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, August 9, 2014

Chilled Parsnip & Mushroom Soup

Several  years ago I had the MOST AMAZING chilled soup at Muriel’s on Jackson Square in New Orleans.  (The City that holds a piece of my heart and soul!)  I’ve tried four or five times to duplicate it… I think I’ve finally perfected it.  This is a wonderfully creamy refreshing soup – that is lower in calories than you would think.  Serve it chilled as a first course to lunch or dinner on a warm summer day.  Phenomenal!

2 ½ lbs parsnips, peeled and sliced into ½” rounds
3 cloves, smashed
2 chicken bouillon cubes
8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
4 oz shallots, sliced
2 sprigs Thyme, strip the leaves from the stem
1 - 2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
5 – 6 cups chicken stock (I use Rachael Ray or Swanson’s)
2 spoons of “Better than Bouillon” Chicken  (Just a regular spoon from your silverware)
8 oz Fat Free Sour Cream
Salt & White Pepper to taste
Optional Garnish:  Truffle Oil and/or Chopped Chives
Place the cut parsnips, smashed garlic and bouillon cubes in a soup pot; cover with water.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until fork tender.  Approximately 30 – 45 minutes.
Warm the olive oil and butter in a non-stick skillet; add shallots and mushrooms.   Sauté until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms are cooked.   Just before the mixture is done cooking, add the thyme leaves.  Add a touch of salt and white pepper to taste.
When the parsnip mixture is cooked; drain thoroughly.  Place half the parsnips, half the mushrooms, and half the chicken stock into a blender.  Blend until completely smooth.  Pour back into the soup pot.  Repeat with remaining parsnip, mushrooms and stock.  Add more stock, if necessary to the pot.  You want a creamy mixture – but not too thick. 
Return the soup pot to the heat.  Add the “Better than Bouillon” and heat until it just begins to bubble.   Remove from heat; whisk the sour cream into the soup.  Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.
Allow the soup to cool and then place into the fridge until chilled.
Serve with sprinkled chopped chives and a drizzle of truffle oil, if desired.  Could also serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Found these on Pinterest.   They are SOOO Yummy!  What a great recipe for the summer monthsThe original recipe can be found on the Improv Kitchen Blog, HERE.  Because baking is not my forte, I followed the directions to the letter.  The original recipe did call for ¾ cup sugar, but it was indicated if you preferred the dessert to be more sweet and less tart – increase the sugar to 1 ½ cups sugar.  I compromised and used 1 cup.  When I make these again, I think I will increase it to 1 ¼ cup – as indicated in the recipe below.
For the crust:
9 T. (1 stick + 1 T.) butter
¼ c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
For the filling:
12 oz (heaping 2 c.) frozen raspberries thawed
¼ c. sugar
⅔ c. lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
2 T. lemon zest (3 lemons worth)
3 egg whites
1 egg
⅔ c. flour
pinch of salt
powdered sugar for dusting on top
Preheat oven to 350º F. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper so you can easily lift the bars out once they've cooled.
To make the crust:
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, then add in vanilla. Add flour until just incorporated. Dump dough in baking pan and press with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom of the dish. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until slightly golden brown.
To make the filling:
Thaw the raspberries.  (If don’t have enough time for the raspberries to thaw on their own, place in microwave for 1 minute to soften them up.)  Put the raspberries in a fine mesh sieve and press the berries through (this removes the seeds) into a large bowl. If you don't mind seeds, you can add them in whole. Or if you don't have a sieve, you can blend them up in a food processor or blender. Add sugar, egg whites, egg, lemon juice + zest, flour, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the crust (don't worry, it's a very loose mixture, it will thicken) and bake for 25 - 30 minutes depending on your oven and the sized baking dish you use.
Let cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for 4 hours (or until they've cooled completely). You can place them in the freezer if you need them sooner but refrigerator is best. If you let them cool overnight, they're even better!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tito's Tacos Copycat Salsa Recipe

No photo today.  I made this a few weeks ago and forgot to take a photo.  I was too busy stuffing my face with this delicious salsa!!!
Tito’s Taco’s is an institution in Culver City, where I grew up.  This is one of my favorite places for tacos, salsa and burrito’s.  Since I moved away I really miss their food – and I REALLY miss their salsa. 
I came across some copy-cat recipes on Pinterest the other day.  So, I decided to give it try.  I’ve put my own twist on it, as usual.  I’m not going to say this is a perfect copy-cat… but it’s pretty darned close.  And, even if you’ve never been to – or heard of – Tito’s, I think you’ll like this fresh salsa.
8 -9 Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
1/4 white onion
4 pickled jalapenos, sliced
Juice from the pickled jalapenos can, to taste (I used almost all of it)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Juice from one lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Put the tomatoes into a food processor and blend.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until everything is chopped and the desired consistency.  Refrigerate overnight.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Jalapeno Popper Pinwheels

