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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Grandpa's Wilton Fondant Fish Birthday Cake

Grandpa's Fish Cake

Baked by: Mom
Decorated by: The Kids

We wanted to do something special for my Dad's Birthday. So the kids and I decided to bake him a "Fish Cake".

Off to the store we went. I decided to go to Michael's because I knew they carried Wilton products. I like Wilton products for my cakes because they have been around for years. Wilton basically has everything you need to make a cake as good as the professionals make. They have everything from edible spray paints, glass like glitter, pre-made flowers and tubs of butter cream frosting!

I picked up a small tub of frosting and a package of fondant. I do have a Cake Lady I normally use but this one was special. We made our way back home to start baking.

I baked the cake in a regular oblong cake pan, cut, pieced together and frosted the cake with the butter cream (after adding a hint of pure vanilla flavoring because it comes plain).

Then we read the instructions for the fondant. It also comes white so you need to color and flavor it. Than means adding drops of food coloring and flavoring and then pulling or needing it through. Which takes a "ton of time" I might add!

After needing and pulling for what seemed all after noon we had to roll. I covered the counter top with powdered sugar and started to roll.. and roll.. and roll until real thin. Using the rolling pin I rolled it up and then unrolled it on the fish body. I then cut away the extra fondant.

We added the fins and cut away and added the gills and eyes with a little water to make sure it stuck. Then I let the kids have at it.

We found a colored photo of a fish and set it along side so they could use as a guide. I gave them some Wilton Cake Decorating pre-filled tubes of frosting and let them go. I do have to say they did a fabulous job!

Grandpa absolutely LOVED his fish cake!

Homemade Herb Croutons

Do you throw away the ends of the bread loaf or that old baguette end no one ate and it seems a bit hard?

Start tossing all your bread heals, French bread and baguette ends into a bread bag and toss in the freezer. You are now making your own Croutons!

  • Old bread (or new)
  • Granulated Garlic - or two cloves pressed threw garlic press
  • Dried Thyme
  • Dried Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
After collecting enough bread to fill a large mixing bowl, remove from freezer and thaw. Cut bread into crouton size pieces, some like them a little larger what ever you prefer. Put into a very large mixing bowl.

Season all over the top of the bread pieces with Salt, Pepper, Granulated Garlic, Thyme (1/2 tsp at a time, you can always add more Thyme) and Parsley. Toss to mix well.

Drizzle with olive oil and toss so all the bread pieces are coated evenly with spices and oil.

Place onto cookie or baking sheet, brown in oven at 350 until nicely browned.

Sprinkle all over the top of your Caesar, Greek and or Toss Salads. Store extra croutons in a Tupperware container or zip lock bag.
Try my quick and easy Caesar Salad Dressing found under Dressings in my Recipe Box! Or click the link here: Quick and Easy Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing

Tip Of The Day: Cooking With Un-Salted Butter

When cooking use "un-salted" butter. Using un-salted butter gives you control over how much Salt is being used in your dishes.

Cooking vegetables and meats all require salt to bring out your flavors. Too much salt is not good for your health.

So make a fresh start to your cooking and start using "un-salted" butter today ;)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes with Marinara

Summer Time screams fresh vegetables picked from the garden! Here is one of my favorites that is usually only available for a short time "Fried Green Tomatoes". This very simple and easy recipe with my added touch of the Marinara renews an old dish.

And "yes" these beauties are from my little garden in the city!

  • 4 Large Green Tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Cup White Cornmeal or Yellow
  • 1 Tablespoon Creole Seasoning (or Italian Seasoning w/a dash of Chili Powder is OK)
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour, Divided
  • Vegetable Oil or Peanut Oil
  • Your Favorite Jar of Marinara Sauce
  • Parmesan Cheese - Grated
Preheat oven to 200.

Cut Tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Season both sides of the Tomatoes with Salt and Pepper.

