Friday, June 24, 2011

Candy Sushi

Gummy worm eel roll
This is a FANTASTIC and delicious "activity".  Ok so it is not that healthy, but it is great for a rainy day. Of course, then your kids are hype up on sugar so maybe not so good. We have this for parties and special occasions. The kids love it and I do too. Yes, I make sushi with them. I love fruit roll-ups (one of my guilty pleasures) and rice krispy treats. Even more, I love rice crispy treats with fruit roll ups and gummy worms. So yes, I admit it; not only do I make them, I eat them too. So does Steven when no one is looking!

Sushi Supplies
Gummy Bears
Fruit Roll Ups
Gummy Worms
Gummy Fish
Colored Sugar
Anything else you have around

"Veggie Roll"

Rice Krispy Sushi Base

4 Tbsp of Butter
4 C of Miniature Marshmallows or One Package of Large Marshmallows (10 oz/283 g)
6 Cups of Crisp Rice Cereal

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave until melted, about 45 seconds.
Lots of marshmallows

Add marshmallows to the bowl and microwave until the marshmallows are completely melted, microwave at 30 seconds intervals (stir each 30 seconds). Stir the mixture until it is completely smooth.
Melted marshmallows and butter
Add the rice cereal and stir until completely coated. Immediately pour mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet.
Rice crispy mixture ready to be made into sushi
Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray (or rub them with butter), and begin to make your sushi. Use your imagination and have fun. Take some rice crispy marshmallow gooeyness and make a shape and roll it in sugar or put a fruit roll-up around it. No matter how ugly or gorgeous it looks; it will taste great! There is no judging at the sushi making table only praise. The only limitation is your imagination.
More sushi rolls
The bottom line: will I make this again? Are you kidding? Of course I will. I may be recruiting kids to make it with when Katie leaves for college.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Breakfast Quiche

It's all in there quiche
I thought it was Father's Day last week so I made bacon, eggs, and hash browns for Steven. It wasn't Father's Day. Opps! Well, at least we had a nice breakfast. I couldn't do the same breakfast twice for Father's Day, so I decided to make a quiche. Real men do eat quiche; they know that it is delicious.

I made it easier on myself by making it the night before and heating it up in the morning. I am not usually an early early morning person. Also I used a premade pie crust. I baked it prior to adding the quiche filling. I used 2% milk but half and half works well soon. To lighten this you can use egg substitute. I have and Steven hasn't noticed the difference. When I use egg substitute, I add a little more black pepper, more herbs, or I spice it up. Also you could delete the bacon and the bacon grease; it will still be good, just not great. This makes a 9 inch (23 cm) quiche.

It's All in There Quiche

1 Pie Shell
1 Cup (191 g) of Onions, Diced
6 Slices of Bacon (Reserve 3 Tbsp of Bacon Grease)
6 Large Eggs, at Room Temperature
2 Cups (480 ml) of Milk or Half and Half, Warmed
1 Cup (105 g) of Grated Mozzarella Cheese
6 Basil Leaves, Chopped
Salt and Pepper, To Taste

Fry bacon until crisp, crumble, and set aside. Saute the onions in 3 tablespoons of bacon grease until the onions are soft and golden brown (this takes about 20 minutes).

Meanwhile, bake pie shell according to recipe or package directions. Once, the pie shell is baked, lower oven heat to 350F/176C/Gas Mark 4. (I put the pie shell on a baking sheet because sometimes it spills over and it is easier to work with).
Baked pie shell
Once the onions are done, beat the eggs with the warmed liquid and add the cheese, bacon, onions, basil, and salt and pepper.
Egg mixture
I usually add a bit of both. Pour into the pie shell.
The quiche is ready for the oven.
Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The quiche should be set but it should still jiggle a little in the middle.
The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes I will. I may change the ingredients but they are so good together, I don't know what I would change.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tequila Beer Flank Steak

Make your own tacos
Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there-- and especially to my dad. I love you! I hope you are having a fantastic chicken piccata. I am sorry that I am not with you to enjoy it.

