Monday, March 29, 2010

New twist to a tried and true dessert.

Love the Mandarin Orange Cake recipe that you find in so many cookbooks and on-line.   My Mother has been making it for years and it's been a staple at family birthday parties and celebrations.   I made it this weekend for my Brother's 48th birthday but wanted to put a twist on it... and I did.   What could offer more of a twist than Grand Marnier!   It was cool and creamy, but had depth and superb taste.  Try it and let me know what you think!   Thanks to Amanda for the use of her ultra hip animal print plate!

Grand Marnier and Mandarin Orange Cake

Cake - 
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  • 1/4 C. Grand Marnier liqueur
Frosting - 
  • 1 pkg instant vanilla pudding
  • 1, 8 oz tub Cool Whip
  • 1, 8 oz can crushed pineapple
  • 1/4 C. Grand Marnier liqueur
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Butter and flour 3 cake pans.   In a mixer, combine cake mix with eggs and softened butter.   Beat until incorporated.   Drain mandarin orange juice into a measuring cup.   Remove 1/4 C of the juice (should measure 2/3 C juice total) then add 1/4 C grand marnier and add to cake mixture.   Add oranges and beat until fluffy.   Pour into cake pans and bake for 25 minutes or until done.

For frosting, mix pudding and pineapple together, add Grand Marnier.   Carefully blend in cool whip and keep in the refrigerator until ready to frost the cake.

Once cake has cooled, remove from pans.   Brush each cake with Grand Marnier, letting it soak in until super moist.   Assemble one layer at a time, frosting in between, then finishing the outer frosting.   I had to use a toothpick in the center of the cake to keep it from slipping as we drove to my brother's house for the party.   Keep in the refrigerator and reserve any left over frosting to top each slice with... Delicious!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chef Emma making guacamole

My 7 year old daughter, Emma Hurley, is becoming quite a Chef.   She's excited about her cooking class this summer at Faraday's Kitchen Store in Lakeway!   Here is her demo of guacamole... she did it all by herself.   In case you're wondering, the knife she uses is a lettuce knife.   It won't cut the skin so it's perfect for kids to learn their knife skills!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, TED Award and how YOU can help!!!

Saw Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and I'm so excited to have him on loan from the UK, his wife and his children.   His vision is amazing and frankly, it's about time.

As a Mom - I see what my kids eat at school and have never been happy with the menu they offer.   Additionally, I hate the fact that our children are limited on their lunch time frame, having only 20 minutes from start to finish!   Typically they have a mere 10 minutes to woof down their meal...   most things are processed, frozen, canned and microwaved or re-heated.

The school my child attends has a wider variety of choices, and I'm thankful for that, however I try to instill healthy choices by packing her lunch at least 3 times a week.   She will eat cherry tomatoes, pickles, loves the healthier yogurt and organic non sweetened applesauce.   I pack 2 fruits and will happily peel a clementine at 6:00 a.m. so she has more time to eat it.   I do allow her to pick goldfish, pretzels or something like that because she is eating a well rounded variety of things.

After watching Jamie's TED Video, which I will post, I want to have a sit down with her and get her to identify fruits and vegetables.   I am lucky though, she already can cook and she is 7 years old.   She can make a mean guacamole, has her own knife (it's a lettuce knife) and will attend local cooking classes in a summer camp fashion.   She eats broccoli, edamame, avocado and will try everything I give her, even if it's just a tiny bite.   I rarely buy her fast food... honestly, we went twice in one year (1 time to Chuck E Cheese for her Birthday and 1 time to McDonald's during Spring Break).

I urge you to watch Jamie's TED video all the way through... Steiner Ranch Elementary has a garden plot, but it's primarily a Butterfly garden.   I'm going to email the Vice Principal to see what we can do to expand it and utilize what is grown in the kitchen.   What can you do?

Go to to sign up to help Jamie and move his Food Revolution throughout our country to better our childrens health!

