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!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

This is the best of several worlds!  Scrumptious cake that is a little bit gooey and has the perfect crunch. Add that to the combination of pumpkin, brown sugar, and warm spices and you have a dessert that will leave everyone asking for more.  We loved it!  It was super easy to make - and just as easy to eat!  Trust me - you’re going to love this one.

Ingredients:

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped roasted pecans
1 cup unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugars, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and salt and well combined and smooth.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.

Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture and use your hands to gently press it into the batter.

Sprinkle the top of the cake with chopped pecans and evenly drizzle the melted butter over the entire cake.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. At this point, check your cake. If the top is becoming to brown, cover the cake with a piece of foil for the remaining baking time. Continue baking an additional 10-20 minutes or until set.

Remove pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Chill for a few hours before serving.

If desired, top with whipped cream and chopped pecans before serving.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Pimento Cheese Bites

Pimento Cheese is a Southern thing.  Being that my Grandma was from Alabama – we enjoyed Pimento Cheese on many occasions.   My cousin Nona picked up the tradition of serving it when the family was together on the holidays.   I haven’t had it in many years.  So, this past Christmas I had a craving for it and decided to make it.  I found this cute idea on Pinterest to make it into individual bites with a Pretzel Stick in each.  I served them at a party and everyone loved them.  I’ve since made the recipe into other "forms" - one large cheese ball – and I’ve made it and just served in a dish without rolling it in the nuts, bacon and jalapeno.  Regardless of what “form” you decide to mold your Pimento Cheese into – I think you’ll enjoy it and be thrilled you tried it.  It’s Scrumptious!

Ingredients:

For the Pimento Cheese:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Mini Cheese Ball Bites:
18 oz bacon, cooked until crisp and finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups diced)
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 to 2 jalapeños, minced (seeds & membranes removed)
Pretzel sticks

Directions

To make Pimento Cheese:
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic salt, onion powder, and cayenne. Scrape bowl and mix in grated cheddar and diced pimentos until well combined. Season with salt and/or black pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until firm.

To make Mini Cheese Ball Bites:
In a medium bowl, combine diced bacon, chopped pecans, and minced jalapeños. Using a spoon or a small cookie scoop, form heaping tablespoons of pimento cheese into balls. Roll each pimento cheese ball in the mixture of bacon, pecans, and jalapeños, pressing coating into cheese so that it adheres.
Refrigerate cheese balls until firm, and keep them chilled until ready to serve. Just before serving, skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick.

Notes

To toast pecans, spread out on a sheet pan and baked in a preheated 350°F oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Allow pecans to cool before finely chopping them.

As long as you remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeños and very finely dice them, they shouldn't be too spicy. Use as much jalapeño as you wish, however, based on your personal preference.

If you'd like to use the Pimento Cheese recipe for purposes other than mini cheese balls, increase the mayonnaise to 1/2 cup. The reason the amount of mayo is slightly reduced for these cheese balls is to make sure the mixture isn't too soft to roll into balls.


You can make the cheese balls ahead of time, but don't insert the pretzels until just before serving or they will become soggy.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Baked Brie Bites with Bacon Apricot Jam

These were HEAVENLY!  Another great Pinterest find.  Very easy to make and the bacon jam is to die for!  I mean – everything really IS better with bacon.  The flavor of the creamy brie cheese combined with the smoky sweet bacon apricot jam is spectacular.  And, the fresh thyme garnish gives each bite just that extra little something.  You’re going to love these.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 lb bacon, chopped
10 oz. jar “simply fruit” apricot jam
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
6 oz wedge of double or triple creme brie cheese, frozen for 1 hour
15 phyllo cups (I used Athens)
fresh thyme to garnish
Crisco to grease

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with Crisco.

In a large skillet cook the chopped bacon over a medium flame until crispy, 15 – 20 minutes. Be sure to drain any rendered fat from the skillet once the bacon is fully cooked. Next, reduce flame to low before stirring in the apricot jam and apple cider vinegar, incorporating well. Allow this mixture to simmer for 5 – 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, on a cutting board cube the frozen wedge of brie into chunks, first by removing the rind from all edges, then cubing the cheesy insides. When ready, line up the phyllo cups on the greased baking sheet.

Fill each cup with a cube of brie, then top with a spoonful of bacon jam — Repeat until all cups are filled.

Bake for 10 minutes on oven middle rack until the cheese is just beginning to bubble, then immediately serve, garnishing with fresh thyme.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mediterranean Mini-Scones

This recipe came from the “Tiny Food Party” recipe book.  It has inspired me to create other mini-scone recipes, which I will post in the future.  These savory scones are filled with the delicious Mediterranean flavors of sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and herbs.  They are delicious with lunch, as a snack or served at Happy Hour.  Cheers!

