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!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Really Good Banana Bread


When it comes to baking, I am not nearly as confident in my kitchen skills as when cooking.  I know that baking is a sort of science and I’m afraid to stray very far from the recipe as written.  Therefore, when the baking bug strikes, I turn to the internet and cookbooks and follow the recipes VERY closely.

During this time of “stay home, stay safe” the baking bug has been strong.  We had some bananas that were well past their prime, so I decided I wanted to bake some banana bread.  Enter Google – and I found this great recipe here: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

It was pretty easy, the prep time didn’t take very long and the banana bread was spectacular.  Super delicious with strong banana flavor and I felt it was on the healthier side because the whole loaf had only ½ cup of sugar.  Try it – you’ll like it!

Ingredients:

2 to 3 very ripe bananas, peeled (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups mashed)
1/3 cup melted butter, unsalted or salted
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you would like it less sweet, 1 cup if more sweet)
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Directions:

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), and butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan.

2 In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.

3 Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.

4 Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350°F (175°C), or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

5 Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then remove the banana bread from the pan and let cool completely before serving. Slice and serve. (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren't crumbly.)


Friday, April 3, 2020

Dark and White Chocolate Mini Scones


 I found this recipe on a super fun blog here: https://sugarspunrun.com/the-best-scone-recipe/

I’m posting the recipe exactly as the original, but I made a couple of alterations.  First, I halved the recipe because we didn’t need 32 mini scones.  I mean, they’re delicious – and it’s not like we COULDN’T eat that many scones – but let’s just say we didn’t NEED to eat that many.  Also, I made these during the “shelter in place” order so I had to make a couple off substitutions to avoid having to go to the store again.  I’ll list the substitutions after the ingredients.  Who knew you could substitute milk & butter for heavy cream??  I can’t say enough good things about these scones.  They are delectable, and really fairly easy to make!

Ingredients:

Scones:
4 cups all-purpose flour (465g)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
4 teaspoon baking powder (18g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup very cold unsalted butter frozen is better (226g)
1 cup heavy cream (237ml)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Glaze:
1-1.5 cups powdered sugar (110g+)
2 Tablespoon milk (30ml)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract optional

Substitutions:
To reiterate, I halved the recipe above, which yielded 16 mini scones. 

I didn’t have cream, so I found that you can use milk and butter as a replacement.  I used 2 tablespoons of butter and 6 tablespoons of milk.  Melt the butter in the microwave. Whisk in the milk and warm in the microwave again if necessary to melt any little clumps of butter.

I didn’t have chocolate chips, but did have Baker’s Chocolate Bars – in both semi-sweet and white chocolate.  I used 2 ounces of each and chopped it with a knife.  Turned out fantastic!  I rather liked the chunks of chocolate opposed to the chocolate chips.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 F (190C) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. (I used my stand mixer)

Thoroughly cut in butter (I prefer to freeze the butter, grate it using a box grater, and then cut it in that way. This method yields the flakiest scones, but is not mandatory -- you can use cold butter cut in with a pastry cutter).  Those are the notes on the original recipe.  I used the grated butter method – and mixed it in with my stand mixer.

Measure out heavy cream in measuring cup and add vanilla extract. Stir gently.

Carefully stir heavy cream/vanilla mixture into flour mixture. You do not want to over-mix, but due to the amount of dry ingredients it may be tricky to well incorporate the liquid and the dry mixes. You may briefly use a KitchenAid or electric mixer on a low setting to help coax the dough to cling together.

Once dough is beginning to cling together, add chocolate chips, stir briefly, and then transfer to a very lightly floured surface.  Lightly knead the dough and chocolate chips together until you are able to form a ball.

Break the dough into 4 even pieces and round each one out into a disk about 5" wide.

Cut each into 8 wedges and transfer to cookie sheet.


Bake on 375F (190C) for 14-16 minutes.

While the scones cool, prepare your glaze by whisking together milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Start with 1 cup powdered sugar, and if it still seems too runny you may increase the sugar amount.  Once scones are cooled, dip, drizzle or spoon the glaze lightly over the top of each scone. Allow it to sit and harden before serving.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Lemon Bread Pudding with Blueberries



Rae Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, made Lemon Bread Pudding on her show.  It looked and sounded wonderful.  But, I had to wonder – could you add blueberries to it?  The answer is YES – yes, you can!  And, it turned out fantastically.  The blueberries were a wonderful addition.  And, of course I’m a sucker for any dessert made with lemons. (If you don't like blueberries, you can leave them out.) This bread pudding is sweet, light and refreshing.  I made this for 4th of July to rave reviews.  Serve with fresh whipped cream and you’ve got an easy, delicious dessert for any time!