An Antipasto - Artichoke and Pepper Marinated Salad

Finally walked through Mandola's Italian Market in Lakeway yesterday and I'm thankful it's not too far away from Steiner Ranch.   While perusing the cold cases I saw a marinated artichoke salad and knew I'd be making my own version for dinner.   With yellow, orange and red julienned peppers, red onion, artichokes, black olives, ribbons of basil, lots of garlic and capers, this yummy marinated salad can be used as a topper to Bruschetta or on top of Balsamic Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts (I did both last night).

Artichoke and Pepper Marinated Salad

  • Red, Orange and Yellow Peppers, seeded and julienned
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts (non marinated kind)
  • 1/2 med red onion, thinly sliced
  • black olives, sliced
  • fresh basil, thinly sliced (into ribbons)
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mis en place - prepare by seeding and julienning your peppers, keeping in mind that thinner is better.   Same with the red onion.   Drain the artichoke hearts well and place everything into a bowl.   To slice your basil into ribbons, place the leaves on top of one another and roll them up together, then slice through it all.   Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.   Stir well and place in the refrigerator.

Variations for this salad that I love are topping fresh bread, as in Bruschetta.   I also marinated Chicken Breasts and topped them with this.   Delicious!

Bruschetta Style with marinated salad on bread.

Over marinated and grilled Chicken Breasts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Simple Side: Herb Roasted New Potatoes

Herb Roasted New Potatoes, a simple yet delicious side that I have forgotten about.   With the emergence of spring, my herb garden is showing signs of life though covered with Live Oak leaves.   I was able to cut a handful of thyme and rosemary... an excellent combination!

Herb Roasted New Potatoes

  • 16 - 18 red new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 2 T olive oil
  • your choice fresh herbs, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees.   Scrub and quarter your new potatoes and place in a roasting pan.   Drizzle with olive oil.   Finely chop your herbs and garlic and add to the potatoes.   Salt and pepper to taste and toss to evenly coat potatoes.   Place in oven and roast 35-45 minutes until potatoes are tender but have that delicious roasted crush.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lemon and Sour Cream Pound Cake with homemade Lemon Curd

Amazing is the word that describes this ultra moist and extremely lemony pound cake.   Topped with delicious homemade Lemon Curd, you will be saying "welcome spring" with this recipe.   I loved working with the lemons as my entire kitchen smelled so good!

Lemon and Sour Cream Pound Cake with homemade Lemon Curd

Ingredients - Pound Cake:
  • 3 C cake flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C or 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 C sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 C fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T grated lemon peel
  • 1 C sour cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.   Grease 2 loaf pans and then dust with flour, set aside.   Sift flour, soda and salt together in a medium bowl.   In a mixer, beat butter until fluffy.   Add sugar and continue to beat for 5 minutes.   Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each one.   Add lemon juice and lemon peel.   Next beat in flour, about 1/2 C at a time, until incorporated.   Gently mix in sour cream and transfer batter to pans.   Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.   Cool for 15 minutes then turn out of pan.

Ingredients - Lemon Curd:
  • 2 C sugar
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 C grated lemon rind
  • 3/4 C fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 C butter, room temperature
In a double boiler, add sugar, eggs, lemon rind and lemon juice.   Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon.   Add butter, one tablespoon at a time and whisk until blended.   Chill, then garnish each piece of pound cake the with curd.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Apricot and Jalapeno Glazed Cornish Game Hens

With spring finally here, I knew I wanted to use fruit when roasting the Cornish Game Hens.   I also thought that fire roasted jalapenos and garlic would add more depth to the flavors... so here it is!

Apricot and Jalapeno Glazed Cornish Game Hens

  • 4 Cornish Game Hens, rinsed and patted dry
  • 6 jalapenos, fire roasted and steamed, peeled and seeded
  • 1 C. apricot nectar
  • 1 C. apricot preserves
  • 2 heads of garlic, smashed
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and pat dry the Cornish Game Hens, set aside.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.   Add 1 T. olive oil to roasting pan.

