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, November 29, 2014

Roasted Fennel

I got the idea for this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s show.  I never thought that I liked fennel before – because I don’t like licorice.  But, I thought I’d give this a try and I LOVE IT!  It's a perfect accompaniment for most meats!
3 – 4 heads fennel  
1 clove garlic, finely sliced  
2 tablespoons butter
Drizzled Olive Oil  
4 oz. dry white wine
Salt & freshly ground black pepper 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove any discolored parts of the fennel, and then cut the tops, reserving the leaves.
I normally slice each fennel from the top to the root, into about 4 pieces – quartered.  You can slice them finer and more delicately if you like.
Throw all the ingredients except the reserved leaves into foil – loosely making a packet.  However, don’t completely close it - top off a piece of parchment paper, run it under cold water and scrunch it up to make it soft.  Then place it snugly over and around the fennel, on the inside of the foil packet.   This bakes and steams the fennel at the same time--basically making it really tasty!
Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until tender.
Scatter with the fennel leaves before serving.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mexican Meatballs with Queso Blanco

This was another Pinterest find from the “Cooking on the Ranch” blog.  Love her blog and all of the recipes sound fantastic.  Click HERE to view Lee Ann’s blog.
I made the meatballs as appetizers for the Mexican themed dinner we attended a couple of weeks ago.   However, I can definitely imagine serving them for dinner - perhaps with some rice and salad. They were so flavorful and perfectly spiced – but not “hot” spicy.  Top them with the Queso Blanco – which is HEAVENLY.  It is creamy and spicy and super easy and quick to make.  I will definitely make the meatballs again – and I can think of a lot of ways to use the Queso Blanco – including eating it directly from the bowl.
1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs, or panko crumbs
½ C. milk
1 egg
½ yellow onion, chopped
1 T. olive oil
2 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
1 t. coriander
1 T. paprika
1 t. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with Pam.
Combine the meat and bread crumbs in a bowl. In a blender add the milk, egg, onion, olive oil and spices.  Whirl until well combined and the onion is minced.  Pour in the bowl.  Mix well with the meat and bread crumbs.  Once well mixed, form the meat into small meatballs. Arrange meatballs on a baking sheet and bake 15 or 20 minutes.
To serve, place meatballs on a serving platter and drizzle with the Queso Blanco.  (recipe below)
Queso Blanco
½ lb White American Cheese, roughly chopped into 1" pieces
2 oz. diced green chilies (Like Ortega)
1 ½ tablespoon pickled jalapeno slices, diced fine
2 tablespoons juice from the pickled jalapenos
⅓ cup milk
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Combine all ingredients in a medium size glass bowl.  Microwave for five minutes, pausing to stir after every minute. Serve hot.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mexican Sopapilla Cheesecake

I was in charge of the appetizers and dessert at our most recent “dinner & a movie” gathering with our friends.   My friend made wonderful enchiladas, rice and beans for dinner.  After scouring Pinterest for a while – I found this recipe which was a breeze to make and incredibly delicious! (Original Recipe is HERE.) Just the right amount of sweet and the rich creaminess of the cream cheese.  I will definitely make this again… and again.  In fact, I wish I had a piece right now!
3 (8oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 (8oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup honey, for garnish
PREHEAT an oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Beat the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar and the Mexican vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth.
Unroll one can of crescent roll dough, and place into the bottom of baking dish; pressing the seams together. Make sure that the edges are not too thick. Unroll the second can of crescent roll dough and using a rolling pin shape into one piece to fit over the cream cheese mixture in the 9x13 pan. Set aside.
Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough. Brush some of the melted butter over the crescent rolls. Stir together 3/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon, and butter and sprinkle mixture over the top of the cheesecake.
Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares.
Chill in the refrigerator for a good 4 hours before serving.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Baked French Dip Sandwiches

This was another Pinterest find – but I’ve made some minor adjustments.  We’ve had these sandwiches four or five times in the past month.  They’re a huge hit with all of us.  Easy and quick to make – but more importantly DELICIOUS! 
(Note:  the photo was taken the first time I made them.  Since that time, I’ve tweaked the recipe by making two layers with the roast beef and cheese – and I’ve switched to the crustier rolls.  Just keep forgetting to take a new picture!)
4 Hoagie Rolls (I like the kind that are crusty on the outside and soft inside)
1 lb. medium rare roast beef, deli sliced
8 slices provolone cheese
Deli or Stoneground Mustard
1 pkg, Knorr Au Jus mix
1 can Beef Consummé
Make the Au Jus first.  Follow the directions on the package.  When it’s complete add the can of Beef Consummé.  Bring to a simmer and set aside until the sandwiches are complete.
Turn the oven on to broil. 
Slice the rolls lengthwise.  Spread mustard on each half.
The roast beef will be divided evenly between the four sandwiches.  And, it’s placed on the sandwich in two separate layers in the following manner:
Layer some roast beef on the bottom half of the rolls.  Place under the broiler for 2 – 3 minutes to heat and just begin to sizzle.  Remove from the oven.
Tear the slices of provolone in half.  Place two halves on top of the roast beef.  Place another layer of roast beef on top of the cheese; top with two more halves of cheese.  Return to the broiler for another 2 – 3 minutes, just until the cheese begins to melt.  Remove from oven.
Place the other half of the roll on top.  Return to the oven for just about a minute.  You want to just warm the top half – be careful not to burn.
Cut the sandwich in half and serve with the Au Jus.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Roasted Carrot & Ginger Soup

