Large Pearl Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca pudding! What else is there to say?

Tapioca pudding might be the epitome of comfort foods.  It bring memories of worn out diners that have stood the test of time, grandmother’s kitchens with smells only grandmothers’ houses can produce and simpler times.

I used to buy the stuff in the container for Ron when he was little.  He loved this stuff, he called it “tappy O da pudding”.  He rarely eats it now, he doesn’t care much for processed foods.  Perhaps he might try eating it again now with this recipe.  Pass on a love for tapioca pudding to his child.

I believe the key to a good tapioca may be starting with large pearl tapioca.  No small tapioca and certainly no instant.  I have had poor luck with those.  The recipes always say to soak the tapioca overnight, but I only ever soak mine for about 7 hours.  It cooks up beautifully, even as a double batch.

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Sautéed General’s Chicken

General’s  chicken is a Chinese favorite, but we don’t always want heavy deep-fried food when we want Asian flavors for dinner. I also do NOT enjoy the task of cleaning up after deep-frying. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do it, some things like fried mushrooms, fried chicken, and egg rolls are worth a mess.

We don’t call this General Tso’s chicken at my house. Number 1, we are not exactly sure how to say it and number 2 we can.

This chicken dish is kind of sweet and savory with a bit if heat at the end.  You can increase the heat in this dish by allowing the dried peppers to spend more time simmering in the sauce.  But be careful with the heat level you are looking for, I let this simmer for too long once and thought I had eaten lava.

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Caramel Chocolate Coconut Eclair Cake

I know I have said before that simple recipes are usually the best in their original form, but this Samoa éclair cake  from Chef in training is an exception to the rule.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try this flavor combination.  After all, it kind of reminds me of a famous girl scout cookie.

I make éclair cakes in the original form, I have altered it to be all chocolate with chocolate graham crackers and chocolate icing.  I try not to keep any version of éclair cake hanging around the house.  These cakes sit in the refrigerator and call my name.

The only changes to this recipe I made were to take the lazy way out of the icing.  I use a premade chocolate fudge icing container and send it on a quick walk through the microwave.  If I could find any instant caramel pudding I would probably have used it too.

I have an obsession, OK probably more like an addiction, to éclair cakes and hadn’t really thought outside the box in this arena.  But now with eyes wide opened, I had to do a pinterest search and have since pinned a few, probably too many, to try.  Head on over to our pinterest page to see which ones I’m trying, or keep checking back here to see which ones I make and feature.

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Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

My Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce recipe doesn’t have a whole lot of family history. However, I love BBQ and this is one of my default sauces that I make for just about every party and gathering we host where we have something BBQ. My wife and I have experimented with this recipe for the last few years and its one we have settled on.

Even though we love this recipe and we consider it our standard, it’s something we still like to experiment with every now and then.This recipe is easily tweak-able and super friendly to experiment with. Want it less sweet? Back off the sugar. Want it more tart? add more vinegar. Want more heat? Add more cayenne. I tend to tweak this recipe based on what I’m cooking it with. For grilled foods like chicken and pork chops, I tend like to leave this recipe a little on the sweeter side. I like to use more vinegar when cooking fattier cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulder. I think the vinegar helps balance and cut through the fat a bit better.

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Hummus

The first time ever encountered hummus was in a Greek restaurant.  I don’t really remember which one or where it was.  I just remember thinking it might be time to think outside the box and try something besides a dolmades, stuffed chicken breast, or saganaki.  I was not disappointed and have loved it ever since.  Of course, I had to try to make it at home.

Hummus is easy enough to make at home if you own a blender or a food processor.  There is no need for packet mixes or buying it premade from the store.  Making it at home also allows you to control the fat content, flavors, and consistency of the finished product.

Garbanzo beans, aka chick peas, are fairly inexpensive and readily available at grocery stores.

Some people cook their own garbanzo beans, and I have tried without much success.  I can never seem to get my beans cooked well enough to avoid a lumpy and crunchy hummus so I stick to canned.  Bush’s does a great job of cooking garbanzo beans to perfection, so I’ll let them do the hard part.

