Monday, May 19, 2014

Cuban rice stuff

Cuban Rice:

Uncle Max made this once a long time ago and I always remembered how good it was. The other day I looked up how to do it.
The basics of it is a pile of rice, with an over-easy egg in the middle of it. You put a slice of fried ham (or whatever lunch meat you have around). Then you put the tomato sauce over it all. The sauce is called Sofrito apparently.
·         1 can of crushed tomatoes. (We only ever have diced so I crush my own)
·         1 green pepper
·         1 onion
·         2-3 cloves garlic
·         1 tsp (or more) Paprika
·         Salt and pepper

Saute the pepper, onions, garlic in olive oil. Add the tomatoes. Season with the paprika, salt and pepper.  Pour the sauce over your rice and egg, top it with the meat. It sounds weird, but its really good.


Alright, here is one of my recipes for Jambalaya. I had this a few times in Mississippi, and this tastes almost just like what I had in the South.
·         2 chicken breasts
·         1 smoked sausage or polska or something like that. The authentic recipe always calls for anduille sausage, but that is kind of hard to find.
·         1 onion
·         1 bell pepper
·         5 or 6 cloves of garlic (or however much you like)
·         5 ribs of celery
·         3 cans of tomato paste
·         1 can of diced tomatos
·         8 cups of chicken stock (Diedre told me to make it with 1 cube of bullion per cup of water)
·         Seasoning mix: 2 tsp cayenne, 2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme. Careful with the cayenne, 2 tsp makes it spicy. If your spouse doesn’t like spicy stuff you will be stuck with a whole pot of this stuff that you have to eat on your own. This may sound alright until you are on your 3rd day of it. The thyme really makes it, you may add more if you like it.
·         2 bay leaves
·         Salt
·         4 cups rice

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and brown the chicken with salt and pepper.  Next lightly fry the sausage. Saute the onions, garlic, peppers, and celery.  Once the sauté is almost done add the tomato paste and le that caramelize a little. Careful not to burn it.  Pour in two cans of the chicken stock and stir it around. Add the seasoning, tomatoes, and salt to taste. Cook for ~10 minutes. Add the meat and cook another 10 minutes. Add the rest of the stock. Add any seasoning to taste. Stir in the rice and cook until the rice is done.  I have done this both in a pot on the stove and in a dutch oven in the oven. It worked so much better in the oven. The pot on the stove burned on the bottom and the seasoning didn’t seem to combine all that well. This makes a bunch, so half it if you don’t want to eat on it for a while.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mom's White Bread

This is the recipe my mom used to use for bread before she switched to whole wheat bread. I don't have a wheat grinder, so I just make this fluffy white stuff and pretend it's just as good for me as the whole wheat kind. It's SO yummy, and really not that hard to make. 

What you need:
2 cups hot water (it can be pretty hot, as long as you can hold your hand in the water for a few seconds, you know it's not hot enough to kill the yeast)
1 TBS active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup sugar
5-7 cups flour

What you do:
*In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, salt, shortening, sugar, and 1 cup of flour. Mix this fairly well (you'll probably still have lumps of shortening, don't worry about them, they'll get dealt with later), then leave it to rest for about 10 minutes.
*Add in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each cup is added. Keep adding cups of flour until the dough gets too thick to stir in any more. If you are using a hand held mixer, you will probably have to switch to an old fashioned stirring spoon to get enough flour into your dough for it to be workable.
*Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes, or until the dough cleans the table and is nice and springy. Dribble just a bit of oil in the mixing bowl, then place your ball of dough back in the bowl, turning once to coat all sides with the oil.
*Let rise is a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about an hour. Divide your dough into 2 pieces and shape into loaves. Place in greased loaf pans and allow to rise until doubled in size.
*Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until it's golden brown on top and sounds hollow when you take it out of the pan and thump on the bottom. Remove from pans and let cool on wire rack. When the bread is completely cool, store in plastic bags.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

I made this to go with our Dublin Coddle for St. Patty’s day this year. I’ve never had soda bread before so I can’t say if this is an authentic recipe or not, but it was pretty tasty. It’s a pretty dense, crusty bread, so not great for sandwiches but really good for sopping up extra sauce/gravy.
What you Need:
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ cups buttermilk (I substituted 1 ½ TBS lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1 ½ cups total)
What you do:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle a thin layer of flour on a baking sheet.
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps. Gather dough into a ball. Turn out onto lighly floured surface and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute.
Shape dough into a six inch diameter by two inch high round. Place on baking sheet. Cut a one inch deep X across the top of the dough, extending almost to the edges. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer bread to a wire rack and cool completely. 