You will need three shallow dishes:
  1. First shallow dish pour in the Buttermilk.
  2. Second shallow dish mix together the Cornmeal, Creole Seasonings and 1 Cup Flour.
  3. Third shallow dish add the remaining 1 Cup Flour.
Dredge the Tomatoes in the plain Flour, then dip in the Buttermilk and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Do this until all the Tomatoes are done, placing on a paper towel lined platter.

Heat Heavy skillet (cast-iron works well if you have one); heat over medium heat (350).

Fry Tomatoes in batches being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides, remove to a paper towel lines tray and keep warm in the oven.

Heat 1-1/2 cups of Marinara Sauce.

Arrange Fried Green Tomatoes on a pretty serving platter with the Marinara Sauce in a dish in the center. Sprinkle Tomatoes with Salt, Pepper and Parmesan Cheese.

Enjoy ;)

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken Cordon Bleu cooked on the grill is easy and you can't beat the taste! I have purchased the largest chicken breast I could find. This one was the size of two and fed the two of us easily with a few left overs.

  • Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (or one per person if small)
  • Fresh Rosemary (two sprigs chopped)
  • Fresh Italian Parsley (two tablespoons chopped)
  • Fresh Basil (six large leaves chopped)
  • Paprika
  • Granulate Garlic
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Big Eye or Baby Swiss Cheese
  • Thinly sliced Ham
Dried herbs can be used as well, I just love the fresh taste of the fresh herbs from my garden ;) Just cut the amounts in half if using dried.

Brine the breast (optional):

Brining helps to keep the breast from drying out during cooking keeping it moist and tender.
  • In a large bowl add two tablespoons Salt, 1/2 teaspoon Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Oregano, 1/2 teaspoon Granulated Garlic, Chicken Breast and enough water to cover the Chicken. Mix well, cover and place in the fridge for at least four hours.
Remove Chicken from brine, rinse and pat dry.

Butterfly the breast and pound out thin. Being careful not to get too thin you don't want it to break apart while rolling.

Season breast with Salt, Pepper, Granulated Garlic, Rosemary, Parsley and Basil:

Then add a layer of Ham and Swiss Cheese.

Starting at one end start to roll the breast not to tightly, it's more of a lift and roll, securing the roll with a skewer. Close the ends with a skewer and then cut off the extra or use a large tooth pick.

Season the rolled breast with Salt, Pepper, Garlic and Paprika. Drizzle with olive oil on all sides.

Preheat the grill to Medium.

Place the roll on the grill and cook on the first side for five minutes, turn over only 1/4 of the way and cook for an additional five minutes repeating this for all four sides.

When the chicken is done, remove from heat, cover and let sit for five minutes. Slice and serve.

Tip: This recipe can be made ahead of time for a party. Prepare the chicken, cover and put it fridge. Remove 15 minutes before grilling time to bring the meat to room temperature. Your guests will love it as well as be impressed!

A wonderful side dish for this is: Grilled Herb Carrots, Celery & Potato's


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tip Of The Day: Make Your Fresh Vegetable Greens Taste Better Add Nutmeg!

Need to add a special touch to your sauteed greens? Add a dash of Nutmeg! It will give them the added touch you need. Nutmeg adds that needed flavor to finish your dish.

Whether it be Spinach, blanched Kayle or Beet Greens sauteed with garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper just add a dash of Nutmeg. Everyone will eat them all up (even the children!).

Nutmeg or Myristica fragrans is an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia, or Spice Islands. Until the mid 19th century this was the world's only source. The nutmeg tree is important for two spices derived from the fruit, nutmeg and mace.

Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20 mm to 30 mm (1 inch) long and 15 mm to 18 mm (¾ inch) wide, and weighing between 5 g and 10 g (¼ ounce and ½ ounce) dried, while mace is the dried "lacy" reddish covering or arillus of the seed. This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tip Of The Day: What's The Best Potato For Mashed? Yukon Gold

When your making mashed potato's use the best:

Yukon Gold Potato's

Yukon Gold Potato's are the Cadillac of all potato's! The olden color has the best flavor. Make sure to try them and compare yourself the next time you mash ;)


Monday, July 20, 2009

How To Make Easy Parmigiana and Sage Fettuccine Pasta

Parmigiana & Sage Pasta is so easy it can be done by the time the pasta is cooked!


