Monday, March 30, 2009

Corned Beef Hash

So as I said, I really only made Corned Beef and Cabbage so I could try to make Corned Beef Hash. So I did. It came out very well, and I'll certainly make this again. Here's my take on it:

Ingredients and Method:

3 slices corned beef
1 medium yukon gold potato
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
3 pats butter for frying

Mince corned beef into very small pieces.

Microwave potato for 6 minutes on high. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove skin and chop potato into very small pieces the same size as the corned beef.

Mix corned beef, potato and onion together. Add salt and pepper.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat and brown corned beef on both sides, about 5 minutes a side. Be careful not to overbrown as the corned beef will get hard and overcooked.

Enjoy with an egg or two of your choice. Additionally you might like tabasco sauce, ketchup, etc.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

I know, St. Patricks day is over and I'm a few days late. But it only just occurred to me to make Corned Beef and Cabbage. I remember when I a kid my Mother would make it all the time. I could tolerate the Corned Beef, just barely, and really liked the cabbage. But that was about it.

Truth be told, the REAL reason I'm making this is because one thing I do like is corned beef hash for breakfast, but all I've ever had is out of a can, looks like dog food and I don't buy it often because of that. So, as soon as I've had a couple of dinners of Corned Beef, cabbage, and vegetables, I'm going to have some homemade corned beef hash. Here we go:

1 corned beef brisket with spices
15 whole cloves
3 small cans apple juice
enough water to cover the brisket in the slow cooker with 1 inch of water
10 small white potatoes or two cans white potatoes
2 medium carrots
1 head of cabbage
2 tablespoons brown mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Rinse corned beef thoroughly and place in slow cooker (fat side up). Push cloves into brisket over the top. Sprinkle with seasoning packet. Add apple juice and water. (1 inch over brisket) Cook on low for 3 hours.

Ppeel and cut carrots into 1 inch pieces and add to liquid in the slow cooker. Add the potatoes. Slice cabbage into wedges and arrange around the brisket and cook for 7 more hours.

Remove brisket to a cutting board and scrape off layer of fat thoroughly. Mix two tablespoons of brown mustard with one tablespoon of brown sugar and spread over the top of the brisket.

Place under broiler just until it begins to brown. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice across the grain into thin slices and serve with vegetables from slow cooker.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Vanilla Cream Cheese Panna Cotta w/Raspberry Sauce

First day of Spring, time for a light spring-like dessert. I love Panna Cotta and have made Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce but decided to go with cream cheese this time. Give it a try.

Fresh raspberries at the market, I couldn't resist:

Ingredients and Method:

1 small carton fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons Orange Liqueur
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup sugar
1 package knox gelatin

In a saucepan add raspberries, liqueur and sugar. On medium high heat stir and mash berries as the mixture comes to a boil. Immediately turn down to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In another saucepan over medium heat, add cream and half and half and sprinkle the gelatin over and let soak for 15 minutes or so.

Turn heat up and add sugar, split vanilla bean with seeds scraped (add the husk also) and stir until gelatin is incorporated.

Add cream cheese and continue to stir until it comes to a boil. (Note on the cream cheese, although the cream cheese melted there were still small "chunks" of it and I used a hand blender to smooth out the consistency. If you don't have a hand blender, you may want to microwave the cream cheese for a minute or so before adding to the cream and sugar and vanilla mixture)

Turn heat off and let "steep for 10 minutes or so. Remove vanilla bean husks.

In dishes of your choice spoon in a inch or so raspberry mixture. Then slowly add panna cotta so as to layer it. You can swirl it if you like but this time I left it in separate layers.

Chill for 2 hours before serving. A bit of whipped cream topping is excellent.

Enjoy! And thank goodness Spring is around the corner!

Sunflower Butter Marshmallow Peanut Crisps

I've been making a few things lately using different nut butters given the controversy recently over tainted peanut butter. Not that I'm nervous about using peanut butter, just because it would be a novelty for me to bake using cashew butter, almond butter, etc. Check out my posts Whipped Cashew Butter Cookies or Almond Butter Butterscotch Squares.

