Archive for December, 2015

Pat’s Louisiana Stranger Cake

Pat’s Louisiana Stranger Cake!

My dear readers, let me introduce you to my early morning singing buddy….Pat!

This is Pat and one of her creations with a blue ribbon!

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Pat and I used to work together…she, for TWA/American Airlines and I, for Boeing… and we used to arrive at work very, very early in the morning, because we were both diligent and dedicated and, and, and,  well, maybe we were just plain goofy.

And in those very early morning hours, we would sing songs that echoed down the empty quarter of a mile long hallway.  (not an exaggeration folks….. and of course my office was at the very end of that long hallway…Pat’s office was back up the hall about a third of the way from the end)

Pat and I have kept in touch, even though she left the airline long before I left Boeing. She has kept busy working with stained glass (more on that in a later post,… I will show you some pics of her beautiful work) AND Pat has put her culinary baking skills to work.  She has won ribbons for her baked goodies and several businesses call upon her to bake cakes and cupcakes, etc for different events.

Today, I want to talk to you about Pat’s Louisiana Stranger Cake. She asked me if I had heard of this cake and I had to admit that I had not. Pat’s words to me were “Ya gotta make it…it is so moist and delish and fool-proof” 

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You see, this cake is made with a cake mix, eggs, oil, water and …wait for it…canned frosting! Not frosting on the cake, altho one could frost it…but in the batter. AND, Pat says you must use a bundt pan!

So, I checked my pantry for a cake mix and found one that I had gotten on sale (marked down twice)…. around thanksgiving.

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It was a blue raspberry cake….apparently no one else wanted this mix, so the supermarket marked it down twice and the only canned frosting I had on hand was a vanilla!  I’m not sure these two go together, but, since Pat said any cake mix would do…I forged ahead.

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Apparently, blue and white make green???… because that is the color the cake turned out…I would not call it a pretty cake because of the mix and frosting I used….but it certainly had a moistness and flavor.  

The Captain really liked it…. except for the color!  I am sure a white cake mix would have been a better combination with the vanilla frosting.  I believe the blue cake mix would have been perfect for a “Frozen” themed party cake!

However, I would suggest you stick to Pat’s recipe with the spice cake mix and maple frosting!  

You will find Pat’s recipe below….in a handy dandy printable….and a pic of her Louisiana Stranger Cake.

Oh, and just as an FYI…..you may have noticed my electric mixer on a pull out shelf in the pic above.

A little over 2 years ago the Captain re-designed my kitchen cabinets by installing pull out and roll out shelves! There is not a day that goes by that I don’t silently (and sometimes out loud) thank him for the convenience of these shelves that pull out with only one finger….especially my electric mixer shelf.  Love it! Love it! Love it!….My green artisan Kitchen Aid mixer is on a shelf that pulls out and up to counter height and my heavy duty red Kitchen Aid is more conventional and sits on a rolling table in my dish pantry. If you have a Kitchen Aid Mixer, you know how heavy they can be to move around.  Both of mine are now easily accessible and I never have to lift or move these heavy mixers.  I highly recommend this shelf if you have a space for it.

Just sayin’ !!!  If you missed the post on all the roll out shelves in my kitchen cabinets….just click on the following link. 

Kitchen Cabinet Roll Out Shelves

Those shelves have made my life so much easier….plus, I know where everything is.  

Sorry, I digress a bit….lets talk about this cake.

Have any of you heard of Louisiana Stranger Cake?

I did a bit of research and found that the few recipes I saw… called for butter pecan cake mix or a yellow cake mix  and coconut pecan or maple frosting. However, Pat’s recipe, using a spice cake mix and maple frosting sounds pretty good to me.  I will try that one after I do some grocery shopping!  As far as the Louisiana stranger part of the name of this recipe….nothing! Perhaps one tossed the frosting and cake mix together accidentally when a stranger came to the door in Louisiana?  OK…sorry about that reference.

Hugs and thanks Pat! Perhaps we could sing….”if I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake”….;)

More to come on Pat’s other hobby…stained glass.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

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Louisanna Stranger Cake
Pat says: This is a bundt pan cake ONLY!! Believe me, I tried it as a regular cake and it just doesn't come out right.
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Ingredients
  1. 1-spice cake mix
  2. 1- tub of maple frosting
  3. 4-eggs
  4. 1/2 c oil
  5. 1-c water
Instructions
  1. Throw the whole thing in the mixer and let it go.
  2. Pour it into a bundt cake pan and bake it @ 375* for 45 mins.
  3. Let it cool, turn it out and dust it with powdered sugar.
Notes
  1. Pat says: I've tried it as a lemon cake, caramel apple cake, chocolate cake, and a spice cake.
  2. You gotta try this. It stays moist FOREVER!!
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Non-Returnable Gifts!

Non-Returnable Gifts!

My dear readers, we know all about those gifts we get at Christmas… that either don’t fit or we have 6 of them or for whatever reason…they need to be returned.

Our children have found over the years, that giving gift cards to the movies or restaurants, are always enjoyed by the Captain and me and we think of each grown-up child when we use those gift cards!  (Who doesn’t like to see a free movie or to eat out at a favorite restaurant?…that is always a treat!)  These gift cards are perfect for those who are hard to buy for, or who really don’t need anything.  

Some may say gift cards are impersonal…but I disagree.

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Tell that to the hundreds waiting in long lines to exchange that pair of house slippers for a different size, only to find out that after 3 hours of “exchanging” time….the store is out of the correct size and the only color in stock, (closest to the sought after size), is bright purple! Add to that, the jumble of gift returners/shoppers seeking present substitutes (closest to the correct amount of money) and the fender-benders in the crowded parking lot and the unhappy child crying that she dropped her sticky wet, candy cane and….well, you get the picture!  Suddenly, those gift cards look mighty good….AND you don’t have to worry about a 30 day return policy.   

However, there is something to be said about a pretty present under the Christmas Tree and the excitement of tearing through the red ribbons and glittery gold wrapping paper and the excitement when one sees beneath the ribbons….a truly Non-Returnable gift.  

As we grow older, we find that we really don’t need anything and we certainly get more enjoyment out of giving than receiving …and then it happens! There comes along “that special gift” that you know was given totally from the heart and that is when you know…this gift is Non-Returnable! And your heart melts and your eyes well up with tears….because the person giving the gift…really understands you and “gets it”…the true gift-giving spirit!

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I am sure you have heard over the years, if you are giving gifts….home made gifts are the best and I have to agree.  Of course, this does require some thought and some of your precious time to “get it together”.

