Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rhubarb Pie

My Grandpa was over for his weekly dinner and brought over an apple pie for dessert.
While eating it we started talking about how much we can't wait to eat a rhubarb pie.
I mean, I love rhubarb pie.
I purchased the pre-made ones from our local grocery store every year about this time when they start selling them.
Rhubarb is typically the first fruit (or vegetable) to get ripe in the spring and can be used for baking and canning.
I have never baked with it before. My Grandma always used to make pies.
Well we were talking about how great a rhubarb pie would be...and then my Grandpa left and I kept thinking about the tasty red stalks that my Grandma used to chop out of the yard in the house I lived in with my Dad when I was little.
That's when it hit me!
There is a rhubarb patch in my backyard!!!
I announced this on facebook as being the longest and biggest blonde moment of my entire life.
We have lived here for eight, count them 8 years.
I remember my husband hacking away at it thinking it was a weed several years ago...but we still have it.
I immediately grabbed some kitchen shears and headed out to cut me some fresh fruit from my own yard!

Rhubarb leaves are poisonous to people. I remember my Grandma telling me this frequently.
I cut them off and washed the stalks happily. I called my Grandpa to tell him the news. He'd be having a rhubarb pie soon!

This is a picture of how large some of the leaves have gotten already:

I then dug through my recipe box of my Grandma's recipes that I copied and got to work.
This is a very simple recipe that makes a tart pie, and do not mix the sugar with the rhubarb, otherwise it will be watery at the bottom.



Rhubarb Pie
Prep: 30 minutes (if making crust)  Bake: 1 hour  Servings: 8 slices

4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/3 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 recipe for double pie crust or frozen pie crust (2)

Preheat oven to 450°

Combine the sugar and flour in a small bowl.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the sugar and flour mixture over the bottom of crust.
Place rhubarb over the sugar layer.
Pour the remaining sugar/flour mixture over the rhubarb.
Top with other pie crust, cut slits for steam.
Bake on lowest rack in oven on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350° and continue baking for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown
Remove to cooling rack.
Serve warm or cold.

The wonderful color of the rhubarb before baking:




Monday, April 16, 2012

Banana Bread with Streusel Topping

I had those three overly-ripe bananas just hanging out in my fruit basket this weekend.
Debating whether or not  to slice and freeze them for smoothies, or to bake with them took me a day to deliberate.
Why the dilemma over the decision?
Well:
A) I could use them for healthy smoothies
B) I could make yummy banana bread with my favorite brown sugar streusel topping and eat it all myself
I always end up eating it all myself.
My husband isn't a banana bread kind of guy.
I have a huge soft spot for it and can never get enough of it once I start.
So...after asking my three-year-old which she wanted, a smoothie or banana bread, she chose the later option much to my happiness. We got to work mashing bananas!


Banana Bread with Streusel Topping
Prep: 15 minutes  Bake: 15-20 minutes Servings: 5 mini loaves, 20 mini-muffins, 10 regular muffins or 1 large loaf

3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup  white sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375°

Grease baking pan or line muffin cups.
In a mixing bowl stir mashed bananas, sugar, and egg.
In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add to the banana mixture and stir to combine.
Mix in the melted butter.
Pour into prepared baking dish(es) or muffin cups.
In a small mixing bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter together using a fork.
Spread evenly over the batter.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or longer if preparing a large loaf, until golden brown and center is baked.
Remove from oven, let rest a few minutes before removing from dish to a wire cooling rack.






Sunday, April 15, 2012

Swiss Steak

Flash back to a Sunday dinner at Grandma's house with this meal.
I remember the wonderful aroma of these steaks baking in the oven when we would walk into the house.
Always fork-tender and served with mashed potatoes and green beans.
I don't know why we always had green beans with it, but it seems to compliment the dish very well.
Of course Grandma didn't have this recipe written anywhere, she just made it. Perfect every time.
After some experimenting with it for the past oh, six years, I finally came up with the combination that is just like her's.

Swiss Steak
Prep: 15 minutes  Frying + Baking: 1 1/2 hrs  Servings: 4

4 tenderized round steaks
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3-4 tbsp oil

1 small-medium onion, sliced into rings
2 beef bullion cubes
1/4 cup flour
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350°
Heat oil in a large frying pan.
Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of each steak.
Coat each steak into the flour and place into the frying pan.
Fry each steak, turning once until each side is golden brown and starting to crisp.

