Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pickles, Pickles, Pickles

I have been truly enjoying canning this summer. I have found this amazing farmers market on every Wednesday. It is at a fair grounds and has at least 100 vender's selling amazing food. Because of this I buy a lot of fruit and veggies. I have made jam four times in the last couple months. I have blueberry, strawberry, peach and peach cinnamon. The peach cinnamon was by far my favorite. Now, I tried my hand at making pickles. My one year old baby loves pickles and my husband loves spicy pickles. I made them both. I used the spicy pickles in the Cuban recipe below. These are fresh, simple and enjoyable.

4 cps. white vinegar
7cps water
2 cps. sugar
20-25 fresh dill stems, pulled away from the stem
1-2 tsp. salt

For the Spicy:

Add sliced jalapeno and 1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper

1. I washed, dried, and boiled the jars. I then put the in a hot bath (Water was lightly boiling). Boil the lids. While the jars are boiling add the cucumbers to an ice bath for at least 2 hrs.
2. I boiled the water, vinegar, sugar, fresh dill, and salt.

3. Put the cucumbers in each jar, add the brine, and for the spicy add the jalapeno and crushed red pepper.
4. Top with the lid and screw. Add back to the bath for awhile. Remove. Let cool.


Banana Vanilla Muffins with Vanilla Cinnamon Topping

Today I had a doctors appointment and no one to watch my kiddos. I borrowed my girlfriends 16 yr. old daughter to sit with them in the waiting room. To show my appreciation I baked them muffins. Considering that the appointment was at 8:30 a.m. which caused them to wake up early. They deserved these yummy delicious muffins. Yes, I was making muffins at 6:30 a.m. this morning from scratch! What?! I am crazy?! Probably. Don't worry, I made two batches too. I made a batch for my girls and husband as well as the dozen for my friends.. ANYWAY, these turned out incredible.....

3 cps. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 bananas
1 1/2 cp sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extracts

6 TB Flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. BVBC Ground Bourbon Vanilla Beans
2/3 cp. packed brown sugar
2 Tb. cold butter

1. Sift the dry ingredients and set aside. Mash the bananas and add the sugar stir. Add the eggs and vanilla paste and beat again. Add the dry ingredients until just combined.

2. Throw everything in the crumb topping in a food processor and process. Process until it feels like a coarse meal.

3. Add about 3 TB of batter into each greased cup in the muffin tin. Top with the crumb topping. Bake on 350 for about 20 minutes.

This recipe makes 24 incredible muffins...SHARE.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Triple Vanilla Sugar Cookies and A Broken Mixer

Let me start by telling a funny and sad story. I had my four yr. old Alex in the kitchen with me to help me make the cookies. I had her scraping the bowl with the spatula and combine the butter and sugar. All of a sudden I see her put the spatula in the bowl and push the bowl. The bowl goes spinning and the spatula is wedged in between the two beaters. Then you hear the loudest ugliest sound. Bailey (My one yr. old) goes running for her life right into the wall leaving a goose egg and a crying baby. My oldest is hiding because she is scared and she know she just destroyed my mixer. After I finally calmed my babies down I take a gander at the damage....This is what I see:

A cookie dough plastic mess. Not to mention, my beaters are bent and deformed causing it to be impossible to get out.......I told my four yr. old that we could not make the cookies now...She cries harder. So I remake the entire thing by hand...AND YES, I let her help again. You can see her tiny hand putting the dry ingredients through a sifter.

Triple Vanilla Sugar Cookies

3 cps. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 baking powder
pinch salt
1. Sift all the dry ingredients together

The wet ingredients:
1 cp. or 2 sticks of softened butter
1 3/4 cp.vanilla sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. BVBC vanilla paste or vanilla extracts
1 tsp. ground BVBC vanilla bean
1. Mix the butter until smooth

2. Add the sugar and vanilla paste. Mix until fluffy and well combined

3. Add one tsp. of the ground bourbon vanilla bean
4. Add on egg. Mix until combined.

5. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix. Do not over work. Mix until just combined.

6. Roll in small balls and put a little Sugar on top. Bake on 350 for to minutes...

MMMMMHHHH....Let the kids watch them cook.....SO EXCITED.

The cookies are cooling....

EAT!!!! These turned out sooooo yummy. Enjoy!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

One of my Favorite Ingredients: Vanilla, Vanilla, Vanilla

Let me begin by saying, I love Vanilla. It is one of my favorite ingredient. I am always searching for the finest vanilla. I found a company called Boston Vanilla Bean Company which I must share. It serves the finest Grade-A vanilla beans such as Uganda, Mexican, India, Papua New Guinea, and Madagascar Beans. This company has USDA NOP Organic Certification vanilla beans and follow all fair trade agreements. Most of their beans can be bought organically.

