Thursday, September 29, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Bites


I started off my "working" career in the restaurant business. My Mom owned a restaurant in a very small town named Kernville in California. You may have heard of the Kern River, it is quite famous for kayakers, the windy road to the valley and it's beautiful drive.

I remember starting off washing dishes, then waitressing and then doing a little bit of cooking. I was very young, maybe 9 when I started. We moved and my Mom bought another restaurant, and then another and so on. She always had a key to a restaurant for as long as I could remember.

It was definitely a family affair. We all worked there: my Mom, my Sisters, my cousins, my Grandparents...you know the kind of place. One minute we were friends and family and the next you could hear us yelling in the back ground because someone forgot the right toast.

We loved it, we tired of it, we worked ourselves to the bone, we loved it some more and then we promised ourselves we would never work in a restaurant again...LOL AND start all over the next day with the same zeal and statements.

It's hard work. You never have a holiday off. Yet, this is the only thing you know. You miss it when you are away. You miss the people, our "regulars" became family. We knew everything about them...the good, the bad, the happy and the sad. In many cases, we were there only family.  They remembered our birthdays and we never forgot theirs.

I love the restaurant business but I know that I never want to own a restaurant. It's just too much work, When I left high school, got married and moved to Austin, TX I needed a part time job. Oh, I tried the office thing...boring! I tried the stay at home thing....boring! YEP, you guessed it...I found a part time job waiting tables and I felt like I had returned home. In a few short years, I was approached to by a manager. I agreed and it was fun while it lasted. I did not have kids then and my hubby was in the military. He was gone a lot and so this kept me very, very busy. Some weeks we worked 80+ hours. It was crazy! It was fun! Bennigan's had a great menu and you may have remember me talking about this before with the Monte Cristo Sandwiches.


This recipe is one that I found on the internet. Bennigan's used to sell these delicious Broccoli Bites. I tend to dwell on things for years and it never occurred to me until the other day to google for the recipe. I found this posting and had to try them and they were really good. In fact, I made a small batch (to test the recipe) and the next day made a double batch. YUM!

My only recommendation is that if you double the recipe, double everything…especially the cheese. If the cheese is off then your bites will be dry and not cheesy.  We loved these little morsels of heaven…ENJOY!

Recipe: Bennigan's Broccoli Bites

 I found this recipe on Food.com and it's a keeper.  I try to put all of my notes in red.

About This Recipe, from the author (unknown)

"If you've ever been to Bennigan's, you may have enjoyed this wonderful appetizer. We go there quite often for them. They're basically a blend of broccoli, cheeses, bacon, and onion, rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fried. They are then dipped in a special honey-mustard sauce. This is a copycat recipe from the website Recipe Goldmine and it's right on the money! They're very easy to make and if you want to WOW your party guests with something deliciously different, by gosh- this'll do it!"

Ingredients

Broccoli Bites

3 eggs
6 ounces shredded colby cheese
6 ounces shredded monterey jack cheese
1 (16 ounce) boxes frozen chopped broccoli, thawed,drained,and dried (I used fresh.  I just steamed it and cut it very finely and it worked great.)
2 1/2 ounces hormel real bacon bits ( I fried up my own bacon and chopped it into small pieces.)
1/2 ounce diced yellow onions
1 ounce all-purpose flour (For GF, I used brown rice flour)
Italian breadcrumbs, as needed (For GF, I used Glutino Crackers, finely crushed)
Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup hellman mayonnaise
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions
Drain thawed broccoli by pressing through a strainer.
Dry well with paper towels.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until well-blended.
In a large plastic container, place all ingredients except bread crumbs.
Add beaten eggs.
Stir together with a spatula until thoroughly combined.

Refrigerate for 1 hour{This will bind the mixture together}. ( I tried to skip this part and it worked but was very difficult for them to stay together.  If you have the time, I would strongly recommend this step.)


Meanwhile, make dipping sauce.
In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard.
With a whisk, blend mixture thoroughly.
Slowly pour in honey and lemon juice and continue mixing until smooth.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat about 4 cups of oil in a deep fryer or deep pan at 350°F.
Pour bread crumbs into a shallow pan.
Remove mixture from fridge and form portions into 1 inch balls and coat well with bread crumbs.


Place Broccoli Bites into fry basket or pan.
Make sure they do not stick together.
Fry one minute, then remove and place on paper-towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.
Serve hot with Honey-Mustard Dipping sauce.

