Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cream Cheese Danish

I love a good danish, then again I love anything to do with pastry in any shape, way or form.

But during the week I really don't have time to sit in the kitchen for long hours, so my meals are all super fast and easy to throw together.

Cream Cheese Danish

I'm sure by now you've noticed that I'm not into gourmet cooking, I know some like using exotic ingredients and things that you can't even pronounce, and that's fine but for me, cooking is all about using what you have at hand and turning it into something you love, something delicious and something close to a favorite :)

These Cream Cheese danish knock offs actually came about a few years ago when I was getting my menus ready and while looking through the fridge I saw a tube of crescent rolls and a box of cream cheese which were both about to expire.  Usually, I would go for the Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake from Pampered Chef, but I didn't have the canned cherries and I was thinking about a braided cream cheese danish.

This is what came of it and since then it's my go to dessert when we have family or friends visiting.

The recipe below makes two Danish....I like to always make a plain cream cheese and then another one with fruit, you can do peach, apple, blueberries, you can use Jam etc.

Cream Cheese Danish

Cream Cheese Danish

2 tube of Crescent seamless dough sheet
1 box (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons flour
Strawberry Jam
1/2 cup powdered sugar
milk (just add enough to make the consistency you like)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Open up the tubes of crescent dough and lay them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I can usually fit both on one sheet to bake but when I'm first getting them assembled, I do one on the sheet and another on a different sheet of parchment paper on the counter.

In a bowl mix the cream cheese, the sugar, the vanilla extract and the flour. Then take about 3/4 of the filling and spoon onto the middle of the dough. Spread nicely, but keep it all in the middle.

Cream Cheese Danish

Take the remaining cream cheese filling and do the same with the other sheet of dough. This one won't have too much because we're adding fruit or jam :)

Grab whatever fruit you want to use, I would recommend the Lucky Leaf Pie Fillings which are really good. But this time I am using Strawberry Jam. Spoon some onto the cream cheese and spread it over.

Cream Cheese Danish

Then take a knife and make slit, about a half inch wide at a slant, all the way up the sides, then all you're going to do is take them and cross them over each other, kind of braiding.

Cream Cheese Danish

Fit both the Danish into the cookie sheet. I just grab the second one by the parchment paper and place it on the cookie sheet next to the other, you can cut the excess paper off.

Cream Cheese Danish

Bake them for about 20 to 30 minutes until the dough is done and nice and brown. Remove from oven and let it cook completely.

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and the milk. You can add a little dash of vanilla extract or even maple, and then drizzle over the cooled danish. Enjoy :)

If you don't want to wait until completely cool, go ahead and drizzle the icing on it now, it will get a nice shiny glaze :)

Plain Cream Cheese, though there's nothing plain about it, I always forget just how good these are until I bite into one.

Cream Cheese Danish

And here's the Cream Cheese and Strawberry Jam Danish....soooooo good.

Cream Cheese Danish

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cheesy Garlic Pizza

For the past few years I have used the same pizza crust, it's one that we all enjoy and I'm kinda iffy when it comes to dough especially for pizza, if I like something I stick with it just because I fear trying something that will be a total fail.

While on Pinterest the other night, I came across this Fail-Proof Pizza Dough recipe and I thought "well, I'll try it".

I'm so glad I did because it's amazing and it's now our favorite.  I'm sure I'll still use my old recipe but this one is just too good to pass up.

The recipe comes from Lauren's Latest, and I can't wait to see what other goodies she has on her site :)


Basic Pizza Dough
yield: 2-12 inch pizzas, approximately 1 lb. of dough

1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey {or sugar}
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cups bread flour {give or take 1/2 cup…depending on the heat & humidity}

In a large mixing bowl, preferably that of a stand mixer, stir yeast and honey into warm water. Sit for 5-10 minutes or until bubbles form and mixture starts to foam. This tells you that the yeast is alive and kicking. Pour in salt, oil and half the flour and mix.

Once that flour is incorporated, start adding flour in bit by bit until you get the pizza dough to the consistency you want: slightly tacky, but when you touch it it doesn’t stick to your hands.