They mainly sell their Imported Vanilla Beans, but also developed Vanilla Bean Paste, Vanilla Extracts and Ground Vanilla. I could not accurately put into words how amazing it is to use their vanilla paste. I made triple vanilla cheesecake, triple vanilla sugar cookies and I used the paste in my french toast this morning. It is by far one of the best products that have ever graced my kitchen. I would like to thank Steve and Boston Vanilla Bean Company for that.

Another aspect that I appreciate about this company is the pride they show in their product. Steve from Boston Vanilla Bean Company has called me and emailed me to give me advice, pointers, explanations and showed such passion. This company has been featured on Food Network by chef Alton Brown and by other well known chefs such as Albino Tuosto. Yet, they are humble enough to talk to me on the phone for an hour about their product. It gives me such honor to work with such great people and products. I truly wish everyone had this passion about their products.

You can find Steve and The Boston Vanilla Bean Company @ http://www.bostonvanillabeans.com/
Their site has history of the vanilla bean, recipes and a shop. Which I might add, their price for their vanilla beans is fair. Please take a look.

I am going to share a few recipes that I have used BVBC products with.
Vanilla Sugar:

2 Vanilla Beans
4-6 cps. of sugar

1. Scrape two vanilla beans clean and add to a food processor. Add the 4-6 cps. of sugar to the food processor. Process until combined. Add the empty pods to the bottom of the canister. Add the sugar.

Let me just say, this makes coffee in the morning a 100x better.


1 1/2 of the bags in a box of cinnamon graham crackers
1/3 cp. My Vanilla Sugar
1 tsp. of BVBC Vanilla Paste (You can sub for reg. vanilla extracts)
1/3 cp pecans
1 stick of melted butter

Add the sugar to the food processor.
Add the pecans and BVBC Vanilla Paste (You can use regular extracts)
Add the graham crackers.
Slowly add the butter as you process in the food processor. The butter must be melted.

Press into a 9.5 in. spring pan. Put into a 350 oven for 8-10 minutes. While this is baking make the cheesecake
4 8 oz. 1/3 less fat Cream Cheese, soft
1 1/2 cp. vanilla sugar
1 1/2 vanilla paste
2 vanilla beans
3 TB flour
5 eggs
Add the softened cream cheese and sugar to a mixer. Mix until smooth.
This is what the cream cheese and sugar should look like.....

Add the vanilla paste
Add two beans. You have to cut a vanilla bean in half.

Inside the vanilla bean you will see a bunch of black seeds. Scrap it clean. Add the pulp into the cream cheese mixture. (You can add the empty vanilla beans into a canister of sugar to give it a vanilla taste.)
I used two Mexican Vanilla beans.

Mix...You can see the beautiful black flecks in the cream cheese mixture. Add the three tablespoons of flour and mix.
Add the eggs. One at a time. Mix after each one.

Add on top of the baked crust. Cook on 350 for 75 minutes.
Let cool and then refridge. I leave it in the fridge overnight.
Last, but not least let those kiddos lick those glorious beaters

The final product! This was so great! I served this to my husbands coworkers and it was a huge success. Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dulcet Cuisine and Cuban Sandwiches

Let me start by saying that I found an amazing company called Dulcet Cuisine and would like to share with my fellow foodies. I actually located them on foodbuzz.com under some of our favorite brands. If you would like to take a gander at her site. Pam Kraemer is the owner of Dulcet Cuisine. Pam and her company make earth friendly, 100% natural ketchup , mustard , seasonings, marinades, dressings and sauces. You can find Pam's products in whole food stores all over the country. She is very talented. I used her Creole mustard and Creole seasoning mix to make a Cuban with a twist. My husband loves spicy and he also loves Cubans....It turned out amazing. I paired it with my homemade spicy pickles that I canned a few weeks back. It turned out very very good.
If you are interested in Dulcet Cuisine visit Pam @ http://dulcetcuisine.com/ . Pam's dedication for food differently shows in her quality of work. I am not a huge fan of mustard and I could of dove head first into her Creole Mustard. It has so much flavor.

You know me...When I find great products I love to share them with everyone. I hope you enjoy.


I used a pork shoulder and covered it in Dulcet Creole Mustard. About 4-6 Tablespoons

I then covered the pork shoulder in the Creole seasoning.

(This pic did not turn out to good...There was steam everywhere) I browned both sides of the pork shoulder.

