REDEMPTION!

First episode done…check. (lived to see another day…check.)

With last week’s “naked” disaster behind me, I was even more excited to get back into the kitchen and prove to myself, the other bakers and especially the judges, that I deserved to be in the competition.

As we entered the kitchen, we see Bobby sitting on some stadium bleachers catching popcorn in his mouth and sipping on a soda.  We are not sure where this is going to go, but it looks like sports of some kind. He announces that it’s all about ballpark food and my first thought is…not many BAKED items are at the ballpark.  There in lies the twist! We have to create desserts based on items you would find at a ballpark.

Susana gets the advantage to decide which ingredient we use.  I look over her shoulder as she goes through each card and start coming up with ideas. I have a little something for each card, but the corn chips, and am willing her not to give me that card….does she listen?  Of course not, that is the exact card she gives me…did I say I didn’t want it out loud?

But, you got to make it work, so I start thinking nachos and then it hits me! Make dessert nachos.  Once I get that idea all sorts of creations start running through my head.  But, I tap the breaks and tell myself, “for the love of everything good, do not go over board again, do what you know can get done.”

As Bobby counts down the final seconds to the challenge, I look down and can not be more pleased with how it all turned out.  I have created nachos with puff pastry cinnamon-sugar “chips”, orange and chocolate cake “beef”, fresh fruit “pico”, creme fraise “sour cream”, white chocolate “cheese” and macha green tea “guacamole”! Ole!

While the judges had thing to say about all of our dishes, Jane’s Pretzel & Potato Chip cookies stuffed with sweet potato jam and homemade marshmallow fluff and my Nachos were the stand outs.  Lorraine says, “I am quite blown away by this,” and Nancy calls it a “home run”. They vote my dish the winner and I just about to come out of my shoes!

dessert nachos

This gives me the advantage going into the elimination challenge  and now I get to chose what everyone will be cooking.  We have to come up with desserts that look like food you would find at a BBQ…dum, dum, dum! (not as in stupid…as in the mystery music you would hear!)

I look through the choices and decide to go with corn-on-the-cob and ribs (on account that I immediately think of crisp rice cereal treats for the corn).  Then my “better than sex” brownies come to mind for the ribs, along with a drunk cherry sauce that I make with my chocolate truffle cake, that can be used for BBQ sauce…BAMM! done…let’s get this thing started.

I loved this challenge.  Everything went exactly as planned. I kept a watch on the clock and planned accordingly.  The last little thing that I had to deal with was my BBQ sauce.  After making it, I realized that it was going to be too sweet to go with my brownies, (Lorraine is proving to be a stickler on things being too sweet….did someone not tell her it was a BAKING contest!), so I ran and grabbed the cayenne and cider vinegar and added those to the sauce…it was a risk, but after I tasted it, I knew I had chosen well.

This challenge proved to be a bit of a struggle for some of the other contestants.  Dan and I having cake decorating backgrounds really grabbed it by the horns and had a good time with it.  Jane proved her skills by baking two items, while Dustin got all “gastro” on us and made a gel out of pears to shape his shrimp.  And, Kenny ruined a $300 knife by heating it up over the gas burner to create “grill” marks on his salmon steak…there was definitely no lack of creativity in the kitchen that day!

brownie ribs and corn on the cob

The judges once again gravitated toward Jane and me with our creations! The MOM-POWER was strong in the kitchen that day and it became a war of the brownies! While they liked both our “meat” options, Lorraine said mine we a little dry in some areas….I promise you it was not! HA! The winner was decided on the side dish and my corn-on-the-cob out-played Jane’s vegetable/fruit kabob.  I won the second challenge of the day!

 

winning 2 nd challege pick

one word….REDEMPTION!

Try out these recipes and let me know what you think!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/brownie-ribs-and-crispy-rice-treat-corn-on-the-cob-with-drunk-cherry-bbq-sauce.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/dessert-nachos.html

#SpringBakingChampionship Premiere (AKA “My Cake Has Fallen and Can’t Get Up”)

This season of the Spring Baking Championship began with a bang- primarily to my cake! Luckily, what was on the inside ultimately counted (especially since white chocolate was involved). We’ll get to all of that crazy in a minute!