I am making Father's Day dinner for my husband (hopefully soon Katie will be making him dinner). I wanted to make a beef dish but one I did not have to grill (or more importantly Steven did not have to grill). I also wanted a lighter fresher dish. The answer: flank steak London Broil style but with a twist. Instead of topping it with onions, I  serve it with corn tortillas, salsa, and all of the fixins.

Yum! I think it is perfect for Father's Day because it is light and fresh but still a "manly" dish. I substituted beer for the oil that is usually in the marinade (which reduces the fat content and adds flavor). If you don't have any beer around, you can always use olive or vegetable oil in place of the beer. A Pilsner is fine for this recipe. It is a bonus that I can then use the leftovers for noodle bowls. One of Steven's favorite desserts is shortbread cookies so I am making those too. Now you know why I substituted the beer for the oil -- all that delicious butter in the shortbread.

The Marinade

1/2 C of Beer (Pilsner)
6 Tbsp of Tequila
3 Cloves of Garlic, Roughly Chopped
The Juice of One Lime (I also put the lime in the marinade)
1/4 Cup of Cilantro, Roughly Chopped
1 Tsp of Salt (Optional)
1 Serrano Chile, Roughly Chopped (Optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a nonreactive dish or plastic bag and add the flank steak. Marinate for 3 to 8 hours. Remove from marinade, pat dry, and discard marinade.
Marinating flank steak

The Steak

Heat up the broiler on high and place the oven rack two from the top. Cook the flank steak until medium rare. It took mine about  6 minutes each side until it was medium rare.
Finished flank steak
It all depends on how thick your steak is. I let it rest for 10 minutes and then sliced it thinly across the grain.
Sliced flank steak
The Dinner
It was make your own tacos with flank steak. I served them with corn tortillas, salsa, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and onion.  So so good.
The bottom line: Will I make this again. Yes, I will. Next time it won't be Father's Day and I will have Steven grill the flank steak....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Castle ice cream cake
Katie just turned 12. This year she picked a cake that my mother used to make. She had never had the cake, but I guess she heard enough about it to decide it was the cake. I called my mom to get the scoop on the cake and we were set.
I searched for a bundt pan and thankfully found one--- a castle -- perfect! Katie chose raspberry and orange sorbet for the cake. I went out and bought vanilla ice cream and the sorbets. It takes a day to refreeze so the day before her big day, I made the cake.

Ice Cream Cake

Half Gallon (1.89 L) of Vanilla Ice Cream
Two Pints (.94 L) of Sorbet (2 to 3 Different Flavors)

Allow the vanilla ice cream to melt so that it is "mushy"
Sorbet balls ready for the freezer
With an ice cream scoop or melon baller, make sorbet balls. Freeze the sorbet balls.
Pour the mushy vanilla ice cream into the bundt pan.
"Mushy" melted vanilla ice cream
 Partially refreeze the vanilla ice cream and then place the sorbet balls into the vanilla ice cream.
Ice cream and sorbet balls in the mold
Freeze until hard.
Frozen solid
The next part is the tricky part. Partially submerge the bundt pan into hot water until the ice cream cake comes out of the mold on to a plate. If you plan your time better than I do, refreeze the cake.
Slice of ice cream cake
Cut and serve.
Cake from the side
The bottom line: will I make it again? Yes, I will. It is a great cake for the summer. I may swirl the sorbet with the vanilla ice cream or use a melon baller to make the sorbet balls. I will also use different bundt pans.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In Season! Blueberry Muffins

Fresh blueberries
Blueberries are in season! My family are crazy about them. I buy a couple of pints at a time and put them in the refrigerator. The next thing I know, they are half gone. This year I am freezing some for winter. They are easy to freeze, just place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer until frozen and then place in freezer bags. My favorite thing to do with blueberries is to make muffins with a brown sugar crumble topping. My favorite part of the muffin is (you guessed it) the crumb topping. It is Katie's favorite part too. She would eat just the tops if she could get away with it! Here is my favorite recipe:

Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 Cups (188 g) of Unbleached Flour
3/4 Cup (150 g) of Granulated Sugar
1/2 Tsp of Salt
2 Tsp of Baking Powder
1/3 Cup (80 ml) of Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 Large Egg
1/3 Cup (80 ml) of Milk
1 Cup (140 g) of Blueberries