I then put the pork shoulder covered in a 350 oven the first hour and then 250 for most of the day until it fell apart. I would keep checking on it and adding water if necessary.This was the end of the shredded pork... Now for assembling this amazing sandwich.

I cut a cuban bread loaf in half. I added more of the creole mustard and my homemade spicy pickles.
I added two slice of swiss cheese to both sides of the sandwich. And then I added pork to the bottom of the bread and on top of that I added good quality ham.
I then put the sandwich in the Panini Sandwich maker until everything is melted and oozing out. Last but not least...I cut it in half and served it. Then my husband devoured it. YUMMY.
I hope you enjoy my recipe and I hope you visit my friend Pam.

Hydroponic Lettuce?

Another cool find at the farmers market that I would like to share. It is Hydroponic Bibb Lettuce!!!! You can actually bring it home put the roots in some water and it will continue to grow and prosper! How cool is that? Anyway, I bought 4 heads for 3 dollars. An awesome price!!! Next Wednesday they will have Hydroponic Red Leaf Lettuce (which is my fav) I will be there with bells.

Tomato Sauce with Farmers Market Tomatoes

I grew up in a very VERY small farm town in Ohio. I lived near my uncles cattle farm and Meat market. My mother had an amazing garden and grew every vegetable you could think of. But what was more spectacular is I remember as a kid she would can all of the vegetables for the winter. She would can the green beans, stewed tomatoes and jams. Our basement was full of the amazing fresh vegetables my mother canned. I truly wish I could do this, but living in FL you only have limited ability at what you could grow. Yesterday I went to the farmers market and they had these AMAZINGLY beautiful tomatoes for $2.oo for a huge basket. Of course, I bought two baskets with fresh tomato sauce in mind. I called my mom when I got home and she told me to just dump boiling water on top of the tomatoes and the skin will peel right off. I was very skeptical. It could not be that easy....Needless to say, it was. I actually had my four yr. old Alexandra pulling the skin off as I seeded and cored the tomatoes. I do not think I will buy canned tomatoes again.....We shall see, but this sauce was so refreshing and good. I cannot put into words how this made my taste buds danced....What a difference. I hope this inspires other people to try this. It was very easy. Enjoy

I washed and scrubbed the tomatoes. I would say there was about a dozen tomatoes. I then boiled about 4 gallons of water. I then dumped it on top of the tomatoes.

As you can see, the skinned pulled right up. My four yr. old pulled the skin of all the tomatoes in less then 15 minutes. I adore my little helper.

This is the pot of seeded, cored and skinned tomatoes. After Alex took the skin off I rinsed the seeds out and cored the tomatoes.

I put the tomatoes on medium heat with a little salt and pepper.

I totally could of ate the entire pot of sauce with just the salt and pepper that is how amazing it tasted.

This is what the final product turned out...I did not add to much to the sauce. I made it simple because I did not want to alter the amazing taste of the fresh tomatoes....
The recipe: FRESH Tomato Sauce
12 whole tomatoes cooked down (I cooked for about 2-4 hours)
salt and pepper
2 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cp. fresh basil
1/4 cp. fresh oregano
Optional: 2-4 TB tomato paste
1. When the tomatoes have cooked down. Saute the onions and garlic in about 2 TB of olive oil in s separate pan. When translucent add the stewed tomatoes that are cooked down. Add the basil and Oregano. If the sauce (ONLY IF you need )add a little tomato paste.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today everyone will have a chance to vote from the top eight recipes. It is quite simple. Just leave a comment below on which recipe you would most likely make. Remember: just choose one.

Here are the recipes:

Almond Crusted Mocha Cheesecake from SulaBlue

Coffee Roasted Cornish Hens- gopinath

Coffee Ice Cream - Megan

Chocolate Toffee Bars- Cookin' Canuck

Chocolate Cake- Nags

Ginger Coffee Gravy-applecrumbles

Cafe Cream Shortbread-Lori

Chocolate cupcake and The Essence of Coffee Hazelnut Dream Cake-Trish4Gsus

If you would like the entire recipe it is at the bottom of my page in the comment section. Tonight the winner will be chosen.
I want to thank everyone for entering. Everyone had great ideas!!!

Good Luck!!!!!


I want to thank everyone for entering. The recipes were unique, flavorful and truly inspiring. I also want to thank everyone who took the time out of their day to vote. I greatly appreciate it!!!

Congrats to Lori!!! The Bodum Press is a wonderful product!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Le Creuset Pans: A kitchen must have.