This year, my heart melted when I opened the package from Only Daughter!! Actually, she sent two gifts that are so special to me! She knows my love of cooking and she made me an apron because she also knows how sloppy I can get when cooking! πŸ˜‰  

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She also knows my love of sports and she knows that right now….the Kansas Jayhawks and the Kansas City Chiefs are dominating my time…so she sent me a Jayhawk Garden Flag. (This flag will go beautifully with my Kansas City Royals flag)

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“Only Daughter” is not only pretty on the outside…she is beautiful on the inside! Thank you my sweetie,….for giving of your time and making me such a beautifully made apron and Jayhawk Flag.

brenda

“Only Daughter” also loves to cook and she likes to experiment and combine ingredients….the acorn does not fall from the tree!

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She told me she had a brownie mix and some left over cherry chips and so one day she put them together with a few walnuts and came up with the pretty little cakes you see on her serving plate above.  She used chocolate almond bark to coat the cakes and boy do they look good! 

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So below is her recipe for Brownie Cherry Chip Cakes in a handy dandy printable!

Thanks “Only Daughter” for your thoughtfulness in gift giving and for your wonderful recipe! πŸ˜‰ 

After making the Brownie Cherry Chip Cakes and you still have cherry chips left over from your Christmas Baking….click on the below link to try my BFF Sweet Lu’s recipe for cherry mash bars!  Luan’s Cherry Mash Bars

I posted it a year ago and they taste just like the Cherry Mash Bars my Mother loved so much.

I really love it when my readers send me recipes….You guys are the greatest!  

Oh, and a special thank you goes out to our family for the movie and restaurant gift cards! 

Star Wars and Outback Steak House….here we come!!!

Happy Baking!  The New Year is almost here!

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Brownie Cherry Chip Cakes
These cute little cakes are double the chocolate and the cherry chips add the finishing touch. It is for certain that these cakes won't hang around too long at your home.!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 box Brownie Mix
  2. 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  3. 1/2 to 1 cup of Cherry baking chips
  4. Chocolate bark as needed
Instructions
  1. Make the boxed brownie mix of your choice according to directions on the box
  2. Gently, fold in the walnuts and cherry baking chips to the batter
  3. Pour the batter into a 9X13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray
  4. Bake according to the Brownie Mix directions
  5. After the brownies have cooled, use a biscuit cutter to cut out cake circles
  6. Melt the chocolate bark in a double boiler or you can use the microwave (be careful to not overcook your chocolate while melting)
  7. Dip each cake into the melted chocolate bark and top with a cherry chip!
Notes
  1. You can use a cupcake pan if you prefer or you can cut your cakes into any shape you desire.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Dessert: Tiramisu

My dear readers,  Dessert time and it is the wonderful, mysterious Tiramisu!

Tiramisu makes any dessert special and it was the perfect choice for the Captain and I on Christmas Eve.

The steps are easy and the fridge does all the work for you.

Well, almost all the work.  You see, it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare, before popping into the fridge.

So what makes this dessert so mysterious, you might ask?

Perhaps we should start with a little background on this dessert that has many people touting it’s praises.

You see, this Tiramisu was most likely invented in the late 1960/1970 time frame! And it is believed that it did indeed originate in Italy, only not quite the same recipe that is popular today.

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There are many trains of thought as to the ingredients for Tiramisu and to the traditional recipe. I have heard the following dialog when discussing Tiramisu recipes:

Use Rum, don’t use rum! Use Ladyfingers, No use sponge cake!  Use raw egg whites beaten to soft peaks, No, use heavy cream! Use Mascarpone Cheese, No, Cream Cheese works just as well! Use Cocoa powder,  No, grated chocolate is best with a sprinkle of powdered sugar!

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And then there is the Espresso….some people like the bitter coffee flavor, as it contrasts with the sweetness of the Marscapone and egg whites or heavy cream,…or both!  While others say…. just use whatever coffee you have made for your morning drink. 

My dear readers….the only ingredients that matter are the ones you prefer. I choose to use heavy cream instead of the egg whites and I prefer to use my own brand of coffee over Espresso and I prefer to use grated chocolate rather than cocoa powder. As far as the wine or liquor go….that depends on my mood, but I do prefer Amaretto because it gives a bit of almond flavor to my Tiramisu.

But that is me….you choose the ingredients of your choice.

So once you solve the mystery of what you want to put into your modern day Tiramisu….than it is just a matter of assembling the ingredients.

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Now, it is time to prepare this dessert!

Steps: chill the coffee mixture, make the custard, beat the heavy cream and fold into the custard, dip the lady fingers quickly and only the edge,… into the chilled coffee mixture, arrange in serving dish, top with layer of custard and sprinkle of cocoa or chocolate, repeat…chill for several hours and serve!

How simple is that?

Below is the handy dandy printable recipe…..

Hugs from our house to yours!

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Tiramisu
Tiramisu originated about 30 years ago in Italy and there has been much discussion as to the ingredients. Bottom line....ladyfingers or sponge cake topped with a cheesy custard and grated chocolate works for me. Light on the wine or liquor for dipping the "cake" or eliminate altogether ....and this is still a great dessert!
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Ingredients
  1. 4 egg yolks,
  2. *1/2 cup Amaretto (you can use sweet Marsala Wine if desired, I personally like the almond flavor of the Amaretto)
  3. 16 ounces Mascarpone cheese
  4. 12 ounces espresso or coffee from your pot
  5. 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used grated dark chocolate)
  6. **1 cup heavy cream
  7. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  8. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  9. Lady fingers to layer a 12x8 inch pan twice (40).
Instructions
  1. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar to the Espresso (or coffee) and chill in the fridge
  2. Whisk the egg yolks along with the remaining sugar and Amaretto in a heat proof bowl or double boiler
  3. Keep whisking until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken
  4. Remove the custard from the heat and add the vanilla before setting aside
  5. Using a mixer, start whipping the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks and then set aside (not stiff peaks or it is over-beaten)
  6. Beat the softened Marscarpone until smooth and creamy
  7. Add the Marscarpone to the custard mixture and combine until smooth and creamy
  8. Fold the whipped cream gently into the custard and marscarpone mixture (do not over mix)
  9. To assemble the Tiramisu, remove the coffee/Amaretto from the fridge and dip the lady fingers into the dark liquid... but only for a second (the ladyfinger should not be completely submerged as they fall apart easily and you don't want soggy ladyfingers) and place in your serving dish
  10. Spread half of the Marscarpone custard mixture over the top of the ladyfingers and sprinkle with the grated chocolate or cocoa powder
  11. Repeat the layer process by dipping the second layer of ladyfingers and topping with the custard
  12. At this point, sprinkle the top of the Marscarpone custard with either cocoa powder or grated chocolate (I used the chocolate, finely grated) and a bit of powdered sugar if desired
  13. Cover with plastic wrap and place the Tiramisu in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours before serving
  14. I also like to let the Tiramisu sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before serving
  15. This recipe will fill an 8X8 or a 9X13 serving dish, depending on how many lady fingers you have and how you arrange them. The ladyfingers should be enough for two layers with the custard in between the layers and on top.
Notes
  1. Since I made four small trifle dishes...I cut back on the lady fingers and the custard. The custard is great all by itself and I saved it for another dessert and another day! The Tiramisu and custard will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge
  2. I also grated my chocolate with my nutmeg grater/rasp for a finer texture
  3. *You can substitute any liquor such as brandy or dark rum....rum is traditional, but it is a little strong for me OR you can eliminate the wine or liquor completely
  4. **I prefer the heavy cream to the egg whites, but you can use 3 egg whites instead,
  5. Some say the chocolate or cocoa seeps too much into the Tiramisu after assembling so they advise to add the chocolate just before serving. I have never had that happen so I use the chocolate in the assembly process.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

 

Christmas Day 2015

Merry Christmas on this beautiful Christmas Day 2015. 

