Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Creamy Corn Chowder with Bacon and BBQ Shrimp

I never used to be much of a soup person, but I've really changed my ways the last year or so.  Maybe it's because when I make my own soups, I add butter, heavy cream, salt, bacon....  This definitely isn't the way my mother made soup (bland, greasy turkey noodle for a week after Thanksgiving, anybody?).

I adapted this recipe from How Sweet It Is.  I've borrowed a few of this blogger's recipes, she seems to be a hedonist, much like myself.

8 slices of bacon
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
8 ears of grilled fresh corn, cut off the cob
2 cups of chicken stock
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
1 pound of raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, preferably with the shell on
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (for grilling corn and shrimp)
Salt & pepper, to taste

Heat a pan to medium heat.  Add bacon slices and cook until crispy.  Remove bacon and let it drain on paper towels.

In a large pot, melt butter.  Add onions and red pepper and cook until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Whisk in the flour, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

While soup is simmering, heat grill to high.  Season the shrimp and corn with olive oil, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.  Cook corn for about 5 minutes per side, shrimp for about 3 minutes per side, or until pink. Remove from grill.  Remove tails/shells from shrimp and toss with barbecue sauce.  Once corn has cooled, remove from cob (a serrated knife will work best for this).

Next, stir milk and cream into soup.  Add cayenne pepper, corn, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls topped with the crumbled bacon and shrimp.  

This may sound like a strange combo - bacon, shrimp and BBQ sauce mixed in a cream soup?  But somehow, the smokiness of the grilled corn, bacon, and BBQ sauce all work together delightfully.  Trust me.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Deep Fried Cheese Ravioli

Someone once told me that you could make ravioli with won ton wrappers.  I didn't think much of it, since I don't even like ravioli that much.  Then one day, considering what to make for dinner, I realized I had some interesting items - won ton wrappers, string cheese, and Italian sausage.  Hmm... deep fried ravioli?!  A star was born.

1 package won ton wrappers 
8-10 sticks string cheese
3 cups vegetable oil
3-4 eggs, whisked
Meat and/or veggies (I used Italian sausage, mushrooms, and fresh basil)
Marinara sauce for dipping

This will make about 30 ravioli.  Before you start, unwrap your string cheese and cut into desired lengths.  I used about 1/4 of a string cheese for each ravioli, but if you are going to make plain cheese ravioli, you might want to use more.  I decided to use string cheese because it was easier to contain within the flimsy won ton wrapper.  And, because I had a package of it in the fridge!
Lightly whisk eggs in a bowl.  Take one won ton wrapper, and with a pastry brush, lightly dampen edges of wrapper with egg.  Place fillings on top, being careful not to overfill.  Rest an additional won ton wrapper on top, and press down on edges to close.
At this point, it is up to you how you want to shape these,  I chose to use the scalloped edge of a pastry roller to cut pretty, flowered looking edges on these.  A plain round cookie cutter would also work just fine, and could be more efficient!  Either way, at this point it is time to heat the vegetable oil in a pan, to medium high.
Fry these at medium to high heat for about 2 minutes per side, or until just browned.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain, then sprinkle with salt.  Serve while hot, with marinara sauce, if desired.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chocolate Heaven Martini Shooters with Turtle Sprinkles

This recipe should make about one large shot.  I made these in a large martini shaker, then poured into shot glasses, so my measurements may be a bit off.  Basically, you want equal parts of the four main ingredients.  Heavenly!

1/2 oz Godiva chocolate liqueur
1/2 oz
creme de cacao
1/2 oz
1/2 oz heavy cream
Turtle sprinkles (or whichever you prefer!)
Mix first four ingredients in large cocktail shaker with ice, shake until chilled (you can also combine in a pitcher and refrigerate, if making in advance).

To serve with sprinkles, rim each glass with a bit of water.  The easiest way to do this is to dip into a bowl of water, then shake to remove excess.  Pour sprinkles onto a plate, wet each glass, then dip into sprinkles.  Fill with chocolate martini and serve.

I chose turtle sprinkles because they had them at the store, and they sounded delicious... and also because I was doing a peanut butter/chocolate theme.  Any type of sprinkles would taste good here, so use your imagination.  Obviously, you can also serve this as a full martini.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beer Cheese (in the shape of a fish)

I'm sure this might seem odd to the casual observer, but I can explain!  I served this at a cruise ship theme party.  I got the fish mold a few years back for a seafood party (I used it to make a seafood salad).  And beer cheese is delicious no matter how it is shaped!

