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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cuban Steak Sandwich and Broccoli Salad

So I mentioned in an earlier post this morning that I was not going to attempt grocery shopping in the rain today. Well, I did it anyway. My need to have food in the house superseded my need to stay dry and warm. So another week or two worth of menus are planned out and ready to go. Tonight I made Cuban Steak Sandwiches with a side of broccoli salad. I must say that even though I don't care for red meat too much, this sandwich tasted really good. The marinade  that  goes on the meat has a great citrus (lime) flavor and the cilantro and the basil add a pleasant mix to the flavors. The broccoli salad is a side dish I used to make a long time ago and hadn't made it in years. I forgot how good it was. I substituted fat free mayo and made it a little lighter and healthier.
Cuban Steak Sandwich
1 1/2 lb flank steak
1 cup olive oil
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley, not the curly kind)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
5 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp salt
1 loaf ciabatta bread
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Place the olive oil, cilantro, basil, parsley, lime juice, garlic and salt in a blender. Mix until smooth. Reserve 1/2 a cup of the mixture for later. Place meat into a large gallon size baggie or into a container you can marinade in. Pour the remaining blended mixture over the meat. Marinade for at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375. Slice Ciabatta in half lengthwise.
Remove the meat from marinade and discard the marinade. Heat a grill to med-high and grill until medium rare, about 4-5 minutes on each side. ( I cooked mine longer as John does not like rare meat). Remove from heat and cover with foil to allow the meat to rest.
Place bread directly on oven rack and toast for about 5 minutes.
Cook onions in 1 Tbsp olive oil, just  until they start to turn brown, but are still crispy. (about 1 minute)
Remove the onions from heat and season with salt to taste.
Take the reserved olive oil/herb  mixture and brush both sides of the halves of toasted bread. Slice steak thinly and place on the bottom half of the bread. Top with onions and then remaining half of bread. Slice into quarters and serve.

Broccoli Salad

2 bunches fresh broccoli florets
1 cup salted sunflower seeds
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup bacon bits

Mix the first four ingredients into a large bowl.

1 cup mayo ( I use non fat)
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Blend the dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix well.

Soft Pretzels

Wow, it's been almost a week since I posted anything on my blog. It was busy around here with Christmas. I woke up early this morning and realized there are not very many groceries left in this house, which is very unusual for me and I have no intentions on going grocery shopping in the rain today. So we will make due with some meat in the freezer and a few vegetables we have left. Since I am tired of snacking on "sweets and goodies" from Christmas I decided to tackle a not so sweet snack for today. These soft pretzels were super easy to make and require very few ingredients. As I was rolling the dough out I couldn't help but feel like a kid again rolling play dough.
Soft Pretzels

1/4 oz pkg active dry yeast
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
5 cups flour
8 cups water
3 Tbsp baking soda
Coarse salt

1. Preheat oven to 475. Grease baking sheets
2. Combine yeast and brown sugar in large bowl. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups warm water, stirring until yeast is dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes.
3. Stir in flour. Blend well. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic,
about 5-10 min.
4. Pinch off a ball of dough and form a ball. On lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a rope and shape into a pretzel. (makes approx 12 pretzels)

5. Combine 8 cups water and baking soda in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lift pretzels with a spatula and drop them into boiling water a couple at a time. Boil until pretzels rise to the surface, about one minute.
6. Place pretzels on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt if desired. Bake at 475 for 8 minutes.
Serve warm!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

English Toffee

Well I am officially done baking and making candies to prepare for Christmas. Now if I can just stay out of them until company arrives. ;)
This morning was a great day baking in the kitchen. The house was quiet except for some music playing in the background. Worshiping and baking, can't beat that when it happens together!

This is a great recipe for English Toffee. So easy to make and oh so yummy....

Here is the Paula Deen recipe for this candy...

Crock Pot Meatballs

I'm sure many of you already have made or have tasted these crock pot meatballs. They are a pretty standard recipe that everyone seems to know and love. I decided to post it anyway, just in case someone wanted something for an easy appetizer that is always a hit. The ingredients sound like they wouldn't go together, but they really do and they taste GREAT!

