Monday, January 30, 2012

Vanilla Bean Oatmeal with sauteed apples

Emma has been eating Oatmeal every day for the past month.   Today I wanted to change things up a bit for her and decided to use my new favorite Vanilla Bean Paste from Nielsen-Massey..   The flavor of the oatmeal was amazing and then I topped it off with yummy sauteed apples.   Great breakfast that packs a long lasting punch.   It's so good I made some for myself!

Vanilla Bean Oatmeal

  • 1/2 C quick oats (I use Quaker 1 minute Oats)
  • 3/4 C water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 T vanilla bean paste
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 2 T milk
Directions:   In a mircowave safe bowl, combine quick oats and water and zap on high for 90 seconds.   Once done, add a pinch of salt, vanilla bean paste and butter.  

Stir until butter has melted then add milk and mix again.   Serve with sauted apples or any other fruit or nut.

Sauteed Apples

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and peeled and chopped
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T brown sugar
Directions:   In a small saute pan, melt butter.   Add apples and brown sugar and simmer a few minutes until tender.   Spoon onto Vanilla Bean Oatmeal and serve warm!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stuffed Jalapeno's

This is the ultimate!   Perfect Superbowl Appetizer!   MAN FOOD!   Grab with your hands with bacon... did I mention that it's jalapeno bacon???

We're heading to a couple Superbowl parties and the Bionic Man and I thought a jalapeno bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeno would be the best thing to take.   I can make them all ahead of time and just pop them into the oven at our destination.

There are so many like recipes out there but I took it up a couple notches with the shallots, sausage, thyme and shot of Sriracha.  You can make them as spicy or mild as you like and offer up a side of Ranch to dip.   That'll help cool the tongue!

Rider's Stuffed Jalapeno's

  • 10 jalapeno peppers, cut in half and seeded
  • 1 lb pork sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 med. shallot, minced
  • 1 pk cream cheese
  • 1 T fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/3 C cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/3 C fontina cheese, grated
  • 1 T Sriracha (more or less for taste and heat)
  • pepper
  • toothpicks
Directions:   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Lay a wire rack into a baking sheet and set aside.   In a medium bowl, place cream cheese and set aside.   Brown pork sausage in a pan until cooked through and once done, spoon over cream cheese in bowl (this will soften the cream cheese so it'll mix together easier).


Add minced  shallot to pork pan and cook until translucent.   Add to cream cheese mixture with minced thyme and grated cheeses.   Stir to mix well... then add the Sriracha and pepper to taste.

Slice jalapeno's lengthwise and using a spoon, scrap out the seeds.  I like to leave the stems on for looks.

Slice the jalapeno bacon in half and lay out the toothpicks.

Using a spoon, fill each jalapeno half with the cream cheese mixture then wrap each one with 1/2 piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.   Place on wire rack in baking sheet.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and crisp.

Serve with a side of Ranch for dipping!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Champagne Cupcakes

In thinking ahead for Valentine's Day, some of my favorite treats are Champagne with Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.  Lately, I've been in a cupcake mood so I got creative today and combined all those decadent flavors into a luscious cupcake.  Perfect for a romantic Snack or a stunning Tea or for no special occasion at all.

Champagne Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla bean paste
  • 1 3/4 C cake flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1/2 C champagne
Directions:   In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.   Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate.   Add vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients, sifting well.   Alternate adding the flour mixture with the sour cream and champagne.   Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.   Set aside and cool well.

Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 8 oz Mascarpone
  • 1/2 C champagne
  • 1/2 C confectioners sugar
Directions:   In a large mixing bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form.   In a separate bowl, mix together the Mascarpone, champagne and confectioners sugar.   Gently fold the Mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream.   Use a piping bag fitted with a large, plain tip and fill the center of each cooled cupcake.