2 lbs sharp cheddar cheese, room temperature
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/4 - 1/2 bottle of dark beer (I used Guinness)
2 tsp salt

Cut the cheese into cubes and place in a food processor or electric mixer.  Add heavy cream and process until smooth.  Add garlic, Worcestershire, mustard, and Tabasco.  Continue to blend, adding the beer a splash at a time.  Beat the cheese until it is fluffy and a firm, spreadable consistency, and be careful not to add too much beer, which will make it runny.  Stir in the salt and refrigerate (in desired bowl or creature shaped mold) until ready to serve.  Serve with warm french bread.
Note:  No fish were harmed in the making of this recipe.  Enjoy!

Champagne Wedding Cake with Pineapple Filling & White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

So I did something crazy and made a wedding cake.  It seemed like a good idea at the time!  It actually turned out beautiful, though it was quite a bit more work than I expected.  FYI, I'm not a professional baker.  And I was fully aware of that after about layer six.

Basically, the inspiration for this was that a good friend of mine decided to get married, without much notice or fanfare.  I offered to throw her a party.  Of course, a party didn't seem like quite enough, so I got the notion to make a wedding cake, and that was that.  I came up with this combination of flavors - champagne cake, pineapple filling, and white chocolate icing.  It was light, fluffy, delicious, and enjoyed by all.  Hooray!

Champagne Cake Recipe:
2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups champagne
1/2 tsp champagne extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the pan(s) you are using.  For my cake, I multiplied this recipe by six, and used one 14 inch cake pan, one 12 inch cake pan, and one 10 inch cake pan.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.  Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.

Next, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites.  Pour into prepared pan(s).  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Here's the cake stand.  It has removable plastic plates that you can cover with foil for a pretty display.  I got gold foil at a local craft store.
 And the first layer gets frosted!  It all seemed so simple back then....
Tips:  Be sure that the bowl and mixer are dry in order to get the eggs to form stiff peaks.  Also, it takes a while to fold in the eggs, and it is important to do so slowly.

If you want to make a champagne cake but don't want to spend all that time whipping eggs, I found a champagne cake recipe that had a cake mix as a base.  I made it as practice with the filling and frosting the weekend before the party, to be sure the flavor combination would work.  Anyway, the only difference that I noticed between the "real" cake recipe and the one I used with the box cake was that the cake made from scratch was a bit fluffier.

So, if you want to take a shortcut, you can use 1 white cake mix, 1 1/2 cups champagne, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 3 egg whites, 1 tsp sugar, 1/8 tsp almond extract, and 1/2 tsp champagne extract, and make a similar cake to the one I'm describing here!

Pineapple Cake Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon butter

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt.  Stir in the egg, pineapple, and pineapple juice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so it doesn't scorch, until thick.  Remove from heat and add the butter.  Stir until melted.  Cool completely before filling cake.

This filling was a perfect match - it's sweet, but not syrupy sweet.  I think it would also be great as a filling or topping for cupcakes!

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing:

9 ounces white chocolate
12 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla

This recipe stated that it would make enough to fill and frost two 9 inch by 1 1/2 layers or three 9-inch layers.  I multiplied the recipe by 10, and still nearly ran out of frosting at the end.  Jeez, it takes a lot of frosting to make a wedding cake!  I used about a million pounds of butter and cream cheese and filled my Kitchen Aid Mixer 3 times, to get it all whipped.  Regardless, it's possibly the best icing I've ever tasted, so I'll definitely be using this recipe again.

In a small saucepan, break the white chocolate into pieces over medium heat and stir until melted.  Be careful not to let the chocolate burn.  Stir until smooth and then let it cool.  In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.  Gradually beat in the cooled white chocolate until incorporated.  Beat in the butter and vanilla.

If you refrigerate this frosting, bring it to room temperature and beat it again to prepare it for use.  Do not heat it again.  This frosting held up great - it secured the layers, didn't sweat or melt, and was fine unrefrigerated for several hours.  Plus it tasted goddamn delicious!
Wedding Cake Tips:

Figuring out how to display the cake was one of the most difficult parts of this process.  I didn't realize how difficult it would be to set up a cake of this size.  When I decided to make the cake, I went online and casually ordered a cake stand.  It was about a month before the party at this point, and I was feeling pretty cocky about this whole wedding cake business.  How hard can it be to make a cake, I thought to myself...

