Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cheddar Cheese Crackers and Rice Krispie Crackers

I've made Cheddar Cheese Crackers (posted at the end of this recipe) since 1980, but never with Rice Krispies. I liked the look of these.
This recipe comes from All

Rice Krispie Crackers:

2 C flour
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pound of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 C butter, melted
2 C Rice Krispies

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees

In a large bowl:
pepper flakes
Whisk well

Cheese and toss to coat well
Add butter and stir until moist
Add Rice Krispies and knead by hand to form a dough

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out 1/2 " balls and place them on a cookie sheet.
Flatten them with a fork.
Bake for 30 minutes. They should be light and crispy.
Allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Here's my  Mother's recipe from the 60's.
I make these often for Parties.
They're a great Appetizer.

Cheese Crackers:

Here's what you'll need:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Sheet Pans lined with Parchment Paper.

1 Pound of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
16 TBS of butter, room temperature
3 C Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 C Chopped Pecans

 In a Stand Mixer with a Paddle Attachment:
Cayenne Pepper
Mix just to combine well.

Mix well.

Divide the dough into thirds.
Form each third into small 1 1/2" diameter logs on a sheet of Parchment Paper.
Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Slice the rolls into 1/4 " slices
Arrange 1 1/2" apart on the Sheet Pan.
Bake for 15 - 18 minutes
Remove Pan to a Rack to cool for 5 minutes.
Transfer the Crackers to the Rack to cool completely.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Alsatian Onion Tart

From the Alsace Region of France comes this rustic Onion Tart.

1 sheet of frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
1 C Diced Bacon (I use vegetarian bacon) 
3 Onions, thinly sliced
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Caraway Seeds
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and Pepper
4 Eggs
1/2 C Whole Milk
A Pinch of Nutmeg

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry until quite thin
Butter a Deep Dish Pie Pan and with flour.
Using a rolling pin, transfer the pastry to the Pie Pan

Cook Bacon about 5 minutes
Add Onion for 10 minutes
Add Garlic, Caraway Seeds, Bay Leaf, a pinch of Salt and a pinch of pepper
Onions should begin to caramelize

In a bowl, whisk together:
Add Bacon and Onion
Combine well
Pour into the pie pan
Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes
Crust should be brown and the center the tart tart will be set.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Alsatian Gingerbread

Here's another one of my favorite French Recipes. This recipe comes from the Alsace Region of France.

Alsatian Gingerbread in a Cast Iron Loaf Pan:

1/2 C Honey
2 TBS Brown Sugar
1/2 C Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 C Rye Flour
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Ground Anise
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 Large Egg
4 TBS Whole Milk
2 TBS Candied Orange or Lemon Peel, diced

In a Saucepan:
Brown Sugar
Heat gently until sugar is dissolved

Sift together, In the bowl of a Stand Mixer:
Both Flours
Baking Powder

In a small bowl, Whisk together:

Turn mixer on low and slowly add milk to the flour mixture.
Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add Honey and Brown Sugar.
Add Citrus Peel and mix on medium speed.

Butter and Flour a medium size Loaf Pan (I use my Pan Release Mix) I use my Cast Iron Loaf Pan for this bread.

Pour Batter into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 - 50 minutes.
Cool completely n the pan.
Release the cake onto a serving platter and drizzle with Orange Glaze.

Orange Glaze:
2 C Confectioner's Sugar
1/3 C Fresh Orange Juice
4 tsp Orange Zest
Whisk together until smooth

Peace in the Kitchen!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Crock Pot Pizza Fondue

Another great recipe for a Party!
This is an adaptation  of a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

4 oz. bulk Italian Sausage (Vegetarian version with Gimme Lean bulk sausage)
1 small Onion, finely diced
1 Garlic Clove , minced
1 (30 oz.) jar of your favorite Marinara Sauce
1 C sliced fresh Mushrooms
2/3 C chopped Pepperoni Sausage (Vegetarian version is available)
1 tsp dried crushed Oregano
1/2 C sliced Black Olives
1/4 C chopped Green Bell Pepper

