Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wild Rice & Sausage Stuffing (gluten free)


Since Joe became gluten intolerant, I've searched for breadless stuffing recipes. I found a few of them that I've combined and enhanced. It's now a winner for our family that will stay in my recipe collection. I can contentedly eat it as a meal, and my kids all love it--maybe even more than the turkey. Give it a try.

Here we go...

2 medium onions, diced
6 TBSP butter, separated
1 cup wild rice, uncooked
3/4 cup long-grain brown or white rice, uncooked
5-1/2 cups low-sodium, gluten-free chicken broth
2 cups finely chopped celery
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage (remove casings, if necessary)
1 cup chopped toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts
salt and lots of pepper, to taste
2 TBSP sage (dried)
1-2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 very large or 2 medium sized apples, cored, peeled and diced
1 cup dried cranberries
2-3 TBSP fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

In a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, add both types of rices and chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil then simmer on stove (covered) for 25-30 minutes until mostly done (before wild rice starts to split and curl). If all the stock isn't absorbed after 35 min., drain rice in mesh strainer.

In a large, deep skillet (with lid), break up and brown sausage. Drain fat, remove sausage from pan, and set aside. Melt 3 TBSP butter in the skillet and saute onions until soft. Remove from pan and set aside. Then melt the remaining 3 TBSP butter in pan and sauté celery and diced apple until soft. To the skillet, welcome back the Italian sausage, onions, and add the rice mixture as well. Add the toasted almonds, salt/pepper, sage, poultry seasoning, dried cranberries, and parsley. Mix well. *Check seasoning*, and add more as needed. Heat to serving temperature.

Leave in large covered skillet to keep warm for serving. Or go ahead and be a respectable host and dirty yet another dish by scooping it into a nice baking/casserole dish to serve.

I can't emphasize this enough -- check your seasonings! Everyone has seasoning preferences, so taste it along the way to figure out what makes your taste buddies dance. Make it your own! When you get it just right for your family, don't forget to take notes so you can make it to your liking year after year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brownie Camo Cheesecake

Nothing says Happy Birthday to my son like this fun and tasty treat! I've gotta say, I like this kid's taste.

His request:

"Can you make a cheesecake with a brownie on the bottom and cheesecake on top...but not too much cheesecake--just enough."

Got 'er covered. He didn't even know that it would be camo colored.

The base can be a box brownie mix (for a 9 x 13" pan) or your favorite recipe. I baked the brownies about 5 short of being fully done (they were no longer jiggly in the middle but a toothpick definitely would not come out clean).

I then used this cheesecake recipe but changed the proportions to use 3 pkgs. (24 oz.) cream cheese. I did not use almond extract, so I added an additional 1/4 tsp. vanilla.

I'm seeing a birthday trend in this family!

Tye-dyed red velvet cheesecake

Brownie cheesecake

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Classic Mushrooms

I'm normally not a huge fan of mushrooms. You won't find me picking them off my food or avoiding a handful mixed in my dish, but I'm certainly not one who considers sauteed mushrooms as a hefty side dish either.

Maybe enjoying this sauce had something to do with it accompanying a thick slice of whole filet mignon tenderloin that I enjoyed at a friend's house last night. But that can't be the whole of it either as I sopped up the extra with the bread and corn that were left on my plate!

A great sauce for any meat.

It was divine.
And I got the recipe.

2 lbs. fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. olive oil
1/8 cup onions, minced
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp. sweet basil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
3/4 cup California white wine
10 oz. sour cream (or *1/2 to 3/4 cups half-n-half)
1/4 cup plus Parmesan cheese, grated

Our host also had firm, thin slices of red bell pepper added to the sauce.

Clean and slice mushrooms. Melt butter, add olive oil and onions. Saute onions on low heat until soft. Add mushrooms and cook for five minutes. Add seasonings and wine and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until about one-half of the wine has evaporated. Add sour cream and cheese and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Pour into serving dish and sprinkle with additional cheese. Garnish with parsley. Serves 6.

Nancy Greigo, from Albuquerque, NM is credited with this recipe.

Friday, December 17, 2010

THE Cake :: a chocolatey angelic dessert

After years of making fun cut-out cakes, my mother in law ended up making THIS "cake" for my husband's birthday every year. For as long as I can remember, they've just referred to it as "THE cake." His requested favorite. It wasn't made for any of his siblings, just my hubby's own special cake for his own special day.

