Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Mice

Alrighty! Tis the season for all things sweet and loverly, and Christmas at S'mee's house just wouldn't go off right without a houseful of Christmas Mice. These super easy, super yummy cherry and chocolate treats are just the thing for getting you in good with the neighbors or, as in my case, my father in law...who can't get enough of them when he pops over Christmas Day.

Set aside about an hour and before you know'll be in need of a people trap to keep certain folks from eating all your hard work before company can enjoy them!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Bake Sale Cakes and Pops

Oy! This month has been so unbelievably busy. Case in point: today.

Those would be my lovely digits covered in cake goo ala cake pops! Granted, our first try out was less than stellar, but the 70+ pops we made for a leadership meeting this week turned out cute enough!

After the pops were wrapped and readied to go, I headed home to bake a few cakes for the Trunk or Treat cake walk tonight. They are only a single layer, but I made a dozen of them! Yummy home made cakes with yummy add ins (like always!) and homemade buttercream frosting to make them look like mummies, Jack Skelington, and spider webs. Again, not as ornate as if I were charging for them, but tasty and fast and they'll make do for little monsters who will just be goblin' them down tomorrow anyway!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Halloween Cuppi-Cakes

This is Halloween!
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

More Halloween goodies from the past. Nothing says fun like cool treats that aren't from the store. You can whip up a bunch of these for the kids you personally know and they will love gobblin' them up! This tutorial is a repeat from 2005, however they are pretty fun so here we go!

O.k. So this is the first run of cupcakes! I wasn't prepared for the decorations with special candies or frostings, but went ahead and came up with these little beauties with what we had on hand:

Dunked in Jelly Bellies, You're Bugging Me!, Spike, & Don't Forget to Floss.

Jack Skelington, Oogie Boogie, Sally, & Stock

High Anxiety, Buck, I only have eyes for you, & Miss Spider.

All cupcakes were chocolate with vanilla or chocolate frostings. I used Mega M&Ms, tiny M&Ms, Jelly Bellies, Life Savers, Sour Patch Strips, Green Apple Gum, Eclipse Gum, Jolly Rancher Rocks, and black Jimmies.

Frosting was applied via a zip lock bag snipped at one corner or with a butter knife. I also used a bamboo skewer to aid in the placement of many Jimmies! I am sure when I actually get out the cake gear and use the pro stuff they will come out even better. In the mean time, we're eatin' cupcakes for dessert tonight!

To view cupcake details more closely, click on the photo above. This will take you to my photo page at Flicker! Find the photo stream st the top right of the page and click the "next" photo, it should be titled: "I'm ready for my close up!" double click. It will come up full screen and with much better detail.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chicken Corn Soup

THE recipe for a crazy good chicken and corn soup --it turns out really flavourful and so delicious that I am wont to share it with you; so here goes:

I started by placing my washed and dried whole chickens, with their necks and gizzards etc. in my heavy enameled cast iron pot with a bit of butter, kosher salt, pepper corns, and crushed garlic -lots of garlic. I slow roasted those darling little chickens until they were tender, juicy juicy, and the joints easily tore from each other and the meat beginning to fall off the bone. From one chicken I took one full breast and thigh and chopped it into big bite sized chunks; and set it aside.


1 chicken whole chicken breast -roasted and chopped into bite sized chunks
1 chicken thigh - roasted and chopped into bite sized chunks
4-5 pieces of meaty bacon, fried, diced - if you buy good quality meaty bacon you will not need to drain the fat. You will be cooking veggies in it, and what's left after that will get emulsified into the soup.
1/2 yellow onion - diced
1 small red pepper - diced
1 large jalapeno pepper - diced
1 russet potato - peeled and diced
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
3 cups good stock
cream -ifin ya wanna

In another heated heavy pot I fried up four pieces of really meaty bacon. When the bacon was just about done I added the onion, red pepper, jalapeno, potato and corn. Saute the veggies with the bacon until they begin to caramelize, they don't all have to turn deep brown, but some should. Pull the bacon out and give it a good dice, return it to the pot and add the corn and stock. Bring to a low boil and simmer until the potato is fork tender.

Take about half of the soup, both veggies and stock and toss into a blender. Keep the lid on, but the cap out, cover with a small towel and pulse to puree the contents. Return this to the pot and fold into the soup.

