Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Centerpeep

I dipped peeps  in melted chocolate and then stuck bamboo sticks in them and then made some cookie pops and put it all in a basket with floral foam and Easter grass.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Eggs in Nests

This is a great brunch or breakfast item and fantastic item for Easter Brunch. So Spring which I really needed today since it is snowing here more then it has all winter.
You need for 3 servings
2 medium Potatoes
1 medium onion
3 eggs

How to:
1. I used to do this part with a box grater but now I used my cuisinart. However you do it shred the potatoes and onion.
2. Put a pat of butter in your cast iron skillet and saute the shredded potatoes and onions  seasoned with a little salt and pepper until just barely getting a hint of brown. If you want to prep it this far in advance and save the partially cooked shredded onion and potato in the fridge for up to a week this works fine. This also makes this recipe a doable thing for weekday meals. I often make 1 of the three ramekins worth and save the rest for the next day or two.
3. Heat oven to 350
4. Butter 3 ramekins.
5. Place 1/3rd the sauteed mix into each ramekin and make divot in middle so that the shredded part goes up the sides more.
6. Crack one egg into each ramekin so that the egg remains in the center inside the divot.
7. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degree until the white is set and the yolk in still a bit runny.
8. Eat and enjoy.
See how much it looks like a delicious birds nest!
Here is a second picture in a different ramekin as I used a mix of ramekins.
Eggs in Nests
This is hearty enough that it is a huge hit with guys while being portion controlled enough as a result of the ramekins that you can eat like this on a regular basis.  Alongside some fruit salad it makes a great brunch. Sometimes I like to sprinkle a bit of cheese on the top as well.
Enjoy and happy snowy spring.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lemon Cake and the Single Birthday Gal

It's my birthday and I'll have cake if I want to cake if I want to, you would have cake too if it happened to you. Today is my birthday and a Tuesday. A Tuesday is not a night that is all about going out and whopping it up. I went out with friends on Friday and with my sister on Saturday so my birthday is really already celebrated but hey I really felt like cake on my birthday. The thing about being single however is that nobody was going to bring me cake or make me a cake. Nor should I really consume a whole cake all by myself. Instead the mini lemon layer cake.

Ingredients for cake
1/3rd cup milk
Zest of two lemons
2/3 cup flour
2/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
juice of 1 lemon
Pam for baking

How to make cake
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 2-3 flat ramekins (mine are green but same size and brand) with Pam for baking
2.Zest the two lemons into the milk and let sit.This will infuse the milk with yummy lemon flavor.
3.In your mixer of food processor cream together butter and sugar
4. Add in the egg and then breifly mix again
5. Mix together the dry ingredients and add half to the food processor or mixer.
6. Add half the milk then the other half the dry ingredients and mix again
7. Then add the other half the milk mix and then add the lemon juice and mix again.
8.When everything fully combined divide between either 2 or 3 flat ramekins depending on number of layers wanted. Two layers will be very full but 3 layers is a different frosting ratio. If I had to do this again I would have used 3 ramekins but I used two today.
Ramekins (Zested lemon shown for scale)

9. Bake 20 minutes at 350 till dry in center
10. Invert onto cooling rack.

Ingredients for Frosting
1 stick softened butter
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt

How to make frosting
1. Cream butter
2. Add in lemon juice and then keep mixing adding in a pinch of salt
3 While mixing slowly add in powdered sugar and keep mixing until very creamy
4. Frost cake layers with frosting and then since it is on hand add a little bit of yellow disco dust, silver sanding sugar, and a yellow candy star. Serve the entire cake on a salad dish.
Happy Birthday to Me!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Champagne and Prosecco Saver

Rarely do I drink Sparkling wine, and rarer still do I end up with half a bottle left. Last Thursday, however a friend was over and we drank half a bottle of Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine). I put this Champagne saver on the bottle that I got years ago and have never had occasion to use and put the bottle back in the fridge. I forgot about it until tonight, we are now four days later. I saw the bottle in the fridge and thought to myself that it must be flat by now and ruined but uncorked it and it popped and fizzed. I then decided to pour some in a glass and tasted it. The wine in in wonderful condition still full of life and fizz and almost entirely as good as it was on the first day. I'm convinced and will never hesitate to save sparkling wine again. Oh and yes, I am drinking Prosecco while typing this post.

Chocolate Nutella Scones and a Cuisinart Food Processor for my birthday

My parents are wonderful, for my birthday they got me something I have wanted for a long time. They gave me a Cuisinart Food Processor. Ok I know it is a little bit of overkill for a single woman but I do cook a lot ( see this blog) and I am the type to actually use it. Not only that but I meant to make Irish Soda Bread yesterday for St. Patrick but life got in the way. So I had  a bunch of buttermilk in the house, thus scones. Scones are one of the wonderful treats of life. Not feeling like plain scones I amped these ones up with chocolate and nutella. Mmmm nutella seriously that stuff is addictive.

