Friday, August 29, 2008

Hot and Sweet Pork

Recently, both my next door neighbors (one on either side of me) had babies. Needless to say, I have not been drinking the water.
I always like to bring the new mom and dad a nice meal after all the grandparents leave and "Real Life" sets in. I kid myself every time I do this. I scour through cookbooks, leaf through cooking magazines and say to myself "I am not going to take my Hot and Sweet Pork" - and then I always come back to my Hot and Sweet Pork recipe! (I say "MY" very loosely- my friend Mary prepared this recipe for my family about 2 years ago - it was amazing, and I quickly put it in my meal rotation - and morphed it into "MY" pork - If you really look at it - I just removed the A and the R - tee hee) It is one of those recipes that is perfect EVERY time, and that everyone loves and wants the recipe as well! Heck - after the new mommy ate this pork - even the baby thanked me - that's how good it is!

Hot & Sweet Pork Tenderloin
For Pork:
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Pork tenderloins (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 lbs. total)
2 Tablespoons olive oil

For Glaze:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon Tabasco

Prepare Pork:
Preheat oven to 350
Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with spice rub.
Heat oil in an oven proof 12 inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until just beginning to smoke, then brown pork, turning about 4 minutes total. Leave pork in skillet.

Make Glaze and roast pork:
Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco and pat onto top of each tenderloin. Roast in middle of oven until thermometer inserted diagonally in center of each tenderloin registers 140 ( About 20 minutes). Let pork stand in skillet at room temperature 10 minutes. (Temperature will rise to about 155 while standing)

Makes 6 to 8 main course servings.

Because they were new mommies - I went very light on the Tabasco. For my family - I usually do one "Adult" tenderloin with the Tabasco on it and one "Kid" tenderloin with no hot sauce - EVERYONE is happy that way!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Julie's Cincinnati Chili

This is my friend Julie. She is no ordinary friend - she has superhero status in my eyes. She is the friend that I never want my husband to ever have more then a 5 minute conversation with, because if she starts telling him what she does around her home - I'm toast!
Three true conversations I have had with Julie:
1. "Julie - I love your countertops" - Oh thanks - one time when Richard (her husband) was out of town I decided I wanted a new look in the kitchen so I built some frames and mixed some cement and poured myself these new countertops! (My jaw wide open)
2. "Julie - Your garage looks so neat" - oh thanks - one time when Richard was out of town I just got so tired of looking at all the disorganization on these shelves that I decided to build doors for all the shelving units. (My jaw on ground)
3. "Julie - your banisters look beautiful" - oh thanks - did you see that PVC pipe on the ground outside when you came in? Well I decided to strip all the banisters and repaint them. I just removed them from the stairwell, filled the capped PVC pipe with paint stripper and let each soak - in no time they were ready for a new coat of paint! (My jaw on ground, being stepped on by my own large feet)

I know we would all love to hate a person like this but you CAN'T! She is as nice as she is efficient! I'm just glad she is MY friend - and not my husbands!!

We had this chili one night at her home ( on her covered patio - she built)! It is the best Cincinnati Chili I have ever had.
Julie makes this in 26 pound batches and freezes them. I just double this recipe because I don't own a pot a human being can fit into!

Julie's Cincinnati Chili
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped
29 oz can tomato sauce
14 1/2 oz can peeled whole tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 toe of garlic (clove)
3 bay leaves

Cook gound beef with onions till browned and cooked through. Drain off grease and place in a large stockpot. Add remaining ingredients and cook 4 to 5 hours, covered. Remove garlic and bay leaves and serve on a bed of spaghetti with grated cheddar cheese and diced onions. Great for chili dogs. Freezes well.

I love doing a chili bar! The chili bases that I serve are: french fries, bake potatoes, spagehetti and corn chips. Kids and adults can enjoy their chili anyway they want! Don't forget all the toppings as well: jack and cheddar cheese, nacho cheese, onions, hot peppers, banana peppers, the list is endless!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crab Cakes with Cilantro Tatar Sauce

Two scoops please! Or should I say Lumps...and two is not really enough when you taste them. I LOVE crab cakes, but I am a crab cake snob. I absolutely love the ones Sweetwater makes. A little spice a lot of crab! There is nothing better. This is the closest recipe I have ever had to those delectable treats! It comes from a sweet little gal named Annie who used to do cooking classes in her home. We would roll away from her house on those nights!

Annie's Crab Cakes
1/2 cup red pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1 cup Panko crumbs, or unsalted soda crackers, finely crushed
Unsalted butter and canola oil, for frying
Lemon wedges

In a small skillet on medium heat warm a Tablespoon of butter. When butter begins to foam, add the red pepper and onions and saute over medium heat until onions are translucent and peppers become slightly tender. Set aside to cool.

I spread them on a cutting board and let them cool.