  • One package Buitoni Fettuccine Pasta (refrigerated section at the supermarket)
  • Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Sage Leaves
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
In a large skillet, melt about four tablespoons butter. Add the Sage leaves and cook over Medium heat until crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning once. Season with Salt and Pepper. Remove Sage to paper towel line plate, saving the butter.

Cook pasta in a large pasta pot with salted boiling water. Reserve 1/4 Cup of pasta water when pasta is cooked. Drain pasta and ad to the reserved butter and the 1/4 Cup of pasta water, toss and season with salt and pepper.

Place pasta in a large pasta bowl or platter, sprinkle the cooked Sage leaves and the Parmigiano all over the top.

Serve with additional cheese on the side.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Apple Wood Smoked Chicken On The Grill

I like the flavor of "smoked food" but don't like the amount of time it takes to acquire the wonderful taste. So when your craving the smoked flavors and don't have allot of time on your hands here is a quick and easy recipe!

  • Apple Wood Chips
  • Aluminum Pan
  • Aluminum Foil
  • One 3 1/2 - 4 lb. Chicken (halved)
  • Dry Rub
Dry Rub Ingredients:
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Dried Tarragon
  • Paprika
  • Dried Italian Seasonings (By McCormick)
  • Dry Mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
In water soak enough Apple Wood Chips to cover the bottom of a 1/2 sheet pan size aluminum pan for 3 to 4 hours prior to cooking time. I use Weber Grill Company's Chips you can order through the mail or just get chips from the supermarket. Weber's chips are great because they have big chunks as well as small. The larger ones last longer.

Prep the grill. Cover the second shelf with two layers of foil and pierce with tiny holes to let the smoke through to the chicken. Spray or brush the foil lined shelf with oil heavily to prevent the chicken from sticking.

Place Pan with chips on lower shelve next to the flame. Add an inch or so of the soaking water to the pan.

Prepare the chicken:

Add one tablespoon of all the dry ingredients except the salt and pepper into a small bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon Salt and 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper to the bowl. Mix well.

Sprinkle both sides of Chicken with the dry rub coating evenly, turning carefully. Use all the rub.

Preheat the grill to high to get the Apple Wood Chips going. When the grill starts to smoke the the temp is registering high, place the chicken halves on the foil skin side up over the pan with the Apple Wood Chips as seen here:

Close the grill after about two minutes (letting the grill heat back up) reduce the heat to medium low. After 40 minutes check the Wood Chip Pan and add some of the soaking water if needed close lid quickly.

When the chicken has been in an hour, check the internal temperature of the chicken, if it registers "done" (180) shut the grill lid to reheat for a couple minutes and then turn off the grill and do not open the lid. Let the chicken continue to smoke for an additional hour.

You will find the smoked taste wonderful! Slice and serve with a pasta or potatoes and vegetables.

Pasta suggestion (click link):

Enjoy ;)
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Quick and Easy 15 Minute Homemade Doughnuts Kids Love!

Surprise your kids with fresh and hot Homemade Doughnuts!

This recipe is so easy it's hard to believe! All you need is four ingredients! You can make something special for the little ones or for anyone at any time. For adults you could do the beignet version :)


  • Canned Biscuits (from the supermarket refrigerator section)
  • Cooking Oil
  • Powdered Sugar and/or Cinnamon and Granulated Sugar mixed

Preheat your oil in a deep fry pan to Med High.

Open Canned Biscuits, separate, and cut a round hole in each center of the biscuits (a 2-liter pop bottle cap works well for this just spray with non-stick spray first).

Place in hot oil (try one sample one first to test heat) turning when they become golden brown.

