Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rightside up....

Mr. Lucky loves pineapple. He'll eat it plain, on pizza or in cake. I finally got it together and made him the pineapple upside down cakes I have been talking about.  I got the recipe from Big Mama's Home Kitchen which I probably found through Pinterest.  (Don't get me started on Pinterest, I am completely addicted!!!)

I made these in jumbo muffin pans because that's how she did it in the original recipe and my cast iron skillet was occupied by a couple of rib-eye steaks.  I gotta work with what I have, right?

Here is the recipe:

That's brown sugar in the silver canister.
Cake Ingredients:

2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
4 Tbsp pineapple juice
2/3 C all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Topping:

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 can pineapple rings
6 maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. 


In a mixing bowl, add eggs, white sugar, and pineapple juice.  Beat for 2 minutes.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the wet ingredients and turn mixer back on for 2 minutes. 

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar.  Stir on low heat for one minute.

Spoon a layer of the warm brown sugar mixture into the bottom of each muffin tin, then place a pineapple ring on top.  Add a cherry in the middle of each pineapple.    

My cherries were kinda wimpy, they didn't fill up the center of the pineapple.
Pour cake mixture over to fill muffin tin 3/4 of the way full.  Bake cakes for 25 minutes. I baked mine for 22 minutes at 325 because I am at what is considered high altitude but I will probably bake them for the full 25 minutes next time. If you choose to make a large cake, bake for 22-25 minutes in a 10 inch cast iron skillet.  The cake is done with a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.


Remove from the oven.  Let cool in pan for 3 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of each cake to help loosen in case it sticks a little.  Place a wire cooling rack on top, and quickly flip over on top of sheet tray to catch extra drippings.


I turned them out right on to the platter hoping they'd be a little more "syrupy".  I think leaving them in the oven for those extra few minutes will fix that next time.  

I have never had homemade pineapple upside down cake before I made these.  I will NEVER get store bought again.  These were DELICIOUS!  They were really easy too.  This recipe is definitely a keeper, it will most definitely be made again.  

Tomorrow I am thinking about making lime butter cookies.  I also have all the stuff to make some old school rice pudding. Brownies are never a bad idea either.  I am not sure yet what will win out.

Talk with you soon!

 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Citrus Twist....

To go along with the macaroons that I posted about yesterday I made some ruby red grapefruit bars, think lemon bars with a twist.  I used my tried and true recipe for lemon bars that I got from my King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.  If you make a lot of cookies or want to make a lot of cookies get this book.  It has great recipes and tons of tips and tricks.  I also love that they provide recipe variations which are helpful if you want something new but are kinda stuck for ideas. 

Here is the recipe:

Isn't that grapefruit gorgeous?  Can fruit be gorgeous? I think so!
Crust:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Topping:
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit juice (1 large grapefruit)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp. grated grapefruit zest
Confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x9 inch, 11x7 inch or similar sized pan.
 
To make the crust:
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.  Using a pastry blender, your fingers or a mixer, cut in the butter, mixing it to form coarse crumbs. Press the crumbs into the prepared pan. 


Back the crust for 20 minutes, or until it's light brown.

To make the topping: 
In a medium sized bowl, beat together the eggs, granulated sugar and grapefruit juice until smooth.  Stir in the flour, salt and grapefruit zest. 



Pour the topping over the hot crust.

I beat the mixture too much and it got a bit bubbly. Don't make my mistake.
Return the pan to the oven, and continue baking for about 25 minutes, or until the top of the squares appears set.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan.  Sprinkle with the Confectioner's sugar just before cutting and serving.


This is pre-Confectioner's sugar.  I forgot to take that picture.
So, there you have it.  I didn't get to try this but a little birdie told me that they were very well received.  I plan to make them again very soon.  I did buy two of those gorgeous grapefruit(s).  I can't wait actually.

I have not decided what I am going to make next.  It'll be a surprise for you and me. 

Talk with you soon!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sharing is caring....

