February 29, 2008

I'm a multi-millionaire!

Flash! I just got this nice email for a Mr. Idris Useni!

"Dear Catherine,
Suddenly you got this mail and may be doubting and wondering how I got your mail contact. Well, I got your contact from an operator of an internet services in the Chambers of Commerce and Industry here in Abidjan, Cote d' Ivoire, hence I decided to write you, though I did not mention the transaction to him.First of all I want you to Know that this is not a scam mail.Because based on what is going on all over the internet world, people find it very difficult to believe things like this any more.If you can guarantee me from your own side, your trust,honestly I will be able to work with you, i will be happy if that is done by you.I Mr Idris Useni ,an accountant with one of the local banks here in Abidjan, the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire I am contacting you on this business of transferring the sum of eight Million US$ (US$8 million) into a safe foreign account and it must be very confidential. I solicit your urgent assistance for the transfer of these funds into your Bank account.I wish to inform you that we discovered the said amount of money during our last audit work in the month of April 2006. Myself and two others of my colleagues discovered this money belongs to one MR Kazu Bakayoko, a very rich farmer who died some four years ago with Kenya airlines plane crash in Kenya on july 2003. Mr. Bakayoko was on board with his entire family including his next of kin to the his account, since then nobody has come for claim of these funds.We therefore solicit your assistance to come out as the next of kin to Mr. Bakayoko. As soon as you agree to do so, we will arrange all formalities to transfer the money to your bank account . Note that all the modalities of this transfer are RISK FREE.We want to make the following points clear for you so that you can have a better understanding of why we are contacting you.(1) As civil servants, we are not permitted to operate or own a foreign account while in office due to CIVIL SERVICE CODE OF CONDUCT.(2) Our present financial resources will not be sufficient to process and procure all documents and formalities from varoius Ministries here, hence the need for a reliable foreign partner abroad is required for financial assistance as the case may be.(3) You will be forwarded as the next of kin of the fund. Your assisting percentage will be as agreed when you finally get back to me. PLEASE DO REPLY ME VIA THIS EMAIL ADDRESS ONLY IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ASSISTING ME IN THIS TRANSACTION;

Best regards.

Mr.Idris Useni."

Wow…8 million dollars. How exciting. I’m thinking I’ll send Mr. Useni a nice batch of fudge for his efforts on my behalf. You guys think fudge is a good idea? I mean, I’m imagining that folks in the Cote d’Ivoire just don’t have access to good chocolate...some nice Guittard chips or some Scharffenberger? I'm guessing there's a lot of stress there due to coups, plane crashes, and unpicked arugula. Fudge always is a good gift for people needing a bit of of lift.

My reply to Mr. Useni:

Dear Mr. Useni,
First of all, I am sorry for the loss of the rich farmer guy, Mr. Bakayoko, in the plane crash. And with his entire family! Wow…that’s awful! I didn’t know there were airlines in Kenya. I mean, I thought Southwest covered that route. Anyway. What did he farm? Arugula? Eight million dollars is a lot of money for a farmer!

Yes, it’s ok for you to transfer eight million dollars to my account. That is really going to help my overdraft situation. Let me send you the account number and also my social security number as soon as I hear back from you! And you probably need my passport to verify it’s really me, so I'll send that too. Oh, the picture is really bad, don’t pay attention to that! That girl at the passport photo place was such a pill! Between you and me, I think she was just jealous because she didn't get to go anywhere! Also, please send your mailing address! I’d like to send you a thank you gift! Some fudge! For you and your civil servant/ministry buds. Any nut allegies?
Awesome news, thanks so much! Can’t wait to buy an island!
Your friend,
PS…dude, you need to use spell check!

Cote d’Ivoire “Thank you for 8 million dollars!” Fudge

Makes 48 squares

1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow cream
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
¼ cup butter
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Line a 8” x 8” pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallow cream (nuke this in microwave for a few seconds to help get out of the jar!), sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, and scrapping sides of saucepan to bring the sugar crystals down into mixture.
3. Remove from heat and pour in chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours until firm. Cut into squares.

Tagged and Bagged!