The competition kicked off with a ‘berry-less’ berry shortcake. While most of us went the traditional biscuit route, Dan (a fellow self taught baker) made a mascarpone shortcake. This was just one example of the creativity my fellow bakers whipped up that impressed me during the show. Dan’s leap of faith paid off and he won the warm up round.

Our primary challenge was a ‘naked’ layer cake that incorporated a berry. As we were baking they surprised us and we had to add key limes as a twist. My biggest surprise came after the ingredient adjustment when my cakes decided to tap out. In all honesty, there were six cake pans in the oven at once. It was a rookie mistake that I didn’t have time to re-do. All I kept thinking was “get something on that plate!”…and I did. But it was quite literally “something”!

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 11.48.20 AM

You can imagine the disappointment I was feeling in that moment. All of the effort I’d put into getting on the show, the answer to prayer that I was getting this opportunity, yet it seemed like it was going to be over before it started. Then came relief when the judges tasted my cake! I couldn’t be more thrilled when Lorraine Pascal said, “this is the best sponge cake I have tasted today,” followed by Nancy Fuller, “this is the best cake I’ve had…in a long time.” I was so grateful that the most important part, the taste, was still on point.

I’m so glad that I made it through the first round and I still have a chance going forward. If you missed it I’ll attach the Food Network clip below. Tune in tonight, April 17th at 8/9c, to see what happens in the second round!

What was your favorite part of last week’s episode?

Cake Clip

 

Almond Sugar Cookies

These are the BEST sugar cookies you will ever eat! (according to me HA! and my kids….my daughter was mad that I am sharing the recipe…she wanted it to be a family secret recipe to be handed down generation to generation on the death beds of the recipe holder)  But, I think the world should know the goodness that comes from this simple, yet delectable cookie…I am just generous that way! The almond emulsion and Amaretto add that amazing almond flavor without tasting artificial and bitter like some extracts can do and the Princess Extract (which can be found at any cake decorating or craft store) adds a slight floral aspect that is unexpected, but delicious!  Make sure to chill the dough, so that you don’t loose your sharp edges!  Good luck getting the cookies made though…the dough is just as good as the finished cookie!! decorated sugar cookies

Almond Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. almond emulsion
  • 2 Tbs. Amaretto liquor
  • 1 tsp. Princess extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*  Prepared baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. Add eggs,  one at a time and mix completely.  Add vanilla, almond emulsion, Amaretto and Princess extract. Mix well.

Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder and salt and add to wet mixture. Mix till just combined.

Turn out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and form a large disk; wrap tightly. Wrap a second time.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Can be made 1 week ahead or frozen for up to 3 months.

Roll out on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness or larger if you prefer.  Cut desired cookies and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are “just” slightly golden.  Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and then move to cooling rack to finish cooling completely.   Frost with favorite frosting or royal icing.  Keep in an airtight container.

Makes 36-4 inch cookies.

Vegetable Lasagna

bestevervegetablelasagnarecipe, meatlesslasagnarecipe, lowcalorielasagnarecipeSo, here it is….maybe one of the only “healthy” items you will see on this web site! HA! There is some cheese in there, but really…I surprised myself with this one! It’s good for you and it has amazing flavor!!

The good thing is it was super easy to make too…win, win!!  Here’s how I did it…..

Start with your sauce….don’t be afraid to make your own sauce….I promise, it will always taste better than the jar!!  I didn’t put in any pics because it’s just that easy to make!

Marinara Sauce:

  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 1 Tbs. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or stock pot.  Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes on med-low heat or until they start to soften.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add fennel, oregano, parsley, basil, salt, pepper and Cayenne and stir.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, so herbs can start to release their flavors and brown a bit.  Add tomatoes, sauce, paste, sugar and wine and bring to a simmer.  Lower heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes; stirring several times.

Meanwhile, get your other ingredients ready…..

Boil your lasagna noodles according to the package directions (kind of)…MAKE sure to salt your water!!! Very important step!!!  I use a good Table spoon of salt for a large pot of water.  You don’t want your noodles to be completely cooked, so I usually drain them 2 minutes earlier than the package directions say…that way they will continue to cook in the oven and not get too mushy.

