Thursday, December 30, 2010

Corn Tortilla Encrusted Tilapia with Avocado and Corn Salsa.....

I have been making so many sweets lately, I decided to mix it up a bit with a little lighter fare! 

This is a very simple and delicious way to serve tilapia.  Feel free to use just about any mild white fish.   I use a food processor to pulverize fresh corn tortillas.  Baking at a high temperature crisps the coating without frying, it's fantastic!  Serve with simple rice pilaf and steamed snap peas, let the fish and the salsa be the star of the meal.   If entertaining, prepare the salsa and have the fish oven ready in the refrigerator.  The fish cooks in only 12 minutes.

Corn Tortilla Encrusted Tilapia

With Corn, Avocado Salsa

For the salsa:

1 ½ cups frozen white corn, thawed
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium avocado, cubed
½ cup seeded and diced cucumber
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 limes, juiced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

For the Fish:

4 large tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
1 ¼ cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water
5 small corn tortillas, pulverized in food processor

1) Into a medium size bowl, combine all of the salsa ingredients, mix well and put into an airtight container and refrigerate.
2) Preheat oven to 425’. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds non stick foil. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the cookie sheet and evenly spread the oil over the foil. Set aside.
3) Tear the tortillas into small pieces and place into the food processor. Process until the tortillas resemble coarse bread crumbs. Place into a bowl for coating fish.
4) Into a second container, add the flour. Into a third container add the eggs and water, beat well.
5) Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Then dip into the flour, shake off excess. Dip into the egg, then into the tortilla crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the fish. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Drizzle with a very small amount of olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes.   Serve with salsa.


Monday, December 27, 2010

You Tube Cinnamon Roll Demo Video!

If you'd like visual instruction on how to make cinnamon rolls (recipe below), click here!  Be advised that this is my very first demonstration video but you get the idea:-)

Have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting....

Cinnamon rolls.....I don't think there is a more delicious treat on the planet!  They take some time to make, but they're sooooo worth it.  Try making them up until the second rising (right before baking) and put them in the refrigerator until morning.  Then right into the oven to bake.  Top the hot rolls with cream cheese frosting....your people with sprint out of bed when they smell them!  Here we go:

Step #1
In a large mixing bowl add yeast to warm water, sugar, salt, and a small amount of flour, whisk to blend.  Allow these ingredients to get acquainted for about 10 minutes.  (The water should be warm, not hot.  Use water the same temperature you'd give to a baby to drink)

Once the water and yeast ingredients are well acquainted, add the beaten eggs, warm milk, and cooled melted butter.  Whisk to blend.
Step #2
Add the whole wheat flour and some of the all purpose flour.
Beat until smooth, without lumps.  Add additional flour and continue to mix....

Step #3
Dump onto board when it looks like this.  Knead with your hands to bring all the ingredients together for 2-3 minutes.  Use enough extra flour to do so without the dough sticking to your hands.
Once you have a nice ball of dough, generously butter a medium size bowl and plop the dough into it.

Butter the top of the dough with soft butter as well.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel.  It being Christmas time, I thought red appropriate.  Allow to rise for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Step #4
 Once doubled, press your fingers into the dough. 

If you leave imprints, it's ready.
Punch down the dough to release most of the air.
Plop onto floured board....
Roll into a large rectangle.  I had to take the picture from this angle because it was so wide!

Smear the entire piece of dough with butter...generously....In the video, I brush melted butter over the dough.  I find you can get more butter onto the dough by smearing softened butter.  Either way is good.
Now a good sprinkling of cinnamon....
and brown sugar....

Step #5
Roll from the bottom edge up to the top....
Pinch the seam to close.  Pinch the ends closed as well.  Slice into 1" pieces and into two well buttered 9" cake pans or a 9"x13" pan.

Aren't they pretty?  Now cover with the clean kitchen towel to rise for another 45-60 minutes.  If you want to bake in the morning, you would cover and refrigerate at this point.
They have can see that they have filled the pan nicely.  Bake in preheated 350' oven for 25 minutes.  While baking, prepare the frosting....

Step #6
Add the softened butter and cream cheese to a deep small bowl. 

Beat until blended.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. 
The frosting should be thick and rich....

Step #7
Ah, can you imagine the smell in my house????  Cool for a few minutes and invert onto a plate, then onto a serving plate.
Ice the hot cinnamon rolls.
Enjoy immediately!

