Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Maryland Style Soft Shell Crabs

First you run them under cold water, then you trim off their little faces and next you pull their lungs out!
EEEEK!!!  Tender loving words re-iterated by my Mom, while teaching me the process when I was a kid.
"How to clean a Soft Shell Crab"!
So do you know how to clean the beautiful, delicate Soft Shell Blue Crab?  Better  yet, have you ever cooked a few and savored its deliciousness?  An important part of the process to stack the perfect Soft Shell Crab Sandwich you need to slice a big, fat juicy tomato in a thick kinda way, then slather on some mayo and slap it on - yes.."Wonder Bread".  This is nothing but pure joy!
Such a beautiful Sea Creature.   I love to saute' them in butter til it's shell is golden crisp.  No flour - just sear that gorgeous velvety soft crabby-ness,  this my friends is a delicacy extraordinare!
Well anyway, I was scanning the fresh Seafood Market in my neighborhood the other day and my eyes fell upon 3 perfectly gorgeous little Soft Shell Crabs.  I asked to touch them...yes, I did ask that question.
I proposed a deal to the Store Clerk, I told her I would just touch with the tip of my finger so I could feel if it was actually a SOFT CRAB, and I would use a piece of wax paper as the health safety barrier.  One  small bit of pressure on this little Darlin' and it was very evident.. we had scored the Mega Score!  The perfect Soft Shell Crab, so exciting.  Eighteen dollars later, gave me 3 little Soft Shells to go... so worth every penny.
The Crispy Soft Shell Crab Recipe:
A couple of Soft Shell Crabs - cleaned and ready to go
A dash of Old Bay Seasoning 
3 Tblsp. Butter
Red Tomato
Your favorite Mayo
 Wonder Bread
Over medium heat add the butter to a large saute' pan. Allow the butter to melt until bubbly.  While waiting clean your  Soft Shell Crabs, then rinse under cold water, dab dry with paper towels, then dust with just a bit of Old Bay .  Once the butter is bubbly place the crabs in the saute pan, over medium heat.  Cook about two minutes on each side or until crisp.  Place the crabs on the white bread that holds the mayo and tomato..  Cut sandwich in half and take a big bite of those little tender Feeler legs that will be dangling off your bread.
Read onward for some interesting INFO about SOFT SHELL CRABS!!.
 SOFT SHELL CRAB PIX in the  "alive state".  As you can imagine holding a hard shelled crab in bare hands could be a bit painful!   When it's a Soft Shell Crab their exterior is as soft as velvet.
    Thanks for a great reference picture.
So again, I'm giving you INFO from a researched source which was BLUECRAB.COM.  These folks made it
oh so easy for me to explain! 
Blue crabs periodically shed their smaller shells through a process known as molting. The soft-shell is the blue crab in its molted state which is abundant in supply from late spring to early fall
Blue crabs are invertebrates meaning they lack a spinal column. Instead, the blue crab has a rigid exoskeleton (hard shell.) The shell grows in discrete stages interspersed by molting, but the growth of internal tissue is more continuous. In order for the crab to grow larger, it must periodically shed its smaller shell through a process known as molting.   Early in its molting cycle the crab slowly begins to form a new soft shell underneath its existing hard shell.
When a blue crab has grown sufficiently to require a larger shell, the following events occur
Molting hormones are released.
** This time frame is known as the "Peeler" stage.  Hence in this stage they are called PEELER CRABS
  • The hypodermis detaches from the existing hard shell. The hypodermis is a layer of cells directly beneath the shell.
  • The hypodermis produces enzymes which begin to dissolve the shell components. Much of the existing shell is recycled causing it to become thin. Inorganic salts are resorbed from the shell and stored internally.
  • A new inner soft shell slowly forms underneath the existing shell. When this new shell has fully formed, the crab will be ready to molt.
  • The crab stops eating and seeks shelter in order to avoid predation. During this process the crab is highly vulnerable to predators, including the two-legged variety!
This time frame, is known as the "Buster" stage.  Hence in this stage they are called  BUSTER CRABS
  • The hypodermis detaches from the existing hard shell. The hypodermis is a layer
  • The crab rapidly absorbs water which causes its tissues to swell and split the old shell open across the back between the lateral spines. Fracture planes in the claws split open to allow the claws to be pulled through.
  • The crab begins the slow, arduous process of backing out of its old shell, which is then discarded.
  • The newly molted crab pumps water into its tissues in order to inflate the shell to its new size. The new shell will be roughly one-third larger (33%) than the old shell. The new shell reaches its full size within six hours after molting.
This time frame is known as the "Soft Shell Stage".  Hence in this stage they are called  SOFT SHELL CRABS!  YEAAA!
  • The salvaged inorganic salts are rapidly re deposited to help thicken and harden the new shell will only harden in water (the hardening process stops if the crab is removed from the water) and will take approximately two to four days to fully harden.
Over time, as the crab slowly grows inside its new shell, tissue water is replaced with protein. Once there is no more room left to grow inside this shell, the whole molting process starts over again.
Note that some people mistakenly believe that a soft crab is completely different species of crab. As you have just learned, this is not true.
Also note that many people believe that a full moon yields larger catches of soft crabs This belief is reinforced by the fact that most commercial harvesters claim to see an increase in peeler/soft crab abundance before and after a full moon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cashew Cranberry Brownies