  • 13 oz. pkg. lasagna noodles
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese, you can use part skim if you prefer
  • 3 cups kale leaves, stems removed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 small eggplant, about 6 inches
  • 2-3 small zucchini
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 8 oz. mushrooms
  • 1.5 cups Parmesan, shredded
  • 1.5 cups Mozzarella, shredded

Preheat oven to 350*.

Using a mandolin or knife, slice your eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms to about 1/8-1/4 inch slices.

Lightly spray a 9X13 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish and lay your first layer of noodles down; covering entire bottom of dish.  Spread 1/2 of ricotta mixture over noodles, followed with layering veggies ( I sprinkle veggies salt and pepper to taste. Pour 1-1/2 cups marinara over veggies and top with 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup Mozzarella. Cover with noodles and repeat layers of ricotta, veggies, sauce and cheeses.  Top with one more layer of noodles, but this time, just top with remaining sauce. Finish off with remaining cheeses.

Spray a piece of foil large enough to cover dish with non-stick spray and tightly cover lasagna.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes to set.  Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

#everygirlgourmet, #superbowlsoup, #superbowlfood, #bestmexicanchickencornchowder, #bestcornchowdersouprecipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs. cumin
1/2 Tbs. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2-15 oz. cans cream corn
2 1/2 small cans diced green chili
1 Tbs. dried parsley
1 qt. half-n-half
3/4 lb. pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup milk
5 Tbs. corn starch
4 chicken breasts

Directions:

To make your own chicken broth, boil 4 chicken breast in 7 cups of water with 1 bay leaf and 3/4 tsp. salt. Saute chopped onion, jalapenos, and garlic in butter.  Add next 7 ingredients and bring to a slight boil.  Stir in half-n-half.  Mix corn starch with milk and whisk into soup.  Turn down heat and add shredded cheese.  Stir till cheese is melted.  Add chopped up cilantro.  Add salt and pepper and chicken.  Top with crispy corn tortilla strips, diced avocados and chopped green onions.

Barbacoa Style Beef Tostadas

Every Girl Gourmet Best Barbacoa Style Beef Tostadas recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. boneless arm roast, cut into 3-4 inch long pieces
  • 6 Tbs. Chipolte sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 3 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 6-8 precooked tostados shells
  • chosen garnishes

 

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season meat on both sides with salt and pepper.  Sear meat on all sides.  Place meat in slow cooker.  Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients in a small both, except for bay leaves.  Reheat skillet that meat was seared in and pour in marinade.  Deglaze pan and stir to loosen up bits on bottom of pan.  Pour over meat in slow cooker.  Add bay leaves.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Remove meat, shred with fork and return to slow cooker, stir to cover meat and let warm for 10 minutes.   Serve on tostada with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Apple Cider Cream Pie

IMG_2200

APPLE CIDER CREAM PIE

 

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 12 Tbs. unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup apple cider

FILLING AND TOPPING

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Gala apple
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups water

INSTRUCTION:

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and shortening and pulse in 1-second bursts until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add apple cider, 1 Tbs. at at time. Pulse in 1-second bursts until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather up any crumbs and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch round, a scant 1/4 inch thick; ease it into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch and fold it under itself. Crimp decoratively and chill the crust until firm, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the crust is barely set. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil and bake for about 15 minutes longer, until the crust is just set but not browned. Press the bottom of the crust lightly to deflate it as it puffs; let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.

In a medium saucepan, boil the cider until it’s reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the sugar, the sour cream and salt, then whisk in the eggs.

Pour the custard into the pie shell without removing the foil strips. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custard is set around the edge but the center is slightly jiggly. Let the pie cool completely.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and the cinnamon until firmly whipped. Mound the cream on the pie, cut into wedges and serve.

To make decorative apples, using a mandolin, slice apples 1/8 inch thick.  Place in a bowl and cover with water and lemon juice. Let soak for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat oven to 200* and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Blot dry apple slices and place on baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, then turn over and bake an additional 1 hour.

