Would You Like Samoa Pie?

pie

So you may have saw the recipe going around Facebook for the Girl Scout Samoa Pie. If you haven’t, I have attached a picture (left) and the link here. Basically, it is a creamy, caramely, gooey pic covered with caramel, coconut and chocolate. I was finally having my mom over to celebrate Christmas, yes, don’t judge, we have been crazy busy.  I needed a dessert, so thought I would attempt a Facebook recipe.  Now I made the recipe according to the directions, but I must say, the creamy pie portion just didn’t firm up as expected.  The dessert resulted in, although tasty, a gooey mess.

Fast forward to the next week, I decided to change up the recipe and create my own Samoa Pie.  Here is how I changed it:

I bought a store bought chocolate pie crust (this one was Oreo).  To that, I added a layer of cream cheese mixture (4 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 c cream cheese and about 4 oz. cool whip.) beat these together and spread on bottom of pie. Anyone ever making the Oreo pie, or similar will recognize this step.

Then I added a layer of caramel sauce, drizzled, not too think (I used Ghiradelli’s, you can find by ice cream or in baking).

Next layer, a layer of instant Jello brand caramel pudding.

Let firm up in fridge for a bit, then add your cool whip topping, layer of coconut/caramel mix (1 C coconut mixed with 1/2 C caramel sauce).

Drizzle with melted chocolate and viola! Same great tastes, perhaps even more complex, but none of that gooey mess I had before.

I even had extra layer mixes, so in order to accommodate more people than pie, I made these adorable mini deserts.

I think adding chopped pecans would have just vaulted this recipe into the stratosphere, but alas, I did not have any.

Here is what my desserts looked like! Happy Eating!

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Das pancake ist gut!

I recently tried an apple German pancake recipe that I saw on Facebook.  If you like sweet breakfast it will make your morning. I have seen these before in places that specialize in breakfast like the Pantry. So I wanted to try it out first on my daughter.

The recipe is very easy and I followed it but both Sami and I thought it needed more apples and flavor. However she ate it all anyway. It puffs up nicely like a cinnamon sugary souffle.

My advice would be to add at least one more apple and more cinnamon and brown sugar as well.  I did so when I cooked this for my beautiful Jen the next morning. She thought it was very tasty but could have used a little acidity. I agreed a small squeeze of lemon juice would have really elevated this.

So, instead of spending 8-9 dollars on pancakes, make this yourself and tweak the recipe as you like it. A simple breakfast treat that will have people thinking your a star in the kitchen.  Auf Weidersehen, herren und damen.

First pic is my pancake, and the second from the original Facebook post.

You can see the Facebook video HERE.

IMG_2126 pancake

 

 

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

For Easter, I thought I would try this Facebook recipe for the “Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake”.  Omar’s mom loved lemon desserts, so it seemed like a no brainer.cake

First off, you can get the full recipe HERE.

I made this recipe as 1 1/2 times as much as I wanted extra for cupcakes to sample.

It is a fairly simple recipe.  The arbitrary amount is the “juice from 3 lemons”.  Doesn’t really say how much juice you are supposed to get from this.

It was a bit difficult to incorporate the buttermilk and juice without “overworking” the batter that it keeps warning you not to do. Perhaps that is where the cake went, for me, a bit south.

I thought the overall texture of the cake was heavy and very dense.  With a lemon cake, you want it light and airy, which this was definitely not.  I find blueberries in themselves a bit bitter sometimes. I am not sure if it was the buttermilk in the recipe that had an odd flavor, but between the denseness of the cake, and odd overtones of the buttermilk, I was just not a fan of this cake.

Part of the problem is as well, when you make a cake with a cream cheese frosting, it has to be refrigerated.  That in itself dries a cake out.  Even if you let the cake return to room temperature before serving (which I did), it still seemed a bit dry.

The verdict on this cake was mixed.  Some liked it, some did not.  I was not a fan.  My recommendation to you all if trying this recipe:

When you get to the “adding the buttermilk and lemon juice portion” try adding all at once and carefully folding in.  I tried to alternate as I was afraid the lemon juice would curdle the buttermilk (which I am sure it does, also part of the problem). It is this alternating that I think overworked my batter.

I would also make it and serve it the same day if possible so you don’t have to refrigerate right away.

Or better yet, just make a boxed lemon cake (shh… I won’t tell) and add some blueberries and homemade frosting. Sometimes you gotta go with what works!! I would not make this again.  I would with the lemon boxed cake method, since A. Its easier and B. Tastes better.