Mr. Lucky and I have made a deal.  He will buy all the ingredients I need if I make treats for him to bring in to work every other Friday.  How could I say no?  I am loving cooking in this kitchen!  I also love sharing what I cook with everyone. 

Today was a treat day.  I made two different goodies but we'll just talk about one of them now, coconut macaroons.  I am not a great fan of coconut but I love macaroons.  This recipe is super easy, has only five ingredients and is also gluten free.

Here is the recipe:

Ignore the sugar, it was for another recipe. It snuck in the picture.


14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature (That's what is in the white bowl in the picture)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.

When all the ingredients are the same color they don't photograph well.
Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks.


Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons.


Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.


These were so, so, so good!  Moist, chewy, not overly coconutty (or coconut-y?).  Best of all they were easy.  I like easy! 

Next up are the Ruby red grapefruit bars that went with Mr. Lucky along with the macaroons. 

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Change of plans....

We finished up our grocery shopping tonight and my hopes of finding blood oranges again were dashed.  They must have been a one time thing.  I am kinda sad.  I might have to check out Whole Foods. 

So, in place of the blood oranges I got some ruby red grapefruit.  Those will make some yummy bars.  I also got some limes because they were on sale.  I am thinking of making some lime butter cookies.  I have made them with lemons and oranges before and they are delicious! 

Lots of baking this week.  I am glad the temperatures are going to drop.  Having the oven on all day when it is close to 100 degrees outside is no fun!

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'm still here....

Just wanted to say hi!  My oven has been cold this week but we're going shopping tomorrow to fill up the fridge and pantry.

This week I am planning to make pineapple upside down cakes, coconut macaroons and by special request, some blood orange bars (think lemon bars minus the lemon). 

Stay tuned!!

Talk to you soon.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Challenges....

A few weeks ago I told you about the cupcakes we brought to Mr. Lucky's work.  At that time a request was made for something gluten free.  I have never made anything gluten free before.  It wasn't a consideration I had ever had to make.  Nut allergies, yes, gluten intolerance, no but I am always up for a challenge.

After some internet searching I decided to make Buckeyes.  I got the recipe on from All recipes.  They actually had quite a few gluten free recipes to choose from.

Here is the recipe:


1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups confectioners' sugar
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, confectioner's sugar and vanilla.  The dough will look dry. 
Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as a handle for the dipping) and chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. 
In case you don't know what a double boiler is

Stir frequently until smooth.

Just starting to melt





Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate holding on to the toothpick.  Leave a small portion of the peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like Buckeyes.  Put back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until serving.
I halved this recipe because it would have made way too many.  Even after I cut it in half I ended up with over 40.  
As you can see, I had some dipping issues so they do not look like Buckeyes at all.  These turned into plain old chocolate peanut butter balls.  I forgot to insert the toothpicks so I used my regular truffle dipping tools.

I used the 2 pronged fork for these.

I even had some chocolate left over to make some chocolate dipped strawberries. I love them! 


I am not planning much cooking for the next few days.  Mr. Lucky and I have filled up our weekend.  We'll see what next week brings.  I am thinking about pineapple upside down cakes and coconut macaroons.  Any suggestions?

Talk to you soon!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fungi....

I love to cook mushrooms.  Nothing fancy, just plain old button mushrooms.  They are easy to find, inexpensive, and can be added to so many dishes or just made as a side.  The other night I made them as a side to go with chicken cutlets. 

Here is the recipe:

On the left is the olive oil my uncle sent me from Italy!
8 oz. Button mushrooms
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/8 cup Olive Oil
1/4 tsp dried Thyme
1/4 tsp dried Sage
1 Tbsp fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper to taste
Balsamic Vinegar, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the mushrooms into quarters.


 Mix the olive oil, garlic and herbs in a medium bowl.


Add the mushroom pieces and stir to coat.  Pour the mixture into an oven safe dish.


Bake for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the Balsamic vinegar.