Once you reach this stage, turn the mixer on high to knead for 6 minutes. Turn a timer on and walk away! Resist the temptation to stop earlier than 6 minutes! That seems to be the magical number. It should look something like this when it’s done!

The dough should be smooth and easy to work with. And the bowl should be clean!
Lightly grease the bowl & the dough so it doesn’t dry out, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise 1-2 hours. That’s it!




For the Cheesy Garlic Pizza, I also used Lauren's recipe for the cheesy garlic bread sticks, just tweaked it a little. I used romano, cheddar, colby and monterey jack.

Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks
yield: 1- 12 inch pie

1/2 recipe Fail-Proof Pizza Dough
2 tablespoons softened salted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese {use the real stuff!}
1/4 pound grated mozzarella cheese
{salt & pepper, if desired}

Preheat oven to 500 degrees with pizza stone inside. {If you don’t have a pizza stone, use an upside down cookie sheet}


Mix butter and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.

Spread pizza dough out into a 12-inch circle on parchment paper. {This makes it easier to transfer to the pizza stone.}

Spread the butter and garlic mixture over dough


and top with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.


Top with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, if desired. {That step is totally optional!}

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Clam Chowder

A few months ago I found this cute cookbook tucked away in a little corner of Michael's.  I have this thing for cookbooks, I mean, I would have bought it either way but the fact that it was just there all alone, I felt the need to rescue it and I'm glad I did because it's really interesting to read and full of great recipes.

Clam Chowder

Authentic Regional Cuisine:  Real American Food:  Restaurants, Markets, and Shops plus favorite Hometown Recipes

Ten cities in the United States visited by Burt Wolf and Andy Smith, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Miami, New Orleans, San Antonio, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

What I love about the cookbook is that they divide it into the different cities and then talk a bit about them, give info on the best places to eat and then share recipes that are local :)

This one came from the Boston chapter.  It was VERY good, though the family and I did think that the bacon overpowered the clam taste a bit, so next time I'll be cutting way back on that, but otherwise it was such a delicious soup.  Definitely going on the "Make it again" list.

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

6 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 cup of finely chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 cups cold water
3 cups peeled, diced potatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 (6 1/2 oz) cans chopped clams
1 cup half and half
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup minced parsley or fresh chives for garnish, optional (I actually used green onions)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the bacon, covered, for a minute or until some of the fat has rendered. Uncover the saucepan and continue to saute, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or until a thin film of fat coats the bottom surface of the pan.

Clam Chowder

Add the onions and paprika, cover and cook, over low heat for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring on occasion. Add the water, potatoes, and thyme and bring the liquid to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes and tender but not falling apart.

Add the clams with their juices and the half and half. Bring the soup just to a simmer and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, each portion garnished with parsley or chives.

Cinnamon Roll Toast

About 4 years ago, I came across a wonderful little breakfast that was shared by the sweet Marie over at The English Kitchen.  Do go on over and check out her recipes, she has some of the most delicious food ever....matter of fact I'm thinking I will head over there this morning and Menu Plan from her blog :)

It was something so simple that I thought couldn't possibly be that easy and that tasty.  But I tried it anyway, and just like Marie said it would, it was delicious and simple.

Cinnamon Roll Toast

Since then it's become my go to breakfast when I'm tired of cereal, oatmeal or just want a piece of toast with a little extra kick to it.

Cinnamon Roll Toast.  That's right....I said Cinnamon.Roll.Toast.  How is that possible?  Well, using just a few ingredients and I promise you it does indeed taste just like a Cinnamon Roll.  Yum!

This is what I served for breakfast this morning and then I realized that I never shared the recipe on the blog, I did include it in one of my Menu Plan posts back in 2008 but didn't give it it's own post and I totally think it deserves it, so here goes :)

Cinnamon Roll Toast
Cinnamon Roll Toast

2 slices bread (white, wheat, or my personal favourite . . . raisin)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted (powdered sugar here in the US)
1/2 tablespoon water
few drops of vanilla extract

Mix together the cinnamon and the butter until well combined. Use this mixture to butter your slices of bread on both sides. Heat a large sized skillet over medium high heat and then add your slices of bread. Toast well on both sides. Remove from the skillet and keep warm while you make the frosting.