This time I decided to experiment using Sunflower seed butter. It is suprisingly light and delicious. This recipe is a snap to make.

Interestingly enough, Sunflower seed butter is good for you. To quote: Sunflower seed butters are high in protein, nutrients and unsaturated fats, low in saturated fats, and, of course, no cholesterol or trans fatty acids. In addition, they are important allies in decreasing the risk of heart disease. Sunflower Seed Butter is a "powerhouse" of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, zinc, potassium, iron and protein.

Ingredients and Method:

1 cup Sunflower seed butter
1 stick butter
1 large bag peanut butter chips
10 oz marshmallows
6 cups rice krispies (approximate)

Place Sunflower seed butter, butter, peanut butter chips in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted. Mix together well. Add marshmallows and microwave in 30 second intervals until marshmallows are melted. Mix until marshmallow is fully incorporated.

Add rice krispies in two cup batches and stir in. You can vary the amount of the cereal you want in the bars.

Line a 12 x 9 pan with waxed paper, scrape mixture into pan and using the back of large spoon press the mixture down and into the corners of the pan.

Chill in refrigerator for an hour until hardened.

Cut bars into squares.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Almond Butter Butterscotch Squares

One of the blogs I read often is A Southern Grace. The other day was posted a different looking recipe for Butterscotch Fudge.

As I read the recipe it piqued my interest because it had an ingredient in it called Barney Butter. I have no clue what Barney Butter is. So I did a search on Barney Butter and it revealed it is Almond Butter. Naturally I had to try the recipe.

My grocery store doesn't carry anything named Barney so I just picked up a jar of Almond Butter and the rest of the ingredients. It's incredibly easy to make, and is just delicious. The addition of the Almond Butter gives it a certain flavor and texture that is different but blends well with the butterscotch chips. Adding marshmallows without melting them, as in normal, fudge also helps make these unique.

Try them, I bet you like them, and thanks to the Southern Grace site for such a neat recipe. (I changed the name slightly because they are more bar like than fudge like, at least when I baked them)


1 cup Almond Butter
1 stick butter
1 bag butterscotch chips (11 ounces)
1 bag mini marshmallows (11 ounces or so)

Melt butter and almond butter in bowl in 30 second microwave bursts until melted. Mix well.

Add chips and continue to mix and heat in 30 second microwave bursts until melted. Again, mix well.

Add marshmallows and mix in thoroughly.

Line a 9 x 9 baking dish with wax paper along the bottom and up the sides.

Spoon the mixture into the dish and spread evenly across the pan and into all corners.

Refrigerate for an hour until firm.

Using the wax paper, lift the fudge out of the dish and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares into whatever size you like.

Enjoy. Trust me, these will disappear.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Crockpot Smoked Paprika Chicken

So last week I made an amazing (stumbled across it actually, no credit taken personally) Smoked Paprika Cornish Game Hen. (click here) Naturally, I wanted to try a chicken dish with the smoked paprika but since I love slow cooking, thought I would adapt a recipe from that I found.

What was interesting to me, is that roasting slowly for an hour or so and basting the Hen yielded a sharp delicious smoky sweet flavor.

Slow cooker however yielded a delicious but very subtle taste throughout that I also very much liked.

I say, make it and YOU be the judge. (hint, after you're done devouring it, leave a comment here and tell me you didn't love it, lol)


2 - 4 skinless chicken breasts
3 medium carrots
1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, Walla Walla sweet, or Maui preferably)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
2 cans white round small potatoes (You can do fresh small white potatoes, but these are easier)
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons honey
1 can chicken broth

Wash chicken breasts and pat dry.

peel carrots, slice in half the long way, and then chop into 2 inch pieces and add to slow cooker
peel onion and roughly dice and add to slow cooker
add potatoes to slow cooker
sprinkle with half the parsley and toss vegetables
salt and pepper vegetables
pour chicken broth over vegetables

Combine paprika, melted butter, lemon juice, honey and a bit of salt and pepper.

