Saturday, May 28, 2011

Philly Cheese Sticks with Cherry Chai Coulis-RWOP Dessert Video

My dessert video was featured this week by Ms. Paula Deen on Real Women of Philadelphia website....How cool is that??  Thanks Ms Paula!!

True confession time...I have limited budget and time to produce my videos, so I get only one chance to make my recipe video and get it right. My video preparations consist of...

1. creating the recipe
2. buying the ingredients if I don't already have them in the pantry
3. visualizing what I'm going to say and how I'm going to present the dish
4. get pretty for the camera
5. start filming and pray a lot!!

Talk about flying by the seat of your pants in the kitchen, well that is exactly what you'll witness in this video! It's kinda like jumping out of a plane not knowing if your parachute is going to open...scary but a blast!! Thank heavens for video editing. I've made cheese sticks before but never with a soft cheese like Philly! I was taking a chance with this recipe, knowing it was possible that my cheese sticks might become cheese goo, if I over cooked them or if my panko crust didn't hold them together! 

Before proceeding with my video submission I thought to myself..."I'm always up for a challenge in the kitchen, so cheese sticks with panko crust and tart cherry, chai coulis....ready or not her I come!!"

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 22 minutes
  • Total time: 32 minutes
  • Servings: 6
  • 8 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese Original Flavor
  • 1/2 8 ounce package panko crumbs
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup(s) of flour
  • 1/2 cup(s) of brown sugar
  • 1 14 ounce can tart cherries
  • 1 cup(s) of vanilla chai tea
  • 2 tsp. of corn starch
  • 1/4 pound(s) of fresh Bing Cherries
  • 1 bunch fresh mint

Coulis: in a medium saucepan mix together cherries and juice, brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, heat on medium to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Press juice from cherries through a fine sieve into a separate bowl then return juices to saucepan, whisk together 2 teaspoons cornstarch and cold vanilla chai tea, add to hot cherry juice and heat for additional 5 minutes until coulis thickens, pour coulis through a fine sieve and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cheese Sticks: 1. preheat oven 400 degrees 2. prepare cookie sheet with parchment paper 3. cut cold cream cheese into 1/2 inch sticks, set aside, in a medium mixing bowl gently Beat 2 eggs and 1/4 tsp almond extract until blended, pour 1/2 cup flour and panko crumbs into 2 separate mixing bowls. Begin coating cheese sticks with flour, then dip into egg mixture, return to flour, and then back into the egg mixture, roll in panko crumbs. place coated cheese sticks onto parchment lined cookie sheet, bake for 12 minutes.

To serve: place a dollop of whipped cream in the bottom of a decorative bowl, top with three cheese sticks, using a pipping bag or plastic baggie drizzle coulis over cheese sticks, top with whipped cream, fresh Bing cherry and a sprig of fresh mint

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ratatouille: Simple, Elegant and Satisfying

My youngest daughter has been pestering me to make Ratatouille ever since the Disney movie opened in theaters.  There is only one minor issue that has kept me from making the dish for almost two family doesn't like vegetables.  There I said it! I don't want to place blame here but the source of the distaste for vegetables comes for one particular darling husband! Corn, beans a potatoes are the breathed of his vegetable pleasures, thus resulting in familial taste choices in his offspring.  I, on the other hand, delight in all manner of vegetables and cannot fathom the loss of palatable pleasures my family has missed over the years! 

Finally, after two years of badgering from our youngest child, I decided to make Ratatouille for the first time!  With my husband off in China on business, this was the perfect time to experiment with a dish that consists of only vegetables.  It just so happened, that my father was over for the afternoon and knowing him to be a vegetable connoisseur like myself, I ventured into a proverbial vegetable paradise! 

Using the traditional French recipe, I tried keeping to the same fresh flavor ingredients but made a minor adjustment with the addition of button mushrooms. 


1 large eggplant sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds, skin on
3 small zucchini
2 medium yellow summer squash
2 large yellow or orange bell peppers
2 large clove garlic
2 medium sweet onions sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds
5 vine ripe tomatoes, skinned
1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes with juices
1 pound button mushrooms
olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste


Wash and slice vegetables. Peel tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, remove skin and crush tomatoes with spoon or by hand into a medium skillet, set on low heat, add thyme, bay leaf, garlic and salt and pepper and simmer until ready to use

In a large heavy bottom skillet, add two table spoons olive oil, cook eggplant for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, add olive oil if pan becomes dry, drain cooked eggplant on paper towel, add salt and pepper and set aside

Next repeat the same process with zucchini and yellow squash, remove from heat add salt and pepper and drain on paper towel.