Ingredients:

2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbls sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes (See “Interesting Note” in directions)

2/3 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 Tbls fresh minced thyme*
2 tsp minced fresh oregano*
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary*
1 tsp black pepper
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup heavy cream

*If you prefer to use dried herbs reduce the amounts to 1 teaspoon thyme, ¾ teaspoon of each – oregano and rosemary.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  (I use a Silpat silicone baking mat)

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut butter into the flour mixture until it is completely incorporated and mixture has a fine mealy texture.  (Interesting note!  In a pie crust baking class, they had us GRATE the butter into the flour.  Just toss it in the flour mixture to keep it from melting in your hands - and start grating. I found this easier than cutting the butter into the flour mixture.)

Add sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, herbs and pepper.  Stir well to combine.  Fold in buttermilk and stir just until dough comes together.

Divide dough into 4 disks.  Cut each disk into 6 wedges.  Place wedges onto the prepared baking sheet. 


Lightly brush the top of each wedge with heavy cream and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until scones puff up and the tops start to brown.  Serve warm.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ginger Pear Turkey Sausage

These are incredible!  The combination of pear, scallions, jalapeno, cilantro and ginger root is so fresh and amazing!  This will make 4 servings (8 patties total) for only about 190 calories per serving.  Not only are they a great healthy alternative to regular breakfast sausage – they are DELICIOUS!  You might even consider making these as burger patties.  I think they would be remarkable!

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground turkey breast
1/2 cup diced ripe pear
4 scallions, bulbs removed, white and green parts finely chopped
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 tsp safflower oil, divided

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine turkey, pear, scallions, jalapeño, cilantro, ginger, salt, pepper flakes and 1 1/2 tsp oil. Shape mixture into 8 patties (each about 2 1/2 inches in diameter).
Heat remaining 1 1/2 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add patties and cook for 4 minutes per side or until lightly golden and no longer pink in center.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Lemon Mousse

Another great Pinterest find.  I was looking for a dessert to bring to a dinner party.  This one fit the bill perfectly.  The delicious sweet lemon flavor couples perfectly with the whipped cream.  I followed the recipe exactly from ChampagneFrosting.  Bridget has some wonderful recipes on her site.  You should check her out!  The only change I made was to garnish each dessert with three blueberries, in addition to the whipped cream and lemon zest. It added to the interest in presentation.  If you love delicious, lemony, creamy desserts - then you'll want to make and enjoy this one!

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Butter (unsalted), softened
1 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Yolks
1/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest, plus a little extra
3/4 Cup Whipping Cream
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Blueberries for garnish

Directions:

In stand mixer beat the butter and sugar. With the mixer on low begin adding the eggs and yolks one at a time (make sure you separate the egg yolks in a separate bowl first so you don’t end up with extra whites!).  With mixer still on low, pour in lemon juice and zest.  It will make the mixture look curdled. (Spread you extra zest on a paper towel to dry and you can then use it to sprinkle on top the whipped cream at the end.)

Pour the curd into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat whisking occasionally until it no longer looks curdled. Turn the heat up to medium high, clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and reaches 170 degrees.

Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool on the stove for a 5 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh sieve to remove clumps into a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap, press wrap down so touching the surface to prevent a hard top layer from forming.  Chill the curd for 2 hours or more.


In mixer whip cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold about 2/3 of the whipped cream into the lemon curd.  Scoop into serving cups.  Top each serving with the remaining whipped cream, lemon zest and blueberries.  Serve or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Watermelon Jalapeno Margarita

I am not quite sure exactly WHEN I started thinking about making watermelon cocktails?  Originally I thought it would be a great mixer for vodka – but then I started looking online and found that mixing watermelon with tequila seems to be a popular “thing”.  So, off to market I went to purchase a seedless melon.  This turned out DELICIOUS!  Mixing the melon with jalapenos gives the drink a little kick.  It’s so refreshing and tastes so fresh.  Love this drink A LOT!  I think you will too! 

Ingredients:

1 Seedless Watermelon
2 – 3 Tablespoons of sugar (depending upon the sweetness of the melon you may need more or less.  I ended up not needing to add any sugar at all)
2 jalapenos
6 – 8 Tablespoons lime juice
Salt & Chili Powder (for rimming the glasses)
Tequila & Triple Sec

Directions:

In a blender puree the watermelon, sugar if you’re using any, and 1 jalapeno.  Puree until smooth; pour through a fine sieve to remove the solids.  Place in a pitcher along with the lime juice.

Slice the remaining jalapeno into small circles.  Add to the watermelon juice.  Stir well to combine. Put into the fridge for at least 2 hours.  The longer it is allowed to sit, the more “kick” the jalapeno gives to the mix.

