Friday, April 6, 2012

Cream Puffs

I am in no way a pastry chef.  I'm shocked that these cream puffs even turned out as good as they did.  In fact, when I was making cream puffs my arm almost fell off from stirring the dough, I was left virtually armless.  My hand, cramping...going numb...and I thought for sure this recipe was going to be a dud.  

Tenacity and perseverance paid off though and the finished product was a golden cream puff with the perfect custard filling and a delicious chocolate drizzle.  But don't expect these again anytime soon.  I now need a pain reliever and a sedative.

Cream Puffs
cup water
cup butter or stick margarine
cup all-purpose flour
Custard Filling
cup granulated sugar
tablespoons cornstarch
teaspoon salt
cups half-and-half
egg yolks, slightly beaten
tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
teaspoons vanilla
Chocolate Glaze
tablespoon powdered sugar
cup chocolate syrup
  • Heat oven to 400°F. In 2 1/2-quart saucepan, heat water and 1/2 cup butter to rolling boil. Stir in flour. Reduce heat to low; stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat.
  • Beat in eggs, all at once, with spoon. Continue beating until smooth. Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls about 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets to make 36 puffs.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool away from draft, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, mix granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Gradually stir at least half of the hot mixture into egg yolks, then stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and the vanilla.
  • Pour filling into bowl. Press plastic wrap on filling to prevent a tough layer from forming on top. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until cool.
  • Cut puffs horizontally in half. Fill puffs with filling; replace tops. Sift powdered sugar over tops. Cover; refrigerate until serving. Serve drizzled with chocolate topping. Store remaining profiteroles covered in refrigerator.

Sexy Chicken

I love hearing the sizzle of a pat of butter when it hits a hot pan.  I love seeing the steam rise from a loaf of bread fresh from the oven.  I love the sound of a knife tapping its blade against a cutting board.  

Cooking, for me, is a sensory delight.  Truly.  It's where I can create and engage in my love affair with food.  It's where I combine a delicate balance of flavors and texture and where magic happens.  

I created this fantastic Sexy Chicken.  It's so easy and fast.  And a beautiful dish perfect for a special occasion or just to have on a Tuesday night.

4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb.) or tenderloins
Pepper to taste
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced, separated into rings
1 red pepper, sliced into very thin strips
1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
½- ¾ cup Caesar Dressing (you can use fat free)
1 cup Finely Shredded Italian Cheese Blend, Or you can use mozzarella or parmesan.
Hot cooked noodles or rice  
Heat large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat. Add chicken, season with pepper; cook 5 min. on each side or until cooked through.  Remove chicken once cooled.
Add vegetables, sauté until softened.  Add chicken, broth and dressing; cover. Cook on medium heat 6 to 8 min.
Spoon vegetables onto platter; top with chicken, sauce and cheese.  Serve with noodles or rice.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Crab Quiche

What a day! What a day!!  After the usual work and errands I came home to a clean house and some jazzy tunes playin' on the turntable.  It was another lovely spring day in Norfolk and the sun was still shining at 7:13pm with a beautiful sunset painting the evening and hanging in the air.  

All week I have been embracing overcoming the fear of cooking seafood so I decided tonight would be no different.  I was feelin' the love for some of my shelly friends from the sea.  I don't so much mind making anything with crab meat...basically because the work is pretty much done for you if you purchase a pound of lump or backfin crab meat.  I don't want to waste my time picking meat from the tiny claws of a crab.  I'd much rather pay someone else to do it.  However, I highly recommend picking it over to be sure no leftover pieces of shell are hiding.  It's just no fun biting into a piece of shell.

Here's how to make an easy crab quiche.  I paired this with my favorite salad.  

1 Pie Crust (use your favorite recipe or use a refrigerated crust for a deep dish pie)
For filling

  • 1 (1-lb) king crab leg, thawed if frozen, or 1/2 lb lump crabmeat, picked over.  I picked backfin crab meat 'cause it was on sale.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning or cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 oz coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 2 oz coarsely grated Swiss cheese (1/2 cup)

Prepare Pie Crust for a single crust pie.

  • Make filling:
  • If using crab leg, hack through shell with a large heavy knife and cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Discard shell.  Whisk together eggs, cream, herbs, seafood seasoning, salt, and pepper, and then stir in cheeses and crabmeat.  Pour into prebaked crust and bake until filling puffs and is no longer wobbly in center when quiche is gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in pie plate on rack 15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pan Seared Sesame Tuna

I have to say this year is shaping up to be another amazing one and APRIL is almost here and I'm happy to report I have stuck with several of my resolutions including the all important "face your fears", especially when it comes to cooking fish!

You know I've been afraid to cook fish for the longest time.  LONGEST time.  Well, I am excited that I finally got up the guts to turn my fear into curiosity and make some really delicious seafood cuisine and my only regret is that I haven't done this sooner.  Not only is fish incredibly healthy, but its also very quick and easy to prepare!!