Yes, the day is really Saturday…the day after Christmas, but I am a bit slow in posting and I worked on this post on Christmas Day…but after posting the Christmas Eve Dinner Menu….I decided to wait to post this til today.

First, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I have to tell you I certainly did.

Christmas Eve Service

I particularly love Christmas Eve and our church had two services….one at 5 p.m. and one at 6:30 p.m. I try to never miss the Christmas Eve Service, because it is always a special time….and apparently, a lot of our parishioners wanted to come to the early service too….as the ushers had to bring in more chairs to seat everyone.

(And no, that is not Santa Clause in the upper left….she is a lovely lady along with our song leader, talking to a couple of kids and I guess the lighting makes it appear she has a beard, you will see her in the bottom pic sitting on the sofa)  BTW, the sofa scene and backdrop were left over from our Christmas Dinner Program which was amazing!

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I took these pictures before the service started and by 5:00 pm…the church was packed. The above pic is of our Pastor, shaking hands (in the green shirt).  He is a people-friendly kind of guy and always greets each and every person he can, before Sunday services and of course special services such as the Christmas Eve Service. 

As is usually the case, the Captain is required to “fly” for Christmas, as he does for many Holidays.  I have learned over the years that Holidays do not have to be celebrated on the “given” day…but one can celebrate in their hearts and with loved ones on any day of the week.  Which was why we celebrated with our Christmas Eve Dinner (see yesterday’s post).  I promised the egg nog recipe in today’s post and I will get to that in a few.

May I share with you how I celebrated Christmas Day? 

Oops!  too late, I am forging ahead. πŸ˜‰

When our friends find out that the Captain will be working on the Holiday, I get many invitations to attend their Christmas Day festivities…and I do appreciate their thoughtfulness.  However, I try to invite friends who have no families in Florida and make them a Christmas Dinner.  

This year, I did something a bit different. The Captain and I have two beautiful friends (Fraulein and The Fisherman) who are both suffering from debilitating illnesses, and it is very difficult for them to get out and about. So I decided this year to make them a dinner of a turkey breast, stuffing, fresh cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie and deliver it to their home to be eaten at their leisure. 

The rest of my Christmas Day was spent talking to our kids (without interruptions…almost impossible in their busy lives) and watching sports and black and white Christmas movies. BTW, I changed into the most comfortable attire I own….OK, Sweats!  

Hey!  I really enjoyed myself! πŸ™‚

Egg Nog is synonymous with Christmas and New Years Eve and the recipe I have for you has a vanilla bean and cinnamon stick  flavors added. I use cinnamon sticks and the pure vanilla bean for a simply exquisite Nog! Yummy!

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I served the egg nog in Moscow Mule Mugs and I have to admit the copper mugs kept the egg nog nice and cold for quite a long period….plus the copper color fit right in with my copper and gold dining room table decor!

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Some people shy away from egg nog because of the raw eggs….however, I am providing a cooked egg nog note in my recipe.

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Below is the handy dandy printable recipe for the Cinnamon Vanilla Egg Nog, the Captain and I shared on Christmas Eve! Tomorrow, a step by step on the Tiramisu Dessert that was heavenly!  (I have to confess that I ate some of that again today!) Yummy!

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How did you spend your Christmas Eve and Day, my dear readers?

Blessings and Hugs

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Cinnamon Vanilla Egg Nog
Egg Nog! You either love it or you hate it....The good news is you can choose the booze you want to use or make it without it. Rum or Bourbon is usually customary but I like it without any....just a matter of choice.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 egg yolks
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1 pint whole milk
  4. 1 cup heavy cream
  5. 3 cinnamon sticks
  6. 1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
  7. 3 ounces bourbon
  8. 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  9. 4 egg whites*
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they are a pale yellow
  2. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until the sugar is incorporated
  3. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.
  4. Pour all ingredients into a saucepan, adding the cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean, vanilla seeds, and nutmeg. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and set aside to allow the flavors to meld
  5. While the egg mixture is cooling, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and add an additional tablespoon of sugar.
  6. Remove the cinnamon sticks and the vanilla bean and slowly whisk the egg whites into the cooled egg mixture. Chill and serve.
  7. *If you prefer your egg nog completely cooked, please see the method below.
Notes
  1. *In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Christmas Eve 2015…..

Christmas Eve 2015…..

Picture this……Chestnuts roasting on an open fire …Yuletide carols playing softly in the background, Big giant snowflakes glistening in the moonlight as they  drift onto mounds of new fallen snow.  

Ok…well, that is not actually happening here in Florida!  There are Yuletide carols….and there is a fire crackling in our fireplace….but no giant snowflakes or chestnuts roasting.

But it is Christmas Eve and I have planned a special, intimate dinner for the Captain and Me. 

This is the Menu:

menu

I will start with the Prime Rib…..Ahhhhhh yessssss….my most favorite part of the beef! I went to the butcher shop and ordered the boneless Prime Rib Roast last week. Yes, it can be expensive.  (Believe me when I say, I miss living on the ranch in New Mexico and butchering our own beef and having any cut of meat handy in my freezer.)

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 I bought a prime rib roast which weighed about 4 pounds

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And I let it set out for about 1 hour at room temperature.

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I made up a rub of tri-color peppercorns that I put in a plastic bag and coarsely crushed and added kosher salt, fresh rosemary leaves, and fresh minced garlic.  

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Before I added the rub to the roast, I browned it in a bit of olive oil. 

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Then I placed the browned prime rib roast on a rack and coated the roast with the rub …..oh, the smell of garlic and fresh rosemary….Yummy! ….and into a 500 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Be sure to use a meat thermometer if you want rare to medium rare, (125-130 degrees) which is the way the Captain and I prefer our prime rib.  If you prefer your meat medium….a thermometer assures you of the right amount of done-ness. You will most likely want your beef at 160-165 degrees.     

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Yep! this prime rib is perfectly done for us. πŸ˜‰

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The hasselback potatoes are so easy.  Slice 1/4 inch slices all along the potato being careful to stop cutting before you reach the bottom of your potato.  Just place your washed potato between two wooden spoons or between chop sticks if you are afraid you might cut clean through the potato.

