Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chocolate Pudding for Tyler Florence Fridays

We just got back from vacation this week and I am ready to relax!! Whew! We were so busy on vacation!! My husband turned 40, we celebrated our wedding anniversary, we drove 4 days in the car with 2 kids, went to two parks down in Disney, and went on a Disney cruise. We had a blast with our friends from Ohio and really enjoyed watching all the kids play together. My little guy also had a great time on his first trip to Disney. He is a huge Mickey fan and was so happy to meet all the characters. It was a great time.
My daughter will be eight years old on Sunday. Her birthday came up so fast, especially since we were gone on vacation. Unfortunately, her birthday coincides with the Kentucky Derby every year and there are so many people that have plans and cannot make it to her party . Sometimes we reschedule the party for the next weekend, but then it is Mother's Day. Additionally, there are all the other spring time commitments such as showers, weddings, vacations. This year we decided to skip the big party and just go with what was easy......a small family party. My daughter, Olivia, loves chocolate and pasta more than anything else. Right now, I am trying to decide if we should have a pasta party OR a chocolate party.....What's a girl to do??????????
While we were on the cruise, chocolate pudding was her dessert of choice and she seemed to really like it. I decided to go with this Tyler recipe this week as a special treat to Olivia. I'm sure she'll enjoy it very much. I have tons of faith in Tyler's dessert recipes. You can find the recipe here.

The pudding was delicious and rich. I used the standard Hershey's cocoa and found there to be slight coffee aftertaste. I don't make pudding very often, but I would make this again. I just got some Grand Marnier and Chambord at the duty free shop. I'd like to flavor the pudding or the whipped cream with one of those liqueurs. I bet that would be fantastic. Olivia likes her pudding with toppings: Reese cups, m&m's, chocolate chips, and anything else she can get her hands on.
I'm going to be doing a lot of cooking this weekend. We're going to a Derby Party Saturday and having a birthday party here on Sunday. I 'm not sure what I'm making for either of those parties. I do know that I will be making Tyler's Grilled Lamb Chops with Smashed Potatoes and Peas sometime this weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm so Happy!!

This is a picture of my youngest child, Jackson. He is two years old and is an extremly happy little guy. In fact, he walks around most of the time saying "I'm so happy". I have this pic set as my wallpaper on my laptop. It reminds me to remember how happy I am throughout the day.

Jackson is allergic to a ton of foods. The most mentionable ones are wheat, eggs, beef, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, red dye, and a host of others. There are not very many treats that he can have so I was very pleased to see a real apple juice slush on the Sonic menu. Well, I don't have to tell you how much he enjoyed his first slush!! I mean could his smile be any bigger? This morning I was looking at this picture and I was wondering.....I bet he smiles even bigger for Mickey Mouse!! I can't wait to see that smile!!

Tyler's Egg Salad for Tyler Florence Fridays

First let me start by saying that I am so happy I finally found my copy of Stirring the Pot. I knew it was somewhere. The funny thing is that I found it under the bed. I must have took it to bed with me and forgot about it! Well, things have been pretty chaotic around here lately. I knew I wouldn't have time to cook this week. I decided to make egg salad, which I love, with the leftover Easter eggs. I wonder how many other people thought of the same thing? Tyler's recipe can be found here and also on food network.

Everyone loved this egg salad and it was super easy. I was surprised that everyone loved it because my mom loves all kinds of things in her egg salad and my husband does not. It was simply eggs, mayo, a tad of dijon and 1/2 lemon, juiced. I liked the idea of the lemon to thin the dressing out. It makes things a little healthier and adds an extra little zip. I also left out about half of the yolks.

I won't be able to post next Friday because we will be on our Disney Cruise. We are going with one of my best friends and her family. She and I have been friends since we were about 4 or 5 years old and she lives in Ohio, along with most of my other friends and relatives. I usually only see her a couple times a year for a couple hours. Starting Saturday I will get to see her and her family for about 8-10 days straight!! We are so excited. Our oldest children were born only 1 month apart and they love spending time together when they get the chance. We are also going to go to the Magic Kingdom and try to go to another park. My 2 year old is going to probably freak out when he sees Mickey. I am convinced he is about the biggest Mickey fan around. This is his first real trip to Disney. We are hoping for a safe drive and also a safe vacation.