After steaks are no longer bleeding, place into a large baking dish, cover with foil to keep in the heat.
In the frying pan, add the onions and bullion cubes to the drippings and oil.
Sprinkle flour evenly over everything.
Whisk in the water.
Bring to a boil stirring constantly to let the gravy thicken.
When it has thicken to your desired consistancy, remove from heat and pour over the steaks in the baking dish.
Cover again with the foil and place in the oven and let cook for an hour.
Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Banana Split Dessert {no bake}

Banana splits = summer delight.
I love the combination a banana split has to offer.
Bananas.
Ice Cream.
Chocolate.
Strawberries.
Pineapples.
Peanuts.
A cherry.
Some cool whip.
Pretty much a little bite of heaven in a funny shaped bowl.

I was craving one the other day. 
The day before Easter to be exact.
That's when I remembered a pin from Pinterest for a no bake banana split dessert from Natalie's Killer Cuisine blog.
I browsed my 400+ "must bake" board for the pin, and found it and decided that I would make it for an Easter dessert to take along to my sister's house.
I'm very happy I did.
The original recipe called for 2 raw eggs in the custard-like portion of the dessert, so I did use pasteurized eggs (like Egg Beaters).
It was also missing strawberries, which happens to be my favorite part of the banana split. So I compensated for those :)

Banana Split Dessert {no bake}
Prep: 20 minutes  Chill: 1-2 hours  Servings: 12-15

2 cups graham crackers, crushed
1 stick butter, melted

2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs, or equivalent (Egg Beaters)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 bananas
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup blended strawberries (about 8-10 strawberries in a blender or food processor)

8 oz cool whip
Chocolate syrup
Peanuts
Maraschino cherries

Combine crushed graham crackers and melted butter and press into a 9x9 baking dish.
Add softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and eggs into a mixing bowl and beat with a stand or hand mixer for at least 5 minutes. Until mixture becomes thick.
Spread evenly over the graham cracker crust.
Slice bananas length-wise and press cut-side down into the butter mixture to form a layer of banana.
You may have to play jigsaw puzzle to get some of the pieces of banana to fit.
Spoon crushed pineapple over the bananas.
Spoon the strawberries over the pineapples.
Top with a layer of cool whip.
Drizzle chocolate syrup over the top.
Add desired amount of peanuts.
Dot with cherries.
Chill for at least 1-2 hours to allow to set up.
Serve and enjoy a delicious banana split!



Friday, April 13, 2012

Cherry Mallow Cake

If you look at my recipes, I'm sure you would see my cherry obsession right away.
I love, love, love cherries.
Cherries + anything = my favorite!
While doing my usual friend stalking on FB the other night, one of my friends posted a quick recipe she was making before she started her diet.
My jaw dropped.
Simple and it sounded delicious!
I'm sure she found it originally on Pinterest, I couldn't find the original source, so I just wrote down her post, and made it the next day. The very next.
The mallow taste bakes into the cake well and it just is the right amount of sweet.
I want to try this with rhubarb! Any fruit filling would be great in this recipe.


Cherry Mallow Cake
Prep: 10 minutes  Bake: 50 minutes  Servings: 9x13 dish

1 box white or yellow cake mix (18.25oz) prepared according to directions on box
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350°

Light spray 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Place marshmallows in the dish, and even out.
Pour prepared cake mix over the marshmallows.
Spoon the pie filling over the cake batter.
Bake for 50 minutes, or until edges are golden brown, and center is not jiggly.
Let cool, slice and serve with a bit of cool-whip.




Thursday, April 12, 2012

Orange Chicken

My favorite restaurant: The Cheesecake Factory.
My favorite drink there: the Mojito.
My favorite entree there: Orange Chicken or Crusted Chicken Ramono.
I can never decide and it is a last minute decision when the waiter or waitress is at the table staring at me debating between the two and everyone is waiting for me to choose.

The orange chicken just has a wonderful citrus flavor and just the right about spice to it. 
Not too much breading.
The right amount of sauce.
Deliciousness. 
It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Since the closest Cheesecake Factory is almost an hour away, and there is almost always a wait, and the one meal costs $15, plus another $5+ for my drink, and then another $7-8 for my cheesecake (dulce de leche all the way) I have been on the hunt for a recipe that is comparable to the orange chicken I can make at home.
I have tried several recipes over the last year, and with some tinkering with all of them, I think I have come up with my favorite combination!
It takes some prep work, but it is very much worth it when you eat it.
Very much.