Options for dipping:

Focaccia Bread
Italian bread, cubed
Cubed mozzarella or Provolone Cheese
Cherry Tomatoes
Cooked Tortellini or Ravioli

In a large skillet, saute the Sausage, Onion and Garlic until Sausage is browned. Use 2 TBS of olive oil when using Gimme Lean Bulk Sausage.
In a 4 quart slow cooker, combine Marinara Sauce, Mushrooms, Pepperoni, Oregano, Mix well.
Cook on low for 3 hours.
Add Olives and Bell Pepper.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes more.

Serve dippers with Fondue Forks or Skewers made from Rosemary Branches.
We have a lot of large Rosemary Bushes and we use the branches for skewers.

Peace in the Kitchen!

French Brie Cheese Soup

Here's another great French Soup that is creamy and delicious.
I serve it with large homemade croutons or you could use toasted slices of a crusty baguette.

French Brie Cheese Soup:

8 TBS butter, divided
4 C thinly sliced leeks, white part only
1/2 C sliced mushrooms
1/2 C Dry Sherry
6 C Vegetarian Chicken Stock
6 TBS flour
12 oz. French Brie Cheese. rind removed and cubed
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Chopped fresh Chives for garnish

Heat 2 TBS of butter in a soup pot
Add leeks and saute 5 minutes
Add mushrooms and cook 1 minute
Stir in the Sherry and simmer to reduce by half
Add stock and bring to a boil

In a small bowl, mix 6 TBS butter with the flour and form a paste.
Whisk this into the soup, slowly.
Return to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, stir in the cheese , a few pieces at a time until incorporated.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Garnish each bowl of soup with Chives

Peace in the Kitchen!

Baked Onion Dip

This does not need an introduction. I love dips!
If you haven't made my Tex-Mex Corn Dips, be sure to search them on the blog. They're still our favorite dips to take to an event or to serve to the family. Check out the list at the bottom of this page for all of the dips you can search on the blog.
This dip is very easy and delicious.

Baked Onion Dip:

2 C chopped Vidalia Onions
2 C Mayonnaise
2 C grated Parmesan Cheese or Swiss Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Prepare a 2 quart baking dish with a non stick vegetable spray.
Pour the mixture in the dish and bake for 45 minutes.
The top should be slightly browned.
Serve hot with a variety of crackers, pita chips, bagel chips........ etc!

Here's the other dips available on the blog:

Christmas Queso
Baked Artichoke Dip
Vegetable Dip
Artichoke - Spinach Dip
Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Dip
Red Pepper Dip
Queso Fundido
Ranch Vegetable Dip
Knorr Spinach Dip
Another Texas Bean - Cheese - Chiles - and Other Stuff Dip
Rosemary Baked Cheese
Beer Mustard Dipping Sauce
Tex - Mex Bean Dip (Vegetarian Version)
Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Dip from Wisconsin Cheese
Fry Sauce

Peace in the Kitchen!

New Project in the works!

I'm working on a new project and it's taking me longer than I had planned. I got sidetracked with the American Department Store story.
If the two woman from Starbucks are reading this, they know what's coming. My apology to you  for not getting this story completed sooner. I hope you've been reading the blog and enjoying it. I did not get your names, but you know who you are.
For all of my other readers, the story and the project that I'm working on was inspired by two women that I spoke to at my local Starbucks, while waiting for my car to be inspected.
It's been fun doing the research, and it became more detailed than I had imagined.
More to come....... I need to get back to writing!