The order in which the vegetables are cooked is very important when making this dish.  Using this process allows for each vegetable to retain it's flavor without being compromised by the other vegetables, resulting in a perfectly balanced dish. Also, adding salt and pepper to each vegetable after removing the from the skillet, will keep the natural juices from escaping and prevent the vegetables from being "boiled" and becoming mushy.

Add two tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet and cook the peppers for 5 minutes, remove to paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

Add two tablespoons olive oil to skillet and cook onions for 5 minutes, remove to paper towel and salt and pepper to taste.

Add two tablespoons olive oil to skillet and cook mushrooms for 3-5 minutes, remove to paper towel and salt and pepper to taste.


In a large oiled casserole dish begin layering the vegetables in the same order as they were prepared, eggplant, zucchini and squash, peppers, onions and then mushrooms

Pour tomato sauce over layered vegetables and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. More salt and pepper can be added by your guests, but I found it wasn't necessary as the flavors were a delicate and delightfully seasoned.


Don't forget the wine...I served a spicy and beautifully structured zinfandel blend.   Ridge 2005 California Sonoma County Three Valleys, Zinfandel.   A perfect combination of grapes from multiple vineyards this was a wonderful pairing for my ratatouille. Priced around $26-$30 dollars per bottle and worth every penny!

I also serve garlic crostini to sop up all the juices. 

Not having any previous experience with eating Ratatouille I was blown away by the complex flavors of this dish!  Each individual vegetable retaining its own distinct flavor but perfectly combined to create a mouth watering, soul satisfying meal.  My family, minus the vegetably challenged man of the house, loved it!!

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

TGIF Blog Hop......I'm a guest Co-Host!!!

I have some very exciting news today...drum roll please..............

I've been invited by Lynda Kennedy, the owner and host of 
2 Against 1 blogspot, to host this weeks TGIF Blog Hop!! YEA!! Thanks Lynda for the invitation!!  I'm thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful group of blog hoppers from all genres...
Want to grow your reader base??? Then, link up ladies and gents, this is a fabulous hop!!  So here we go.....

Welcome to Thank Goodness Its Friday! Our linky will open every Thursday night so you can join us for Thank Goodness Its Friday, also known as TGIF. Let’s make some new blogging friends and celebrate the end of a wonderful week!


Would you like to be featured as our Guest Host for theTGIF blog hop? Just fill out this form by clicking here. We are promoting growing blogs with less than 500 followers.

To join us in the Thank Goodness Its Friday Blog Hop, follow these 3 easy steps!

#1 Follow your three hosts via GFC and leave them a comment on their blog to let them know you are following from the TGIF blog hop (if you already follow via GFC, follow on facebook, twitter, or networked blogs)




#2 Follow our guest hosts, Rebecka, from At Home with Rebecka, Kortney at Kortney's Krazy Life, and Sara from Let's Talk About Me.


Kortney's Krazy Life


#3 Add your blog to the linky

#4 Follow the 2 blogs directly above yours and leave a comment letting them know you are following from TGIF Blog Hop.

Then, please stop by as many blogs as you can.

We’d love it if you would place the button to the Blog Hop somewhere on your page, whether it’s on your sidebar, a “Blog Hops” page, or a separate post. Please help us support this blog hop!

Have fun and remember to stop by again next week!

Lynda Kennedy
2 Against 1
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Taco Bar Tuesdays with RWOP!

This post is linked to DK's A.W.E.D Menu page  A Worldly Epicurean Delight (A.W.E.D) is an event started by DK @ Chef In You ,where in every month a new Cuisine is chosen and all of us get a chance to cook and showcase the different recipes from that cuisine. This months theme is Vegetarian dishes from Mexico! Stop by for a visit and link up your dish!

All  right y'all, here's my entree video and recipe for the Real Women of Philadelphia Video Host Challenge.  Now it's time to get in the kitchen for the last video...dessert!

Cookin with Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese and Kraft Cooking Creme Santa Fe Blend

Taco Bar Tuesdays are so much fun at my house! Everyone gets in on the act making their own tostadas and tacos. It only takes 10 minutes to make your own corn chips and tostada shells, and I can tell you it's well worth the time! Complemented by the cream cheese guacamole, they are fresh, crisp and delicious!!
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes |
  • Servings: 6
  • 2 Hass avocados
  • 1/2 block Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. of garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. of fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 16 ounce vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 4 ounce can diced green chilies
  • 1/2 cup(s) of Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme
  • 1/2 cup(s) of Kraft Four Cheese Blend
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • 3 1/2 cup(s) of vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. of sea salt to taste
  • 1 head bib lettuce

Tostada shells and chip preparation: Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy sauce pan on medium high heat until the oil just starts to smoke, reduce heat to medium, cut 1/2 package corn tortillas into triangles or fourths, cook chips in small batches until golden brown, drain on paper towel, season with salt to taste, repeat process with whole corn tortillas to make tostada shells, turning shell frequently till golden brown, drain on paper towel until ready to use