I fire roast my own jalapeno's over one of my gas burners of my cook top.  Char them black and place them in a paper sack to steam.   Once cooled, the skin comes right off.  Slice and remove seeds and put them in the apricot nectar for 10 minutes.   Pour the nectar and jalapeno's into a blender and process until pureed.

Rub each Cornish Game Hen with the remaining 1 T olive oil.   Then brush the apricot/jalapeno puree inside and out of each bird.   Add 2 - 3 T of puree to pan and set aside remainder.   Stuff each bird cavity with 3 -4 smashed cloves of garlic.    Brush each bird with apricot preserves, salt and pepper to taste.   Add remaining smashed cloves of garlic to pan.

Roast, uncovered, for an hour and baste again with both apricot/jalapeno puree followed by apricot preserves.   The birds should have a yummy caramel color.   Remove from the oven and transfer the birds to a serving plate to rest.   For the sauce, remove garlic from pan, add remaining apricot/jalapeno puree and simmer until reduced and thick.

To plate - I started with a bed of fresh baby spinach, topped with a whole Cornish Game Hen and a side of mixed grain rice.   Add the sauce and you have an incredibly tasty meal!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Four Points Foodie Demo and Give Away at Faraday's!

Finally downloaded the images from the first Four Points Foodie demo and give away in November 2009 at Faraday's Kitchen Store in Lakeway.   I want to thank Faraday's for providing me 100% access to their store kitchen.   They have been an invaluable supporter for the Four Points Foodie!

Faraday's Kitchen Store, Lakeway, Texas

In the Faraday's Kitchen, making Panini's for the crowd.

Adding the greens!

Chatting and slicing at the same time!

Don't forget about the next give away, the 6.5 qt Cuisinart Slow Cooker!   See for more information and on how to register!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Delicious Mixed Berry Crumble

I just can't wait for Spring... I think that's why I made a crumble last night.   My enthusiasm for everything spring just cannot be contained... remember you can substitute mixed berries for peaches, blackberries or even rhubarb and strawberries!   Enjoy!

Mixed Berry Crumble

Ingredients - Sugar Crust
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C powder sugar
  • 12 T cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 eggs
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.   In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, butter and salt and process 20 seconds or until it looks like oatmeal.   Add eggs, one at a time, until the dough holds together.   Press 3/4 of mixture into a pan and bake blind (cover dough in tin foil and then cover with beans or pastry weights) for 18 minutes (reserve remaining 1/4 dough for topping).   Cool

Ingredients - Mixed Berries and Topping
  • large bag frozen mixed berries or any other type of fruit, thawed
  • 1/4 remaining crust dough
  • 1 C oatmeal
  • 1/2 C brown sugar

In a small bowl, combine remaining dough, oatmeal and brown sugar and mix with your hands until course to make crumble.   Put thawed berries on top of baked crust, followed by the "crumble" and bake for 30 - 35 minutes until top is golden brown and juices are bubbling.   Cool a little before serving... You must serve with ice cream while warm!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Melt in your mouth crab stuffed Mushrooms

My sweet husband decided to make one of his recipes last night!   His crab stuffed Mushrooms are incredible, relatively easy and go quick!   They'd make a great wine pairing appetizer!

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

  • large package of mushrooms, white or brown (your choice) washed and patted dry
  • 1 can lump crab meat
  • 1 medium sweet onion 
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1/2 C Parmesan, grated fine
  • 1 T Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning (or more if you like a little more spice)
  • 1/4 C minced parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.   Clean your mushrooms and remove each stem.   Pat dry and set aside.   In a pan, saute your onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent and soft.   Wash your crab meat making sure no shells are present, pat dry and place in large mixing bowl.   Add the cooled onion and garlic mixture along with the artichokes, sour cream, Parmesan, cajun seasoning, parsley then salt and pepper to taste.   Mix well and stuff each mushroom CAP with crab mixture.

Place in oven set at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes until cooked through then under high heat, broil until tops are browned!