Crumb Topping

1/2 Cup (109 g) of Brown Sugar, Packed
1/4 Cup (31 g) of Unbleached Flour
2 Tbsp (28 g) of Butter, Softened
1 1/2 Tsp of Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F/204C/Gas Mark 6. Grease or place muffin liners into 12 muffin cups. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Break eggs into a one cup (240 ml) measuring cup, add 1/3 cup of oil (80 ml), and add enough milk to fill the measuring cup (about 1/3 cup (80 ml)  of milk). Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and gently combine. Do not over stir. Fold in blueberries.
Folding in the blueberries
Fill muffins cups about two-thirds full.
Muffins ready for the oven
Make the crumb topping by missing the crumb topping ingredients to together and sprinkle on top of muffins before baking. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. 
Beautiful blueberry muffin
The bottom line: will I make these again? Yes, I will. I might just make the crumb topping and eat it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Me Oh My! Tomato Pie!

Summer tomatoes
We wait all winter and all spring for the first summer tomatoes. Why? I will only make tomato pie with locally grown summer tomatoes. You know the ones that are not quite perfect looking but taste amazing. This year I found them early at a local farmer's market and we had tomato pie. The first time I had tomato pie my mother made it and I loved it. That was years ago and over the years I have tweaked it slightly (like you do). Here is my recipe, based on my mom's recipe. I written in some of the different ways I make it. I use light mayonnaise and sour cream but you can use the full fat version if you like.
Tomato Pie

9 Inch (23 cm) Pie Shell- Prebake and Let it Cool
3-4 Tomatoes
10 Basil Leaves, Chopped (Or Cilantro)
One Bunch of Green Onions (90 g) or 1/2 Cup (95 g) Sweet Onions, Chopped
2 Cups (4 oz/113 g) of Shredded Cheese- Cheddar or Combination of Cheddar and Mozzarella
1 Cup (208 g) of Mayonnaise
1 Cup (240 g) of Sour Cream
1/4 Tsp of White Ground Pepper
1/4 Tsp of Red Ground Pepper, Optional

Basil from our garden
Preheat oven to 350F/176C/ Gas Mark 4. Slice tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and place in a colander.
Salted tomatoes
Allow the tomatoes to drain for 10 minutes. Once the tomatoes have drained (you may want to pat the excess water and salt off of the tomatoes). Layer the tomatoes, basil, and onions in the pie shell.
Two layers of tomatoes
Mix together the cheese through red pepper in a separate bowl and spoon on top of the tomatoes.
The topping is all ready to mix
Bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
Ready to go in the oven
The top should be starting to brown. Serve warm.
Tomato Pie

The bottom line: Will I make this again. Yes, I will make it all summer. I love this pie. I will change it by changing the cheese I use and the pie crusts. If I have enough time, I make the pie crust from scratch, if not, I get a premade pie crust. It is amazing with heirloom tomatoes. Once the summer tomatoes are gone, so is this pie.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cooking for 100

A finished lunch with extra pasta salad
Wow what a challenge- a good hot lunch for 75 -100 people made in a kitchen I have never seen before - made in about 3 hours. A team of eight people (make that seven) will be cooking for the people sifting through the debris in Joplin. Each day Calvary Christian, a church north of Joplin, Missouri makes lunch for disaster volunteers. I am honored to be making food for these people and a little nervous. I want it to be a great meal but it has got to be easy.We don't have much time and that is a lot of people. I feel like I am on an episode of Dinner: Impossible.When we get there, we find out that we are packing the lunches and taking them to the neighborhoods. There will also be people who show up at the church for lunch. Our plan was to make pasta salad, sloppy joes, and a peach and a pineapple crumble.