I saw these on Pinterest – but added my own little “spin” on them by adding cumin, some cheese and a dash seasoning salt.  They were very tasty and the perfect little appetizer to share with friends.  Mildly sweet and definitely savory; the jalapeno’s give them a little “kick” that is very satisfying. Enjoy!
1 Package of Refrigerator Crescent Rolls
4 oz. can diced jalapeno’s
8 oz.  Cream Cheese, room temperature
8 oz. mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground Cumin
Dash of Seasoning Salt to taste
Drain the jalapenos and chop them into smaller pieces.  I used about 3 of the 4 ounces.  You can use more or less depending on how spicy you’d like them.
Mix the cream cheese, sugar, cumin and seasoning salt until smooth.  Fold in the jalapenos and cheese.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Unroll the crescent rolls.  Using a rolling pin, roll them together to form one solid rectangle.  Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the crescent rolls.
Roll long side to long side.  Cut into rounds.  Should make approximately 24 pinwheels.
Bake for 12 minutes at 400 degrees.  They are best served when warm.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

Another fantastic Pinterest find.  I have not changed the original recipe at all – no need – because it is DELICIOUS!  I need to give credit where credit is due… the original recipe can be found HERE.
1 small package instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 box Devil's Food cake mix
1 1/2 cups chopped caramels
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
1  cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch pan and set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together chocolate pudding and milk for one minute to combine.
3.  Add cake mix ONLY and stir until thoroughly combined.
4.  Spread batter evenly into bottom of prepared pan (batter will be thick). Sprinkle with chopped caramels. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste (remember: A little bit goes a long way).
5.  Bake cake 30-40 minutes or until edges pull away from sides and a toothpick inserted in the cake portion comes out clean. 
6.  Remove cake from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
7.  Pour chocolate chips into a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is fully melted. Using a spoon, drizzle chocolate over cooled cake.
8.  Serve cake with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Potato Leek Soup

I owe the inspiration for this recipe to Stephen.  He made us an amazing dinner last night, and one course was a super delicious Potato-Leek soup, that had just the right amount of spicy and was incredibly satisfying!  I didn’t ask him for the recipe… I decided to “wing it”.  But, I think I made a pretty good imitation and I and owe it all to him.  So, thank you Stephen!  (But I am going to have to get the recipe for that Lemon Vinaigrette you served with the salad!!!)
2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced
Olive Oil
2 Tbls butter
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
4 cups chicken stock (I used Rachael Ray’s brand, have also used Swanson’s)
¾ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
6 – 8oz. cream
Chopped chives for garnish
Salt to taste

Optional: Drizzle with Truffle Oil just before serving.
Clean and slice the leeks, using mainly the white parts.  Heat a soup pot and drizzle olive oil into it.  Add the leeks and cook on low to sweat them; you don’t want them to brown.  Continue cooking on low until soft.  Add the butter and allow to melt.
Add the chicken stock to the pot and add the potato pieces, along with pepper and nutmeg.  Bring to boil; reduce heat and cover.  Simmer until potatoes are cooked through. 
Place the soup in a blender in batches, making sure to get enough of the chicken stock added to allow the soup to blend easily.  Blend until smooth.  Repeat until all soup is smooth.  I was able to do this in two batches.
Return blended soup to the pot; turn on heat and add the cream.  Heat until it begins to bubble.  Taste for seasonings.  Garnish with chopped chives and enjoy!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Jamie Oliver's Pork Medallions with Jerk Sauce

I have always loved Jamie Oliver.  He makes delicious food – that is both visually and taste appealing.  Plus, his recipes are full of healthy fresh ingredients.  Last week I was flipping TV channels and I came across his new (to me) series – “15 Minute Meals”.  I have already made this recipe two times in the past week.  It is DELICIOUS!!!  Quick, Easy, Healthy and Delightful.  I served it over some fragrant basmati rice.  Fabulous!
2 pork tenderloins, each cut into 4 – 5 medallions – depending on size
Coriander powder
For the Jerk Sauce
Half a bunch of Cilantro
4 green onions, torn into two or three pieces
2 bay leaves
1 tsp allspice
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ scotch bonnet pepper, these are incredibly hot.  I used a jalapeno instead and stripped the seeds out of half of it.  That was spicy enough for me.
1 heaping Tbls. Honey
5 – 6 small tomatoes, not cherry tomatoes.  I use the Campari tomatoes on the vine from Costco.
1 Tbls. soy sauce
Dash hot water
2 Tbls. Red Wine Vinegar
Whirl the jerk sauce ingredients in your blender until fully combined and smooth.  It takes a bit of time for everything to whirl together nicely.  Be careful not to add too much water in an effort to get it to whirl together.  I will stop the blender periodically and smash everything down into it with a wooden spoon.
Cut Pork Tenderloins into four - five pieces each, depending upon size of the tenderloin.  Pound each down piece down with your fist.  Sprinkle with Coriander and a touch of salt.
Heat a frying pan and add olive oil.  Flash fry the pork medallions in the pan 2 ½ minutes each side.  Remove to a plate.
Add the jerk sauce to the hot pan the pork cooked in.  Bring to a boil.  As it gets thick add the pork medallions back in; reduce heat.  Cover with a lid and cook for 3 – 4 minutes more.
I like to serve this with rice.  But, you could serve with whatever you desire.  Jamie dressed the dish with some fresh plain yogurt.  Looked very yummy.
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