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 package dry yeast, about 2 ½ teaspoons
1 cup warm milk (microwave 30 seconds)
2 beaten eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
¼ cup whole wheat flour
4 ½ to 5 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon
½ cup brown sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 tablespoons softened butter
4 ounces softened cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1) In a large mixing bowl, add warm water, salt, sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, and dry yeast, whisk to blend. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, melt butter in microwave and cool until warm. (no hot ingredients can go into the yeast mixture, it will kill it!) Add to yeast mixture. Add warm milk and beaten eggs as well.
3) Add whole wheat flour and 3 cups of all purpose flour. Beat so there are no lumps. Add 1 ½ cups flour to the bowl. Stir until most ingredients have moistened.
4) Dump onto lightly floured board or counter top. Knead for about 2 minutes or until the dough has come into a soft ball of dough.  Use enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the board.
5) Grease a medium size bowl with soft butter and place the dough ball into it. Butter the top of the dough with one teaspoon of softened butter. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a draft free, warm space. Allow to rise for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Press with fingers and when you leave fingerprints in the dough it’s ready.
6) Punch down the dough to release the air. Plop the dough onto a lightly floured board. Roll into a large rectangle, about 16”x 24”.
7) Smear the two tablespoons of softened butter over the dough, distribute evenly.
8) Generously sprinkle the rectangle with cinnamon. I do not measure the cinnamon, just be sure to have an even coating of cinnamon.
9) Evenly distribute the brown sugar over the rectangle.  If you like, add chopped walnuts or pecans.
10) Starting at the bottom of the rectangle, roll to the top, rolling as tightly as possible. Punch the ends together and the seam down the roll.
11) Generously butter two 9” cake pans. Cut the log of dough into 1” pieces and place into pans. Cover with the kitchen towel and allow to rise again for 45-60 minutes.
12) While the rolls are rising, make the frosting. In a small and deep bowl, beat the softened 3 tablespoons of butter and 4 ounces of cream cheese until blended. Add powdered sugar all at once and 2 tablespoons of milk, and vanilla. Beat on lowest speed. Add the last tablespoon of milk, scrape down the sides. Add a little more milk if necessary. I dare you not to taste!
13) Preheat oven to 350’. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool for about 5 minutes. Invert onto a plate to get it out of the pan and then onto serving plate so that the cinnamon rolls are right side up. Ice with the frosting. Enjoy!
*do not allow to cool for long in the pans, the butter/sugar mixture will harden and make the rolls stick to the pan.
*If you’d like the rolls in the morning, right after you shape them into cinnamon rolls, cover with plastic wrap and kitchen towels. Refrigerate overnight. Go right from the refrigerator to a 350’ preheated oven. They may take a few minutes longer to bake. Cinnamon Roll Demonstration

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone!

I hope you're enjoying your Christmas holiday!   We had the most lovely snow last night, Santa was in his glory. 

I've got a ham in the oven and I prepared my "Mickey Potatoes" earlier today.  I made a HUGE gorgeous salad and for dessert, homemade cheese cake.....and coconut macaroons...and gingerbread cookies....and iced snowmen...geeze!  All the while I'm writing this post, I'm watching an exercise video....we'll worry about that later!  Good thing I made salad.....

I hope you have a wonderful rest of the weekend!  Be on the lookout for what I've been up to lately!

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to Re-Warm Mashed Potatoes.....

Hello everyone-

Mashed potatoes ARE one of those things you can make ahead for your holiday dinner.  Prepare them as you always do and refrigerate, preferably in a glass microwaveable dish.

I've tried many ways of doing this.  First, on the stove top.  It is difficult to warm potatoes in a pot over a flame without scorching the bottom.  Oven warming makes the potatoes a very strange consistency, not creamy like mashed potatoes should be.  While microwaving is not always the best warming option for many foods, I found it to be the best for mashed potatoes.

Twenty minutes before you want to serve, begin microwaving (on high) your potatoes, covered with a paper plate or paper towel for 2 minute increments.  Stir between.  You may need to add a little milk if they're too thick.  Continue microwaving until they're pipping hot.  If you have a huge amount of potatoes, divide them among smaller bowls.

I found this to be the best way to warm cold mashed potatoes.  Anything you can make ahead of time makes for a much less stressful holiday dinner.

Santa will soon be on his way! 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Perfect Scalloped Potatoes.....

If you're serving a ham for Christmas dinner, I would like to recommend the perfect potato accompaniment.  I got this recipe from my friend Mickey so I've always called them "Mickey Potatoes."  They're the perfect combination of Gruyere Swiss cheese, heavy cream, and yukon gold potatoes...absolutely the best potato I've ever had!  The beauty of this dish is they're actually better the next day so you could prepare them completely ahead and simply warm in the oven before serving.

Ah, what else to serve with ham.  Well, you need something green.  Have you tried my Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts?  Omit the bacon if you wish and substitute a tablespoon of olive oil in lieu of the bacon fat.   Brussel sprouts hold up nicely when rewarming, so you could certainly make these ahead as well and simply microwave before serving.

I am ready to decompress with a relaxing and delicious Christmas dinner, how about you?