Note; These are best kept warm so you may want to use a chafing dish or even a slow cooker set on"low" for serving.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls



I have not had a cinnamon roll in a long time...a really long time.   A few weeks ago I decided that this had to all end.  I had to face my fear and dive right in and try to make this delicious dessert or breakfast for my family.

I was nervous because in the past some of my gluten free baking (especially in the area of bread like recipes) never ended that great.  They were always ho-hum with a little bit of a disappointment.  I set out in search of a great recipe and LO and BEHOLD I found one.


I found this recipe on Food.com by Andrew Mollmann dated from June 2009.  The reviews were off the charts...this is always a good sign.  The only thing that people did not like was the amount of cinnamon sugar used...well, if that's it...we can change that.

I set off to make the dough and a few hours later ended up with the most amazing cinnamon roll.  Now, I am not going to lie..they are different from the Cinnabon style roll because they don't have the soft, airy wheat to give you this melt in your mouth, gooey experience.....BUT....they were pretty darn close in flavor and texture.

I thought the dough was excellent.  It reminded me of  a yummy biscuit on the outside and a soft roll on the inside combined with the best topping and lots of cinnamon on the inside.  Sounds good, huh?

Face your fear and make these for you and your family.  You won't be disappointed.  Follow the steps for rolling out the dough and don't be intimidated about the stickiness of the dough...that is what the rice flour is for.  Use it but don't abuse it!  I just made that up...LOL  I will show you a picture of how much I use when flouring the parchment paper...this helps give you a visual.

Cooking should be fun, cooking should be challenging but most of all cooking is about eating the things you love.  I love these!  ENJOY!


Recipe:  Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

Dough

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup skim milk, warmed
1 tablespoon yeast
1 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup potato starch
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup millet flour ( or rice or brown rice or oat)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Filling

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Icing

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

Dissolve the yeast in large mixing bowl with warmed milk. Let bubble for a few minutes.

Add sugar, butter, oil, and vanilla to milk/yeast mixture. Stir to combine.

Add egg and combine thoroughly.

Sift together salt, potato starch, cornstarch, millet flour, baking soda, baking powder, and xanthan gum.

Slowly add flour mixture to mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. If the dough appears too sticky/wet, add more flour as necessary.

Remove dough from mixing bowl and place in a greased container and put in a warm place to rise for 45-60 minutes. The dough will be extremely sticky, do not worry, this is normal.


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Roll dough to 1/4" thick 13 x 13 square between 2 pieces of well floured parchment paper. (I used my fingers to flatten the dough most of the way, sprinkled the top with rice flour, laid my parchment down and GENTLY rolled the rolling pin a few times over the top.  I find this way,  there is less likely of a chance that the dough will stick to your parchment paper.)


Remove top sheet of paper from rolled dough and spread softened butter on top of dough.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough surface. Leave a 2" strip of dough uncovered at one end of square. Some reviewers have commented that there is too much filling, if so, don't use it all ;).


Using bottom sheet of parchment paper has an aid, roll the dough into a log. Start at the end opposite of that which you left uncovered.


Carefully cut into 8 equal pieces using a serrated knife. ( I used a piece of thread and it worked like a charm..this would be my recommendation.) Place rolls in a greased baking dish, leaving about half an inch between rolls to allow for expansion. Put any remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture in the bottom of the dish.


At this point you can either bake them or allow them to rise a bit longer. (In the picture you see above, I did not let them rise more...they went right into the oven.)

 Bake in oven for ~18-22 minutes until tops are golden brown and delicious. Check for doneness by running a knife between rolls in the center of the dish. Dough should not easily stick to the knife.
While the rolls are baking, whip together frosting ingredients until soft and creamy. Try not to eat it all before the rolls are done!

Written by Sherron Watson 





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Friday, September 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars


Two weeks ago someone posted that they were making Nanaimo bars and this instantly sent me in search of what this could possibly be.  I found several recipes for this yummy treat and then I found a peanut butter version, well...the original was pushed aside for the peanut butter and the rest is history.


They were absolutely amazing!  My family and I ate the whole recipe in one sitting, which is not hard to do because once you start you cannot stop.




So what is this and where does it come from?  Here is a brief explanation.