Add the cheese, blend. Add the chicken, fold in and bring back up to a low simmer to reheat chicken. Do not bring the soup up to a boil or you will curdle the cheese! It will still taste fine, it will just look funky. Taste to season with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Serve.

Originally I was going to add heavy cream to the soup, however in the long run (read:standing under the ladder doing some painting) I forgot to! It didn't matter, it was still so flavourful! And the best part? It was even more tasty the next day for lunch...really really good for lunch! If you want to - go ahead and add some cream!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Best Ribs Ever

O.k. Here's the goods:

Before you start!!!
Calculate when you want to eat the ribs and go back 6 hours. If you want to serve at 5 those ribs have got to be in the oven with the door shut at 12:00. This is probably the most important step.

#1: Buy the absolute best ribs you can find. According to my mentor, they have more meat and meat is what you're after.

#2: Take them home, unwrap and set out on a good cutting board. Grab a sharp knife and make a good cut along the bone side of the ribs, this ain't easy, you're cutting into bone! Your goal: making a cut into the thin elastic funky whatever that is on the bones, the white membrane sheet of stuff. You're going to spend a bit of time picking and stretching as much of that membrane off as possible without jumping in the car and buying the ribs pre cooked elsewhere.

#3: Flip the rack over and go at the tendons and any other tough white material that may be on the meat side. Pliers work well for this, as does a nice sharp knife. You can grab a tube of the tendon-y stuff and pull tightly as your knife follows it and you scrap it from the rack. Don't get crazy, but get rid of as much of that stuff as possible.

#4. Wash the rack(s) under a good stream of water and pat dry. Set on a paper towel to catch drips.

#5: Dry Rub. This is my version, you can alter it if'n ya wanna.

2 Tbl. Kosher or Gray Salt
2 Tbl. White Sugar
4 Tbl. Brown Sugar
2 Tbl. Ground Cumin
1 Tbl. Chili Powder (more or less depending on who likes heat and who will be eatin'...)
1 Tbl. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp. Ground Cayenne Pepper
3 Tbl. Sweet Paprika
1 Tbl. Garlic Powder (not garlic salt!)
1 tsp. Ground Onion Powder (or 2 tsp. dried onion flakes if you prefer)
1 tsp. Mustard Seed

Mix this all together.

I usually cut my rack into four or five rib per piece chunks, makes it easier for me, but hey, no rules here.

Take your dry rub and be generous as you coat the rack on all sides. Really get it into all the layers and creases on both the meat and bone sides. Set aside, I like to have them sit in this marinade for an hour or so, or...

If I am not having ribs soon, I will coat them with the rub and seal them in my vacuum sealer and put them in the freezer. This way when I pull the ribs out to thaw, they are marinating and I don't have too much to do the day of the cooking.

#6: Again remember to calculate when you want to eat the ribs and go back 6 hours. If you want to serve at 5 those ribs have got to be in the oven with the door shut at 12:00. Preheat your oven 20 minutes prior to placing the ribs in the oven at 250. Yes. 250. That's as high as you want them to bake. Tender meat = Low and Slow!

Knowing when you want the ribs served, grab a baking sheet. Cover the bottom with a piece of parchment across the sheet so the bottom is covered, and the parchment hangs over each side. (I get my parchment in bulk, full sheet cake sized, from Smart and Final - cheap!) Lay the rack(s) on the parchment, fold the remaining parchment over the top of the rack and cover the entire thing in foil, sealed. My baking rack is a half sheet pan, so I have to double fold my foil and then cover the sheet. I tuck the ends in over and curl them around the sheet sides to make a good tight seal. This will steam and bake the ribs and keep the moisture in the meat.

Put them in the oven and close the door. Don't even think about peeking until 4:30.

#7: At 4:00 grab 2 cups of barbecue sauce. I use K.C. Masterpiece Original. Add 2 cups of your favourite honey, I use orange blossom, whisk these two together until blended and set aside. That's 1/2 sauce to 1/2 honey.

#8: At 4:30 open the door and get the ribs out. Remove the foil and drain the juices. I think it's easier to just pick up the rack (mine are usually all in four to five bone servings) with tongs and roll them gently in the sauce; coating them well on all sides.

