Monday, April 26, 2010

Poppyseed Buttermilk Tea Cake

I. Have. Done. It! Muahahaha (that's an evil laugh by the way)

Ever wonder what to do with poppyseed filling, other than making my delicious hamantachen cookies? Look no further, for the most delicious poppyseed cake is right in front of you! And once again, I am amazed at the number of people who have never had poppyseed anything.  Maybe its my southern roots talking but I was under the impression poppy seed is as common as snickerdoodles and grits...ok, point taken.

This tea cake is perfect for brunch and dessert.  The buttermilk allows the cake to retain its perfect moisture level and the filling provides just enough sweetness.  For a light dessert, a strawberry puree would be perfect. Oh, did I mention how simple it is to throw together?

Now, Ive gotcha :)

Btw, poppyseed filling is found in a can next to the almond paste in the baking aisle.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shrimp Pad Thai

For my past few recipe creations, I have been one step behind.  I think to myself "Hey, I am going to make this dish and its going to freakin fantastic!" Next thing I know, I have been out done by someone else making it before me, arghhh.  Seriously, doesnt Bobbly Flay know that I had the idea to make Shrimp Pad Thai LONG before he decided to battle the cute pad thai lady from Cali? Jeez people.

I know Pad Thai has been around for about a million-jillion years (yes, thats a true number by the way) but I've decided to be one step ahead of the game this time.  SOOO, Pad Thai ...yay.  Here's a dish that you may not of thought of making (ok, go along with me now).

One ingredient, I never thought of buying, much less incorporating in a main dish, is fish sauce.  I know it sounds gross and, next to chinese stinky tofu, smells incredibly rank.  If you're not familiar with stinky tofu, your lucky.  Trust one this one, do NOT go in search of the stuff!  Additionally, I learned the hard way that fish sauce is for cooking and not tasting before hand.  Lesson learned: throw the sauce into the noodles and all will come out delicious. 

Preparing is the most time-consuming process in this dish.  The pad thai noodles are already pre-cooked, so a good soak to break up the noodles and your  ready to go.  Oh and SHHHHHH!  This recipe contains tofu. which Mr. F loved after he ate the whole plate.  Serve with extra peanuts and lime and viola! dinner is served.  BTW, the pad thai may have made even better leftovers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Challah French Toast

White your heart out.  

What's challah french toast?  A rich egg bread is soaked in a mixture of cream, egg, spices, vanilla, and honey, then fried in butter.  Oh, but we are NOT done yet :)  Sprinkle on the powder sugar and Apple Butter syrup. Oh ya, you know you want some.

Seriously, could french toast look any sexier?  What if I told you that I made the challah from scratch?  Now, I would love to give you step-by-step instructions on challah making but MY instructions will probably get you nowhere. I have said it before and I will repeat it again, "Yeast, is not my friend." Ok, maybe I need to alter this statement since my bread baking results have now been upgraded from hunk-of-brick to dense-yet-deliciously-edible.  In my own defense and against the recipe instructions, I used rapid rise yeast versus regular yeast. Words of advise: stick with the recipe.

Yet despite my inability to read and follow simple instructions, the challah turned out pretty freakin delicious. So if your heart is now pounding to make some fresh loaves of egg bread, please use Mariel's recipe! She even has pictures to help (I think this is what saved my bread :) And even though I didnt braid it, the challah is even more yummy than store-bought; especially, when you will have enough bread to make french toast for an army.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vanilla Extract

Ever wonder why you pay obscene amounts of money for vanilla extract?  You could say "yes" b/c the product you purchase is so damn good its worth it.  Well, Im here to tell you... It all about the bean, baby!

Have a good vanilla bean, you can make even better extract.  Now, the bean itself is still pricey. Why? Vanilla beans are grown from orchids and take up to 11 years per bean to fully develop.  To top it off, the majority of the world's vanilla beans come from Madagascar. BUT if your lucky you can get Tahitian, Mexican, or Indian Vanilla beans ;)  And if your REALLY lucky, fresh vanilla beans are simply heavenly.  Fresh being plump, moist vanilla beans, not the dried beans found most commonly. 

