Monday, May 31, 2010

Red, White, and Blue...Chocolate Cupcakes and Berry Trifle

So we had a cookout on Saturday, thankfully, because it is pouring down rain today.  Here are my Red, White and Blue goodies.  I figured today would be a good day to post my patriotic dishes! 

This is my favorite chocolate cake recipe made into cupcakes, and homemade buttercream frosting.  My son Marcus requested these last minute and I can never refuse those big brown eyes!   The recipe is on my blog under cakes.


I also made a trifle.  It is layers of angel food cake, white chocolate pudding, fruit and cool whip or whipped cream.  YUM.  Always a favorite of mine!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I know you Hoosiers are saying, "what's Flan?"  Let me tell you, this is soooo delicious!  It is something that my mother-in-law, Constancia, and sister-in-law, Carmen, make look so easy and it is a definite crowd pleaser.  My in-laws are Dominican.  The food my mother-in-law can whip up without a blink is amazingly delicious.  Each of us can think of a different dish to call our favorite.  My husband, Rafael, loves flan.  Until now I have been afraid to try it.  My sister-in-law gave me her recipe a couple years ago and I filed it away under things I'd like to make (and there it stayed!).

I am so happy I got the nerve up to try this.  It is so creamy and delicious!  Unfortunately I got phone calls, kid interruptions and basic life happening when I was making this, so I have no pictures to give you the step by step.  I do, however, have the perfect recipe.  I'm going to tell you how I did it!


Flan Carmen Style

3 oz cream cheese
4 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c granulated sugar

Place eggs and cream cheese in blender.  Mix until smooth.  Add both cans of milk.  Blend for 1 minute.  Add vanilla.  Mix for an additional minute.  Let the mixture sit while making the caramelized sugar.

Put sugar in a saucepan.  Heat on low while stirring.  Sugar will crystallize.  Keep stirring until it liquefies.  Carefully pour caramelized sugar into a pie plate or 1 tsp into individual ramekins (no need to cover the whole bottom, sugar will spread while baking.)  Sugar will harden slightly.  Pour flan mixture over the sugar.  Place in a 1 inch of water and bake in a 350 degree oven.  Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool slightly (about 20 minutes).  Cover and refrigerate at least an hour (best when served very cold).  When ready to serve, run a butter knife around the edges until flan is loose and moves freely in pan.  Invert onto a pretty plate.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pork Quesadillas

I was looking for something fast and had a leftover pork tenderloin in the refrigerator.  So this is what we did.  I say "we" because my husband grated the cheese for me and made a run to the store for this and another dish I prepared.  This is a miracle people!  Rafael does NOT cook.  :)  He is usually my food taster and demolisher of food I prepare, so it was nice to have him help me a bit.  


To start, I sliced a yellow onion and got it into the skillet to caramelize.   (It usually takes about 10-12 minutes.  Just watch it and stir from time to time.)


My hubby grated the cheddar and mozzarella cheese for me on a box grater.  This is what we had on hand, so this is what we used.  I'd say about two cups of each.

While he was grating, I took a couple of forks and pulled apart the pork.  This is about one pork tenderloin (maybe a little less).

I sprinkled the two cheeses onto a whole wheat tortilla (this is where the first run to the store occurred...we needed more tortillas).  Thank you honey!  I also seasoned it with chipolte rub.

Next I layered on the pulled pork chunks.  You could easily use chicken or beef, use what you have leftover in the refrigerator.

The onions came next, and then a second tortilla on top.

Then onto the grill press.

Polenta takes no time at all to cook and is what the kids ALWAYS ask for, so I always make it!  When I make it I put in 1 1/2 c milk, 1 1/2 c chicken broth, and 1 c of polenta.  Once it thickens you can season it however you like.  I used season-all salt, pepper and some leftover grated cheese.

As the quesadillas cook on the grill press, I take the cooked ones and put them on a sheet pan in the oven at 200 degrees so they stay warm.

Serve them with your favorite toppings.  We went for sour cream, salsa and guacamole!

Here is our spread with sweet corn and polenta.  Give it a try!!!

Dig in!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chicken Skewers and Brown Rice with Peppers and Green Beans

I was thinking about some kind of fun dish that the family would enjoy eating.  They are always good eaters, thankfully, but food served on a stick is just plain FUN.  I always have chicken breast in the freezer, so I took that out, cut it up into cubes and let it thaw on the counter.  I figured it would take less time to thaw if it was cut up (and I was right!). 

I googled chicken skewers to figure out something to do with it or a new way to flavor the chicken and found a great new blog.  She used a Paula Deen recipe and wrapped them in bacon, dipped them in brown sugar and put them in the oven.  For those of you who are local, you know how hot it was yesterday, so no oven for I'm not a bacon eater.  I was thinking prosciutto wrapped chicken, but was out of prosciutto!  Oh no!  So, I figured I would try it with Canadian bacon on the indoor griddle and see what happened. 

I started a pot of brown rice and found red, yellow and green peppers pre-sliced in the freezer.  Thank you Trader Joe's.  I put them in a bowl of hot water to defrost, and got started assembling my skewers.


Here are the defrosted meat cubes.  I drained the liquid and patted them dry with paper towels, and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

I also cut Canadian bacon into slices to wrap around the chicken.