Ingredients:

Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
4 eggs
2 cups half & half
1 cup sugar
Loaf of Brioche, French bread or Challah
Pint of fresh blueberries, or slightly more if desired

Directions:

Cut the bread into cubes and spread onto a sheet pan to dry out a bit.

Zest the lemons into a mixing bowl.   Juice the lemons and add to the zest.  Add the eggs and half & half; whisk all together.  Add the sugar and mix together.

Butter or spray the baking dish.  Add the cubed bread.  Sprinkle the blueberries in with the bread ensuring they are evenly distributed throughout.  Pour the custard over the bread.  Allow to sit for a while to let the bread soak up the custard.

Preheat oven to 325°.  Bake for 50 minutes.

Serve with fresh whipped cream and enjoy!


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Poblano Chicken Chili


This is another dish inspired by a Weight Watchers recipe. The spices and chilies are so warming.  This is a “stick to your ribs” chili that is so scrumptious, especially with the various toppings.  You can use different types of beans, if you prefer.  You could also substitute beef or turkey for the chicken.  This is a fairly quick meal to make.  Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread and your taste buds will be very happy!

Ingredients:

3 Poblano Chilies, seeded & chopped
8 green onions
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, ground (See Note Below)
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
4 Tlbs Chili Powder
2 Tlbs Cumin
¼ cup water
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Garnish: Green Onions, Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream or Non-fat Yogurt, Lime

Directions:

Heat your cooking pot and drizzle some olive oil into it.  Add the chilies, green onions and garlic.  Saute until the peppers are charred; about 5 minutes.

Add the ground chicken breast and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.

Stir in the Chili Powder, Cumin, Salt & Pepper.  Combine well.  Add the tomatoes, beans and water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1 hour.

Serve with garnishes of your choice.

Note:  My food processor has a graduated tiered blade, rather than just the blade at the bottom.  So, rather than purchasing already ground chicken, I’ve been grinding my own using the food processor.  I cut two breasts into chunks and then place in the freezer for about 1 hour.  Having them be partially frozen makes them easier to grind.  I find that doing this myself is more economical – and I get only the breast and not a lot of added fat.  It’s a win-win!  You could also substitute turkey for the chicken, if you prefer.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Chocolate Cherry Martini


I saw Trisha Yearwood make this cocktail on her FoodNetwork show.  It looked and sounded wonderful.  And, guess what… it IS wonderful.  Definitely a sweeter drink, but very tasty and enjoyable.  Hubby and I each had one on Valentine’s Day.  Yum!  (this recipe makes 3 cocktails)

Ingredients:

Cherry Vodka – 3 oz
Chocolate Liquor – 3 oz
Cherry Juice – 3 oz
Juice of ½ a Lemon

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake well.  Serve with Cherry Garnish.

Note: I’ve also substituted Cherry Whipped Vodka for plain cherry vodka – and I’ve swapped out 1 oz of Chocolate Whipped Vodka for 1 oz of the chocolate liquor.  Equally delicious!!


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mini Berry Lemon Cheesecake Tarts


I found this recipe from the Weight Watchers site.  It is SO good.  You’ll have no idea that these are “dietetic”.  At only 1 smart point each, you can treat yourself with zero guilt.  When I made these for my husband and myself, I only baked and filled 8 shells at a time, 4 for each of us.  I kept the filling in the plastic bag and was able to have these over several evenings.  What a delightful indulgence!

Ingredients:

Phyllo shells, mini – thawed, if frozen (30 of them)
8 oz. light cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup Greek plain yogurt – fat free
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Assorted berries for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake phyllo shells on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes, until they’re lightly toasted.  Allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.  Make sure the mixture is completely smooth.  Spoon this mixture into a plastic zip-lock bag.  Snip off a corner and evenly pipe the mixture into the phyllo shells.  (Or you can fill using a spoon)

Garnish each filled shell with a berry.  Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.  If you leave them filled for too long before serving, the shells will get soggy.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

I found this recipe on the Weight Watchers site.  I’ve adjusted it slightly, but haven’t affected the point value.  (If you’re interested, this serves 6.  One serving is approximately 1.5 cups, for only 1 Smart Point!)  This is super delicious.  We do love our beef and chicken - but I don't miss the meat in this fantastically flavorful chili.

