Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Cherry Cheesecakes

For our company Christmas e-card this year, we collected holiday recipes and traditions from staff members to share. As much as my son loves cheesecake, I knew I would try these Merry Cherry Cheesecakes first! (See all of our fabulous recipes here.)

4 8-oz blocks cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Nilla Wafers
Aluminum-foil-lined cups
Cherries

Beat cream cheese through vanilla extract together until smooth. Place foil cups in cupcake pan and place Nilla Wafer in bottom. Fill cups 2/3 full with cheesecake mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Put one cherry on top and let cool. Refrigerate. Makes about 32 cupcakes.

I used the basic cheesecake recipe but alternated Double Stuff Oreos (halved) with Nilla Wafers. I also drizzled caramel and Heath toffee bits on top of some and cherry pie filling on top of others. I left some plain too. If you use the basic recipe, you can finish them off anyway you like!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chicken & Waffles

In the October issue of Food Network magazine, they suggested readers celebrate Columbus Day with a fun brunch of Chicken & Waffles. I have no idea what Columbus Day has to do with Chicken & Waffles, I will admit, but they suggested using corn muffin mix for the waffles...and a light bulb went off in my head. (Plus I was looking for something to do with leftover fried chicken from the Piggly Wiggly after the in-laws sent us home with the extra after a Saturday lunchtime visit.)

In the South, Chicken & Waffles can be found often on the brunch menu, but most serve them with regular breakfast waffles. I have never understood the appeal of putting a piece of fried chicken on top of a regular waffle. But when the light bulb in my head turned on, it reminded me of all of the times my son has requested cornbread or corn muffins with syrup. Now fried chicken with cornbread is a good idea any day.


I didn't have any corn muffin mix, so I just made my favorite corn bread recipe (from the back of Aunt Jemima cornmeal). 


I warmed up the leftover fried chicken in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.


I cooked the waffles just I would normally. I did have to add a little extra milk to make the cornbread batter a bit more like the consistency of waffle batter.


Voila! Chicken & Waffles. (So good my son even ate the fourth waffle with no syrup at all!) NOW will never have to think about what I'll be doing with leftover chicken in the future again!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Poke Salad Update: Two Hot Tamales

I will use this (sometimes) daily update to collect all of the interesting things I found throughout the day (for work and play). It's my own recipe, but, as always, I hope you find it tasty too! (Eat your greens. They're good for you!)



Betty Lynn Cameron, Main Street Greenville Executive Director and Delta Hot Tamale Festival Coordinator, swears you can't say the words "hot tamale" without smiling. She convinced me of it this weekend.

In 2012, Greenville held its inaugural hot tamale festival. In 2013, it was officially declared the Hot Tamale Capital of the World. But my husband and I took a birthday trip in December of 2010 to try Scott's Hot Tamales - not knowing the infamy to come for our food trek. I had read an article in Southern Living about Scott's Hot Tamales and wanted a road trip for our birthday weekend, so we took off.



In addition to hot tamales, we were in search of every thrift store, flea market and secondhand store we could find on the way. Once we got to Greenville and started hitting the thrift stores, folks would as where we were from and why we were visiting. I'd tell them the Scott's Hot Tamales story. And every time, someone would point me to some other tamale place that REALLY had the best hot tamales but that would never make Southern Living. Some regular stop-in stores and some along the lines of "Go to the house at the end of the street. Turn left and go down a dirt road. Knock on the door three times and ask for Ralph." Before this trip, I had no idea tamales were such a big deal in the Delta. I had had my share of tamales with knock-you-naked margaritas on the patio at Fat Mama's (and did right before this trip too).



I came back from the trip and immediately started googling hot tamales and the Delta. At the time, I found a Delta Hot Tamale Trail was in the works and learned a little about the history of the tamale in the Delta.



The Southern Foodways Alliance says Greenville has more hot tamale restaurants and/or food stations than any other city in Mississippi! So, of course, I had to add visiting the Delta Hot Tamale Festival to my must-do list.



Because I heart hot tamales, the Mississippi Delta and Greenville!

(OK, OK. AND a knock-you-naked margarita with a hot tamale on Fat Mama's patio!)