Dublin Coddle

So, being the splendid planner that I am, I woke up the morning of St. Patty’s day and thought that maybe it would be fun to do something special for dinner that evening in honor of the holiday. I did some research online and came up with a few ideas. I wanted something authentically Irish, and it turns out corned beef and cabbage (the only “Irish” meal I knew of) is actually an American thing. I found a few recipes that seemed to be traditional Irish fare, and decided to give them a try. Our menu ended up consisting of Dublin Coddle, Irish Soda Bread, a not-so-authentically-Irish-but-still-festive green fruit salad (granny smith apple, kiwi fruit, and green grapes with a squirt of lime juice to keep the apple from turning brown), and mint chocolate chip milkshakes for dessert(again not Irish, but green so it sorta counts).
Dublin Coddle seems to be a dish that comes specifically from Dublin. It’s not found all over Ireland but is just a local thing. It’s super easy to throw together and SO yummy! I adapted my recipe from here.
What you need:

3-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 large onion, peeled and sliced thickly
1 lb good quality pork sausages (I couldn't find anything at Walmart that really fit this description, so I used Polska Kielbasa)
1 lb bacon, thick cut (my research suggested that American style bacon wouldn't work for this recipe and that if you couldn't get your hands on European style bacon to go with Canadian bacon or ham. I used ham that I cut up into chunks)
1 cup broth (I used chicken beef or ham stock would work too)
3-4 TBS fresh chopped parsley (I used dehydrated, it worked fine)

What you do:
Grill or broil the sausages and bacon long enough to put some color on them. Be careful not to dry them out. Drain briefly on paper towels. When cooled enough to handle, chop bacon into one-inch pieces. You can also chop the sausage into smaller pieces, but don’t have to.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large flameproof heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, layer your ingredients in the following order: onions, bacon, sausage, potatoes. Season each layer liberally with the parsley, salt and pepper. Pour the broth over the top. On the stove, bring the liquid to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down and cover the pot.
Put the covered pot in the oven and cook for at least 3 hours (more time will only make it better). At the 2 hour point, check the pot and add more water if necessary. There should be about an inch of liquid at the bottom of the pot at all times.
Serve with fresh soda bread to mop up the gravy.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Harry Potter Party Treats: Honeydukes Express

We just had our New Beginnings program and did a Harry Potter theme (more on that here). After the program we had refreshments off the Honeydukes Cart (the treats cart on the train that takes the students to Hogwarts).  Just thought I'd show you what we did for treats!

We looked up some of the treats on the cart and came up with our own versions of them. Sandy made all the awesome signs for us, and then we all just went through our cupboards and found dishes to use for the treats.

Magic Wands:
Pretzel sticks dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in sprinkles. These were SO yummy. I loved the salty against the sweet along with the crunchiness.  

Chocolate Frogs:

Here's a size reference for you. 
I ordered a frog mold from Amazon to make these. I figure with a little boy in our lives now, a frog mold will be fun (chocolates, jello, ice, etc.), so I just got it for me to have at home (and it really was a decent price). I got the 2lb bag of melting chocolates made for those chocolate fountains and that made 32 frogs. These disappeared fast! 

 Anti-Dementor Chocolates:
Hehe...I just made a connection...a dementor's "kiss" sucks out a person's soul...a chocolate kiss protects it apparently. Bahahaha, love it.  

Jelly Slugs:

Levitating Lemon Drops:

Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans:

Jelly Belly sells actual every flavor beans, but at $2.25 for a small box, we couldn't afford enough for everyone. So we just got the regular assortment of Jelly Bellies. 

Fizzing Whizbees (aka caramels): 
 The recipe for these can be found here


I didn't get an actual picture of the butter beer. But it pretty much looks like cream soda with whipped cream on top...because that's just about what it is. We used this recipe for our butterbeer. We thought the flavor of the extracts was way too strong, most of the adults didn't like it. But the kids thought it was alright. If we were to make it again I'd just use butterscotch flavoring and not add as much as the recipe calls for. 

Easy Caramels


  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  •  2 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 15oz can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
You will also need a candy thermometer. I also used both parchment and waxed paper in making these.

  1. Melt butter in heavy saucepan. 
  2. Add sugar and salt. Stir thoroughly. 
  3. Stir in corn syrup and mix well. 
  4. Gradually add sweetened condense milk, stirring constantly. 
  5. Cook and stir over medium heat to 244 degrees-firm ball stage (**Read next note!!**)
    1. This may need to be adjusted to your specific area. Look up your altitude, find the boiling point ( In Silver City, the altitude is 5895 so the boiling point is 201. 
    2. Subtract your boiling point from 212 (in Silver City: 212-201=11). 
    3. Subtract the number you just calculated (i.e. 11) from 244 (the original temperature for the firm ball stage). Silver City: 244-11=233. This is your new firm ball stage temperature for your area. Cook the caramel mixture to THIS temperature if you are not at sea level. 
  6. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. 
  7. Pour into buttered 9x13 pan. 
    1. You can also spray the pan with Pam, place parchment paper inside the pan, then butter the parchment paper. This makes clean up super super easy!!
  8. Cool and cut into squares. It may take 8 hours to cool completely. 
  9. Caramel squares may be wrapped in wax paper to keep from sticking to each other at this stage.