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At this point, you can fill every other slice with a thin slice of cold butter, alternating with your favorite cheese (see Baked Potato Fans with Garlic, Bacon & Cheese for another variation of the hasselback potato) OR you can coat the potato with butter, chives and a little olive oil as I did, baste and pop in a very hot oven for about 1 hour or until the potato is done. 

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Top with chopped chives if desired.

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Rare Prime rib is so flavorful and cuts like butter….soooooo good!  Let the prime rib rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with the natural juices (au jus) or the Horseradish Cream Sauce Recipe below.

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The Brule’ pears are so simple and the flavor is amazing.  The above sauce pan has a bit of sugar, cinnamon stick, vanilla seeds  and dry white wine. Just bring the mixture to a boil and turn down the flame to allow the liquid to simmer.

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Meanwhile, prepare your pears.  You can use any kind of pear….I used Bartlett Pears. 

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Peel and slice in half leaving a stem intact  (just for prettiness) 

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Remove the core and place the pears in a simmering saucepan.

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I allowed the pears to simmer until I could pierce the pear with the tip of a sharp knife.

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Drain the pears and add a sprinkling of brown sugar. 

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I then used my cream brule’ torch to melt the sugar on each pear.  This only takes a few seconds.  If you do not have a torch, you can place the pears under a broiler for a few seconds.

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For the Wedge Salad, I fried bacon in the same cast iron pan that I browned the prime rib….I then cut the washed lettuce in wedges and added chopped tomatoes, red onion and bacon halves. 

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Drizzle bleu cheese dressing over the top and you have a very simple to prepare salad.  

All of these recipes are in a handy dandy printable form below.

Since this post is a bit long….I will post the Tiramisu and Egg Nog recipe in tomorrow’s post!

Blessings and Merry Christmas to one and all of you my dear readers, and I hope your Christmas is everything you hope it will be.

merry christmas1

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Tri-Color Prime Rib Roast
There is no better taste than rare prime rib......delish!!!!!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 bone-less prime rib roast, (mine was about 4 pounds)
  2. 1/4 cup tricolor peppercorns (I like to crush my peppercorns, they are so pretty)
  3. 1/2 cup kosher salt
  4. 1/2 cup minced garlic
  5. 3 fresh rosemary sprigs, (remove the leaves)
  6. 1 cup of beef broth
  7. 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
Horseradish Cream Sauce
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 1 fresh squeezed lemon
  3. 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
Instructions
  1. Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for at least an hour.
  2. Brown the prime rib roast on all sides in a cast iron (or heavy) skillet or dutch oven in a few tablespoons of olive oil. (Make sure the oil is hot before placing the prime rib in the oil, you want a nice golden brown color to the meat)
  3. While the meat is browning, crush the peppercorns by placing in a plastic bag and mashing with a meat mallet or rolling pin.
  4. In a small bowl, add the peppercorns, the salt, garlic and rosemary and stir to mix.
  5. Remove the browned prime rib to a rack over your roasting pan and let sit a bit to be able to pat on the peppercorn seasoning.
  6. Add the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce to the bottom of the roaster pan.
  7. Pat the peppercorn seasoning over the top and bottom of the roast and place in a preheated 500 degree oven
  8. Roast for 30 minutes on the high heat, check temp with a meat thermometer and then reduce the heat to 300 degrees
  9. If you like your meat rare to medium rare, (like the Captain and Me)...remove the roast when the thermometer registers *125 degrees.....about 10-15 minutes more
  10. Remove the prime rib from the oven at the desired temperature and Tent with foil and allow to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing.
  11. Drain the drippings and broth from the roasting pan into a sauce pan (you should deglaze the pan first by adding a bit of water or more broth, if there are browned bits on the bottom of the roaster...just use a wooden spoon to stir over a medium heat until everything is removed and incorporated into the liquid)
  12. You could use the roaster to make the jus (broth) but the large pan can be bulky to handle. I like to use another sauce pan.
  13. Allow the liquid to cook and simmer for about 5 minutes and then pour into a gravy boat. If there is fat on the top, just skim it off before serving.
  14. Serve with the au jus and/or horseradish sauce.
Horseradish Cream Sauce
  1. Mix all ingredients together and chill before serving
Notes
  1. *Remember that the meat will continue to cook a bit after you remove it from the oven.
  2. **This will allow you to serve guests with different preferences. The outer slices of prime rib will be cooked medium, but the inner slices will be rare.
  3. ***I prefer to NOT overcook the meat because there isn't much you can do with meat that is well done....however, you can place a slice of prime rib in a cast iron skillet to "cook just a bit more" if your meat is too rare.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Hasselback Potatoes
These potatoes are so easy...just like a baked potato but a little fancier. The amount of butter is your choice....but I like lots of butter with my baked potatoes. πŸ˜‰
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Ingredients
  1. 4 Idaho baking potatoes
  2. 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
  3. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 1/3 cup finely chopped chives
  5. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  6. You can add 8 ...1 inch squares of cold butter and your choice of cheese if desired to place in the slit intervals
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and wash and prepare potatoes for baking
  2. Cut slits at 1/4 inch intervals along the potato, being careful not to slice through to the bottom of the potato (leave about 1/4 inch at the bottom unsliced)
  3. Prepare the remaining potatoes in the same way
  4. (If you are concerned about slicing through the potato, place the potato between two wooden spoons or chopsticks)
  5. Stir together the softened butter, olive oil, chives and some salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  6. If desired, you can Insert a few slices of cold butter into the slits (you be the judge on the amount) along with the cheese if desired.
  7. Place the potatoes in a baking dish and brush with the softened butter mixture before placing in the oven for about 1 hour or until crispy and done.
Notes
  1. You can't make any mistakes in this potato...unless you cut through completely and if you do...make your potato "slices" instead of being held together. πŸ™‚
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/
Brule' Pears
These pears are so delish and so easy to prepare. Using the cream brule' torch or broiler in your oven really makes them special.
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Ingredients
  1. *4 small, firm pears, peeled and halved (I used Bartlett Pears)
  2. 1 cup dry white wine, such as Chablis
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1 cinnamon stick
  5. Fresh vanilla from a vanilla bean....(or you can use a teaspoon of pure vanilla)
  6. 4 teaspoons light brown sugar
Instructions
  1. After peeling the pears, half them, being careful to keep the stem intact if possible....just for a pretty presentation.
  2. Place the pears, white wine, sugar, cinnamon stick and vanilla "seeds" in a medium sauce pan with enough water to cover the pears
  3. Simmer over medium-heat and then reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes or until pears are easily pierced with a knife
  4. Drain the pears, discarding the liquid
  5. Transfer the pears, cut sides up, to a heat-safe baking dish, and pat the tops dry and sprinkle with the brown sugar
  6. Use a cream brule' torch to caramelize the sugar, or place the pears under the broiler preheated to high until the sugar is browned and melted
Notes
  1. *Any pear will work....I have used any pear that is in season. I also prefer the vanilla bean "seeds" scraped from the inside of the vanilla bean, but the choice is yours.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/
Lettuce Wedge
This is so easy to make and it always is a hit at my dinner parties.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  2. 4 slices of crisp bacon
  3. chopped tomatoes
  4. chopped red onion
  5. chopped green scallions
  6. Bleu Cheese Dressing or dressing of your choice
Instructions
  1. Wash and core lettuce
  2. Slice in half and then in half again (wedges)
  3. Place the wedges on salad plates and top with your choice of toppings
  4. Add a strip of cooked bacon (halved) on each wedge and drizzle dressing over the top.
Notes
  1. You may add any salad ingredient of your choice....now how easy is that? I like to put little "piles" of ingredients all around the lettuce wedge for presentation.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

You Really Need To Make This…..