Regardless of where you get your tamales, remember they freeze very well. Buy extra and stash them away!

I have added making my own hot tamales from scratch to my culinary to-do list this year. I'll have to report back on my experiments! Subscribe to my Poke Salad (Sometimes) Daily Updates and read past updates here.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Teddy's Ice Box Pie Ice Cream


As a follow up to my Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream, I decided to try and duplicate another family favorite, Lemon Icebox Pie, in ice cream form. And I had a bit of a Eureka moment when I passed the lemon curd in the grocery store. (Eureka!) In my grocery story, lemon curd is found by the pie fillings.

Of all of the ice creams I have made so far, THIS is my favorite. The lemon curd makes the ice cream smooth and creamy and very lemony. The Teddy Grahams are perfect in the ice cream (and cute too!).

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 jar lemon curd
1/2 box of Teddy Grahams (or more or less, to taste)

Mix together the whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk and lemon curd in mixer on very low speed (just enough to blend). Add to ice cream maker. Add Teddy Grahams about 5 minutes before ice cream is through.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pimento Cheese Biscuits


I will admit that Belinda Ellis is a culinary genius, but I think even she will give me that it's pretty hard to go wrong by combining biscuits and pimento cheese!

This recipe was in Garden and Gun magazine - and I knew I had to make it as soon as I saw it.

I think the biscuits taste just like cheese straws. My son said he thought they tasted like hushpuppies (and even dipped them in ketchup...I would complain but he gets that from his grandfather so it makes me smile). My husband said just make more.

Luckily, there are many more biscuits to try from Belinda's mad genius in her Biscuits: A Savor the South cookbook.

And Belinda KNOWS biscuits. She has worked 20-plus years as test kitchen and marketing manager for White Lily flour. (And, yes, Ms. Ellis, my Grandma Annie taught me how to make biscuits. The trick, she insisted, was touching the biscuits with your fingers as little as possible. She cut cold butter in with a knife and a fork. She insisted that you wanted the cold butter to melt in the oven, not on your fingers. Biscuits were one of the first things I learned to cook. I never knew they were considered "hard" to make by some until I got older!)

When I made the pimento cheese biscuits, I shaped some like more traditional biscuits lightly with my fingers. Some I just dropped with the spoon. (Those would be great on top of soup like a gigantic crouton. You could drop them by teaspoon if you wanted them to be closer to normal size.) But these would make great breakfast sandwiches too, and I would want the ones shaped more like a biscuit for those!

Here's a few more of Belinda's biscuits recipes. (Trust me. After tasting these, you'll want ALL of them!)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Coast Seafood Trail ending in August


The Mississippi Gulf Seafood Trail is a campaign encouraging Coast restaurants to promote fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. It started in June and ends on August 14.

 Established by the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, the trail kicked off the "Summer of Seafood 2014" with over 40 restaurants.

After too many years away from the Gulf Coast, when I think of a seafood trail I think of all the miles I drive down there and back to Jackson to get my stash of oysters, Gulf shrimp, and, amazingly, cocktail crab claws. (I say amazingly only because I can't believe with a Fresh Market AND a Whole Foods in the Jackson metro area, I cannot get the cocktail crab claws that are sitting at Rouse's or Winn Dixie on the Coast. I also have to drive to get Barq's in a bottle, but that's another story.)

These cocktail crab claws are the best summer appetizer. They taste even better on the back of a boat. They are super simple and they will make everyone think you are a gourmet chef without even trying.

Get one Ziploc bag. Get one container of cocktail crab claws. (I've only seen them in one size.) Get one bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing. Pour the claws and the dressing into the Ziploc bag. Marinate overnight. Pour the claws into a colander the next day, allowing the excess dressing to drip off. Put back in bag.

Voila! Folks will be beating a seafood trail to your door for another bite! Promise!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned...


...but it was sooooo worth it!

Somehow, we ended up having Sonic night at our house tonight. It started with the chili cheese dogs. Then we couldn't think of anything remotely healthy to go with chili cheese dogs. So then we decided to just go all in...and THIS is where it ended.

