilla on both sides, until lightly browned and flexible. Set aside, and keep warm.
3. Place tortillas on a plate, and top with steak strips, onion, lettuce, tomatoes,cheese,radish and cilantro to taste. Squeeze lime juice over.

Top with Central American cream or my personal favorite, a spicy home made tomatillo salsa.

Wrap and eat.

Don't forget your favorite ice cold beer!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Well this is sort of a back post. This weekend I baked a cake! I just went on instinct as far as the flavor goes, and ended up making my take on the classic "German Chocolate Cake". It was a birthday treat for my daughters dad. Even thou I didn't plan on making this cake in advance, it came out great and exceeded my expectations.

Things I would change....

Next time I will include a fruit filling of some type.
I would make the icing completely out of modified whip cream.


I baked the cake according to the directions for a two layer.
cool cake completely before icing it.

The icing is something I made up.

  • 1/2 container of pecan coconut icing (store bought)
  • 1 container of vanilla icing (store bought)
  • 1+ 1/2 package cream cheese
  • Whip cream (heavy cream, vanilla and sugar whipped)
(Icing will be lumpy because of the coconut and tiny pecan chunks)
  1. mix all things together. Dust off crumbs and frost cake using half the icing mixture.
  2. chill cake in the freezer until icing is slightly stiff.
  3. remove cake from freezer, then use a metal spatula to smooth out the icing.
  4. set the other iced layer on top of the other.
  5. apply remaining icing , chill the smooth icing again.
  6. apply decorations and remaining coconut icing to the middle of the cake.
put on candles and sing the birthday song!!

now...tell me what is your favorite cake flavor?

Sticky Ribs & Rice!

I began my cooking series by making something I love to have on the rare occasion I order out from the Chinese restaurant. BBQ Ribs & Tips With Fried Rice! I can say that making this dish was a bit exciting and most of all fun!

The Newbie Magic.......

Things you need,

Rice (Instant or regular medium grain).
1 bunch of Scallions
1 medium onion (white or yellow)
1 box or fresh baby peas.
1 package bean sprouts
2 large eggs
soy sauce
1 package fried rice seasoning
wok oil

Ribs (cut up into short pieces)
Chinese rib sauce
1 ginger root

cookie sheet
Aluminum foil
wok spatula
oven gloves
*your favorite beverage to enjoy while cooking all this stuff up!

-Brown or yellow rice
(cooked but not popped, let cool in the fridge).
  • In a large WOK, heat wok oil (this oil has a high flash point). Stir-fry rice, scallions until heated through.
  • Blend together seasoning mix and soy sauce in a separate dish and pour over rice. Continue to stir fry for one minute.
  • Push rice mixture to the sides of the WOK leaving an empty well in the center. Add eggs and scramble. Combine into rice when cooked.
  • I personally let the dish sit overnight, it taste more like the stuff you get at the corner Chinese place it you "age" it a day.
After the "aging", heat wok and a dash of stir fry oil, thrown in the bean sprouts and the chopped white onions, then add the rice mixture with a small dash of soy sauce.
heat all the way through and serve!

Small batches cook best, along with the all important "aging".

-Ribs......(cut, cleaned, and placed loosely on a cookie sheet)
  • Instead of brushing each individual piece with the BBQ sauce, I put the meat and sauce into a Ziploc bag and mix thoroughly.
  • Let the meat marinate for an hour or so, or overnight.
  • Empty bag onto cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  • Add sliced ginger
  • Bake at 375 degrees until ribs are tender and slightly crispy (you can do this in the broiler also).
-Chinese BBQ sauce
(I beefed up the sauce with some honey and fresh grated ginger).

...well that's it. I hope I didn't leave anything out, since I'm no "by the book cook" I could have, but I'm pretty sure I didn't.

So...tell me,....what's your favorite dish from the local Chinese eatery?

Tools of The Trade

Aside from skill, the next important thing any budding or seasoned cook needs are the tools of the trade. The very basic cookware and utensils that can either make or break the most well planned meal. Knowing this I set out to get a few things that will make my journey into cooking up special meals easier and fun!

In the past few weeks I have been getting the cooking tools I need together, to make a variety of dishes. My most recent acquisition.......A large wok, a small 4 piece cookware set, and some basic ingredients necessary for Asian cooking. I purchased the wok and cookware set at an amazing price at Ikea. They just have the most useful, durable, stylish things there. I must say I am officially a FAN. I have not had a chance to visit my local Asian market, so I just made a trip to the supermarket and checked out the small general Asian section. I found a few good things there, like plum, oyster, duck, soy, peanut and hoisin sauce.The other things I found in the fresh veggi section, like ginger, baby corn, baby peas,and bean sprouts.

with all my ingredients in tow, along with lucking upon some wok oil at pathmark, I'm in business and ready to cook!

So tell me.......what are your favorite "tools of the trade"?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cookin' With Gas??

I remember being in fifth grade and hearing that term first used by my math teacher. After almost a whole period of trying to teach the class a new difficult math lesson, one by one we began to catch on. In a single file line we had our turn at the board to solve an equation given to us by Mr D, as we each began to get the questions right he exclaimed loudly "NOW WE'RE COOKING WITH GAS". No one immediately understood what that expression meant, but by the end of class we knew it to be an exclamation of encouragement and that we were "on the right track". is what the online dictionary has

"Efficiently performing a task after a long period of inefficient performance or possibly failed attempts at the entire task or certain steps in the process."

Well I guess it certainly is the best term to describe my adventures in the kitchen. This blog will be an ode to my successes and failures at making dishes that are not on my normal dinner roll call.

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