You Really Need To Make This…..Or maybe you have already made this….Or maybe you are getting ready to make this….

What is “this” you ask?

Why it is the best tasting, addictive Chex Party Mix that everyone, and I do mean everyone, has made a least once in their lives and most likely more times then one cares to remember.

The recipe has been the same for many, many years…but you know me, I like to “tweak” an old tried and true recipe ….just a bit. I would like to claim that no one has “tweaked” the same as I…but you know what? I find that hard to believe.  However, I do have another method that one could use….and no, NO, NO not the microwave. Not happenin’! Isn’t prudent! Doesn’t work for me!!

The best way of course is the oven for about an hour…stirring frequently to assure all the “goodies” get crispy.  But you can also use the crock pot!  Yep! Just put the cereals, nuts and butter mixture into the ole crock pot and set it for about 3 hours….stirring every hour….but as I said, I still prefer the oven method.

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My dear readers…..NOTHING is better than the aroma coming from your oven with this wonderful party mix flavors melding in perfect matrimony! Unless of course you are also listening to Christmas music and making fudge and your children are mingling about sampling every goodie on the counter. (which includes frosted sugar cookies, Spritz cookies, Peanut Butter Balls, White Divinity and Peanut Brittle! Add a steaming cup of hot chocolate and Yummy! Yummy!

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Yep!  Nothing like it and then you know that Christmas is in the air!

So, what do I do differently with this party mix you may ask?  Hot sauce!  Tabasco to be exact!   You know I like hot and spicy and the Tabasco seems to give the party mix a little kick! You can omit it of course….IF you are too chicken to try it!

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OK, I am being a bit childish in challenging you to change your ingredients a bit….how ever you make this party mix, it is just plain delicious and it wouldn’t be the Holidays without it would it?  If you miss the recipe below…you can always look on the chix boxes….the recipe is there and has been for years.  The last time I looked at the box, the oven method was substituted for the microwave method.  I am here to tell you DON’T DO IT!!!!! You will be disappointed as the mix does not crisp up.  Sorry.

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Oh, and one more thing!  Do not try buying the pre-packaged Chex Party Mix….I don’t know why it doesn’t have any flavor….I mean the recipe came from the back of a Chex Box….but trust me on this one. Make your own, it is so easy. πŸ™‚

We are off now to our Christmas Eve Service at our Church…..Happy Christmas Eve and Blessings to your families from:

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Party Mix
A perfect treat! I don't know of anyone who does not like this party mix.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups Corn Chex
  2. 3 cups Wheat Chex
  3. 3 cups Rice Chex
  4. 2 cups Pretzel Sticks, Pretzel Rounds or Squares
  5. 2 cups Mixed Nuts, or salted peanuts, cashews or any nut of your choice
  6. 1 1/2 sticks of Butter, melted
  7. 3-4 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  8. 6-10 shakes of Tabasco Sauce
  9. 3 cloves minced Garlic or you can use Garlic Powder
  10. 1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon of Onion Powder
Instructions
  1. Add the cereals, pretzels, and nuts into a large mixing bowl, mixing gently with clean hands or a wooden spoon
  2. In a smaller bowl, add the melted butter, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco, garlic, onion powder and Lawry's Seasoned Salt, stirring to mix
  3. Stir the butter mixture into the cereal mixture, making sure to coat all the ingredients
  4. At this point, transfer to two baking sheets (or the crock pot) and bake in at 250 degrees for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes to assure crispiness
  5. Remove from oven and cool before placing in an airtight container
Notes
  1. If you have a family like mine....you will have to make several batches during the Holiday Season. One can not play dominoes or cards or board games without this wonderful treat. Seriously!
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

New Mexico Tamales! Ole!

It is getting serious folks!

Yessssss, almost Christmas and of course….tamale time.

While living in New Mexico, I found there are so many traditions that are simply wonderful! And one such tradition is Tamales for Christmas Eve or even on Christmas Day….Tamales along with Bizcochitos Cookies and I am taken back to the Land of Enchantment…..the beautiful state of New Mexico and all my friends and family. (See link below for recipe for Biscochito Cookies)

Biscochito Cookies (New Mexico Recipe)

As I have discussed in previous posts and Mexican recipes…Red or Green is the question of the day for your taste buds. That is always the question asked of you when dining in New Mexico restaurants, whether you are eating eggs, Posole, burritos, enchiladas or just about any Mexican dish….you are asked which chile “sauce” do you want smothering or added on the side to your dinner.

Today, we are making tamales and using a red chile sauce which is so very easy to make. 

In fact, making tamales is easy…contrary to what you might have heard.

Time consuming?  Perhaps…but if you take each step and make ahead of time…it is a whiz to make.  You see, the red chile sauce can be made and popped into your freezer in 2 cup portions and the beef brisket, chicken or pork shoulder or whatever you are making for the tamale filling, can be made and popped into the freezer…. or at least made the day before you want to serve your tamales.  AND, you can also make the tamales and place them in plastic freezer bags and then all you have to do is thaw and steam and you have tamales…Ole!  

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A wonderful Christmas Tradition and let’s face it folks….Really Delicious and Really Simple!

Now for the confession:  It is true, the most time consuming part of making tamales is the spreading of the Masa on the soaked corn husk and placing the tablespoon or so of meat filling into the center and wrapping each tamale.  However, it is no different than taking the time to frost each and every sugar cookie…and you can always enlist the help of your children or hubby if you feel time is getting away from you.  Trust me on this! After you fill and wrap the tamale…simple place the tamales open side up in a large pot (or steamer) with a bit of water in the bottom and steam for about an hour!

2015-12-22_12-22-30Now how easy is that?

So lets talk Red Chile Sauce….

Usually, you can find dried red chile pods in 12 ounce bags in your supermarket or a specialty Mexican or Cuban Market…however, they are available on-line at Amazon.  (what would we do without Amazon?) I like to get mine directly from New Mexico….they have great Ristras (hanging red pepper pods) too!