Brush both sides of chicken breasts with paprika mixture and place on top of vegetables in slow cooker.

Reserve balance of paprika mixture and baste at two hour intervals while cooking until gone.
Cook on low for 8 hours. Only uncover long enough to baste the chicken breasts with more paprika mixture.

Remove cover and let continue to cook for 1/2 hour or so and skim grease off the top.

Remove a breast and slice into slices and add to plate. Add potatoes, carrots, and heap with onions and a bit of the sauce if you would like. Garnish with remaining parsley.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Baked Raisin Nutmeg Brown Sugar Irish Oatmeal

Who's ever heard of baking Oatmeal? I haven't..... Who bakes Oatmeal? I don't....

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an article regarding Oatmeal and decided to do some overnight slow cooker oatmeal. It was horrible..... mushy, overcooked and generally the consistency of glue.

So as I do from time to time, I'm out surfing the net looking for things that interest me in the food world and I come across recipes at Recipezaar for a variety of baked oatmeal. Never even thought of baking oatmeal. But, since it is healthy and good for you I decided to give it a try. BUT, one recipe I came across discussed Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal. Never have tried it. So I decided to try it, and to prepare it BAKED adapted from the recipes I viewed.

I'll just say this. I'm done with any other method of Oatmeal. THIS is how you eat Oatmeal. Trust me. Slightly crisped top, touch of nutmeg, creamy, slightly sweet and yet Irish oatmeal retains a chewy and nutty flavor that is just delicious.


1 cup Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter (melted)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a bowl, mix oatmeal, milk and melted butter and let stand for 20 minutes.

Beat egg and brown sugar together and mix in baking soda.

Combine with oatmeal mixture and add raisins.

Pour into baking dish (I found a loaf pan to be the perfect size) and sprinkle liberally with Nutmeg.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 1 hour.

Eat a bowl fresh from the oven (you won't be able to resist) and the rest for breakfast the next three days.

Note the crisp topping.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chunk Cookies

So every food blog I look at seems to have a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe displayed on it. Except for mine. But that's just it, EVERYBODY loves Chocolate Chip Cookies and EVERYBODY makes them. So why in the world would I decide to make, bake and blog my version of those cookies this weekend? Sigh, here's why........

That's Nate, my youngest son, and a college student, came up to see his Dad this weekend. How could I NOT make cookies right?

OK, so I'm a softie, but I did whip his butt at Cribbage so the old man still rules.

Here's the recipe: (adapted from the back of the package)

2 1/4 cups flour (I use exclusively King Arthur flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks butter, softened)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 eggs
1 large package chocolate chunks

Combine sugars, and butter and eggs and beat thoroughly. Add scraped vanilla bean seeds.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda and add to mixture.

When combined, hand fold in the chocolate chunks.

Chill dough for 15 minutes to make it easier to work with, and so cookies won't spread too much while baking.

Drop by tablespoon fulls onto cookie sheet or parchment paper.

Bake in 325 degree oven for 15 minutes. Cookies should just begin to brown around the edges.

Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes on pan and remove to wire rack and let cool completely.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Macro Photography Light Box

So, I'm sure you all have spent thousands of dollars for photographic equipment, right? I've seen your photos, you know who you are. Your photos look BETTER than the actual food does. I don't know how you do it, but I'm working on my skills in that area. So watch out!

My first salvo at leveling the playing field (Aside from a new camera, ahem) is to have a Macro Photography Light Box. Yeah, that's right, diffused light, different colored light, shadowless, beautiful photography by the use of a light box.

Thanks to a site I found called Strobist I decided to build my own. Yeah, build my own, right at home. So here it is:

I went to the grocery store and got an empty cardboard box. Then went to an art store and bought some semi-transparent vellum (or you can use tracing paper or even cheesecloth) as well as some various colored construction paper.

