Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Homemade Spaghetti-Oh's

My kids love Spaghetti-Oh's. You know, the kind straight out of the can. I feel so guilty feeding it to them because it tastes quite gross and who knows how long it's been in that can. When I saw this recipe for homemade Spaghetti-Oh's I just had to make them. My little guy and gal gave it 4 thumbs up and even this momma had Spaghetti-Oh's for dinner that night. They were good (and I didn't feel guilty feeding it to my kids)!!!

I couldn't find Anillo pasta (small ringed pasta) at my local grocery store so I used Tubettini instead. They look like miniature ringed pasta.

Also, please note that this recipe makes a HUGE pot of spaghetti-oh's! I mean huge! Be prepared to freeze some, make a half recipe, or plan on eating them for several days. :)

She was my biggest fan. Notice the Spaghetti-Oh in her hair? LOL!

Homemade Spaghetti-Oh's
Source: So Says Sarah...

1 (28-oz.) can of tomato sauce – whatever kind you like
3 c. water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 T. butter
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
14 oz. Anillos (small ringed pasta)

Start by giving the Anillos a pre-boil in a big pot of boiling water for about 10-minutes. While the little rings are simmering away, you can assemble the sauce in another stockpot. Can’t find Anillos? You could use mini shells or tiny elbow macaroni, too.

Add the sauce, garlic, pepper, salt, and sugar to the blender and give a good whirl. This breaks up any clumps in your sauce and really incorporates the seasonings. I used a nice basic non-chunky tomato sauce and was very happy with the results.

Now add the tomato mixture to the pot along with the water and stir. Turn the heat to medium and let the sauce warm up.

After 10-minutes, drain the pasta and return it to its original pot. Add the butter and stir to coat using its residual heat. Those little circles of pasta will soak in that yummy buttery goodness.

Go ahead and slowly add the rings to the tomato sauce and let simmer for about 20-minutes making sure to stir every 5-minutes or so to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Give your pasta a taste test and check the seasonings. If you want more salt, add a sprinkle. If you would prefer things to be more garlicky, shake on some garlic salt…

Also, check the sauce consistency. Your pasta should have soaked up all that yummy sauce, but if things are still too watery, you can let everything simmer for another 10-minutes or so.

But, if you are good with how things are shaping up, it’s time to add the finishing touches. Turn off the heat and add the milk and shredded cheddar and then stir. The milk gives everything that great creamy taste and the cheese helps hold things together – and it’s cheese. Anything with cheese is good stuff.

What’s great about this recipe is it’s really basic, and you can adjust, add-too, and change-up however you like.

Your homemade spaghetti-OHS are ready to eat! If there are any leftovers, fill a few plastic bags with single servings and pop in the freezer to enjoy later.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Culinary School - Week 3

This week in Artisan breads it was all about Sourdough breads and levains. A levain is a type of preferment used in sourdough breads. We shaped all the loaves in boules and batards.

From top to bottom: Sourdough with cheese, dinner rolls made with scraps of leftover dough, sourdough that we let proof inside of a smoker, regular sourdough, whole wheat sourdough, roasted garlic sourdough and potato sourdough.

For homework, we had to take two loaves home and eat bread! (Sounds tough, right?) Then I had to write a paper describing the taste, texture, crumb, etc. of the breads. I chose my favorite two...Sourdough proofed in a smoker and sourdough with Parmesan cheese.

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Yesterday in Show Pieces we continued to work on our pastillage music centerpiece. We are putting this project on hold now and working on a Chocolate show piece. There are several groups in our class that have signed up to be in a Chocolate Competition this February in Lansing, MI so we need lots of time to work on our pieces for that.

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In Specialty Cake Decorating, we had to draw a sketch of a 2-tier buttercream cake for a 5-year old's birthday and then decorate it on two dummy (styrofoam) cakes. I choose to do a Minnie Mouse cake.

Next week we are learning about fondant and I have to decorate a bridal shower cake. It has to be 3 tiers with the colors of pink, gray, and black. I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hash Brown Casserole

Here's a wonderful hash brown casserole that goes well with the Baked French Toast recipe I blogged about 2 days ago. The recipe calls for frozen hash browns but I used Ore Ida's Southern Style Hash browns (diced potatoes) instead of the typical shredded hash browns and I liked the outcome! Either one works well.