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Make sure your chiles are pliable and soft to begin with.  If they are too old, they will be brittle and crumble.  I like to take the red chile pods and put them in a bowl of water to wash and tear off the stems (or cut with scissors).  Discard the stems and seeds,…it is ok to have some seeds in the sauce… and place the softened red peppers in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes to allow the chiles to re-constitute.

If you are not seasoned to working with hot peppers, use gloves and don’t touch your eyes or mouth to prevent the oils from getting on your skin.  Drain (save the water) and place the peppers in a blender with a little of the chile water (nothing goes to waste)….Add garlic, onion powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and blend! And that is it!  Make small batches, it is easier working with the hot liquids in your blender. Repeat the process until you have all your chiles blended into the Red Chile Sauce.

Tip: For really great flavor, you can substitute the garlic and onion powder and roast 4-5 cloves of garlic and one large onion sliced in big slices and add the fresh veggies to the blender.  This roasted flavor really adds to the flavor of the red chile sauce.

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You might have to strain your sauce to remove any of the “skin” that might not have pulverized, but other than that….you have “Red” sauce.  I like to put about a tablespoon of Red Chile Sauce on top of my filling before wrapping my tamale….but you can also add the Red Chile Sauce on the side to be added as desired. 

The recipe below makes about 7-8 cups so freezing the extra in zip-lock bags makes for delicious burritos or eggs the next time you make them.  I find that the less water, the thicker the red sauce…However, if you are wanting to stretch your sauce, use a little more water and you can thicken up the sauce real easy by making a thickener of a little flour and oil and add it to the red sauce just before using it in a recipe. The Red Chile Sauce will keep 6 months in the freezer and about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Now, we will talk about the filling for your tamales.  

It can be beef, chicken or pork,  I happen to prefer pork, so I use a pork shoulder that I can put in the crock pot or oven and cook low and slow until it is fork tender and shreds easily.  After shredding the meat, it is time to add a few spices….for example, if I use a 2 pound piece of meat, I use about 2 teaspoons garlic powder, cumin, salt, chile powder and freshly ground black pepper. IF you like your filling really paste-y, you can put the meat in a food processor, but my family prefers just a fine shred using forks.  It is just a matter of preference.  Below pic is just before the final shredding, so easy when the meat is so tender.

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Time to make the Masa….or the casing for the meat….the real “bread” of the tamale.

Again, very simple to make….

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I use my stand mixer to mix up the lard (or you can use shortening) and salt until light and fluffy.  Then I add the Masa (cornmeal flour) a little at a time beating slowly until well mixed.  For the liquid, I use boxed beef broth (if using beef), chicken broth (if using chicken) or vegetable broth (if using pork) OR you can use plain water!  

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Slowly add the liquid to the dough which should be about the consistency of soft cookie dough…it is something you will learn to judge the more you make tamales.  One easy test is to use the water test.  This is much like testing fudge by dropping a bit of fudge into cold water for the soft ball test. Only, you drop about a teaspoon of the Masa dough into the cold water and if it floats…you should have a tender tamale dough when steamed. If it does not float, add a bit more liquid and test again.  I like to mix up my tamale dough and place in the fridge overnight or at least 3-4 hours if you are short on time.

After placing in the fridge for a bit….the fun part begins, the assembly of the tamales.  Make it a fun project with “all your little helpers” or as in my case…my Captain!

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Soak the corn husks in water for about 30 minutes.  

Tamale Masa

Pat dry with paper towels and spread the Masa on the top of the corn husk….leaving the bottom edge to fold up.  After the Masa comes the prepared filling and Red Chile Sauce if desired.

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Fold from the right to left center and then fold the left over the top of the right fold….then fold up the bottom and you can either leave your tamale as is or tie with twine or a piece of corn husk.

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Place the tamales bottom side down (open end up) in a deep pot of simmering water.  I use my pasta pot with steamer.  Cover and cook for about 45 minutes.

2015-12-21_14-08-43There you go…simple huh?

Go forth and make New Mexico Christmas Tamales….you won’t regret it…and your family will love you.

Promise!

Printable Recipes are below!

Countdown to Christmas is now at 3 days.

Blessings and hugs to all….

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New Mexico Red Chile Sauce
Soooo good with Posole, eggs (Huevos Rancheros), and tamales! Actually, just about anything! Yummy!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound (16 ounces) dried red chile pods
  2. 3 tablespoons garlic powder or freshly minced garlic
  3. 3 tablespoons cumin
  4. 2 tablespoons onion powder
  5. 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  6. 2-3 teaspoons salt
Instructions
  1. Using gloves to protect from the burning sensation of working with chile pods...remove the stems by either cutting or breaking off with your hands and discard. I do not remove the seeds because I like to have the "look" of them and you will be grinding them up later. (Remember it is the veins on the pepper that produce the "hot fire-y" taste)
  2. Add the red chile pods to a large pot of boiling water, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer the chiles for about 30 minutes or until soft and brighter red
  3. At this point you can cool the pods for a bit or put them directly into your blender, but be careful and don't put too many in at one time....about half way up the sides of your blender.
  4. Add the boiling liquid from the chiles....about 1-2 cups (save the remainder of the liquid) and add the garlic and onion powder, cumin, oregano, and salt.
  5. Pulse and Blend until ingredients are thoroughly mixed and then blend until smooth, about 3-5 minutes
  6. Strain the sauce through a strainer and this will separate any of the extra "peels" to remain in the strainer....sometimes there are very little peels and sometimes there are a lot depending on your chiles.
  7. Add the remainder of your chiles to the blender until you have processed all the chiles. Mix all the chiles together and you should have about 6-7 cups of *Red Chile Sauce.
Notes
  1. *You can freeze this wonderful Red Chile Sauce in Freezer bags for up to 6 months. I just put a quart sized freezer bag in a large measuring cup or bowl and ladle my sauce in (about 2 cups) seal and flatten a bit, place on cookie sheet and toss in the freezer. (Later you can remove cookie sheet)
  2. **** If the red chile sauce is not "sweet" enough for you, you can add a bit of chicken broth to taste.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/
Pork Roast (Filling for Tamales.....)
Low and Slow cooking whether in an oven or a crock pot makes tender beef, chicken, or pork filling for Christmas Tamales.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds of fully cooked pork roast (or beef roast/brisket, or roasted chicken
  2. 2 teaspoons chili powder
  3. 2 tablespoons onion powder
  4. 2 teaspoons oregano
  5. 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  6. 2 tablespoons cumin
  7. salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix all the spices and use as a dry rub on the meat of your choice....in this case pork roast. Save some back to add to the shredded meat when cooked.
  2. Brown in a little olive oil before putting in slow cooker or oven.
  3. Bake low and slow in slow cooker for 6-8 hours or on high for about 4 hours. Just make sure your meat is nice and tender.....hence the low and slow.
  4. When done, cool a bit and shred the meat and add the remaining spices. You may put the meat through a food processor if you want more of a paste for your filling....I prefer having a bit of texture so I finely shred mine.
  5. Fill tamales with about 1 tablespoon of the meat filling and 1 teaspoon of Red Chile Sauce if desired.
Notes
  1. You can use any seasoning you prefer, but I like to use the ratio of 2 lbs of meat with with two teaspoons each of garlic and onion powder, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper. Spice it up "your way"
  2. If the shredded meat needs a little liquid, you can use broth of your choice
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/
Tamale Masa (cornmeal flour)
This is an easy to make Tamale Masa....using Masa Harina, Lard (or shortening if desired) and salt
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Lard (or you can use Crisco shortening)
  2. 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  3. 4 cups Masa Harina
  4. 1 1/2 cups of broth ...Broth depends on the meat you are using for your filling. ie: vegetable (or chicken) broth for pork, beef broth for beef, chicken broth for chicken
  5. The broth is added gradually and you may need more as the amount of liquid needed will vary
Instructions
  1. Mix the room temperature lard and salt until light and fluffy, I use my stand mixer
  2. Slowly add the Masa Harina, beating until well mixed (this will look very stiff and like cookie dough)
  3. Slowly add the broth a little at a time. You want the dough to be of spreading consistency...like very thick frosting
  4. Test the dough with the water test....place a small ball of dough in a cup of cold water...if the ball floats, the dough is good to go....if the ball sinks, add more liquid to the mix.
  5. Place bowl of tamale dough covered with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight or at least for 3-4 hours.
  6. Remove from fridge and stir or beat again to assure spreadability
  7. (Perform the float test again to ensure spreadability of dough)
  8. After soaking corn husks for at least 30 minutes to an hour....drain and blot dry with paper towel
  9. Spread the Masa dough in a rectangular shape onto the corn husk, leaving the bottom free of dough so you may fold over
  10. Add about a tablespoon of your filling of choice and a teaspoon of Red Chile Sauce if desired
  11. Fold the edge of the corn husk towards the center and bring the other side over the top of that, then fold up the bottom.
  12. At this point you may tie with twine or a piece of corn husk or leave as is and place with the folded bottom towards the bottom of a large steamer or pot that has about an inch of water
  13. *Be sure to place the tamale upright, open ends up (I use the strainer of my pasta pot)
  14. Cover and steam for about 45 minutes to one hour (The water in the pasta pot should be simmering as you place the tamales in the pot....be very careful to not burn yourself)
  15. Steam for about 45 minutes (you can check for doneness at this point and steam for additional few minutes if the tamale is still a bit raw)
  16. Serve with the Red Chile Sauce or you can make it a complete meal using Pico de Gallo, chile con queso, Mexican rice and refried beans
Notes
  1. *Usually, the tamales will not fill the pot completely, so I wad up a large piece of aluminum foil to put in the center to allow the tamales to stand. Just experiment a bit and it will all come together.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

