Monday, June 27, 2011

Denise's Famous Cheese Cake

Our family friend Denise makes the BEST cheesecake I have ever had..ever! It is thick, it is rich, it is definitely NOT low fat! But once you taste it you really and truly won't care at all. You will be in a blissfully heavenly place, I am serious.
The recipe is simple, with few ingredients, but it does take some is a long slow baking time. SO take that into consideration when you bake it.  I use a round(about 8-9 inch) deep (close to 4 inch) cake pan.   You will need to bake the cheese cake in a water bath so find another baking dish big enough that your cheesecake pan can fit inside and the water bath will be at least halfway up the side.

Denise's Famous Cheese Cake

preheat oven to 310

4  8oz pkg of cream cheese  room temp
4 eggs
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tea vanilla
graham cracker crumbs

coat the inside of the pan with PAM very well...sides and bottom.  sprinkle the graham crumbs into pan, turning to get a tin coating on sides and bottom.

In a mixer beat the cream cheese, eggs, cream, and vanilla until smooth. Pour into cake pan.  Place the cake pan into another baking pan and pour hot water into the second pan until at least halfway up the sides.

Bake for 1 hour and twenty minutes and then turn the oven off but DO NOT open the door! let the cheesecake sit in the warm steamy oven in the hot water bath at LEAST and hour...2 is better.  Then remove from ove and water bath...and turn the cheeescake out onto a serving dish and chill several hours..then serve and enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Perfect Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Ragout

This is definitely a wonderful special occasion or celebration dinner, but so very simple! Beef Tenderloin is a more expensive cut of meat...but oh so yummy. Also, because your are only paying for the meat (no bone, fat, ect) and it  does not shrink much it is cheaper than it appears. It is also so so so very tender. I have been known to invent a special occasion to make is that good. It is also hard to ruin this lovely (but expensive) piece of deliciousness if you go by internal temp and not time while roasting.
The mushroom "sauce" is very thick and rich...even my boys who are not really fans of mushrooms took second helpings.

served with snap peas and pancetta

Beef Tenderloin

1  TRIMMED beef tenderloin (your butcher can trim the silverskin and any excess fat for you) size of your choice- you will be roasting to an internal temp. I use about a 4-5 pound tenderloin(trimmed weight) for the 6 of us. room temperature meat is preferred for optimum tenderness
3 tbl olive oil
2 tbl bacon grease
3 cloves garlic minced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
2 tbl sea salt (or kosher salt)
2 tbl cracked black pepper

preheat oven to 400

combine everything in a bowl. rub the mixture into the meat very well...really massage it in. Quickly sear all side of the tenderloin in an extremely hot oiled skillet.Then lay the tenderloin on an oiled rack in a roasting pan.  Roast uncovered until internal temp is 130-135. This will be medium rare NOT overcook this cut of meat. Medium rare is when the meat is most tender. Let meat rest at least 10-20 minutes. Slice across the grain.

Mushroom Ragout
1 cup sliced white mushroom
2 cups cremini (baby bella) mushrooms sliced
3 tbl butter
2 tbl olive oil
1 small onion slice thin
1/2 cup Sherry
4 sprigs thyme leaves
3/4 - 1cup heavy cream
salt and pepper

Put a skillet over med-high heat -saute onions until softened in butter and olive oil. Add mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms just begin to brown. Add Sherry and thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until sherry in reduced by 1/2.  Stir often.  When the mushrooms have softened and the liquid is almost gone, add the cream add stir well. When the mixture thickens...its done.   serve over sliced tenderloin.

*** HINT:  You can puree this sauce and make a FANTASTIC cream of mushroom soup!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gluten Free Lasagna Rollata

This is an easy, quick recipe equally nice for a weeknight dinner (it can be made ahead too!) or a company worthy meal.

