Welcome to my site!

Welcome to my site!
I'm Cindy, and I love to cook! And, I love to eat... hence the size of my rear end! I come from a long line of cooks. My great great Grandmother was a cook in the original Harvey Houses. My grandmother Julia was an awesome cook, and my mom was incredible. I owe my skills to these great women. Especially my Mom who said this to me about making gravy... "Cindy Lynn, wallpaper paste is wallpaper paste & gravy is gravy. Never the two shall meet!" Shall we say my first experience at making gravy left a little bit to be desired! Thank the high heavens my cooking skills have improved since then! Enjoy!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Flan Cake

This was AMAZING!  I found this recipe on www.MyBigFatCubanFamily.com.  I did make a slight adjustment to her original recipe in that I don’t make cakes according to the package directions.  I always follow the process outlined below when making cakes.  It makes the texture and taste more like “from scratch”.  What a fantastic treasure this cake is.  I’ve never had much luck making flan.  But, when I saw the recipe for Flan Cake – I thought it sounded wonderful.  Oh My… it was more than wonderful!  Deliciously sweet and the flan is so creamy and decadent.  In fact, as I’m creating this post I wish I had a piece of it waiting for me!  But, alas – I made this more than a month ago.   Hmm… might be time to run to the grocery store to get the ingredients to make it again – and soon! 
For the cake -
1 yellow cake mix
4 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup water
1 pkg instant vanilla pudding
For the Caramel Topping & Flan -
1/4 cup caramel topping
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 large can evaporated milk
1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a large Bundt pan
Place the cake mix and instant pudding in a mixing bowl.  Add the 4 eggs and beat slightly.  Add the oil and water and beat until well blended – starting very slowly at first.  I use my KitchenAid stand mixer for this.  Stopping halfway through the mixing process to ensure the dry ingredients are being thoroughly combined.
Pour the caramel topping around the bottom of the Bundt pan.
Pour cake mix over caramel.
In a blender, mix together well: remaining 4 eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract.
Pour gently through a mesh strainer over cake mix in the Bundt pan. (You’re sifting out any large pieces of the egg.)
Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Place filled Bundt pan in a 9×13 pan filled with hot water about 1 1/2 to 2 inches up the side of the Bundt pan.  The cake mix will begin to rise to the top.
Bake (in the water bath) one hour at 350 degrees. It should be slightly golden brown. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick in the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
Remove from water bath and cool 10 to 15 minutes.
Invert onto a cake plate. The caramel will still be runny – it’s supposed to melt over the cake, so be careful when inverting.  Some of mine remained in the bundt pan – so I drizzled additional caramel sauce over the cake before serving.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Cuban Sandwich Braid

We love our monthly “dinner and movie” nights with our good friends.  Our recent movie was “Chef” starring Jon Favreau.  If you haven’t seen it – I highly recommend it.  The theme of the movie centers on the relationship of a father and son.  And, it features delicious Cuban Sandwiches.  I was in charge of making the appetizers.  I thought that making Cuban Sandwiches would be too filling, so I improvised and made a version of a Cuban, but as an appetizer braid.  I hope you enjoy!
1 porketta roast  (If your market doesn’t have porketta roasts – you can use a regular pork roast and season it well.  I just happen to like the flavor of the porketta and this allowed me to just pop it in the oven with no prep.)
8 -10 slices of shaved ham
4 – 6 slices of dill pickle
4 – 6 slices of swiss cheese
Yellow Mustard
1 sheet puff pastry
Roast the Porketta at 350 until done.  I used a fairly small roast – so it was cooked in just about an hour.  Allow to cool and then slice into thin pieces.
Lightly flour a cutting board; unfold the puff pastry.  Roll it out slightly, but you want to still be able to faintly see the creases from where it was folded. 
Cut diagonal flaps in the pastry, as shown below, leaving the middle panel intact.  These will be the “braids”.

Spread the yellow mustard down the middle of the puff pastry.  Layer as follows:  Pork Roast, Swiss Cheese, Pickles, Ham, Swiss Cheese.
With the diagonal cuts facing toward you, start folding the pieces of pastry over the top of the middle panel – alternating sides - effectively braiding the pastry.
When all the cuts have been braided, place on a cookie sheet and paint with egg wash.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cauliflower Chowder