A few weeks ago I baked some cajun salmon fillets that were absolutely fantastic!!  So, I thought I'd try my hand at Tuna Steaks, which are Scott's favorite.  I did try making Tuna steaks one time before, but they weren't quite as delectable the first time around.

Start with your beautiful tuna steaks.  Always make sure you buy sushi or sashimi grade Tuna steaks for this recipe and be sure they are a beautiful bright pink.

Preheat a skillet or cast iron pan with Olive oil over high heat.  Your pan really needs to be screamin' hot!

Rub tuna steaks with olive oil on each side.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Dredge in sesame seeds.  I only had black sesame seeds on hand, but a mixture of black and white would make this a beautiful fish dish.

Last, sear Tuna on each side for about 2 minutes or just until the outside is cooked.  Tip 1: Don't overcrowd the Tuna.  Allow a little room so the Tuna cooks properly.  Tip 2:  Don't overcook the Tuna.  It's perfectly safe and delicious for the center to be a beautiful pink.

 That's It!!  All there is to it.  Topped with a drizzle of Japanese Mayo (bought at the Asian market) and served with Rice is Scott's favorite way to eat.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Strawberry Tartlets

I've been MIA for a few weeks.  I just needed a break from things and I've been busy making plans (as if that's ever concrete) for what lies ahead in our family.  I'm happy to report I've conquered several of my New Year's resolutions.  But we'll save that for another post.  I'll have lots of new fantastic recipes to share as well.

It appears that Spring is in the air and that means fresh and new!  And who can believe it's already MARCH?? Wow, my birth month is here.  Another year older.   Another year of adventure behind me.  And hopeful for another wonderful adventure ahead.

Well, I whipped up Jambalaya tonight for a quick and easy supper.  It's one of Scott's faves.  To balance out the heat, I thought it would be nice for a cool sweet treat.  So I whipped up some Strawberry Tartlets.

I got a great deal on some mega sweet strawberries at the market and they were perfect for these tartlets.

I started with puff pastry.  You can find this flaky treat in the frozen section.  It's really easy to work with and goes great with just about anything.  Out of one sheet you can cut 9 equal squares.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place each square into a muffin cup.  This will form your flaky tart shell.  Bake 9-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, prepare Strawberry Glace.

3 cups fresh whole strawberries, hulled, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
Few drops red food coloring, optional

Mash 1 cup strawberries; set aside.
In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in water and mashed berries. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in food coloring if desired. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Cool for 10 minutes.

Then you can get started on your cream cheese filling.  This is my favorite part.  I could eat cream cheese every single day.  Just the thought of it makes me giddy.

1 block softened cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  I like to pipe the filling so I add it to a plastic ziploc bag and snip the corner with my kitchen scissors.

The fun begins when you assemble these fun tarts!  Simply pipe the creamy filling.  Top with the strawberry Glace and a little whipped cream.  Garnish with fresh sliced strawberries.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spicy BBQ Chicken Rub

You ever color your own hair?  Well, I have very dark black hair and can you guess what else?  Yep.  Those stubborn pesky grays which have increased at an alarming rate over the last few years.  (I feel as though I should be concerned.)  To avoid turning skunkish, I've been coloring my hair.

With my wild sticky black hair and adorned in my "hair color" shirt, which is merely an old and very large men's North Face Tshirt, wouldn't you know the doorbell rings!  I scared the UPS man.  Poor guy couldn't leave fast enough.  I'm not sure if he was frightened by the hair, put off by the scent, or afraid of my goopy gloved hands. Oh well, at least my hair looks fabulous again.  AND I received our replacement kindle fire for the one my children already managed to mangle since receiving it for Christmas.  Thank you Amazon warranty!

I wasn't the only one getting all prettied up!  I gave the chicken a massage with this delicious rub then topped the chicken with my favorite BBQ sauce and baked at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Perfect!

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together.  Store in an airtight container.

Use about 3 Tablespoons as rub for 4 chicken breasts.

Monday, February 6, 2012

BFF Peanut Butter Pie

I love hangin' out with my best friend.

Over the weekend we went to paint pottery at Color Me Mine and have some eats and drinks at Colley Cantina.  We laughed and laughed and laughed until we couldn't laugh any more.

We made these awesome mugs!

I'm lucky to have a friend that knows so much about me and still loves me anyway.  We love to laugh.  We love Mexican and Margaritas.  We love to thrift shop together.  We watch the same great movies.  We have a strange sense of humor.  We are flamingos in a flock of pigeons.  She is the pop to my tart, the star to my burst and the peanut to my butter.

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 (16 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust or chocolate cookie crust

Beat together cream cheese and confectioners sugar. Mix in peanut butter.  Beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
Spoon into crust.  Cover, and freeze until firm.

*NOTE:  The crust can be made with graham crackers and a tablespoon of cocoa powder if you don't have chocolate cookies.  Nutter butter cookies also make a great crust!