Peace in the Kitchen!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Home Made Salad Dressings

I wanted to do a post of my favorite salad dressings. I recently saw and episode of The Pioneer Woman and Ree Drummond made a great dressing that can be used for a simple green salad. It's a recipe from her Aunt Trish. It made me think of a dressing that my Aunt Faye always made called "That Dressing", and then I decided to add a classic Vinaigrette Dressing and my favorite Ranch Dressing that I use for Cole Slaw. So here are my favorite dressings:

Aunt Faye's , "That Dressing":

1/2 pint sour cream
1/2 pint mayonnaise
1/4 pound Roquefort Cheese
Celery salt to taste
1 clove garlic
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend well.
Pour into a jar and refrigerate before using.

Aunt Trish's Salad Dressing from Ree Drummond:

3/4 C olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt
4 TBS grated parmesan cheese
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1 or 2 dashes of paprika
juice of 2 lemons
1 whole clove of garlic
Put all ingredients in a jar, shake well and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.
Great for a salad of Greens,Tomatoes, Black Olives, Red Onion and Croutons.
It's also good served over Pasta.

Homemade Ranch Dressing:

1 C mayonnaise
1/2 C sour cream
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 C minced fresh parsley
1 TBS chopped fresh chives
2 TBS fresh minced dill
1/2 C buttermilk at the end

Combine all in a jar, shake well and refrigerate before using.
This is my dressing of choice for Homemade Coe Slaw.

Classic Vinaigrette Dressing:

I know  this is such a simple recipe, however I find myself looking up the ratio every time I want to make it.
The ratio is 3 to 1 (3 parts vegetable oil to 1 part white wine vinegar).
Or 3 parts oil to 1 part acidic. ( any favorite vinegar ,lemon juice or lime juice)

Here's a basic recipe that I use:

3/4 C Vegetable Oil
1/4 C White Wine Vinegar
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a 2 cup glass measuring cup, whisk Mustard and Vinegar together.
Slowly whisk in Vegetable Oil
Season to taste with Salt and Pepper
You can also make it in a jar and shake until all ingredients are well combined.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Restaurants and Chefs of some of America's Legendary Department Stores

America had some well known Department Stores. Many of them survived over 100 years before they were sold and sold again and eventually many of them became obsolete. When Department Stores first opened in America, they had restaurants, diners,  cafeterias and even bars.

In their prime, many of them were well known for their restaurants. Customers could spend time shopping and enjoy Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner in the store. Many of the restaurants became very well known for the famous Chefs and their Menus. Many of the Chefs became celebrities in America and have written well known cookbooks .
My interest in this story was brought to my attention by a friend of ours who grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She sent me a recipe for a cake that became popular in the restaurant of a legendary Atlanta Department Store. I'm a retired executive from the retail industry. A few of the well known department stores that I worked for in my career include Lord & Taylor ( we actually have a son named Taylor, named after the store), Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's.
Here's the store that started this journey of sharing the history of America's Department Store Restaurants. Thank you Lynn for inspiring me to write this story.

Rich's /Atlanta, Georgia

Founded in 1867, Rich's symbolized the shopping experience in Atlanta during the 20th century.
In 1867 Morris Rich, a Hungarian immigrant borrowed $500 from his brother and opened a Dry Goods Store on Whitehall Street in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1975 Natalie Dupree, a prominent Georgia Chef, opened a cooking school at Rich's that ran for nearly ten years.
The Magnolia Room was the restaurant at Rich's. They became famous for their Coconut cake at the Bakeshop.

Rich's Bakeshop Coconut Cake

Thawed frozen coconut really does make a difference in this easy cake. You can also assemble this cake when the layers are still warm because the shortening based icing does not melt.
It's even better the day after it's made.
This is the recipe for a 3 layer cake.
Here's what you'll need:

3 - 8" cake pans
Shortening and flour for the pans
There are three recipes for this cake.
Rich's Bakeshop Yellow Cake
Rich's Coconut Filling
Rich's Coconut Icing

2 1/4 C cake flour
1 tsp salt
1 TBS baking powder
1 TBS powdered milk
1/2 C water
2/3 C whole milk
3/4 C vegetable shortening
1 1/3 C granulated sugar3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Prepare cake pans with shortening and a dusting of flour.
In a large bowl, mix flour,salt, baking powder and ( Set Aside).