Hashbrown Casserole
Source: Food.com

2 lbs. frozen hash browns
1/2 c. margarine or butter, melted
1 (10 1/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1/2 c. onion, peeled and chopped
2 c. cheddar cheese, grated
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 11 x 14 baking dish with cooking spray. Mix the above ingredients together, place in prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until brown on top.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Baked French Toast

This recipe is AMAZING!!! I fixed it for Christmas brunch with hubby's side of the family and again on New Year's for my side of the family. The picture doesn't even show exactly how good this is, but trust me, you'll want to make it! I especially love this recipe because it's one of those where you prepare it the night before, let it sit in your fridge, and then pop it in your oven the next morning. It is sweet and delicious! Your family is sure to go back for seconds!

*Instead of using French bread like the recipe calls for, I used 1 1/4 loaves of cinnamon swirl bread. Yum!

Baked French Toast
Source: Michelle W.

1 loaf (12 oz.) French bread, sliced into 1 inch slices
8 eggs
2 c. milk
2 c. half and half
2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t. allspice

3/4 c. margarine, softened
1 1/3 c. brown sugar
3 T. light corn syrup
1 t. butter pecan flavoring (I used maple flavoring)
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans

Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Layer with bread slices to within 1/2 inch of top. Set aside. In blender, mix eggs, milk, half and half, vanilla, and seasonings. Pour mixture over bread slices. Refrigerate, covered overnight.

Make topping mixture by combining remaining ingredients. Set aside until ready to bake. Spread topping all over. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve with warm maple syrup.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Show Pieces & Cake Decorating - Weeks 1 & 2

On Saturdays, I have two classes: Show Pieces and Specialty Cake Decorating. I don't have any pictures to show for my Show Pieces class but we were broken up into groups of 3 and are working on a large sugar centerpiece. The theme is Music so we worked diligently last week making lots of pastillage and cutting out lots of treble clefs, records, piano pieces, and such. They will be assembled over the next couple of weeks so I'll be sure to show you a picture once it starts coming together.

I am absolutely in love with my Specialty Cake Decorating class. I figured I would either hate cake decorating or love it and to my surprise, I LOVE it! I've had little experience thus far with cake decorating except for a few in a previous class and just playing around at home so I am like a sponge in class and trying to learn anything and everything I can, making sure to ask lots of questions. This is a very small class (7 people) so there is lots of opportunity for one-on-one instruction from the chef.

The first week of class we made a ton of yellow high ratio cakes to last us several weeks of decorating. We also made the largest batch of buttercream icing I've ever seen. At the end of our first class we practiced piping a bead border and writing Happy Birthday on parchment paper.

Week two was our first attempt at decorating a cake, trying to get the sides as straight and smooth as possible. We would ice a cake, get the chef's approval, then scrape off the icing and do it over and over again. You know what they say..."Practice makes perfect!" We also learned how to do a shell border and a reverse shell border in week 2.

Here is my reverse shell border.

And here is the cake that I decorated about 4 times. :) For practicing purposes, we just used all white buttercream. I still have lots of room for improvement, but I was very happy with how it turned out and had a lot of fun in the process.

Towards the end of class we learned how to make roses with buttercream. Part of our homework is to practice making roses at home. Next week we are going to decorate a cake for a 5 year old's birthday and then it's on to learning about fondant. I can't wait!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cheesy Grub Sandwiches

Made these for dinner last night. Needed a quick, easy meal to throw together and these were perfect. They are like sloppy joes only with a cheese sauce instead. Cheese makes everything better, don't you think? I served them with some cherry tomatoes and chips and dinner was served!

Cheesy Grub Sandwiches
Source: Real Mom Kitchen

1 lb. ground beef
2 t. McCormick Montreal steak seasoning
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
3/4 c. milk
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 hot dog or hamburger buns

Brown beef in a skillet along with steak seasoning and Worcestershire sauce until full cooked; drain and set aside.