Your ribs will now be so tender they will fall from the bone so be careful how you pick them up and roll them in the sauce!

Place the rack back on the sheet and when all the racks are coated, back into the oven while I set the table and get the other food on. Or, if you want folks to think you have done these ribs on the grill out back, now is the time to do that. Fire up the barbecue and set the coated ribs there to caramelize until you serve. To me, this means one more thing to clean up later, but hey, it's your party.

By the time the table is set and folks begin to gather, your ribs will be caramelized and making everyone drool. Get them on a platter and sit down ready to hear the praise and compliments. I guarantee everyone will love them.

Fresh pineapple, cut into slices and dipped a bit in brown sugar, set under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize is not only easy, but almost dessert!

I add a bit of fresh minced pineapple to a head of grated cabbage, a grated carrot or two and two green onions chopped through to the green and beyond, 1 tsp. of celery seed, 1 Tbl. white sugar, and a half cup of (I know -ick!) Miracle Whip. Fresh ground black pepper to taste. I blend all this, about an hour ahead, and chill in the fridge until serving.

Corn -bread or muffins, a hearty green salad, and a glass of milk will keep you from eating for two days afterward. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dem Bones!

About five or so years ago I was shopping for ribs in Costco. I must have looked extremely intimidated as I shopped. I heard a smooth, deep, and slightly gravely voice slowly educate me. One of the largest men I have ever met stood behind me and asked,"You lookin' to cook up some ribs ma'am?" I turned (looked waaaay up) and replied a meager, confused and even discouraged "yeah." "Well, I don' mean no disrespec ma'am, but- you look in the mirror lately? You white! And ain't never been a white girl who kin make a good rib witout some hep. Lemme hep you out." (Grinning like a Cheshire cat at my silliness and holding back his giggles) "You see dem bones you lookin' at? They baaaad. You don' want dem missy, you want dese... ova here." I walk with him over to the expensive ribs. "You see ma'am, I use da be the head cook at a little rib joint down in Sanna Mon-ca."

At that point in the conversation my memory (and stomach) took an immediate turn to a hole in the wall on Santa Monica Boulevard where they made the best ribs in the world, or at least my world. They were amazingly moist, tender- so much so they did fall off the bone, and flavourful. The perfect combination of spice to sweet, and meaty enough to satisfy.

"You wouldn't mean 'Dem Bones' would you?" "Oh, you heard o' my little place? Yeeees ma'am. But those days is pass now. Now I find myself educatin' the likes of you folks, hehehe." "Well, please! I don't have a clue of how to start." So he clued me into a few of his tricks and from then on I have loved my version of his "dem bones" style ribs.

Last night we were scheduled to serve the missionaries dinner, so I thought a good end of summer treat would be a rack or two of ribs, fresh cole slaw and grilled pineapple. The two guys called to cancel at the last minute and so Thor and I sat down to a feast!

As you can tell from the photo, the ribs were juicy, tender enough for the bone to just sliiiide off perfectly clean and so goooooood! yum!

All because an extremely nice gentleman showed me his famous barbecue tricks! Thank you Dem Bones Man!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Roast Loin of Pork with Apple Pecan Dressing

Roast Loin of Pork with Apple Pecan Dressing for 8

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 apple - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 5 cups dry bread cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 (3 pound) boneless rolled pork loin roast (marinated or just season liberally with fresh cracked pepper, and fresh garlic!)
O.k. here's the drill:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Put the butter in a saute pan and toss in the veggies and pecans, cook until somewhat tender. I didn't cook them all the way because I figured they would continue to cook while in the oven. If you want a crunch in the stuffing, do what I did, if you want it all soft, cook the veggies all the way.

Add the apple sauce and spices, blend and set aside for a minute while you prep the meat.

Place the roast in a hot skillet and brown/sear on all sides.

Place the roast in the middle of a roasting pan, toss the stuffing around the sides and pop into the oven for about an hour, or until the center of the roast measures 180 degrees. Pull out of the oven and allow the roast to sit for fifteen minutes prior to cutting.