In a small bowl or measuring cup - stir powdered milk into the water and mix until dissolved.
Combine whole milk with powdered milk and  (Set Aside).

In a stand mixer, cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
Add half of the flour mixture just until incorporated and then half of the milk mixture, beating until just incorporated.
Repeat, adding remaining flour and liquid and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
Scrape the sides of the bowl during mixing.
Pour batter into pans and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
Cake is done as it springs back when lightly pressed in the center with your finger.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes.
Turn out onto a rack and cool completely.

Rich's Coconut Filling:

2 pounds frozen shredded un sweetened coconut, divided.
2 TBS water
2 TBS granulated sugar

In a large bowl, thaw coconut (Set Aside).
Take 1 1/2 C of the coconut and put it in a small bowl (Set Aside).
Combine the water and sugar and pour over the smaller bowl of coconut.
It should be very moist but not soupy.

Rich's Bakeshop Icing:

1/2 C shortening
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 pound confectioner's sugar
2 TBS powdered milk
1/2 C water ( for dissolving powdered milk)

In a stand mixer, combine shortening, vanilla and salt.
Cream together until incorporated.
Slowly add confectioner's sugar until it forms a very thick consistency.
Dissolve the powdered milk in the water and gradually add just 1 or 2 TBS at a time until it reaches a spreadable consistency.


Place 1 layer of cake on a serving cake plate and spread a thin layer of icing on top.
Spoon 1/2 of the moistened coconut on top of the icing.
Continue with the second layer of cake, icing it with a thin layer of icing and spreading the remaining moistened coconut on the icing.
Next, Cover the entire cake with icing. The top does not get moistened coconut.
Use a thick coating so the cake does not show through.

Place the cake plate on a tray.
Take handfuls of the dry, thawed coconut and press the flakes into the icing.
The tray will catch any coconut that falls.
Continue pressing coconut over the entire cake until it's completely covered.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour.
The cake tastes better when served the next day.

Neiman Marcus / Dallas, Texas

Neiman Marcus had the Zodiac Room that opened in 1953. In 1955 Stanley Marcus hired New York born Helen Corbitt to be the executive chef. Her cookbook and recipes are legendary today. I have a copy of the original cookbook.
In 1994 Kevin Garvin took the position of President of Food Services. He was hired to modernize the restaurants. The Zodiac Room's popovers that Corbitt introduced are still served today. She was also famous for her Chicken Broth, Orange Souffle and Chicken Salad. Garvin has gone beyond preserving these well known dishes from Helen Corbitt to celebrating them. His third cookbook will be released in October 2014. In 1999 Garvin hired Anita Hirsch to take the position of Corporate Executive Chef. There's a great story behind Neiman's famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. It's not known whether or not the story is truth or fiction, but it remains the history of the cookie today. They're still served at the restaurants.
Apparently, a woman and her daughter ordered the cookie for dessert. They loved the cookie so much that they asked if Neimans would share the recipe. They were told that Neimans did not share the recipe. She asked if she could buy the recipe at which the waitress replied "yes", and it would be "two fifty". It was added to her bill but she didn't see it until she got her statement a month later. She was upset that they had charged her $250.00. Neimans told her they wanted the recipe to be something that was special and not afforded by all. The woman decided to share the recipe with the world so that no one would ever have to pay $250.00 for the recipe.

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1/2 C (1stick) butter, softened
1 C light brown sugar
3 TBS granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 salt
1 1/2 C semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso coffee powder

Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Place the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in the work bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds until mixture is fluffy.
Beat in the egg and vanilla for 30 seconds longer, until well combined.