Strawberry Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1/2 t strawberry extract
  • 4 C confectioners sugar
  • 2 T milk
Directions:   In a large mixing bowl, cream together shortening and butter.  Add strawberry extract then gradually add confectioners sugar, 1 cup at a time.  You may need to scrap down the sides.  After all the sugar has been incorporated, add the milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.   If you want a bit more pink tint, add a drop of red food coloring.   Use a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice and pipe frosting onto each cupcake.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 C dark chocolate chips
  • 1 t. vanilla bean paste
Directions:  Place dark chocolate chips in a small bowl.   In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream until just before it boils.   Pour over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.   Using a whisk, beat until smooth then add the vanilla.   Cool and place into a squeeze bottle to garnish the cupcakes.

I added some sliced strawberries and little white pearls to make these cupcakes extra special.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Baked French Toast

I adapted this recipe from Paula Deen and served it Christmas Morning.  It's really like a warm bread pudding and it was devoured!   Making it again as we have house guests and wanted to share the recipe with my modifications.

Baked French Toast
adapted from 
Paula Deen's Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
  • 1 large loaf french bread, sliced to 1/2" thickness
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 C half and half
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 t vanilla bean paste
  • 1 T freshly grated nutmet
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cloves
  • bit of lemon zest
  • 1/2 t salt
Directions:   Slice bread into 1/2" thickens and arrange slices in a greased baking dish, making 2 overlapping rows.  In a large bowl combine eggs, cream, half and half, sugar, vanilla, spices and salt and beat with a whisk until blended together.  Pour the mixture over the bread, making sure to spoon it between the slices, getting each one wet.   Cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.   Remove Saran Wrap and spread topping over the entire top.   Bake for 40 minutes, until  puffed and golden.   Serve!

Praline Topping
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C chopped nuts
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 t fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Golden Mushroom Soup

This soup turned out GREAT - so great, in fact, that our children ate it all gone in a matter of minutes, leaving their Dad and I with nothing.  I will be making this often during the colder months.

Golden Mushroom Soup

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 C sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 4 C (about 32 ounces) baby Portabella mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 C vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
Directions:   Heat butter in a large pot and cook the onions over medium heat until they start to brown.  

Add the wine and mushrooms, stirring well, and cook about 5 minutes.   Add the soy, paprika and stock.   Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. 


Turn heat to low and slowly add the heavy cream, whisking as you add it.   Finally add the lemon juice, then salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread!

Oven Roasted Acorn Squash

I love these deep green gems!   No matter how you serve them, they are delicious.   For a simple side dish, I cut them in half and oven roast them.   By adding a few ingredients into the center once the flesh is soft takes them to a new taste level!

Oven Roasted Acorn Squash

2 Acorn Squash, cut in half and seeds removed
2 T olive oil
4 T Parmesan
1 T oregano
salt and pepper

Directions:   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds.  I usually trim the ends so the little acorn cups can stand up.   Fill a baking tray with water and place the squash, cut side up, in the pan.   The water ensures the skin doesn't burn and the squash doesn't dry out.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil then salt and pepper and bake for 45 minutes.   After the 45 minutes, add a bit of oregano and Parmesan to each squash cup and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender.   Remove from oven and serve.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blue Cheese Buffalo Burgers

Who knew buffalo meat was so lean and yet full of flavor?   Made burgers tonight that we devoured fast.   Juicy burger with sauted shallots, tangy blue cheese and a little crunch from the toasted onion bun.   Note to always saute the onions or shallots before using them as it adds so much more flavor.

Blue Cheese Buffalo Burgers

  • 2 lb buffalo (Bison) hamburger
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 1 T butter
  • splash of bourbon
  • salt and pepper
  • blue cheese, crumbled
  • onion buns, toasted
  • lettuce, mayo, etc
Directions:   Fire up your grill!   Mince the shallots.  Add 1 T butter to a saute pan and over medium heat, cook the shallots until soft and slightly toasty.

 In a large bowl, add the buffalo, splash of bourbon, sauted shallots, salt and pepper.  Mix well with hands and create the patties to your preferred size.   Grill over medium coals or via your gas grill to your own specific doneness.

While grilling, toast the buns either on a griddle or the grill until slightly brown.  Once done, assemble that burger.  I used a little bit of mayo, lettuce, the buffalo burger, blue cheese crumbles - in that order.   Either way you stack it up or slice it, you'll have an amazing Buffalo Burger!