I received two Le Creuset Pans. Let me just say, it was love at first glance. One of the Le Creuset products I received was a Tri-Ply Saute Pan (Used in my risotto below and I used it for my Pineapple Upside Down Cake posted) and it was phenominal. Le Creuset is from a french town Frenoy-Le-Grand. It began making these amazing kitchenware in 1925. Le Creuset is one of the best manufacturing companies in its field and it believes so highly in their product that most kitchenware comes with a Lifetime Guarantee. One of my favorites, the Tri Ply Pan means that it is made using a triple layer system. It has one layer of aluminium laying in between the two layers of stainless steal. This Tri Ply layer is throughout the entire pan which give it the excellence in heat conduction. There is a few must knows about Tri Ply pans. Tri Ply pans are usable on all hobs and all convention ovens up to 400 degrees. Tri Ply pans are energy saving because they only need medium heat. The best part about Tri Ply Creuset Pans is they come with a lifetime guarantee with all uncoated pans!! Not only do you get an amazing product, but the company is so faithful in their product that it contains this Lifetime Guarantee. What more can you ask for?

The second pan that I was given was the Le Creuset Enamelled Cast Iron Pot. Wow! It works wonders. I used it in my Saffron Roast Potatoes and Pork Tenderloin which is posted below. Le Creuset Enamelled Cast Iron is covered in a extremely durable enamel finish even on the handles. The Le Creuset Enamelled Cast Iron comes in a vast amount of sizes and colors. It is suitable for the range and the oven up to 375. The Enamelled Cast Iron can hold its heat which allows it to cook food on a low to medium heat. It also keeps food cold. It you put the Cast Iron in the fridge with a fruit salad, pasta salad or Gazpacho it will keep it cool for a picnic outside. It is very versatile. I will give you a list of food that taste wonderful with this amazing pot: soups, roast (Which you see in my pics below. I used on the stove top and the oven. It worked wonders), rice, casseroles, desserts, cakes, breads, fruit salad, pasta salads, and so on and so on. I will use mine on a regular basis.

Overall, I am very elated with Tri-Ply Saute Pan and the Le Creuset Enamelled Cast Iron Pot. I have used them all week with a variety of meals. I wanted to give an honest opinion of their product. I used the Tri-Ply for risotto and even to bake a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The Cake turned out even and unbelievable. I used the Enamelled Cast Iron for a roast and it turned out tender and evenly cooked. Every meal I have cooked using this product has left us satisfied and craving for more.

Shrimp Tempura and California Rolls for my Husband

Let me start by saying, I love California Rolls and Tempura Rolls. My husband I use to eat them twice a week when we first moved to Florida three years ago. I have admit it is much easier to make then I thought. My husband did not believe I could do it. He actually told me not to even bother. Which of course made me more desperate for the perfect roll. When I finished and gave him his first huge plate of shrimp tempura rolls he was elated. He could not believe how well they turned out. The rolls where just like any sushi shop. I will make these again and again. They are healthy, satisfying, fresh and so so yummy! Enjoy!
1 cp. sushi rice
1 1/4 cp. cold water
1/3 cp. vinegar
2 TB sugar
1. Rinse the rice. Add it to a pot with the cold water. Bring to a boil and then turn it down until simmering. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add to a cool pan and toss (Cook vinegar and sugar in a bowl and microwave until sugar is dissolved) with the rice and vinegar mix. Cool.
California Rolls
3 cps. sticky rice
4 sheets of sea weed
Cucumber (Skinned, De seeded, and cut lengthwise)
Crab (cut Thin and Lenghtwise)
Avocado (Cut thin and Lenghtwise)
You take the bamboo roller and place plastic wrap over top. Lay the sea weed sheet on top. Add about 1 cp. of sticky rice. (Wet fingers) Push the rice down over top of the sea weed and leave about and inch at the top to seal. When you are down pressing the ride down flip it over. Put one or two cucumbers, one or two crab, and one or two avocados in the middle. Then Roll.
I refridged when I was done (without cutting) and waited until all the rolls where made then I brought them all out of the refridge and cut them.
Any questions ask!!!!
Shrimp Tempura
3cps. sticky rice
4 sheets of seaweed sheets
8-10 shrimp tempura
1 avocado (sliced thin and lenghtwise)
Follow the same directions as above for the rolls
Shrimp Tempura
20-30 shrimp
2 cps. tempura batter (Usually found in the seafood Section)
Follow the directions on the back of the box but instead of using water use Soda Water. It adds the extra crunch and it taste so amazing. I think my husband ate 20 of these by themselves.
1 quart of veg. oil.
1. Batter a few at a time with tongs and add to the hot oil. If you are using it in the rolls. you have to straighten by breaking the back of the shrimp a little. Make sure it is very straight before putting it in the batter and then frying.
Once again, if you have any questions just ask!