Friday, November 30, 2012

Champagne and Butter Poached Lobster

I served this at a tasting party in small portions, but it would also be great as a main dish.

Yield: 4 entree servings, or approx 12 tasting portions


4 cups water
1 1/2 cups champagne vinegar
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
2-3 lobster tails (*see note below)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups champagne
1 cup butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbs green onions, sliced
1 tbs fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

*Note about lobster - the original recipe calls for live ones, but that's a bit cringeworthy for me (yes, I'm a hypocrite & wimp when it comes to killing the things I eat).

I have a local fish market that offers lobster tails with claw meat, and also lobster stock and shells.  If you can't get that, a regular store-bought lobster tail with shell would suffice, but I would suggest using three of them, rather than two, to make up for the difference in claw meat.

Heat oil in a pot and add onion, garlic and carrot. Cook until softened. Add water, vinegar, lobster shells, herbs and spices and bring to a boil (could substitute lobster stock for this step). Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Next, remove lobster shells and add champagne. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Strain and transfer remaining liquid to a skillet.

Heat liquid in a skillet over medium heat. Slice lobster into medium sized medallions and reserve. Add butter, allow to melt, then add sliced lobster.  Mix in tarragon, lemon juice and green onions; then poach until lobster is opaque, stirring constantly, about 3-4 minutes. 

Finally, transfer lobster to a serving plate(s) and garnish with lemon zest. Serve with some of the champagne butter sauce. Yum!

Sparkling Manhattan

A lovely red cocktail for the holidays!

Yield: 1 drink (multiply for more servings)


1 ounce whiskey (I used Maker's Mark)
2 ounces chambord
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Garnish: Fresh Raspberries

Fill cocktail shaker with ice and add drink ingredients.  Strain into a cocktail glassTop with 2 dashes of orange bitters and garnish with a fresh raspberry.  Cheers!

Cranberry Butter

This is a breeze to make and a fun treat to spread on muffins, freshly baked bread and/or pancakes.  You could also roll this into a log, chill it, and place on a plate with crackers for a nice holiday presentation.

Yield: About 2 cups

1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest

Not much to it!  In the bowl of a mixer, food processor or blender, combine cranberries, butter and cream cheese. Mix until a smooth whipped texture is achieved. Add remaining ingredients and taste, adding any additional desired sugar or cranberries - fresh cranberries can be quite sour, so you may need more or less sugar, depending on the ripeness of the cranberries.

I served this on Sour Cream Mini Muffins and it was delicious. Enjoy!

Mini Sour Cream Muffins with Fresh Cranberry Butter

This was a perfect combination and a great treat for a cold winter day.

Yield:  About 30 mini muffins or 12 regular sized ones

2 cups self rising flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease the muffin pan you are using with cooking spray.  I used 24 cup muffin pans and ended up with about 32 mini muffins.

Combine dry ingredients.  Mix in wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Fill muffin cup about 3/4 full with mixture.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until muffins have risen and are firm.  These are great served warm!

As you can see, these muffins didn't get that brown on the top, but don't be fooled and overcook; check the bottoms, which should be brown after the appropriate cooking time.  This is delicious served with cranberry butter.  Click the link below for the recipe.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pink Lemonade Layer Cake

I made this cake for a baby shower, but you could easily use this recipe to make a normal sized cake or even cupcakes.

1 regular sized cake (triple recipe for cake shown above) or 24 cupcakes

Cake Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup thawed pink lemonade concentrate
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp strawberry extract

Frosting Ingredients:
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp thawed pink lemonade concentrate
2-3 drops red food coloring

Decorations (optional):
Pastel edible pearls
Pastel large "confetti" sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cake pans with cooking spray or butter. I used three square pans for the layer cake pictured; one 12 inch, one 10 inch, one 4 inch.

Mix batter ingredients with electric mixer until smooth. Pour the batter into prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pans.

While the cake is baking, make the frosting by mixing the frosting ingredients in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add a few drops of red dye until the desired pink color is achieved.

Once the cake has cooled, spread the top of each layer with frosting and assemble, then frost the entire cake. If desired, add decorations and serve! Cute as a button and just as tasty... enjoy!

No Bake S'mores Pie

This is as easy as... pie!