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Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

Is it pumpkin season yet?  That’s what I call Autumn or Fall, pumpkin season.

Nothing screams Autumn quite like pumpkin at my house. I have to admit I love pumpkin. Anything pumpkin! My all-time favorite used to be Blue Bell’s Spiced Pumpkin Pecan ice cream. But this last season, after their unfortunate incident, there was none. Even when their products started appearing back on store shelves, pumpkin never made it back. Perhaps this year Spiced Pumpkin Pecan will once again grace the freezer section.

These cookies are perfect for a small dose of my pumpkin fix. They are also easy to carry to work or anywhere else I want to share my pumpkin love.

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White Wedding Cake

This isn’t really a wedding cake, although I suppose you could cook it in layers and turn it into a wedding cake.  Cake decorating is not something I excel at.  We just call it wedding cake because that is the flavor I have always tried to recreate.  You know, that simple white cake with white icing that were once very common at weddings.  Many internet bakers claim they use variations of this recipe for wedding and birthday cakes.

I was saving this recipe for a white cake until I had enough time and gumption to make one of every recipe I have used over the years and doing a taste test.  It didn’t mean I could not bake one in the mean time though, so I did and made one simple change to the only recipe I have used in the last 5 years or so and Andy declared it the best wedding cake I have made yet.

His first question was, “Is this recipe going on the blog?”  When I told him no, he was adamant that it really needed to be there.  He kept saying over and over it was the best one yet and I need to use this recipe from now on.  I told him this is the same recipe I always use.  “No, it’s not, there is something different and it’s really good.”

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Mississippi Coast French Toast

Mississippi Coast Toast is a play on Coast Toast from Brockton Villa’s in La Jolla. La Jolla Mom has a pretty good bead on the recipe. Toast coast is a custard type french toast that is soaked over night and baked the next morning. The weirdest ingredient in this recipe is orange juice and orange flavoring. Trust me, I know that adding orange juice to your french toast seems weird, but it really does add another layer of flavor to one of my breakfast meals.

My biggest issue with the original recipe is that it is kind of a pain in the ass to cook. Rarely am I thinking the night before about breakfast and I rarely want to let things rest for an  hour or longer before cooking it. I also don’t like cooking with things like “orange flavoring”.  My version is geared more towards the southern home with ingredients usually found at home, hence the name Mississippi Coast French Toast. For my version you just need eggs, milk, butter, vanilla extract, orange juice, and standard white bread.

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Party Cheese Spread

This addictive Party Cheese Spread is filled with cream cheese, meat, green onions, and cheddar cheese and can easily be adapted into a cheeseball or any shape to match the holiday.  It can be rolled into nuts, parsley, or any topping you prefer.  It can also be made thinned out with extra mayonnaise to make it more of a dip.

As with most of my recipes, you can add and subtract ingredients to fit your tastes and needs.  Sometimes I use boiled or baked deli ham in place of the Buddig beef.  I bet bacon would also be a great substitute or addition, I just have not tried it.

No matter which way you choose to make this, spread, dip, or cheeseball, it will soften more the longer it sits out being served.  The consistency you have will making it, will be the consistency you have when it has been at room temperature for an hour or so.  Plan accordingly when adding mayonnaise when making.

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Meatballs

Meatball subs are in the regular rotation during football season at our house.  They can be made with frozen meatballs and jars of marinara sauce, homemade meatballs with marinara sauce, frozen meatballs and homemade sauce, or homemade meatballs with homemade sauce.

I have made them in all of the combinations above and I am not ashamed.  Even if you tell me how great the sandwich was you just ate, I will let you know I used frozen meatballs and which brand of jarred sauce I used, if I did.

The secret to great meatball subs using frozen meatballs is the cooking method.  Slow, slow, slow.  You can cook them on a stovetop, in a crockpot, or in a low temperature oven.  You just need enough sauce to cover the meatballs and a little water.  If I am using a jarred sauce I add about a quarter cup of water to each jar, this normally takes 2 jars when I cook for a party, replace the lid and shake the water in the jar to get out the last of the sauce and pour it in.

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