GF Lasagna Rollata

1 box of GF brown rice lasagna noodles
1 cup GF cottage cheese (Breakstone is a GF brand)
1/4 cup parmigiana cheese (or Romano cheese if you prefer)
1 cup shredded mozzerella
1 tbl Italian spice or dried basil
1 egg
your fave GF all natural tomato sauce (I like Puttanesca)
salt and pepper to taste

fill a pot with water, salt the water heavily and add a splash of olive or veggie oil just to help prevent the noodles from sticking.  when the water comes to a boil add rice noodles...cook 2 min stirring several times to help prevent sticking. remove from heat and let noodles sit in hot water 10-15 minutes until al dente but pliable.  While the noodles are sitting make the filling.  in a bowl combine cheeses, egg, and seasonings...mix well.  when noodles are done, drain.  In a baking dish pour a little sauce in to cover the bottom. Then take a noodle, spread 1 teaspoon of sauce down the length of the noodle. Then spread some filling down the length of the noodle.  roll up and and place seam side down in the baking dish...repeat with remaining noodles. Cover the rollups with sauce.  cover baking dish with foil. Bake at 400 for 15- 20 until hot and melting.

Chocolate Pie to die for

I made this pie the other night..I was looked very dense and heavy. I knew it would be rich, but I did not want a heavy dessert on a hot summer night. It was NOT dense, husband even commented on how light and almost fluffy it was.  I was thrilled! The boys fought over the last few pieces and that always brings a smile to my face.  The most important thing with this recipe is to not skimp on the MUST use an electric mixer on high..and you MUST beat each addition really well (several minutes) before the next addition or the pie WILL be dense and may even be slightly gritty.  This pie has raw eggs in it...if you are serving this pie to elderly, immune compromised, or children please use pasteurized egg that you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

Chocolate Pie

1 cup butter  softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 squares of unsweetened bakers chocolate (melted and cooled)
2 tea vanilla
1/8 tea salt
4 eggs
your favorite pie crust (baked or graham, or cookie crumb)

adding chocolate to butter/sugar
after first egg

see how it gets lighter/fuffier as you add each egg?
Beat butter on high until pale and fluffy.  Then add sugar and salt...beat at least 4 minutes on high (scrap sides of bowl several times) mix in cooled chocolate and vanilla...beat well. HERE is the IMPORTANT PART. add 1 egg beat at least 3-5 min until the chocolate filling expands...then add another egg...continue in this manner until all eggs are combined.  pour into pie crust and refrigerate several hours. Top with whipped cream or cool whip.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fussy Eaters

People always ask me why my kids are not fussy eaters…or the say to me, “Kelly you don’t understand, your kids are not fussy they will eat anything”.  The fact of the matter is this is far from true.  All of my kids were, at some point, fussy to a degree. My oldest son Matthew was by far the fussiest of them all. There were several years of his life that the mere thought of anything even resembling a vegetable would send him into tears.  I even went so far as to bake cookies, muffins, sauces, meatballs…all with ground up ‘hidden’ veggies in them.

Now however, my kids will eat (or at least taste) just about anything….why? Well I attribute this turnaround to several factors.  First and foremost I never catered to them. I made one dinner, you ate it or you were hungry. I was not mean about it and tried to include a variety of things at each meal so there was a choice.  Our rule was you needed to at least TRY everything even if that meant 1 single green bean or 1 bite of casserole. Trust me they gagged, made faces, acted as though we were awful, awful people because they had to taste a pea or a piece of melon.  I know they will tell you I have said more than once that “you can’t not like something you have never tried”.  If they truly did not like something, I did not make them eat it and I did keep that in mind when I planned menus (If 1 child despised green beans…I made an alternate veggie or I dressed then up differently.  Another rule was you were never to “yuck” what mommy (or anyone else for that matter) cooked.  Someone made an effort and worked hard to make you food…and “yucking another person’s yum” was rude and could hurt someone’s feelings.
The biggest thing we did for our children was to expose them to different tastes and textures. We modeled that we were willing to try something exotic and new and see if we might like it.  We let them do a lot of this exploration of tastes by letting them do the choosing.  Some of the more fun ways we did this was to take them shopping and let them choose a fruit or veggie that they had never had, that looked weird, that had an odd name. When we got home we would look up what to with it on the internet.  Choosing the food, learning how to prepare and serve it made it so much more exciting for them. We found many new favorites this way! We also played a fun game…I let each child pick a country and for 1 week we would look at maps, pictures on line, read books, AND cook authentic foods from that country.  Some of the countries I was familiar with the food (Italy, China, Ireland) so it was a lot less research for me…but they thought it was fun. Other countries were more difficult and really made me stretch my cooking wings a bit and I learned a lot about flavors and techniques and ingredients . When oldest (and fussiest) son chose Egypt I was at a loss!  I knew NOTHING about Egyptian food. This country experiment turned out to be our most fun and most memorable. We had our first couscous and I still laugh when I remember my husband’s face when he asked me why I was putting cinnamon on the beef! 