Refried beans preparation: in a medium microwave safe mixing bowl combine, bean, chilies, four cheese blend and 1/4 cup Santa Fe Blend Cooking Cream, heat in microwave for 3 minutes, stir and heat additional 1-2 minutes until all the cheese is melted

If you are a guacamole "purest" and don't believe in adding anything except avocados, lime juice and garlic to your guac..join the crowd!  I've always gone with the idea that less is more when making guacamole however, I did try to approach this recipe with an open mind and I'm glad I did.  I was blown away by the flavor combination of the cream cheese mixed with the avocados, and the color is fabulous.

Guacamole preparation: using a microwave safe bowl heat 1/2 block Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese for 30 second, peel and remove pit from ripe avocados and mash, add avocados to cream cheese and mix thoroughly, add pepper, garlic salt and juice from 1 lime, stir to blend

Assemble: spread 1-2 tablespoon beans onto cooked tostada shell, place 1 whole leaf bib lettuce on beans, fill lettuce with 1-2 tablespoons guacamole and garnish with extra cheese, salsa, jalapenos... Enjoy Taco Bar Tuesday night any night of the week.!

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CO-HOSTING TGIF Blog Hop this Friday Don't miss out!!!

Dear friends and fellow bloggers,
Lynda Kennedy from 2against1, has graciously offered me the honor of co-hosting the TGIF Blog Hop this Friday, May 20, 2011 and I don't want any of you to miss the fun so stop by Friday and link up!!

TGIF Blog Hop

See you all Friday!!

btw, you don't have to be a food blog to link up...any style blog is acceptable!  Thanks
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fresh and Fruity Orzo Pasta

I'm almost to the end of the Real Women of Philadelphia Video Host Challenge.  This week I posted this yummy side dish recipe for week 7 of the challenge, Fresh and Fruity Orzo Pasta Salad. Next week I'll be entering a dish in the Entree category and the final week I'll be submitting in the Dessert category...whew! 

This is the most rigorous food challenges I've entered thus far.  I'd  never have guessed that I'd be so thoroughly entrenched in the food competition world when I started food blogging just a year ago.

Over the coarse of 8 weeks I've learned a great deal about making and producing my own videos.  The journey hasn't been easy!  I call it "on the job training".  I've learned computer editing techniques while producing my videos. I felt like pulling out all my hair most of the time.  There are no words to express the devastation one feels after pushing the wrong button and losing a whole video file. Sheer despair!  Not to mention, navigating the video upload process on YouTube at 2:00 am! Nasty business!   I've shed a few tears and said more than a few bad words in the process, maybe more than a few.  I've wanted to throw in the towel on several occasions but I just keep on keeping on, in hopes of winning the big prize at the end of the competition.

The RWOP community is filled with extremely talented ladies, which means the possibility of being chosen is becoming slimmer by the minute.  There are only 6 finalist slots left!!   I had better bring my A game!!  

Being chosen as one of the final 16 competitors, traveling to Savannah to meet Paula Deen, and having the opportunity to hang out with all the women and men I've met on the site, would be pretty terrific! The $25 thousand dollar contract wouldn't be to shabby either!

OK, enough gibber jabber.....on with the show!

This Fresh and Fruity Orzo Pasta Salad is a the perfect accompaniment to any summer dinning experience. The creamy texture of the Original Flavor Cooking Creme blended with fresh fruit and veggies, this dish will steal the show! Try pairing this delicious side dish with grilled salmon and roasted veggies! YUM!
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 30 minutes |
  • Servings: 6
  • 1/2 cup(s) of Orzo Pasta
  • 2 ripe papaya
  • 1 2 oz pkg. roasted macadamia nuts
  • 2 tbsp. of green onion
  • 1/4 cup(s) of Papadew peppers or pimentos
  • 1/2 cup(s) of Kraft Original Flavor Cooking Creme
  • 3 tbsp. of papaya seeds
  • 1/3 cup(s) of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup(s) of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. of Maui onion
  • 2 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 1 lemon Juiced
  • 2 Hass avocados
  1. Cook orzo pasta in boiling water for 18-20 minutes until tender, rinse with cold water, set aside
  2. Dressing: in an electric blender, mix together Maui onion, rice vinegar, papaya seeds, Kraft Original Flavor Cooking Creme, brown sugar, olive oil, dry mustard and lemon juice until papaya seeds resemble coarse ground pepper, season with salt and pepper to taste
  3. roughly cube papaya, avocado, green onion and Peppadew peppers (substitute pimento or red bell pepper if you can't find Peppadew/Pappadew peppers), mix together in a large bowl, dress with 1/2 cup vinaigrette and toss in roasted macadamia nuts, pasta salad can be served immediately or covered and chilled prior to service, salt and pepper to taste; after chilling, add more dressing if the salad looks dry.