Admit it.  Sometimes a "boxed mix"is just as good or better then a from scratch recipe!
This statement just sooo holds true with Ghirardelli Brownie Mix.  I am insanely in LOVE with the Dark Chocolate mix offered by Ghirardelli!! 
Oh wait... let me set the record straight here!!! I have not in anyway been contacted by the Brand, nor am I promo'ing it.  This just happens to be my most favorite and my families favorite Brownies ever!   You seriously need to give it a whirl.  I guarantee you perfect, moist, rich delicious Brownies!
I whipped up these gems to send along with my husband for his co-workers which just happen to be overseas at this time!  YEA... these delicious chocolate delights are traveling 1/2 way around the world on a jet plane, as I speak.
I jut know the "guys" are gonna love this combo of Cashews, Cranberries, White Chocolate Bits and moist delicious Dark Chocolate Brownies!!  So YUMM.  The Cranberries add a nice tartness to the chocolate richness.
The recipe is on the side of the box and is super easy.  I did substitute cashews for the recipe item of pecans...simply because that's what I had in my kitchen cabinets.  Tweek it, you will love it.  Enjoy - enjoy!!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Space Coast Stars & Veggie Nights‏

Sometimes you just want QUICK & EASY, that's why I created this recipe.
As you will see it's an easy recipe that let's you ADD too or minus from making it your own creation.
Have fun with it.  Add some chicken slices as a possibility or additional fresh veggies and spices.
For now - happy cooking!!

 10 Minutes Or Less  

Description: Teeny tiny little Star shaped Pasta makes for a super fast, complete Side Dish.
You will soooo enjoy the crisp texture of Snow Peas, Carrots and Red Onions on this bed of tiny Stars, dazzled with a delicate Citrus Cream Sauce.  
Wah La! – under 10 minutes & your good to go!

Note: This dish can easily be changed to a Vegetarian Dish with just one simple alteration!


2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth {room temperature}
1 Cup Pastina {Barilla Brand pasta}
½ Cup Milk
2 Ounces Softened Philly Cream Cheese {you can use 1/3 rd Fat brand, or Original or Spreadable}
1 - 10 Ounce package of Bird’s Eye Steam-Fresh Spring Vegetables in Citrus Sauce
1 Lime
1 Tblsp. softened Butter

In large sauté pan on high heat bring chicken broth to a boil {about 2 minutes}.
While waiting for the broth to boil, put your bag of Steam Fresh Veggie’s in the microwave for 6 minutes, following directions on the bag for steaming.  Once chicken broth comes to boil stir in your cup of Pastina, reduce heat to medium-high after you have stirred in the Pastina.  Stir occasionally, being careful to not allow the Pastina to clump together. Note- if it seems most of your moisture has been absorbed, go ahead and toss in a few tablespoons of warm water.
Suggest you set your timer.  Pastina should be al dente in 5 to 6 minutes.  While your waiting for your veggie’s to finish in the microwave and your pasta to cook, put your softened cream cheese in the food processor,  {a mini-food processor can also do the job} let it whip for a few seconds then pour in the milk slowly while processor is continually running.  Once milk is incorporated, Add the lime juice of one whole fresh lime.  Whirl for a few seconds and your cream sauce is ready.  Hope you haven’t forgotten about stirring the Pastina while whirring that food processor!  : }.  At this point stir in the tablespoon of butter to the Pastina.
“Bing” goes the microwave; your veggie’s are ready.  It is best to let your Steam-Fresh bag sit 1 minute before carefully opening the package.  Meanwhile plate your Pastina.  Now pour the veggies directly over top the Pastina.  Drizzle your dazzling Citrus Cream Sauce over the center length of your veggie’s.  It s Side Dish time & your done!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

King's Chef Diner

It makes me smile that the Hazzards are Food Machines.  True Foodies.  It's no secret the love of food is passed down within the ranks of a family.  I am from a family of great cooks and it began with my Mom.  My  8 brothers can all cook, some better then others, some are sensational cook's, and some are in the Food Industry.  My two sisters are also Wiz's in the kitchen, and our eyes roll back in our head over great deserts!  We all pay homage to great food and fabulous cooks.  Praising verbally and always in multiple statements how much we are enjoying the food. 
This Hazzard Clan of mine loves to call or text one another and discuss in length the next recipe they are creating,or one in which they just simply consumed.  Elaborating about the colors, the flavors, the textures, the deliciousness, how we wish we could have shared it together that very moment.  We are always planning our next food encounter.  Often that planning stage takes place while we are still enjoying a meal!  Yeah, we are Foodies with a capital F.  Savoring every delicious morsel, analyzing what secret spice we think is in a particular dish we have tried.  We are like Kitchen Scientist.. trying the tasting formula over and over again, until we have the ingredients figured out. 