Pasta Salad


3 qt (2.8 l) of Mayonnaise
1 Bottle (16 oz/ 473 ml) of French Salad Dressing
1/4-1/3 Cup (60-80 ml) of Vinegar
1/4 Cup (62 g) of Sugar
1 Cup (240 ml) of  Light Cream
1 1/2 Tsp of Onion Powder
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Tsp of Salt
2 Tsp of Pepper


3 lb (1.35 kg) of Fully Cooked Ham, Cubed or Sliced
8 lb (3.6 kg) of Macaroni, (4 lb/1.8 kg uncooked) Cooked, Rinsed Under Cold Water and Drained
3 lb (1.35 kg) Shredded Cheddar Cheese
40 oz. (1134 g) Frozen Peas, Thawed
2 Bunches Celery, Chopped
2 Large Onions, Chopped
1 Large Bag of Baby Carrots, Chopped

Combine first 7 ingredients. Combine all dressing ingredients; pour over the pasta mixture and toss well to coat. Refrigerate. This salad is best if it is made the day before. (We made two bowls of pasta salad and divided all of the ingredients except the ham between the bowls that way we had a meatless pasta salad).
One of the pasta salads
Sloppy Joes
20 lbs (9 kg) of Ground Beef
4 Large Onions, Chopped
1 Cup (200 g) of Packed Brown Sugar
1 Cup (240 g) of Spicy Brown Mustard
4 Cups (1,088 g) of Ketchup
2 cans (12 oz/340 g each) of Tomato Paste
4 cans (15 oz/425 g each) of Tomato Sauce
6 to 8 Cups (1.4 l to 1.89 l) of Water
1 Cup (240 ml) of Vinegar
2/3 Cup (160 ml) of Worcestershire Sauce
100 hamburger buns

Preheat oven to 350F/176C /Gas Mark 4. In a large dutch oven or skillet , brown the beef and onion  in batches until meat is browned. Drain the beef and place in  a large roaster. In a separate bowl combine add the next eight ingredients (except water). Once all of the beef is browned and added to the roasting pans add the tomato mixture and add water. (We split the meat between two roasting pans). Bake in the oven for 2-4 hours. Serve on buns.
Sloppy joes; sloppy sloppy joes
Peach and Pineapple Crumble 

1 Gallon (3.78 l) Can of Sliced peaches, Drained, Reserve the Juice
1 Gallon (3.78 l) Can of Pineapple Chunks or Crushed Pineapple, Drained,  Reserve the Juice
4-5 lb (1.8 kg to 2.25 kg) of Yellow Cake Mix
1 1/2 lbs (675 g) of Brown Sugar
1 1/2 lbs (675 g) of Butter, Softened
Cinnamon, To Taste

Pour drained pineapple into a large roasting pan and drained peaches into another roasting pan. If necessary add some of the juice back to the fruit so they are moist looking (we did not need to add any juice back).

Mix cake mix, sugar, butter and cinnamon together until forming crumb-size bits. May need to add more or less butter to get the right consistency for the crumbs. Sprinkle this mix over the top of the fruit.

Bake at 350F/176C/Gas Mark 4 for 1 hour or until golden brown.

The almost gone crumble
Here is how we did:

We made the salad dressing in the morning before we left. We drove the two plus hours to Joplin and immediately began assessing the kitchen. It was a great kitchen: two ovens, lots of pots and pans, and lots of room. The people from the church were great. We immediately began browning meat, boiling water, and chopping  onions. It look us about an hour and a half and we had everything in the ovens and all of the chopping done.
Baking in the oven
By 11:00 we had the assembly line set up and we were ready to go. We made some meatless lunches first and then made lunches with sloppy joes. One crumble (on the bottom of the oven) was ready so I turned up the oven temperature and hoped for the best. We had homemade cookies from a church member so when we ran out of the pineapple crumble, we used the cookies (until the crumble was done). Finally the peach crumble was done, and we finished packing the lunches and packed up a couple of coolers of drinks and we were off. While we were gone, the assembly line was efficiently changed to serve lunches buffet style. We delivered lunches and drinks and were devastated by what we saw. I felt guilty about leaving; I wanted to do more.

The bottom line: Will I do this again? I hope so. It was a small thing to do for a small number of  people who are helping those in Joplin. I hope a nice lunch and a short break made their day a bit better. I know that it had a profound effect on me.