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 30, 2013

Fresh Apple Spice Dump Cake

My Mom used to make “dump cake” all the time in the 70’s.  She used a can of cherry pie filling topped with a can of crushed pineapple and then followed the directions below with yellow cake mix and the melted butter.  Very easy and always delicious.  I wanted to try something a little different and came up with this combination.  It takes a little more time than just opening two cans and “dumping” them… but it was so flavorful and fresh tasting – I think it was worth the extra effort!
7 assorted apples (peeled cored and sliced.  I used a combination of Granny Smith, Gala, Akane and Honey Crisp)
Fresh Lemon Juice
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons spiced rum
¼ cup water
1 pkg spice cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
Peel, core and slice the apples; place into a pot.  As you are preparing the apples sprinkle lemon juice over the slices that are already prepared.  This will keep them from turning brown.
Once all the apples are in the pan add the sugars, cinnamon, vanilla, rum and water.  Bring to a boil stirring often.  Cook for about 30 minutes until the apples have become soft and have created a nice juice.
Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.  Pour the apples and juice into it.  Sprinkle the cake mix on top.  Drizzle the melted butter on top of the cake mix. 
Bake at 350 for 35 – 45 minutes.
Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Heaven!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sausage Bites

Here’s another great Pinterest find.  I made these for a party we attended and everyone loved them.  I served with a side of mustard and ketchup… but truly, they don’t need anything.  They’re addictive!  The original recipe can be found on TheKitchenIsMyPlayground.com.  These were quick, easy and a huge HIT! 
1 pkg. hot Italian sausage
1 white onion, chopped small
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of Salt & Pepper
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 pkgs. refrigerated crescent rolls
Olive Oil
Drizzle a tiny bit of Olive Oil into a heated non-stick skillet.  Add onions and garlic; sauté until translucent. 
Add Hot Italian Sausage; cook thoroughly breaking sausage into small pieces.  Remove from heat, drain any excess oil and allow to slightly cool. Add a dash of salt and pepper and the cream cheese; mix until cream cheese is melted into sausage mixture.
Unroll one package of crescent rolls and place on a baking sheet. With your fingers, gently press the seams together to seal them. Spread the sausage mixture evenly over the crescent roll dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border along the edges.
Unroll the remaining package of crescent rolls and place on top of the sausage mixture. Press the edges together to seal. Gently press the seams together.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crescent roll dough is golden brown.
Cut into small squares and serve.  (A pizza cutter makes really quick and easy work of the cutting.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Garlic Rosemary Lemon Chicken

I saw this idea on Pinterest for “Dump Chicken”.  While that doesn’t sound very appetizing – the idea is to dump all the ingredients in a Ziploc bag and freeze.  You can defrost on the day that you want to make the chicken breasts – and you have a very easy and fairly quick dinner that is FULL of flavor.  You just need to decide what ingredients to “dump” into the bag and then enjoy the results!  I didn’t take a photo of the chicken breasts… because you know – you’ve seen one chicken breast – you’ve kind of seen them all.  Enjoy!
3 – 4 chicken breasts, butterflied
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used a garlic press)
Two 4” sprigs fresh rosemary
1 touch of salt
¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Place the butterflied chicken breasts into a Ziploc bag. 
Crush the garlic directly into the bag.  Remove the rosemary leaves from the stems, finely mince with a bit of salt; add to the bag.
Add the lemon juice, olive oil and cayenne pepper to the bag.  Seal the bag and shake well to equally distribute the marinade all over the chicken.
Place in the freezer.  On the day you want to cook the chicken, defrost.
Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet; fry about 3 – 4 minutes on each side.
If you don’t want to freeze, marinade about 30 minutes – 2 hours.  Be careful not to marinate too long, as the lemon juice will begin to “cook” the chicken.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Trisha Yearwood's Charleston Dip

I saw Trisha Yearwood make this on her show one Saturday morning.  I sounded delicious, so I just had to try it.  It WAS delicious!  Easy and quick to make… and even easier to eat.  Mmm Mmm good!
8 oz room temp cream cheese
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese
½ cup Monterey jack cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
Dash of Cayenne Pepper or a few shots of Tabasco
8 – 10 buttery crackers, crushed
Bacon Crumbles
Mix the three cheeses, green onions, mayo and cayenne in a bowl.  Turn into a baking dish.  Sprinkle the crushed crackers over the top and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. 
Remove from oven and sprinkle the top with crumbled bacon.  Enjoy with crackers or crusty bread.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sausage Hors de Oeuvre’s