Whisk together the icing sugar, water and vanilla to make a soft drizzable icing. Drizzle it haphazardly over the top of your warm cinnamon toast. Dig in and enjoy!!!

Cinnamon Roll Toast

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bunny Chow

Having grown up in South Africa, there are days that I miss a certain food that I used to love.  Boerewors are definitely on the top of the list, but another one which may seen a little weird, is Bunny Chow.

Bunny Chow

Now before you go and get yourself all worked up, there are NO bunnies in the dish.  NONE!  No fluffy anything in there, so don't let the name freak you out.  But what is Bunny Chow?  If you're South African or grew up in South Africa like I did, you know exactly what it is, matter of fact you may have tried in once or twice or many times, it's the perfect beach food when you're down in Durban.
Bunny chow, often referred to as a Bunny is a South African street dish consisting of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry, that originated in the Durban Indian community.

Though curry and especially Mutton Curry is the most popular with this dish, there are quite a few versions out there, I've seen chicken, I've seen ground beef etc. Whatever you decide to try, it's delicious.

While sitting here this morning looking at my Menu Plan, I started craving Bunny Chow and just knew that I had to fix it for dinner.

Traditionally it is served in a half of a bread loaf, that has been hollowed out, then the curry scooped into the middle.  For me, the best part is that the bread soaks up all that curry gravy *drool*

Only thing I'm doing differently is that I'm making my own filling and using homemade bread bowls instead of loaves :)  You can use whatever recipe you have on hand, the one I'm using I've had for a while and found it on allrecipes.com.

Bunny Chow

Homemade Bread Bowls

1/2 cup water (70 to 80 degrees F)
1 cup warm milk (70 to 80 degrees F)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

In bread machine pan, place the first seven ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).
When the cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into six portions; shape into balls. Place on greased baking sheets.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bunny Chow

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Bunny Chow

Cool on wire racks.

Bunny Chow

To make bowl, cut the top fourth off of bread; carefully hollow out bottom of each, leaving a 1/4-in. shell (discard removed bread or save for another use).

Bunny Chow

I'm keeping mine to make some homemade bread crumbs as I'm running pretty low :)

Now for the filling, you can find a gazillion different versions out there, it really depends on what you like....but this is how I made mine tonight, just kept it very simple but it was still really good :)

Bunny Chow Filling

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, finely diced
2 small tomatoes, finely diced
chopped garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons curry powder

In a skillet, add a little bit of olive oil and the garlic, cook for a minute or so, don't let the garlic burn though. Add the ground beef and cook until brown. Add the onion and tomatoes, salt and pepper and curry powder. At this point I like to add a little bit of water, not much but enough to give it a little bit of gravy and not allow it to dry up.

Bunny Chow

Cook for about 15 minutes for the flavors to combine well. Check frequently and stir, also remember to keep adding a little bit of water at a time, you want to end with a nice consistency and definitely a bit of gravy in there, just don't add too much, you don't want it soupy.

I know I'm horrible at writing recipes, I am such a visual and do-er person that writing it down is hard for me. :)

Once done, scoop into the bread bowls and serve immediately :)

Bunny Chow

Monday, January 23, 2012

Comeback Sauce

What is it? For those that have never heard of it or tried it?
Comeback sauce (sometimes spelled kumback or cumback) is a distinctive dipping sauce and salad dressing often seen in the cuisine of central Mississippi. Similar to Louisiana remoulade, the base of the sauce consists of mayonnaise and chili sauce (or some approximation of that combination).  The origin has been credited to The Rotisserie, a Greek restaurant that was located in Jackson, Mississippi.

Several Jackson, Mississippi restaurants serve their own variations of the sauce and many offer bottled comeback sauce.

Comeback Sauce

When I first heard of this sauce last year, I wondered if it was just a glorified easy peasy fry sauce, and wasn't too keen on making it, but then I came across a few recipes for it and it definitely was not a simple fry sauce, I mean there was other stuff in there that I could tell would really give it a good flavor.

Go ahead and give it a try and let know what you think, oh and the longer it sits in the fridge, the better it tastes, I guess because the flavors really get a chance to come together.