 

 

 

Lobster Mac-N-Cheese

lobster mac n cheese pic

Lobster Mac-N-Cheese

Audrey McGinnis

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serves: 10-12

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Poblano peppers
  • ¾ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ lb. aged white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ lb. smoke cheddar, shredded
  • ½ lb. Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. Romano cheese, shredded
  • 1 ½ cup butter, plus 3 Tbs.
  • ½ lb. medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ lb. lobster tail, peeled
  • ½ lb. sea scallops
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • ½ tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 3 cups whole milk, plus 1 cup
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 16 oz. medium sized pasta shells, cooked per pkg. directions (make sure to salt the water)

Directions:

Roast peppers over open flame, grill or in high heat oven till charred.  Rub off most of black char and chop peppers (make sure to remove stem, membrane and seeds before chopping.) Set aside.

Heat 3 Tbs. butter in a 5 qt. stock pot.  Cook over medium-low heat until butter browns; approx. 7-9 minutes.  Do not stain out brown bits.  Add onions and shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to make sure the garlic does not burn.  Add peppers and mix well.  Using a slotted spoon, remove mixture and set aside.

Add remaining 1 ½ cup butter to same pot and melt.  Add lobster and shrimp and cook over low heat till shrimp turn light pink…..make sure to flip shrimp and lobster after 2 minutes, so they are cooked evenly.  Remove fish and add scallops.  Cook scallops for 3 minutes per side.  Remove scallops and add to lobster/shrimp.  Set aside.

Sift in flour to remaining butter in pot.  Whisk well to incorporate.  Continue whisking and cook for 3 minutes.  Add Cayenne, Old Bay, salt and pepper and continue whisking for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Slowly pour 3 cups of milk into flour/butter mixture and whisk till completely incorporated and there are no lumps.  Add cheeses and stir till almost completely melted.

Cut fish into 1 ½ inch pieces and add to cheese sauce.  Add drained pasta to pot and mix well.  Pour in additional 1 cup of milk and stir.

Lightly spray a 13X9 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Pour Mac-n-cheese into dish and sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs.

Place in oven on second to the bottom rack and turn oven on to High broil.  Broil for 3-4 minutes or until bread crumbs turn golden brown.

Serve.

Heavenly Guacamole!

Easy-Guacamole-1

This is absolutely the BEST guacamole you will ever have….one bite will never be enough and after you make this your friends and family will think you are AMAZING and you know what?….you are!

As you will see from the recipe, there are no surprises in the ingredients….the “secret” comes from “how you make it”…I swear by it…it makes the whole thing a new experience for the taste buds!!

First, make the paste….(here’s where the magic happens!)

IMG_2578

1 TBS. finely chopped white onion

1 firmly packed TBS. chopped fresh cilantro

2 tsp. finely chopped jalapeno, or more to taste

1 tsp. salt, or as needed

 

Grind the onion, cilantro, jalapeno and salt together in a Molcajete (that’s fancy Mexican talk for mortar & pestle…..I have been known to use the back of a spoon or food processor, which both work just as well…you just want to make sure that you break down the pepper, onion and cilantro, so the juices are released…the salt helps that happen too.  

IMG_2588

IMG_2580

IMG_2585

Then….

3 medium ripe, but firm Hass avocados (about 8 oz. each)

3 TBS. diced tomatoes

2 firmly packed TBS. chopped fresh cilantro

1 TBS. finely chopped white onion

1 TBS. finely chopped jalapeno (optional)

Salt if necessary

 

Cut each avocado in half then twist to separate. Remove the pit by slamming your knife blade into the center of the pit; (slamming sounds a little more violent than is necessary, but I couldn’t think of another word to describe the action!)  While firmly cupping the avocado, twist your knife and the pit should just “pop” right out. (don’t throw away the pits….more helpful info to come for those.)

avocado-cut-2

 avocado-cut-3

Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh and add to the bowl containing the paste. Repeat with remaining avocadoes.

Using a fork or pastry cutter, gently mash the avocados into the paste.  Leave some chunks….you don’t want to have mush….

IMG_2586

Mix in the tomatoes, onion, cilantro and jalapeno if using.  Adjust taste with more salt…don’t be afraid to add more salt, but remember that the chips will have salt too….

Serve immediately….or store in an airtight container.  Can be made up to an hour before serving.

Here’s another little helpful hint….take those pits and mix them back into the guacamole…I don’t know why or how, but the pits being back in there, keep the guacamole from turning brown…it must me a love thing between the flesh and pit, but it works!!

And, there you have it….HEAVENLY GUACAMOLE….serve with chips or tortillas.

Enjoy and happy cooking!

In His grip,

Audrey