Orange Chicken
Prep: 20 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Servings: 4-6
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1 inch pieces) -about 2 pounds 
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp orange juice
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sweet soy sauce (or soy sauce if you don't have the sweet soy)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup water
3 tbsp cornstarch

In a large frying pan or wok add enough oil to fry chicken. I coat it about 1/4-1/2 inch deep. Let heat.
Meanwhile, in a bowl beat egg, add the diced chicken and toss to coat each piece well.
In a large ziploc bag add flour, salt and pepper.
Add egg coated chicken to the flour mixture.
Shake to coat well.
Add chicken pieces to the hot oil and let fry until all pieces are to a golden brown, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, while chicken is frying, in a medium-sized saucepan, add the brown sugar, water, rice vinegar, orange and lemon juice, sweet soy sauce, ginger and pepper flakes.
Bring to a boil for a few minutes. 
Reduce heat to simmer

In a separate small bowl, combine 1/4 cup water with cornstarch and stir until cornstarch is dissolved.
Pour into the orange sauce mixture and mix well.
Continue to let simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until glaze thickens.

Remove chicken pieces onto a plate lined with paper towels to soak excess oil from the chicken.
Move chicken to a serving platter and pour the orange glaze over,
Serve over a bed of rice.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pork Spareribs

Nom nom nom!
That's what it sounds like at the dinner table whenever my hubs makes my favorite Asian-style spareribs!
He calls these "Khmer Ribs" because this is how he grew up eating ribs, and I'll be honest, I have missed out on these delicious things far too long. I'm so glad he makes them!
When Channa made these the other day I asked him to tell me how he does it.
It is honestly one of those "I just add what looks good" recipes. As all Asian food dishes go.
Understandable. I don't think I've ever seen measuring cups or spoons in any of his family member's houses.
So while watching him put these together, I tried my best to estimate and work with him to estimate just how much of everything he was adding.
If you try to make these, go with your eye if seems like a little too much or a smidgen too little.
They are full of garlic flavor. When cooked on the grill the char taste makes them so much better. But we have cooked these in the oven and they come out just as tasty.
My favorite side dish with to eat with these is sticky rice.


Spareribs (Khmer Style)
Prep: 10 minutes Marinate: 4-6 hours or longer Cook: 25 -30 minutes 


4-5 lbs Pork spareribs, cut apart
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp MSG
3 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 - 1 cup oyster sauce

Place separated spareribs in a large mixing bowl.
Add minced garlic, MSG, sugar and pepper.
Toss with your hands.
Add the oyster sauce. More or less depending on how many ribs you have. Coat well.
Cover and place in refrigerator to marinate at 4-6 hours, or overnight.

Either place on a large cooking sheet or dish and cook in preheated oven at 425° for 30 minutes, or thoroughly cooked.
Or place on a preheated grill and grill over direct heat for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with sticky rice :)


Juicy Smoothie

I just started experimenting in the smoothie world.
I know I'm not getting enough fruits and veggies in my daily diet. Its hard to do!
And I'm trying to diet...trying is the key word.
Watching what I eat is so hard when I bake birthday cakes, and cupcakes and celebration cookies for people on an almost daily basis.
I've done weight watchers in the past, just after they changed to free fruit and vegetables.
That is nice.
With that I mind I started looking into smoothie recipes to see what makes them so great.
Lots of fresh fruits.
I haven't tried veggies in them...yet.
This is one of my favorite combos that I have played around with.
I never used to eat breakfast. Ever. I just never did.
I'm trying to change that.
I either have a fruit smoothie for breakfast or for lunch.
Hopefully it won't be long before I start seeing some benefits from it.
Already I feel fuller longer after I drink one.
Happy smoothie drinking!

Juicy Smoothie

8 oz orange juice (1 cup)
8 oz apple juice (1 cup) - I like to use sugar free, 100% juice.
2 frozen pineapple rings
1 frozen banana, sliced
6 fresh or frozen strawberries

Combine all in a blender.
Pulse until desired consistency is reached.
Pour into a large glass and enjoy your refreshing fruit smoothie!

I slice all the fruit and put enough for each smoothie into small freezer bags and freeze.
Then they are already to toss into the blender with the juice!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Potato Packets for Grilling

It is grilling season!
I love a grilled supper.
My husband of course takes grilling very seriously, and I am trying to become a 'master' griller like he is ;)
A goal I have set for this spring/summer season is try to grill as much as I can!
But before that gets too involved, I made my favorite potato dish for the grill to take to my sister's house for an Easter dinner grill-out.
They are simple. Doesn't take long to prepare, or grill. And best of all they taste SO delish!