When the stand arrived, I was befuddled.  Perplexed.  Concerned.  Sure, it's gorgeous, but it comes in about a hundred pieces and doesn't 't seem sturdy enough to hold up cupcakes, let alone a wedding cake.  This is the one I got:  Crystal Wedding Cake Stand.  You can practically see the unwarranted confidence in the picture.  Six layers?  What was I thinking?

I left it on my dining room table for about a week, and every time I walked by, I tried to analyze the cake stand; discern it's purpose, look into it's future.  Then I realized I was in over my head and went online and ordered a different cake stand.

The next cake stand seemed much simpler.  It had styrofoam pieces to set between the cakes and was only three layers tall.  Here it is - wedding cake stand, attempt #2:  Tailored Tiers Cake DisplayThen it arrived with a ten page booklet of instructions.  Uh oh!  As easy as it looked, it still called for dowels, straws, and other complex equipment.  Considering I was planning on making a full menu for 30 as well as the wedding cake, all on the same day, I needed a better solution.

So came the third cake stand.  A stand so ingenious that the layers would look as though they were on top of one another, but not actually have to be.  Heavenly!  Here it is:  Floating Tier Cake Stand   Of course, the moment my friend Molly (who had offered to help decorate the cake) walked in the door, she asked me why I wasn't placing the layers atop one another....  it isn't her fault, she had no idea what I had been through!  In the end, it all worked out, and I now own 3 different wedding cake stands, which will come in handy if I'm ever asked to make a trio of wedding cakes.  I'm sure that will happen any day now.
I did a lot of research before starting this project.  Apparently, the easiest thing to do is bake the individual cake layers 1-3 months ahead of time and freeze them (easier for frosting!).  Unfortunately, my freezer is tiny, and I realized there was no way these layers would fit.

I was able to find some useful tools at the craft store that saved me a lot of time and effort.  First, I got a 20 inch Lazy Susan, which made frosting the cake much easier.  I also bought a cake layer slicer, very similar to the one in this link: Cake Slicer.  I don't know how I would have been able to cut such thin layers without this slicer.  I made each cake into four layers and placed the filling between each one.  I spread a thin layer of frosting on top of each cake layer, before placing the pineapple filling on top.  This will stop the filling from sinking into the cake and making it soggy.

Another item I purchased was this Cake Lifter, which proved invaluable in lifting the thin and larger cake layers.  This will come in handy all the time!  I wish I had known about it sooner, I can't even count the number of cakes and pies I've messed up when trying to move them from one plate to another.

The final thing I got that was quite helpful was what I call a Cake Comb.  I'm not sure what it is actually called, but it looks just like a comb.  It helps even the sides of the cake and adds a simple, attractive design.

Finally, I decorated this with fresh daisies and sunflowers.  I actually just purchased plants from Home Depot and cannibalized them for the flowers.  What can I say... they were having an end of summer sale, and it was cheaper and faster than getting them from a flower shop!  At the craft store, they have little plastic tubes which you can place the flowers within.  They have a reservoir for water inside, to keep the flowers perky before the cake is served.  I added a bronze ribbon (stolen straight from a picture of a wedding cake I found online that had sunflowers and a brown ribbon) and voilà , the cake was ready for prime time!

All in all, this was a fun (and exhausting) project.  I really just wanted to challenge myself and see if I could do it.  If I ever make a wedding cake again, I will make and cut the layers in advance, because that was basically the most time consuming part.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sweet & Smoky Asian Beef Ribs

I've made these a number of times - it's a tasty recipe and you can modify the seasonings to personal preference.

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sesame seed oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon green onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 lbs beef short ribs
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (for garnish)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all marinade ingredients in a bowl, stirring until the brown sugar is dissolved.  Place ribs in a pan and pour the marinade over them.  Marinate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
When ready to prepare the ribs, remove from pan and discard the marinade.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Preheat grill to medium high.  Grill ribs for 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare.  Let the ribs rest for 5 minutes, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Don't be surprised if your guests drool a little bit and look like this:
Also, be careful with your hands, you could lose a finger if you don't pass these out quickly enough.

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

I found this recipe in a magazine and made it especially for my youngest brother Ryan, who has a deep, dark obsession with Reese's cups.  I would estimate that my brother managed to eat about 90% of this dessert, which the recipe claimed would serve 20, all by himself.  To be fair, it did take him a day and a 1/2 to get through it!

