Monday, April 30, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake or Fruit & Cake Shish-ka-bobs

Looking for an easy, kid & adult friendly, yet distinctive dessert?

I saw this on Pinterest, and wanted to try it. My husband was dubious at best, but commented to me later on that he was surprised and had really enjoyed these fruit and cake shish-ka-bobs.
My kids loved helping make these too.

These are so versatile - you could do just about anything with them and the variations are endless.  For a party or function, these could be served buffet style and guests could skewer them themselves, and chocolate dipping sauce could be served on the side - so many options!

  For strawberry shortcake ke-babs, use an angel food cake, strawberries, white & dark chocolate.

Any cake of your choice (any flavor, store bought or homemade, even brownies or bar cookie chunks)
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, bananas, pineapple - anything goes
Shish-ka-bob skewers
Melting chocolate or chocolate chips - white, chocolate, butterscotch (whatever you have, or want to use)
1-2 t. Shortening

Cut cake into cubes, approx. 1" x 1.5"
Slice fruit into bite size pieces (if necessary)
Slide cake cubes, and fruit onto skewers in alternating pattern
Place on cooling rack, with cookie sheet or paper below
Place chocolates in small microwaveable bowl, and add shortening
Heat chocolate at 50% power for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently
Using spoon, (or piping bag) drizzle chocolate over cake and fruit
Repeat with chocolate of alternating color if desired

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pico de Gallo

I really should be fired.

My sister asked me for a salsa recipe. She wanted one to can.
Fortunately, my friend makes salsa for me - in trade for my wheat bread. As such, I don't make salsa because his is amazing and he won't give me the recipe.

I do however make Pico De Gallo. Often. Very Often. I love the stuff - I could eat it by the gallon. I was horrified to discover that my blog was missing this recipe.

Once again, this is an 'un-scientific' recipe - meaning that I developed this recipe to perfection - according to my taste. Add more or less to suit your taste.

1 c. diced tomatoes
1 c. diced onion (white or yellow)
1 c. chopped cilantro
approx. 1/3 c. key lime juice
coarse salt

Optional: 1 - 4 finely chopped jalapeƱos (depending on how much heat you want)

Mix tomatoes, cilantro, and onion together in a bowl.
Add enough key lime juice (either from a bottle or freshly squeezed) to fill the bottom of the bowl approx. 1/4 inch from the bottom.
Add cumin and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly.

* Key limes are a MUST. They have a very distinctive flavor which is key to this recipe. (They look like mini limes.)

**This pico de gallo is fantastic on black beans, eggs, or with rice. It adds a great flavor boost to just about anything.

Scrambled eggs with pico de gallo

Every time I make pico de gallo, I get excited because I know that I'll be having scrambled eggs with 'morning after' pico de gallo for breakfast.

The great thing about 'morning after' pico de gallo is that the juices mix together and it lends such a great contrast and flavor to the eggs.

Here's a link to amazing pico de gallo.

Crack eggs, and cook over medium heat moving constantly.
Just as the eggs begin to loose their moisture, remove from heat. 
Salt and pepper to taste.

Top with pico de gallo, and don't be shy, make sure to get some of the juice in there too.
Morning bliss.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Graham Cracker Cookies

My mom used to make these cookies for us as kids, and they are seriously the easiest cookies ever made & are great solution to left over frosting.
I had some left over frosting tonight and realized that this recipe is perfect for these. 
Perfect for a quick treat after school, or to send in a lunch box.
And did I mention that kids love them?

Graham crackers - cinnamon and sugar or plain (whatever is on hand)


½ C Butter (1 stick)
3 ½ C Powdered Sugar
2 T Cocoa
¼ C Milk
1.5 tsp. Vanilla
Place butter in a small sauce pan and melt the butter. Add the milk and cocoa. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Heat just until boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Then, gradually add the powdered sugar. Stir until thickened.  Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes before spreading on graham crackers.  Cool, then break into halves (may be refrigerated). 
Wrap by twos in plastic wrap.
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Carne Asada Taco Salad

A lighter and less messy version of carne asada (eaten with forks, not hands), or a great use for second day carne asada.

Layer ingredients in the following order:

Romaine lettuce - coarsely chopped
Crushed tortilla chips, or crushed tostada shells
Grilled carne asada
Pico de gallo
Sour cream

Serve immediately
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Carne Asada Mojo or Marinade

I lived in Guatemala for a while many years ago, and learned that Guatemalans love carne asada. 
I honestly never really understood what that meant since the translation is: grilled meat.  I mistakenly thought this meant any meat and couldn't figure out what the big deal was.  Many years later, living in Colorado with lots of friends from Mexico, I finally learned what carne asada really means.
Super thinly sliced skirt or flank steak.  Perfectly marinated, and "just" cooked on the grill so that it is tender and juicy. The meant is served in a corn tortilla with refried beans, rice, pico de gallo, guacamole, & sour cream.