1.Oven was preheated to 400 degree. 
2.In the food processor with the dough blade went 3 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder,1 tablespoon coco power, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. I then pulsed it a few times. 
3.Then added 1 cup chocolate chips and a stick and a half butter cut into pieces. Pulsed until the butter was combined and at the course meal stage. 
4.Then added 4 tablespoons nutella and then started pulsing slowly adding in 1 cup buttermilk.
5. I then put all of the dough onto a silpat lined ( you could use parchment paper) cookie sheet and then spread it out until about 3/4 inch- 1 inch thick rectangle. ( some people prefer scones in rounds in which case make 2 rounds)
Raw dough spread out on silpat( ignore the fact that is an old stained silpat)

6. Bake at 400 degree for 20-25 minutes till firm in center.

7 Immediately upon removing from oven cut into portions using your bench scrapper or a chefs knife. 

8. While they cool it is now time to make the glaze. Also in food processor with the dough attachment put 2/3 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon nutella. Combine together takes about 1 min continuously on.

9. Add 2 oz frangelico hazelnut liquor and then mix again to combine. I stopped mid way to get the powdered sugar in the corner with the scrapper. Combine until very smooth and no powdered sugar lumps. Using a pastry brush ( I highly prefer the silicone type) brush the glaze onto the scones. 

10. Once glaze has dried they are ready eat. You could pretend to be healthy with these and serve with banana slices or just indulge and serve with nothing but a cup of coffee.
Delicious Chocolate Nutella Scones

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My father recommended Drag Queen to me. (Anchoring app not what you were thinking)

Sailing with my family last week I had the weirdest conversation with my father. He asked me if I liked Drag Queen.  I immediately gave him an odd look and asked him to explain.  Only then did he clarify that Drag Queen is an android phone app that alarms if your anchor is dragging.  Totally useful for sailors like my dad who worry about anchor dragging.  Thankfully we did not drag anchor but one night he had forgotten he set it and had his phone with him and it alarmed as we drove away from the boat in the dingy. So I am convinced it works. Plus it is just that weird to have my dad talking about drag queen. 

Pi day chicken pot pie

Today is march 14 otherwise known as pi day.  Let me give you 3.14159 or so reasons to make chicken pot pie for dinner.
1. It is one of the tastiest dinner pies
2. As easy to make a few and freeze either as whole pies or mini pie as to make one.
3.14 it is pi day
Ok so I have you convinced.  Let me now tell you how. This recipe makes three pies or twelve mini ramikin sized pies. You could scale down but as they freeze so well and it saves time later and really takes no longer go ahead and stock up. I am bringing two pies to a dinner and game night tonight the others I put into ramekins for single serve later.
You need
4-5 lbs chicken thighs
1lb carrots
3 onions
1 cup frozen peas
1cup milk
2cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
1 potato
1 tablespoon bells seasonings or other poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon salt
6 crusts worth of pie crust dough
In a big heavy pot ideally a dutch oven type at least 4 or 5 quarts (I use one that is a no make brand that is a bit like this) salt and pepper and cook your chicken thighs a few at a time  on medium depending on the size you will be able to do 2-4 at a time. Do not crowd them as you want the browning. Make sure to keep the brown bits (fond) at the bottom of the pan. Remove them to another dish as they are done cooking. to cool off. When all the chicken thighs done cooking  pour off the fat that has accumulated and without washing the pan add in the 3 onions that have been diced. Stir it around and let the onions saute and go translucent. While this is happening take the carrots and peel and chop them up. Add these to the pot and stir around. Add the three tablespoons of flour and cook another two or three minutes this gets rid of the raw flour taste later. Add in the salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning and then add in the two cups of chicken broth and the cup of milk. Bring to a simmer. While bringing to the simmer grate a potato into the mix using a course grater. Then while simmering remove the meat and skin from the chicken thigh bones and dice it all up. Once the mix is simmering you can add the meat back in. Now add the peas to the mix and check consistency. It should be about as thick as good gravy if not let it simmer a bit longer. 
Put one pie crust in the bottom of the pie pan and then spray with pam on the crust( this keep the crust from absorbing quite so much liquid and makes it tastier. ) Then use a ladle to ladle in several cups worth of pot pie. Do not over fill or liquid will leak everywhere when baking. Add top crust. You need to pinch edges to prevent leakage at edges and then cut lots of vent holes in order to vent the steam. I suggest cutting as many digits of pi as you know off the top of your head into the pie. Then either freeze. Or bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes till top crust is golden brown and inside is bubbly. For mini pie ramekins fill ramekins 3/4 full of pot pie mix and add layer of crust on top with lots of vents. Put ramekin and all inside a ziploc bag and freeze or bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes until golden. If frozen when go to bake pie just add about 5 minutes to bake time. 
Sorry this is a picture of the unbaked pi as I am baking right before tonight's dinner party as pot pie tastes best hot from oven.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sail Caribe and the Spanish Virgin Islands

