Friday, February 28, 2014

Shrimp Etoufee and More for Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is fast approaching and we always make some type of Cajun food, which we love.  Scott's favorite Cajun dish is Shrimp Etoufee, which he always orders anytime he is near a Cajun restaurant. Shrimp Etoufee is shrimp and vegetables, "smothered in a roux", sort of like a stew, with Cajun or Creole spices, served over white rice. Etoufee can also be made with crawfish, but aren't readily available in our area. Of course, Scott finally made Shrimp Etoufee recently, and modified Emeril LaGasse's recipe, which is found here.   You can adjust the level of spices, depending on your personal preferences. One bite of this dish,and you will think that you are in New Orleans. If you don't like seafood, you can substitute chicken. We cut the recipe in half, and used vegetable stock in place of the shrimp stock.  We did have Emeril's Essence in our pantry.

Here are some more great Cajun recipes for Mardi Gras!  

Of course you can't forget a Hurricane!

And for dessert, here is the King Cake!

Laissez Les Bontemps Rouler, Let. the Good Times Roll! Enjoy!

l linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #107
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Monday, February 24, 2014

Spinach, Bacon, and Sun Dried Tomato Frittata

We love making and eating Frittatas. In case you have never had one, a Frittata is like an Italian omelette, with  eggs,cheese, vegetables, and perhaps some ham or bacon.  The Frittata is started on the stove top and finished in the oven, in an oven-proof skillet. A Frittata is a great way to use up leftover vegetables, or in this case, leftover bacon.  We got carried away over the weekend, when cooking bacon to wrap around our Valentine Scallops, and had extra cooked bacon to use up. Everything is better with bacon, even turkey bacon.  Unfortunately, this isn't fresh tomato season, or we could have made BLT's. You can tailor this recipe to what you have in your fridge. Frittata's are great for brunch, lunch, or a light dinner with a salad.

This recipe has fresh spinach, cooked and  diced, Turkey Bacon, Sun Dried tomatoes, zucchini, lowfat cheese, and 4eggs, and four egg whites,, and herbs, so this is a healthy dish, low in sodium, and low in fat.  The vegetables are sauteed in Smart Balance as well. You can havve this dish made in about 30 minutes.  The sauteed vegetables with the bacon, and eggs, cooked in a cheesy goodness, make you think that you are eating something much more decadent than it really is.  Shhh! I won't tell!

Spinach, Bacon, and Sun Dried Tomato Frittata
Adapted from Liv Life

Vegetable oil cooking spray
I Tbsp of Smart Balance or butter
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
1 clove, garlic sliced thin
1/3 cup of sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 medium Zucchini, sliced and quartered
4 whole eggs
4 egg whites
1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. or 1 tsp dried basil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh spinach, washed and torn in small pieces
4 slices of cooked bacon or pancetta, chopped  I used Turkey bacon

Heat oven to 425°F. Coat 1 10” ovenproof skillet with cooking spray and set aside. Heat Smart Balance in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, until soft but not brown, about 2 to 3 minutes Stir in zucchini and Sundried tomatoes.  Continue cooking, until just soft. 2-3 minutes.   Remove from heat.  Lightly whisk eggs and egg whites in a large bowl. Stir in cheese, basil, pepper,  spinach, and bacon. Pour the egg mixture into skillet, stir, and bake until puffed and firm in the center, 12 to 14 minutes. 

l linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #107
 Stop by and say Hi to Brandie!  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cherry Jam Yogurt Muffins

"Life is just a bowl of cherries"or so they say.  Sometimes, you just have to deal with what you are given.  Last weekend we had to postpone our Valentine celebration for a a few days, due to trip to the ER for Scott. Instead of having the wonderful meal of Scallops. that we had planned, Scott was eating dinner in his hospital room.  He was having pains in his upper back on the left side, that went down his left arm. Because Scott has had a heart bypass, they admitted him to the hospital on Saturday to monitor him. and run more tests. Instead of having the wonderful meal of Scallops. that we had planned, Scott was eating dinner in his hospital room.  It turns out that  all the test were negative, and the pain was caused by a strained muscle. Yay! No heart attack!  He came home late Sunday morning, and we had our Valentine celebration Sunday evening,

Because our weekend was very stressful, we needed to chill out. Also, when February rolls around I think of cherries.  Because we can't get fresh cherries , you have to use the next best thing, cherry jam.  I made these wonderful Cherry Jam Yogurt Muffins to soothe our nerves.  The muffins have  cherry jam, oatmeal, and yogurt, but aren't overly sweet or heavy.  With the nubby texture from the oatmeal ,  just the right amount of sweetness, and bumped up protein from the yogurt,  these muffins are the perfect muffin for breakfast, a snack, or even dessert.  I'm eating one as I type, mmm!