So you see it should come as no surprise to you that our vacations require intense planning around places to eat.  And that my friends is where King's Chef Diner comes in to play - located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It's an eclectic  joint with great energy and fun Servers and Cooks. Phenomenal food!  Huge portions, all served with their home made Green Chile Sauce on the side, or heaps of  fresh jalapeno slices.  Reasonable prices, and a Clean Your  Plate Club Sticker when you finished every bite.  That honor went to my husband the skinniest guy in our group!  This 6ft.'3, 184 lb guy finished his plate of a giant Reuben sandwich stacked 5 inches high layered with fresh jalapeno's and a side of home fries.   He then methodically finished my other 1/2 of sandwich which was Corned Beef and Swiss with mustard and jalapeno's on rye bread plus fresh sliced fries.  He ate it all, each bite better then the first.  But the piece de' resistance went to my daughter Kates meal, which consisted of the juiciest 14 oz. hand cut sirloin steak I ever tasted, plus two eggs, homemade hash browns and Texas Toast.  The price tag on this magnificent Mama Jama was $13.95.

The surprising moment of this days Brunch went to my son Jonathan who ordered the 1/2 lb. custom burger of angus beef with bacon, cheese onion and smothered in a giant layer of jalapeno's.  This was a mountain of delicous-ness that made you wonder how anyone could wrap their mouth around such a tall bite.  the burger was cooked to perfection of medium rare just juicy and dripping wonderful-ness!!
Let me NOT forget the sinfully creamy, cheesy-cheese fries.  Each fry was the perfect crisp bite on the outside, soft potato on the inside and each one dripping in melted cheddar  Talk about delicious. If you ever find yourself in Colorado Springs you must stop by for a full delicious belly of food from King's Chef Diner! 
So my friends when in Colorado Spring be sure to put Kings Chef Diner on your To Do List.  We did and so did Food Network.  We are all in agreement you won't find a better breakfast or lunch anywhere..bring your BIG pants, you're gonna need em!!
Sharing pix of our great food experience @ Kings Chef this summer, while on our Fierce Cross-Country  Bike Road Trip!  Hazzard Road/Food Warriors ROCK!!.
Kings Chef Link

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sexy Summer Bruschetta

 What??  The temperatures are hot and sultry and your ready for a light fare.  Try my Sexy Summer Bruschetta on for size.  Super simple, delicious and sultry!
These 90 + degree days in Florida it's time to abandon the hot stove  and make it quick and lite. 
Summer is the perfect time to get creative with the grill.  Why not toast your bread for the Bruschetta  on the grill rather then fire up that oven.  We had this great summer dish over the fourth of July weekend, it was so easy.  First it's happy hour of ice cold Home Brew served in a frosted glass.  Well THAT part of our evening was so refreshing we extended happy hour right into the dinner hour! : }
Suggestion:  Serve a few sides with your Bruschetta for those with a healthy appetite.  We enjoyed some fresh melons that were in season, some leftover cold sliced chicken and shrimp.  Put your stamp on it.  Switch it up, add what's interesting to you..on your plate or on your Bruschetta.  Just keep it simple and pure and it's a guaranteed winner!!  

  • Prep time: 15 minutes

  • Cook time: 5 minutes


    • 6 fresh tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 8 ounce prosciutto mozzarella cheese roll {room temp] *this is a ready-to-eat cheese type roll sold in your grocery store near the packaged imported cheeses, refrigerated section.
    • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped.
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
    • 1/4 cup olive oil


     Baking choices for your bread! Grill or oven...

  • If in the oven -Make sure there is a top rack in place in your oven. Turn on the oven to 450°F to preheat.

  • If on the grill place slices over medium heat for a minute on each side.. it will toast quickly with the olive oil on the bread.. if possible place bread on a raised rack on the grill to avoid charing. Flip bread til golden on each side.

    3: While the oven is heating, chop up the tomatoes. Slice the prosciutto mozzarella cheese roll into 1/4 inch slices then cut each slice in half. Put tomatoes, garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add the chopped basil and the prosciutto mozzarella . Add coarse black pepper to taste.