I then cut two sides out of the box as well as the top. Then cut the vellum to fit the three openings and duct taped it all around. Voila....... light sources from the sides and from above, and there ya go, a light box.

Cut some colored, or plain white construction paper the width of the opening and slide it along the box and up the far side. Bingo! Check it out!

Total cost: $6.49

I know you're probably laughing at me, and I would laugh too, but here are a sample of the first photos taken inside the box:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Smoked Paprika Roasted Cornish Game Hen

So a blog follower friend of mine at work was telling me about a stew that she made over the weekend and how she used a spice she hadn't used before called Smoked Paprika. The following morning I came into work and a little baggie with two tablespoons of Smoked Paprika was sitting on my desk. (Thanks Mary Ellen)

Over the weekend I was determined to try the spice in a dish but didn't feel like having stew. In searching for uses for Smoked Paprika I came across a recipe at Simply Recipes that used the spice as a rub for chicken and decided to try it. (Thanks Elise) I decided not to go the rub route, I wanted to baste the bird during the roasting process.

Since I was cooking for one I decided to go with a Rock Cornish Game Hen. I've always loved game hens just haven't made them that often.

I have really no reason for posting this photo except hens and chickens just look funny when photographed like this. Sorry, makes me laugh.

When I finished baking the bird, I made some balsamic glazed carrots and sat down to eat.

Every once in a while, ya know how you make something and you think, "Oh My God, this is so good I will be making it regularly from now on" That is how good the glaze and Cornish Game Hen tasted. I was totally blown away and will probably get into more recipes that contain my new friend, "Smoked Paprika"

Please try it, you will love this recipe:

Ingredients and Method:

1 or 2 Cornish game hens, completely thawed
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or lime juice)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
pinch of salt

Rinse the game hen thoroughly and pat dry.

Cut lemon in half, sqeeze out two tablespoons and scrape for 1/2 teaspoon zest. Place half
the lemon inside the game hen.

Combine honey, lemon juice, zest, butter, paprika and salt in a small dish and stir well.

Baste the hen with the paprika mixture.

Place in roasting pan and roast at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 175 degrees.

Important: While baking re-baste with paprika mixture 4 or 5 times. The more the better as it will tend to build up a nice coating.

Remove hen from oven, let sit for at least 10 minutes. Dig in and enjoy. This is SO good, trust me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Balsamic Glazed Carrots

So do you like carrots? I like carrots. And for so long I would prepare them plain, maybe a little sugar to bring out flavor and that was it. But over the years as I figured out how to cook a bit here's how I enjoy my carrots now. With Balsamic Vinegar.

Do you use Balsamic Vinegar often? What is Balsamic Vinegar. According to

Sweet white Trebbiano grape pressings are boiled down to a dark syrup and then aged under rigid restrictions. The syrup is placed into oaken kegs, along with a vinegar "mother," and begins the aging process. Over the years it graduates to smaller and smaller kegs made of chestnut, cherrywood, ash, mulberry, and juniper until it is ready for sale. All of these woods progressively add character to the vinegar. As it ages, moisture evaporates out, further thickening the vinegar and concentrating the flavor.

Some balsamic vinegars have been aged for over 100 years. It is this aging process that makes true balsamic vinegar from Modena in Northern Italy so expensive.

Delicious side-dish, give it a try.

Ingredients and Method:

3 - 4 large carrots
4 tablespoons butter
approximately 1 cup of water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
chopped chives for garnish

Peel and cut of the end of each carrot. Slice lengthwise in half. Take each piece and cut in half lengthwise again. Then rotate and cut carrots into 2 inch lengths.

Place in pan with water and butter and bring to a boil. Immediately turn to low heat and cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes until tender.

Remove cover, add sugar and vinegar and allow to simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes more.

Remove carrots, garnish with chopped chive and serve immediately.