Friday, January 30, 2009

Crack in a Cup

As I write this post, I'm enjoying the latest delicacy known as "Crack in a Cup." No, crack is not involved and it doesn't mean chipped china either! Crack in a Cup is something I came across online one day on a message board for new moms (I'm a new mom). It's sort of a make at home version of the instant one-serving microwave desserts mass-produced and available at your local supermarket. Only you have the stuff to make this at home, it's simple and I'm sure variations could be made. Unfortunately I forgot my camera behind on my latest trip home to visit family, so I am unable to take pictures at this time. I think you can imagine the beauty of it though. Ready to get addicted?

Crack in a Cup

Chocolate mug cake = crack in a cup

1 Coffee Mug
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
Sprinkle of baking powder
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon oil
Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well .
Pour in the milk, vanilla and oil and mix well.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 1 minute on high.

If you're feeling wild, go ahead and add a squirt of whipped topping or a scoop of ice cream.

Oh.My.God. For a cake that takes less than 1 minute to make in a coffee mug, it's pretty darn good. Sure it's not as good as that sinful dessert all of us Carnival Cruisers enjoyed so much, but it's pretty darn good. I went crazy and added the whipped topping. I'm thinking interesting variations would be to maybe add some chocolate chips, some of those Andes chocolate mint pieces or even peanut butter chips. Super delish for stuff you had laying around the house anyway!

Blogger's Note RE: Cowboy Caviar

I just wanted to note how crazy/amazing it is that my blog gets so many hits for people looking up Cowboy Caviar. I literally get dozens of people per day! Yet, NOBODY has left a comment. Not sure if that's a good thing or not! Just funny :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Christen's Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger

Before I start with this recipe, let me just say that this is NOT a healthy recipe. I feel really guilty because I've been trying to lose weight and have lost about 7 lbs since a couple of weeks ago. I have a feeling that all went byebye! I have been craving a really really good cheeseburger. Today, my wish was fulfilled! I didn't originally plan to include this recipe on the blog because it is SO unhealthy but it was so dang good, my husband James is making me include it! So that's the reason behind the lack of pictures, we only have a pic of the finished product. Enjoy.

Christen's Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger

1 lb. 80/20 ground beef
a few slices raw bacon
1/2 yellow onion, cut into slices
8 slivers of Cabot's Vermont White Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Tony Chachere's cajun seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, salt - to taste
1 tsp minced garlic
1 egg
breadcrumbs - you really have to eyeball this, no measuring
1 tbsp beer
four pats butter, with Tony's seasoning sprinkled over the top of them

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine ground beef, seasonings, minced garlic, egg, and beer. Add enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together well. With your hand, score the mixture into four equal sections (making an X basically). Remove one section, pat it into a ball and then break it in half. Pat one half into a flat patty shape. Place one pat butter in the middle of this, set aside and pat the other half into a flat patty shape. Place this one on top of the other one and press the sides together, sealing the butter pat inside. Do the same with the other three sections of meat mixture. (Note: You can do this in advance if you are going to be cooking for guests, just keep the meat patties in the refrigerator until ready to cook.)

In a non-stick skillet, fry bacon until cooked to your liking. Set on paper towels to drain. Do not discard the bacon grease. In the same pan, cook the onions until tender, you can set these on the same paper towels as the bacon.

Again in the same pan, cook the hamburger patties, flipping to evenly cook each side. When they are pretty much cooked, place two slices of the sharp cheddar cheese on top of each patty and cover the skillet until the steam melts the cheese. Remove and set each patty on a plate. Eat on buns with desired condiments and the bacon and onions.

The Verdict: Two very very enthusiastic thumbs up. While this recipe is absolutely as unhealthy as you can get, it's awesome. The butter makes the meat cook inside by melting and bubbling, so the burger doesn't get dry. While I would only cook something this bad for you maybe once a year, it was definitely worth the seven days of workouts I'm going to have to do to keep it off! Soooooo good!!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Going Greens!

All good Southern girls love greens. Spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, it's all good! My daddy is the best at this stuff but I decided to try it today so I called and asked him how to cook them and here's how it came out!

Gerry’s Mustard Greens

2 grocery sacks full of mustard greens
1 Ham Steak (with bone)
1 onion, chopped
3 Tblsp. oil
Salt to taste

Preparation: Remove stems from greens. Soak greens in one side of sink covered in water. When they are clean, pick them out by hand, allowing water to drain off, then place them in other side of sink. Drain dirty water from other sink, clean, then refill with water. Place greens back into water and wash again. When clean, drain sink again.