Thanks to Megan and everyone who helped me figure out how to add the link to my posts without actually copying and pasting it. I really appreciate it! I am hoping to become my computer literate this year.

I'll be back the last week of April!! I'll miss my blogging and feel like I might be sneaking down to find a computer at bad is that?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Angel Food Cake with Lime Curd and Blackberries

My mom's birthday was this week and she LOVES blackberries! They were on sale for $1.99 at Whole Foods and I bought a couple packs and figured I would come up with a dessert for her birthday. I have recently found the Recipezaar website and it is my new obsession. Their website is great the best thing....well, in sometime. I typed in desserts and blackberries and found this recipe in no time at all. It was easy to put together, beautiful and everything you would want a spring dessert to be. It was light, fluffy, creamy, fruit, and tangy and we just devoured it. There was none left by the next day.
You simply buy a storemade angel food cake (of course you can make your own), lime curd, a big tub of cool whip and any kind of berry. You slice the cake in half and spread with lime curd, a layer of cool whip, and a layer of berries. You put the top on and frost it with the cool whip. Top with berries and reserved lime zest and you're all set. Takes 5-10 minutes to put together at the most. I wanted to make my own angel food cake, but do not have a bundt pan. I did however make my own lime curd and it tasted great. The lime curd tasted a lot like lemon curd and I couldn't detect a real lime flavor. For this reason, I would say that you could buy lemon curd at the market and use this all the same. The lime curd was good, but took quite sometime to make. This is a great, quick and impressive recipe. You can adapt it to suit your personal tastes. Any kind of curd or even jelly and your favorite summer berries. You just can't go wrong with it. I realize that it is not gourmet, but it looked like it and tasted like it.
Try it if you need a tasty dessert in a hurry!!

Banana Bread with Pecans for Tyler Florence Fridays

We've had a busy couple of weeks lately. A lot of rushing around getting ready for vacation. Somewhere along the way I have managed to misplace my copy of Stirring the Pot. I usually keep it in my car so that if I stop at the store I know what to buy. I know that I didn't lose it, but I just can't find it. In addition to that I havent' really been to the grocery and didn't have too many ingredients on hand for this week's post on Tyler Florence Fridays. I decided on this banana bread with pecans because it received raved reviews on the food network website. I halved the recipe and baked baby banana breads in little ramekins.

I have made and ate the same banana bread recipe for my whole life. It is the classic recipe from the red and white checkered Better Homes cookbook. I felt very safe to make Tyler's recipe because his baking recipes are really spot on and delicious. The difference in Tyler's recipe is that he whips the banana with sugar for 3 minutes in a mixer and makes a banana creme. All other ingredients are mixed into this mixture. I was curious how the final product would be and I have to say it was good. I may have overbaked mine slightly. They were a tad on the dry side. Maybe what I need to do is add butter!!

There is usually a debate on whether or not to add nuts to baked goods. Some people enjoy them and some do not. I have to say that I enjoy nuts on their own. (Yes, Donna....I enjoy nuts on their own!!) I don't usually like them in quick breads or muffins. I'm wondering if the additon of the nuts contributed to making the banana bread a little drier?? So, I would say that if you are not a fan of nuts in your quick breads, then just leave them out. I had never added pecans before so I thought I'd give it a try. I would make this recipe again without the nuts in a regular sized loaf pan.

Here is a link to the banana bread recipe: Someone please help me about this link I just posted. In other blogs when people post a link to a recipe or webpage, they might say Here is the recipe. Then the word here or recipe might be highlighted in purple or some other color and when you click on that one word you are redirected to correct site. I have tried to figures this out and just can't do it. I'm so computer challenged over here! If someone could explain that to me I would be very grateful. I've been wanting to do a special post to forward a blog award and would love to be able to make links to other blogs this way.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Crockpot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese

I spent an hour or so this morning looking over recipes for chicken online. Within minutes of trying to deal with the food network website, I gave up on them. What is going on with their site? I decided to try Recipezaar and I loved it!! Why haven't I checked out this website before? They have a ton of recipes and the website is a dream. You can search by ingredient (ex. chicken), ratings, course, cuisine, diet, occasion. You can search by crockpot, casserole, I think you're getting the idea. My favorite is to search by ingredient and then search by ratings. I like to find the top rated recipes and pick from one of those.