I could not believe how delicious these tasted.  They were so easy and all the ingredients were in my pantry.  I will be making these again very soon.  I bet they'll be great with a steak. Yum!

Next up, chocolate peanut butter balls or what should have been Buckeyes. 

Talk to you soon!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tourists....

Mr. Lucky and I have been going to Las Vegas for twelve years.  Our very first vacation together was to Vegas and we even got married there almost 7 years ago.  One of the few touristy things that we still do every trip is going to see the botanical garden at Bellagio.  They change the display seasonally and it always impresses.

Here are some of the pictures I took:
Spherical fountain, very cool!

Bee made of dried flowers with silk wings

The yellow and red poppies are glass.

How cute are these ladybugs?

The lighthouse reminded me of New England.

Hot air balloons

A Monet made from dried flowers and moss. So pretty!

Mossy frog! I loved this one.

Cranes made from flowers.





















































































































 After seeing the garden we went in search of a snack.  What we found was Jean Philippe Patisserie. Wow!  This place was amazing.  They have made to order crepes, gelato, sandwiches, and the most incredible pastries you have ever seen.  They also have the world's largest chocolate fountain.  It is incredible!

I was completely plagued with indecision! I couldn't narrow it down so I ended up getting two of the pastries.  Yes, two, don't judge!  You wouldn't have been able to choose either. I got a raspberry tart and a cheesecake with raspberries. Amazing, awesome, delicious and every other adjective you can think of. Mr. Lucky got two scoops of gelato, one scoop of chocolate and one of hazelnut.  He loved it!

Here are some of the (hundreds) of pictures I took there:

Pastries...

Pastries....

More pastries

And some more pastries... I had the hardest time choosing!

Chocolate Wedding cake favors. So so cute!

One of my choices: Raspberry Tart

This was the cheesecake, enrobed in white chocolate.

The inside of the raspberry tart, pistachio & raspberry cream.

Cheesecake disrobed.  The best I've ever had!

















































































































I cannot wait to go back here!  The cheesecake was the literally the best I have ever had, including my blue ribbon award winning recipe.  They also have gorgeously decorated cakes, chocolate and sugar showpieces on display and lots of packaged treats to take home.

I highly recommend a visit to the botanical garden and Jean Philippe if you go to Las Vegas.  And if you go let me know, maybe we'll be there too.

Next up, roasted mushrooms!

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sans raisins....

Mr. Lucky and I just returned from a gorgeous weekend in Las Vegas.  We love Las Vegas.  So much so that we got married there almost 7 years ago.  This little trip was to celebrate my birthday.  Now that we live within driving distance we'll be there more often.  Yay!  We were also able to go to dinner and spend some time with a good friend of ours who now lives in Las Vegas, Mr. D. 

We had dinner at the BEST Italian restaurant I have ever been to, Casa di Amore.  Mr. D introduced us to this amazing place on our last visit and we plan to make a visit every time we go down from now on.  The food is delicious and authentic, the atmosphere is definitely old Vegas, the service is excellent and they have live entertainment every night. They will even send a limo to your hotel to pick you up and bring you back so go ahead and order a bottle of wine.  Going to Vegas?  Go to Casa di Amore, you will love it.

On to the point of this post. Back around Christmas time I told Mr. D I would make him some oatmeal cookies without raisins, he's not a fan.  I finally made them. I used the same recipe my mom always used.  The one from the top of the Quaker Oats container except for the raisins of course.

Here is the recipe from Quaker Oats:


1/2  cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2  cup granulated sugar
2  eggs
1  teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking soda
1  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2  teaspoon salt (optional)
3  cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1  cup raisins

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy.

 
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.


Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.


Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.





The recipe claims to make 4 dozen cookies.  I think I made mine a bit bigger than that, I got about two and a half dozen.

I love raisins but these were still pretty good.  You could also use chocolate chips and even some nuts.  I am hoping that Mr. D liked them.  I am also wondering what treat he'd like me to make him next.   

Next up, all about our visit to Jean Pierre Chocolates at the Bellagio.

Talk to you soon!