Anyway, here is the recipe, I always have a jar and honestly it doesn't last very long because the kids eat it with fries, with chicken nuggets, with fish sticks, they even dip their pizza in it. It's really good, OH and it's great on salad too :)

Comeback Sauce

Comeback Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon mustard
Few dashes of hot sauce (depending on how hot you like it)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
black pepper (I just eyeball it)
1/4 cup light olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a mason jar, close the lid and keep in the refrigerator.

Comeback Sauce

BTW, I've made it before without the chili sauce and it's still delicious....and there have been other occasions that I didn't have lemons on hand and left the juice out and it was still really good too :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Turkey Parmesan Meatloaf

So one of my favorite food blogs is What's Cookin, Chicago?  Yeah, Joelen is like a wiz in the kitchen and she keeps inventing and reinventing the best recipes EVER.

This is another one of hers, she actually came up with as a way to get her husband to eat meatloaf because he's not a fan, so she decided to combine the meatloaf thing with Chicken Parmesan and ended up with this amazing meatloaf.  I just hope she keeps creating new dishes, cause, I have NO problem trying them out LOL  Just saying.

So here's the recipe, I adapted it slightly only because I didn't have ground chicken, so I used ground turkey and ground beef, one pound of each, but everything else is as Joelen suggests.


Turkey Parmesan Meatloaf
Original Joelen Recipe

1 lb ground chicken (ground turkey can be substituted)
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
minced parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. To not over handle the mixture otherwise it will get tough. Place the mixture in the greased loaf pan and form into a loaf. Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce.

Turkey Parmesan Meatloaf

Place filled loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese. Place the meatloaf back in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.

Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving/slicing. Garnish with parsley if desired.

* To make ahead/freezer meal - Prepare the meatloaf mixture as directed and place in a disposable loaf pan. Cover and freeze. When ready to prepare and serve, defrost the meatloaf completely and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top with pasta sauce and place filled loaf pan on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese. Place the meatloaf back in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving/slicing. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roast Beef, Caramelized Onions and Horseradish Sliders

Now there's a mouthful, in every sense of the word.  Trust me, these may be little sliders but they pack a punch and a half.

I love the versatility and I think I also love the fact that if I have 2 of these I don't feel as guilty as if I was indulging in a huge burger or roast beef sandwich.  It's what I tell myself so I can enjoy a bunch of these without feeling guilty.  Whether this makes sense or not, I don't know, we'll just with it .  LOL

This recipe comes from Mommy I'm Hungry which is adapted from Deep South Dish.

I followed Rachelle's example and added horseradish sauce which is not included in the original recipe, but yeah, I'm glad I did cause it really does make the slider for me.


Roast Beef, Caramelized Onions and Horseradish Sliders

3 to 4 pound beef chuck roast (or other braising roast)
1 cup of water
One envelope of dry onion soup mix
One envelope of dry Italian dressing mix
One envelope of dry brown gravy mix
1 (8 ounce) jar of Pace Original Mild Picante Sauce


Whisk together the water with ingredients from all 3 of the envelopes. Pour about 1/4 cup of the liquid on the bottom of the crockpot, place the roast on top. Don't be tempted to season the roast. There is plenty of salt and other seasonings in these envelopes.


Pour the remaining liquid mixture all over the top and all around the roast. Pour the jar of picante sauce on top of the roast, cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high 4 to 5 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter the insides of dinner rolls and toast, butter side down, on a baking sheet in the oven just until warmed through and browned on the bottoms.  Meanwhile in a skillet, caramelize a sliced onion in a tablespoon of canola oil and one tablespoon of butter. (I omitted both and just used my non stick pan, I didn't want the extra fat)

Use a fork to shred the meat. Place a scoop of beef on the bottom half of dinner rolls, then top with caramelized onion, and some finely shredded Swiss cheese.


All I did after this step, was to add a little horseradish sauce and then put the tops back on and popped the sliders into the oven just to melt the cheese.

Almond and Orange Tart

I think if I stop and think about one of the things I most miss about Portugal, it has to be the cakes, cookies, tarts etc.