    4: Slice the baguette on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil using a pastry brush. Place on a cooking sheet, olive oil side down. You will want to toast them in the top rack in your oven, so you may need to do these in batches depending on the size of your oven. Once the oven has reached 450°F, place a tray of bread slices in the oven on the top rack. Toast for 5-6 minutes, until the bread just begins to turn golden brown.

    5: Place bread on a serving platter, olive oil side up. So many ways to present and serve this: place the tomato topping in a bowl separately with a spoon for people to serve themselves over the bread, or place some topping on each slice of bread and serve. If you top each slice with the tomatoes, do it right before serving or the bread may get soggy.

  • Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Golden Gratin Egg Muffins

    Do you need a little wiggle room for your favorite sins?  Like, sinfully rich dark chocolate or red wine and crusty artisan breads!  Well ok then, let's talk healthy, nutritious, savory and easy. 
    My Golden Gratin Egg Muffins are a meal in themselves.  How can it be sumptuous, yet low in cholesterol, high in protein, big on flavor and bursting with fresh garden vegetables and easy?  I'm gonna tell you just how I came up with this savory decision!.
    My Egg- brainer came to me when deliberating over the Thanksgiving leftover saga.  As I stared down the ziplock bag of stuffing in the fridge,my eyes glanced to the item residing in a tall yellow container commonly know to man-kind as Egg beaters.
    Well the light bulb went on in my brainer...and a recipe was born.  Why not use a tablespoon of  stuffing placed neatly into the bottom of a  well greased cupcake tin, then start layering the egg mixture along with leftover turkey pieces some cranberry, egg beaters and top with cheese. The aroma of  these Golden Muffins baking in the oven brought everyone in the kitchen as if they were in a trance!~!  Simply stated, the aroma of these Egg'rs in the oven will have everyone in the house on alert and arriving in your kitchen to just tear em' up!  They are just that good.
    So try this out.. tweek my recipe to your liking with health and taste preferences.  The version you see below is brimming with fresh zucchini and red peppers that are in season.  This gorgeous twosome dance well with melted swiss cheese and a savory crust of pumpernickle and rye croutons I used as my crust. 
    Did I mention they freeze beautifully?  Yep - 2 in a ziplock, pop in the freezer and send em' off with hubby to work.
                                    Golden Gratin Egg Muffins 
    *Preheat oven to 400.
    *Lightly spray cupcake tins with oil
    **Makes 12-18 individual servings
    1 quart Egg Beaters Southwestern flavor
    8 oz. shredded lite swiss cheese {or your pref. of cheese type}
    1 green zucchini squash  sliced thin
    1/2 cup of chopped sweet red bell peppers
    2 cups of cubed wheat, pumpernickle or rye breads
    Note - stale breads work best - I keep a stash of them in the freezer for bread crumb making
    OR: You can  substitute Stove Top Stuffing rather then the cubed bread idea.
    1/4 to 1/2 cup of chicken broth
    Sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese
    Place your bread cubes in a mixing bowl and add in the chicken broth a little at a time.  When the bread is sticking together without being to wet, your ready to go.  Sometimes it's a 1/4 cup of broth sometimes its more. Now place a tablespoon or so of the stuffing mixture into the bottom of the cupcake tins.
    Pour into a separate bowl the quart of Egg Beaters, add in the peppers, swiss cheese and zucchini.  Feel free to whisk in a bit of milk for a lighter consistency.  Spoon egg mixture into each tin a little more then 3/4's full.  Now grate a bit of fresh parm over the top of each muffin.  Place the egg filled tins onto a cookie sheet in case of spillage.  Bake 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack  in a non-breezy area.  You can expect the Egg muffins to fall a bit once removed from the oven. Don't worry, they are still gorgeous!!  Once cool enough to handle run your knifes edge around the edge of each Egg muffin to loosen from the pan.  Remove egg muffin from the tin and "dig in"!
    * Add a tablespoon of melted "I Can't Believe It's Butter" to the bread crumb mixture, if your feeling like calories and fat aren't on the agenda for the day.
    * Try this dish with your favorite leftovers.  The leftover turkey and a 1/2 teaspoon of cranberry sauce  with whole cranberries in it was just delicious and don't forget the swiss cheese baked in! Wowza!!
    There's a million ways you can go with this and none of them equal a mistake in the kitchen.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Homemade Focaccia Bread

    Can you imagine hot from the oven - homemade, Asiago Focaccia Bread??  Well it takes 18 hours from start to finish. 
    Kate my daughter is a "master of the bread making category".  The results are exquisite.  A pad of butter melting into the glorious air holes on a slice of warm Focaccia will have you salivating with sweet anticipation~!
    Amazing work  Katie... and bread just disappeared in two days!

    Thanks Mom!!! I will take it from here. This is Hazzard #2!!! 