Jenny from The Picky Palate has tagged me. This is a first. I'm not sure how I feel about being tagged...I've read that some bloggers find it annoying. But I'm thinking it's pretty fun. I mean, I'm my favorite topic, so any excuse.....I mean, just 5 things??? I could spend hours discussing my fascinating self....just ask my husband!

I'll have to give some thought to who I'll tag, and that will be in a future post.

Here goes:

1. When I was 8 or 9, my grandmother taught me to handicap the horses at the races. She would send me on “spy” missions down to the stables to find out from the trainers and jockeys which horse was doped or which one was hot. I was a good little bookie, in my braids and little Levi’s….nobody thought twice about me asking questions about the "pretty horses"….we had a very good run, winning money for my college fund, which she kept stuffed in her alligator purse, all in $20 and $50 bills. I'm still pretty good at pickin' the ponies!

2. We once had a pet baby elephant for a couple of days, after my Dad and his derelict friends stole him from a Shriner’s parade and brought him home in the back of pick-up for “the kids”. We named him, what else? – Dumbo. We were heartbroken when the police came.

3. I used to work as a cook and oarsman for an expedition company. One time I had to cook a monkey to feed clients, because Guatemalan revolutionaries stole our food. Howler monkey tastes like smoky chicken.

4. I once went for a “ride” in an Israeli fighter jet with a really hot Israeli fighter jet pilot. Wow, that was my first crush on a real man (he had an eye patch! he'd been shot!) and not some college bozo with a turned up collar and a Chevy Nova.

5. Someday, I really want to catch someone hurting a child or someone helpless and totally beat them senseless.

February 25, 2008

"Simply Irresistible"

This is my entry to a reallllly cool Blogging Event...."Eat to the Beat!" Check it, peeps!
Food and music - woo hoo!

Remember Robert Palmer? Kinda hot! Maybe not to you whippersnappers, (Emiline), but back in the day, I totally rocked the spandex….pretending I was a 'Robert Palmer girl'. Too bad the babysitter and the kids laughed so hard when I came downstairs in my red lipstick and slicked back hair. And it didn't help when I took a header in my 4 inch heels. While dancing. And doing air guitar.


And how about these ooey gooey puppies, eh? Looking pretty rockin’?? They are SO "simply irresistible" and, (because you all know what a lazy, sketchy, and paranoid baker I am), VERY easy. Nothing can go wrong. Except getting the butterscotch caramel syrup in your hair. That was messy. And NOT very Robert Palmerish.
Oh, dear Lord, what kinda of deluded 80's memories am I serving up these days????

I used my Texas sized muffin pan – because Texas goes with shoulder pads, spandex dresses, and…oh, never mind. These are just big ol’ irresistible Robert-Palmer-girl-over-the-top muffin cakes. And you MUST use Mrs. Richardson's topping...it's the best.

"Simply Irresistible" Banana and Butterscotch-Caramel Muffin Cakes

Makes 6 – I really suggest the “Big Pan”

For Muffin Cakes:
6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark, whatever)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup cake flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup smashed overripe banana (about 1 small one)
1/3 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons milk, as needed

For Filling and Topping
1 jar Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch-Caramel Ice Cream Topping Sauce
½ cup heavy cream, whipped
2 medium nice bananas, sliced very thinly
About 3 oz good dark chocolate (I used Sharffen Berger), shaved

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 6 hole muffin tin (Texas!) with paper liners or grease with butter and dust with a little flour.
2. In a medium sized bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla.
3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, allspice and nutmeg.
4. Add the banana and sour cream to butter mixture.
5. Stir in the flour mixture, just mixing in and not beating too much. Add milk if necessary to obtain a nice banana bread type batter.
6. Divide mixture among baking cups and smooth with spatula. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and springy to the touch.
7. Remove to rack, cool for a few minutes, then remove muffins to cool completely before filling.
8. Cut cakes horizontally into three slices. Re-assemble cakes with caramel and 4 banana slices on the bottom and middle layers. Place top layer.
9. Fold 3 tablespoons of the butterscotch caramel topping into the whipped cream – don’t over mix, it will appear streaky, which is good!
10. Dollop the top of each muffin cake with whipping cream and top with chocolate shavings.

