Beach Wedding Cookies

October 25, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In honor of their upcoming weekend wedding in Cancun, I’m sharing these cookies I made for a sweet friend’s wedding shower this past weekend.  Design idea stolen blatantly from Glorious Treats and mine don’t hold a candle to her work – but they probably didn’t take me nearly as long either!

For the royal icing colors, I used copper for the “orange” and sky blue for the blue cookies.    As always, I use the No Fail Sugar Cookie recipe.

Follow the instructions on the Glorious Treats blog – I won’t bother trying to recreate her expert guidance here.  But have fun making these!  And wish us luck in Cancun as we take on Hurricane Rina!

Ham Delights

October 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is an old family recipe that I keep stumbling upon in different online recipe collections and food blogs.  It’s basically dressed up ham and cheese sandwiches.  But they’re pretty good and would be a good party food.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages white party rolls (I used potato rolls)
  • 1/2 pound chopped cooked ham
  • 5 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together butter, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire sauce and prepared mustard.

Slice rolls in half horizontally and set aside tops.

Spread bottoms with the butter mixture.

Top with ham and Swiss cheese.

Replace tops and melt remaining mixture so you can pour it over the top.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

I also read online that these also freeze great!  Not the fanciest dinner (sorry Matt!) but they are really yummy.

Pasta Vodka

October 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I still remember the first time I had vodka sauce.  I was in college on Spring Break in New Jersey, and we went out for brunch at a place with a cook-manned pasta bar.  I was probably 20 years old, and when I read the sauce options, “Vodka Sauce” certainly seemed like the most daring choice.

It was delicious.  Creamy, but not too creamy like an alfredo sauce, and still with a great tomato flavor.  Vodka sauce is an Italian sauce made from a relatively smooth tomato sauce, plus cream, vodka, and typical Italian herbs.  I knew I had to find my own version so I could make this delicious sauce at home.  This recipe is easy, delicious, seems fancy.  It reheats and even freezes great, and it is definitely one of my favorite Italian dishes.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes(32 ounces)
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 16 ounces penne pasta
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

I like to serve mine with chicken, so I boil a few breasts and shred it.  Shrimp would be great too.  It’s also nice to serve with shredded parmesan, but it’s not necessary.

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness.

Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes.

Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer.  Season with salt and pepper.  While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente.  While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce.  When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat.

Drain pasta.  Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves (and chicken if you’re using it).

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

October 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

When I was in New Orleans in May, I was lucky enough to have a friend introduce me to the Palace Cafe where we had the most fabulous New Orleans BBQ shrimp.  I should point out that New Orleans BBQ shrimp isn’t really what I would call BBQ shrimp.  It’s more like gravy-shrimp.  Which is still totally delicious.  Maybe better than BBQ shrimp.

So I read a recipe for Emeril’s BBQ shrimp and this is a slightly modified version of that recipe – and it’s delicious!  It would be nice to serve this to company.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 pounds large Gulf shrimp, in their shells
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 lemons, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter

(And you’ll want to serve with biscuits or french bread to dip in the sauce, so buy that too.)

Peel the shrimp, leaving only their tails attached. Reserve the shells and set aside.  Sprinkle the shrimp with 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning and fresh cracked black pepper.  Use you hands to coat the shrimp with the seasonings.  Refrigerate the shrimp while you make the sauce base.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onionsand garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the reserved shrimp shells, the remaining Creole seasoning, the bay leaves, lemons, water, Worcestershire, wine, salt, and black pepper.  Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool for about 15 minutes.  Strainnto a small saucepan. There should be about 1 1/2 cups.

Place over high heat, bring to a boil, and cook until thick, syrupy, and dark brown, for about 15 minutes.  Makes about 4 to 5 tablespoons of barbecue sauce base.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the seasoned shrimp and saute them, occasionally shaking the skillet, for 2 minutes.

Add the cream and all of the barbecue base.  Stir and simmer for 3 minutes.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

October 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

For the apple cupcakes:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 apples, cored, peeled, and chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 regular size cupcake pans with cupcake liners.  In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low speed, combine the sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract until blended. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low until blended. Stir in the apples.

Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched with your finger, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the caramel buttercream:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

Cook without stirring until mixture turns a dark amber color.

Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla (I used my vanilla bean paste), stirring until very smooth.

Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.  In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter until lightened and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel.

Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).

Frost your apple cupcakes with your caramel buttercream.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

October 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Do you love mint chocolate chip ice cream?  If so, you should make these cookies.  If not, you should make these cookies.  They are the perfect combination of mint and your basic chocolate chip – making them just different enough to excite your taste buds but familiar enough that you go back for seconds (and thirds and fourths).  This recipe is based off of a prize-winning Betty Crocker recipe, and it’s easy to see why it was prize-winning!  It couldn’t be easier, and it it a crowd pleaser.

These would be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day – and just about every cookie occasion in between now and then!  Happy baking!

You’ll need:

  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 8 drops green food color
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Andes baking chips (if you can’t find these, you can do what I did and chop up your own Andes chocolates – but you have to unwrap  a ton so look for the chips!)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350°F.  In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms.
Stir in Andes chips and chocolate chunks.
Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set.
Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Serve warm or cool completely.  Store tightly covered at room temperature.

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