Meanwhile, put oil into large pot, place onions into oil and simmer till softened. Place ham steak in a skillet and sear on both sides till browned. Cut into cubes, leaving meat around the bone. Place ham into large pot with onions.

Now, with the large pot on a #7 setting, place a double-handful of greens into pot. Sprinkle a little salt over greens. After greens wilt down, stir them into the onions and meat. Add another double-handful of greens and do the same each time, till all the greens are cooked.
Note: I only add salt to every other handful of greens as I put them into the pot.

This is less than half of what I bought - I bought 8 bushels in all. This was 3.

This was the ham steak I used. Sorry, I had already put a few pieces in the pot!

Greens in the pot - before I realized I was supposed to put a little in at a time!

Greens cooking!

Verdict: Delightfully Delicious! My dad knows what he's doing with veggies. James had some when he came home from work and he loved them, so this is a keeper recipe!

Hot Dog Chili

Yeah that's right, no canned stuff here! This recipe actually is not a new one to me, but I thought I'd share anyway. About a year ago, James and I watched a show on the Food Network about the best hot dogs across America. So many people raved about this place Pink's in California and said it was their chili that made it so great. So I looked online and found a recipe that was supposed to be similar to theirs. If it is or not, I can't say since I've never had the real deal. But this is a good one. Sorry, it's been a long time so I can't divulge the source of this recipe but I will say that it is not a Christen original. Once you have it though, you'll never go back to the canned junk!

Chili for Hot Dogs

1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt, pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Brown beef, garlic and onion in skillet. Cook until tender. Place portion at a time in blender and blend a few seconds.

Put meat mixture back into pot and add tomato paste, water, vinegar, Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste. Add cinnamon, chili powder, and cumin.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer at least 30 minutes.

Stir occasionally and add a small amount more water if needed.

The ingredients

The Chili

Verdict: Like I said, this is not new to us but oh so good! We both love it. We'll never buy another can of chili! A note though, for anyone with an immersion mixer - those work superb in this recipe!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Seafood Gumbo

I know, it's a tragedy that I am 28 years old, from South Louisiana and before today I had never cooked a seafood gumbo. Sure I ate plenty, but never cooked myself! Seafood gumbo can be hard on the pocketbook, so I always cooked chicken and sausage gumbo. Today I decided to change that and started looking through my cookbooks for the recipe to try. This recipe came out of the Best of the Best of Louisiana cookbook and was submitted by River Roads Recipes II.

For those that don't know, The Best of the Best of Louisiana cookbook is a compilation of all of the very best recipes of the "Louisiana style" cookbooks. So I knew this would be good! If you are ever looking for a good cookbook, this is THE one to get! Here is the recipe:

Seafood Gumbo

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) can tomatoes, undrained
1.5 pounds frozen okra or equivalent fresh
Oil for frying okra
2 quarts hot water
3.5 tablespoons salt
3/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 large bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
8-10 allspice berries
Few grains chile pepper
2 pounds headless raw shrimp, peeled
1 pound claw crabmeat, picked
1 pint oysters
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Make a very dark roux with oil and flour in a large heavy pot. Add onion and garlic. Cook slowly until onions are transparent. Add tomatoes, and cook on low heat until oil rises to the top (about 30 minutes), stirring frequently. In separate skillet, fry okra in oil on moderately high heat, stirring constantly until okra is no longer stringy. Add the okra to the other mixture, stir and simmer about 10 minutes. Add water, salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered for 45 minutes. Add other seasonings and simmer an additional 20 minutes, then add the shrimp and simmer 15 minutes; then add crabmeat, simmering 15 minutes more. Add the oysters the last 5 minutes of cooking. Taste carefully for seasoning, adding more if necessary. Remove from fire and stir in green onions and parsely. Serve over rice. Variations may be made by adding different seafoods, sausages, or poultry. Serves 8-10.
River Road Recipes II

The Verdict: For the tomatoes I used 2 cans original Rotel tomatoes. It gave it a little extra kick. I also used 1 quart chicken broth in place of 1 of the quarts of water. It made it a bit thicker and a little richer I think, which I really liked. However, next time I would use the low-sodium variety of chicken broth because it made the gumbo a little salty. Still delicious though! I will definitely be making this again! James loved it as well :) This definitely gets two thumbs up!