Today, the second most popular chicken dish was this Crockpot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese. In fact 767 people have rated it a 4.5 out of 5. The best part was that the recipe uses frozen chicken breast! Yes, frozen ! No waiting to thaw. The only other ingredients that were needed was a 15oz jar of salsa, 15oz can of corn, 1 can of black beans and 8 oz. cream cheese. I was so happy that I had everything on hand. I was even happier that I didn't have to wait for my chicken to thaw.

To make the dish, you drain the corn and black beans. Then you add the frozen chicken breast, the corn, black beans, and jar of salsa. This cooks on high for 4-5 hours until the chicken is cooked through. Do not worry that the chicken will overcook. I was worried the chicken would get tough, but it doesn't. Once the chicken is cooked through (for me this was 4.5 hours), add the 8 oz. of cream cheese. I kinda cubed it up with my fingers and stirred it in. Once the cream cheese is added it cooks for another 30-40 minutes. The chicken breast will shred like a dream. It was tender and moist and absolutely delicious. Serve on top or on the side of your favorite carb.

I was completely happy with this dish. I thought it was perfect comfort food and think that everyone would enjoy this dish. This is a great pantry dish that can be thrown together in about 5 hours.

Variations and changes on this dish are endless. You could do many combinations. I was even thinking of using a can or cans of tomatoes with cilantro and chiles instead of jarred salsa. You could add peppers, onions, etc. The dish was a little on the bland side and could use some extra seasoning. I read online that one lady used some taco seasoning to spice up her dish. I'm sure you could add any seasoning you saw fit. I had a fresh jalopeno on hand that I added as a final touch, but now wish that I would've sliced it up and added it to the pot. This recipe is wide open to changes and variations!! Get creative with it! Great also for feeding a lot of people.

Here is the link to the recipe:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Endive, Orange, and Radicchio *Recipe #33 - Page 245*

This salad is a thing of beauty! It 's too pretty to eat! Lots of flavor with this one: tangy, bitter, sweet and sour. It is topped with a rich and creamy dressing and it is really worth making. At first taste, you are a little perplexed, but then it all starts to come together. I was starving when I started making this salad. After eating the salad I was pleasantly full. The best part is, there is little to no fat or calories in this salad. Great news for those of us who are getting into a bathing suit in less than 3 short weeks!

Note: I did substitute plain yogurt for the creme fraiche. I couldn't locate any creme fraiche and didn't really like it much to begin with. The plain yogurt was a replacement that I found online and is a much healthier option.

1 cup creme fraiche *or like me use 1 cup plain yogurt*
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 tablespoon sugar
1 shallot, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 heads of endive, leaves separated
2 heads baby radicchio, leaves torn into large pieces
1 orange, peeled and cut into slices through the equator
1 blood orange, peeled and cut into slices through the equator

Another NOTE: I halved this recipe and had only one head of endive and radicchio. I would maybe double the endive and buy 2 endive for every radicchio to create more of a balance between the two. My mom and I both found we really liked the endive and wished there was more of it.

For the dressing, in a small bowl combine creme fraiche/yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, and sugar. Fold in shallot and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside in fridge to let the flavors come together. (I was starving and my flavors only came together for a short 10 minutes).

For the salad, toss together the endive, radicchio, and both types of orange slices in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing and gently toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately. Eat everyday, three times a day, for three weeks straight and pray to lose 5-10 pounds.

On another note, I may not be posting too many recipes in April. I am trying to stay away from the fridge, the kitchen, the cooking shows, and all other ideas of food in order to get ready for the cruise. We all know what happens on a cruise........eating, and more eating, and I think you get the idea. I gotta shave off the weight I'm gonna gain on that cruise. On the other hand, I could decide this is my April Fool's hoax and start making all kinds of unhealthy food again. I really haven't decided.......................