 

Chicken “Zoodle” Lo Mein

lomein

vegettiSo I made that Facebook Chicken Lo Mein made with Zucchini noodles instead of real noodles. My review of this recipe is first off, don’t be fooled. This is not a 20 minute minute dinner as Facebook says. Cutting and prepping all the veggies, making the sauce and finally stir-frying it all is labor intensive and very time consuming.  Prep the night before and maybe you can throw it all together quickly.

The flavor was good, but I have to say, the zucchini really releases a lot of water, when cooking with it, makes your dishes very watery.  The “noodles” at the end just turned out to be very difficult to eat. Now I love zucchini noodles with a meat spaghetti sauce, but not a fan in this recipe.  I would have been better off making a stir fry with some brown rice.  The zucchini in this case, does not make you feel like you are eating noodles, but just another vegetable that is cut in such a way that makes it hard to get in your mouth!!

I changed the recipe a bit (click here for original), here is what I did:

Ingredients:
For the sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free*)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic chili paste (to taste)
  • Dash of sesame oil

For the Lo Mein:

  • 2-3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed, spiraled into noodles (I use a Vegetti and love it!!)
  • 8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into thin short strips
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (divided)
  • 1 cup sliced bok choy
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms such as shiitake (I left out as I hate mushrooms)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 C scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

Add any veggies you’d like – I added pea pods, broccoli, etc!!

Directions:

For the sauce – in a medium bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Whisk in the cornstarch until smooth.

Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade, or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, use kitchen scissors to cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long so they’re easier to eat. (You need to do this – I didn’t what a mistake)

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick wok over high heat. When very hot, add 1 tsp of the oil and the chicken. Cook until browned on both sides and opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

Add the remaining oil, veggies, ginger and garlic. Cook until crisp tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside with the chicken.

Pour the sauce mixture into the wok and cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbling, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. (I had to add more corn starch to thicken.  Make sure you mix with more chicken stock or water before adding to hot liquid).

Add the zucchini noodles to the sauce, mixing so the zucchini is covered in sauce, and cook until the zucchini is tender, 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and vegetables to combine, then divide between two serving bowls.

Chicken Fried Cauliflower??

cauli2Today will blog about my re-creation of the Facebook Recipe for Cauliflower Fried Rice. When I first watched the video I was intrigued. I have been finding that more and more I can substitute cauliflower for other ingredients with stellar results. But, my track record with Facebook recipes has been hit or miss. Let me tell you all, with some careful tweaking this recipe is a HIT as far as Omar and I are concerned.

How did I change it? First off let me tell you all that sesame oil is VERY strong. 1 TBS is a alot. Use 1 TBSP of vegetable oil, and a dash of sesame. Trust me, you will thank me later.

Then I substituted chicken for the beef. Just a matter of preference.

I added a bit of butter – don’t freak out, it was like 2 TBSP in 6 servings, as opposed to a whole stick I use when I make my clone of Benihana’s Fried Rice. Just kicked the flavor up a bit.

Here is my recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Chicken breasts thinly sliced
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 C finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 C carrots finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs veg oil
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • ¼- ½ C soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp green onions, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Chop head of cauliflower into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until it starts to resemble rice; set aside.
  2. Heat a large wok (or skillet) over medium heat and drizzle in oil (about 1/8 t sesame and 1 T veg) cook chicken until no longer pink. Remove from pan & set aside.
  3. Add rest of oil, add onion, garlic and carrots and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in cauliflower “rice” and pour the soy sauce over top (to taste), mixing well. Cook for an additional 5 or so minutes, until cauliflower is soft and tender. Add butter & incorporate it in (optional)
  5. Slide veggie mixture to outside side of the wok and add in the beaten eggs, scrambling until cooked through and then incorporate with the veggies.
  6. Add chicken back in and add peas. Stir until peas heated through.
  7. Top with green onions, serve and enjoy!

Now let me say, this was awesome.  So few calories or fat, no guilt, and tasted great! If I did not tell you it was cauliflower, you would know the fried rice was a bit different, you just couldn’t put your finger  on it.

Trick your kids into thinking they are eating rice – they will never know.

Try this and let me know what YOU think.

Click here for the original video.

Facebook Cinnamon Roll French Toast Review

cinn rollJamie requested I try that recipe going around Facebook, you know the one. Cinnamon Roll French Toast.