February 21, 2008

And Now For A Commercial Break....

Notice the awesome new header above??? The fantabulous Emiline made it for me! She has been sick, in bed, bored, and was probably high on Nyquil, so she designed this cool new masthead for me. Thanks, Emiline...I love it! One of the best reasons I have for blogging is connecting with such talented, generous, and thoughtful other bloggers. That, and the food. The glorious food that makes me want to lick the computer monitor at times. It's stuptifying (word?) how many prolific and talented cooks and bakers there are! One great blog leads me to hundreds of others. The only limit on blog hopping is the time I have to cruise around and sample the goods. Truly inspiring and really really fun.

Tomorrow, our nephew Aaron plays Tiger Woods in Accenture Match Play Championship. If you can, tune in. And send him good vibes. He's a great guy. He CAN beat Tiger. He's got the good guy mojo going on! If he beats Tiger I am going to bake him a cake. I'm going to call it "Tiger Woods is a Loser Cake"...ok, not really, that's not very nice. Maybe just a nice Double Chocolate Layer Cake with Gananche Frosting. Yeah, that's the ticket! Tiger will be SO jealous! Go Aaron!!!!

February 20, 2008

Does Kerry Simon know Scones????

Whew. Good to be home. It’s really really really tough laying around on a cushy chaise lounge by the pool, in 71 degree sunny weather, with my I Pod stuck on mediation music. Really exhausting...you know what I mean?? I need a nap.

Ok, so now that I’m back to reality and pending snow showers, I felt like a little something that would support my butter habit. So, who likes scones??? Raise your hands, please! Oh, I see….some of you seem to be pretending that you are all into health and stuff, and scones aren’t on your diet! That’s crazy. EVERYONE NEEDS A SCONE NOW AND THEN.
With lots of butter. There’s no other way. Some uppity British waiter once made a face when I asked for butter for my scones. He said a "proper scone" only requires jam. Yeah...well, let’s just remember the American Revolution, shall we, pal? We won the right to put butter on everything.

These scones are awesome. I love ginger. Candied ginger. And butter. Did I mention that? And I do believe that Nancy Silverton knows a thing or two about baking. These were the best selling scones in her renowned “La Brea Bakery” in LA. You will love them. End of story. Just mix, bake, slather with butter. This recipe makes 8 perfect scones and you’ll eat all of them with a silly smile on your face.

And just think of how all that butter will make your hair shiny!

Nancy Silverton’s Ginger Scones

Makes 8

2 ¼ cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped or grated lemon zest
1 ½ sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and frozen
4 ½ oz candied ginger, finely chopped (see Notes below) into ¼ inch pieces to equal 2/3 cup
¾ cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones.

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder.
Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Wash and dry your hands…dust with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead (see Notes) a few times to gather it into a ball. Roll or pat the dough into a circle about ¾ inch thick. Cut out the circles, cutting as closely together as possible and keeping the trimmings intact.

Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush the tops with remaining cream.

Bake for 12-16 minutes, or until surface cracks and they are lightly browned.

Notes: I use my handy dandy kitchen shears to cut up the sticky ginger – much easier than chopping with a knife. You don’t really “knead’ the dough as much as sort of gather and press and coax gently into shape. It’s kinda crumbly, but it’ll press together. You can use a 3 inch cookie cutter or wine glass to cut the scones. Using 3 inch cutter, you will get exactly 8 scones!

This is my super awesome niece, Katie Ross (the Boss) Modesitt....she loves scones, shopping, strawberry (virgin) daiquiris, and swimming!

February 15, 2008

Television Hilarity!

Well, I’ll be leaving town tomorrow morning early. Gone for the long weekend. No cooking this weekend!

Going to meet my sister in Palm Springs for some sun (she lives in San Francisco and it’s been pretty gloomy and wet up there...not to say snowing here!) and to hide out. For good reason – I’ll be making my national television debut on Sunday evening.
The new Food Network series “Ultimate Recipe Showdown” – mine is the first show, “Chicken”. Sunday, February 17, 9 pm Eastern. It is better that I cringe in private. My husband will have his best buddy over to watch at home….I don’t think I could stand to have my pal Mike say, “wow, why do you look so….electrocuted?”