It's a rich and delicious combination of tastes and textures--the really nice airiness of the angel food cake and creamy scrumptiousness of a dense chocolate mousse. It's nothing short of the perfect dessert!

1 large angel food cake
4 eggs
2 TBSP sugar (I consider this optional)
12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pint whipping cream
1 cup nuts (optional)

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. (I put them in a glass bowl and microwave starting with 1 minute, stir, then heat in increments of 30 sec. + a stir until all is melted.) Add 1 TBSP sugar (optional) and egg yolks. Beat egg whites separately, add 1 TBSP sugar (optional), and fold into the chocolate mixture. Whip cream in separate bowl, then fold into chocolate mixture. Fold, stir, mix until there are no streaks. Break up the cake into small pieces, about 1-inch"ish" cubes. Put 1/2 of the cake into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Cover with 1/2 of the chocolate mixture; layer the rest of the cake pieces, then spread the rest of the chocolate mixture to cover all of the cake pieces.

Sprinkle with nuts if desired (we like toasted PEE-can pieces).
Refrigerate overnight, or at least for a few hours.
Slice into squares.

Serve with a kind word and a smile...and a birthday song, if it fits the occasion!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spider Cake

I was serious this time. I wasn't going to make my son's birthday cake this year. Just didn't have enough time. Violin performances, activities, Halloween. Busy week.

So.


I went to the store for his requested spider cake, and there were no more and there wouldn't be anymore. Didn't have time to special order one either.

Baking aisle. Baking? Aisle? Where art thou?

He got his request.

A spider cake for our youngest little monkey.

Since he just read Charlotte's Web a couple of months ago, I couldn't resist writing his birthday "greetings and salutations" Charlotte style.

* * * * * * *


METHOD:

Boxed cake mix + ingredients to prepare
1 container dark chocolate frosting
1 container white frosting
Small black icing
Small silver sugar beads
Food coloring gels
1 Hershey Kiss (spider head)
A few pieces of black licorice

Prepare cake in regular cake rounds plus one cupcake (for spider). Use dark chocolate frosting to stack cake layers. Color 1/3 cups white frosting orange, put it into a ziplock baggie and cut small hole in corner to draw the web onto the frosted cake. Color the rest of the white frosting bright yellowy green to frost the outside of cake. Color 1/3 cup of the dark chocolate frosting as black as possible (for spider) with blue and red coloring gels. After drawing the web onto the cake add the small silver sugar beads at the connecting points. This is an optional step--I just had the beads already (and used a tweezers for placement). The spider was made from a frosted cupcake (top cut off) and a frosted Hershey's Kiss (from our kids' trick or treak bags) for the spider head. I also used the sugar beads for the eight eyes most spiders have. Don't forget that spiders have 8 legs...not 6! I finished off lining the bottom of the cake with black licorice. I only had it since I was thinking of making the cake one big spider using the black licorice for the spider legs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tropical Pool Cake :: Beach Cake

Our daughter requested a beach cake this year.

I found the idea for this cake online, and it led me to the original idea that came from the June 19, 2007 issue of Woman's Day. Zee dee-rect-shuns.


My daughter and the rest of the family LOVED this fun cake. It was pretty straight forward--especially since I don't have or know how to use any special cake decorating tools.

NOTES: I had to use 3 of 4 layers from TWO boxed cake mixes to get the height proportion of the online example.

I was a little concerned that if the Jello was pourable, it would make the cake soggy and even leak out. So, I waited until it was getting a little lumpy until I stirred it well and poured it onto the cake.

Our grocer does not carry Keebler Bug Bites for the cute butterfly (I'm not even sure if they make them anymore). After contemplating fashioning one out of something else, I decided to leave it out completely.

Instead of coloring all the different icings, I just used a box of Icing Writers found at the grocery store. I only mixed the light blue and light brown colors myself.

I couldn't find green Fruit by the Foot (only found the tie-dye version), so I used a roll of green Hubba Bubba gum tape (6 ft. in all) that I found at Party City for the "sea weed".

I also couldn't find striped sour belt candy, so I used part of a fruit roll up for the beach towel...but could've just used another piece of the gum roll.

The palm leaves were a bugger. Maybe leaving them flat would have been wiser. I tried to make them curved like the instructions called for (more realistic), but it was the most frustrating part of this cake. More often than not, the leaves broke.

Also, instead of bread sticks, you can see that I've instead used pretzel rods.


Another cake request fulfilled for one of our little'ns.