Monday, February 29, 2016

Joey's Parmesan Tuna Cakes

 There are some things I like to buy in bulk, and canned tuna is one of them. It's always a good thing to have when you want a quick lunch. Mix it up with a little mayo, some chopped celery, and maybe a bit of onion, serve it on some fresh greens with a slice of tomato,  and boom, lunch is served. But as much as I love regular straight up tuna salad, sometimes I get bored with the same old tuna recipe. So I decided to come up with something a little more interesting. As I usually do, I took a quick survey of what ingredients I happened to have on hand, and then ran with it. This was the result! I figured this would be a win for anyone who might be choosing to do meatless Mondays, or meatless Fridays, or for those of us who do better without so many carbs. And they're delish!
 Full disclosure, I really had no idea what I was doing when I was throwing things into the bowl. I know crab cakes usually have bread crumbs in them or on them (which is why they get all lovely and browned and crisp on the outside when you fry them). I didn't want to do bread crumbs, so I tested a couple with a coating of cheese on the outside hoping to acheive the same result, but I found that you don't even need it! They browned beautifully just from the cheese that was already in the mixture.
 So I hope you'll give this one a try. Feel free to tweak it to suit your own tastes, and be sure to let me know if you discover any yummy new variations. I love to hear about it!
Ok then great then thanx then!!

2 (5oz cans) white Albacore tuna in water, well drained
2 eggs
1 tbs Dijon or brown mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup celery, finely minced
1/2 cup bell pepper, finely minced
1/4 cup onion, finely minced
black pepper to taste

Simply stir all ingredients together until everything is well combined and the tuna is well incorporated. Let the mixture stand for a good 5-10 minutes. Heat up your skillet with a little oil or melted butter. (I like to use a cast iron skillet). Scoop up some of the mixture by half cupfuls and place in the skillet to form patties. Let them brown for a few minutes and then flip to do the same thing on the other side. Serve immediately or keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Be sure to let the mixture sit for a few minutes before going to the skillet because the cheese will work like bread crumbs to bind and tighten everything up a bit.
 Serve with tartar sauce or cocktail sauce, just as you would serve crab cakes. I like them with a bit of mayonnaise mixed with horse radish or horse radish sauce. You could also serve them on a bun as tuna burgers with a slice of tomato and some fresh lettuce.
This recipe makes 4 or 5 large patties, but you can easily make them smaller for sliders.
 There's no need to add salt because the cheese is salty enough. Just sayin!
You can also use canned salmon instead of tuna, and you can also stretch the recipe if you need to. Just add another can!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Meatball Sub Bubble-Up Bake

 People always ask me "Do you have any new recipes?" and I always respond with "Absolutely! what exactly are you looking for?" Most often, they'll say they want something that "is easy to make during the work week", or "only needs a few ingredients", or "will feed a crowd", or "doesn't dirty a lot of dishes." Most times, when I'm looking for a recipe, I want something delicious and hearty and comforting. This recipe is all of the above! And it's so easy, anyone can make it!
 It's a Pillsbury recipe, but I first saw it on Facebook. I can't remember who posted or shared it, but it was one of those recipe videos that are always bouncing around social media. (To be honest, sometimes I look at those videos and think "yeah, I'll probably never make that." But this was definitely NOT one of those times!)  I made it for Chris and Claire and it was an immediate hit! For some reason, they never seem to mind when I show up at their door with a casserole. LOL
 It always seems to hit the spot, especially during the colder months of the year when you want something warm and satisfying. Hope you give it a try! I know you'll love it!

1 can Pillsbury Grands Biscuits
1 bag frozen meatballs
2 cups marinara sauce (your favorite store bought or your own)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, (optional)

Cut the uncooked biscuits into 8ths. Place into greased 9x13 dish.
Cover with sauce, start with 1½ cups, add more if you think it needs a little extra.
Place the meatballs on top of the biscuits.
Sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake at 375 for about 30-40 minutes.
Before serving, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, if desired.