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add to the mixer, while beating on slow speed.
Beat for about 15 seconds, stir in the chocolate chips and espresso powder and mix for 15 seconds longer.
Prepare a cookie sheet with about 2 TBS of shortening or use a non stick spray.
Using a 1 oz. cookie scoop or a 2 TBS measure, place the dough 3" apart.
Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into 2" circles; there should be room on the sheet for six to eight cookies at a time. Transfer to the oven in batches and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cookies are nicely browned around the edges. Bake for a little longer for crispier cookies.

Bloomingdales / New York City

Joseph and Lyman Bloomingdale opened their first Ladies Notions Shop in New York's lower east side in the late 1800's.In 1886 they moved uptown to 59th Street and Lexington Avenue. In the 1920's the store expanded to include the entire city block. There's not much information available about Bloomingdale's earlier restaurants. I remember eating at the famous diner in the late 70's. They served a famous Apple Pie with a thick slice of melted Cheddar Cheese on top. That's how my grandmother served Apple Pie. It was incredible.
The only recipe I could find is for  their Double Ginger Cookies.

 Bloomingdale's Double Ginger Cookies:

2 1/4 C all purpose flour
2 3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
12 TBS butter, room temperature
1 1/3 C sugar
1 egg
1/4 C molasses
3 TBS crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Lina cookie sheets with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, whisk flour , ground ginger, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, beat butter + 1C of sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Add egg, molasses and crystallized ginger.

Add dry ingredients to the mixer and blend on low speed.
Pour remaining 1/3 C sugar into a shallow bowl.
Using a 1 TBS cookie scoop, shape the dough into 1" balls.
Roll each ball into the sugar to coat.
Set balls 1 1/2" - 2" apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pans for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Saks Fifth Avenue / New York

Saks Fifth Avenue was started in the early 1900's by Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel. They both had separate stores on 34th Street at Herald Square. They combined their businesses to create a speciality store. The only recipe I can find from the restaurant is Sak's Fifth Avenue Tomato Bisque.

Saks Fifth Avenue Tomato Bisque:

3 TBS butter
1 large yellow onion
1/2 celery rib
3 TBS flour
1 TBS minced garlic
2 - (16oz.) cans if diced tomatoes ow 3 large fresh tomatoes, diced.
2 TBS chopped fresh basil or 1 TBS dried basil.
2 - (16oz.) cans tomato puree
1 - (16oz.) can of stock, vegetarian beef or beef.
1/2 C heavy cream
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large stock pot.
Dice onion and celery and add to the pot.
Saute until the onion is transparent.
Add garlic, diced tomato and basil.
Slowly stir in tomato puree and stock, then heavy cream.
The soup should be rose colored.
Add bay leaf and simmer for 1 hour.

Remove Bay Leaf before serving.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lord & Taylor / New York

Lord & Taylor is the oldest luxury, speciality-retail department store in America. Samuel Lord, an immigrant from England and George Washington Taylor, his wife's cousin, founded the store in 1826 on Catherine Street in Manhattan. By 1861 the store was located on Broadway at Grand Street. In 1870 they moved to Broadway and 20th Street. Later, it was one of the first on 5th Ave. There are two restaurants located in the store. Sarabeth's Restaurant is on the 5th floor and Sarabeth's Cafe is on the 6th floor.
Sarabeth Levine is an award winning jam maker, acclaimed pastry chef and restauranteur. In 1981 she began making Orange-Apricot Marmalade in her home kitchen from a 200 year old family recipe and selling it to local shops. Unfortunately that recipe is not available to the public. However, I bought her cookbook and here's her recipe for Strawberry Peach Preserves.

Sarabeth's Strawberry Peach Preserves:

4 pounds of ripe peaches
7 C sugar
8 C fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered lengthwise
1/2 C fresh lemon juice

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. In batches, add peaches and boil until skim loosens, about 30 - 60 seconds.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl fill with an ice bath.
Peel and pit the peaches and cut into 1" pieces.