And my sister, Lori, was the one who stuck it out with me throughout the taping. She calmed me down when I was shaking so bad, I could have had an unfortunate "Saturday Night Live" Julia Child/knife incident! She told me which outfit looked like “you’re not wearing THAT, are you???” and wiped the lipstick off my teeth. I couldn’t have survived the experience without her!

While I’m apprehensive of how I’ll appear a fool, the actual experience of doing it was wonderful. I LOVED my fellow contestants – all so talented and gracious. You’ll see Michelle Anderson along with me – she won the National Chicken competition last year (and $100,000!) so she knew a thing or two about cooking chicken....nothing like just a little competition! And I had a soft spot for Lauren, the darling, super talented young woman from New Orleans. She is just wonderful. Everyone was wonderful! And be sure to watch my good pal, Jenny Flake of "The Picky Palate" when her show airs, “Comfort Food”. I just think Jenny is the best thing since sliced bread. So kind, talented, and level-headed…she’s been a sort of mentor for me and I’ve so appreciated her input and support.

The Food Network and High Noon staff were just terrific. From producers to cameramen to our prep assistants, they were professional, supportive, and fun to do this with. I spent a lot of time laughing, which went a long way to helping me not pass out. And Guy Fieri….he was not only hilariously funny, he was helpful (I mean, doing the live shoot, he saw me start to do something stupid, and his commentary put me back on track!), and just a really nice guy. I was nervous and freaked out, but I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything.

I hope you all enjoy the show. It’s a good concept and I think it will be pretty entertaining.

And by entertaining, I just hope you laugh WITH me instead of AT me!!!

Mike, you listening?????

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day, all you love bugs! I have a little treat for you! This is fast, easy, delicious. Not even any baking! These gems are kind of a cross between a cupcake and a huge piece of candy. What would you call that – a cupdy?? Or cakecan??? I just call them wonderful. They remind me of a chocolate popcorn ball…they’re messy, gooey, chocolate-all-over-your-face good. If you make them for your kids, they will probably clean up their room.

I guess I’ll share them with my husband. Valentine’s Day is a rather touchy subject since the year he presented me with a Shop-Vac. I mean, I like a Shop-Vac as much as the next person, but there’s something about an appliance that picks up dirt that doesn’t bring to mind – romance. At least he put a red bow on it. And then there was the year, early on in our marriage, when he was working very long hours and we didn’t plan anything special for Valentine’s. He came home, dead tired, and woke me up at 10:30pm with a bouquet of flowers. I was so touched – he remembered! But then I read the card…”To Wanda, Love Harold”. Whaaaa???? Turns out he didn’t have time to go anywhere to buy flowers. So he flagged down a florist late that night, while he was driving home, and asked if he had any “spares”. The guy had one bouquet in the back of the truck and he couldn’t find the address to deliver it. So my husband bought it from him, neglecting to check the card.

So here’s to you, Harold. Happy Valentine’s Day! Love, Wanda

No-Bake Chocolate Candy Cakes - "Cupdies"!

Makes 12

5 – 2 oz Milky Way bars
4 tablespoons butter
3 ½ cups crispy rice cereal (Rice Krispies)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Line a 12 –cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.

2. Chop 4 of the candy bars coarsely. Cut the remaining bar into slices.

3. In a medium saucepan, place the chopped candy bars and butter – heat over medium heat, stirring until melted and smooth.

4. Stir in the crispy rice cereal.

5. Stir the vanilla into the melted chocolate chips (I melt them by placing in microwavable bowl, and nuking on high for 10 seconds, stirring, then nuking again in 10 second increments, stirring after each, until melted).

6. Press the candy bar/cereal mixture into baking cups. Spread with melted chocolate. Top each with sliced candy bar. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.

February 13, 2008

Party Like It's 1989

For this week’s Papa Dale Pie Project, I’ve made a pecan tart. It’s a 1989 Martha Stewart recipe, from a calendar. Evidently, back in 1989, I needed calendars to bake. From what I remember, each month of this calendar had a recipe below a photograph of the benignly smiling Martha, baking whatever was the month’s specialty with absolute authority and perfection.