In a sauce pan, melt butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat for a few minutes until turns golden brown in color. Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened.
Remove from heat and blend in cheese until melted and well combined.

Add cheese mixture to beef mixture. Stir to combine. You can add a little more milk if needed to thin the sauce.

Serve on hot dog or hamburger buns. Serves 8.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Culinary School (Artisan Breads) - Weeks 1 and 2

Look at all that gorgeous bread! I've completed the first two weeks of my Artisan Breads class and so far it's been a blast! It's my favorite class so far! Perhaps because I am a huge carb lover!

The first week of class we made two types of Baguettes, Bacon & Onion Bread, Bialy ("poor man's bagels" topped with caramelized onions, garlic, and poppyseeds), and Fougasse with olives.

The second week of class (and when I remembered to take pictures) we made Baguettes, Ciabatta Bread dusted with cornmeal, Filoncini Burro Y Nocci, Foccacia with roasted green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese, Italian Rustic Boules, and Golden Raisin & Walnut bread. All the breads were made using either a Poolish or a Biga pre-ferment.

My Artisan Bread class is 8 hours long (2pm-10pm) so we literally get to bake all afternoon/evening! Next week we are learning all about sourdough breads! Can't wait!!!

From top to bottom: Baguettes, Ciabatta, Foccacia w/green peppers, onions, mushrooms and parmesan cheese.

From top to bottom: Italian Rustic, Golden Raisin & Walnut, and Filoncini Burro Y Nocci.

I love bread!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Salt and Pepper Tofu

Every time we get the opportunity to hang out with my brother-in-law and his wife we go out for Chinese food...
...every time we eat Chinese food, they order Salt and Pepper Tofu...
......every time they order Salt and Pepper Tofu, I have to nibble off their plate and eat several pieces!

I was never one to order tofu until hanging out with them. Needless to say, I am a huge fan now and decided it was time to learn how to make it myself! This recipe was easy to follow and it turned out amazing!!! My whole family loved it! My only complaint is that it was rather messy to cook. The hot oil was spitting and spattering the whole time I was frying the tofu. It was worth the mess I had to clean up afterwards but that may be a good reason to continue ordering this dish at a local Chinese restaurant.

Salt and Pepper Tofu
Source: Veggie Belly

Serves 2 as an entree or about 4 as an appetizer

For the sauté:
1/2 T. oil
2 medium leeks, white part only, washed and grit removed (1 c. when chopped)
1 celery rib (1/2 c. when chopped)
1 small green pepper (1/2 c. when chopped)
1 T. finely minced garlic
1 T. finely minced ginger (I left this out.)
1 T. light soy sauce
1/2 t. brown sugar

For the tofu:
1 block (14 oz when drained) extra firm tofu
4 T. corn starch
1/2 t. or to taste freshly cracked black pepper

Vegetable or canola oil for frying

Chop the leeks, celery and green pepper into a fine dice. Heat oil in a wok on medium-high heat. Add chopped leeks, celery, and green pepper. Sauté on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add soy sauce and brown sugar and cook 30 seconds. Set this mixture aside.

Pat dry the drained tofu. Cut into 1 inch cubes. Place the tofu cubes in a large bowl. Add corn starch, salt and pepper. Gently toss till the tofu pieces are very well coated.

In a skillet, pour oil so that it comes up 1/2 inch. Heat the oil.Make sure oil is hot. Add tofu cubes a few at a time. If you fry too many in one go they won’t crisp up. Fry the tofu pieces, flipping them around, so that all sides are golden brown. Drain onto a few layers of paper towels.

Heat up the sautéed leeks, celery and bell pepper. Add the fried tofu cubes to this. Toss well. Serve Chinese salt and pepper tofu with your favorite chili sauce and garnish with celery leaves or green onions.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Breakfast Pizza

It's always such a treat for us to go to my parents house for a weekend visit. The kids adore their grandparents and often times ask if we can go see them. With culinary classes on Saturdays, our trips to Indiana have become less frequent. Each time we do go, I always look forward to the breakfast pizza that my mom makes for us. Such a great way to start the day. It's filled with sausage, eggs, cheese and even hash browns. Yum!