I saw Trisha Yearwood make these Sausage bites on her Food Network show.  I followed her recipe, with one exception - I added only 2 cups of Bisquick.  As I was combining the mixture I felt adding an additional cup would make them too doughy.  Trisha’s recipe called for 3 cups of Bisquick; I wanted these to be a meatier consistency, so I stopped at 2 cups.  These were a HIT at the party I took them to.  I served them warm with two different dipping sauces.  (See my recommendations at the end of the recipe.)
1 lb. Hot & Spicy bulk sausage
10 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups Bisquick, added 1 cup at a time
Kosher Salt & Pepper
Place sausage and cheese in mixing bowl.  Grind some fresh black topper into the bowl.  Begin mixing to combine.  Add 1 cup of baking mix at a time.  Mix until well blended.
Roll into bite sized meatballs.  Place on baking sheet.  375 for 20 – 25 minutes.  Test for doneness.
Remove to serving platter and sprinkle with kosher salt. 
Serve warm with the dipping sauce of your choice.  I used my bottled barbeque sauce and doctored it with a bit of dry mustard, brown sugar, Worchester sauce, and lemon juice.  I also made a combination of mayonnaise, stone ground mustard, ketchup, tabasco and Worchester.  I also added a tablespoon or two of milk to thin it so that it was more like a dipping sauce than a mayonnaise consistency.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ropa Vieja (Cuban Shredded Beef)

Ropa Vieja is a Cuban dish – quite literally translated, it means “Old Clothes”.  Made with beef, it is cooked with luscious vegetables and spices until the meat can be shredded easily with a fork.  It’s kind of like the Cuban version of “pulled pork” – only with beef and no barbeque sauce.  Ha!  Most recipes use Flank Steak.  I’ve made it this way three times – and I’m never happy with the results.  The meat is too stringy.  So, this time I used a Bottom Round Roast…. HEAVEN!  Try it… You’ll like it!
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
4 -5 cloves garlic, chopped
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
8 oz. can tomato sauce
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
½ cup dry red wine
¼ cup beef broth
2 ½ - 3 pound bottom round roast
1 heaping Tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
In the bowl of a crock pot scatter in the onion, peppers, jalapeno and garlic; toss to combine.  Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Pour in the red wine vinegar, red wine and beef broth.
In a small bowl combine the cumin, chili powder and smoked paprika.  Cut the roast crosswise, in half.  Rub the spice mixture all over the roast.  Toss any excess spice mixture into the crock pot.
Place the two pieces of roast in the crock pot on top of the vegetables.
Cover and cook on high for 2 hours; turn down to low and continue cooking for 3 – 4 additional hours.  It’s done when the beef falls apart easily; shredded with two forks.
Serve over rice – or on tortillas.  Heaven!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Summer Shrimp Salad

This is inspired from one of my Cooking Light cookbook recipes.  I wanted to take it for lunch at work one day – so I made it the night before, but didn’t add any dressing until the next day at lunch.  It was still very fresh and delicious – even though it had been made so long in advance.  The flavors meld together really well and the combination of the corn, shrimp, squash and tomatoes is fabulous.  (This recipe serves two.)
8 oz. medium shrimp, deveined cooked and peeled.  (I use already cooked, tail off shrimp purchased from either Trader Joes or Costco)
½ of a yellow squash, julienned
½ of a large zucchini, julienned
¾ cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (If you can’t find heirloom, regular cherry tomatoes will work just fine.)
½ cup corn kernels (you can use fresh, however I used the steam in bag frozen corn)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (or if you prefer – fresh basil)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Balsamic Vinegar Dressing of your choice (I used Paul Newman’s)
Toss everything together – except the dressing. 
Toss with the dressing of your choice when ready to serve.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cumin Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Plum Chutney

As you may already be aware – my favorite “go to” cookbooks are from the Cooking Light family.  Always delicious – often inspirations for me to experiment – and usually fairly easy to make.  This Pork Tenderloin will make your mouth DANCE!  So fragrant while cooking – and even better while eating.  The Plum Chutney can be made ahead and kept in the fridge, and it can also be served with chicken.  It’s super yummy.
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 – 1pound pork tenderloins
Cooking spray
Plum Chutney (recipe to follow)
Preheat oven to 375.
Combine first five ingredients in small bowl.  Rub the pork with this spice mixture.
Spray a foil lined baking sheet (with edges) with cooking spray.  Place pork on the sheet. 
Place in oven and cook for 22 – 25 minutes.
Remove and let stand for about 15 minutes.  Slice into ¼ inch pieces.  Serve with Plum Chutney.
Plum Chutney
1 jalapeno pepper
1 poblano chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
5 cups chopped plums (about 2 ½ pounds – turned out to be 7 medium sized plums)
1 cup chopped seeded tomato
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Preheat broiler.
Place jalapeno and poblano on a foil lined baking sheet; broil 10 minutes – or until blacked, turning occasionally.  Place in a Ziploc bag; seal.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Peel jalapeno and poblano.  Cut in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes.  Chop.
Heat oil in a large saucepan; add onion, ginger and garlic.  Saute 5 minutes, or until tender.  Add jalapeno, poblano, plums and the next six ingredients.  (everything   except the cilantro)  Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for 30 minutes – stirring occasionally.  Uncover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, or until liquid evaporates; stirring occasionally.
Cool completely; stir in cilantro. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blood Orange Martini

(Makes 2)
My BFF Adrienne loves Blood Orange Martini’s.  When we had a recent party she asked if I could learn to make them. So, here’s my creation… she loved them... and I did too!  Very yummy… and they go down just a little too easily!
2 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. Blood Orange Juice
1 oz. Pomegranate Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
½ a fresh lime, juiced
Fill cocktail shaker with ice.  Add all ingredients to the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
Strain into two chilled martini glasses.  Sit back, sip, and ENJOY!
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