Lastly we let them plan themed menus for their family birthday parties ….this is a lot of people when all of your extended family lives close by!)  We have had some odd menu combinations…but no matter what they pick we add it to the menu.  As they got older they began to understand the work behind the food, what types of food go together, and they had the power to have their menu take shape.

So, although they are much more open to foods then they were – they all of course have their dislike (who doesn’t?)….this is fine with me.  I just did not want them to discount a food without trying it first….I want them to be open minded when it come to the wide world of food….I want them to have NO FEAR!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Balsamic Strawberries

Serve this delicious but simple dish over vanilla ice cream, pound cake or angel food cake.Or wrap it in a crepe or just eat it as is! It is a quick but lovely dish that looks impressive.

Balsamic Strawberries

4 1/2 cups fresh strawberries hulled and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
2 tbs granulated sugar
3 tbl balsamic vinegar

In a large bowl toss all ingredients together and let sit about 30 minutes (if you let them sit to long they will get very mushy)
The berries will release their juices and form a wonderful sauce.  Serve berries with can choose to top with sweetened whipped cream or orange zest or a chiffonade (thin ribbons) of basil, grated dark chocolate or leave it as is....ENJOY

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I love Aprons

I don't care if people think it is old fashioned...I love aprons! I seriously am always wearing an apron around the house. I have those sturdy, unflattering, workhorse type aprons. They are beat to heck...spattered with paint, stained, torn...but I love them. I once had a cute Minnie Mouse apron that I loved. My husband bought it for me as a surprise when we were in Disney world. I wore it to death...literally. Poor old apron.  Now, like I said I have my 'working apron' (actually about 5 but none in very good shape lol)...but I think I would like to get something cute and sassy...a stylish apron I could change into before company arrived you know? I saw some adorable ones online...and oh boy was I tempted! Some girls want furs or diamonds...I want an apron (or a cookbook)....I know I know....but I really do.  I have yet to buy one because my brain says I should be practical and not spend twice as much on an apron you would wear half as often.  I mean that makes sense right? I am being a responsible adult right?  But GOSH are these aprons cute or what??  Well maybe I will put one or two on my Christmas list and then it will be a GIFT and not an irrational splurge....right?                

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Next weekend is our local Strawberry Festival, two of my boys will be working at the Boy Scout booth making/selling Strawberry Shortcake, smoothies, strawberry lemonade, and Chocolate dipped Strawberries.  In honor of this grand occasion in our small rural community I have been racking my brain as to some new ways to use the strawberries I will be buying at the festival...its impossible to leave with out SOME strawberries.  So I have  been working on some recipes...I know that none of these ideas are original (very few things in the food world truly are) but they are new to me and so I have been batting around ideas of what sounds like it would go good with strawberry.  I already decided if I get some big berries I am going to try grilling them...I think this would be good as grilling fruit (pineapple is sooooo good this way) brings out the sweetness.  I also want to make a strawberry salsa, and a few sauces. I was thinking a balsamic and strawberry sauce would be amazing.  I have also read that soaking strawberries in wine overnight is a fantastic dessert in its own right or as a topping for vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or angel food cake.  I think I will need to play around with this idea as well. I am also thinking of stuffing a big strawberry with cannoli filling...come on doesn't that sound good? Or what about stuffing it with a thick chocolate ganache? Now I know that got your attention!!  Do you have any ideas to add that I could play around with? Post a comment or send me an email if you do!