Breakfast Pizza
Source: Diana W.

1 lb. sausage
1 pkg. crescent rolls
1 1/2 c. hash browns (thawed)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
5 eggs
1/4 c. milk
salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese

Brown sausage until crisp, drain. Separate rolls into 8 triangles. Place in ungreased pizza pan - points toward center. Press edges together to form crust. Spoon sausage on crust. Add potatoes. Top with cheese. Beat eggs, milk, and salt & pepper, then pour over pizza. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Kathie's tip: A cookie sheet with 1-inch sides works better than a circular pizza pan. Some of my eggs leaked over the edge of the pan while cooking in the oven because the pan was not deep enough.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

R2-D2 Birthday Cake

Speaking of birthday cakes, my preschooler just recently turned 5! Did I really just say FIVE?!?! That means he'll be heading off to kindergarten this fall...full day kindergarten...as in gone all day. Ok, ok, I don't want to think about that right now! I'll get all sad and teary eyed and start wondering how in the heck 5 years flew by so quickly!

Anyways, he is into Star Wars everything right now. Star Wars legos, Star Wars movies, Star Wars light sabers, if it involves Star Wars in any way then he loves it! His favorite characters are R2-D2 and C3PO. At least 90% of his Christmas and birthday presents this year were Star Wars related.

For C's 5th birthday, we had a low-key birthday. No birthday party with lots of friends and lots of pre-planning. Instead we decided to have a family fun day and spent the day at an indoor water park. He LOVED it and had so much fun going on all the slides and playing in the water all day. Even his little sis had a blast. They both passed out in the car on the ride home which is proof that they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Even though we didn't have a party, every birthday boy needs a cake and this year I wanted to make it. I surprised him with an R2-D2 cake! I believe his exact words were "this is the best birthday cake ever!" It melted my heart seeing how much he enjoyed the cake.

I didn't have a template or anything to cut the cake from. I found a couple sample R2-D2 cakes online to use as a guideline and just eyeballed it, trying to keep it as simple as I could. I made the same chocolate cake as I did for the Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake that I blogged about 2 days ago. I baked a double-batch into an 8-inch round (only used 1/2 of it for the head) and then 2 square cake pans to cut the body, arms, and legs from. Next I made some buttercream frosting (see recipe below) and divided it into different portions to color it white, blue, grey, and black. The red dot on his head is a red hot. That pretty much sums it up.

Classic Buttercream Frosting
Source: Savory Sweet Life

1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 c. confectioners (powdered) sugar, sifted
1/4 t. salt
1 T. vanilla extract
up to 4 T. milk or heavy cream

Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake

My neighbor recently celebrated a birthday. The big 4-0 so I wanted to make a special surprise for him. His wife told me that his favorite dessert was chocolate cake with raspberries so I did a little digging on the internet and this is the recipe I found. It turned out great and I will definitely make it again and again. The chocolate cake was very rich and the fresh raspberries on top were a nice combination. I even tempered a bit of dark chocolate and piped out a 40 to put in the middle. It's always fun to surprise someone on their birthday with some fresh baked goods!

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake
Source: Bon Appetit

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 c. flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. water
3/4 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Chocolate ganache and raspberry topping:
18 oz. bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
6 T. seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen, divided
2 6-oz. containers fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar

Test-Kitchen Tip:
A two-step process ensures a picture-perfect dessert. First, a thin layer of ganache is spread over the cake and chilled briefly to set (this is called a crumb coat). Another layer of ganache is then poured over the cake, which gives the treat a smooth finish.

Position racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl; whisk to blend and form well in center. Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Divide cake batter between prepared pans (about 3 cups each).

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (If cakes form domes, place kitchen towel atop hot cakes, then press gently with palm of hand to level.) Cool completely in pans on cooling racks. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover cakes in pans and let stand at room temperature.

Chocolate ganache and raspberry topping
Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 1/4 cups ganache to small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.