Nanaimo (play /nəˈnm/) (Canada 2006 Census population 78,692) is a city on Vancouver Island in British ColumbiaCanada. It has been dubbed the "Bathtub Racing Capital of the World" and "Harbour City". Nanaimo is also sometimes referred to as the "Hub City" because of its central location on Vancouver Island and due to the layout of the downtown streets which form a "hub" pattern. It is also fondly known as the "Hub, Tub, and Pub City" because of its association with the bathtub racing and the numerous "watering holes" in Old Nanaimo.




So HOW do you pronounce it?  I found some interpretations while trying to figure it out...it's still a mystery to me..LOL


Nah-nye-moe


Nuh-nye-moe 


nan-ah-IM-m-o


I can tell you this, I will keep making this yummy treat regardless of the pronunciation...LOL 


I made my own gluten free graham crackers and they were awesome used in this recipe.  You can sometimes find GF graham crackers at Whole Foods or some specialty shops.  I will post the recipe and pictures I used next week but if you cannot wait until then to make these, use google and you will find several recipes posted.


Recipe: Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars


This recipe was found on the Food Network website. I put my personal notes in red.


Ingredients

Cookie:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used GF Graham Cracker crumbs...see note above) 
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds (I also tried a batch with pecans and they tasted just as good)

Peanut Butter Filling:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Chocolate Glaze:

Directions

Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan or casserole with aluminum foil, with long flaps hanging over each edge. I used parchment paper and a circle cake pan and it works great too.
For the cookie: Put the butter in a heatproof medium bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer over medium-low heat. Set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and cocoa, and stir to combine. Add the egg and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until warm to the touch and slightly thickened (it should be about the consistency of hot fudge), about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in graham crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan. (Save the pan of water for melting the chocolate.)



For the filling: Beat the butter, peanut butter and confectioners' sugar together in a medium bowl with an electricmixer until light. Spread over the cookie and freeze while you prepare the chocolate glaze.

For the glaze: Put the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl, and set over the barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. (Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more.). When cool but still runny, pour the chocolate layer over the chilled peanut butter layer and carefully smooth out with an offsetspatula. Freeze 30 minutes.
To serve, remove from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pull out of the pan using the foil flaps and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Busy baker's tips: Finished bars can be wrapped in the pan in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month.






Written by Sherron Watson











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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hearty Italian Soup





This is a recipe that I married into.  My hubby's Mom has made this as far back as I can remember, at least 24 years...LOL  I loved it then and I love it now.  The soup is so easy and quick to make.  It is perfect the next day.  

Many people ask what I take when I am asked to take food into a family who is ill, had a death or a baby.  This is my go to recipe.  It's like eating a wonderful plate of spaghetti but with a spoon. LOL





This post is short because in short...the pictures speak for themselves. It's hearty, warm and a perfect blend of flavors.


Recipe: Italian Soup

I usually double this recipe for my family of 5...we love it for left overs the next day.

Brown together:

1 lb sausage (use can mix and match types and flavors to create a dynamic flavor)
1 med green pepper, diced
1 med onion, diced

Add and bring to a boil:

1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
2 (8oz) cans tomato sauce
2 cup water
3 cubes chicken bullion
¾ tsp salt

**If you don't have bullion,  you can use boxed or canned chicken broth (2 cups)

Add and let noodles cook:

¾ cup elbow macaroni (for GF I used Schar Fusilli Noodles)
Serve with :
shredded jack cheese or mozzarella cheese


Brown meat.  Sauté onion and pepper together; add to browned meat.  

Add remaining ingredients (except pasta, for gluten free see note below) and bring to a boil, add macaroni and cook until macaroni is done, about 20 minutes.  Serve with warm bread and shredded jack cheese or mozz cheese.

Gluten Free Note:  I do not cook the noodles in the broth.  I find that some of the noodles will change the flavor of the soup.  I cook my GF noodles in a separate bowl until they are almost done, then I drain and add to soup to finish cooking.  This does make you soup a little bit runnier but the flavor is still amazing.

Written by Sherron Watson










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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coconut Shrimp and Mango Salsa


I find it odd that as an adult, the memories I have of living in the Philippines as a child, are all centered around food.  I remember the pig roast, the mango's, coconuts, sugar cane and slugs (although not a fruit..I will never forget the slugs...LOL).

Up to this day, I can still taste the flavor of the mango's.  I find that the mango's in the states just don't have the same flavor.  I believe it's because they are not as fresh as what I was used to.  This has never deterred me from having a mango though.  I still love the juicy orange flesh.  