    Focaccia Bread is a very Time Consuming. My Bread takes at least 18hrs. (Always Keep Track of Times) ^__^ I find bread making very calming. And this bread proves that simpler can be better!!! I am going to give you my most FABULOUS TOP SECRET RECIPE. Now this is not your everyday persons recipe, this is in grams and will need a gram scale. ( This is a True Bakers Recipe) This recipe makes one big sheet pan Foccacia Bread. Also Remember TIME is Very Important with bread!!!

    Poolish (This is a starter dough)
    Ingredients: (you can use Active Yeast)
    Bread Flour 333.3
    Water 70F 333.3
    Yeast Instant 1g
    Step 1:  Use 70F water and the yeast and stir till completely dissolved.
    Step 2: Combine all of the above ingredients and blend together to a smooth consisntency.
    Step 3: Cover so that no crust can form. (saran wrap also write time on it)
    Step 4: Allow to ferment at room temp over night.
    Notes: The ideal scenario would be eight hours at 68F. But in a classroom environment the time is longer so the amount of yeast has to be reduced. Good rule of thumb is that if the poolish is going to mature for 18 hrs reduce the mount of yeast by 25%.  Try not to let it go over 18 hr mark.

    Final Dough
    Bread Flour 620g
    Water 102 F if using a Hobart mixer, if using ABS 5 degrees (using a kitchen aid be sure to give your mixer time to cool or you can burn the engine out.) less 410g
    Yeast 6.6g
    Salt 18.3g
    Poolish 666.9g
    Step 1: Place water, poolish, yeast, salt, flour in vertical mixer. Mix on 1st speed for 6 minutes. (medium if using Kitchen aid) Mix on 2nd speed for 1 minute.
    Step 2: If using ABS mixer, mix all of the above ingredients on the first speed for 3 minutes. Mix on 2nd speed for 1 minute. (may take more than 10 minutes) Or until dough is picking up. (that is when dough picks up from the sides of the mixing bowl) 
    Step 3: Place dough in oiled(spray oil is fine) container making sure that the internal dough temperature in 75F. If not place in a warm environment till desired temp is achieved.  Cover dough and write time on saran wrap. 
    Step 4: In an ideal situation the dough will get one stretch and fold every 45 minutes.
    Step 5: Three to four stretch and folds over the duration of 3 hrs.
    Step 6: If dough still touches all four sides of the bins then another stretch and fold is necessary.
    Step 7: Total time of bulk fermentation should not exceed 3 hrs.
    Step 8: Place dough in full oiled (spray oil is fine) Sheet Pan, without parchment!!
    Step 9: Work dough to the edge of the pan. When dough resists, let it rest for 10 min. Work dough to Edges.
    Step 10: Let dough Proof (or rest while covered) for 20-30 min. 
    Step 11: Bake at 410F in convection oven for a minimum of 30 min. ( I Bake it  for 15min then sprinkle on Ramano Shredded Cheese and Shredded Asiago Cheese.)

    Man... My fingers are tired!!! If you survived this blog and recipe you should get a Gold Star! ^__^ This is the 2nd Hazzard Over and Out...

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Savannah & America Day

    Yes!!  I have been M.I.A.  but I'm back, and am in full swing again.  I have a conglomerate of family events, great food and fun to share with you, right here- right now! 

     Two weeks ago we made a road trip to Savannah area.  My son Jonathan & his GF Alexis live in a small community town called Port Wentworth, along with their dog Duke...who's last name just happens to be Hazzard.  {did ya catch that... Duke of Hazzard?!~!}  Every year Port Wentworth closes it's main streets for a special celebration day of their own called America Day.   The day starts with a small town parade through the main street,then there is an all day carnival.  The town decorates their houses in American flags and you would be hard pressed to not find a person dressed in red white and blue that day!  You can smell the comforting aromas of families & friends bbq'ing throughout the neighborhood.
    I loved the small home town feel of this day, it's a step back in time when life was so less complicated.
    When was the last time you watched a parade where the local high school ROTC marched in the parade, or your elementary school kids were riding on a make shift float?  It was a "feel good day".  A bit of strengthening when our country is in a low ebb tide. 
    You can betcha we will be there each year for this heart felt event 
    Here's some pix we are sharing of all the Hazzard-ous Gang on America Day.
    P.S. the pix of dad saluting was during the America Day parade when a local active duty infantry  marched in the parade.. this troop had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan.  Dad saluted them as should be.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    You Dreamy Of My Zucchini Tomato Bread

    It's fresh, it's light, it's healthy, it's yummy and perfect for this time of year. Quick and easy "You Dreamy Of My Zucchini Tomato Bread".
    Hi Guy's!
    I almost forgot about this delectable delight.  It's a recipe I created for KRAFT/RWOP when I was a Finalist
    You need to try this!  Ya' get the crunchy bite of the toasted bread, the yummy warm goo of melted cheese and fresh zest of tomatoes!  Love it?    Let me know!!
    Have a great week everyone~
    You Dreamy Of My Zucchini Tomato Bread
    Pre Heat Oven to 400