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Cayenne and Old Bay. Add in the cooled peppers and onions and fold in the crabmeat. Add about one third of the crackers or crumbs. Shape into 16 small cakes or 8 large cakes about 1 inch thick. Coat the crab cakes with the remaining crumbs and transfer to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate for a least two hours (or for up to one day before cooking).
In a large skillet, melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter and 2 Tablespoons of the oil. When the butter and oil begin to bubble, add half the crab cakes and cook over Medium-high heat until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove crab cakes from pan and set on paper towels to absorb any extra oil and place in a warm oven. Repeat with the remainder of the crab cakes, adding butter and oil to pan as needed. Garnish with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

I did these the day before my dinner group and just reheated them in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Perfect!
Make extra - because lets face it - the best part about having a crab cake for having a crab cake sandwich for lunch the next day!

Cilantro Tartar Sauce
3/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped dill pickles
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Stir together all sauce ingredients, Serve.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tomato Frank Soup

I always think of soup as a winter dinner - but one day when it was so hot and I didn't want to turn on the oven - my oldest asked if she could make soup. Why not I thought? I quickly got my grandpa Kortright's recipe for Tomato Frank Soup and let her run with it.

1 cup chopped onion
8 oz frankfurters, sliced (4 or 5 - I always end up using the whole package - about 8)
3 Tablespoons butter
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can condensed bean with bacon soup
1 1/2 soup cans water (2 cups)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano

In a saucepan cook onion, franks, and butter until onions are tender. Stir in remainder of ingredients. Cover and simmer five minutes.

It made a lovely summer dinner! Try it!

P.S. Make a big batch for dinner and send it to school with the kids the next day!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baby Twice Baked Potatoes

These little gems were such a hit at our last BBQ! They started out as part of the appetizers - but the remainder quickly became part of everyone's meal. We had about 5 left at the end of the night - which became part of our breakfast in the morning! These were a little labor intensive - but worth all the effort when you see those smiles on your guests faces!! Kids loved them as much as the adults! I doubled this recipe - Thank goodness!

1 1/2 pounds of small red potatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup shredded pepper jack
1 garlic bulb, roasted
1/2 cup sour cream
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (4.1 oz) Idahoan Baby Reds flavored mashed potatoes (or any instant potatoes)
(This is my favorite brand - no one will know - I promise)
If you double the recipe - you still just need 1 bag of the instant mash potatoes.

Slice a small spot off each end of every potato. Then cut each potato in half. This ensures all potatoes will sit up nicely on the cookie sheet. Cut top off garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place on same baking sheet. Toss potatoes in olive oil and bake at 400 for 35 to 40 minutes.

I used my tomato "Top-taker-offer" (one of my 1066 kitchen gadgets) to scoop out each potato when they cooled down.
I did not get enough "guts" out of each potato - and thus made a bag of instant mashed potatoes to add to my bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl of potatoes except the jack cheese.

Put mashed potatoe mixure in ziplock bag and cut tip. If you are adding bacon or some other yummy ingredient - just remember it needs to be pretty tiny to fit back through the ziplock bag hole.

Pipe mixture back into those little "mouths" waiting to be filled with that yummy filling! Put back in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes! Remove and top with Jack cheese - Serve and watch disappear!

These can be made any way you like your potatoes. Add blue cheese, bacon, cheddar, name it! Next time I would do 1/2 Jack cheese and 1/2 cheddar. The Jack cheese was a little hot for the kids - but they still managed to pack them away!
What would you add?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ron's Carrot Cake

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog, know that I spend much of my summer in the Catskill mountains with my girls. One outing we take every year is to a wonderful little jewel of a store call the Ferndale Antiques Marketplace. In fact, last year, my mother purchased my "Egg-cellent" Egg Cutter from this very store. This last trip I salivated over some wonderful Jade Fire king wear, but ended up with some original Grossinger placemats. Grossinger Hotel, for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, is the actual hotel where Dirty Dancing took place. I have visions of using them at an upcoming Gourmet club. I see samba lessons for the three couples that compose our club!
I digress...back to my story. This year on our visit to Ferndale Antiques Marketplace I met one of the owners..Richard Delia.
He was downright pleasant and we bonded over our mutual love of Apples (computers that is). In the process of telling him why I was buying the Grossinger placemats and my gourment club, my blog came up. - he told me that his partner had the best Carrot Cake Recipe EVER! He was nice enough to e-mail me the recipe. This began my adventure into Carrot Cake world. Ron won 3 years in a row at the Allentown Fair with this recipe.

Look at all these sweet carrots - willingly giving their lives for the sake of my sweet tooth!

One thing Ron does specify in his recipe is that the carrots MUST be hand grated! Processors don't give the right consistency.

Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
3 cups carrots, grated by hand ONLY
4 eggs
1 dash salt

Beat sugar and oil. Add carrots. Add eggs, one at a time. Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add all together. Bake in greased pans at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Frost cake with cream cheese frosting.

