Friday, March 27, 2009

How 'bout some shark?

I wanted to share this cake that I made for my son's 5th birthday last year. I made it out of a sheet cake (Betty Crocker white cake) and one tub of white frosting (it looks off-white here), some icing colored red, some blue sprinkles and gummy candy for eyes and mini marshmellows for the teeth. As you can see, the pinata was inspiration for it. I am sharing this because I am about to embark on a butterfly cake next week for one of the girls in my bible study who is about to have a baby girl. Anyone have any ideas about how to do that? Don't spend too much time on it, I am probably just going to do a sheet cake yet again and see if I can use the cut out pieces to make a little butterfly, too.

Also, I have been thinking about this. Would anyone want some real, authentic chinese recipes? I have been wanting to get some from my ayi, Tian Mei that helps in our house and didn't know if that would be of interest.
Another question: do you call it icing or frosting? I call it both :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

I got this recipe from my college roommate, Amy. I added a few things, partially because I can never just leave well enough alone when it comes to a recipe, and partially because I had a few things I needed to use up.

The recipe can go in a 9x13 baking dish, but like I usually do, I split it into two 8x8 that I baked last night, and one that I froze for later. Since Gabby only eats about a quarter cup, the three of us can eat an 8x8 for two nights.
  • 4 cups cooked, cubed chicken (I just used 4 chicken breasts and didn't measure...I boiled them with salt, pepper, and some crushed garlic cloves)
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup (reduced fat works fine)
  • 1 16-oz container of sour cream (reduced fat works fine)
  • 1 tub of mushrooms, diced (my addition)
  • 1 small onion, diced (my addition)
  • 1 can of water chestnuts, diced (my addition)
  • 3/4 cup of toasted slivered almonds (Amy's recipe calls for 1/2 cup but as a rule I almost ALWAYS add extra nuts to any recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
  • 1 sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers (reduced fat works fine)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, OR a few tablespoons of olive oil (optional)

Saute onions and mushrooms in a little olive oil until onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Drain any liquid released from the mushrooms. In a large bowl, mix the soup and sour cream together, and then mix in the chicken, mushrooms & onions, water chestnuts, almonds, and poppyseeds. Spread mixture into a baking dish/dishes lightly coated with cooking spray. Mix cracker crumbs with butter or olive oil and spread over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly.

We ate it served over brown rice cooked in chicken broth, with steamed broccoli on the side. All three of us liked it...even David, who is normally not a fan of creamy-based casseroles.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tilapia and Almonds

This is from my friend, Shea. It sounds delicious! Let me know if you try it!

1) Grind raw almonds into a powder (I used a coffee grinder) and mix with lots of shredded parmesan. Set aside. 2) Sprinkle garlic salt on fish. 3) Dust tilapia filets in flour. 4) Dip in beaten egg. 5) Roll in your almond mixture. 6) Pan saute in butter - yes - butter!! (ok, I mixed half butter and half olive oil). 7) Saute about 5 mins on each side and then check for doneness when the fish flakes with a fork.

Served with spinach salad, steamed rice, and green beens stir fried in olive oil with a splash of sesame oil and with sesame seeds.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grasshopper brownies

Easy easy!! I made this recipe when I had to bring a dessert to a holiday party at our 2 year old's daycare. This is the perfect thing to make when you feel too guilty to just pick something up at the store, don't have enough time to whip up something from scratch, and you want something that isn't too typical but will still be a crowd pleaser.

  • 1 family size box of brownie mix, plus additional ingredients (eggs, oil) as specified on the box
  • 10-oz bag of Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips (found by the chocolate chips...or you could chop up 10 oz of regular Andes mints)
  • Peppermint extract (make sure it is PEPPERMINT and not just MINT...unspecified mint could be spearmint, which is NOT going to work).
  • 1 tub of chocolate frosting

Prepare the brownie batter as the package directs. Stir in the entire bag of Andes baking pieces. Bake as directed.

Add one teaspoon of peppermint extract to the tub of frosting, and stir to combine. Frost brownies when cool.

And there you have it, grasshopper brownies. Doctored-up stuff from a box...just call me Sandra Lee!

(sidenote...ugh- not a Sandra Lee fan over here. But this recipe IS very "semi-homemade-y")

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Paw-Paw's Killer Sweet and Hot Pickles

I love pickles. And I'm willing to eat them lots of ways (in a box, with a fox...) but these are my absolute favorite. I eat them straight out of a bowl as a snack. In fact, when I was pregnant with my daughter I ate SO MANY that this conversation ensued:

my father in law: "baby girl, don't you think you should slow down on those pickles?"
me: "no. your granddaughter loves them and they're healthy!"
fil: "honey. you've had EIGHTY SEVEN."
me: (shamed) "seriously?"
fil: "no. but you should really stop eating them."

I really thought I might have eaten that many. I'm glad he wasn't actually counting.

So I got the recipe, which is my husband's grandfather's as far as I know, and it's written in his handwriting, which I love. Get your grandparents to give you recipe cards that they actually write out- I LOVE going into my recipe box and getting handwritten love from somebody who's not around to hug anymore.

I don't make them very often, but last time we went to visit this was waiting for me in the fridge, with my NAME on it so everybody else would keep their grubby mitts off:

And yes, that is a half gallon jar, why do you ask? So what if I've eaten almost the whole thing in less than two weeks?

Paw-Paw's recipe:
1 gallon sliced dill pickles
4 pounds sugar (yes, POUNDS)
1 bottle tabasco sauce (I use a small one because I am a pansy, but you can adjust this to taste)

Drain liquid from pickles, reserving 2 cups.
Bring liquid to a boil. Add 4 POUNDS sugar, stir till dissolved, add tabasco. Stir well and add pickles back in.

If you're making a smaller recipe, basically it's a quart of pickles for every pound of sugar.

When I got these out the other day, my sister's husband ate some and said "wow. These are REALLY sweet. And not that hot." And then he kept eating them and soon his throat was on fire. They sneak up on you. At first you're lulled into complacency by the sugar and then the tabasco bites you.

My two year old asked for one today. I told him they were spicy but he insisted on tasting a "bee-ko". He ate it. He liked it. He had another. And another. And then number four...

He's now on his second string cheese to cool off his mouth and I may have turned him off pickles forever. Good. More for me.