I bought a few mango's the other day and some shrimp.  I wanted to throw together a table that was bright and sunny.  That was a reflection of our summer here in Maryland.  I wanted the colors to be vibrant and fresh.  

A while back, my friend over at Cooking with Mel posted a recipe for Coconut Shrimp that looked so good.  I wanted to make this for my family.  You can find her recipe here for Fried Coconut Shrimp.  I should have read the recipe before I went to the store because I discovered that she used peanut oil.  I was bummed because I did not have any of this on hand and so I decided to bake mine.  I am not going to lie...I think the fried shrimp would have tasted so much better, although the baked were okay and quite tasty, frying in the peanut oil brings a different level of flavor to this dish.  You choose how you want your shrimp...baked or fried!  They are both yummy.




To round out our bright and sunny dinner, we had: Sweet Potato Fries, Grilled Pineapple, Homemade Chips and Mango Salsa and Coconut Shrimp.  Our table was very colorful and cheery.  This was perfect.  The next week our weather changed to Fall and so this was a celebration of summer, we just did not know it that night..LOL


Coconut Shrimp


1 pound of shrimp
unsweetened shredded coconut
3 egg whites, beaten

Preheat oven to 350.

Your shrimp should be washed, shell removed to the tail and de-vained.   This process took me 15 minutes.

Add caption
In a bowl add your egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form.

In a separate bowl, add 1 cup of coconut at a time.  It's hard to say exactly how much you will use.  I bought 2 cups from Whole Foods and I had plenty.

Take a shrimp and coat it with the egg white then coat the egg white with the coconut.  I used my baking stone and lined the shrimp on this.


The shrimp needs to bake for 8 minutes on each side.  Turning the shrimp allows both sides to brown and cook.  The shrimp should be solid when touched to check for doneness.


 Recipe:  Mango Salsa

1 mango...very ripe, orange skinned, cubed
1 slice of pineapple or a small can of tidbits
1/4 cup of red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup of red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 T. cilantro, finely chopped

Take all of your ingredients and combine them in a bowl.  Mix well and serve with chips or over fish.


If you need help in cutting a mango, go here for two different techniques.

I also found this awesome recipe for another mango style dish at Natural Noshing for Mango Bean Salad.  YUM



Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, September 16, 2011

Clam Chowder



I can't remember a time that I did not like fish.  I have always loved it.  I grew up in a very small town, for most of my childhood, by a huge lake.  We fished in it all the time.  I remember my grandpa taking me out, helping me bait my hook and then showing me how to clean the stinky fish.

Fish is wonderful in my opinion.  Oysters, clams and squid are little pieces of happiness to me too.  I love fried oysters!  I made them, at home, a few years ago and my son and I devoured them.  I ate my first raw oysters last summer.  I started with one, and then another and another.  My husbands was surprised I ate 6 with no problem.  YUMMY!

Fish is so abundant where I now live.  LOVE, LOVE this.  We were in UT before and fish was available but not like here...right off the boat!  When I decided to make clam chowder this time, I picked up the can of clams and then my hubby suggested we try fresh clams.  I have never done that before.  I wasn't sure what to expect..sand, taste, texture...would it ruin the soup?

I am hear to say that it did not ruin the soup and it was so much better.  I found that the canned clams were sweet and added an artificial flavor to the soup.  The fresh clams gave you that pure clam taste.  I can't explain the taste other than, for me, it was wonderful.  I bought 40 clams at 45cents a piece...GASP...it was spendy but well worth the money. 

I always make my clam chowder in the morning and serve it at night.  On this particular day we ended up eating it for breakfast and dinner.  The smell and aroma in my house was more than we could all bear. I have never eaten oyster crackers with my soup but this time I tried my GF crackers and it was amazing.  I think, again, the fresh oysters add a bit of a different flavor to the soup and the saltiness of the cracker really brought out the flavors...DELICIOUS!  



Clam Chowder

This will make enough for 6-8 adults.  It is wonderful the next day warmed up.