    Fresh Loaf Five Grain Italian Bread
    Few Tablespoons of Spreadable Philly Cream Cheese Artichoke & Cream Cheese Flavor
    Couple Tablespoons Butter @ room temperature
    A few dashes of Cracked Black Pepper, Sea Salt & Garlic Powder
    One half of a Fresh Zucchini Squash shredded length wise in long strands
    One whole fresh Tomato sliced thin
    One half a can of Baby Artichoke Hearts – drained
    Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Half cup or less of freshly grated or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese


    This is a great way to enjoy your fresh vegetables that are in season!  I find bread from my grocery store “fresh baked section” to be the better option for this wonderful Side Dish.

     Slice your Five Grain Italian Bread loaf in half, lengthwise.  Set aside the top half of the loaf for another meal time.  You will be using your bottom half of the loaf for this recipe.   Place your ½ loaf of bread bottom side down onto a cookie sheet.  Spread softened butter on open face side of the loaf from one end to the other.  Sprinkle a little garlic powder over the butter layer..  Now spread an even layer of your Artichoke Spinach Cream cheese over top the butter {don’t be stingy!}.  Let’s take your ½ can of baby artichokes and slice each one in half lengthwise.
    Place the artichokes flat-side down to end on the length-wise border of your open faced bread. In the center of your bread within the borders of the artichoke hears, begin covering the surface of your bread with the shredded zucchini, but do not cover the artichokes with the zucchini.  Lay your sliced tomatoes on top of the zucchini in a straight line, lapping over each tomato slice just slightly with another tomato slice.  Now sprinkle the entire top with sea salt and cracked pepper, the drizzle with E.V.O.O.  Next sprinkle your Parmesan cheese over the entire bread top.  Place bread on middle rack of oven.  Should take about 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and there is a nice crisp on the bread crust.  WOW.  Delicious! 

    Sunday, March 27, 2011

    Sensual Strawberries!

    Yesterday I picked up 3 quarts of strawberries for just  $2.00 a quart.  It's the end of strawberry season here, so this was my last HOORAH to salute the sensuous strawberry!  We are doing it up in style for dinner tonight, well at least some of the family is doing it in style.  Not me....I'm trying to drop a few pounds so these ruby red beauties will just pop into my mouth, and have them in my fresh greens salad with grilled chicken, in the hopes that I can stay on target{!} this isn't going to be easy!
    Now here is a quick & easy "Hazzard In The Kitchen" style Strawberries & Creme Stuffed French Toast
    1 Pkg. Refrigerated Crescent Rolls
    1 8 oz. container Philadelphia Cooking Creme OR an 8 oz. pkg Original Philadelphia Cream Cheese - room temperature 
    1 quart fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced
    Six hours later - "well I did it"!!!  The will power stayed strong -  YEA for me.  I had just one little bite of the Strawberries & Creme "Dreams", then stuck with my healthy dinner which I pOsted on the blog for you to see. It really was delicious, I 'm smitten with the cross flavors of balsamic dressing and sweet strawberries plus the grilled flavors of basil chicken..delicious
    Now here is a quick & easy "Hazzard In The Kitchen" style recipe
    : Strawberries & Creme Stuffed French Toast
    1 Pkg. Refrigerated Crescent Rolls
    1 8 oz. container Philadelphia Cooking Creme OR an 8 oz. pkg Original Philadelphia Cream Cheese - room temperature 
    1 quart fresh strawberries hulled, rinsed and sliced
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup milk
    6 Tblsp butter
    Prep & Cook Time: 25 minutes
    Servings: 8
    1. Follow directions on Crescent roll package and bake.  Remove rolls from oven when golden, let cool.
    2. Pour the Cooking Creme into  a medium sized bowl and stir in the sugar.  If you are using Original Philly Cream Cheese - place in mixer add in 2 tablespoons of milk, blend til smooth and add in the sugar.
    3. In a separate bowl using a whisk blend the eggs and 1/2 cup milk together. {p.s.- I like to add just a drop of vanilla extract to the mix!} 
    4. Add butter to frying pan, melt over medium heat until bubbly.  In the meantime slice your Crescent rolls lengthwise 3/4's of the way through, leaving the roll "hinged".  Dip each roll into egg mixture - fry a minute or so on either side of the roll until golden.
    5. Remove rolls from frying pan, slather inside {flat side] of each roll with Creme mixture, then fill with strawberries, top off with a dusting of powdered sugar, stand on the hinged side of the bread & DIG IN.  You will be thanking me for this recipe - it's just awesome~ Yumm!