Serve and enjoy!

Tortilla Soup

This recipe is fast and easy but makes a very flavorful broth!

Tortilla Soup

  • 1 whole Roasted Chicken (I use Honey Jalapeno) de-boned and cut into 1 inch chunks
  •  2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, washed and chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 64 oz chicken broth
  • 2 T chili powder
  • cilantro, washed and chopped
  • avocado, chopped
  • 1 C Jack cheese, shredded
  • corn tortilla's, sliced into strips and fried in oil, drained and salted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lime juice

In a large pot, saute garlic and onion in olive oil until transparent.   Add chicken broth and carrots, celery and potatoes.   Begin to simmer on medium heat.   Next, de-bone and cut up your store bought roasted chicken and add that to the already simmering mixture as well as the corn, Rotel and chili powder.   Cook on medium to medium low heat for an hour or until the vegetables are soft.   Salt and pepper to taste.

Chop your cilantro and avocado, set aside.   Grate your cheese and set aside.   Fry the corn tortilla strips in oil until golden... drain on paper towels and salt.

To assemble each serving, ladle soup into bowl.   Top with grated cheese, cilantro, avocado, tortilla strips and squeeze a generous amount of lime on top!   Delicious!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Incredible Shrimp and Grits

I made a great recipe last night - Shrimp and Grits.   So yummy that my husband had 2 helpings then started eating the leftovers I put in a container after dinner!   Not much is left so this is definitely a keeper!

Shrimp and Grits

Ingredients - for Cheese Grits:
  • 1/2 C quick cooking grits
  • 1 1/4 C chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 C half and half
  • 6 oz shredded white cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
For Shrimp:
  • 16 shrimp, devined
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T cajun spice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 oz hot sauce
  • 6 oz. Amber beer
  • 2 T butter

For Grits, bring half and half and stoke to a simmer.   Add grits and whisk continuously.   Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes.   Season with salt and pepper, stir in cheese and keep warm until ready.

For Shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cajun spice.   Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat.   Place shrimp in pan and cook on one side for 2 minutes.  Turn each piece over and cook another 2 minutes.   Remove from pan and place on a plate.

Place pan back on medium heat and deglaze pan with lemon juice, Worcesterhshire sauce, hot sauce and beer, using a whisk to scrap all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan.   Reduce sauce by cooking for 5 minutes and remove from heat.   Ask butter and whisk into sauce.   Return shrimp to pan to coat.

To serve, add portion of grits to center of plate, top with shrimp and spoon sauce over.   Enjoy

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pecan Crusted Cod and Black Beans with Rice

This is what the Rider Family from Steiner Ranch had for dinner last night...


And here is the recipe...

Pecan Crusted Cod
  • 1 C. Pecans
  • 1/2 sleeve Saltines
  • 1 t. Cumin
  • 1 T. Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4, 6 oz Cod Fillets
  • 1/4 C. Olive Oil
      Heat over to 400 degrees.  In a Food Processor, combine the pecans, saltines, cumin, parsley, salt 
     and  pepper.   Grind the mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.   In saute pan, heat the olive oil.
     When hot, add the fish and saute for 2 minutes.   Flip over and top each piece with the crust mixture.
     Finish fish in the oven, baking for 8 minutes or until the crust is golden and the fish is cooked through.


Black Beans with Rice
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 1/2 C. cooked rice
  • 1/3 C. cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon juice
       Heat the black beans until hot, add cooked rice and chopped cilantro.   Season with salt and pepper
       and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Slow Cooker Give-Away

In conjunction with Faraday's Kitchen Store, Lakeway, TX, I am pleased to announce my spring Give-Away!   One lucky winner will receive a Cuisinart 6.5 qt. Slow Cooker!

Join me on Sunday, April 18th at 1:30 at Faraday's Kitchen Store for my Slow Cooker Beer and Beef Stew demo/tasting followed by the LIVE drawing!

Just send an email with the subject line ADD Slow Cooker and you are entered!