Friday, June 10, 2011

PIE! Chocolate Ganache and Peanut Butter Custard??? YES.....YUM!

So I am looking for the perfect Peanut Butter pie...and during this process I am finding and/or inventing lots of tasty recipes! Last night I tried the following recipe that I came up with last week...and the boys(aka guinea pigs) were very happy with the final product. So here is the recipe with pictures (I am trying to remember to do the picture thing..I will try to get better at it!)

Peanut Butter Custard Pie (w/ chocolate)

1 baked pie crust (or if you prefer a graham cracker crust)

Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbl butter

Peanut Butter Custard:
2 egg yolks
1/12 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
5 tbl flour
1/4 tea salt
1/2 tea vanilla
1/8 tea cinnamon
3/4 cup peanut butter

To make ganache:   In a saucepan add chocolate and cream and heat slowly-stirring constantly- until melted and thickened. add butter and stir until melted and combined. Remove from heat.

Let cool slightly.  Then pour into baked and cooled crust. Cool until firm.

 Now for the custard.  In a microwave safe bowl combine egg yolks, milk, sugar,flour, salt. Whisk very well. Microwave on high  in 30 seconds then whisk well...continue in 30 second bursts, whisking each time until thickened.

Then add vanilla, cinnamon and peanut butter. Whisk well.
Spread custard over cooled, firm chocolate.  Refrigerate for 2 hours. Top with Whipped cream (or cool whip if you prefer).

Then sit back and ENJOY this delicious pie.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hotter than Heck... is way hotter than the norm around here this week. UGH!  I decided I wanted a nice side dish for a cold dinner. So yesterday I made some Refrigerator Pickles. I am so glad I did because I am thinking some sort of nice salad tonight...or at most Dogs on the grill!!
Here is the recipe I makes 2 quart canning jars and is great for extra garden veggies!

Refrigerator Pickles
1 whole sliced and peeled english cucumbers(or seedless)
1 medium sliced and peeled yellow squash
1/2 large sweet onion sliced thin
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 tea salt
1/8 tea celery seed
1/2 tea mustard seed

place veggies(in alternating layers) in jars or large bowl or container.  In a saucepan combine all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over veggies , cool and cover tightly
refrigerate 24-48 hours.  Feel free to experimant with different veggies.
serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pioneer Woman Cooks:Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

I love cookbooks...any and all cookbooks. I have bookcase full of just cookbooks. Last Christmas I got this amazing new cookbook and I have to say it will be my new "new bride" gift. I sit and page through her cookbook often and always end up trying one of her terrific recipes.  Ree Drummond is a wonderful blogger- turned- author and her style is like chatting with a best girlfriend, comfortable,easy going and funny. Recipes are shown in beautiful photography step by step....literally. EVERY step is accompanied by a photo. Talk about NO FEAR in the kitchen. Her recipes are down home and hearty...meat and potatoes, country cooking. There are a few 'high brow' recipes for company...but for the most part just simple delicious food.  Her ingredients are easy to find and she is only using real food.... like butter! I enjoy her humor, stories of her family and her ranch...and of course how she ended up on that ranch with her "marlboro man". She is an excellent photographer and she even has a photography section on her blog. Check out her fantastic blog as well at   She two other books on the market now as well including her just released childrens book. She is living the dream!  I hope you check out her cookbook!

I am trying to Experiment a QUINOA

If you have never heard of it, Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a grain with ancient origins.  This important grain was called the 'Mother Grain' by the ancient Incas. It was extremely important to their culture. Quinoa is an awesome grain for various reasons.  It contains more high quality protien than any other grain, it is Gluten Free, it is a COMPLETE protien and provides essential amino acids like Lysine, it has good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron, it is easily digestable, and easy to prepare.
So today I decided to give it a whirl and make a small batch while I was home alone and see what it tasted like and what types of recipe it would lend itself to.  I bought "Ancient Harvest 100% organic" prewashed Quinoa. If I found this by the box in my grocery will be in yours! LOL!  Quinoa MUST be rinsed well before using because it has a bitter coating called saponins (to keep birds and insects away).