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Suga'h Free- Sweetie Potato Mango Creme Pots-suga'h-suga'h-suga'h free!!

                 Sweetie Potato Mango Creme Pots  *Sugar Free*

    Prep Time:  20 minutes
    Bake Time: 10 minutes
    Servings: 30 individual Tarts

    Pre Heat Oven: 450


    2 fresh Sweet Potatoes  - {steamed the easy way!-see *Note below}to equal 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
    1 Pillsbury Pie Crust {- in refrigerated section of grocery store, red box*}
    1/2 cup  fresh cubed pineapple
    1/2 cup fresh cubed mango
    1/2 cup fresh pineapple juice {gathered from the pineapple itself, not canned or concentrate}
                                                                                         2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
                                                                                         1 tsp butter - room temperature
                                                                                         1 tsp rum flavoring
                                                                                         1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
                                                                                         1/4 cup roasted almonds - minced
                                                                                         * dusting of cocoa  powder
                                                                                         * dusting of flour

    STEP ONE: Preparing the Sweet Potatoes THE QUICK EASY WAY - retaining all moisture and vitamins! *This is sooo flippin' easy and cuts your cooking time of potatoes down to 8 minutes. AND YES- you can make these ahead of time and refrigerate! Clean and rinse the whole sweet potatoes. We are going to wrap each sweet potato in a wet paper towel {dampened} covering each potato securely. Now take each potato that's wrapped in the damp paper towel and re-wrap again tightly in clear plastic wrap. Re-wrap a third time- yep... again in clear plastic wrap.-tightly. You should now have each potato wrapped tightly in 3 wraps1 Place potatoes in microwave for 4 minutes. When 4 minutes is up, turn the potatoes to other side on top and heat again in microwave another 4 minutes. Check tender-ness with a toothpick insert, checking for softness.. Remove carefully from microwave with tongs, they are very hot! Cut plastic wrap and towel off of sweet potato - slice potato in half scooping out flesh and place flesh into measuring cup, padding the mixture into the cup in order to attain a solid packed cup of sweet potato. Now place the cup of sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.  Set aside.

    STEP TWO: Allow your pie crust to rest at room temperature about 20 minutes before using.  Prepare both sides of the pie crust with a dusting of flour [that makes the crust  release from the pan easily}. With a two inch round biscuit cutter or cookie cutter begin cutting out circles of the pie crust, this should render about 30 mini pie crust circles.  Place each pie crust circle into a mini- muffin-tin pan, gently pressing the center of each doug circle into the muffin pan with your thum for a nice fit.  Bake in oven 10 minutes or until edges of crust are lightly golden in color.  Remove from oven take crusts out of pan and cool on rack.
    Place unsweeted coconut on a baking pan, pop in the oven {same temp-450} for one minute.. til golden.  Be sure to "constantly watch" the coconut in the oven, it browns very quickly, you don't want it to become charcoal. Remove from oven and let cool.

    STEP THREE: While crust is baking, place the cubed mango and pineapple into a chopper or food processor, pulse until the fruit is puree'd.  Pour the puree' into a mixing bowl, add in the mashed sweet potatoes, softened butter and pineapple juice.  Blend on medium speed til smooth. Next add in the heavy cream and mix on high speed for 2 minutes, until light in texture.  Blend in the rum flavoring, then set aside mixture. 
    Place a sprinkling of each: minced almonds & shredded coconut into the bottom of each pie crust tart. Place sweet potato mixture into a piping bag using a large star tip. Pipe mixture into each  pie crust tart, making your sweet potato mixture swirl  an inch or so above each rim of pie crust. Top off each Creme Pot with another sprinkle of almonds and toasted coconut, and a dusting {using a sifter] of cocoa powder.  Emjoythese guilt free "poppers" room temperature of chilled.
    NOTE: "Hint"- for special effects or fancy dessert, place 3 into a martini glass per servingand garnish glass with a mint leaf and thin slice of mango with the peel stil on. *If any leftoversa - refrigerate in a air tight container.

    What's sweet, sassy, healthy, orange and delicious?

    Sweet potaoes thats what!
    A sweet potato is a gorgeous root vegetable and a complex carbohydrate. A great source of vitamins A, E and B6. It's high in fiber and good portions of potassium and  iron. This little baby is a healthy Super Food a Total Power House Of Health & Sweet Taste! 
    Wait.... Sweet Potatoes are low in calories, low in Glycemic Load, and have zero fat, it is also rich in health boosting antioxidants, fiber, and essential minerals. Did ya know... sweet potatoes contain more than twice the amount of beta-carotene than most fruits and vegetables. PLUS just  two-thirds cup of sweet potatoes provides 100 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin E, and one sweet potato offers 65 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. The beta carotene and vitamins C and E in sweet potatoes work as antioxidants to neutralize free radicals that damage cells. These antioxidants slow the aging process, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of developing cataracts, heart disease, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.  JUST IMAGINE HOW FABULOUS it is to start your kids out early age.. with fists full of sweet potatoes.  With sweet potatoes in their reular diet...don't be to surpried if they become your next Worlds Greatest At athlete or Corporate Powerhouse. 
    Here is a great idea for Sweet N Healthy Sweet Potatoes your entire family will love.