2 cups of Chicken Broth ( You can use water if you want, I just like the flavor of the broth in the soup.)
2 cups of water
clam juice (The juice should come from the can or in the container with the fresh clams)
1 cup of fresh clams or 2 small cans of clams  (Fresh is about 40-50 clams, shucked)
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup of celery, diced
4 potatoes, cubed
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour (gluten free- use brown rice flour)
2 cups of milk
2 cups of cream
pepper and salt to taste
2 dashes of hot sauce (optional)
2 T. Fresh Parsley, mince  (optional)


Chop you clams if they are fresh.  I usually don't have to chop the clams from the can.  If using fresh, let your clams sit overnight so the sand has a chance to sink to the bottom of the container.  I was surprised at how much was there the next day compared to the first.  Gently remove the clams from the container.  Save the juice to add to the water/broth.  If you want a stronger clam flavor you can always add purchased clam juice to the broth.

In a large stock pot, add the broth, clam juice and water or 6 cups of water and clam juice.  Turn heat to medium high.

In the pot, add your diced celery and onion.  Add your cubed potatoes.  Bring pot to a boil and cook until potatoes are done.  Depending on the size of your potatoes, plan on 15-20 minutes.

In a separate pot, add the stick of butter and melt.  Stir in your flour.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add the milk and cream.  This should get thick after a few minutes of cooking on medium high.  Turn heat off and set aside until the potatoes are done. If it is not thick after 5 minutes, you may need to add more flour.

Meanwhile, you can mince the parsley if you are using it in the soup.  

When your potatoes are done, add the flour/milk/cream mixture to the soup.  Add your chopped clams.  The clams do not take long to cook, 5-10 minutes.  They should be firm to the touch.

You will need to add pepper and salt to you soup.  I find that I use a lot of salt but everyone is different.  So you will need to salt, taste, salt, etc...to find what is best for your family.  We also love a few dashes of hot sauce..this is optional of course.  The fresh parsley adds more flavor to the soup.  We love this addition.  




Written by Sherron Watson








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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pad Thai



I think we, as food lovers and enthusiast, can all relate to the passion and chore of collecting our recipes.  I have binder after binder of recipes that I have torn out of magazines, copied from friends and family, and of course, the very large pile of 8.5 X11 printer paper stacks.  These should be alphabetized or at least be in some sort of system like maybe...sweets, bread, gravies, meat, etc...and they are not!  LOL  I actually have this conversation with myself every time I look for a recipe but I always come back to the same conclusion.  If they were organized then I would not get to revisit all of my recipes each and every time I look for the ONE.  It's true, I love to see them, oooh and aaaah all over again, and be reminded of the fact that I have an obsession with certain recipes.  I collect the same types of recipes...how many different ways do you make a 4 ingredient peanut butter cookie?  Seriously...it's funny to me.

How often do I cook from the recipes that I collect?  A lot!  They inspire me to create new things and they give me ideas for pictures.  Every once in  a while I come across a recipe or two that stands on it's own.  It speaks to me and my family.  It is cherished for it's flavor and texture.  I am rarely ever overwhelmed by a recipe.  If it says it will take all day, ok, I will give it a try...if the flavors are there that we like, the reviews are fantastic, and , especially, if it is challenging.  I am all in!


On occasion I come across recipes that just WOW me and I have to make them.  If they don't take all day that is even better.  I love to have a quick and easy, yet very tasty meal to fall back on.  This recipe was one that I tried, over and over, and we can't get enough of it!

This is why when I saw the Pad Thai from Bake Your Day, I just knew I had to make it.  We love Pad Thai and I have had a hard time finding a recipe that had the flavor we liked.  This one hit the spot. It was so good and delicious that we have eaten it at least once a week for a month now.  It's easy, tasty and my kids LOVE IT!  It also reheats very well the next day.

I snapped some pictures of our dish which you will notice is made with Chicken.  We have also made this with just scrambled egg.  I can't wait to make it with the shrimp when the hubby is away for the weekend.  He does not like shrimp...boo hoo!

Recipe: Shrimp/Chicken Pad Thai 
adapted from Bake Your Day


8 ounces rice noodles
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. oyster sauce
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. Sriracha (more or less depending on your desired heat level)
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
3 Tbs. canola oil
1 1/2 cups green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. cilantro, divided
1.5 cups of cooked chicken
1 – 2 cups bean sprouts
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, unsalted


Cook noodles according to package.  Drain and drizzle with olive oil.

While the noodles cook, mix the brown sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, lemon juice, Sriracha in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet or Wok.  Add onion, garlic, shrimp and 1 tablespoon cilantro; stir-fry until chicken is almost cooked.  Stir in sauce and cook one minute, stirring constantly. 

Add the cooked noodles and bean sprouts.  Garnish with peanuts and the remaining cilantro.



Written by Sherron Watson



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