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    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Divinely Devilish Deviled Eggs-RWOP Video Host Challenge

    Divinely Devilish Deviled Eggs
    RWOP Video Host Challenge

    I absolutely love deviled eggs but I'm very picky about their texture and flavor. After years of deviled egg failures and successes I've come up with many delicious recipes however, my new recipe using the Kraft Chive and Onion Spreadable Cream Cheese is the tops!! In this video I'll also share my tried and true method of cooking the "perfect" hard boiled egg! Yup, you heard it here first...the perfect boiled egg! No more over cooked, discolored egg yolks, just pure yellow, creamy yolks ready to be whipped up into the most delicious deviled egg filling.

    • Prep time: 15 minutes
    • Cook time: 30 minutes
    • Total time: 45 minutes
    • Servings: 6
    • 1/4 cup(s) of Philadelphia Chive and Onion spreadable cream cheese
    • 1/2 cup(s) of Mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup(s) of sour cream
    • 1/4 tsp. of dry mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. of curry powder
    • 1 small container pimentos for garnish
    • 1 bunch fresh chive for garnish
    • 6 fresh eggs


    1. Fill a medium large sauce pan with ice cold water, gently add 6 fresh raw eggs to the pan, place pan on cold stove burner, turn heat to high and set timer for 20 minutes, bring water to a rolling boil then reduce heat to medium high and continue to boil eggs for remainder of the set timer
    2. Immediately remove eggs from heat and run eggs under ice cold water for 1 minute, begin cracking one egg at a time allowing the cold water to run on the egg while peeling, the shell should peel away from the eggs flesh with out any sticking or tearing
    3. cut eggs into halves, gently remove yolk. Place cooked yolks in a fine strainer or sieve and press yolks through with a wooden spoon, scrape egg yolk off of sieve if any remains stuck to the bottom
    4. add wet ingredients to the strained egg yolks and blend well, add curry powder, dry mustard and season with salt and pepper to taste, mix well. Place the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large pipping tip, pipe egg halves with filling, garnish with fresh chive, pimentos and a dash of red chili powder. Serve

    Sorry for the reprint of this post. During the time blogger was down the past two days this post was lost...

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    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Feta Cheese and Brown Butter

    First, please forgive the date at the bottom of the photo.  It took me a few weeks to figure out how to change the settings on my new camera.

    I made these decadent pancakes a few months ago on one of my more "down days".  The kind of day when the only thing that would lift me up is a belly full of satisfaction!  Chocolate Chip Pancakes are the answer to any blue day!   Filled with oozing chocolate bits, swimming in savory browned butter and topped with creamy feta cheese....slurp!   We all have our sinful pleasures when it comes to food and this recipe tops my list. 

    The recipe for the pancake batter comes from my favorite breakfast place in Colorado Springs, CO.  Wades Pancake House.  Wades began as a very small establishment and rapidly grew,  boasting two additional restaurants in the Colorado Springs area. Unfortunately, after financial difficulties Wades closed it's doors.  That was a sad day indeed! 

    Several years later, as I was driving to my parents home I saw a familiar sign in a tiny strip mall....  Wades was back in business!  Oh happy day!  My mind was flooded with memories of Wades Green Chili Omelet, Strawberry Rolls Ups and you guessed it...Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  

    It wasn't long before I got the family together for a breakfast outing.  We ate all our favorite breakfast items, everyone taking turns tasting the others plate full of Wades best dishes. 

    The owner of Wades was never willing to part with his recipe, so after years of experimentation this is as close as it gets to the real thing.

    1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    1-1/2 cup buttermilk
    1 cup 2% or whole milk
    1 32 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup crumbled feta cheese
    1 stick salted butter
    1/2 cup powdered sugar for dusting

    Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, blend eggs and milk together in a separate bowl, combine and mix until blended.  

    Heat a large griddle on medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, pour 1/4-1/2 cup of batter onto greased griddle (depending on the size of your pan, you may be able to cook 3 or 4 pancakes at one time) and top with a hand full of chocolate chips; when edges of pancake turn light brown flip and cook the other side, about 2-3 minutes. 

    Brown Butter
    In a medium sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat until light brown

    Serve pancakes with browned butter, crumbled feta cheese and dust with powdered sugar. 

    I like a steaming cup of coffee with my pancakes but a tall glass of cold milk is a terrific alternative beverage.

    I still get together with my parents and brothers for the occasional, Wades Pancake House breakfast. Happy tummy, happy mommy!!

    This post is linked to SWEET AS SUGAR SweetasSugarCookies
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