Back in those days, I also made my own curtains (and matching Easter dresses for my girls and bow ties for the boys…they still haven’t forgiven me), roasted a leg of lamb every weekend (with mint that I grew in the garden, of course!), stenciled the garage door, put up a Christmas tree decorated with handmade birds nests (by me, not the birds), and painted the hamster cage with pastoral scenes (he died…from lead poisoning, I suspect). In short – I was out of my ever-loving mind. I spent much of those Martha years, running around making bunny rabbits out of radishes. Boy, was I glad when she went off to prison…I needed a REST.

I much prefer these years of sloth and unrelenting self-indulgence. Ice cream right out of the carton with a spoon! Bisquick! Brownie Mixes!! There’s not a damn homemade placemat in sight! The crystal French sorbet dishes? Martinis!!!! And I didn’t even go to prison!

To her credit, this pecan tart of Martha’s is just the bomb. It’s not as sweet as a traditional pecan pie, and the hint of citrus is just perfect. And, I get to use my beloved rectangle tart pan. I just love that pan. I bought it especially to make this tart back in 1989. I don’t know if it just looks…tidier…or what. If I can cram a pie crust into it, I’ll do it. The servings just look so elegant. Not all pie-y with fruit guts spilling out all over the plate. Nice and neat.

Just like 1989 me and Martha.

Martha Stewart’s Pecan Tart – circa 1989

Makes one rectangular tart (or a plain ol’ pie…but, really…would Martha do that????)

1 unbaked pate brisee (or basic pie crust) tart shell
4 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1 lemon or orange
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
About 1 ¼ cups perfect pecan halves (and when Martha says “perfect”, you better get perfect!)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Put the eggs into mixing bowl and beat with a fork. Blend in the sugar, salt, molasses, and corn syrup. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and lemon or orange rind, mixing until thoroughly blended. Add the chopped pecans.
3. Pour the filling mixture into the pastry shell and neatly arrange the pecan halves in rows on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned and the filling is set. Let the tart cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

February 12, 2008

I'm So Fishy

I am always messing around with savory sauces or butters. Particularly those
that can compliment salmon. Ever since a heart surgeon told me he eats salmon
every MORNING for BREAKFAST (!) because he believes so strongly in the health
benefits, I’ve strived to add lots of fresh salmon to my diet. It’s easy for me
because I just love salmon. I am so boring and predictable at restaurants
because I always go for the salmon. I could be sitting at the most fabulous
steakhouse in the country that serves big fat juicy prime rib and I’ll say, “Well
then, I’ll just have the salmon, please!”

This is a recipe that’s been around my kitchen for some time. I cannot remember
where it came from…it’s scratched on the back of an old grocery receipt. With
gum stuck to it. That probably came from the bottom of a long-gone-to-
Salvation-Army purse. And I most likely copied this from a magazine in a
waiting room, because I’m too paranoid to just rip the dang page out. Like, what
are those nurses going to do?? Bill me? The way medical costs are, I should get
free subscriptions to every magazine in the reception room for at least 5 years.

This butter recipe is breeze to throw together (as long as you remember to do it ahead, so the butter has time to freeze) and it’s just delightful on salmon. My husband thinks it’s a tad too “caper-y”, so if capers aren’t your thing, decrease the amount you use. It makes plenty, so just keep the leftover in the freezer for the next time you have salmon. Like maybe for breakfast! (Let’s just forget about the fat content in the butter, shall we?)

“Salmon with Caper-Anchovy Butter”

4 garlic cloves
3 anchovy fillets (I drain them first – and use the leftovers in tuna salad)

2 tablespoons capers (again, drained)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Cognac
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (I’ve used cilantro with good results)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

Blend first 7 ingredients together in food processor. Add butter and process until well-blended. Season to taste with salt, if desired (I think it’s salty enough with the anchovies!). Form the butter mixture into about a 9 inch long log and wrap with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour. Let butter soften slightly before using.

Broil or grill salmon steaks or filets as you like. Transfer to plates. Cut butter into ½ inch thick slices and top each piece of salmon with 2 or 3 slices. Serve hot.