Well i have not posted much in the last week because I have been on vacation. My family rented a boat from Sail Caribe in Puerto Rico and sailed the Spanish virgin islands. We were aboard a Jeanneau 409 which is a nice boat with three cabins and two heads. The best things about this boat were that it sailed very well and the fridge and freezer were fantastic. I know gushing about a fridge sounds weird but a good fridge makes a much nicer trip.
First night in Puerto del Ray.
   We did the thing where we slept aboard the night before the charter. This was nice as we got to go grocery shopping and get everything ready the night before. I recommend Thrifty car rental if you are getting a car at the airport as they have a drop off literally two doors away from Sail Caribe. Maria at Sail Caribe checked us in and got us to the boat. It is a lovely and humongous marina. Truly walking around the docks and just looking at all the boats is a pleasure in itself. Among thousands of other boats one of the ships from Pirates of the Caribbean was located there.
  Ziggy did our checkout. The thing where they go over the boat and operation and make sure they can trust you with the boat. Ziggy was very thorough and great but took a very long time. However it was much more focused on boat then nitpicking and thus much better then most other checkouts. A quick docking at the fuel dock later and then we are in business sailing over to Culebra.
 It was a nice sail about 10 knots breeze and easy navigation. We anchored at
ensenada honda( no relationship to the cars). Anchoring was easy. I love it when anchors hold right away. We ended up staying there two nights due to concerns over the wind being out of non typical directions and not wanting my mom to get seasick. We swam and beached and had a fantastic time. We rented a golfcart to go over to the flamenco beach. I would not do this again as it meant spending more time messing with renting the golf cart then at the beach. I would just cab over. Cheaper and less hassle. Flamenco beach was lovely and I found a great sand dollar however later in the trip my mother smashed it accidentally so it did not make it home. If you go look for a new one for me.
The next anchorage was Culebrita. This was a very pretty anchorage you could dingy in and walk a path up to a admittedly run down lighthouse but it was a nice walk and the cacti and views were fantastic. As we were grilling dinner that night aboard we saw several sea turtles swim by our boat. After dinner when it got dark we saw some glow in the dark something floating by. This was a bit of a rolling anchorage and a tougher place to anchor as the shore line goes from very deep to very shallow very quickly and you want to anchor where there is room to swing when you have enough scope out but not in too deep water.
We moored at a private mooring owned by a nice woman named Christina in Esperanza. She charges 25 dollars a day and the mooring was recommended by the Sail Caribe folks. Truly one of the easiest moorings to pick up ever as she made it very obvious by tying pool noodles to her painters and very easy by having two painters not one. For those of you who do not moor typically a mooring is a concrete block  or other large secure heavy thing at the bottom with then lines that go up to a main ball from there one or rarely two painters these are lines that you pull from the mooring ball to the boat to attach your boat to the mooring. Having two makes it easy to attach it to both sides post and starboard of the bow of the boat. We had had a long sail from Culebrita to Vieques and spent two nights at this mooring. The thing I disliked the most about Esperanza is the dingy dock. Although I had no difficulty my parents and aunt had a ton of difficulty getting from the dingy to the dock at the dingy dock to the point that we ended up beaching the dingy letting them off and then  my going to the dingy dock. If Esperanza would simply add a place to step up from their dingy dock it would be much much improved as a location for boaters. During the first night we went to a place called Tradewinds for dinner. It was all the way to the left on the main street from the dingy dock. The conch  salad was fantastic and they have a rum drink that was triple rum triple juice that was on the happy hour menu that was dangerously tasty. The next day we went to sun beach via dingy and swam and relaxed. Then after dinner we went to the bio luminescent bay called mosquito bay for a kayak tour which was fantastic. See my other special post. But totally worth it do that.
The next day we sailed to Palomino Island. The majority belonged to some fancy resort but there were several great free mooring balls and it was a lovely location. Perfect for trying to be back early the next day due to flights. The surf was up but the mooring balls were a lot more protected then you might have expected and it made a last stop of just tropical lovely.

Bioluminescent bay on Vieques

Sadly I can not show you pictures as it doesn't photograph well but let me tell you about the bioluminescent bay. We took a tour with Abes kayak tours. From our boat moored in Esperanza we dingyed in and then were picked up by Abes right by the short dingy dock. They took us to a parking lot where we signed paperwork then we got back in vans and taken over the most pothole strewn road I have ever seen.  Once finally in the kayaks it was so neat every time you disturbed the  water it glowed green from the plankton. Seriously you would paddle and the area would glow green. Then if you tapped on your kayak with the paddle the noise would disturb the fish and they would dart away in green trails. It looked like something out of a alien movie. Totally fantastic. I loved it. Sorry no pictures as the need for a fancy waterproof camera in order to get good photos prohibited me. But just trust me totally excellent.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Boat from Pirates of the Caribbean

In the marina I am in tonight is one of the boats that was from Pirates of the Caribbean.