If you don't like cherries, you could use any other flavor of jam, or fresh fruit, when it is in season. I cut the recipe in half, and still got a dozen muffins.  These will freeze well, too, so you can have muffins later.   Make a batch of these wonderful muffins,  Life is just a bowl of Cherry Muffins!

Cherry Jam Yogurt Muffins

Adapted from Dinner with Julie

3/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups plain yogurt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 – 2 1/2 cups oats (old fashioned, if you have them, or quick)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cherry jam

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugar, and add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until the mixture is thick and creamy. Stir in yogurt.

Then whisk together the dry ingredients. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and  add in wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.  Do not over mix.  

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin.   Fill muffin tins half way with batter.   Drop one teaspoon of jam on top of batter in pan.  Cover jam with batter.

 Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Tip them in the pan to help them cool. Makes 2 dozen muffins.  I cut the recipe in half, and got 12 muffins.

l linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #106
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Spicy Coconut Soup with Chicken and Vegetables

Take your taste buds on a Caribbean vacation with this soup.  Are you in? I am!  Our winter has been never ending, with 3-6" of more snow expected today.  Spring, is 31days away, but I'm getting out my Spring colors in my home, and kitchen. See my  Spring napkin.  At least I can be transported to the Caribbean in my home.   Just don't step outside. Back to the soup.

This soup has a broth made with lite coconut milk and low sodium chicken stock with warm spices of cumin, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. As the broth simmers, your kitchen will smell so good.  You can adjust the heat in this soup, according to your family's preferences.  I added broccoli, zucchini, and red bell pepper, along with some onion and garlic. You could also use baby spinach, Bok Choy, or other vegetables of your choice. I used cooked chicken breasts, but you could also use a rotisserie chicken. With Lent just around the corner, you could use shrimp, instead of the chicken breasts,  In fact, I have made with soup with shrimp, and it's wonderful.  You can make this soup in about 30 minutes, from start to finish.   A Pina Colada would be great to drink with this soup, Enjoy! 

Spicy Coconut Soup with Chicken and Vegetables

Adapted from Cooking Light 2006  Serves Four
  • Cooking spray
  • 2/3  cup  chopped onion
  • 1/2  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  red curry paste, or regular curry powder.
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 2  (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1  1 lb chicken breast, cooked and cut in chunks
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in medium chunks
  • 16 oz fresh or frozen broccoli, or fresh spinach
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add curry paste or curry powder, cumin, and red pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and coconut milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked chicken, zucchini chunks, and broccoli (We don’t like mushy broccoli).  Cook 4 minutes or until broccoli and zucchini are tender. 

I got to make Vaentine Cookies with Anna and Emma, my friend, Carolyn's, Granddaughters.  We had such a good time decorating Valentine Hearts with Frosting, MM's and Sprinkles, and more fun eating them!

Even dolls like Valentine Cookies!

l linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #106
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Triple Lemon Hearts for Valentine's Day

Not everyone wants chocolate on Valentine's Day.  My Husband likes chocolate for sure, but wanted Lemon Cake, which is his very favorite, for Valentine's Day  And besides there are people that don't prefer chocolate at all, like my son, and a certain blogger whose name starts with the letter "C".  Of course then, I had to to make these Triple Lemon Tarts with Lemon Curd for him.  He will be so happy with these little cakes that have fresh lemon juice, zest, and a lemon glaze.  And to put these over the top, they are filled with Lemon Curd.  The recipe is here.  If you don't have time to make home made lemon curd, you can buy a jar at Trader Joe's. These little cakes are a Lemon Lover's delight for sure, right, Christiane?  These little Lemon cakes would be perfect for Mother's Day, too.

Now, I like lemon too. but I also wanted some chocolate for my Valentine Treat, so I made some Mini  Fudgy Brownie Bites with Chocolate Ganache and sprinkles.  Got to have those sprinkles. The recipe is here.

I cut the recipe in half for the Lemon Hearts and got two hearts, plus eight cupcakes, but Bailey grabbed one of  the baked cupcakes off the counter, so now I have seven.  She's quick as lightening! If you don't have heart shaped pans you could make a layer cake or cupcakes.  Whatever shape you make this cake, your lemon Lover will love it.  All that love for Valentine's Day. Have a Happy Valentine's Day.  It doesn't matter if you have a fancy dinner at home with your sweetie, pizza with the kids, champagne, beer, or soda, the important thing is that you are sharing the day with the ones that you love.  Enjoy! 

