Friday, April 30, 2010

I'm a BAAAAAD blogger!!

Tap, tap, tap...Anyone still out there?? Anyone still checking in with me? Ugh. I'm so sorry I've been so MIA lately. To be honest, I just have not been in a real cooking mood lately - carrying around this baby belly all day makes you tired!
Here's a recent pic from 37 weeks:
And we've been very busy trying to get ready for baby so when I do cook it's really simple, quick stuff - grilled meat, chicken or fish with salad and bread mainly. Or we go out or order in. Bad I know.
I miss blogging. I miss cooking and I miss photographing my food! I also miss my energy though. I keep seeing all these beautiful posts going up all around me on food blogs and I'm feeling so behind.
I'm hoping to get a renewed energy soon, although I'm sure once the baby comes(which could technically be any day now), I'll have even less time and energy to cook. Don't fret - I will be back! In fact, I'm hoping to do some baking and cooking this weekend. I've seen some gorgeous strawberries in the stores lately and I'd love to bake something up with those if I have time.
I'm also planning a (gulp) huge 40th birthday party for my husband this July - yes folks he's going to be 40!! Seriously though he looks like he's 28. Here are some pics from a wedding we went to last week:
He always gets carded when ordering a drink! And a few times they refused to serve him because they didn't believe he was as old as his license says he is. Crazy!
I'm going to start entering him into contests for age guessing or something, if those exist. Anyway, I plan on cooking for that event with some help from my mom - ok a lot of help from my mom!! So stay tuned. There will be tons of good updates - food, parties and very soon baby pics. Thanks for sticking around!! Happy eating!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Monkey Bread

There are several variations of so-called "Monkey Bread" out there on the blog-o-sphere and in cookbooks galore. Well stop making all of those. Don't question why, just do it. Well, ok I'll tell you why. Because this one here is "da bomb" - literally and figuratively. It's got all the wonderfully yummy qualities of monkey bread, but with the added touch of cream cheese.
This particular recipe is one that I've been making for a few years now, but unfortunately I can't remember where I found it! I liked this recipe because it included filling each little sweet, cinnamon ball with a square of cream cheese. So every piece of this pull-apart bread is like it's own sticky cheese danish. Ingenious!! I'm thinking this was originally a Paula Deen recipe, figuring she's the only one that could make something as decadent as monkey bread even more fattening and delicious. However, a search online and on Food Network's website brought up only traditional monkey breads, without the cream cheese. Oh well. So anyway, here is the recipe and for now I'll leave the source as anonymous. Enjoy!

Cinnamon-Cream Cheese Monkey Bread
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans of refrigerated biscuits (10 count cans work best)
1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese, cut into 20 cubes
1 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a bundt pan by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Mix together your cinnamon and sugar. On a cutting board or clean work surface, separate your biscuits. Sprinkle each biscuit top with your cinnamon sugar mixture. Place a cube of cream cheese in the center of each biscuit and then fold the edges in to conceal the cube of cream cheese. Rolling the biscuits between your hands to form a small ball is helpful.
Once you have all your biscuits filled and rolled into balls, put them into a large ziploc bag. Pour in the rest of your cinnamon sugar mixture and shake to thoroughly coat the biscuits.
In a small saucepan melt together your butter and brown sugar until combined - don't burn!! Now you're ready to assemble your bread. First, scatter your chopped walnuts around the bottom of the bundt pan. Then place half of your biscuit balls into the bundt pan, make sure to evenly space them around the pan as well (although they will be stacked on top of each other). Cover those with your butter and brown sugar mixture. Then add the remaining biscuit balls and then coat with your remaining butter and brown sugar. (I find there is always a little too much butter and brown sugar so I end up discarding a bit. You could bring the measurements down a touch to account for this, unless you want it really ooey, gooey sweet). Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 40 to 50 minutes, until the biscuits have plumped up and get golden brown. Serve warm with your favorite hot coffee.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Salmon Cobb Burgers

I have something to admit. I'm a virgin. A salmon burger virgin that is of course! Not only that, but I've never ever bought canned salmon before so this was a whole new experience for me. I guess you can say I've been afraid of what I would encounter inside the can. I was picturing a fishy, gelatinous mess. Gladly, I was mistaken. I bought the most expensive canned salmon available (at $6 a can) in the hopes that it would have the least fishy quality. It was quite good and very meaty. The picking over part was a bit of a job though.
There are tons of fine bones, spine bones and even some slimy skin mixed in with the good salmon meat. It takes some patience and time to pick through the meat and clean it out, but it's definitely worth it. Canned salmon packs a tasty punch and we really loved having these non-traditional burgers. Now that it's warm out, I want to try another variety of these fish cakes but done on the grill. I found the initial recipe at Rachael Ray Magazine's website. I changed it slightly, but kept a lot of the original attributes. I linked to the original recipe below and posted what I did with my burgers. If you're a canned salmon and salmon burger virgin like me I encourage you to get yourself to the canned seafood aisle of your grocery store and go crazy. I promise you'll walk away satisfied! Enoy!

Salmon Cobb Burgers
adapted slightly from Rachael Ray Magazine's recipe

One 14.7-ounce can salmon, drained and picked over
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons Ranch dressing
4 poppy seed Kaiser style rolls, toasted
1 tomato, sliced
8 slices cooked bacon
4 slices American cheese

In a medium-size bowl, mix together the drained and picked salmon with the breadcrumbs, parsley, egg, dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, enough to lightly coat a medium skillet, over medium heat. Once pan is hot place down your salmon patties and cook until evenly browned on both sides, about 4 minutes on each side. Top each patty with a slice of cheese, remove from the heat and cover to allow the residual heat to melt the cheese.
Now get ready to assemble your sandwiches. Dress each toasted roll with a tablespoon of Ranch dressing, top and bottom. Use more if needed or desired. Put down a slice tomato, top with your salmon pattie, top with two slices of bacon each. Serve and enjoy!