Tarte de Amendoa, or, Almond Tart is one of those that every Portuguese person has either tried or knows about and for the most part, everyone has a version of the recipe at home most of which are usually passed down from family members.


I've had this one for quite a few years but I can't even remember the last time I made it, it's been that long, but I've been craving it for quite a few weeks now and while looking through one of my favorite Portuguese food blogs I noticed a slightly different version that added orange ring and juice to the base.  Wow, I never would have thought of that combo, but truly this came out SO good, my 12 year old said "I never thought that almond and orange would be good together, this is nummily".  Whatever nummily means,  I don't ask anymore, these 12 year olds have weird slang for everything.

BTW this recipe has the measurements in grams etc, I'll try to give you the conversion too, but honestly the best thing is to just buy a measuring cup that shows both :)


Almond and Orange Tart

For the base:
200gr of flour (1.6 cups of flour or 8 tablespoons of flour)
150gr of sugar (2/3 cup)
2 eggs
Rind and juice of one orange
75 gr of butter (1/3)

For the topping:
125 gr of sugar (5/8 cup)
125 gr of sliced almonds (about a cup and a half)
100gr of butter (7 tablespoons)
100 ml of milk (a little less than half a cup)

For the base, mix all the ingredients well, pour into a well greased tart pan, then bake in a 350 oven for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked. Test with a toothpick, don't let it over cook or it will be too dry.


For the topping, mix all the ingredients in a saucepan,


cook over medium heat until it starts thickening and browning.


I usually remove my base from my tart pan, pour the filling onto it and pop it back in the oven so it gets nice and toasty on top.


Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting.


You can sprinkle on some powdered sugar if you wish, I do, I always sprinkle some on. I tell you this tart is not too sweet but it seems to have just the perfect balance and honestly, who knew that orange and almond could be so good.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blackberry Jam filled Donuts

When I was growing up as a child, in Portugal, I remember that one of my favorite things to eat were the Bolas de Berlim.  These wonderful donuts filled with vanilla cream inside, I mean, anytime we would go to a Pastelaria, that is what I would order, or the Piramides....OH my, haven't had one of those in about 20 years.

But since moving to South Africa and then here to the States, I haven't had any, other than jam or custard filled donuts, which I adore just as much.

With all things baking wise, I usually shy away, I am more of a cook and have never been much of a good baker, for some reason dough and stuff like that just scares the bejeebers out of me, but over the past few years I've been trying to conquer that fear and just get my hands in the dough, so to speak.


These are actually pretty easy to make and though there are many recipes out there, I went with one from What's Cookin, Chicago, which is actually a recipe for Paczki which is a Polish Jam filled Donut.  It's basically the same thing.  The reason I am using this recipe today is because the one I usually make is in Portuguese and in grams, liters etc and I am being super lazy today and don't feel like converting stuff.  There I said it LOL

Anyway, here it is, go make yourself some of these and then make sure you hide one at least before they disappear off the plate.

Blackberry Jam Filled Donuts

4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons shortening
2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
6 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 cup raspberry jam or jelly, for filling
Granulated or confectioner's sugar, for dusting

In a medium sized mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, combine the yeast, sugar, dry milk, salt, baking powder, egg, water, shortening and flour. Knead the dough with the dough hook attachment until it's smooth and supple, adding additional flour as needed. Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour; it won't rise much, if at all. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Round each piece into a ball, then flatten each ball slightly. Place the balls on a lightly greased or parchment lined cookie sheet, cover them with creased plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 2-2 1/2 hours. Again, they won't rise much.


About 10 minutes before the end of the rising time, heat the oil in a deep fryer or in a deep saucepan and heat slowly to 375 degrees.

Fry the donuts, two to four at a time (depending on the capacity of your pan) for 3 minutes on each side or until they're a deep brown, but not burned. Transfer them to a paper towel lined cooling rack to drain.


When the cool enough to handle, fill them with about 2 tablespoons of blackberry jam or jelly each. An easy way to do this is with a cookie press pr pastry bag equipped with a filling tube. Or you can use a thin spoon and make a hole in the doughnut and spoon the jam/jelly in the middle. After filling, roll in sugar.