Place rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Carefully run knife around pan edges to release cakes. Invert 1 cake layer onto cardboard round or bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Place cake layer on round on prepared rack. Spread 3 tablespoons jam over top. Spoon dollops of chilled ganache over, then spread evenly. Invert second cake layer onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully slide cake off round and onto frosted cake layer on rack. Spread remaining 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over top of second cake layer. Pour half of barely lukewarm ganache over cake, spreading over sides to cover. Freeze until ganache sets, about 30 minutes. Pour remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over sides if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.

Arrange raspberries in concentric circles atop cake. Sift powdered sugar lightly over raspberries and serve.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rotisserie Chicken

Here's another recipe from Pinterest. Busy Mom shows us how to make our own Rotisserie Chickens in the crock pot. It turned out so juicy and tender; a bit hit with my family. My only complaint is that once you add water to the seasonings to form a paste it can be rather hard to spread over the raw chicken without leaving big clumps behind. Next time I am going to try making the rub with less water or maybe even no water (a dry rub). Nonetheless, it was a great recipe and I used our leftover chicken for fried rice the next day.

How To Make Your Own Rotisserie Chicken
Source: Busy Mom

1 broiler/fryer chicken (3.5-4 lbs)
2 T. Paprika
1/2 t. cayenne pepper (optional!)
1 1/2 t. onion powder
2 T. garlic powder or 3 cloves garlic
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

Place all of your ingredients in a small bowl and stir in water by the teaspoon until a paste forms. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray and place the chicken in, breast side up. Coat the chicken inside and out with the paste. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or on high 3.5-4.5 hours. Make sure the thickest part of the thigh registers at 180 degrees.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Exciting News!

I know it's not really the time of year to be thinking about candy corn but I have some exciting news to share! I recently submitted an Instructable with step-by-step pictures and directions on how to make candy corn cookies and today they informed me that they loved it. They loved it so much that they are featuring it on their Home Page! Check it out by clicking HERE or going to www.instructables.com and scrolling down to the "Food" section.

Here are some of the pictures from my instructable:

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Doughnuts are a huge weakness of mine! I would eat them every morning if I could but then I wouldn't be able to fit into my clothes! Having company over is always a good excuse to make doughnuts for breakfast so that's exactly what I did. I set the alarm early so I could make the dough and then went back to bed and snoozed for another hour and a half while the dough did it's initial rise.

You can shake these in cinnamon and sugar, dip into a chocolate ganache, or dip in caramel sauce. I couldn't decide which one I wanted...so I ate one of each!!! Yikes!

Yield: Makes 20 doughnuts, 2 1/2 oz. each

4 oz. Granulated sugar
0.5 oz. Salt
1 lb. 12 oz. Bread flour
1.5 oz. Dry milk powder
0.02 oz. Cinnamon (1/4 t.)
3 oz. Shortening
5 oz. Eggs (3 eggs)
3 fl. oz. Buttermilk
0.5 fl. oz. Vanilla extract
0.5 oz. Instant Yeast
8 oz. Warm water (100 degrees F.)

1. Combine the sugar, salt, flour, milk powder, cinnamon, and shortening in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix briefly to blend the spices throughout the dry mixture. Beat the eggs lightly and then add them to the flour mixture along with the buttermilk and vanilla.

2. Dissolve the yeast in the water and add to the flour. Mix on low speed about 2 to 3 minutes, adding additional flour if needed to make a soft dough. Scrape down the bowl and increase speed to medium. Knead the dough 5 to 7 minutes until it is smooth, soft and elastic.

3. Ferment the dough until doubled, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

4. Roll the dough out into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Cut out individual pieces with a doughnut cutter and place them on lightly floured sheet pans.

5. Portion the remaining dough, then cover and proof until it has increased 75 percent in volume.

6. Fry the doughnuts in batches in deep fat heated to 385 degrees F. Cook until puffed and browned, approximately 1 or 2 minutes. Flip the doughnuts using a long wooden skewer and cook another minute until browned. Remove from the fat and drain on absorbant paper.