Have a great week!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fruit and Cream Cheese Kringle.....Detailed Instruction.....

As promised, Kringle!  I've been blustering and blustering about it.  Be warned,  you will not be able to stay away from it.  It's a delicious butter/yeast dough with a cream cheese and fruit filling.....It stays moist for up to three days, if it lasts that long!  This is one of the easiest pastries I've ever made.  It is a yeast dough but it isn't made the typical way yeast is used.  You mix the dough the night before, refrigerate overnight, then shape and bake the next morning.  Shaping takes only 20-30 minutes.  This will be your go to recipe for any holiday going forward.

You MUST try this!  It is so beautiful and you will be so proud to bring it to gatherings with your family and friends.  Here we go....

Step #1:
To begin you blend the butter with the flour and a little salt.  I use the food processor but you can use a hand pastry blender.  Be sure to really incorporate the butter into the flour.  It should look like coarsely ground cornmeal.

Step #2:

Add the liquid.  This is so interesting, you mix cold milk, eggs, and yeast in a measuring cup and beat with a fork to blend.  Then you dump these ingredients into the flour/butter mixture.

Step #3:
Mix so most of the ingredients have moistened  it should look like this.

Step #4:
Empty the bowl onto your counter or board.  Now the fun part.  Knead this mound of dough into a ball.  This should take only a minute or two.  No need to add more flour here unless absolutely necessary.

Step #5:
Are we having fun yet???  I love the feel of a lovely dough such as this on my hands, it's very therapeutic.  Divide that large ball into two.

Step #5:

Wrap each ball loosely with cling wrap and put into a large zip bag.   You're done until morning.

Step #6:
The first thing to do in the morning is beat softened cream cheese with sugar.  Get your fruit preserves out as well.

Next, on a lightly floured board or counter, roll out one of the dough balls into a large rectangle.  About 12" x 18" or so.

Step #7:

Using half of the cream cheese/sugar mixture, spread evenly over the rectangle of dough, leaving about a one inch boarder.

Step #8

Spread the preserves evenly over the cream cheese.  Ok, can you even imagine how delicious this is going to be???  Cream cheese, fruit preserves, butter dough.....

Step #9:
Start to roll one end of dough towards the center.  Once you get about half way, roll the other side towards the center.  Once both ends are rolled inward, pinch the ends together.  Place on a large parchment lined cookie sheet. 
They should look like this.  I did one raspberry and one apricot.  Into the oven at 350' for 25 minutes.  While the Kringle is baking, make the icing...

This icing is very simple, just powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk.  This is the consistency you want.  Not too loose but will cling nicely to the warm pastry.

When they're finished baking, simply slide the paper with the kringle right onto the cooling rack.  Cool for about 10 minutes and they're ready for drizzle.
Drizzle back and forth with the icing.   Every try drizzling a Kringle with one hand and taking a picture with the other???
I originally found this recipe in a Penzey's catalog but made some slight changes to the recipe.  Ever since I first made it, it has been my absolute favorite for Christmas morning.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family!



4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 package of dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons

Cream cheese filling:

1 8 oz. package softened cream cheese
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons your favorite fruit preserves or filling


2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-6 teaspoons milk

1) Add flour, butter, sugar, and salt to your food processor. Blend until the flour resembles coarse corn meal-or-blend in a large bowl with a pastry blender.
2) Measure out 1 cup of milk in a two cup measuring cup. Add yeast and eggs. Beat with a fork to combine.
3) Add liquid to the dry ingredients. Mix well with a fork until the dry ingredients are moistened.
4) Empty bowl onto counter and knead with your hands to make a soft dough. Divide into two pieces and shape into balls.
5) Wrap in plastic wrap and put into a large zip bag. Refrigerate overnight.
6) Preheat oven to 350’. Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Set aside.
7) Roll out one of the dough balls into a 12” x 18” rectangle. Spread half of the cream cheese over the dough, then spread 2 tablespoons of the preserves evenly over the cream cheese.
8) Roll both short ends of the dough towards the center. Pinch the ends together. Place on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 4 teaspoons of milk. Mix well, add more milk if necessary to get the right consistency.
9) Remove from oven and slide the kringles right onto a cooling rack. Cool for 5-10 minutes before drizzling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snowman Cookies....

Here is yet another decorating variation.  They're very simple to do.  Use the Butter Cut Out Cookie recipe below.  Make a simple icing with powdered sugar.  For the hat, melt 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 second increments and stir between until the chocolate is just melted.

1)  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Dip the snowman hats into the melted chocolate and place on the lined cookie sheet.  Allow the chocolate to set up. 
2)  Ice the cookies with a simple powdered sugar icing.  (if you scroll down on the post of this link you will find the icing recipe)
3)  Add mini chocolate chips for eyes and a smile and red and green M&Ms for buttons.
4)  It is best to let the cookies sit out overnight to set the icing.  This is helpful when packaging or transporting. 