1 package fudge brownies, cooked and cut into squares
1 package (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
2 packages (13 ounces each) Reese's peanut butter cups 

4 cups cold milk 
1 package (5.1 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix 
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cartons (8 ounces each) frozen whipped topping, thawed


Prepare brownies according to package directions and cool. Cut peanut butter cups in half and set aside 1/2 cup for garnish.

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes.  Let stand until soft-set.  Add peanut butter and vanilla; mix well.  Fold in 1-1/2 cartons whipped topping.
Place a third of the brownies in a 5 quart trifle or glass bowl.  Top with a third of the remaining peanut butter cups.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the peanut butter chips over the mixture.  Spoon a third of the pudding mixture over the top.  Repeat layers twice.

Cover with remaining whipped topping and garnish with reserved peanut butter cups.  Refrigerate until chilled, then serve.

Tips:  The peanut butter whipped cream mixture this makes is the best part - I'm considering using it for some other peanut butter cup based recipes.  This isn't pretty anymore once you start serving it, but don't worry, it tastes so good that no one will notice.  Enjoy!

Cake Batter Martini Shooters

Mmm... alcohol that tastes like cake!  I got this recipe from How Sweet It Is.  The author of the blog used rainbow sprinkles, which looks beautiful, but for this particular occasion I needed just black and white.  I served these as shots, along with some other tiny cocktails... oh how I love to serve miniature drinks!

1 ounce amaretto
1 1/2 ounces whipped cream vodka
1 1/2 ounces white creme de cacao
1/2 ounce Godiva white chocolate liqueur
1 ounce cream cheese or vanilla frosting
Sprinkles (your choice)

Coat the rim of the glass you are using with frosting.  Pour desired sprinkles on a plate and press glass rim into sprinkles to adhere.

Next, combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for about 30 seconds. Strain into glass and serve.  This really does taste like cake batter!  Enjoy!

Update - I made these again, with the rainbow nonpareils recommended by the original recipe, and swapped out the whipped cream vodka for "cake batter vodka", which they now have.  I added whip cream to top them off.  Yum!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Smoked Pork Carnitas

This is a go to recipe for me.  The combination of flavors is awesome.  It's not very authentic, as true carnitas are fried in lard, but the flavor of the meat is fantastic, and you can use this as a base to make any Mexican dish you would like (I've put it in tacos, burritos, and tostadas, or just eaten it by itself!).

Smoked Carnitas
1 pork shoulder roast, about 5-6 lbs.
2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
8 cloves garlic
mesquite wood chips (soaked and drained)

Spice Rub:
3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon White Pepper
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

For The Mop and Sauce:
1 12 oz bottle of dark Mexican beer, such as Negra Modelo
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of the rub

Pierce the roast all over to let the marinade work its way in. Marinate the roast with the orange juice and garlic cloves overnight.  The next day, discard the OJ and garlic mixture.  Rinse the roast off and pat dry with paper towels.

Make the rub by mixing together all the ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside 2 tablespoons for the mop sauce. Pat the rub all over the roast.  Next, make the sauce.  Mix all of the ingredients together and set aside about 1 cup for when the meat is done, to use as a finishing sauce.

Set the grill to medium heat, about 300 degrees max, and use wood chips for smoke.  Place the roast on the grill, either on a rack, or with one burner turned off, so that it is not directly over any flames.  Smoke the roast for 4-5 hours.  Liberally baste the roast with the sauce about every 45 minutes.

When the roast is done, let it sit for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, then tear it apart into shreds. Ladle the remaining sauce over the shredded pork.  
I usually serve this as an appetizer, on tostaditas with a little cotija cheese sprinkled over the top. To make miniature tostadas like the one pictured at the top of this post, simply use a biscuit sized cookie cutter to cut rounds out of corn tortillas, then fry them in oil for 2-3 minutes until crispy.

You can basically cook this as long as you want without worrying too much about drying the roast out - I've left it on the grill for as long as 12 hours.  The outside will become completely charred and appear to be burnt, but that is actually a flavorful char that is delicious when shredded and mixed in with the tender inside pieces of the roast.

For the wood chips, you can simply use aluminum foil to wrap them, leaving a little opening for the smoke to escape.  As far as shredding the roast, after many times of making this (as well as pulled pork), I've learned that the fastest and best way to do it is simply pulling it apart by hand (hence the name!).  Enjoy!

Midnight Kiss Cocktail

This is a tasty drink that looks pretty with gold or yellow sprinkles.  I served it in shooters (tall shot glasses) with gold or yellow sprinkles.