I’m Tryin’ To Save You Time…..

Good Morning my dear readers…..

Yes, I’m trying to save you a little time as the Christmas Holiday draws near. Everyone is so busy especially if they are working a full time job and trying to care for family and get ready for the upcoming Holidays.

So, I’ve got your back…always thinking of ways to help during this busy season. πŸ˜‰

So I got to thinking of ways to save time and still eat healthy.  I am thinking of my beautiful, third grand daughter….she works all day and then runs home to help care for her fiance’s two little ones. This is a perfect solution for her busy mornings.

Perhaps you have heard of this method that I am about to explain.  I actually didn’t hear about overnight oatmeal until early last year….almost a year ago, and when I first tried it, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.

I am sure you are wondering what I am jabbering about and even though I was reluctant to share at first…I decided to go for the gusto.

You see the hesitation is because number 1….not every one likes oatmeal. (Namely, Only daughter)

That is right, but I happen to like it and this “recipe”…if you want to call it a recipe, is so easy that anyone can make it.

So number 2….for those who do like oatmeal, they don’t necessarily like it cold.

Ok, now we are getting to the nitty gritty.

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This is an overnight oatmeal recipe! Yes, you make it cold and eat it cold and you mix it together the night before, stick it in the fridge and the next morning as you are rushing off to work or to run errands….you have oatmeal! Albeit cold oatmeal.

The really cool thing about this overnight oatmeal is you can make it with anything you desire and any kind of milk or yogurt or coconut milk or even water!

AND…any fruit or honey or peanut butter or …well, you get the picture…the sky is the limit. The only requirement is rolled oats and liquid.  I don’t particularly like too much sweetness in my oatmeal….usually the fruit is enough, but one can add the honey or maple syrup.  You can use frozen or fresh berries….See, how simple is that?  

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The recipe calls for 1 part rolled oats (not instant oatmeal cuz that gets mushy) and 1 part liquid of your choice. You can use a container of your choice….a bowl, glass or even a Mason jar (pint sized for portion control) …slap a lid or foil on it (or as I sometimes do, sit it in a baggie) and put it in the fridge.

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The next morning…eat it.  However, if you prefer a little crunch to your oatmeal….when you remove it from the fridge, give it a quick stir, add a little more liquid if you want it to be not so thick and add sliced almonds or pecans or any seeds of your choice. Sunflower seeds? Yep!  Go for it!

AND, you can heat in the microwave if you think you have to have it warmed up a bit, but I have found I love it cold.

AND, there are those nutritionists who claim that this method of eating oatmeal will aid in losing a few of those unwanted pounds.  OK,  I am all in on that one! πŸ˜‰

My breakfast tomorrow will be overnight oatmeal with frozen blueberries and cranberries and almond slivers. I will use the rolled oats, a few berries, and my liquid will be almond milk and tomorrow, I will add a few sliced almonds.

Have you tried Overnight Oatmeal yet?

Blessings and Hugs….8 more days until Christmas!

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Almond Cranberry/Blueberry Overnight Oatmeal
These little jars of breakfast can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Choose your own liquid, coconut milk, almond milk, water, milk...whatever you prefer. Also, your choice of fruit(s) and nuts.
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Ingredients
  1. Β½ cup rolled oats
  2. Β½ coconut milk, plus a little extra
  3. 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  4. 1/4 cup frozen sugared cranberries
  5. 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or honey (optional)
  6. 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
Instructions
  1. Place rolled oats, almond milk, blueberries, cranberries and maple syrup or honey in a pint size mason jar or a container of your choice.
  2. Stir until everything is mixed together and oats are covered in liquid.
  3. Place a top on or foil or a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator overnight, (or at least 5 hours)
  4. In the morning, stir in extra almond milk to loosen up the oats and to get the consistency you desire
  5. Stir in sliced almonds and enjoy
Notes
  1. For this particular recipe, I had made sugared cranberries a few days before and I just plopped a few of these sugared soft cranberries in with my blueberries. You can use bananas, mango or any fruit you desire.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Keepin’ It Real…..

