Thursday, November 30, 2006

Buttermilk Pie

Kay's Impossible Buttermilk Pie
This pie is so delicious (and also very sweet) and it boggles my mind on how easy and fast it is to make. Matthew's mom, Kay, whipped this up when we had our "dress-rehearsal" Thanksgiving dinner in Minnesota last month. Apparently buttermilk pies are a traditional Southern delicacy. If you want to make an authentic Buttermilk Pie, check out the recipe here. But this version is almost as good and, to me, it tastes best when it's still warm.

INGREDIENTS (serves 6)

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 stick butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch pie plate.
  2. Beat together white sugar, buttermilk, baking mix, melted butter, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Pour filling into pie plate.
  3. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Coconut Cupcakes

Yummy coconut cupcakes
Like fashion, my taste in Food Network shows changes with the seasons. For a while there, I was a 30 Minute Meals fan, but now Rachel Ray is just driving me crazy. Seriously, is it just me or does she seem like she's drinking way too much coffee now, or perhaps is addicted to some sort of stimulant? Hmm, I dunno, but now my current fav is The Barefoot Contessa. Perhaps because Ina Garten, the contessa herself, seems more approachable and, even though her food takes longer than 30 minutes to make, her food--and specially desserts--just look so crazy divine! Below is the Barefoot Contessa's cupcake recipe. If you're too lazy to make it, you can now buy the baking mix online or at Cooks of Crocus Hill.


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
For the frosting: Check out the recipe here.


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in half of the coconut (about 7 ounces).

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. TIP: Use an ice-cream scoop to neatly and evenly fill the cupcake tin. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Easy Greek Salad

YAY! Our camera was found at Matt's Bar in Minneapolis, home of the "Juicy Lucy." Anyhoo, sorry I haven't posted any new recipes, but all my pics are on that darn tootin' camera. Once it's back here with its mama, I'll put up a whole bunch of new recipes I learned while I was in Minnesota. In the meantime, here is a super easy and very good Greek salad. And I bet if you look in your fridge right now, you may just have all the ingredients to make it...go on, go look.


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and extra for garnish
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • ¼ red onion, sliced into rings
  • ½ cucumber, sliced into thick half-moons
  • ½ green bell pepper, julienned
  • 4 oz (120g) feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 16 kalamata olives

Place the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano in a small jar with a screw-top lid and shake to combine.

Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine just before serving. Garnish with a little freshly ground black pepper.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Oldie but goodie: Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Apples

My husband and I were in Minnesota recently and, due to some miscommunication and probably a little too much to drink, we misplaced our awesome camera. So I don't have any pictures of some really good dishes we had. However, I am making my famous brussel sprout side dish for Thanksgiving. Here is the recipe again from my post back in November of 2005. Oh, and we found the camera, we just have to get it shipped to us now. Doh!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pint (about 10) sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small apple, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices, each slice halved crosswise
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • A big pinch of brown sugar (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange bacon in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned, 8 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts in a single layer; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven, and toss in apple and large pinch of brown sugar. Return to oven; roast until Brussels sprouts are browned and tender and apple has softened, about 8 to 10 more minutes.
  3. Toss vegetables with vinegar, additional salt, if necessary, and serve immediately.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Caramelized Onion Tart

caramelized onion tart
During the fall season, I tend to crave savory dishes. And one of my favorite types of savory food is in pizza or tart form. Here is a great onion tart that will definitely tickle your senses. And remember, you do not have use the ingredients below--you can customize in many different ways; add mushrooms or olives; swap out the cheese for a different variety; add sun-dried or oven roasted tomatoes; just do whatever appeals to you!


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 large yellow onions sliced into ¼" slices
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese at room temperature
  • ½ cup cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted frozen sheet, keep chilled until ready to use
  • ¼ cup blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese
  • ¼ cup currants

Preheat oven to 375° F

Heat olive oil and butter in large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add onions and sauté until onions start to lightly caramelize, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add chopped thyme and garlic. Continue sautéing until onions are more golden and caramelized, about 8 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and let cool.

In a bowl, mix ricotta and cream cheese together until smooth. Set aside.

Remove puff pastry from refrigerator and quickly roll out into 9"x13" rectangle. With sharp knife or pizza wheel trim all edges to ensure it can spring during baking. With a sharp knife score a line about 1/2" from edge all around border of pastry, making sure not to cut all the way through. This allows the border to puff.

Spread the cheese mixture evenly between the score lines. Cover with the onion mixture, again spreading evenly between the score lines. Sprinkle the blue cheese and currants over the onions.

Bake at 375° F for about 25 - 35 minutes, until puff pastry is golden on top and crispy and golden on the bottom. Remove from oven and cut into 2' squares. Eat it while hot, or at room temperature.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Diva's stuffed red bell peppers

Every time I cook rice for my husband and myself, I always end up with leftovers and it usually ends up in the refrigerator, forgotten like the Where's the Beef lady from the 80's. Yesterday, however, I used up some left over rice and made these delicious stuffed red bell peppers. The original recipe I found used paprika as a spice, but I decided to go more on the Mediterranean side using cinnamon and other exotic spices. And you know what? It worked! They came out very tasty. Also, I used 1 cup tomato sauce and 1-1/4 cup Prego traditional sauce. Manga!