For more information, see my web site at

Monday, March 1, 2010

Slow Cooker Beer and Beef Stew

Try this yummy recipe when time is not your own... all it takes is a little prep time the night before. Start it up before you head out the door in the morning and when you return in the evening, dinner is ready!

Slow Cooker Beer and Beef Stew


2 lbs. bottom round, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes * 3 T. flour * 1 med. red onion, cut into med. wedges * 4 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices * 3 potatoes, peeled and cubes * 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2 inch slices * 2 cloves garlic, minced * 1 T rosemary, minced & crushed * 2, 15 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained * 2 bottles brown ale beer * 2 T. granulated beef bouillon * 1 bay leaf * 1 t. caraway seeds * salt and pepper to taste * Ciabatta bread, sliced and toasted


Making sure your beef is patted dry, dust all pieces with flour. Place beef, onion, carrots, potatoes, celery, garlic and rosemary into your slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes and beer. Add beef bouillon, bay and caraway seeds. Cover slow cooker and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high, without removing the lid - no peeking!!!

Check for tenderness of meat at the end of the cooking time, salt and pepper to taste.

Slice and toast the Ciabatta bread, serve the stew in bowls and enjoy!

Apple and Cranberry Dumplings

Even though it isn't chilly outside anymore, a warm dessert is something to be enjoyed. I have created a yummy Apple and Cranberry Dumpling recipe that will compliment any meal. Enjoy!



2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2/3 c. butter (still cold)
1/2 c. milk

4 large apples
6 T. white sugar
3 T. ground cinnamon
2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. dried cranberries (optional)

1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 F. Peel apples and, using a kitchen gadget or sharp knife, remove all of the cores. Slice off just a small amount at the top and bottom of each apple to flatten them out so they’ll wrap in the dough easier. Rinse off the apples in cold water and dab dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter, using your hands to squish everything together, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour in milk all at once and stir to form a dough. Add a little more flour if needed to make the dough less sticky. Do not overwork the dough as you want it to remain light and tender. Split the dough ball in half and on a floured surface, roll out one half to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into two 6″ squares.

Place a whole apple in the center of a dough square. Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg listed under “Apples” above. Generously dust each apple with this mixture and fill the core with cranberries and a little more sugar mixture. Moisten the edges of the pastry square with a finger dipped in cool water and bring the corners together at the top of the apple. Press edges together to seal and pinch together any tears in the dough around the apple.
Repeat the rolling out of the second half of the dough and creating the other two dumplings. Place all four dumplings in a baking dish, one inch apart, and decorate with dough cut-outs of leaves or any other creative flare you can think to use.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the ingredients listed under “Syrup” above. Bring to a boil then remove from heat to cool slightly. Pour the syrup over the dumplings and sprinkle with additional sugar (this forms a delectable golden crust once baked). Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until apples are tender (use a fork poked into them to test) and dough is nicely browned.

Best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Can be stored in fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 200 F for 15 minutes.

The Panini Sandwich!

This is the recipe that started it all!

Roasted Chicken Panini Sandwich with Avocado and Raspberry Chipotle Mayonnaise

  • whole roasted chicken, deboned and sliced
  • avocado slices
  • white cheddar cheese, sliced
  • fresh greens
  • raspberry chipotle sauce, store bought
  • Mayonnaise
  • artisan bread of your choice, sliced
  • butter, softened
      Prehead your Panini Press and lightly butter one side of each piece of bread. Once hot, lay bottom wslice butter side down into press and add a tablespoon of Raspberry Chipotle sauce and spread evenly. Next add the sliced chicken, avocado slices and white cheddar cheese. Top with second piece of bread and close the press. While toasting, mix mayonnaise with store bought Raspberry Chipotle sauce. Once completely toasted and cheese has melted, remove from press and place on a plate. Add fresh greens to fyour choice to the sandwich and cut in half. Place the Chipotle Mayonnaise into a small container and add to the side.