Because the Christmas countdown is very near….this week I am trying to provide easy to do and quick as a whistle recipes, but also recipes that perk up the ole taste buds….in other words the dish has to taste good too.

I love lettuce wraps and my very first encounter with this delicious chicken-goodness-concoction came many, many years ago… with my BFF, Sweet Lu  and her beautiful daughter….Koka-Kola!  (Yes, these are special names to protect the innocent!  I always give pet names to my dear friends and family.)

Let me set the scene: Sweet Lu and Koka-Kola and I were shopping on the Plaza in downtown Kansas City.  If you have never visited the Plaza at Christmas Time….you are missing a treat, so if you get to KC…head on down to the beautiful plaza. 

A quick note about the Plaza: What started with a single strand of Christmas lights strung over a store entrance in 1925 has turned into a living legend as the most spectacular holiday lighting display in the nation.  A local tradition for 86 years, Plaza Lights is a 15-block holiday spectacle, featuring thousands of glimmering, jewel-colored lights that accentuate every dome, tower and window of the Spanish-inspired shopping district.

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So in carrying on with that tradition and shopping til we dropped, my dear friends and I stopped for lunch at the famous P.F. Chang’s…..you know the place with the very large horse at the front door of the restaurant? Both of my dear friends suggested the appetizer lettuce wraps and when the order came….I couldn’t stop eating them….and even though I ordered the orange chicken for my entree….I kept going back to the lettuce wraps!  Soooo delish!

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These lettuce wraps are probably one of the most popular dishes at P.F. Chang’s and it is has certainly become my favorite. There are many copycat recipes  for lettuce wraps and I have adopted/adapted my own.  I made these such a long time ago that I don’t even have my old recipe that I jotted down on the back of an envelope.  (ever done that my dear readers?)  Consequently, I have made minor changes over the years, adding a little of this and that….I am talking sriracha here folks….and I really think my recipe is even better than the original. I love the flavor of the chicken, crunchy water chestnuts and sriracha and eating it with lettuce just makes it plain healthy!  Am I right? 

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AND, I use this recipe as my main meal….no appetizer for this special dish…it is the star attraction!  It is quick to prepare…about 20 minutes and seriously my friends, very easy.   The extra bonus is it is budget friendly and easy on the carbs.

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Have you made your version of lettuce wraps?

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If so, please share anything you have added to make this meal taste even better!

As a side note….please forgive these pics….they are a bit dark….just as I was taking pics, the sun decided to leave sunny Florida and become overcast as nightfall was creeping in fast.  This sometimes happens when photographing food….as those of you know who take photos.  Just keeping it real folks. πŸ™‚

Now, if you haven’t done so already….(and you do send cards) ….get those Christmas Cards addressed and in the mail….it is tradition after all and there are only 9 more days until Christmas!

Hugs as Always,

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Lettuce Wraps, My Way!
I have added and removed ingredients from this recipe for years and now when I make it....I don't even look at a recipe. I just add what I think would taste good. However, I believe this recipe closely resembles in looks and taste like the famous lettuce wrap restaurant with the giant horse out front. πŸ™‚
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil (EVOO)
  2. 1 1/2 pounds of ground chicken (or you can use chicken breast, chopped)
  3. 1 large onion, chopped
  4. 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  6. 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  7. 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  8. 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  9. 1 tbs. rice wine vinegar
  10. 3 teaspoons sriracha (can adjust if you don't like spicy)
  11. 1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained, finely chopped
  12. 1 teaspoon sesame oil or peanut sauce (optional)
  13. a few scallions for garnish
  14. salt to taste
  15. Iceberg, Bibb or Butter lettuce leaves, rinsed and drained
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the ground chicken and cook for about 5 minutes until there is no longer pink, using a wooden spoon to break into smaller pieces as it cooks.
  2. Add in the onion, red peppers, garlic, ginger, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and the sriracha, making sure the sauce coats all the chicken
  3. Continue cooking until the chicken is thoroughly cooked (about 1-2 minutes).
  4. Stir in the water chestnuts, sesame oil and the scallions
  5. Separate the lettuce leaves making little "boats" that will become the wrap
  6. Serve the chicken in a pretty bowl along side the lettuce boats
  7. Allow your guests to scoop as much of the chicken into their lettuce boat wraps as desired.
  8. Serve with a mixture of soy sauce, hoisin sauce and spicy mustard along-side in smaller ramekins.
  9. Garnish with scallions if desired
Notes
  1. This is a fun recipe to experiment with if you keep the basics the same. chicken, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, onions, and water chestnuts. Really, you can't go wrong with this one.
Me and My Captain http://www.meandmycaptain.com/

Knock! Knock! Who’s There?

Knock! Knock!  Who’s There?

Well, my dear readers, this is not a Knock Knock joke.  This is the kind of “Knock Knock” that comes to your door that you can not refuse answering…… or at least, I choose not to refuse.

Actually, the knock didn’t come directly to my door, but through the many miles of internet…. all the way from the Midwest!

It was from my grandson and he was selling “pasta” to raise money for his baseball team to buy uniforms, equipment and so on. The name of his team is….The Sluggers!  

You know, I would never turn down an opportunity to assist with any sport fund and if the seller happens to be my grandson….well, you can consider it is a done deal!

I can remember ordering girl scout cookies in much the same way….and magazine subscriptions.  It is always for a good cause.

2015-12-10_15.36.10[1]So I did what any loving grandmother would do….I ordered 3 bags of pasta and now I am going to show you how easy it was to make this hearty soup.

2015-12-11_08.30.58[1]I am calling this soup…Trev Man’s Chili Mac.

2015-12-12_17.27.02[1]The pasta and a spice bag were in the cellophane package, but I had to provide the ground beef, onion, large can of  diced tomatoes, 2 cans of Ranch Style Beans, and any other bean you might like.  You can jazz it up any way you like.

2015-12-12_17.27.26[1]If you don’t happen to have a grandson selling these pasta bags….you can still make this Chili Mac.  All you need is a few spices, pasta, ground beef, onions, tomatoes and chili beans….and you are in business.

2015-12-12_17.28.37[1]The spices are simple…..add 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and add it to the browned ground beef and onion.  Add the tomatoes and beans and pasta and you have Chili Mac.

2015-12-12_17.30.07[1]Now how easy is that?

2015-12-12_17.32.15[1]Add a loaf of french bread or a salad and dinner is served.

The other bags of pasta are destined for a macaroni salad and a pasta salad with a raspberry vinaigrette. I don’t know if you can tell in the pic, but the pasta shapes on those packages are various sea shells……pretty cool for Florida! Yummy!

Have you, my dear readers, bought candy bars or pasta or greeting cards or anything at all to help out your children, grand children or neighbor-hood kids as a fund raiser?  

I would like to hear about your experiences.

And thank you Trev Man!  The Chili Mac was delicious!  

Your GG ate way too much, but it was soooo good.

Have a great day.

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