Mix peaches with 3 1/2 C of the sugar in a non reactive large saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally until they soften and release their juices and the sugar dissolves, about 5 - 10 minutes.
Stir in the strawberries, the remaining 3 1/2 C sugar and lemon juice.
Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil, stirring often.

Reduce heat to medium low to maintain a steady simmer. Cook, simmering and stirring often until the liquid is thick and syrupy and the peaches are soft and chunky, about 40 minutes.

Fill jars, attach lids and process the jars for canning.
Place the jars in a canning rack and lower into the water of a canning pot.
If necessary, add enough boiling water to cover the jars by 1 inch.
Return to a boil and process for 10 minutes at a slow boil.

Place a kitchen towel on a work surface. Remove the rack with the jars, from the pot.
Using tongs, transfer the jars to the towel and cool completely.

I know that this is a lengthy blog, but I found it interesting as I got into this history of America's Department Store Restaurants.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.

I recently found this story to add to the post:

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins | History & Recipe

Peace in the Kitchen!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Orzo Casserole

I made this and I forgot to photograph it. It's delicious. I used Field Roast Vegetarian Italian Sausage and I made it on a 9"X13" casserole pan.

1 C Orzo
1 pound of Chicken or Vegetarian Chicken (cut into pieces), a link Italian Saugage or Field Roast Vegetarian Italian Link Sausage ( cut into 1" pieces).
1 TBS olive oil
6 TBS butter, divided
4 green onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 TBS flour
1/2 C chicken stock or vegetarian chicken broth ( I use  Vegetarian Better than Bouillon no Chicken Base)
1 C milk
1/2 C fresh shaved parmesan cheese
1 small jar pimiento, drained
1 C cooked frozen peas

1 C bread crumbs, I used Italian Crumbs
1 TBS fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried flakes
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
3 TBS butter, melted

Cook Orzo according to package directions. drain
Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet
Cook Chicken or sausage and transfer to a plate

Melt 3 TBS butter in the skillet and saute onion and garlic for 1 minute
Stir in flour until blended
Add broth and milk
Cook and stir until it thickens

Add parmesan , pimiento and peas
salt and pepper to taste
Add chicken or sausage and the Orzo. Mix well
Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 11"X7" baking dish

Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the casserole
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes, until bubbly

Peace in the Kitchen!

Neiman Marcus Bars

I live in Texas, home of the Neiman Marcus speciality store. They're also famous for their Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

Neiman Marcus Bars

1 box of yellow cake mix ( Chocolate is good too)
1/2 C butter, melted
3 eggs, divided
8 oz. cream cheese
1 pound of confectioner's sugar
1 C chopped pecans

Beat 1 egg and mix it with cake mix and melted butter.
Press into a 9"X13" pan, sprayed with a vegetable cooking spray
Sprinkle with nuts

Mix cream cheese, 2 eggs and powdered sugar.
Spread over the mixture in the pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until light brown.
Cool completely and cut into squares.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lazy Chiles Rellenos / Ree Drummond

I love this concept for making Chiles Rellenos. Traditionally they are battered and deep fried. This easy recipe sort of makes them healthier by eliminating frying.
I'm definitely a fan of the recipe and will make it often. I think it would be a great dish to take to a Pot Luck, Family Gathering or a Church Supper.
I decided to simply re post Ree Drummond's original recipe with out any changes. This one is a keeper in my recipe file.
She uses canned Chiles and I believe I will too. It was one of the appealing parts of the recipe. Recommended are Ortega Fire Roasted Whole Green Chiles or Hatch Fire Roasted Whole Green Chiles. I would buy a few cans to keep in the pantry.
You could change the type of cheese, Pepper Jack, Emmenthal, Swiss, Queso Quesadilla or even Cheddar will all work. I prefer a white cheese for this recipe.
After making this recipe, I will probably use more Chiles the next time. I'll cover the entire bottom of the pan with Chiles and the same amount for the second layer.