Potato Packets for Grilling
Prep: 15 minutes Grill: 15 minutes Serves: 6

1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 medium-sized onion
8 medium-sized potatoes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp steak seasoning
3-4 tbsp olive oil (depends on how large your potatoes are to coat well)
2 tbsp butter or margarine
aluminum foil

Cut peppers, and remove seeds.
Slice into strips
Peel onion and slice into thin strips also.
Peel potatoes, cut down the center length-wise, then cut into smaller pieces down the short side to crate smaller potato pieces. They cook faster the smaller they are.
Place peppers, onion, and potatoes into a large mixing bowl.
Add paprika, salt, and your favorite steak seasoning.
Combine well using a wooden spoon or your hands.
Add olive oil.
Add enough to coat everything well. It may take more or less depending on how large your vegetables are.

Tear off aluminum foil to create 3 packets from.
I bend up each of the four sides to create some "walls" to stand while I pour in the veggies.
Place a tablespoon of the margarine or butter into each foil.
Top with potato mixture.
Fold in the sides and seal the seams to create the packets.
Toss on the grill over a hot area for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
You can also place into the fridge for a few hours if needed at this point. Great to make-ahead and let marinate until needed!
Serve as-is, or with some ketchup, ranch or bbq sauce. Whatever you prefer!
Delicious and happy grilling!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Orange Fluff


Every great buffet has that delicious 'fluff' as I like to call it.
I don't really know if it has a proper name.
All I know if I love it. It is easy to eat it by the bowl-full and not realize how much you ate.
Until you have a belly ache.
Cherry fluff is great also.
I'll share that recipe later. I promise.
But I recently made a bowl of orange fluff and wanted to share the recipe.
It is one that I have had while growing up.
My foster-mother (long story about my childhood..yadda yadda yadda...) would make this for dinner on the weekends. I don't think I ate anything else on the plate!


Orange Fluff
Prep: 25 minutes Cool: 2 hours Serves: 12+

1 package orange jello (not sugar free)
1 package cook and serve vanilla pudding
2 cups water
1-16oz container of cool-whip (or 2-8oz containers)
1 can pineapple tidbits (drained)
1 can mandarin oranges (drained)
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 bananas, sliced

Combine orange jello mix, pudding mix, and water in a medium sized saucepan and bring to boil.
One at a rolling boil, remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl.
Place in the refrigerator to cool and thicken, about 1 hour.
Remove from the refrigerator and beat until creamy.
Fold in the drained fruit and marshmallows, then the cool whip
Return to the fridge for another hour to set up.
Slice bananas and place on top before serving.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monster High Skullette Cake Pops

I posted a Monster High Topsy Turvy cake the other day, and along with the cake they had also requested cake pops. Monster High Skullette shaped cake pops to be exact.
I haven't experimented much in the cake pop world, but thought this would doable, and surprise! It is! Making them was a little time consuming, but after I got the hang of it, it went quicker towards the end. The end result was a fabulous-tasting cake pop that actually looked like the infamous Skullette that all little girls seem to adore. All except my Sophia whom kept telling me it was a scary monster :)

Okay, so if you haven't made cake pops or balls before, it is very simple!
Bake your favorite cake...these are a variety of red velvet, strawberry and white.
Let it cool completely.
Crumble it into a large bowl. 
Mix in your favorite frosting, I typically use buttercream frosting.
Mix until it all sticks together. 
Form into balls. Chill. Dip. 

To make these cake pops I need the following when I formed the balls:

I then stuck the stick in each pop at this point and stuck the tray into the freezer.
Typically I've always added the stick in before dipping with some of the candy melt, but decided to try it this way and it worked out well!
I used a medium-sized cookie scoop to get pretty uniform sized cake pops.

After I let the cake pops freeze for about 4 hours, I removed one at a time and dipped into freshly melted almond bark, since they needed to be white.
I melted 2 squares at a times for about a minute each. 
Keeping them cold just until dipping was important for keeping the shape of these pops. 
After dipping them, lightly tap to get off the excess bark and to coat around the base of the stick going into the pop.
Then I put the stick into a styrofoam block to dry.
The almond bark dries very quickly, so trying to work just as quickly, I placed 2 pink heart sprinkles towards the left side of the head to create the Skullette's hair bow.

Sometimes I didn't work quick enough and had to dip the sprinkle into a bit of the almond bark to get it to stick.
I wanted to use a food writer to draw on the eyes and the nose, but none of them seemed to work well.
My next option was a tube of decorating icing.
These seem to dry stiffer than homemade frosting, and it won't break off from the almond bark.
So giving it my best shot I dabbed on some dots for the eyes and nose, and used a toothpick to make the eyelashes.
Viola!
Monster High Skullette cake pops!
I hope yours turn out wonderful!
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