My son was very confused. "Where are the vegetables? Or the salad?" "Nothing green. It's Sonic Night!" (This didn't work well as all my son ever wants from Sonic is the cheese sticks, no matter how many times I tell him I could make the same greasy sticks at home and it would be warm even.)

I halved the recipe for Cheesy Bacon Ranch Tater Tots and it was still more than enough to feed four. (Though I'm sure the Spinning class I took right before eating this won't even cover one-fourth of the calories of the tots alone. *sigh*)


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream




As promised, Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream! Ta da!

I make Hummingbird Cake every Thanksgiving and for my mother's birthday every year. (And my father always says the exact same thing, "How'd you get those little wings off?") 

The infamous recipe first ran in Southern Living in February 1978 but has been repeated many times since because it's so popular. It was elected favorite recipe ever in 1990 and has won blue ribbons at several county fairs across the South.  

Let's hope my ice cream recipe wins half as much notoriety. Or anyone ever else makes it, at least. (Or just reads this blog entry. I'd settle for that. Sheesh!) ;)

Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups whipping cream
2 bananas, mashed
1 small can crushed pineapple
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecan pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Mix 1 tbsp cinnamon into the sweetened condensed milk and then whisk together milk, cream, and vanilla. Add mashed bananas and pineapple. Add mixture to a 2 qt ice cream maker. 

Over medium heat, melt butter, then add in pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir constantly until caramelized, 5 to 10 minutes. Spread on wax paper and cool, then mix in to ice cream when the ice cream is almost set.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Banana Nut Bread Ice Cream


So I set out tonight to create an ice cream that tastes like Banana Nut Bread...and I came pretty close, so I had to share. (This was made in a 2 qt. countertop ice cream maker.) Next up, Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream!

Banana Nut Bread Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups whipping cream
3 bananas, mixed in food processor (I used frozen, but I don't think it would matter)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecan pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together milk, cream, bananas, and vanilla, and add to ice cream maker. Over medium heat, melt butter, then add in pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir constantly until caramelized, 5 to 10 minutes. Spread on wax paper and cool, then mix in to ice cream when the ice cream is almost set.

(Special thanks to Todd Defren for posting his ice cream recipes on Facebook and inspiring me to start experimenting again...and for sharing the recipe for his ice cream base!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Black Bean Salsa


1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8-oz. can white shoepeg corn, drained
1 can Ro-Tel, drained
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Tortilla chips

Combine all ingredients except chips in a large bowl. Serve with tortilla chips. (Adapted from Square Table)

Pears with Goat Cheese


1 can of pear halves
3 oz. Goat Cheese with Honey
Balsamic vinegar
Chopped pecans

Put a dollop of goat cheese in center of pear. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle on chopped pecans. 

(If you can't find Goat Cheese with Honey, mix in a little honey with plain goat cheese.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Save hundreds of dollars each year with a salad spinner


We eat a lot of salad at my house. Mostly because it's the one of the few vegetables I can serve at dinner with no complaints or turned up noses (as a Caesar salad, but still).

I relied heavily on bagged salads most of the time until I read this blog. The listeria scare started my doubts about bagged salads - and then I ended up home with a few that were a bit on the brown side (which I couldn't see through the colorful packaging).

So I was ready. Ready to try Tamie's experiment. Romaine lettuce at my Kroger is about $1.50 and it gives me about 1 1/3 of the amount of a bagged salad (which is about $2.99 if you're lucky...sometimes more if it's not on sale).

Unlike Tamie, I go ahead and put the lettuce in small bags to take to work (where I don't have to eat Caesar salad anyways).

I bought the OXO Salad Spinner, and I have loved it. Strangely, spinning salad is a bit therapeutic. (Go ahead and laugh. But buy your own. You'll see. You'll find yourself giving that salad one more spin...just to be safe!)

We eat salad at least twice a week, and I am now saving at least $4 each week. I'm thinking with the money I've saved I can buy a Soda Stream and a pressure cooker next! I think those are the only two kitchen gadgets I do not currently own.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bread Maker King Cake















I finally did it! After Mardi Gras seasons and seasons of trying, I mixed enough recipes together to make the PERFECT (and relatively easy too) king cake.