*I served this with olive oil and salt roasted asparagus and tomatoes with a little feta cheese thrown on top during the last 10 minutes of roasting....right in there with the salmon. Yum.

(I'm betting this would be terrific with a variety of other fish as well...maybe even boring old prime rib)

February 11, 2008

The Sweetest Thing

Our son leaves for Iraq in about 6 hours. We have spent the last several days (which explains the lack of posting exquisite recipes and witty commentary) completely devoted to him, and we then took him back to his base to prepare for his departure. Luckily, that was Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, which gave us opportunity for some beautiful beach time!

He has already served one tour in Iraq…that tour was relatively safe (if there is such a thing!) and pretty uneventful. But this tour is more intense…and his job and mission is very dangerous. However, I am finished crying and wringing my hands. What he needs from me now is packages of gum, toothbrushes, hard candy for the Iraqi kids, wet wipes, and cookies that don't crumble. That part is easy! I'll be a cookie bakin' fool!!!! The harder thing is to keep my head up and live each day in a happy mood and not worry. He would not like it AT ALL if I became all weepy, walking around sighing, blathering away about him…he’d be so embaressed if he knew I was writing this! But I am so proud of him and want to shout out what a great, great man and son he is.

AND….I’m finally posting my win in the Cake-Mate “Mother of All Bake Sales” contest. Mine are the "French Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes". There were 5 grand prize winners…just look at those beauties! I especially liked Beth Royals submission….so creative! We each won $1,000 PLUS an additional $1,000 to be donated to charity of our choice, which, for me, will be “Make-A-Wish Foundation”. This is a surprising win for me, mainly because I am not that great of a baker and also because this is a very simple recipe – the cupcakes are good, but I think I won because I used lots of the sponsors decorations in a pretty cute way. They were adorable and easy. I’m especially pleased with this win because it’s not often that a charity also benefits.

(This is my picture that I submitted...the one up top is a pic that the Cake-Mate people did...obviously, better photographers!)

So, life IS pretty sweet….I’ve got a son that sends my heart to the moon! And I get to make cupcakes with Barbie decorations that won some cash for a great charity! I guess it’s all in how you look at things, huh???

I wonder if Marines like cupcakes with flowers??? Hmmmmmm

February 4, 2008


A few months ago I entered a Vidalia Onion contest. I luvvvv me some Vidalia Onions! My wonderful late father-in-law used to order a crate of them in the spring from Georgia or some southern State or another (where is Al Gore from??), and he’d give us lots of them, which I would eat just raw, in a mayonnaise sandwich. Sounds disgusting, right? Well, you just haven’t LIVED RIGHT until you have an onion sandwich! Which reminds me of nephew Bobby’s anchovy sandwiches…but, I digress.

So, I entered the contest, and to my great delight I was in the top 10. I got a groovy little onion trivet! Who can claim that, huh??? It’s cool!

The winning recipe submitted by Kelly McWherter from Texas intrigued me. “Sweet Vidalia Sliders” It sounded so good. Anything with meat, brie cheese, and onions is captivating. So I kept that recipe close, thinking I’d cook up those little sliders sometime.

We didn’t have a big deal planned for Super Bowl, but I’ve been so busy and distracted, that I NEEDED to get in the kitchen and fiddle around. I thought Kelly’s recipe would be perfect for Super Bowl viewing. So I tucked my husband into the couch with his remote and comforter, and got to it. And, wowza! That Vidalia Onion Committee knew what they were doing! Those are some AWESOME little burgers! We loved them and (totally out of character for me) I wouldn’t change a thing. Maybe smash them down a bit to cook faster, but nothing else. I’ve cooked a few winning recipes from other contests and frankly, (no sour grapes, I promise) some just don’t seem to be that special. But this one is a keeper.

Congratulations, Kelly! You flat out earned that win! Rather than post the recipe here, I’ve linked it above…saves bandwidth! I’m all about saving the environment, you know.

BTW, my recipe is down toward the bottom of the page...my trivet winning “Caramelized Vidalia Onion Waffles with Smoked Salmon and Lemon-Caper Sour
Cream Sauce"

February 3, 2008

"Not Just A Hunk of Meat!"