Lazy Chiles Rellenos / Ree Drummond

  • 8 whole Roasted, Peeled, And Seeded Green Chiles
  • 1-1/2 C Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • 5 whole Large Eggs
  • 2 C Whole Milk
  • Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne.
Cut chilies in half and add a single layer of chilies on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
Top chilies with half the grated cheese.
Repeat with another layer of chilies and another layer of cheese.
Pour egg mixture all over the top.
Place into a larger baking dish or rimmed baking sheet. Pour in 1/2 inch of water and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until completely set.
Cut into squares and serve with warm corn tortillas!

Peace in the Kitchen!

What a good looking finished dish

New Projects

I have two new Blog projects I'm working on. They're both quite lengthy and taking more time to write, than I had imagined.
I hope to be completed with them this weekend.
More to come........

In the meantime:
Peace in the Kitchen!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Baked Polenta from Spoon Fork Bacon

I don't cook with Polenta as much as I would like to. As a fan of Cast Iron, I like this Polenta recipe made in a Cast Iron Skillet.

3 TBS Olive Oil, divided
1/2 pound of real Italian Sausage, casing removed or Vegetarian Field Roast Italian Sausage, casing removed.
2 oz. Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
1 clove of Garlic, minced
1 TBS minced thyme

4 1/2 C water
1 1/2 C coarse Yellow Cornmeal
3 TBS Butter
4 oz. Goat Cheese, crumbled + additional for topping
2 TBS grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Pour 1/2 TBS Oil in a 10" Cast Iron Skillet:
Brown the Sausage.
place Sausage in a bowl and set aside

Pour remaining Oil in the skillet and saute the Mushrooms for 2 - 3 minutes.
Add Garlic, Onion and Thyme.
Saute 3 - 4 minutes. Season with Salt and Pepper.
Add Mushrooms to the Sausage mixture , mix well and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil, season with Salt and Pepper.
Whisk Cornmeal into the water, reduce heat to medium.
Continue stirring for 5 minutes.
Add Butter, 4 oz. Goat Cheese and Parmesan, stir until fully incorporated.

Lightly oil the skillet and pour 1/2 the Polenta into the pan and spread out evenly.
Reserve 1/2 of the Sausage mixture and set aside.
Spread out the remaining Sausage over the Polenta and spread out evenly.
Top with the remaining Polenta and spread evenly.
Sprinkle with remaining Sausage .
Sprinkle with additional Goat Cheese.

Bake 20 - 25 minutes
Cool 10 minutes.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Beet Sliders / Gatsby's Diner / Sacramento, California

It's difficult to find a recipes that's different when beets are the main ingredient. This was very appealing to me as a vegetarian and a fan of beets.
The recipe says to discard the liquid that the beets are cooked in. I keep the liquid to use in a soup.
I have a recipe for what I believe are the Best of the Best Pickled Beets. The recipe is on the blog. I also have a recipe on the blog for Roasted Vegetables that includes Beets.
If you haven't tried beets, I hope you do.

5 quarts water
1/2 C sea salt, plus a pinch
1 TBS dried dill
6 dried arbol chiles
1/4 C coriander seeds
1 TBS caraway seeds
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 TBS seasoning sauce (recommended: Maggi)
6 to 8 whole beets (depending on size)
Olive oil
Green Goddess Dressing, recipe follows
Sliced red onions, for serving
16 to 18 slider buns, toasted
In a large stock pot, combine and the water, 1/2 C sea salt, dill, chiles, coriander, caraway, carrots, celery, onions, seasoning sauce, and beets and bring to a boil. Boil on medium heat for about 1 hour.

Remove the beets and let cool, discarding the liquid. Once cooled, remove the skin from the beets with a vegetable peeler. (Remember to wear gloves, as the beets will stain your hands as well as other surfaces.) Cut the beets into 1/4 to 3/8-inch slices. Place the beet slices, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt into a skillet over high heat and saute until glossy and tender, about 2 1/2 minutes on each side.