Triple Lemon Heart Cakes with Lemon Curd

 Adapted from Crazy about Cupcakes, by Krystina Castella

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 c lemon zest-about 3 lemons
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk I used almond milk
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.   Grease and flour  Two 9” cake pans, mini bundt pans.  Line cupcake pans with liners.
 2. In a large bowl of stand mixer, combine sugar and lemon zest. .cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating 1 minute after each addition.
3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, combine milk, lemon juice and vanilla.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk, ending with the flour mixture.  Mix until completely integrated.
5. Fill the cake pans and cupcake liners three-quarters full. Bake cakes about  20-25 minutes, and cupcakes 18-23 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Remove cakes from oven and cool on rack.  Carefully remove cakes from pan, using a butter knife if needed. Place on rack with wax or parchment paper underneath. Spoon glaze over warm cakes Frost when glaze is completely set

Lemon Glaze

1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
 3/4 c powdered sugar

Mix above ingredients until desired consistency.  Spoon over cooled cakes.

l linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #105
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Valentine's Day Treats

Valentine's Day Treats Round Up

Before you know it Valentine's Day will be here.  It's a special day to show your love with sweets, right?  You can get some great ideas here at my Valentine's Day Treats Round Up. Whether you are looking for something chocolate, or not, there is something for everyone, from individual desserts to wonderful cookies, and cupcakes.

Scott and I avoid the restaurant scene on Valentine's Day, but prefer to stay home and have a party in our kitchen, making a wonderful dinner, drinking, wine or champagne, and having a decadent treat. That's usually the way that our Valentine's Day goes.  What do you do on Valentine's Day?  Whatever you do, have a wonderful day.  Enjoy!

In order, left to right, top to bottom
Kahlua Brownie Bites 

Coconut Cream Squares with Dark Cherry Squares

Pink Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

Fudgy Brownie with Chocolate Ganache

Little Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Nutella Ganache    

Chocolate Cherry Cordial Cookies

Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes with Chocolate Ganache

Browned Butter Oatmeal Milk Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Peanut Butter Cherry MM Cookies



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Peanut Butter Cherry M & M Cookies

I love peanut butter and I love MM's, especially the seasonal ones, and the Cherry Chocolate ones are my fave.  I wanted to use MM's to make cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies with MM's would be perfect.  I went to my friendly Walgreen's where they had a special on Valentine MM's, that worked out to be 2 bags for $3 with coupons and my  Rewards card!  I was in heaven. I got a bag of the Cherry Milk Chocolate MM's and a bag of of the regular Milk Chocolate Valentine MM's.  It's a good thing that I got two bags, because I ran out of the Cherry ones, and had to use the regular Milk Chocolate Valentine MM's, too, as you can see in the picture. the more MM's the better.  What are your favorite MM's?

Whatever kind of MM's you use, these cookies are wonderful; soft, chewy, with lots of peanut butter and MM's Cherry Chocolate. I used chunky peanut butter, because that is the kind that I like, so the cookies had an extra crunch. I didn't use natural peanut butter, because I have not gotten good results using it to bake cookies. Once baked, the cookies fall apart. If you like them crisper, leave them in the oven a minute or two longer. I did refrigerate the cookie dough, before I formed the balls, so they wouldn't spread so much. I baked them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake a batch of these cookies for your Sweeties, and they'll love you forever.  I know that my Sweetie ate three of them last night. Now, I have to hide the rest, or make more, so I have some for my future Vaentine plans.  SHHH! Top Secret!

Peanut Butter Cherry MM Cookies
Yield: 2-3 dozen
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter  
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Valentine MM Candies + more for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and peanut butter until smooth.
  3. Add the sugars and mix on high for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix on high for 1 minute.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the wet butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again to ensure that everything has been incorporated.
  7. Fold in the 3/4 cup MM candies.
  8. Refrigerate dough for  at least 30 minutes, for best performance
  9.  Using a cookie scoop, or hand roll 1 1/2” balls, flatten slightly to form a disc. Place on the prepared cookie sheet.
  10.  With a fork, press a criss-cross pattern into the top of each cookie. Garnish with 2-3 additional MM candies on top.
  11. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the cookies feel slightly firm to the touch and the edges and bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  If you like crisper cookie, bake a minute or two longer.
  12. Store in covered container for one week, or freeze.
Adapted from Java Cupcake

l linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #104
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