I wrapped the Canadian bacon around three of the sides and skewered about seven pieces of chicken onto the sticks (alternating ham on either side).

They were ready for grilling!

I placed them on the hot griddle to cook. 

Once I flipped them and saw the meat caramelized, I knew I had a winner.  The ham and chicken together was just what I was hoping for.

As the chicken continued to cook, I drained the peppers and added them to a large skillet to dry out the excess water. 

I added the rice to the skillet and mixed it all together.  (Again, I have no idea why some of my pictures end up sideways when they load.  Sorry!)

I served the rice and peppers on a large platter with skewers on top.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Grilled Catfish with Fried Polenta and Peas

Fish is always easy and delicious.  I had planned to cook out on the grill last night, but the rain had other plans so I used my indoor grill pan.  This recipe took no time at all. 

I cooked cheesy polenta earlier in the week and had it in a plastic square container in the fridge.  You can shape the polenta simply by storing it in the refrigerator.  In the store you can buy pre-made polenta in a log shape (by the pasta usually).  I like fresh, so it's nice to enjoy it as a creamy dish one night, and a fried dish another night.  Whatever you put your leftover creamy polenta in, it will take on that shape.  Once you take it out of whatever container you put it in, cut it into slices. 

I sliced it into individual squares and put it on a lightly sprayed griddle pan to fry.  Meanwhile, I dried the fish with paper towel and squeezed the juice of half a lemon on the fish fillets.  I heated up a grill pan to medium high heat and seasoned the catfish with salt and lemon-pepper rub.

The fillets cooked about 5 minutes on each side until fish became opaque.

The polenta was ready to flip.  Notice the browning that happens when you fry it.  It gives it a whole new texture than the creamy polenta.  My boys always love polenta no matter how I cook it.  If you haven't tried it, go for it.  I buy the Bob's Red Mill brand from Stracks, but get what you can find.  I think they carry it at Meijer too.

Serve with steamed peas and enjoy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lemon-Parsley Pork Chops with Sliced Potatoes and Broccoli

Here is a new way to try your pork chops.  I like them baked, grilled, pan seared, you name it...pork chops are just yummy!  This is a recipe I tried the other night that you and your family may enjoy.  I got it from Every Day Food's Great Food Fast cookbook. 

Season boneless skinless pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet and sear both sides on a hot flame.  Add a 1/2 cup of water to the pan and put on the lid.  Turn down to a simmer and cook pork through (8-10 minutes).


Slice 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes and place into a microwavable bowl.  I use a micro-cooker with holes on top to release steam.  Add water to cover and microwave about 14 minutes.

In a small bowl add the zest of one lemon, two tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 

Remove the pork chops from the skillet and all lemon zest mixture to the pan and cook for about one minute.  Add pork back into the pan and turn off the burner. 


In another bowl juice one lemon (use the one zested) and use a garlic press to press one clove into the bowl.  While whisking, drizzle 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil to make a dressing for the potatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 


Drain potatoes and drizzle with olive oil mixture to serve. 


Place pork chops onto a platter and drizzle pan drippings with lemon zest mixture on top. 



Serve with freshly steamed broccoli.

I changed the recipe a little bit, but here is the original recipe online:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spinach, Turkey and Havarti Wrap

Here was my quick and easy lunch the other day.  It doesn't take long to make and it is completely satisfying.  Here is how I made it:


Spread a whole wheat tortilla with one wedge Laughing Cow Light cheese.

Add two slices of your favorite lunch meat.  Or a couple of kinds if you like more meat on your wrap.  I used turkey.

Make one layer of baby spinach and add your cheese of choice.  I used Havarti.

Roll it up and slice it in half.  Ready to eat out the door or enjoy at home!  Great for picnics too!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grilled Salmon with Quionoa Salad and Hericot Verts

I love salmon!  My family does too.  It's really easy to cook and it tastes delicious.  This meal was made quickly and made everyone happy.  Those of you asking how I get my 5 and 9 year olds to eat all of these foods....they have no choice.  I follow the eat it or eat nothing and if you stick to it, it actually works.  They may refuse a day or two, but once they know the drill, then they just eat their dinner.  Yes, it is easily said, but I'm telling you, if you do it, it works.

Back to the meal!  For the salmon, I heat my indoor grill pan to a medium heat.  I don't add oil to the pan since it is an oily fish.  I seasoned the fish with a dill seasoning, salt and pepper. 

I usually start the fish skin side down, but the kids distracted me and I did flesh side first.  It's fine either way.  Once the skin side cooks, you pull off the skin and then can flip it back to get grill marks on both sides of the fish.

Five minutes per side is all it takes to cook the salmon completely through.

This is great served with green beans or another green veggie.  (We had these leftover from the other night, so I just reheated them in the microwave.)

Another favorite dish which I have posted on this blog since I started is the Quinoa Black Bean Salad.  My kids always request it and it is delicious either hot or cold.  This time I attempted adding red pepper flakes (just a pinch) and they didn't even notice.

It usually has cherry tomatoes sliced in it, but I used them up with my stuffed meatballs over the weekend, so I used sundried tomatoes.  (Check out that recipe!  It's super yummy too.) 


You can also grill the salmon on the outdoor grill, as well as the green beans.  I love grilled green beans.  If you have never tried it, you are missing out!