July 4th

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Spicy Pulled Chicken on Homemade Cheddar Jalapeno Buns

Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. That is what we have been doing everyday for the past 3 months. Between high school baseball and Little League, we never seem to be home for dinner! My family has been eating waaaay too much concession stand food!! We only had an early morning practice yesterday so we spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool. After more than my fair share of vitamin D, I headed home with a car full of hungry, waterlogged kids. My kids love chicken and love spicy stuff. I came across this recipe for a pulled chicken dish and thought I could tweak it to my family's taste. It was a great success! I served the spicy chicken on homemade buns full of cheddar cheese and jalapeños, a simple red cabbage slaw to cool the spice and some fire roasted corn on the cob. You can adjust or omit the jalapeños in these recipes if your family likes more or less spice. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Spicy Pulled Chicken
Makes about 8 servings
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups tomato puree
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2teaspoon yellow mustard
1/4 -1/2 cup hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons chili powder
3teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the Slaw:
3 cups Red cabbage sliced very thin
4 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lime, juiced


For the chicken:
 In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeños and cook until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the tomato puree, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, cayenne, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until mixture has thickened slightly. Add in the chicken thighs, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, or until chicken is completely cooked and tender.
Remove from heat. The chicken should be very tender, and easily shredded. Using 2 forks, inside the pot, pull the chicken apart. Allow the chicken to simmer in the sauce for another half hour to absorb all the flavor. Serve on buns, topped with slaw or your other favorite bbq condiments.
For the slaw:
In a medium bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, chili powder, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Add in the shredded cabbage and toss to coat just prior to serving. Serve over the pulled chicken.

Cheddar Jalapeño Buns


1 package yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing bowl
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
3 large jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped


Add warm water to the bowl of your mixer and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let sit 10 minutes, until frothy. Add the, oil, 1 egg, and sugar to the bowl. Mix until well blended. Add the flour, salt, cheese, and peppers and mix on medium-low speed with the dough hook until the dough holds together, about 2 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl. If not, add additional flour by the tablespoon.

Increase speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been lightly greased with oil. Cover it with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-1 1/2 hours. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and each half into 4-6 pieces. Roll into rounds and flatten with the palm of your hand onto the baking sheet; placing buns about 1/2-1 inch apart. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the buns with the egg wash and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spicy Lime Shrimp

You gotta love the Superbowl!! Even if you aren't a football fan you have to love the commercials, the drinks, the fun and oh the food!! Since our beloved Colts didn't make it this year, they were close (bahahaha), we didn't have a full blown Superbowl party.  But you can't watch the biggest game of the year with just some plain old dinner.  We decided to have an appetizer feast.  Buffalo chicken dip, taco dip, loaded potato skins, buffalo chicken wings, amazingly healthy food! But the  pièce de résistance  for our feast was the Spicy Lime Shrimp.  Oh. My. Gawd.  This shrimp was so good.  Every teenager that came through my kitchen was forced to taste it (and subsequently smacked away for fear of them eating all my shrimpy goodness).  All were in love after first bite! Its light, refreshing, spicy goodness.  I think it is fantastic on its own but can't wait to try it with some pasta.  I hope you make this and enjoy it as much as we did! 

Spicy Lime Shrimp


1 pound medium shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
4 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, diced
1 tsp fresh lime zest
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
House seasoning (see recipe below)


Rinse and pat shrimp dry with paper towels.  Season shrimp with house seasoning.  Heat large skillet over medium high heat.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet.  Add seasoned shrimp and cook until heated through, 1-2 minutes.  Don't overcook! Transfer shrimp to a plate.  Reduce heat to medium low and add another tablespoon of butter.  Add shallots, lime juice and crushed red pepper.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, just to soften the shallots.  Remove skillet from heat.   Add remaining butter, zest, shrimp and cilantro.  Toss to coat.  Enjoy!!

House Seasoning
Recipe adapted from Paula Deen

1 cup salt
1/2 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in small bowl.  Store in air tight container.  Use to season beef, pork, chicken, seafood, etc.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guisado de Puerco con Tomatillos (Pork Stew in Green Salsa)


Tomatillos may look like small green tomatoes hiding in a papery husk, but they are something very different. They are a member of the nightshade family, related to the cape gooseberry. Tomatillos, referred to as green tomatoes in Mexico, are a staple in Mexican cuisine. They are tangy and add an amazing flavor to this pork stew. Choose small, bright green tomatillos in the husk for this recipe. Peel the husk and gently wash the sticky residue off the fruit before using. 

Unfortunately, my camera battery was dead and I didn't get a picture of the finished product! 


    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 (3 pound) boneless pork shoulder roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
    2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
    1 large onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups chopped fresh tomatillos
    1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles, drained
    1-2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
    2 teaspoons dried marjoram
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    2 cup water
    1 pinch salt, or to taste (optional)
    sour cream
    cooked white rice


    Stir together the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and cumin in a large ziploc bag. Place the cubed pork into the mixture, and stir well to coat the meat with the seasonings.
    Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, place the meat into the hot pan in a single layer. Pan-fry the pork until brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove the pork to a bowl, and cover to keep warm.
    Cook and stir the onion in the hot pan over medium heat, adding more olive oil if necessary, until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and stir in the garlic, tomatillos, chiles, marjoram, chopped cilantro, and water. Check seasoning and add 1 pinch of salt to taste, if needed. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, 1-2 hours.
    I served this stew over steamed white rice, topped with sour cream and cilantro.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vanilla Bean Churros

Cinnamon, sugar, vanilla beans and fried sweet dough. What's not to like?? If you have never tried a churro, you are truly missing out! You could call them a kind of doughnut, however they are more like a French beignet made with a very lightly sweetened choux paste. Fried and tossed with cinnamon sugar they are then dipped or eaten with rich decadent chocolate sauce or a smooth and creamy dulce de leche sauce.