The original recipe as posted on includes a sauteed green bell pepper. I didn't include it, but you do you! Add whatever you like! Sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms, all good! 
If you don't care about having to wash another bowl, you can stir all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, and then pour it into a greased baking dish before topping it with the mozzarella. I think it's a little easier to mix everything in a big bowl rather than in the casserole dish. Just sayin!
When you bake the casserole, be sure that the biscuits in the center are done before you remove it from the oven. When I made it, the ones on the outside were fine, but the center ones were a little underdone. Just be sure to check that.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

 Here's an easy recipe that you can quickly throw together when you're in the mood for something sweet. I made this one afternoon, simply because I was bored. I felt like trying something new, but didn't feel like going to the store, or doing anything that was too involved. (TBH, there are some days when I really feel like diving head first into an all day cooking project, but this was definitely not one of those days). This is a Martha Stewart recipe and it's exactly what I was looking for. It only takes a couple minutes to mix up the few basic ingredients, then you spread the batter into your skillet, and boom, it's in the oven and making the whole house smell heavenly. It's perfect with a nice tall glass of ice cold milk after school or while watching TV.
Sometimes the simplest things really are the best, dontcha think?

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
 Preheat oven to 350ºF. 
In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars. Stir in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chips. Transfer to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet; smooth top. Bake until cookie is golden brown and just set in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. 
This cookie turns out very gooey. I wanted it to be a little more chewy than gooey, so I baked mine for a minute or two longer. Turned out perfectly!
Vary this recipe just as you'd vary any regular chocolate chip cookies! Instead of chocolate chips, add nuts or M&Ms or toffee bits or white chips or chocolate chunks or any combination you like!
I know I always say "more is more", but when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, I like to taste the cookie just as much as I like the chocolate chips. So I usually don't add more chips than the recipe says. WHAT??? Yes, I know, I know, it's crazy. Stop judging me.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Best Cocoa Brownies

 Do you love brownies as much as I do?? Unless you're someone who doesn't like chocolate (which just makes no sense to me), you'll agree that brownies are one of life's simple pleasures. So even though I already have several brownie recipes, I figured More is More!!!
 I made these brownies for my friend Luis. He went WAY far out of his way for me, and this was just a little something to show my appreciation. It was really no trouble, and I already had all the ingredients on hand. It's amazing how something as simple as a little pan of homemade brownies can be so appreciated. I found this recipe on and it's now one of my go to brownie recipes. So delicious and fudgy! Luis enjoyed them and I'm sure you will too! My favorite way to enjoy them is with a nice cold glass of milk. For a special occasion, serve them warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup or ganache. Just doesn't get any better!

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line the bottom and sides of an 8" square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 9 or 16 squares.

To be honest, I'm not sure what the purpose is of heating everything over simmering water instead of just melting the butter in a microwave and then stirring it into the other ingredients. I'll have to give it a try next time and see how they turn out.
Instead of adding nuts, I chose to sprinkle a handful or two of semisweet chocolate chips over the batter just before baking. Do whichever you like! Or do both! More is more!
For perfectly clean knife cuts, chill the entire batch before cutting with a very sharp knife.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

  Do you love chocolate? Wait, let me ask that again. Do you LOVE chocolate? If you are someone who worships in the house of chocolate, then these are absolutely the cupcakes for you. They have a rich depth of flavor that you just don't expect in a simple ordinary chocolate cupcake. Yes, they are simple to make, but they are far from ordinary! When I saw Ina Garten making them on her show, Barefoot Contessa, I noticed that they only require a few simple ingredients (most of which I happened to have on hand). I also noticed that the recipe only makes one dozen, so it's perfect if you're making them for a small group. All things considered, I knew I'd be making them the next time I had a few friends over. (It's funny how I never get any complaints when I tell my friends I'm going to bake cupcakes!!) I made them for Kelsie, AJ and Matt, and everyone gave them a huge thumbs up! They're VERY rich and VERY chocolatey, kind of like if a brownie and a cupcake had a baby. So if you absolutely LOVE chocolate, you should definitely add this one to your repertoire. One can never have too many chocolate recipes, am I right?!?! Who's with me on this??

1/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
16 fluid ounces chocolate syrup (recommended: Hershey's)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Line muffin pans with 12 paper liners. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat, or the cupcakes will be tough. 
Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don't overbake! Let the cupcakes cool thoroughly in the pan. 
For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache. Do not refrigerate.
Instead of making the ganache in a double boiler, you can also heat the heavy cream in the microwave until very hot and then pour it over the chips and instant coffee. Don't stir it, but just let it sit for a few minutes and let the chips melt. Then stir until smooth and glossy.
 Oh, one other thing.. Miss Ina always uses extra large eggs in her recipes, but I only ever buy large eggs. So I just used 5 large instead of 4 extra large. Worked perfectly!