    Sweet Potato Oat/Cran Whoopie Pies

    Sweet Potato Oat-Cran Whoopie Pies ~ healthy & yummy!
    When your kids come flyin' through the door after school ravenously hungry - hand them each a Sweet Potato Oat/Cran Whoopie Pie! Not only are they soft, yummy and delicious, these Whoopies bring the hunger-sweet crave to a screeching halt. Loaded with Vitamin A, plus fiber yet offer homemade comforting flavors and textures with a creamy center of goodness. These Whoopie Pies are best when chilled. I wrap each one in clear wrap and stack them in the refrig for easy kid access. You can also just stack them in a plastic air-tight container and keep them in the refrig.

    Prep Time: 20 Minutes
    Baking Time: 12-14 Minutes
    Makes: 12 Whoopie Pies

    Pre-Heat Oven: 425

    Ingredients For Whoopie Pie Portion:
    2 to 3 fresh Sweet Potatoes {steamed the easy way!-see step one below} or whatever equals to 1 cup of the sweet potato pulp, then mashed
    1 cup flour
    1/2 cup Quick Oats {Oatmeal}
    1/2 cup milk
    1 egg
    1 Tbsp. butter at room temperature
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    3 Tbsp. applesauce
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp. salt
    2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    1/8 tsp mace spice
    *parchment paper and cooking oil spray

    Ingredients For Whoopie Pie Filling:
    1- 8 oz. package, 1/3 fat Cream Cheese - softened
    1/3 cup confectioners sugar
    3 Tbsp low fat peach flavored yogurt
    1 Tbsp applesauce

    STEP ONE: Preparing the Sweet Potatoes THE QUICK - EASY WAY - retaining all moisture and vitamins! *This is sooo flippin' easy and cuts your cooking time of potatoes down to 8 minutes. AND YES- you can make these ahead of time and refrigerate! Clean and rinse the whole sweet potatoes. We are going to wrap each sweet potato in a wet paper towel {dampened} covering each potato securely. Now take each potato that's wrapped in the damp paper towel and re-wrap again tightly in clear plastic wrap. Re-wrap a third time- yep... again in clear plastic wrap.-tightly. You should now have each potato wrapped tightly in 3 wraps!  Place potatoes in microwave for 4 minutes. When 4 minutes is up, turn the potatoes to otherside on top and heat again in microwave another 4 minutes. Check tenderness with a toothpick insert.  Remove carefully from microwave with tongs, they are very hot! Using scissors, cut plastic wrap and towel off of sweet potato - slice potato in half scooping out flesh and place flesh into measuring cup, padding the mixture into the cup in order to attain a solid packed cup of sweet potato. Now place the cup of sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork, then set aside.

    Begin by making the Whoopie Pie filling first, this will allow time for the filling to "set" while we are baking the pies.
     Place cream cheese in a large bowl and blend with a mixer til creamy, add in the applesauce blend for 30 seconds. Then add in the confectioners sugar blend a minute or until smooth, then add in the yogurt and blend again 30 seconds. Place filling in small bowl and refrigerate.

    Place parchment paper on inside area of two baking sheets then spray top side of parchment with cooking oil spray. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl blend together flour,salt, baking powder, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, mace and oats. Mix together well with a wooden spoon. Now add into the dry mixture the mashed sweet potatoes, melted butter, milk, egg, dried cranberries and 3 tbsp. applesauce. Mix all ingredients together just long enough - forl dry ingredients to become moistened. Do not over mix. Place a heaping teaspoon of batter onto prepared cookie sheet, then with the back of a spoon smooth each scoop of batter into a 2 1/2 inch circle {this process helps eliminate a really high center mound when baking your Whoopie Pies. Place in oven and bake til edges are slightly golden, about 12-14 minutes. Place each Whoopie onto a cooling rack.

    STEP THREE: Once completely cool then remove Filling from refrigerator. Flipping the Whoopie so flat side is up place a full teaspoon of filling onto the Whoopie, spread almost to the edge of the Whoopie. Now take a second Whoopie, flat side down place onto the filling side you just created. This creates the Whoopie sandwich. Store Whoopie Pies in air tight container in refrigerator, or wrap each Whoopie individually in clear plastic wrap and store in refrig. YOUR GONNA LOVE THIS HAPPY HEALTHY SWEET TATER TREAT!