Remove the beets from the skillet and serve with shaved red onion and Green Goddess Dressing on a toasted slider bun.

Green Goddess Dressing:
1 bunch fresh tarragon, stemmed, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, stemmed, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1/2 C buttermilk
1 TBS lemon juice
1/2 C white wine vinegar
1 C sour cream
2 C mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
Combine the herbs, green onions, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vinegar in a mixing bowl. Let macerate for 10 minutes. Add the sour cream and mayonnaise, and blend with an immersion blender until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mexican Truffles

Mexican Truffles:

6 oz. Cream Cheese , softened
2 C Powdered Sugar
8 oz. Taza Mexicano Chocolate, melted and cooled slightly ( Cinnamon, Chipotle Chili, Guajillo Chili, Orange or Coffee ) These are the choices of flavors. Choose your favorite or make a variety to serve.
2 tsp vanilla
1 C crushed Kellogg's Cinnabon Cereal
2 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

In a large bowl:
Beat Cream Cheese until creamy
Beat in Sugar, Chocolate and Vanilla
Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour

In a small bowl:
Cinnabon Cereal
Cayenne Pepper

Scoop out the chocolate mixture with a small cookie scoop and roll in your hands to make a misshapen truffle.
Roll each truffle in the cereal mixture

Refrigerate in a covered container

Peace in the Kitchen!

Asparagus Casserole , adapted from Trisha Yearwood

I love asparagus any way it's prepared. So this recipes was very appealing to me.
I have adapted it a bit. 

Two bunches fresh asparagus
4 TBS butter
4 TBS all-purpose flour
1 C milk
Pinch salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
5 ounces Gruyere Cheese or Emmenthal Cheese, grated
4 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup saltine cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a large pot of boiling water, keeping the bundles together with rubber bands or string. Boil for 2 minutes, reduce to a simmer and cook an additional 5 - 7 minutes until the asparagus is bright green and still crunchy. Reserve 1 C of the liquid.

Run the asparagus under cold water to stop the cooking.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Mix flour and cayenne in a bowl. Whisk the flour into the melted butter to make a roux. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk and 1 cup of the asparagus cooking liquid. Add the salt and continue cooking until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the grated cheese and cook, stirring, until melted, about 1 minute.

Arrange the asparagus in the bottom of a 9"X13" baking dish, alternating the stem ends so each serving includes both heads and stems. Thinly slice the hard-boiled eggs and arrange them over the asparagus. Pour the cheese sauce over the eggs and asparagus and sprinkle with the cracker crumbs. Bake until lightly browned and bubbles appear around the edges, about 20 minutes.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Saltine Crackers with Chocolate and Pecans, Christmas Candy

Here's a vintage Christmas recipe. I've been making it for decades.

Here's what you'll need:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
A Jelly Roll Pan lined with Aluminum Foil sprayed with a Vegetable Cooking Spray.

35 - 40 Saltine Crackers
16 TBS Butter
1 C Brown Sugar
8 oz. of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips  (about 2 Cups)
1 C Chopped Pecans

Arrange the Crackers,( Salt side down),  in a single layer in the Pan.

In a Saucepan on Medium High Heat:
Butter, until melted.
Brown Sugar
Bring to a Boil for a few minutes as it begins to turn Caramel in Color.
Remove from Heat.
Pour over the Crackers and spread evenly with a Metal Offset Spatula.

Bake for 3 - 5 minutes. It should begin to bubble.
Remove Pan from Oven and Sprinkle with Chocolate Chips.
As they Melt, Spread evenly with a Metal Offset Spatula.
Sprinkle evenly with Pecans.

Refrigerate until Chocolate hardens and it's cooled completely.

Remove and Break into Pieces.
Transfer to a Holiday Serving Plate.

Peace in the Kitchen!