Friday, December 24, 2010

Devilishy Good Deviled Eggs

My eldest son Russell, asked for deviled eggs for Christmas morning snack. So, I set about to find the world's best deviled egg recipe. Imagine my shock at the variances in recipes. I am most familiar with recipes that use mayo, and found that many didn't even call for it. Well, I've been quite adventurous lately with trying new recipes so, here is a combination of a couple along with some great hints I've picked up, to making the best deviled eggs ever! Bring these to a party, and you are sure to be a hit.

Devilishly Delish Deviled Eggs

10 eggs (boiled per the instructions below)
4 oz. cream cheese
3 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. onion, minced
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
milk (explanation below)
salt and pepper to taste
smoked paprika for garnish and flavor!

Boiling Eggs (most important!)
  • Make sure your eggs are at room temperature. Otherwise, the shell will split once you lower them into the boiling water, and you'll have egg white leaking from the shell.
Why boil the water first? Because when you put your eggs into boiling water, the hot water will cause the interior of the egg to shrink away from the shell, which makes it really easy to peel.
  •  For boiling 10 eggs: after you bring a large pot of water to boil, lower your eggs into it using a soup spoon. Then set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the water for 5 minutes. Then pour off the hot water and add COLD WATER to cover the eggs.
  • After a few minutes, pour off this water and add more cold water. In about 8 minutes your eggs will be cool enough to handle, and they'll peel perfectly every time.
Filling Instructions
  • For the boiled eggs: use a sharp knife and slice each boiled egg in half.
  • Use a teaspoon to carefully scoop out the hard yolk, and place the yolks in a mixing bowl.
  • Put the white halves onto your deviled egg platter.
1. To your yolks, add the cream cheese, sour cream and all other ingredients. Use your hand mixer to beat them. Using a mixer makes the stuffing creamy -- and it's a lot easier on your arms than smoothing out the yolks and ingredients using a wooden spoon!

2. Add salt and pepper to taste. (The mustard and Tabasco add a bit of bite, so add only a little salt at first, taste, then add more if necessary. It's easier putting salt in than it is taking it out!)

3. About that milk listed in the ingredients: add it in, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Many people don't realize how important the texture is for making excellent deviled eggs. Think about it -- too many people make gummy deviled eggs. The best ones are creamy -- and adding the milk will give you this creamy consistency.

Easy Stuffing
  • Spoon your yolk mixture into a quart freezer bag (not a sandwich bag, which isn't strong enough) then use scissors to snip off the corner. You only need to snip off a quarter inch. 
Now you've made a wonderful (and inexpensive!) dispenser for your deviled egg stuffing.
Simply squeeze the stuffing out of the small hole in the quart bag into the egg white halves. This makes it easy to make really attractive deviled eggs.
  • Sprinkle with paprika and voila!
If you have some yolk mixture left over after all the eggs have been filled, the mixture makes a delicious topping for crackers for an afternoon snack.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cupcakes To Die For

Eggnog Pudding Pie Cupcake

Inspired to bake something time intensive and totally worth it, I took a cue from the Urban Outfitter's blog and tried their recipe for Eggnog Pudding Pie Cupcakes (click for original post). I didn't deviate from the recipe, but if I get adventurous again, I will post another recipe with the changes, and you know it won't be long before I am tinkering. FYI: click on each picture to bring up a bigger picture with more detail. So, without further ado, a true baking adventure!...

Eggnog Pudding Pie Cupcakes

Makes: 18-20 cupcakes that taste just like Christmas.

Eggnog Pudding Pies
1 4.6oz box of vanilla "cook and serve" pudding
3 cups eggnog
1 batch of whatever pre-made pie crust you'd like

1. Put the pudding mix and eggnog into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring regularly with a whisk (this process should take about 10-12 minutes). Once the pudding has boiled and thickened, pour into a mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in the fridge. (To avoid “pudding skin” put the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.)
2. Next, make the pie shells. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Roll out your pie crust, and cut 20 small circles using a small juice glass or cookie cutter. They need to be large enough to cover the bottom and the sides of your mini cupcake tin. Press the circles of dough into lightly-greased mini cupcake tins and use a toothpick to poke a few holes into the bottom of the dough.
Didn't have a smaller tin, but it still worked fine.
 3. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool while you make the cupcake batter! Turn the oven down to 350°F.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/3 cup whole milk

4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl on medium-high speed until it’s fluffy and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, stopping between each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat for a minute or so, until the batter is smooth. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed for two minutes. 

5. Finally, add the milk and the flour, alternating between the two ingredients about a cup at a time, and beat until the batter is creamy and without lumps.

6. To assemble the eggnog pudding pies, simple spoon a heaping teaspoon of pudding into the cooled pie crusts. If you’d like (and you would!) top each pie with an extra sprinkle of nutmeg.
7. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of cupcake batter into paper-lined cupcake tins. Gently press one pie into each tin, and then cover with another heaping tablespoon of batter, so the top and the sides of the pie are completely hidden. The tins should be about ¾ of the way full (maybe a little more--that’s okay, too).  
8.Bake for about 24 minutes until the cake sets and starts to turn golden brown. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Butter Cream Frosting
1 can cranberry jelly (I only had sauce)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1. To make the butter cream, whip the butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar together on high speed until fluffy. Slowly add the canned cranberry jelly, then mix for a minute or so on high speed again. Add another cup of powdered sugar and then give it a taste. Add more sugar if necessary. If the mixture is too thick, add a little whole milk to it to thin it out a bit. Side note: having sauce meant chunks of cranberry. I think this was fine as it left nice tart pieces that dot the frosting. I did find I needed a little more powdered sugar though.

