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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer Treats Cooking Show!

The theme of our recently filmed cooking show was "Summer Treats."

Dan, the awesome camera man, was practically giddy when I opened my front door.  "I hear we're having ice cream!" he exclaimed in his lovely, lilting Irish brogue.

And then our producer, Donna, arrived and it became obvious to me that the promise of ice cream puts everyone in a very happy place.

It was like we were on a sugar high before we even made it into the kitchen.

As Dan predicted, we started with Lemon Ice Cream.  Which we then combined with Lemon Cookies and made ice cream sandwiches.

While the ice cream was churning, we made Strawberry Agua Fresca.  

And we baked a Berry Cobbler, which paired up nicely with the lemon ice cream!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lobster Phyllo Cups

If only I could just get through a blogpost without having a recipe-name dilemma.

Lobster Bites.  Sounds too painful.

Lobster Tid-Bits.  Huh?

Lobster Appetizers.  Generic, much?

I settled on Lobster Phyllo Cups.  Eh...but at least it's straightforward.

If I didn't use these phyllo cups, I would have served this cheesy concoction with pita chips or water crackers and simply called it Lobster Dip and avoided the whole what-should-I call-this-recipe dilemma.

Holy cow, I just looked at the picture I posted above and noticed that the box says FILLO shells!!! What kind of cockamamie spelling is that?

I am not going to change my recipe name.  I am not going to change it.

And I'm not going to waste any more of your time throwing a recipe-naming tantrum, not when you could be spending your time filling these phyllo/filo/fillo cups with a mixture of yummy, cheesy. lobster!

Today's Playlist
  • "It Goes On and On"... The Avett Brothers
  • "Sorry She's Mine"...The Small Faces
  • "Perfect Situation"...Weezer
  • "Welcome To the Black Parade"...My Chemical Romance
  • "Waiting"...Green Day
  • "Misery Business"...Paramore
  • "Sixteen Saltines"...Jack White

Lobster Phyllo Cups
Click for Printable Recipe
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 12 oz. MILD cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 8 oz. lobster meat, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 40 to 50 phyllo cups OR serve as a dip with pita chips, tortilla chips or water crackers

Gather your ingredients.

I used frozen lobster meat, because I've never been able to bring myself to tear a lobster limb from limb.  

However, fresh lobster tastes so much better than frozen!  If you've got the courage to dismember a lobster and pick it clean, you will be rewarded with a much tastier version of this recipe.  I applaud you!

Also, before we continue, I need to explain why I went the crock pot route for this recipe.

I was making these Lobster Phyllo cups to take to a party later in the day.  

Rather than spend time and attention melting the cheese/sour cream mixture on the stove top or in the microwave, I decided to let it slowly melt in the crock pot.

Which gave me the time to do other things.

Ahem.  I had a little bit of baking to do.  Almond Cookies,  Sea Salt Caramel Rice Krispy Treats, and Lemon Cookies were all invited to the party as well.

Okay, enough with the small talk.  Here's the lobster recipe!

Put the cream cheese, sour cream and shredded cheddar into a small (I used a 3-quart size) crock pot.

Stir to combine.  Heat on LOW for 2 hours.


Place the cream cheese, sour cream and shredded cheddar into a large microwave bowl and heat on HIGH for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute until all the cheese is melted


Place the cream cheese, sour cream and shredded cheddar into a saucepan and heat it over medium/low heat, stirring constantly.  This would be the method I am least likely to recommend, because unless you give it your undivided attention, chances are pretty good that this mixture will scorch on your stovetop.

While the cheese is melting, prep your other ingredients.  If you are making this using the crockpot method, you can either take a two-hour break at this time, or prep the following ingredients in advance and add them in two hours.

Gosh, I hope this is not confusing you!

I probably should have just left this as a slow cooker recipe, but I felt the need to give you options.  The bottom line is, melt the first three ingredients by any means necessary.  I will digress no more!

Prep the remaining ingredients:

Smash and peel the garlic.

Slice the mushrooms...

and then dice them.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium-size skillet and add the mushrooms.

Crush in the garlic.

Saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened and start to have a bit of color.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Chop the chives.

If you are using the slow cooker, you can either do these preps in advance and add them in two hours when the cheese is ready, or take a two-hour break and do the prep and finish all at once.

Whether you use the crockpot, stovetop or microwave method to melt your cheese/sour cream:

Add the sautéed mushrooms and garlic to the hot cheese mixture.

Add the chives.

Stir to combine. 

If you're using frozen lobster, place it into a colander or strainer to drain the liquid.  After the lobster has drained, pat dry.

Place the lobster onto a cutting board...

and roughly chop it into 1/2-inch pieces.