This was really delicious.  The chowder is so full of flavor and quite satisfying and filling.  I found the recipe on Pinterest, however I adjusted it to blend half of the cauliflower and was then able to cut the amount of flour used in half.  I find that when you blend soups they thicken naturally.  And, that allows for a few less calories. 
4 slices bacon, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup 2% milk
1 head cauliflower – cut in half
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 green onions, chopped
1.     Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. (I cheated and used Bacon Bits already pre-packaged)
2.    Cut the head of cauliflower in half.  Cut one half into chunks and place in a pot with the chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer, cover.  Cook until the cauliflower is fork tender.   Place the cauliflower into a blender with enough of the broth to completely blend.  Set aside.  Reserve remaining chicken broth for step 5
3.    Take the other half of the cauliflower and break/cut into smaller bite sized pieces.
4.    Melt butter in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in cauliflower and bay leaf.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
5.    Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in remaining chicken broth and milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the blended cauliflower and stir to combine.
6.    Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 12-15 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the chowder is too thick, add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Serve immediately, garnished with bacon and green onions, if desired.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Lemon Rosemary Chicken Tenders with Quinoa Salad

The inspiration for this came from The Hungry Australian website.  http://hungryaustralian.com/ 
She posted a recipe for “Brilliant Rice Salad” and my creative juices were intrigued.  I made this for a lunch with family last weekend.  It was very good!  Full of flavor, healthy, relatively easy to make and a dish that is quite versatile.  You can add or omit whatever ingredients you’d like from the quinoa salad.  And, if you don’t like quinoa – then substitute that for rice.  But, if you’ve never had quinoa – I encourage you to give it a try.  It’s very yummy!
Ingredients & Directions:
Chicken Tenders (enough for two to three per person, depending on how many you’re serving)
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic
Salt & Pepper
4 – 6” of rosemary
Place everything except the chicken tenders into a small blender or food processor.  I use the “Bullet” for this, and all my marinades and salad dressings.  It works like a charm.
Put the chicken tenders in a bowl, dish or Ziploc bag.  Pour marinade over the tenders and work the marinade around to cover each tender.  Place into the fridge for at least 1 hour.  I usually marinade this overnight – or for at least eight hours.
While the quinoa is cooking or while assembling the salad - grill the tenderloins for about 3 minutes per side.  I use my nonstick griddle for this.  But, you could use a skillet instead.  Be sure to drizzle a little olive oil on the cooking surface so that the chicken gets some grill marks.
1 ½ cups quinoa (quinoa should ALWAYS be thoroughly rinsed before using)
3 cups chicken broth
1 tbls. turmeric
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
Pinch of salt
Put everything except the quinoa in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer; add quinoa and stir to mix.  Bring to a boil; lower heat and cover.  Simmer until all of the liquid has evaporated.   
Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and place cover back on pot.  Allow to sit for about 15 minutes.  While it’s resting you can prepare the other ingredients.
4 tomatoes chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1/16th of a red onion, finely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
½ of a cucumber, peeled – seeds scooped out and chopped
15 dried apricots, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
3 Tbls pine nuts **See note at end of recipe
3 Tbls pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Chopped flat-leaf parsley and basil
After the quinoa has set for 15 minutes, spread it out on your serving tray to promote quicker cooling.  You can mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl and then sprinkle over the quinoa on the platter.  OR, you can do as I did and mix the quinoa with all of the ingredients in a bowl.
3 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of the lemon
Salt & pepper
Mix the above together and sprinkle over the ingredients on the platter – OR, if mixing everything in a bowl before placing on the platter, pour this over the ingredients in the bowl.  Toss well and then arrange on the platter.
** I have eaten pine nuts for years with no adverse reactions.  However, ever since I had this salad last weekend and again on Monday, I have had a bitter taste in my mouth which is exacerbated when eating/drinking anything sweet.  I’ve Googled these symptoms and found they are attributed to “Pine Mouth” – a temporary reaction some people get to pine nuts.  The articles all say the symptoms should disappear within a week or two.  They have lessened over the week, but definitely flare up when eating or drinking anything sweet – including things that contain natural sugars.  (i.e. carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, milk, etc.)  I only mention this as a “public service” notice.  So, you can add the pine nuts – or not.  But, I will definitely be omitting them when I make this in the future.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stuffed Mushrooms

I can’t remember from where I got this recipe. (Probably Pinterest)  I didn’t change a thing in the recipe – these were fantastic “as is”.  This is another good New Year’s Eve appetizer recipe.  Enjoy!
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese
¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
½ lb. bacon, chopped, cooked, and drained
¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
40-50 mushrooms, washed with stems pulled out
Mix cream cheese, green onions, bacon, and Parmesan cheese together in a large bowl.
Stuff mushrooms with filling, as much as desired. I do about 1 tsp give or take depending on the size of the mushroom.
Bake stuffed mushrooms at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
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