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 large stuffed peppers)

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 large, red bell peppers
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup cooked white rice
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 2-1/4 cup jarred tomato sauce

Cut off top 1/2 inch of peppers and reserve. Scoop seeds from cavities. Discard stems and chop pepper tops. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and bay leaf and sauté for 2 minutes. Add parsley, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and chopped red bell pepper pieces and sauté until onions soften, about 6 more minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of cooked rice and mix to combine. Turn off heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

In a large bowl add the ground beef. Mix in 1 egg, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg and ground cloves. Mix in 1/4 cup tomato sauce, then the cooled onion mixture.

Fill pepper cavities with beef mixture. Stand filled peppers in single layer in heavy large pot. Pour remaining 2 cups tomato sauce around peppers. Bring sauce to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer 20 minutes. Spoon some sauce over each pepper. Cover; cook until peppers are tender and filling is cooked through and firm, about more 20 minutes (40 minutes total cooking time). A spicy California zinfandel goes wonderful with this dish.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hot Buttered Rumsfeld

hot and butteredAs you may have heard, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down. This, of course didn't come as a big surprise after the GOP didn't do so good at the polls on Tuesday. One of my spies in the capital told me that right after el presidente Bush announced Rumsfeld's resignation, el Rummy texted one of the senior pages in the White House. The text message read: brng me 1-hot butrd rum NOW :'( Hmm, okay, I'm making this up, but it could've happened.

INGREDIENTS (10 to 12 cocktails, or 2 big ones for Rumsfeld himself)

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • Bottle dark rum
  • Boiling water

In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Refrigerate until almost firm. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into 12 small mugs. Pour about 3 ounces of rum into each mug (filling about halfway). Top with boiling water (to fill the remaining half), stir well, serve immediately, and waive your arms in the air like you just don't care!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Oh my goodness, have you ever had a carb craving so bad that you'd think you'd go crazy? Hmm, maybe it's just me. These carb crazes do tend to happen to me once a month (I wonder why?) and this month I just had to have spaghetti and meatballs. Below is my modified version from Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals. If you don't want humungous meatballs, you can make them into 8, 1-1/2 inch balls, if you prefer! Enjoy.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon of grated onion + the juic3
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs, a couple of overflowing handfuls
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some to pass at table
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves, 4 to 6 sprigs
  • A couple generous handfuls flat-leaf parsley, chopped, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 12 baby Portobello caps, (crimini mushrooms), chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup, (8 ounces), beef stock
  • 1 (28-ounce), can crushed tomatoes, San Marzano if available

Preheat 400 degrees F. Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.

Mix meat with the grated onion, 3 cloves chopped garlic, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, allspice, capers, sage, a handful of the chopped parsley, salt and pepper and a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Mix meat, score the meat into 4 sections and make 4 large meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on a nonstick cookie sheet and roast 15 minutes until firm but not hard.

Drop spaghetti in salted boiling water to cook off. Drain.

Add another tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil to the skillet and the bacon. Cook 3 to 4 minutes then add the remaining garlic and mushrooms to the pan and cook 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add remaining chopped onion and deglaze the pan with wine, cook off 1 minute, add in stock and whisk up remaining drippings. Stir in the tomatoes and season sauce with salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in parsley. Simmer 5 minutes.

Toss pasta with half the sauce.

Remove balls from oven and add to remaining sauce and turn to coat. Serve meatballs, 1 per person, along side pasta. Spoon any remaining sauce over the pasta. Pass extra cheese at the table.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Apple Pie with Warm Custard Sauce

Yummers! Apple Pie with warm custard sauce
You will never look at apple pie the same again after you try a slice with this warm custard sauce. I know most of us Americans are used to eating our apple pies a-la-mode (with vanilla ice-cream) but while we were in London last month we had a slice of unbelievable apple pie with warm custard sauce. Yes, you heard me right...custard sauce! We had this delightful treat at The Crown in Bromley, which is owned by our good friends, Jerry & Vanessa Malone. However, you can find this dessert in most pubs & restaurants in London. And remember, the key is that the custard sauce has to be warm!


  • 1 apple pie, preferably homemade or from Marie Callender's
  • A jar of caramel sauce, heated (follow instructions on jar)
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring milk, vanilla bean, and scraped seeds to a simmer in a saucepan. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until light and lemon-colored. Slowly add hot milk to egg mixture, whisking continuously--you do not want scrambled eggs! Return to the saucepan, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats a spoon. Strain through a fine sieve. Add vanilla extract and set aside. You can also chill the sauce and reheat it when ready to serve.

Have your caramel sauce heated and ready to go. Place a slice of warm apple pie onto a serving plate and pour about 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce over the apple pie. Make sure the caramel sauce gets evenly distributed. Then take your warm custard sauce and pour the custard sauce on the plate around the pie. It's a slice of heaven!