This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes,
learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun! -Juila Child

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Superbowl XLVI

One of my family's favorite recipes for Superbowl Sunday!

Dill Shrimp Salad
6 ounces of small shrimp either fresh or frozen
2 Tbs chopped fresh dill plus 2 tsp for garnish
4 Tbs Mayonnaise or Greek Yogurt or Plain Yogurt
1/8 tsp salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
8-12 Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, or Roma Tomatoes

Defrost shrimp by placing in a colander and run cold water over it, drain well and then pat with paper towel to dry slightly. Place shrimp in a mixing bowl, add mayo or yogurt, salt, pepper, dill, celery and mix together well. Cover and place the shrimp salad into the refrigerator while preparing the tomatoes.
Cut tomatoes in half, using a small spoon, scoop out the middle making a bowl, place on a plate or platter,  if tomatoes are rolling around on the plate, you can do a tiny, thin slice on the bottom of them so they stay put. Discard any of the inside of the tomato. Fill each tomato with the shrimp salad and sprinkle with the 2tsp of fresh chopped dill. Keep chilled by placing the plate on top of a bowl or larger platter, filled with ice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


We finally have snow here! After about an hour of playing in the snow with my 3 year old, I remembered that I have always wanted to make snow ice cream. So we ran inside grabbed some huge mixing bowls, wooden spoons dashed back outside and began scooping snow into the bowls (only the very tippy top layer of snow). And no yellow or discolored snow!
I really don't know how to make snow ice cream, besides what I saw on Paula Dean's show a long time ago. So I thought we could just wing it, how hard is it to gather up some snow and put some goodies in it? So very easy.
After we collected the snow into our bowls, we actually just left them there outside to accumulate more snow while we made a snow man and snow angels. When I began to get extremely chilled I said we are going in! Despite the whining and pleading to stay outside, we came in.
You really have to hurry with this recipe,  I decided to leave the bowls of snow outside in the cold while I came inside to gather all the ingredients together, otherwise the snow would melt as I did this. Plus it gave us a chance to get out of our many layers of clothing. You will also want to have your ice cream bowls, spoons, freezer containers w/ lids all ready to go as well as all ingredients so you can go back out grab the bowls of snow, mix, enjoy and freeze it immediately.
Laura & Lily's Snow Ice Cream
5 cups snow
1/2 cup half and half or cream
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate syrup- optional

Add sugar, vanilla and chocolate syrup if desired to the snow in the mixing bowls and stir until it is all incorporated and the snow has becomes the consistency of ice cream. That's it! You will now want to hurry and scoop it into bowls to eat and/or place into freezer containers to have for later! Also add any other ingredients you like such as peanut butter, Nutella, chocolate chips, strawberry jam or whatever else!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pork Loin Fillets with Apple Stuffing and Cider Sauce

I felt the urge to post this recipe; but then hesitated because I felt I had to keep it as my own,  a kind of secret, a recipe I receive endless compliments on whenever I make it; and a recipe that I have made my own and perfected so well.
Then I remembered the words of my very first chef instructor in culinary arts school, he said; "There should be no secrets in cooking, no secret ingredient, no secret sauce, no secret recipes; we should be open in sharing what we learn, what we cook, what we bake, in order for others to reap the benefits of it also."
How wise! And really, that is what being a cook is all about!
Actually the Pork Loin chops are really no secret, the original recipe is from a wonderful cookbook from Williams Sonoma called American Cooking. But as with most all recipes I change them completely around, create my own twist to them and add or remove ingredients, sometimes this is just because I'm just being creative or because I don't have the ingredients on hand and am forced to improvise with what I do have in the kitchen. In this case it was both!
When I first made this everyone was just fell in love with it; a tender stuffed pork loin fillet, dripping in a flavorful creamy sauce. I just cooked these up last evening for dinner and they were once again a big, big hit. I hope they are with your family too! Serve with brown rice, mashed potatoes and with any veggie you like.

Pork Loin Fillets with Apple Stuffing and Cider Sauce
Serves 4
Preheat Convection to 400°F or Standard Oven to 375°F
For the Apple Stuffing:
1 Tbs Butter and 1 tsp vegetable oil1/4 Cup chopped onion3/4 Cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs1/2 Cup fresh chopped apple1/2 Tsp Salt free seasoning
4 Tbs Low sodium chicken broth for stuffing
For the Pork Loin:
4 Thick cut, boneless pork loin fillets
2 Tbs vegetable oil1/4 cup Low Sodium chicken broth for before going into the oven
1/3 Cup apple cider, even apple juice or sparkling apple cider will do
1/4 Cup white wine, I use any brand of Australian Chardonnay, usually $3 or $4 a bottle1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
3/4 Cup Low sodium chicken broth for sauce
1/4 Cup Half & Half
To make stuffing:
In a medium to large oven proof skillet or frying pan, melt butter and vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped apples, salt free seasoning and bread crumbs and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth and stir until all is incorporated and sticks together a bit. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.
Meanwhile, prepare the pork loin fillets for stuffing:
Beginning at the meaty end, cut a deep wide pocket into each fillet. I like to use a small paring knife and use small, smooth, strokes when cutting so not to cut through the fillet or make a hole in them. Divide the stuffing into 4 equal parts and place into each fillet, packing it down slightly so it stays inside. You may secure each stuffed fillet closed with a toothpick if you like. In the same skillet as you cooked the stuffing, add vegetable oil and butter over medium heat, add the stuffed pork fillets and cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes each side. Add the 1/4 cup of chicken broth to prevent sticking and place the entire skillet into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until meat is 160°F in the center. Transfer the cooked pork fillets to a platter or dinner plate and cover with foil while making the sauce. Save the skillet with all the juices and place over low heat. Add the apple cider, half & half, chicken broth and white wine, stir. Dissolve the cornstarch in a small bowl with 2 tsp cold water and stir then add to the skillet and stir with a whisk. Turn up heat to medium and continue to stir until the sauce thickens to your liking, about 1 to 2 minutes; make and add more cornstarch mixture to the sauce if you want a thicker sauce. Remove skillet from heat when sauce is as thick as you like, then serve pork fillets with sauce.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Windy Day Hot Cocoa

During the chilly winter months it's so comforting to sit and sip cup of strong, soothing extra hot cocoa! I like to make an easy Mexican Hot Cocoa on the stove top using the Abuelita or Ibarra brand Mexican Chocolate, it comes in a cute round box with 6 disk shaped chocolates, individually wrapped. This wonderful tasting chocolate is infused with cinnamon which gives it an extra kick on a cold day. You can easily find either brand in the ethnic foods or baking section of most supermarkets.

Windy Day Hot Cocoa
Serves 4
1 disk of Mexican Chocolate
1/4 cup Chocolate Syrup
1/4 cup Half & Half
1 1/2 cup milk
Mini marshmallows or whipped cream
Ground cinnamon
-In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook on low to medium low heat. Stir with a whisk constantly until all the chocolate is melted and all ingredients are incorporated smoothly and it's steaming slightly. Turn off heat and using a ladle pour the hot cocoa into drinking mugs, top with whipped cream or mini marshmallows and sprinkle a tiny amount of ground cinnamon on top. 
-To make an easy Mexican Mocha; fill drinking mug half way with hot coffee and the other half with the hot cocoa mixture. 
-For those of us watching our figures: make a low fat version of this hot cocoa by omitting the half and half and chocolate syrup; use low fat milk and a smaller amount of whipped cream.

It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about-enjoying things. Julia Child