Ingredients:

29 oz canned diced tomatoes, fire-roasted with garlic
3 Tbsp canned tomato paste
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chili powder, regular-variety
1⁄2 tsp chili powder, chipotle-variety
1 tsp ground cumin
2 large uncooked zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 4 cups)
2 cup(s)frozen corn kernels
15 oz canned black beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium poblano chile, seeded and diced (about 1 3/4 cups)
3⁄4 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped

1⁄2 cup water, or up to 1 cup if needed
3⁄4 tsp table salt, or to taste

Garnish: Green Onions, Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream or Non-Fat Yogurt

Instructions:

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, oil, both types of chili powder and cumin. Add zucchini, corn, both types of beans and poblanos; stir to mix well.

Cover and cook on LOW setting until vegetables are tender, about 6 hours.

Stir in cilantro and enough water to desired consistency; season with salt. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

Garnish and serve!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Asparagus Bacon Spears


I don't remember where I saw these first - but I can tell you with certainty they are FABULOUS!  These delightful little treats are quick and easy to make and are sure to wow your guests!  The smokiness of the bacon combines perfectly with the freshness of the asparagus and flavors the puff pastry too.  It truly does illustrate that EVERYTHING is better with BACON.  Cheers!

Ingredients:

Asparagus Spears (depending upon how many you’re going to make.  One spear per wrap)
Slices of bacon – half as many slices as asparagus spears, i.e., 20 spears of asparagus – you’ll need 10 slices of bacon
1 sheet puff pastry – thawed and rolled out onto a floured surface
Salt & Pepper
Egg wash

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash, dry and trim the ends of the asparagus.

Using a pizza slicer, slice the puff pastry into long 1/2” strips – cutting on the longest side of the rectangle.  Should be able to get approximately 18 – 20 strips.

Cut the bacon in half lengthwise.  Twist/wrap one slice of bacon around the asparagus spear in a corkscrew spiral manner.  Next, wrap one slice of puff pastry around the spear of asparagus and bacon.

Place on baking sheet.  After all spears are completed, brush with egg wash.  Sprinkle salt and pepper over all.  Bake for approximately 18 minutes until they’re puffed and golden brown.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Spinach Pinwheels


Full disclosure, I found this recipe here:  ThatSkinnyChickCanBake.  I love working with Puff Pastry because it takes an everyday recipe and makes it look super special and fancy. These little pinwheels are no exception.  They’re easy to make, look elegant and taste delicious. 

Ingredients:

1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water
1/2 cup crumbled feta (you can either buy the feta already crumbled, or get a small block and crumble it yourself)
1/4 cup grated mozzarella
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted

Instructions:

Whisk together the egg and water, set aside.

Mix together the cheeses, onion and seasonings. Set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to flatten the seams. Brush the surface with your egg wash.
Top the surface with the cheese mixture, then break apart the spinach and spread evenly over the surface.  Note: Leave about an inch free of toppings on one of the short sides. Starting on the short side that’s covered with filling, roll up the pastry like a jellyroll.

Line two baking sheets with parchment, or if you have a Silpat you can use that instead. Slice the roll into 1/2” - 3/4" slices and place them on the prepared sheets. Pop into the refrigerator or freezer to let them cool as the oven preheats to 400 degrees.

Bake for 15 minutes or until they’re golden.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Greek Mezze Platter

For our most recent dinner and a movie with friends, we celebrated Greece and watched the movie Mamma Mia.  I was responsible for the appetizers, so I put together a Greek Meeze platter.  I got some Roasted Garlic Hummus, Persian Cucumbers, Greek Feta Cheese and Middle Eastern Flat Bread from Trader Joe's. I also purchased some Almond Stuffed Green Olives,  Marinated Mushrooms, Pepadew Peppers and Dried Apricots and Figs.  Place it all on a platter, drizzle some Greek Olive Oil over the hummus and Feta - and you have an easy appetizer spread.  Enjoy!
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