7. Toss in sugar and cinnamon or cool slightly before dipping into caramel or chocolate glaze.

Friday, January 6, 2012

More Fruit Tarts

I want to share some mouth-watering, colorful pictures with you today! Here are some fruit tarts that I made for our Christmas Eve dinner. I had a lot of fun with them and tried to make each and every one of them look unique. There were big fruit tarts for the adults and mini fruit tarts for the kiddos. They were a huge hit and tasted just as good as they looked.

Sweet Dough
*You may want to cut this recipe in half.*

1 lb. Butter
1 lb. Sugar
5 Eggs
.25 oz. Salt
.125 oz. Baking Powder
2 lb. Cake Flour
Pinch of Orange Zest
Pinch of Lemon Zest

1. Cream butter, sugar, and zest until smooth.
2. Add eggs gradually, scraping bowl 2-3 times.
3. Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix!
4. Refrigerate 1 hour before using.
5. Roll out and line mini tart pans, dock, and blind bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until light golden brown.
6. Remove from tart pans and allow to cool.

Pastry Cream
16 oz. Milk
2 oz. Sugar
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2 Egg Yolks
1 Whole Egg
2 oz. Sugar
4 T. Cornstarch
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1 t. Vanilla Extract
1 oz. Butter

1. Bring milk and first quantity of sugar to boil.
2. Meanwhile combine yolks, egg, cornstarch, and remaining sugar.
3. Temper hot milk into eggs and return to pot.
4. Bring to boil whisking constantly over medium heat.
5. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
6. Cool over ice water bath with plastic wrap directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Fill fruit tart shells with pastry cream and then decorate with lots of fresh fruit, making sure to cover all of the pastry cream. In a small saucepan, heat up some apricot jam with a couple teaspoons of water until you get a thin glaze. Lightly brush apricot glaze on top of the fruit. This is what makes it shiny and really adds to the presentation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hubby's Birthday "Cake"

Hubby's birthday was in the midst of all of the holiday craziness but I surprised him with a "cake" made out of his absolute favorite dessert - profiteroles (aka cream puffs)!

Click HERE to view my previous post on how to make pâte à choux and pipe them into profiteroles. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Make pastry cream and chill. Click HERE for previous post with a pastry cream recipe.

Slice the profiteroles in half. Slice strawberries and place 2 slices on bottom pieces of profiteroles. Pipe some pastry cream on top of the strawberries and then replace top of profiterole.

Arrange filled profiteroles on a plate and dust with powdered sugar.

Light candles and sing Happy Birthday! :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fried Swai Fish with Dipping Sauce

Here's another one of my favorite Chinese recipes. I'm so excited to share it with you. It's another recipe that my sweet father-in-law taught me himself. I begged him to teach me several things before they went back to China. He used to own his own Chinese restaurant in the northern burbs of Chicago so he has many, many amazing recipes that he can just make by heart. He offered to teach me anything I wanted and this was sure to be one of them. I can't wait until their next visit so I can learn even more from him.

I love this fish because it's not fishy at all. It's so tender and frying it up makes it even that much better. Everyone (even my kids) devour this meal every time I make it!

Fried Swai Fish w/Dipping Sauce
Source: my wonderful father-in-law

2 frozen swai (or sole) fish fillets
1/2 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 T. flour
- - - - - - - - - -
1/8 c. ketchup
1 ½ t. chinkiang vinegar
2 t. sugar
1 ½ t. soy sauce
little squirt of hot sauce
¼ t. sesame oil

Cut 2 frozen swai fish fillets in half (length wise); then cut each half in 4 pieces cutting at an angle.

Put fish pieces in small mixing bowl and add ½ t. salt, 1 t. sugar, 1 egg, 1 ½ T. cornstarch, and 1 ½ T. flour. Stirring after each addition.

In large frying pan heat oil on high heat. Fry fish on med-hi heat for approx. 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden on both sides. Remove from oil.

To make the sauce:
Add 1/8 c. ketchup, 1 ½ t. chinkiang vinegar, 2 t. sugar, 1 ½ t. soy sauce, little squirt of hot sauce, and ¼ t. sesame oil to a small sauce pan. Heat up over med-high heat. Stir while warming up the sauce and don’t cook it too long or the sugar will burn.

If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little water to thin it out.