Ingredients (per shooter):
3/4 oz chilled vodka (your preference, I used Absolut)
3/4 oz oz chilled champagne (I used Brut)
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
Colored sprinkles (I used Wilton gold pearlescent sprinkles, but yellow or white would also look nice)

Pour some of the desired sprinkles on a paper or regular plate.  Dip a glass in water to slightly wet the rim.  Press the edge of the glass into the sprinkles.  Next, pour vodka into the glass, and fill with champagne. Top with Blue Curacao.  Pretty and delicious!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leah's Chocolate Banana Cream Pie Cups

I was going to make a chocolate banana cream pie for a party, but then I thought, wouldn't it be fun to make it in shot glasses instead?  This made about a dozen miniature shot glass servings, so I imagine it would make about six regular sized servings (or less, if you love dessert!).

1 package chocolate pudding mix, prepared according to package instructions
2 bananas, sliced
1 1/2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup Sno-Caps, or other candy topping

Prepare pudding and chill for at least 30 minutes.  Put about 1 tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of each shot glass.  Add a slice of banana, and about 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate pudding, depending on the size glass you are using.  Add one more slice of banana, then top with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of whipped cream.  Sprinkle Sno-Caps over the top and serve.

These can be made in advance and refrigerated.  They are quick to assemble and the simplicity of the ingredients is masked by the cute presentation!  Besides, who doesn't like chocolate pudding and whipped cream?  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Crab & Papaya Salad

This is a light, summery salad that can be served as a first course or an appetizer, or a light lunch or dinner.

3 cups papaya, diced and peeled
1 pound lump crabmeat
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, mix papaya, green onions, jalapeño pepper, bell peppers and crab meat.  In another bowl, combine canola oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and salt, stirring with a whisk.  Drizzle vinegar mixture over crab mixture and mix.  Chill before serving.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spicy Ginger Beef

This has a nice combination of sweetness and heat.  Add more Sriracha, if you prefer it extra hot!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb skirt steak, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger, divided
2 tablespoons Thai chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste 
2 cups steamed white rice

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add beef and one tablespoon of the ginger. Stir fry until meat is barely cooked.  With a slotted spoon, remove beef to a bowl, draining oil back into skillet.

Add the Thai chili sauce, garlic and onion to the remaining oil.  Cook until the vegetables are translucent.  Add peppers, mushrooms, and remaining ginger.  Stir fry until vegetables are tender.
Add the soy sauce to the vegetable mixture. Stir to combine.  Pour reserved meat, with accumulated juices, into the skillet.  Cook until the meat is just heated through.  Add basil and hot sauce, then mix until well combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, on a bed of rice if desired.

Cheesy Bacon and Egg Cups

These were simple to prepare and were gobbled up as soon as I set them out.  Making them in a muffin pan adds to the presentation, and the fresh basil gives a vibrant flavor to the dish.

Cooking spray
1 lb (about 12 slices) slightly precooked bacon
1 dozen eggs
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
6 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute bacon in pan until just slightly cooked.  Remove from pan and lay bacon on paper towels to drain.  Coat a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray; fit each muffin cup with a slice of bacon, allowing the bacon to protrude over the edges of the cup.  For some slices, you may need to cut them in half to get this to work.  I used 1 to 1 1/2 full slices of bacon for each muffin cup, just slicing as needed depending on the size of the slices.

Divide half the cheese and basil among the cups.  Crack one egg on top of each cup and sprinkle with remaining basil.  Bake at 375° until set, about 15-20 minutes.  Let the cups rest for 5 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.  Run knife around edges of cups to unmold and serve.

This is an easy recipe to modify - you could substitute prosciutto, use a different type of cheese, or add vegetables.  Next time I plan to make one with cheddar and mushrooms.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Surf Nacho Boards

This is a fun twist on nachos.  I tried to position the shrimp on top so that they sort of looked like surfers on surf boards.  This was for a Cruise Ship theme party, so I'm not quite as crazy as that sounds!

Tortilla chips
1 cup refried beans
1 cup monterey jack cheese
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1/2 of a red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tomato, finely chopped
3 tbsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup medium sized shrimp, cooked
Salt and pepper to taste
Make a salsa of the jalapeno, onion, tomato, garlic and cilantro.  Season with lime juice and salt and pepper. Arrange tortilla chips on a baking sheet and top with the salsa, then sprinkle generously with monterey jack cheese.  Press one shrimp into the bean/cheese mixture so that it stands.
Bake in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper again, if necessary, and serve when hot.  Surf's up!