Remove to a paper towel lined tray, remove excess oil, then dredge in powder sugar or the cinnamon sugar mixture, place on serving tray! Be careful....still hot!

Cook the little holes for mini bites!

Beignet Version:

For Adults: roll dough lightly into a ball then fry, pile cooked balls onto a tray and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with Chicory coffee just like New Orleans!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Wine Pick Of The Day! Walter Clore Private Reserve Columbia-Crest

This Columbia Valley Red Wine keeps popping up at parties!

Walter Clore, Private Reserve 2004, Columbia-Crest, Patterson, Washington, USA

With hand-picked grapes, aged for two years in French barrels to add balance to this Bordeaux wine.

It is nice but a little to light for my taste. I thought it was a little bit between a Merlot and a Cab. The price point is good, but I would prefer one of my old standbys from Napa.

The other party goers didn't seam to mind. but then again they were not going to review it either :)

Wine Pick Of The Day! Bella Sera Pinot Grigio Italy

This Bella Sera Pinot Grigio is a great pick for summer!

Bella Sera, 2007 Pinot Grigio,Delle Venezie, Italy

Bella Sera means "Beautiful evening" in Italian and offers wines that capture the charm and grace of the Italian Lifestyle.

I found this delightful Pinot light and crisp. With a hint of pear which was very nice. Refreshing for a hot summer day!

Goes great with appetizers, light pastas, fish and chicken.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tip Of The Day: Baking Potato's Quicker

Short on time, but crave that "baked potato"?

Here is a simple tip:

After you have washed and dried your baking potato's coat them with Olive Oil and Salt (I add Granulated Garlic to make the skin taste oh so yummy!). You do know that the skin holds tons of vitamins right!

Spear with a "metal" skewer! Place in a 400 degree oven. The metal heats up and helps the potato cook not just from the outside in but the inside out also. You will find that they become fork tender quicker than the usual required hour it usually takes :)


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quick and Easy Sauteed Bonless Pork Chops

Sauteed Boneless Pork Chops are quick and easy when you only have a short time to pull dinner together. They taste great and stay juicy. Kids love them also.

  • Boneless Pork Chops or Cutlets
  • Whole Wheat Flour ( 1-1/2 Cups)
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Large Skillet
Pour flour into shallow dish to use for dredging.

Take the boneless pork chops and place on cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound to flatten evenly.

Coat pan with Olive Oil enough to cover bottom, heat pan to med high.

Season both sides of pork with Garlic, Salt and Pepper. Dredge in flour and coat both sides.

Place in heated pan leaving a space in between each chop (do not over crowd the pan).

Saute for about four minutes depending on the thickness turn when just browned, cook on second side for the same time. Remove to paper towel covered plate, place in warm oven while you finish cooking the rest of the chops.

Serve with my Sauteed Peas Side Dish. Click link for recipe:


Friday, July 10, 2009

Easy Healthy Oven Baked Round French Fries

These easy and healthy Round French Fries are baked in the oven. They turn our crispy with out all the frying in that oil!


  • Large Baking Potato's - One Per Person
  • Olive Oil
  • Lawry's Seasoning Salt
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
Preheat oven to 400.

Wash and slice potato's into 1/2 inch or so slices making sure they are all uniform so they baked evenly.

Toss sliced potato's into a large mixing bowl. Season with Lawry's Season Salt, Granulated Garlic, Fresh Ground Pepper and drizzle with Olive Oil. Toss to coat evenly.

Remember to use the salt sparingly, you can always add but cannot remove :)

Spray or coat your baking sheet lightly with Olive Oil using a paper towel to help reduce clean up.

Arrange the potato's on baking sheet leaving a little room between each slice. As shown here:

Place sheet in the 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning once 1/2 way though cooking time. Potato's are done when nicely browned and crispy on the outside.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My New All Clad Stainless Steal 10" French Skillet

After going through three egg pans in the last couple years I finally shelled out the big bucks for the best.