So how to make will be amazed at its simplicity.  Oh, I am so excited to tell you! Vodka and vanilla beans!  I use a flip-top bottle, so the beans will go in but will never come out. 

To start, find the right bottle you want to use.  Place 3-4 beans in the bottle and fill to the top with vodka.  Place bottle in a dark place to sit for 6 months to a year (depending on the bottle size).  Once the color darkens, the extract is ready!  When you start to run low on extract (you can see Im getting there ) just refill with vodka.  It doesnt have to sit untouched like the first time.   Over the years, it just gets better!

And talk about gifts!!! Bakers will love to receive homemade vanilla extract :) Try Beanilla for a variety of beans and bottles.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini

This recipe is like gold.  Dont believe me? Let me ask you some questions:

1. Do you and/or your family like creamy pasta?
2.  Do you and/or family enjoy chicken for dinner?
3.  Do you ever have leftover chicken or keep frozen chicken in your freezer?
4.  Do you enjoy making easy, one dish casseroles for dinner?
5. Do you like meals that make for AWESOME leftovers?
6. Do you like cheese, cheese, and more cheese?

Let me answered "yes" to a few, if not all, the previous questions?  I've never met ANYONE that hasnt loved this dish. This recipe is about as easy a dinner as you can get without buying a frozen dinner or fast food.   In the times I have made this casserole, I have tweaked my moms original recipe based on the ingredients I have handy.   She has made for years, especially, when she needed an easy crowd pleaser for my family. 

You may be pondering the question: What does "Tetrazzini" mean? Um, I have no clue, maybe it means delicious. I'll leave the definition up to you. Let me know if you come with something good that I can tell people when they beg me for the recipe :)

Did I mention you can add or substitute any of the following ingredients? BTW, this is a great recipe for leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Then you can just call it Turkey Tetrazzini. Again, not sure what the "Tetrazzini" means, oh well.

I usually serve this casserole with a Caesar salad. 

P.S Great dish for potlucks!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Banana pudding: one of those common desserts that you love to eat but the idea of making it usually isnt very appealing.

Cheesecake: depends on the flavor but I can devour at anytime, slice by delectable slice.

Banana Pudding + Cheesecake: didnt think it could be done? Prepared to be amazed!

With a crust made from vanilla wafers and almonds, filled with cheesecake and a banana foster-like mixture, then topped with a frothy meringue and baked till golden.  Not your typical cheesecake but uniquely delicious!

Everything worked great till my meringue somewhat deflated on cooling.  Probably because, as usual, my patience meter on the cooling directions went from "cool at room temp" to straight to the fridge.  Did I fail to mention that my new springform pan decided  not cooperate in opening? Thus, as I was putting my arm through the still raging hot pan, I burned the crap out of my wrist.  On a happier note,  this is only the 2nd cheesecake I have ever made and I think it turned out great.

While you definitely need a topping to the dessert, a meringue isnt necessary (although looks beautiful).  A whipped cream might be just a yummy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mahi Mahi Tacos with Creamy Lime Sauce

At the thought of these tacos, I just want to sing...but for your sake, I wont :)  

If your thinking to yourself, "these arent my thing", I bet I can prove you wrong!  Mr. F said the same thing till I convinced him just to try one.  Now he requests them!

Don't think of them as a traditional taco; instead, think of them as the equivalent to a healthy fish entree. I mean, I dont know the actual caloric breakdown on this recipe but your practically giving your body a workout: blackened fish, shredded cabbage, lime sauce, cheese, small corn tortilla.  You could even add a pica de gallo and cover all the major food groups.

I dont remember when I first  discovered my love for these tacos but I do remember when I decided to try them out for myself.  My initial attempts began with pre-marinated fish and discovered this was BIG mistake.  Once I began preparing my own blackened fish, my next addition was with a creamy lime sauce.  The sauce is so delicious, it can be made for just about anything.  After several trials, I prefer to pour the sauce on top of the taco rather than premix the slaw into the sauce.  Its simply a personal preference.  Have fun with them!

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