When ready to serve combine the salt and chili powder on a plate.  Rim the classes with some lime juice and dip in salt/chili powder combination.  Fill the glasses with ice.  Add desired amount of tequila and half that amount of triple sec.  Fill with the watermelon juice; stir to combine.

Relax and Enjoy! 

Lime Cilantro Chicken

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  I have made a few adjustments and added Red Pepper flakes.  I like to prepare the chicken and marinade in the morning before I go to work.  When I come home the chicken is perfectly marinated and ready for cooking.  Makes for a very quick dinner at the end of a long day.  I like to serve this with my Mexicali Cauliflower Rice or Quinoa.  Very delightful!  The chicken has such a fresh flavor after sitting with the lime juice, garlic and cilantro all day. And, I like to make a gravy out of the marinade which adds to the full and delicious flavor!

Ingredients:

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in half to make thinner pieces
2 Tablespoons lime juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup fresh Cilantro, chopped 
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 teaspoons chili powder
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a gallon size bag or large container/bowl. Mix well, rubbing the spices into the chicken. Store in refrigerator for several hours to marinate.  I like to prepare in the morning before I go to work.

Drizzle Olive Oil in a skillet – or spray a non-stick pan.  Heat over medium-high heat.

Remove chicken from marinade; shake excess off chicken.  Do not discard the marinade. Fry in pan for about five minutes; turn and cook an additional five minutes.

Place chicken on a plate; keep warm.  Add the marinade to the pan; cook until boiling.  Reduce heat and continue to cook until liquid reduces.  Basically, you’re making a gravy out of the marinade. 


Plate the chicken and drizzle a bit of the “gravy” over each breast.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mexicali Riced Cauliflower

I’ve been eating a lot of riced cauliflower lately. I use it as a substitute for rice and pasta.  So, I’ve been looking for ideas on how to make it differently.  I found a recipe on Pinterest which inspired this version.    I’ve made it two times now and I’m really in love with it.   You can eat it right out of the oven – or make it ahead for lunches.  It heats up very nicely in the microwave.  It’s spicy, full of flavor and really delicious.  The best part is I don’t feel deprived because I’m not having rice.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1lb. bag of riced cauliflower
10 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (I use the roasted diced tomatoes from Trader Joes, which is also where I get my riced cauliflower from.)
1/3 jalapeno, diced (if you remove the seeds you’ll get the flavor of the jalapeno without the intense heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Olive Oil
Chili Powder
Salt

Directions:

Place the cauliflower, jalapeno, garlic and tomatoes into a bowl.  Toss well to combine the ingredients.

Spread the cauliflower mixture onto a baking sheet that has edges.

Lightly drizzle the cauliflower with Olive Oil.  Sprinkle salt and chili powder over the cauliflower.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  Turn the mixture with a spatula.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.


Remove from oven; allow to cool slightly. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the cauliflower and toss to combine.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Cheesy Polenta with Italian Sausage & Eggs



I absolutely LOVE Polenta.  I’ve made it a few different ways, but this is my favorite: as a delicious and hearty breakfast.  It could also be served like this, but without the eggs, as a side dish for lunch or dinner.  This recipe will serve two.  The rule of thumb for polenta – use four times as much liquid as the dry polenta.  This is a very versatile grain.  See the “notes” at the end of the recipe for other ways I’ve prepared this.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup water
2 garlic cloves grated into the water
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 chicken bouillon cube

1/3 cup dry polenta

Approximately 3 ounces of grated cheddar cheese
Drizzle of milk

4 oz. Italian Mild (or Sweet) Sausage, crumbled and fried
2 eggs, fried over easy or medium – depending upon your preference

Directions:

Add the water, grated garlic, pepper flakes and bouillon cube in a small pot.  Bring to a boil.  Add the polenta to the boiling water and whisk until fully incorporated and the polenta begins to thicken.  Make sure the water is evaporated and the polenta is fully cooked, whisking occasionally.  This only takes a few minutes.  Drizzle a little milk into the polenta to give a creamier texture.  Whisk well.

Add the cheese to the polenta and stir for a minute to allow cheese to melt.   Turn off the heat and let it set while you fry the eggs.

Add the cooked Italian sausage to the polenta.  Stir to incorporate.

Divide the cheesy polenta with sausage into two bowls.  Top each with a fried egg.


Notes:  You can pretty much add whatever you’d like to the polenta.  Sometimes I add bacon instead of the sausage – sometimes I add both.  I’ve used pepper jack cheese and green chilies and a touch of chili powder for a “Tex Mex” flair.  I sautéed onions and tomatoes and added those with bacon.   

As a dinner/lunch side dish – I’ve used gorgonzola cheese and sage with a little butter.  I’ve also made the polenta a bit more calorie friendly using a recipe from Cooking Light.  You can find that recipe HERE.

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