The easiest way to get the best meat for carne asada is to look in your area for a 'carniceria' (literally - meat market) ask them for 'aguayo' meat - this is the best for carne asada.  Then ask them to add their 'mojo' or 'marinade'.  They'll usually put the meat in a bag, add some marinade, and then you can let it sit in the fridge overnight or for a day or two.

If a carniceria isn't an option - Costco often sales carne asada (already in a marinade), or you can purchase thinly sliced flank or skirt steak and do your own mojo or marinade.

I usually have to slice my meat into halves or fourths just to get the thinness I need.
Here's a great recipe for the marinade/mojo (which tenderizes and adds great flavor)

Carne Asada Marinade or Mojo
1/4 c. key lime juice (the very small green limes)**this is key for the flavor
1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. white vinegar
4 garlic cloves - pressed or very finely diced
1/2-3/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 t. kosher salt (less if table salt)
JalapeƱo or seranno chiles, minced (optional - to taste)
1/4 t. crushed red peppers (optional - to taste)
2 t. sugar (more or less to taste)

Using a fork, pierce meat, and place in non-metalic (reactive) container.
Cover with marinade/mojo, and turn.
Allow to marinate for at least 15-20 minutes, then turn and marinate on other side.
This may be refrigerated overnight, but bring to room temperature prior to grilling.

Heat grill, and cook for 2-5 minutes each side (depending on grill), so that meat is cooked, but still tender.
Place on a platter and cover with foil, and allow meat to rest so that the juices flow.
Note that the acids of the vinegar and the lime help 'cook' the meat during the marinade.  Also, pureed kiwi can be added to the mojo as it contains meat tenderizing enzymes.
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Oven Roasted Vegetables

My kids LOVED these.  My daugther who doesn't like vegetables actually asked to take some of these in her lunch to school today - and she told me that she really likes them.

The great thing about this recipe is that it works with virtually any vegetable you may have on hand.

5 carrots - scrubbed and peeled, sliced diagonally
2 large potatoes - scrubbed and chopped into 1.5 x 2" pieces
1 large onion - coarsely chopped
4-6 Mushrooms - halved or quartered
7-10 Asparagus stems - cut into 2-3" sections
2 coarsely chopped sweet bell peppers (red or yellow for color)
3 T. olive oil
2 t. seasoned salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
Basil, thyme, or rosemary to taste

Heat oven to 375*
Combine all vegetables in a large bowl or pot.
Add olive oil and spices, and gently toss.

Pour into large 11 x 15" baking dish, and cover with foil.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and gently stir.
Bake without foil for an additional 20 minutes or until tender.
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Friday, April 6, 2012

Deviled Eggs

So you've dyed 24 easter eggs - each a masterpiece in its own, but now with horror you wonder, 'what was I thinking?' 'What am I going to do with all of these eggs?'  'Whose doorstep can I leave these eggs on?' 'Is it possible to overdose on eggs?'

The solution my friend, is deviled eggs.
My kids who really don't care for eggs in any form, can't get enough of these babies. 
Neither can my friends.  I thought that 24 deviled eggs would be enough for a small kid's book club (picky eaters and all). Not so, I learned.

Prepare hard boiled eggs as follows:
Place eggs in pan.
Cover with cool water.
Add 1/4 t. salt.
Place on stove, and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and set timer for 13 minutes.
After timer beeps, immediately discard all hot water and plunge into ice water bath.
Allow to cool, changing water as needed as it heats. 
(You can place pot in sink and let cold water run into pot until cooled)
After they've mostly cooled, I generally shake the pan back and forth to begin cracking the eggs to perpetuate the future peeling.

For deviled eggs, peel eggs (adjust recipe +/- according to quantity).
Cut eggs in half lengthwise.
Gently remove yolks and place in a small bowl.
Set egg whites aside.

To the yolks add:
1-2 T. mayonaise
1-2 t. yellow mustard
1/2 - 1 t. horseradish (creamy/ground) (optional)
2 - 3 t. pickle juice (optional)
1-3 squirts hot sauce (such as Franks wing sauce) (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika or Cayenne pepper

Mix with a fork until smooth, adding ingredients as desired, according to taste.
Spoon yolks into a piping bag, or into a sandwich bag (and snip off one 1/4" corner).

Pipe into empty egg white shells.
Sprinkle with paprika or cayenne (for a little more spice).
Keep refrigerated until serving.
Garnish with chopped chives or parsley.
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