My daughter Logan (first born perfectionist) wanted to frost the cake. I completely appreciate this personality trait in her since I do not have it myself. You give her a job to do - she gets it done faster, better and alphabetized to boot! O.C.D. in small amounts is a gift - I swear!

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8(oz) cream cheese
1 box confectioners sugar (3 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Frost cake when cooled. Decorate with shelled walnuts.

Totally bummed I did not have the walnuts - but we went "Pantry Diving" and came out with a handful of sprees and 2 green gummy bears - Doesn't make a bad looking carrot if I say so myself!

The cake was amazing! It is indeed a Prize winning cake!
I want to give a big thank you to Ron Greco for sharing such a special recipe with the Kitchen Klique.

P.S. Wanted to show you the picture of how I stored the cake in the frig. I LOVE Press and Seal. I wrapped that puppy around the cake plate and rolled down the top - and it didn't touch the icing and left it moist till the last crumb was eaten!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rindy's Radar: Big Red Kitchen's Pancake Squares

This "sliced bread" is literally the neatest thing since sliced bread! From the moment I saw Robin Sue's post on the Big Red Kitchen I knew my tummy was destined for this treat - and it did not disappoint!!!
My girls were having a few friends spend the night and I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce the Pancake Square to them. I expected they would like it - but I had no idea how much they would LOVE it! The girls told me that this is the only way they want their pancakes now! I'm all for that decision - so thank you big red kitchen for such an easy and yummy breakfast.
Check out the recipe and see if you don't agree!
Pancake Squares

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is your lunch drawer ready for school?

We just received our back- to- school packet and I have to ask.....Where has summer gone? I say this every year as I watch those beautiful days of summer FLY! In anticipation of school starting I decided to organize my school drawer. My friend Robin Sue, first introduced me to "The Drawer" and now I can't imagine fixing my girls lunch without it.

Top 5 Lunch items I can't live without:
5) Different size zip bags from grocery store and Michael's craft store. Beading bags come in handy for making small bags of M&M's, raisins, pretzels, or anything small that would get lost in a sandwich size zippy bag.
4)Small cutting boards you will see standing up on the right hand size of the drawer. I use these everyday to cut their sandwiches.
3) "Cutepicks" - sounds like toothpicks but a whole lot cuter. These picks have animals heads on them and I skewer little cherry tomatoes, fruits, or veggies! They are in the back left basket, front right.
2) Far right, next to the cutting boards, are the girls small thermoses. These are perfect for packing spaghetti, chili, or other hot things. As a matter of fact, they love cold things like apple yogurt salad in them as well.
1) The number one thing I love in this drawer is in the front left basket on the far right side. Can you see them. They are tiny little disposable spoons I got at the restaurant supply house. They are perfect for the girls to eat their apple sauce or fruit cups. They toss them with the cup, which makes for no mess in their lunch boxes!

My last little tip is for the kids juice boxes. I always pack them in a cute bottle cover so they don't sweat in their boxes. These fun Hawaiian shirts I found at Michael's craft store for 2 dollars.

Don't you love making the kids lunches when school least for the first 2 days :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Maytag Blue Cheese Wedge

A few weeks ago bigredkitchen did a blog on "Hearts of Lettuce Salad". Oh - this brought back wonderful memories of how our family did "The Wedge". My mother found this recipe in a booklet published by the Maytag Dairy Executives from the 1970's. This was her, hands down, favorite dressing recipe.

This luscious salad would often accompany a grilled steak and huge baked potato on a summer night.

2 ounces Maytag Blue Cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons light cream
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. parsley flakes
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. grated onion (I use onion powder)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp garlic salt
Dash ground pepper

Have blue cheese at room temperature. Add mayonnaise; blend thoroughly till smooth. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Cover and chill. Leave lots of dressing on spoon to lick! Makes about 1 cup.

My tonsils are twanging already!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Prescription for a Great Teacher Luncheon!

What's good for your heart?
What's good for your soul?
A Back to School Lunch -
Or so I have been told

Your Prescription is written
And the dose is clear
All this good medicine
Makes a good year

The Doctor will see you:

It's that time of year again - when dutiful PTO parents start scouring websites to come up with fresh ideas on an old luncheon tradition. For two years my good friend Jennifer and I were in charge of all the teacher luncheons. We had so much fun letting our creative juices run wild. We laughed at where our inspiration would come from. This particular luncheon was inspired by the "Operation" notebooks. I found about 30 of them at a hardware store tent sale for 1 dollar each, and knew we had to have a theme that incorporated them into the decor. If you look closely - you can see just to the left of the notebook - we stuck the napkins and silverware in a surgical glove. The teacher favors - which were at each place setting - were plastic jugs we got at the dollar store and filled with granola bars, candy, paper clips, stamps, stickers and some other Misc. things each teacher could use getting the classroom ready for the kids. I whipped up the "Prescription" labels using some clip art and self adhesive computer paper.