1 bag frozen meatballs (any brand will work, even turkey works, but just make sure it's original flavor)
1 large jar grape jelly
1 jar chili sauce (this is sold by the ketchup and the seafood cocktail sauce in most stores)

Place frozen meatballs, chili sauce and jelly in a crock pot. Turn the crock pot onto high. Cook for approx. 3-5 hours or until heated all the way through. Stir occasionally to mix the jelly and chili sauce together. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

I'm sure all of you already know how to make this, but it's super easy and a pretty addition to a Christmas "goodie" tray. Just melt some white chocolate and crush up candy canes in your food processor! Spread the white chocolate out and toss the candy cane crumbs and powder onto the top and let it harden.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


As you know, I have been making home made caramels over the past few weeks. Today I took the easy way out and bought a block of caramel at the candy store by my house. I came home and used heart shaped cookie cutters and round cutters and cut them into cute shapes. Then I dipped them in dark chocolate and white chocolate. Some I left plain for people that don't like the extra sweetness added. I threw a few toppings on and voila....a varietey of caramels!!

Chocolate Dipped Chili Mango

Just when I thought I would be done making candies and baking for the holiday season, I decided to make some more home made goodies for Christmas day with my family. Brianna came over today and helped me with these. We had fun making them, but it sure would have been easier if the baby took a nap! ;)

For these, I bought chili mango at the store and just dipped the ends in dark chocolate and drizzled white chocolate over the top. YUMMY!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tilapia with Garlic, White Wine and Butter Sauce

I'm in my office at home listening to the pouring rain and watching as red Christmas lights flicker on a house in the distance. The pool is about a half inch from overflowing and my dogs sit looking through the window in anticipation of playing outside again on a sunny day. They will have to wait awhile.

This morning as I got ready to lay out meat for our dinner tonight, I had every intention on just making a good old chicken stir fry. I haven't been making as much seafood lately and I was craving a good seafood dish. So after  having a tuna sandwich for lunch, I decided to make seafood for dinner also. I have so many seafood recipes, but I wanted to try something new. I searched the internet for a good recipe to try and found one that sounded really good. I combined it with a vegetable stir fry and I was so pleased with how it all turned out. This is a recipe keeper and I hope to make it again very soon!


  • 2 lemons
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine
  • 1 shallot or onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature


  • 2 (8 ounce) white fish fillets (or tilapia)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground


  1. Juice both lemons and set aside. In a small pot, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, wine, shallot and garlic.
  2. Cook over high heat until reduced to half. Remove from heat, cool slightly. When lemon mixture is warm, cut in butter and whisk together. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Brush fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill fish for 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and fish flakes easily with a fork.
  4. Place fish in plates and top with lemon butter sauce. Serve immediately over warm pasta or with shrimp instead of fish, if you prefer.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cranberry Pineapple Yams

I found two yams left in  my refrigerator that really were asking to be used before they expired. I contemplated just making the good ole holiday yams, but then the side of me that likes to experiment kicked in. I boiled the yams, then mashed them with a little bit of butter, some whipping cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cranberry juice and pineapple juice. I also took some dried cranberries and coated them in flour (in order to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the dish) and tossed those into the mashed mixture. I baked them until they were heated through, then I put mini marshmallows over the top of them and stuck them under the broiler until they were golden brown. Voila...a new sweet potato dish that I really like!! Sometimes my experiments surprise even me ;)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Red Cabbage and Mango Slaw

Last night I didn't get home until really late in the evening. I was hungry and needed to throw something together quickly. I found a recipe for a red cabbage and mango slaw that was easy and healthy. I ate a few quick bites of it last night and liked it, but it's much better today after the flavors have sat overnight. I think if I make this again I will add A LOT more mango, extra lime juice and maybe zip it up with some extra seasonings of some kind, but it's extremely light and refreshing. John really liked it also.