Vanilla Bean Churros

1 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts oil for frying
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon in large bowl or baking dish.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar, salt, vanilla bean seeds and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour all at once until mixture forms a ball. The dough will be very stiff. Continue to stir until it is smooth and has no lumps. Allow to cool for just a few minutes. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Place large star shaped pastry tip (I used a Wilton 1M) in a pastry bag. Place dough in bag and pipe long strips onto wax paper. You can make the traditional sticks, or any shape you like. Chill piped dough in fridge while the oil is heating. Heat oil for frying in deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees. Drop chilled churros carefully into hot oil. Fry until golden; drain on paper towels. Roll drained churros in cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Dark Chocolate Sauce
4oz dark chocolate, chopped (or use chips)
¼ cup heavy cream

Mix chocolate and cream in a bowl and microwave on 50% power until melted and smooth. Do not over heat! Burned chocolate is not tasty!!

Dulce de Leche Sauce
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place sweetened condensed milk in oven proof dish. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt on top. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Set the dish inside a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 2 hours. Check the water level often, adding more hot water if needed. After the milk is nicely caramelized remove from the oven and whisk gently then allow to cool.

You can use the dulce de leche as is or add a little heavy cream and warm slightly for a thinner sauce.

Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fall Treat Time!

     I just love fall. Our temps just went from 100 degrees to 67 degrees in less than one week. Talk about Heaven!! The cool temps have prompted me to open the windows, cook a big ol' pot of chili and to start my baking! Nothing says fall like spiced pumpkin. I love the smell that fills my house when I bake with these ingredients. So warm and comforting. 

     While shopping at The Fresh Market a few days ago, my son picked up a box of chocolate whoopie pies. I've heard of them but had never eaten one. These were pretty good but I knew I could make them better at home. I decided to do a trial run of these fall treats today! My taste testers agreed...heaven in our mouth!!! I have a feeling I'll be making plenty of these little treats this fall! I hope you all try them too!


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger or 1 tablespoon ground candied ginger
1 tablespoon cloves
2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree (do not use pumpkin pie mix)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cinnamon Maple Cream Cheese Filling:
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure maple extract (I use Mapleine)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the brown sugar and oil together until combined. Add the pumpkin puree and mix to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until completely combined.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1-inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cookie comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes and then cool completely on wire rack.
Sift confectioners sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese until it is completely smooth.
Add confectioners sugar, cinnamon and maple extract and beat until smooth.
Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down, flat side facing up.
Use a piping bag with the end trimmed off or a tablespoon drop a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all cookies are used. Place whoopie pies into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up before serving.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Celebrate Independence!

Nothing says summer and celebrations like sangria!

My husband introduced me to the world of sangria on my first trip to Chicago. We dined at the beautiful Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba is a premier Spanish restaurant known for tapas, paella and sangria. Those of you who know me know that I seldom drink. I was very reluctant to try the sangria, a traditional Spanish drink made with wine, spirits and diced fruit, but my husband assured me that I would love it and also reminded me that we took a cab to the cafe...and that turned out to be a very good thing! The sangria was so sweet and fruity, easy to drink and the atmosphere of the cafe just enhanced the experience. I tried the red, the white, the white peach and the black raspberry!! I have since been on a mission to either find a local restaurant that can make a sangria as well as Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba or to create one myself!

I have played with many recipes and this one is very good. I love it for the summer months and to share for the July 4th holiday because the ingredients used are in season and the colors are perfect! I hope you try this and enjoy it! Remember...it can sneak up on you so drink wisely!!

And if you are ever in Chicago try Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!! You will love it!

Celebration Sangria


1 bottle dry white or rose wine (I use a white zinfandel)
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup blueberries
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained and stems removed
1/2 cup pomegranate schnapps
1/4 cup sugar
Club soda
Apples or star fruit


Add the strawberries, blueberries,and cherries to a pitcher.
Pour in the wine and the pomegranate schnapps.
Gently stir in the sugar.
Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, fill a glass with ice cubes. Pour the sangria in about 2/3 full, add a few pieces of the fruit. Top off with club soda.
*For the Fourth of July I sliced apples into the shape of stars for a festive touch. You could also use star fruit if available. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sweet Summer Treats

Hands down Oreos are my boys favorite store bought cookie. They will fight over the last one! I wanted to make them a special treat so I decided to combine their love of cupcakes and oreo cookies! This cupcake has a brownie like texture with a surprise tucked inside...an oreo cookie! Topped with a light and fluffy oreo buttercream and a mini oreo on top! The kids loved these sweet treats!!


4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, broken into pieces
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar (granulated)
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. flour
18 Oreo cookies
18 mini Oreo cookies

Oreo Butter Cream
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 Oreo cookies


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line 18 cupcake holders with paper liners.

Place the chocolate and the butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high for three minutes, stirring every minute, until the butter is melted and the chocolate is just melted. Give it a good stir to mix it all together.

Stir in the granulated sugar, then add the eggs, stirring in one at a time. Then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour and stir well. The batter should be smooth.

Add about a tablespoon of batter to each muffin cup. Place one Oreo cookie on top of each cup of batter and press down gently. Top with the remaining batter, dividing between the 18 cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 23 – 27 minutes, until the brownies are set but not overbaked. Cool completely.

For the buttercream, seal the Oreo cookies in a Ziploc bag and crush with a rolling pin until they’re small crumbs.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and Oreo crumbs. Mix until completely blended.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, top with the Oreo buttercream.

Top off with a mini Oreo. Enjoy!!