As the teachers entered the room - there was a sign that stated "Just what the doctor ordered". The beverage stand also had laminated signs stating where to get their "Liquid Nutrition" and "The X-rays are in...Dominion Teachers get two thumbs up".

Very simple white table cloths were adorned with large red crosses and I made foam nurses hats to sit in the center. Our Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers took all the hats and play doctor sets to their classroom to use for indoor recess. It was a huge hit and most of all it let our teachers know what "Good Medicine" we think they are!

I almost forgot - Jennifer and I served them lunch in scrubs!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Country Ribs

My lips are smacking just looking at this picture. My mother would make this recipe about once a month in the summer and it seemed to turn out perfect every time. It comes from her original Betty Crocker cookbook she got for a wedding gift almost 50 years ago.

Place 3 pounds spare or loin ribs cut into serving size pieces in shallow baking pan.
Do not cover. Do not add water.
On each rib place 1/2 cup onion chopped and 1 slice lemon (optional) We substituted a squirt of lemon juice on each rib.

Bake in hot oven (450) about 30 minutes. Pour Texas BBQ sauce (below) over ribs. Continue baking in 350 oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Baste with sauce every 15 minutes. If sauce thickens, add a little hot water. To prevent ribs from browning too much, cover last 30 minutes of baking.

Texas BBQ Sauce:
Mix in saucepan 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon paprika, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. dry mustard, 1/4 tsp. chili powder, 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper,
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 cup tomato juice, 1/4 cup catsup, 1/2 cup water. Simmer 15 minuets or until slightly thickened.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chocolate Macaroon Pizza

If you love a Mounds candy bar - you'll love this recipe.

1 Package fudge brownie mix (plus ingredients to make the brownies)
2 Egg whites
1 Package (14 oz) sweetened flaked coconut
1 Can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 Package (2.25 oz) sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons (1 oz) semi-sweet chocolate morsels, melted
1 tsp. vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 375. Place a 15-inch circle of Parchment paper on a round pizza pan. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Pour brownie batter onto parchment. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until brownie is set Do NOT overbake. Remove from oven and place on cooking rack.

In a clean bowl, combine egg whites, coconut and sweetened condensed milk; mix well. Spread coconut mixture over top of brownie to within 1/4 inch of edge. Sprinkle with almonds. Return to oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges of coconut are deep golden brown. Remove from oven and place on cooking rack.

Place chocolate morsels and oil in saucepan or microwave. Microwave for 45 seconds or until chocolate is melted and smooth, stirring after each 10 second interval. Do not overheat. Drizzle chocolate over pizza. Cut into wedges. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Serves 16.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Go ahead and splurge - Your worth it!

I know that most of you who are reading this blog have the same reaction I do when I see a William-Sanoma store in the mall. My heart quickens, my pace speeds up and I can not move fast enough to check out the latest kitchen gadgets they have on display. My hubby and I recently took our girls, Logan and Jensen, to Manhattan N.Y. for a long weekend. As we entered the biggest FAO Schwartz store I have ever seen, I had to laugh at my children's expressions. I was not necessarily laughing at them - but realizing my emotions were the same as these little girls when I entered my 'toy' store.
On my latest "field trip" into William-Sanoma I picked up this fun splurge. These are salt pellets (for lack of a better word). They are from Italy and claim to perfectly salt my water. How fun are these?! They were my little indulgence for the day - and you know what? I can't wait to make a pot of pasta now!
What was your last little splurge?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

What a perfect summer spread! While visiting my mom at the cabin in the Catskills, she pulled out a recipe for Stuffed Baked Tomatoes. I had to laugh as I looked at the recipe. I told my mom it looked like it had come from an 1875 newspaper. She corrected me - and told me that it was from a 1959 newspaper (same thing) and she had cut it out when she was first married.
New or old, that recipe sure tasted delicious with those summer tomatoes! Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did one summer night at the cabin.
You will need: Tomatoes, sausage meat, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, butter, parsley.

Slice off and reserve the smooth ends of 6 firm tomatoes. Scoop out the centers of the tomatoes and reserve them, but discard the seeds.

Mix together stuffing of 3/8 pound of fresh sausage meat; 3/4 cup of bread crumbs moistened with 3 Tablespoons of consomme; 1 onion and 1 clove garlic, both minced and sauteed together in butter until soft ( I used 1 Tablespoon of butter); the tomato centers, chopped; and 3 Tablespoons of minced parsley. Stuff tomatoes, sprinkle them with fine bread crumbs, dot each one with a small piece of butter.

Bake the tomatoes in a lightly oiled baking dish in a 300 degree oven for 35 minutes. Serves six.