The BASIC Quinoa recipe is as follows:
This light and wholesome grain may be prepared quickly and easily
    2 cups water          1 cup quinoa  
Place quinoa and water in a 1-½ quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes).

You will know that the quinoa is done when all the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated. Makes 3 cups.

Tasting it I thought it would make a good Tabouli for lunch (instead of the usual bulgar)...I did not have some of the traditional ingredients in the house(mint and parsley) so it was not a traditional tabouli but it was going to be tasty none the less.   So I add olive oil, and lemon juice, onion, cucumber,olives, tomatoes,sea salt and pepper...then I thought I would top it with Feta cheese!  Okay so thats my lunch today...I will let you know later how it turned out!!  Next grain I want to try is TEFF...but I have not seen it locally...may have to buy it online.

UPDATE:  It was delicious! I threw some crunchy sesame sticks on too..basically because I love them.  I really enjoyed it and look forward to trying other quinoa recipes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Coconut Cream Pie

I had recently made a french coconut pie, it was good...but way too sweet for us and I realized I just preferred a creamy coconut pie. So today I was feeling a bit better,I was in the mood to cook, and I had several teenage boys coming for dinner and knew a sweet treat was in order. I decided I was not up to a lengthy process so I sat and wrote out this recipe after reading literally 100's of various coconut pie recipes. I guessed that the boys would not mind being my guinea pigs.  To start I decided to use a graham cracker crumb crust because it was quick and easy and I was not up to rolling out my own pastry. The second short cut I chose, was to make the custard in the microwave instead of standing and stirring at the stove.  To be honest neither of these short cuts were a negative to the final product which was really really good. I was disappointed I had no fresh coconut to work with (a rare find in our rural community) and so I had to work with the super sweet flaked baking coconut.I would have added a bit more sugar if I had fresh or unsweetened coconut. The boys gave it " 5 thumbs up" so I guess its a keeper!! Here you go...give it a whirl this weekend and let me know what you think!

Coconut Cream Pie

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or if you prefer half & half)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
4 tbl coconut cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 plus 2 tbl cornstarch
2 eggs plus 1 yolk
1/4 tea salt
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (lightly toasted)
1 tea vanilla

In a large microwave safe combine first 7 ingredients whisk very well..microwave at 1 minute intervals until very thick. At this point stir in vanilla and 3/4 cups of the coconut.  Pour into graham cracker crust and refrigerate  until chilled and firm.  Top with your choice of homemade whipped cream(try it with a touch on coconut extract!) or cool whip..sprinkle with remaining toasted coconut...YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 new comfort food

So I had surgery yesterday and I am now home and recovering...feeling ok and hope to have plenty of blogging time while I am on the mend.(oh and thankfully we got our power back on day 5!)  I have a weird thing when I am sick....I want soft creamy comforting foods. Foods that I normally don't cream of wheat, oatmeal, corn meal mush...all of which I make savory instead of sweet. My new comfort food is Grits...I made them originally with water. But last week I was messing around in the kitchen (as usual) and I came up with this amazing grits concoction that I have been eating all day since I got home from the hospital. It is packed with flavor and sooooooooooooooo simple!

Comfort Grits a la Kelly

2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup quick cooking grits
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cupped shredded SMOKED cheddar cheese

In a saucepan bring the beef stock to a boil. Add the grits. Whisk well and simmer about 8-10 minutes...add cream and simmer a few more minutes until grits are cooked how you prefer (I like them with a tiny bit of "bite" to them)   Remove pot from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese...That is is so good. Seriously!  The smoky taste is amazing.  It is rich and creamy.   I put a nice sized serving on a dish and top with slices or roast pork, steak, portabello mushroom...this makes such a beautiful meal.