I have been awfully hard on the spousal unit in previous posts. And I feel rather bad about it. I fear that you might assume he’s kind of a Neanderthal dork. Not so! He’s a swell guy, a devoted husband, a stellar Dad, smart as a whip, and my best friend. That’s probably why I can make such fun of him…and he even laughs right along with me. A less secure man might whine about my…tales of domestic mishaps. Of course, that's impossible, cause I couldn’t be married to a wimp that whined. I am the only whiner allowed in the house. That’s why he’s so wonderful. He totally “gets it”…I’m a high-maintenance nut and he’s accepted it. We have a great life together. We’ve raised 4 amazing kids, been through all kinds of life-altering events, both exhilarating and heart-breaking, nursed each other through sicknesses (both psychic and physical) and he still chases me around the house, me shrieking like a banshee. He listens to my crazy ideas (“say, how do you feel about me climbing Kilimanjaro?), takes the dead mice out of the traps (I’m sobbing, “Ratatouille, Ratatouille!), irons his own shirts (and mine), and takes care of the boogie man. He loves us with passion, intelligence, absolute devotion, patience, and best of all, great humor. There is no one who can make me laugh harder.

And, did I mention – the guy can flat out cook? Well, actually he’s best at cooking meat. He can sear, braise, grill, and sauté anything that once had a heartbeat like none other. I always defer to him in that department. He’s a pro! I’m so bossy and opinionated in the kitchen that sometimes I forget just how great a talent that is. I struggle with meat…how long, how thick, what temperature? It’s a great mystery to me. But he always gets it right with very little effort or panic.

He’s been talking about making “his” Reuben sandwich for some time. Yesterday he announced that I needed to “get out” and let him take over the kitchen. So I’m going to share the making of his Reuben…and it was delicious. Nothing all that complicated….but with his unique way of doing the brisket and building the sandwich, I think it was probably the best ever.

Just like him. Unique and totally delicious – the best ever.

Reuben Sandwich

Serves 4 with corned beef leftover for hash the next morning

1 corned beef brisket w/ the pickling spices, cooked according to package or some other good recipe you might have.

A couple of potatoes, unpeeled, cut up in big chunks (you might throw in more, if you plan on corned beef hash the next day!)

3 or 4 carrots, unpeeled, cut up in big chunks

1 can (15 oz) Bavarian Style Sauerkraut with caraway seeds (he insists on Libby brand)

Butter for buttering the bread

1 bottle of Thousand Island dressing (Kraft…again he has specific brands he likes!)
1 loaf Schwarzwalder rye bread (Orowheat)

Several slices good Swiss cheese (I like Boar’s Head - he didn’t really have an opinion)

1. Cook the corned beef brisket as directed. When done, remove to cutting board, cut in half, (with the grain) and let rest of a few minutes. Throw the potatoes and carrots into the cooking water and bring to boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes, about the time you need to rest the corned beef.
2. Meanwhile, heat the sauerkraut in a medium sized saucepan until simmering. Drain in a colander very well, pushing out all liquid with back of spoon. Keep warm.
3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Slice the corned beef (against the grain) into ½ inch thick slices. Layer the corned beef and cheese onto slices of bread and put together. Butter one side and place buttered side down into hot pan. Cook like a grilled cheese sandwich, flipping and buttering the other side when first side is nicely browned. Flip again to finish.

4. Take sandwich apart, and pile on the sauerkraut and squirt on the Thousand Island dressing to taste. Put sandwich back together again.
5. Cut and serve on a plate along side with the boiled carrots and potatoes.

Yes, he's Irish. He's very pale and loves potatoes and beer.

February 2, 2008


I've been reallllllly busy for the last two and will be for the next two days, hence....I've self-diagnosed myself with "blog attention deficit disorder"! Anybody got any cooking ritalin?

I've got a couple of realllllly good recipes ready to rock and roll, and hopefully can get to it soon!

So enjoy the weekend! Do something realllllly fun, like....stand in front of the television during Super Bowl, and recite some poetry.

Later, gaters!

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"The Dish" by Catherine Wilkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.