My Calaphan was a "needed seasoning" pan. No matter what I did it didn't season properly. Unless you poured a cup of oil in it you might get an egg out. That is in the "our cabin" tub in the garage.

The two recent were reasonable in price but ended up peeling. One not so much as the other, but in time in was pitched. On a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond I checked out all their pans. Thought about Emril's, but have never used one and he does have a small fry pan at a reasonable price.

Then I spotted the mack daddy of pans! The All Clad line. Most of the lines came in a set, I don't need a set. Then I spotted the 10" French Skillet. Beautiful! And it was sold separately as well. So I stood there and read up on All Clad. I was sold.

Brought it home after handing the clerk my 20% off coupon! Which brought the pan down a bit from $79.99.

We set the pan on the stove top, sprayed oil in it (per instructions) and then turned on the heat to Medium. The heat was immediately dispersed to the entire bottom of the pan. I added to eggs and right away there was a wonderful sizzle sound! The eggs cooked to fast I was amazed! And, they slid out of the pan onto the plate with not a speck left in the pan! I could have wiped it out with a paper towel!

I have cooked thousands of eggs, I was impressed and very excited!!! Grilled sandwiches are perfect every time.

The best part the All Clad pan is it's so easy to clean :)

So yes I shelled out the big bucks for this little skillet, with a life time warranty it will be the last pan we will every need to buy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Easy Cooked Summer Radishes

Here is a easy twist to the summer Radish. Normally I just clean cut and soak the Radish and eat raw. On a recent trip we found a "cooked version" of the vegetable.

  • 2-3 bunches of large Radishes
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 2-3 cloves chopped Garlic
  • One Tablespoon fresh Parsley
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
De-stem and clean the Radishes removing the root.

Steam until fork tender.

In a large skillet heat enough Olive Oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add two tablespoons butter, chopped Garlic and saute just so the Garlic flavors the Oil/Butter not to brown the Garlic. You should be able to smell the Garlic at this point.

Add the cooked Radishes, Parsley and season with Salt and Pepper. Saute until heated.

Serve as side dish to your favorite summer meal :)


In a large skillet

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Karen's Rainy Day Barbeque Chicken

My "Rainy Day Barbecue Chicken is quick and easy for anytime of the year! If it's summer and your family is craving BBQ you can still get the great taste indoors.

  • Cut up Chicken (here we have four large chicken thighs)
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Granulated Garlic - NOT Garlic Salt
  • Sweet Baby Rays Barbecue Sauce
  • Grill Pan
Yes here is my secret! Sweet Baby Rays Barbecue Sauce. I make my BBQ ribs and chicken with this and, my added spices of course. Everyone loves the taste and until now I haven't passed the secret on because it is silly actually it's out of the bottle. Rays has just the right taste tang, sweet and spice. He did it right!

Wash and clean your chicken, pat dry and season with Salt, Pepper and Granulated Garlic. Drizzle with Olive Oil and coat your pan with a paper towel soaked with a little Olive Oil to prevent sticking. You can also spay with a non-stick oil to help make clean up easier.

Heat pan add chicken skin side down first.

Cook for about 7 minutes and turn. When you turn the chicken add the Barbecue sauce to the cooked side and let sit (I cover the entire pan with a loose fitting lid to help keep the heat in but not the steam). Continue to cook the second side for about 7 minutes with a total cooking time of 15 minutes at this point.

When your cooking time is complete turn again and coat the other side, after a minute or so turn the chicken add more sauce, let sit a minute, turn and repeat. I only do this for a total of five minutes to get the sauce hot and the chicken is coated well.

Remove the chicken from the pan and let rest for about five minutes covered before serving. The actual temperature of the chicken will rise five degrees after removing it from the heat, it will continue to cook and resting lets the juices redistribute through out the meat, keeping it nice and juicy.

Serve with our recipe (click the link): The Best Summer BBQ Baked Beans by Paula Dean



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