First, you start out with Mam Papaul's King Cake mix. (In the Jackson area, you can buy this at Kroger.) You won't follow any of her directions though. Except the ingredients. Mix the ingredients for the cake as directed and put it in your bread machine on the Dough cycle.

Once the bread machine is through doing all of the work, roll the dough into a long rectangle on lightly floured parchment paper (but remember that you need room for the filling). Prepare the cinnamon mixture that comes with the mix and pat it down the middle. Prepare the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling.

(I stole the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling and the Lemon-Sugar Icing from this recipe in Garden & Gun magazine.)

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
½  cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Dollop the cream cheese down the middle of the long rectangle. Fold the dough over to close. Pinch and seal. Form into king-cake-shaped oval. Flip the parchment over so the cake will be seam-side down. Cut four or five slits into the cake for venting.  Bake according to the king cake mix directions.

After the cake has cooled, top with lemon-sugar icing and the Mardi Gras-colored sprinkles included or colors of your own choosing. (For Super Bowl, we generally pick the colors of the team we are rooting for, but you could also have silver and red for Christmas, black and orange for Halloween, etc. - because you are gonna want this king cake year round, for sure.)

Lemon-Sugar Icing:

1 ½ cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Combine icing ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until it achieves desired consistency (adjust with more liquid or more powdered sugar if necessary).

The mix also comes with a baby. (And, yes, you should use that - just don't bake it in the oven!)

Happy Mardi Gras!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lynn Rosetto Kasper - 1, Shawn - 0


So we were listening to the Splendid Table after our Sunday trip to Lowe's, when Lynn insisted that you could cook black-eyed peas in the crockpot without soaking them. This perked my ears up because I had a bag of dried black-eyed peas in the pantry I needed to cook. (I panicked a bit at New Year's when I couldn't find black-eyed peas in one store and I MAY have overcompensated a bit when I finally found some. By a bag. Or two.)

I have always heard that you need to pre-soak beans and peas, even if they tell you not to. Don't fall for it. So when Lynn said you didn't have to soak the peas - just put them on high for four and a half hours - I'll admit I was a bit skeptical. Even of Lynn.

But I do have some bad juju to blame. My first kitchen failure involved a "quick soak method" and red beans and rice. I learned my lesson. Well.

So Lynn was right. It worked. But I had nothing to put in with the peas because I wasn't planning on it working. (I'm no Lynn Rosetto Kasper and all.)

In the spirit of Lynn, I raided my refrigerator to see what would work. I had leftover cherry tomatoes from stir fry last week and a brand new jar of Brooklyn Brine Damn Spicy Pickles that I bought in a moment of weakness (and what moment isn't there?) at Whole Foods. I chopped up about three of the pickles and put them in with the peas after they cooked and poured in some of the brine too. I added the diced cherry tomatoes and....yum!

(Lynn would be proud!)


Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Pinterest Effect on the Modern Marriage


"This morning, I am making us a Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon and Fried Egg for breakfast."

"Could you just make me bacon, eggs and toast? Just plain bacon, eggs and toast?"

<silence>

"Well, you could make that breakfast sandwich thingie for yourself if you want to try it."

<silence>

"It sounds good though. Really."

<silence>

"Ok, Ok. Just make me a damn breakfast sandwich thingie."

<Couldn't hold the laughter in by this point.>

Sunday morning plain ol' eggs, bacon and toast with strawberry jam at the Rossi residence...brought to you by Pinterest! 

But just wait till he sees the Grilled Cheese Croutons in Tomato Soup Shot Glasses I have planned for lunch... ;)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Feta Pizza Bread Appetizers


  • 1 large Baguette (Long and thin, cut into thin slices)
  • 2 cups Finely Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup Crumbled Basil & Tomato Feta
  • 16 oz. Crumbled Italian Sausage (Cooked)
  • 1 large Red Pepper (Diced)
  • Fresh or Dry Basil (Chopped)
  • Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a layer of sliced baguettes on two large cookie sheets/baking pans. In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except olive oil. Mix well. Drizzle enough olive oil to moisten the mixture. Spoon enough mixture just to cover the top of each baguette slice. Baked for approximately 12-15 minutes until cheese has melted and bread slices have crisped.