Add the lobster into the warm cheese mixture.  If you're using a crockpot, you just want to continue to heat it to bring the lobster up to temperature--about 20 minutes should do it.

And if you've used the stovetop or microwave to melt your cheese, add the lobster and continue to heat for a couple of minutes until the lobster is brought up to temperature.

Heap the phyllo cups with the lobster/cheese mixture.

OR skip the phyllo cups and serve with tortilla or pita chips (or your favorite crackers) for dipping!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lemon Cookies + Lemon Ice Cream = Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches

I made Lemon Ice Cream last week.  

And I made lemon cookies this week.  The cookies are really light and chewy.  

It wasn't too much of a leap for me to put the two of them together into ice cream sandwiches!

Even if you don't go the ice cream sandwich route, you should give these cookies a try!  

Today's Playlist
  • "21 Guns"...Green Day
  • "Two Princes"...Spin Doctors
  • "Otherside"...Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Why Don't You Get A Job?"...Offspring
  • "Poprocks & Coke"...Green Day
  • "Hello Operator"...The White Stripes
  • "Tiny Little Robots"...Cage The Elephant
  • "Get Me Outta Here"...Jet

                         Lemon Cookies
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from half a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
1/4 cup sanding or large-crystal sugar for topping

Gather your ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line your baking sheets with parchment.

Zest your lemon.

Squeeze the juice out of one half of the lemon.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer, until it's light and fluffy.

Add the lemon extract.

And the eggs.

And the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Whip it good.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and whip some more.

While the batter is mixing, place the flour into a large bowl and add the salt...

baking powder,

and baking soda.

Whisk to combine.

Your batter should be whipped into a frenzy by now.

Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients.

Mix just until combined.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough.  I dropped them into the sanding sugar before placing them on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in your preheated 350-degree oven.  They are done when they are barely beginning to brown and the tops are starting to crack.

Allow them to cool completely if you're going to make ice cream sandwiches out of them.  I just left them on the baking sheet to cool, but you can transfer them onto a rack if you like.

And when they've cooled you can fill them with some of your Homemade Lemon Ice Cream.

Let the ice cream soften a bit, squish a cookie on top, and then put them into your freezer for a bit to set.

Yes, please.

Or just enjoy them straight!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Strawberry Agua Fresca

This could have been such a quick and easy post.

Three ingredients!  Plus water.  It takes about ten minutes to make.  I could have written this blog post in record time.

But then it sort of turned into a circular tale.  (If you've ever read the children's book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, you know what I'm talking about.)

It all started when I thought I'd make a pitcher of agua fresca.

Which made me think of Mexico.  Circa 1986.

Which made me wonder if I had taken any pictures of agua fresca during my long-ago Mexican vacations.

Which made me dig out a couple of old photo albums filled with pictures from vacations to Cancun and Acapulco.

No pictures of agua fresca, but there was this picture of my poolside drink served in a watermelon.

Which made me think of the abundance of tropical fruit that my friends and I ate on that trip to Cancun.  Imagine our surprise on our first night there, at dinner, when our waiter placed a hollowed-out pineapple loaded with fruit in front of each of us.  It was simply described as a "fruit cup" on the appetizer menu.

Which made me think of how much fun that trip to Cancun was.  So much fun that I wanted to go back to Mexico for my honeymoon the following year, to Acapulco.

Thinking of Acapulco made me think of the goofy little Mexican teddy bear I won shooting hoops.

Which made me think about how sweaty I was shooting hoops in Mexico on my honeymoon.

Which reminded me that I want to make a pitcher of agua fresca.

Today's Playlist
  • "Dead!"...My Chemical Romance
  • "On My Way"...Billy Boy On Poison
  • "Blue Orchid"...The White Stripes
  • "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked"...Cage The Elephant
  • "1983"...Neon Trees
  • "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To"...Weezer
  • "Ignorance"...Paramore

Strawberry Agua Fresca (8 servings)
Click for printable recipe
  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 lime

Gather your ingredients.  

I put 5 cups of the water into a pitcher, the other cup into a blender.

Put a few strawberries aside to use as a garnish later. Hull the remaining strawberries.

Place one cup of the water, the sugar and the strawberries into a blender.

Give it a whirl until it's blended.  It took about 15 seconds on HIGH.

Set a wire mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the strawberry mixture through the strainer into the bowl.

Stir the seeds and the pulp left in the strainer so that all of the strawberry juice drains through.

Discard the pulp and seeds that are left in the strainer.

Pour the strained strawberry mixture into the pitcher (which had the remaining 5 cups of cold water in it).

Cut the lime in half and add the juice from one half of the lime.  Oops, forgot to take a picture of that step.

Stir to combine.

Use additional strawberries as a garnish, as well as slices from the remaining lime half that you didn't juice.

Add plenty of ice and enjoy!