Thursday, December 27, 2012

Weenies in a blanket

My mother started making these when I was a teenager and they have become a staple appetizer at my house on Christmas day for many years after. I now live in NYC and am not home for the holidays so to help with my homesickness I make these every year for my kids and guests on Christmas eve.

They are really easy and taste so much better than the ones you buy in the frozen section. I have tried many frozen cocktail weenies at Trader Joes and Costco and all of them have this weird after taste I don't enjoy. Once you make these you will also feel the same way.

These are great for any party/get together you will have. Your guests will gobble them up so fast you will have a hard time getting one yourself. Give them a try and let me know what you think.

1 package of cocktail weenies (my favorite is Nathans but Hillshire is also good)
1 package Pillsbury Crescent rolls.


Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unravel Crescent rolls. Cut each triangle into 5 small pieces and roll each weenie with that pieces. Line them up on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

I dip mine in yellow and spicy mustard but for kids you can add ketchup.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cleaning Cast Iron Skillet

Cleaning a cast iron skillet can seem quite difficult but it is actually quite easy and if you take good care of it, it will last you many life times.

I received my first cast iron skillet as a wedding gift. I thought it would be great because it was not seasoned and I was so excited to season it myself. I followed the instructions and and failed miserably. For some reason it came out sticky and stayed sticky. No matter what I did I couldn't get the sticky substance off. I got fed up and gave it away and stayed away from those pans for a very long time.

About 8 years later I went to the Martha Stewart Show and they allowed the audience to ask questions. I asked what I did wrong with seasoning my cast iron skillet and she said why would you ever buy one not seasoned. That wasn't exactly the answer I expected but I realized then I need to go and get a seasoned one immediately.

I received one as a gift last year and absolutely love it. It makes the best burgers and steaks. If you don't have one you should get one. They are inexpensive and perfect pan for heavy duty cooking.

Here are my tips on cleaving them. I watched an episode on Martha Stewart of a man showing how to clean them and now I am no longer afraid. I used to clean it with kosher salt because I was afraid soap would ruin it.  Well he used soap on his and he makes these pans for a living so I figured he must know.
Step 1. After you soaked the pan with super hot water take a brush and a little soap and scrub off all the bits stuck on the pan and rinse with hot water. 

Don't be shy it is a very sturdy pan and can handle quite a bit. 

Step 2. Rinse all the soap and bits off with very hot water.

Step 3. Dry it immediately and thoroughly. Water will rust your skillet so it is essential to dry it.

Step 4. Add a little vegetable oil in the pan to season it. It is important to season it after every wash so it stays nice for you for years to come.

Step 5. Use your paper towel and rub the oil into the pan thoroughly. It seems strange and once rub in all the way it is not sticky and ready to use for your next use.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pecan Bars

I have been making these for years but this year I made them for The Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap. I love them because they are very easy to make and simply Divine. I wanted to make something that could handle shipping and still taste great as the day I made them. By participating in this swap I received the names of 3 bloggers that I had never heard of to send a dozen cookies to each of them. And I also received a dozen cookies from 3 bloggers. It was so much fun to get such yummy cookies in the mail. My family enjoyed opening the boxes to see what lovely cookie we would receive. Each of the ladies took great care in making them and shipping them to me.

I hope the ladies I sent them to were as happy with them as me and my family were. My son Coolidge was sorry to see them go. I promised some yummy cookies were coming in the mail. I had a lot of fun swapping cookies with complete strangers.

I got this recipe from one of my favorite food magazines "Everyday Food." Try it and let me know what you think. I feel they freeze well too so you can pull them out and serve them to your guests later.

For the Crust

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces about 2 cups pecans


Make the Crust
1. Line 9 inch square baking pan with foil. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and salt to combine. Add butter, pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg, pulse just until a dough forms. 2. Transfer dough to prepared pan, press firmly into bottom and 3/4 inch up sides. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 3. Prick bottom of dough. Bake until lightly golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool while preparing filling.

Make the Filling
1. In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, until smooth; continue boiling, without stirring, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. 2. Remove pan from the heat. Whisk in cream and salt; mix in pecans.

Assemble and Bake
1. spoon hot filling evenly over crust, using spoon to arrange and press in nuts so they fit snugly (Create as flat a surface as possible). 2. Bake until bubbling and amber colored, 18-22 minutes. Cool Completely in pan. 3. Using foil lift cake from pan; peel off foil. With a sharp knife cut into 6 even strips; cut each strip crosswise into 4 even strips to make 24 bars.

Crust ready to bake

Ready to cut into bars

Ready to be shipped

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meat Sauce

When I moved to NYC the only way I knew how to make meat sauce was to brown beef and add Prego.
I worked for a family who made unbelievable sauce and showed me how to cook pasta al dente. After watching him and the food network I realized that making sauce was one of the hardest things to make if you don't know what you are doing. And with the right ingredients it is also the easiest.

When I first tried it I couldn't believe how bland it was and I had to add A LOT of salt. However once you learned how to make it you realize it is so easy and much better than any jar sauce out there. I am not opposed to jar sauce and here in NYC there are some very tasty ones out there. I showed my sister Brandi just how easy it is when she was here to visit and her and the kids gobbled it all up. Try this sauce and let me know what you think.

1 lb ground beef
2 (16 ounce) cans of tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup red wine (if you have it)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp all spice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese


In a large pan add ground beef, break it up with spoon and brown on high heat. Cook for 2 minutes and then add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and oregano. Cook another 2 minutes and add chopped onion. Once the meat is cooked through add minced garlic and all spice and cook 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup red wine (if you have it) and cook 2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce another teaspoon of salt and pepper and oregano. Simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add sugar and cook another 10 minutes. Add parm cheese and simmer while you cook pasta.

Cook pasta according to directions and do not over cook. Serve sauce over pasta and add more grated cheese to the top.

(The red wine is not essential but adds another great flavor if you have it)