1 head red cabbage, halved and finely shredded (about 8 cups)
1 tsp salt
1 large mango ( I would suggest using 2)
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and toss it with the salt, using your hands to press down firmly on the cabbage to encourage the cabbage to release some of it's moisture and better absorb the salt. Transfer the cabbage to a colander and let it sit for 20 minutes to drain. 
Using paper towels squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cabbage and place it into a large clean bowl. Toss with the mangoes, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar and sugar. Let the slaw sit at room temp for 15 minutes  before serving. ( I suggest letting it sit overnight in the fridge)

Christmas Desserts

Being in my kitchen baking or cooking brings me such a sense of comfort and peace. Not the kind of comfort and peace that Jesus brings me, but it's still a great feeling! This morning I awoke early with the thoughts of baking for our early Christmas gathering tomorrow. Where do I start? Which dessert do I bake first? How many do I tackle at once? With all these questions running through my head, I decided to tackle my Christmas Tree Brownies first. I got them baked and cooling off on the counter top while I prepared my home made fleur de sel caramel candies. Once the caramels were cut and on the tray, I began to put together my Peanut Butter Truffles. These were fairly easy, but time consuming while I waited for the mixture to cool to a "rollable" consistency. Now I'm taking a break from the kitchen to type this, before I go tackle my pumpkin for tomorrow and one for a friend at work who wants to buy one. I have decided that I definitely need to invest in a good apron as I am sitting here typing this looking like I've been dipped in chocolate! ;)

These are my Christmas Tree Brownies

This is a picture of my Peanut Butter Truffles dipped in various toppings....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

Today we had our Christmas pot luck at work. I signed up to bring a dessert. Since I had never made an ice cream cake, I thought it would be fun to try. I loved the taste of this dessert, but next time I will definitely try to make the crust thinner as the cookies got to thick around the inside bottom of the crust and it was kind of difficult to cut through. The candy brittle on the top was fun to make and made for a nice design, but next time I think I will just sprinkle some crushed candy canes or starlight mints on the top and save all the hard work and effort that went into the candy brittle.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fiesta Shrimp Skewers with Cool Cilantro Dip and Apple Charlottes for dessert

Today we got our Christmas tree. I would love to tell you that I put on Christmas music, made hot cocoa and put on my favorite winter sweater and scarf, but that would be far from the truth. Instead, we got home with our tree, I quickly changed into a tank top and shorts. I guzzled some ice water to cool off from our trek out in the 85 degree weather and felt like I should be playing some Beach Boys surfer music in the background while I hung ornaments. Gotta love a Southern California Christmas! Anyway, I decided to make a light refreshing dinner tonight to "beat the heat." I made Fiesta Shrimp Skewers over brown rice and made Apple Charlottes for dessert. This was my first time making Apple Charlottes and I really thought they were yummy! I have made the shrimp skewers before and we always love those.

Fiesta Shrimp Skewers
1 lb large shrimp (approx 24)
1/2 cup Newcastle Amber Ale
1/2 tsp shredded lime peel
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 fresh Poblano peppers, seeded and cut into pieces for skewer
2 limes, cut for skewer

Peel Shrimp. Rinse shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. Place shrimp into a plastic bag that is set into a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine ale, lime peel, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, cumin, red pepper and garlic. Stir together and pour into bag containing shrimp. Marinate for 30-60 minutes, turning the bag occasionally. Drain the shrimp but reserve the marinade. Onto a metal skewer (or if you use wood skewers make sure you soak them thoroughly, 30 min. in water before placing over the fire) thread alternately, shrimp, poblano pieces and lime pieces. Brush with the reserved marinade. Discard any unused marinade. Grill the skewers for 8-10 minutes on your grill or until shrimp turn opaque. Turn them once while cooking. Serve with cool cilantro dip. *Recipe following
** I didn't want to grill tonight so I placed my skewers into my broiler set on high. They cooked in approx 6 minutes.

Cool Cilantro Dip

8 ounce carton light sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp salsa
1/2 tsp shredded lime peel
1 garlic clove, minced

Stir dip ingredients in a bowl until mixed thoroughly. Cover and chill for at least until ready to serve.

Apple Charlottes

This is the link to the Apple Charlotte recipe. It was a really good dessert and fairly easy to put together. I will definitely make these again!!