While the roast is cooking grab a fresh pineapple and skin it. Turn it on its' side and thinly slice it -about 1/4" slices"- right through the core. Spread brown sugar on a plate or shallow pan and coat each pineapple slice on both sides. Place the slices in a microwavable dish and nuke for 4 minutes. The pineapple will be drenched in melted brown sugar and beginning to tenderize. Take the pineapple and place it single layer on a baking sheet. When your roast gets out of the oven and is resting, pop the pineapple under the broiler to caramelize the pineapple.

If you would rather have apple sauce, I suggest one apple for each person and one for the pot. Peel and core the apples and chop into large bite size pieces. Place the apple pieces in a microwavable bowl and wrap with saran wrap or with a lid. Nuke for about 4-6 minutes or until fork tender but still slightly firm. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste. Depending on the apples, you may only need cinnamon.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Natural Dye Easter Eggs

Aren't they pretty?

All you need are eggs, vinegar, alum, and your veggies! Chop the veggies, cover with water, bring to a boil. Add alum and boil 10 or so minutes. (My pot was large so I added 2-3 tsp.) Add vinegar (I did 2-3 Tbl.) and turn off heat and cool. Add eggs and bring to a boil again for about 10 minutes. Shut off and let the eggs cool in the liquid.

I strained the liquid and put it in a smaller bowl and let the eggs cool and dye for a few hours.

My colours were a tad different than on the video, who knew? I still think they turned out cool.

The one up front is more periwinkle than blue or lavender (whole beets), the ones with the stripes and scrolls were supposed to be red, but came out more rust (red cabbage), the sage and olive greens came out fabulous and quick! (red onion, no alum, vinegar) Bright yellow (yellow onion with turmeric powder) were also very fast, almost immediate. The tutorial says you can get green from spinach, um no, not in my house. They came out perfectly white. grrr.

I made the stripes by using electrical tape, and the scrolls by painting the eggs with rubber cement, which actually the longer it sat in the solution, the more it was eaten away...just a heads up.

All of the dyes were much more intense before I rinsed them in water and dried them. Tip: PAT them dry, if you rub, the dye rubs off to a pastel colour.

All in all this was a really cool and interesting project. I am not sure a mom with a couple of kids would want to do it though. LOTS of funky fumes from the veggies. Seriously bad ones from the cabbage...ack! Also it took a lot more time than I remember.

That said, it is MUCH better to use the natural than the chemical dyes, but there you go.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

crock pot brownies

If you remember from the meme the other day, I had to make a CrockPot Brownie. Well it turned out great so I thought I'd share. Here we go!

Prep time is about 10 minutes max, Cook time, 90 minutes, and it needs to rest for another 30, so about 2 hours + ten for a decadent dessert.

Your going to need 2 1/2 cups of your favourite dry brownie mix (if you're like me, you will have a bit of dry mix left over, sorry, ' can't tell ya what to do with it!)
2 eggs
2- 3/4oz boxes of chocolate pudding mix (cooking)
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 cup of chocolate chips

You're going to mix all that together in a bowl. Spray the inside of your CrockPot with Pam, then pour/spread your brownie mixture in the CrockPot.

Next, in a small pot, blend/whisk:
3/4 cups of water
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Bring this to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, carefully pour it (as evenly as you can) over the brownie batter.

Put the lid on, set it to high and clock it out at 90 minutes. Mine came out a tad over done, so for my particular CrockPot I think next time I will cook it for 85 minutes and see where that leaves us.

This is the view, with the lid still on, at about 80 minutes!!! It smells terrific and you are really wanting some chocolate by now!

This is the hard part: Once your timer goes off, you need to leave the cover on the CrockPot and if you have a pot that can be removed from the heating element, remove the pot and set it out to cool FOR 30 MINUTES! ACK! This is torture! But worth it in the end... Check this out! Yum!

See that little gooey stuff? Absolutely delicious! This reminds me of a Molten Chocolate cake, but slightly different. Still Fabulous! And, as an added bonus, Surprise! You never know exactly where the gooey stuff will be! Top? Bottom? Who knows? But it's in there and it's terrific!

I served it in a goblet with a small scoop of vanilla bean on bottom and on top, drizzle with a little chocolate sauce and top with a cookie straw and wait for the compliments!

Now, I have to tell ya, you can goof this up and it still tastes great! I left out (forgot!) the pudding this time around and over cooked it. It was tad more dense, but still had a rich gooey yumminess!