1 ready made chocolate pie crust
1 box Jello chocolate pudding
2 cups milk (for pudding)
1 cup chocolate graham crackers
8 ounces (about 1/2 bag) regular sized marshmallows

Prepare pudding according to package directions and let set for about 10 minutes. Pour into prepared pie crust. Crumble chocolate graham crackers over the top of the pudding, then place the marshmallows in a circular pattern on top of the pie.

Now for the fun part! Using a kitchen torch or long lighter, toast the marshmallows until gooey and slightly charred on the outside.

Place the pie in the refrigerator to set for about 30 minutes, then serve! It looks messy but tastes gooey and delicious.  Enjoy!

Apple Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops

This is really delicious and a great seasonal fall dish. I served it with pumpkin cheddar biscuits.

4 slices bacon
1 cup chopped apple (I used 2 red delicious)
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup
diced celery
1 cup herb stuffing mix
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 thick or butterflied pork chops
2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring pork chops to room temperature, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

In a skillet, cook bacon slices over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Set bacon on paper towels to drain and cool.  Add the apple, celery and onion to the drippings in the pan and cook until the vegetables and apple soften, about 5-10 minutes.

Next, chop or crumble the bacon into small pieces and add to pan. Pour in chicken broth and then add the stuffing and season to taste.

Heat a second pan to high heat and add the chops, searing until lightly browned on each side.  Remove from pan and stuff the chops - if the pork chops are already butterflied, simply fold the pork chop over the stuffing. Or, if using thick chops, cut a pocket into each chop and stuff with the bacon apple mixture.

Place stuffed pork chops on a baking sheet and into the oven. Cook the pork chops for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 140 degrees. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sweet Pumpkin Curry Butter

Unfortunately, I didn't get very good photos of this, as I was kind of in a hurry to serve it!  Also, my flash was picking up too much glare, so the color is slightly off - this was as orange as a pumpkin pie, in person.

Yield:  About 4 cups

3 cups fresh or canned pumpkin

16 ounces cream cheese, room temp
16 ounces whole salted butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp curry powder (or to taste)
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tsp lemon juice


This one is very simple!  Bring the cheese and butter to room temperature.  Mix all of the ingredients with an electric mixer until combined.  Adjust spices to taste.

The pumpkin butter can be kept in the fridge for about 2 weeks, or you can freeze it.

Uses - spread this on toast, muffins, pancakes, cookies...  Jar and give as a holiday gift.  Or, eat it with a spoon - it's delicious!  Enjoy!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bacon Mushroom Pizza with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Bacon, mushrooms, and gorgonzola... basically, an unbeatable flavor combination.

Yield:  2 pizzas

Pizza Ingredients:
2 pizza crusts (any type you prefer)
1 lb crisp sliced bacon
1 lb sliced sauteed mushrooms
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups Gorgonzola cream sauce (see below)
Fresh basil leaves (I used about 3 ounces) 

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce:
2 cups heavy cream
3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese (crumbled)
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tbsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Begin by making cream sauce.  Bring cream to a boil over medium-high heat, then add the garlic.  Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, then add Gorgonzola and Pamesan cheeses.  Whisk until cheese are melted, then add spices and season to taste.  Set sauce aside on low to keep it from congealing while making the rest of the ingredients. 

Next, cook bacon until crisp and allow to cool and drain on paper towels.  Once cool, slice into one inch pieces and set aside.  Sautee mushrooms in a bit of olive oil for about five minutes, then set on paper towels to dry.

As far as the pizza crust itself, I vacillate between making my own and buying it pre-made, so don't listen to me : )  Just make sure you have it pre-crisped for at least 5 minutes in the oven, so that the crust doesn't get soggy when you add the sauce.

Now that all of the ingredients are ready, it's time to assemble the pizza!  Spread the ingredients on as desired, starting with the cream sauce, then the mozzarella, bacon and mushrooms, and adding the basil last.  I like to leave the leaves whole for presentation, but that's up to you.

Cook the pizza in the oven according to the crust you are using or, at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes until the crust is crisp.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Seasonal... chocolatey... delicious!

Yield:  About 12 regular sized muffins or 6 large muffins.

1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp melted butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin pan or use paper liners.

Mix sugar, oil, eggs.  Add pumpkin and water.  In a separate bowl, mix together the baking flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Mix in the wet ingredients and then fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full with the batter.  For the streusel topping, mix the ingredients together until just crumbly and then divide onto tops of muffins.  Bake the muffins in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Enjoy!