Inside: See the pie?
2. Frost the cupcakes! If you’d like, top with a drizzle of melted white chocolate and sprinkles. Some nutmeg would be delicious, too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This Cannot Stand

I know I am not alone when I express feelings of outrage with our completely broken government system. I feel like the owner of a large undisciplined dog that is dragging me through the muck and I cannot gain control. At this point, not to be inhumane or anything, I just want to shoot it and put us both out of misery. So, why can't we all stand up collectively, WE THE PEOPLE, and say no:
  • I will no longer pay taxes to a government who spends MY hard earned money on ridiculous and overpriced items.
  • I will no longer pay taxes to fund a fat and greedy political machine that is all too willing to take and spend the money of the people, while raising their own wages and increasing their benefits exponentially. 
  • I refuse to fund the lavish lifestyle of long retired government employees, who did little to nothing to benefit our country while in office, much less now.

  • I will not bend to the will of a government who will so willingly harm our military by withholding funding for needed equipment, medical and salary, while they romance known terrorist countries. 
  • I will no longer be held to the laws of this government with regard to payment of taxes, until my voice is heard and I am allowed to review, each tax season, what my money will be going to pay and have a choice in where it goes.
Why can't we all do this? What could the government do? Will it turn into a policed state? Would our own government throw each and every wage earner in jail as an example? What would truly happen if we all stood up and cut off our mad government from it's money. Money we work so hard for, and the government has so little respect for. They spend as though they were teenagers who got a hold of an unsecured credit card and unlimited, unsupervised time at a mega mall. Well, checks are bouncing and still, no one is doing anything.

If you want to see exactly how careless with our money, congress is being, just take a look at the 2010 version of THE PIG BOOK. this online pdf (also available for purchase) is an eye opener to how stupid our government thinks we are and how little respect they have for us. Then ask yourself, "Do I want to continue to enable the spoiled brats in Washington?" What are you willing to do to stop those obese cats?

Flemish Stew = Silent Devouring

Every mother should have a few recipes in her recipe arsenal, that brings about a humbled silence. Food so tasty, words are forgotten so that food can be continuously eaten without interruption. I think I may have found another recipe that falls into that category. It's also one of those cold weather comfort foods, so it has that going for it as well. For this recipe, I thank the Dutch people of Flemish. Apparently, this dish is so wonderful, it is the national Belgian dish. This recipe can be found all over the web, and I consulted three different recipes and only played within the boundaries of what appeared to be the norm. If I get adventurous and find certain additions that make it even better, I'll make note of it here. So, take your family on a culinary adventure.

  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 pounds bottom round, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 pound sliced cremini or white button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups brown ale or dark beer
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the beef and brown on all sides, turning frequently, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker. Drain any fat from the pan. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and brown the remaining beef. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  2. Return the skillet to medium heat, add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they give off their liquid and it evaporates to a glaze, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms; cook undisturbed for 10 seconds, then stir and cook for 30 seconds more. Pour in ale (or beer); bring to a boil, whisking constantly to reduce foaming, until thickened and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the slow cooker.
  3. Add carrots, onion, garlic, mustard, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  4. Put the lid on and cook on low until the beef is very tender, about 8 hours. Discard the bay leaf before serving.
I served this dish with cheese bread and concluded, you couldn't do too much more with it to make it better. My husband and I mused that you could make a fresh tomato salsa to have on top to add a sweetness to it or a hard cheese sprinkled on top. Either way, the boys devoured it and were almost quiet the whole time.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Angel Snacks

Pavlova, Bizet, Suspiros (meaning "sighs" in English), Schaum tortes, Resurrection Cookies... no matter what you call them, these meringue cookies are crispy and sweet bites that some have said, are what the saints eat in heaven. I had egg whites left over after making Sweet Corn Sformato for Thanksgiving. I wanted to try something I had never done before and went searching. This is very close to a dessert my mom made during Christmas, called Divinity. I wanted to make a meringue recipe that was versatile, so you can change the flavor to your whim. It seems like it would be harder than it actually is. The trick is to prepping. Have all your ingredients ready and then just go for it. You won't be sorry you made these!

from top to bottom: Chocolate Toffee,
Butter Pecan and Plain

Heaven Sighs


1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
Pinch salt

Optional Topping:
2 pints fresh or frozen berries
1/4 cup sugar
Whipped Cream for topping


1 Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
2 In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
3 Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn't use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4 Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
5 Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white -- not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
6 Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
7 Served topped with your favorite filling - lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream.

Sauce or Filling Directions

If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool.

  • add a whole pecan to the top of each meringue before baking
  • 1/2 C. each finely chopped pecans and chopped chocolate (folded in after step 3), after baking time is up, turn off oven and leave overnight. This version is called "Forgotten Cookies".
  • sift 2 Tbsp cocoa powder over meringue, and fold until barely any streaks remain (after step 3)
  • 1/2 C. finely chopped heath bar folded in (after step 3)
  • different flavorings can be substituted for the vanilla or added. Try adding 1 tsp butter flavoring with the vanilla and pecans, or replace the vanilla for peppermint with the chocolate version.

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