I wanted to serve soup and sandwiches for a recent lunch with family.  I found this great recipe for Carrot & Ginger soup.  Original Recipe can be found HERE. My mouth started watering almost immediately as I read the ingredients and directions.  I’ve left recipe almost intact – with a few minor alterations.  (More ginger and the addition of sour cream.)  I served the soup with French Dip Sandwiches.  Wow!  They were amazing and the combination of the soup and sandwiches was really well received.  Let’s just say there wasn’t a lot of talking going on at the lunch table – we were all too busy eating!
2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into large dice (3/4-inch)
2 tbsps olive oil
3 tbsps butter, unsalted
1 medium onion, medium dice
2 large ribs of celery, medium dice
3 tbsps fresh ginger, grated (I cheated and used ginger from a jar)
4 cups chicken broth
3 - 4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
8 ounces sour cream (I used light)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Place the diced carrots in a large baking or roasting pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the carrots, sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and toss to coat evenly. Roast the carrots for 45 minutes, stirring the carrots after the first 25 minutes or roasting. Remove from oven.
Heat the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for three minutes until translucent. Add the celery and ginger to the onions and sauté for 4 more minutes. Stir in the roasted carrots, broth, 3 cups of the water, salt, and white pepper.
Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-low so that it is actively simmering. Cover the pot with a lid and let simmer for 45 minutes.
Allow the soup to cool a bit.  In batches, transfer the soup to a blender and purée until completely creamy.  Adding a bit of extra water as needed.  Return the soup to the pot and stir in the sour cream.   
Reheat the soup if necessary, season with more salt to taste, and serve.
Serves 4-6. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Melon Mojito Salad

I enjoyed this delicious salad on our recent visit to New Orleans.  I ordered it as the starter to my lunch at Café Adelaide & Swizzle Stick Bar.  (And, by the way, I highly recommend this restaurant for lunch.  They offer $.25 martini lunches.  Order an entrée and your martini’s are only $.25.  The menu says, “limit of three – because three’s all you need!”  Fabulous food, impeccable service and beautiful atmosphere!)  I have tried to duplicate the salad since my return home.  I think I’ve done an admirable job.  I’ve served it twice, and all have enjoyed it and raved over it.  So – enjoy!
Seasonal melon, cut into small pieces  (I used watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew.  The melon will be arranged on the salad greens – so use enough for the number of salads you will be serving.)
Mint, chopped finely
1 – 2 Tbls dark rum, depending upon how much melon you’re using
Combination of greens, enough for the number of salads you will be serving  (I used Romaine and Red Leaf lettuce)
Chunks of Goat Cheese
Spiced Pecans (recipe follows)
Bacon Molasses Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Combine the melon, mint and rum in a container about 30 minutes before serving the salad.  I’ve made this as much as three hours before serving and the melon didn’t become mushy. However, I did place it back in the fridge to marinate.
Combine the greens in a large bowl.  Drizzle with Bacon Molasses Vinaigrette and toss.  Serve the greens on individual plates.
Scatter chunks of Goat cheese on top of the greens and then arrange the melon on top of that. Sprinkle the Spiced Pecans on top.  Serve and enjoy this refreshing and delightful salad.
Note:  You could also add some grilled chicken to make this a main course salad.
Spiced Pecans Recipe:
(Adapted From Alton Brown)
4 oz pecan halves
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ tsp water
Mix the spices together in a small bowl and set aside.  Place the nuts in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes until they start to brown and smell toasted.  Be careful they don’t burn.  Add the butter and stir until it melts.  Add the spice mixture and stir to combine.  Add the sugar and water, stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts.  (Approximately 2 to 3 minutes)
Transfer the nuts to a prepared sheet pan (line a sheet pan with parchment paper – or spray with non-stick cooking spray) separate them with a fork or spatula.  Allow the nuts to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage.
For this salad – you will break the spiced pecan halves into pieces for topping the salad.  I suppose you could start with pecan pieces – but I was afraid I would burn them more easily than starting with the halves.
Bacon Molasses Vinaigrette Recipe:
2 pieces of bacon, cut into small pieces – fry until crisp.  Drain on paper towel – reserve 1 tablespoon bacon grease
2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoons minced shallot
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh basil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon bacon grease
Place everything, except the bacon, into a small blender.  (I use the small container of my Bullet for this)  Whirl until everything is completely combined and smooth.  Add the bacon to the vinaigrette.   Set aside. 
Note:  I’ve made this the night before making the salad.  However, I didn’t add the bacon until about 30 minutes before serving.  Just place in the fridge until ready to use.
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