Here is a link to a "how to" site for the Apple Charlottes

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Well, I did it! I cheated and used a boxed cake mix and a tub of store bought frosting. Somehow I feel like I've committed a crime haha. I never use boxed mixes or store bought frosting, but I've had these sitting in my house for quite awhile now. I bought it on a whim one day when cake mixes were on sale for one dollar along with the frosting being one dollar! So I decided to do a little something different than just bake a dark chocolate cake. I like chocolate and peppermint together, so after I whipped up the cake mix, I added some peppermint flavoring to the batter. I baked them, cooled them off and then stirred more peppermint flavoring into the tub of frosting. After they were frosted, I drizzled melted choc chips (with a very small amount of oil stirred in) over the tops. Shake some pink sugar over the top and you are finished! I took them to my neighbors house so their grandkids and great grandkids could enjoy them. I think that's what I love about cooking and baking the most is giving it all to other people to enjoy!

Italian Stromboli

Mi piace cucinare!! ( I love to cook), but you probably already guessed that by now. Have you ever thought that cooking Italian food required too many skills and too much time? Not Stromboli. I got this recipe from a friend at a Bible Study years ago. If you want to make an extremely easy Italian meal for dinner....try this recipe for a quick and easy Italian dinner. This requires almost no cooking skills. If you like pizza, you should love this!! If you try it, let me know what you think!

1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
2 Tbsp flour
24 slices pepperoni (the large sliced that the deli slices for you at the grocery store)
6 slices provolone (also from the deli, sliced for you)
6 slices cappicola (Italian hot ham, also sliced for you at the deli)
8 slices Genoa Salami
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp Italian seasoning blend
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400. Break open the tube of pizza dough and remove it from container. Dust your hands lightly with flour. Coat work surface with a dusting of flour and place dough on work surface.. Stretch dough out, gently, spreading out the rectangle shape it has been formed into already. Cut the dough into four equal pieces by cutting the dough in half and then in half the other direction. Cover each piece of dough with 6 slices of pepperoni, 1 1/2 slices cheese, 1 1/2 slices cappicola ham, and 2 slices of Genoa Salami. Roll each piece at an angle from corner to corner, making a long roll that is thicker in the middle and thinner on each end.
In a bowl, mix together sesame seeds, Italian seasoning, Parmesan or Romano Cheese,  red pepper flakes and garlic powder.
Brush each roll lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle seed mixture onto the top of each roll. Gently push the seed mixture onto roll so it will stick. Bake until evenly golden, 12-14 minutes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

Today my mom and daughter are coming over to help us decorate our home for Christmas. I was awake at 4:00 and couldn't sleep, so what better to do except bake to have something for my company today. I made these mini peanut butter cheesecakes. They turned out really good. I am going to take a few to work and test them out on fellow employees. I'm sure they won't mind! ;)

Here is the link to the recipe I found online.

* I had to adapt some on this recipe. I couldn't find the kind of cookies that the recipe calls for, so I bought Mothers fudge filled cookies and threw some peanut butter into the food processor along with them. I also added butter to the crust mixture because I thought it was too dry.

Monday, December 6, 2010

French Banana Pancakes

Breakfast for dinner? That's a funny concept since I don't even eat too many breakfast foods at breakfast time. But....tonight, after a long day of work, exercise, errands etc, I decided to make something quick and easy. I love pancakes, but I thought that these French Banana Pancakes would be awesome! I was right!! John loved them too. They might not be the healthiest thing on my menu at home for the week, but hey it's got a fresh banana in each one....that makes up for all the bad stuff, right?  ;)

1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup light cream
5-6 firm bananas, halved lengthwise

Whipped cream and additional cinnamon, optional

Sift flour and powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Add milk, eggs, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth. Heat a greased 6 inch skillet over med-high heat. Pour in approximately 1/4 cup batter. Swirl to cover bottom of pan. Cook until lightly browned. Flip with spatula and brown the other side. Remove to a plate or wire rack. Spray Pam in skillet after each pancake is removed, to grease it for the next one. Repeat with remaining batter until all pancakes are made.

For filling: melt butter in a small saucepan.l Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in cream and cook until slightly thickened. Add half a banana at a time to the skillet, heat for 2-3 minutes, spooning sauce over them. Remove from heat. Roll a pancake around each banana and place on serving tray. Spoon extra sauce over top of pancakes. Top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon if desired.