Get the kids involved in this one, they'll love it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Butter Cut Out Cookies....

Isn't this a pretty cookie?  What I love most about this cookie is that it isn't overly sweet.   Because there is no leavening in the recipe, it is the perfect dough to make two layered cookies.  Fill with your favorite fruit preserves or try filling with melted chocolate.  Dust with powdered sugar for a lovely finishing touch.  If you don't want to make a filled two layer cookie, try baking your favorite shape and half dip into chocolate with sprinkles or chopped nuts.
There is something about a pretty little package of goodies I find irresistible!  It's the perfect small gift to say Merry Christmas in a very special way.  Great for your kid's bus driver or crossing guard.

Butter Cut Out Sugar Cookies

¾ lb. softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

1) With an electric mixer, beat softened butter in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat mixture until fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
2) Add eggs and beat for 30 seconds, scrape down sides, beat another 30 seconds.
3) Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off with a knife into a medium bowl and add salt. Mix to blend. Add flour about a cup at a time and mix on the lowest speed of your mixer until all flour is incorporated.
4) Dump cookie dough onto counter top and shape into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and put into a large zip bag. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
5) Preheat oven to 375’. Cut parchment paper to fit cookie sheets and set aside.  No need to use any cooking spray or fat on parchment, nothing will stick!
6) Lightly flour your counter top and roll out a softball size piece of dough to about 3/16”. Cut with cookie cutters and place on parchment lined sheet. Bake for 7-9 minutes. 

*To make the two layer cookie:
1)   You will need your favorite shape and a small round cutter to cut out the centers of the top cookie.  When assembling cookies, place the bottom of each cookie together (after you add fruit filling of course)
2)  Dust each cookie through a fine sieve or a sugar shaker with powdered sugar.  Allow to sit on the counter overnight for the cookies to set up.  Store in an air tight container.

To dip into chocolate:
1)  Simply melt semi sweet chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 second increments, stirring between.  Do not over heat, chocolate will burn.  Dip cookie into chocolate and allow to set on a piece of parchment or wax paper.  Add any sprinkles or nuts right after dipping.
**You can refrigerate the dough overnight if you wish. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before you start shaping into cookies. You will need to knead the dough before you attempt to roll it out.
***Gather all of the dough scraps after cutting and knead that dough into some of the fresh dough. The dough will soften a bit and be easier to work with after the initial rolling.
****Be sure to watch the first batch while in the oven closely. Baking times can vary depending on your oven. Set your timer for 7 minutes and bake additionally as needed. Make a note on your recipe the exact baking time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Baking Essentials....

Before I start posting recipes, I'd like to fill you in on my favorite baking equipment.  If you start with really good tools/equipment you will have a more favorable result.

1)  Cookie sheets.  T-fal Air Bake.  20"x15.5".
This is absolutely the best baking sheet out there.  Why?  Number one, the size.  I can get about 20 good size chocolate chip cookies on this sheet without them touching.  When you're making cut outs, you want to bake as many as possible at one time.  You see the one edge with a lip.  Great for oven removal.  No sides are terrific for easy cookie removal.  More on that momentarily.  I was practically skipping through Target when I found this cookie sheet!  They only had one, so I went home and immediately ordered on shipping no less!  Click here for Target cookie sheet link!  They run $14.49.

2)  Parchment Paper.
Pick this up at just about any food retailer.  The box runs about $3.00.  The beauty of the size of the cookie sheet above and the parchment paper is that they are exactly the same width.  Simply cut a piece to fit the sheet.  Why use parchment paper?  When you bake the cookies on the paper and they come out of the oven, you can easily slide the hot cookies right onto the cooling rack.  They will cool much faster and no cookie residue is left on the pan.  You can use it over and over again for many batches of cookies.

3)  Cooling Racks.  20" x 14.5".

Perfect for cooling anything you bake on the mega size cookie sheet.   I found this exact size by Wilton.   They are $16.81.

Decorating Essentials....

I have a thing for small bowls.  I especially love these because they have lids.  They come in a set of six.  If memory serves, I think they were $22.00.   I often decorate in shifts so I love that I can simply pop the lid on and off without getting the bags/packages of decorations out over and over again.  Also great for prepping for any recipe.  I got these from Pampered Chef. 

Lastly, I love a good 12" piping bag.  They run about $7.00.  The best tip size for piping gingerbread cookies would be the #5.  You can find these at any craft store.  (I got mine at Michaels)  The icing spatula is great for icing cookies, can't live without it!

I wanted to give you a good base for my upcoming recipes.

Thank you for being patient with me!  I'm feeling more festive these days:-)

Have a great day!