You can find the video here.

You combine Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls and egg mixture for what appears to be a gooey cinnamon roll casserole.

Here is the recipe:
2 tubes refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup maple syrup

Pour the butter on the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish. Cut each cinnamon roll into 8 pieces, and spread evenly over the butter. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla, and pour over the cinnamon rolls. Pour 1 cup of maple syrup over the mixture. Bake at 375°F/190°C for 25 min. Top with the icing from the cinnamon rolls.

Now I followed the directions and made this casserole for Christmas morning. I figured what a better time to have a “pop in the oven” breakfast handy.

Let me tell you, you cannot make this recipe ahead of time like other breakfast strata recipes, as the dough is gooey and uncooked and cannot absorb the egg mixture like bread can. We made it the night before for ease of cooking in the morning, but all it does is have chunks of dough floating in an egg sea. Looks really gross.

We baked it according to direction, but what you are left with is basically gooey not fully cooked cinnamon rolls atop a layer of baked egg. The maple syrup you add does not cook in anywhere and makes an undercurrent of liquid that just is not appealing.

Our determination is that you need to make the cinnamon rolls separate, and make a frittata if you want, but do not combine the two. This is a big fail for us and I recommend you do not make this.

Make your own dinner at home!! Now adding recipes for your dining pleasure.

It occurred to me, why just shared our opinions? Although our opinions on restaurants, beer and even hotels are well-crafted, insightful and dare I say, thought provoking, they are, at their core, just opinions. I thought it would be fun to share recipes as well.  Not just “hey this Betty Crocker recipe is great” but I would either share recipes I have created, or replicated from various Facebook posts.  The infamous “try this recipe, you will be AMAZED” posts. I will let you know if you should waste your time.

I posted on Facebook that I was busy in the kitchen this weekend. One dish I made is really a Frankenstein creation of many recipes online that I changed and adjusted. I call it Southwestern Chicken Chili.  Now I have made for Omar before, my white bean chicken chili, which he did not really care for.  I decided to try a tomato based dish to see if he liked it.

One ingredient you will see here is Northwoods Fire seasoning from Penzeys. Penszey’s is a spice company that if you have not visited, you need to.  You can find anything you need here, and can order online for your convenience.  Check out their website here.

Northwoods Fire is a chili powder with added flavors of chipotle and hot Cayenne.  If you don’t have this, and you probably do not, you can get a powdered chipotle seasoning and Cayenne.

Ingredients include:IMG_1799
1 Cup finely chopped onions
1 C finely chopped green pepper
1/2 C finely chopped jalapeno
2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
3-4 Chopped Garlic cloves
1 small can tomato paste
5 C Chicken Stock
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbs Chili Powder
1 tps cumin
1 tps Northwoods Fire seasoning
salt & pepper
1 tps red chili flakes
1 tps. dried cilantro leaves (can omit if you do not have)
3 boneless chicken breasts
3/4 C long grain white rice
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 C frozen corn

What to do: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees or so, and bake your chicken breasts until done. Maybe 25-30 minutes?  Once done, set aside to cool, then shred and place in fridge.

Meanwhile, get your mise en place prepared.  Mise en place is a french term that basically means “putting in its place”.  That means setting out your ingredients, chopping, prepping and organizing.

Chop your onions, peppers, and garlic.  You can put all the peppers and onions together, but leave garlic separate.

Add your oil to a large stock pot or dutch oven.  Add onions and peppers and cook until tender and translucent.  Add garlic and cook a bit longer.  Add your tomato paste and stir through.  Once fully incorporated, add your chicken stock.

Add spices. At this point, I let the infused chicken broth simmer for about 15-30 minutes, just to have all the flavors meld. Taste at this point and add additional seasoning if needed.

Note when adding spices to dishes you are preparing to be careful at what stage you are adding.  If you add your spices to onions and peppers that are cooking, your spices may easily burn. Especially if those spices are leafy like parsley, or in this case cilantro.  Nothing worse that burned spices to ruin a dish.

Add rice and stir gently.  Simmer for about another 25 minutes until rice is tender. Unlike when you cook just rice, you can keep stirring this. In fact, the starches given off from the rice help thicken this dish.

Stir in your heavy cream, and add your black beans, corn and chicken.

Bring back up to boil, reduce to simmer and cook about 5 minuted until last ingredients just heated through.

Serve with crushed tortilla chips and grated cheddar cheese! Enjoy!!