Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Club Bounty - November

I knew I had found my November Book Club recipe when I read the following excerpt on the Southern Living Website , "It is the most requested recipe in Southern Living magazine history". And to sweeten the deal even further, the recipe was super simple and required preparation steps more similar to banana bread than to any cake recipes I am used to making. It was a no brainer, extremely popular and easy! How could I not make it?!?

I whipped this cake up in no time, the frosting was a cinch too and off to Book Club I went to discuss our November read, "The Reliable Wife" by Robert Goolrick. The cake was a smashing success, the book was not. Most of the members complained about not liking the book and of its dark nature. But I must say, despite its less than stellar reviews it did make for great discussion. We found lots to ponder, dispute and elaborate on in this book.

All in all, I would say the cake is a must try and the book is a decent read if you are in the mood for something a little more heavy and seedy.

Hummingbird Cake
Adapted from Southern Living 1999

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped ripe bananas
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil,
  • stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.
  • Until incorporated. Do not over mix.
  • Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans.
  • Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
  • Cut the rounded top off of the cakes to level.
  • Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.
Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sinful Sauce Showdown

This recipe is incredibly rich and sinfully delicious. It is the type of dish where you use the self-checkout at the supermarket when buying the ingredients in order to avoid the disdainful judging eyes of the cashier. It is a meal that you hope your guest don't come early while you are cooking it for fear they will see the copious amounts of bad for you components you are adding into the pan. But instead of feeling guilty for embarking on this full fat, creamy adventure I decided to go the opposite route. Knowing I don't cook like this often, I wanted to take full advantage. So what did I do? I doubled the queso sauce recipe below and decided I would serve it later in the week with pasta for Round 2 of this deliciousness.

Obviously needing to space out the number of days we indulged in this recipe, I stored my second batch of sauce in a sealed container and put it in the fridge until later in the week. I made the enchiladas on Friday and on Tuesday after work I started filling a pasta pot with water in order to boil some penne to serve with my much anticipated crawfish cream sauce. Right around the time my water started to boil Forrest sauntered into the kitchen and asked what was for dinner. I told him that we would be having the cream sauce that I made over the weekend on top of pasta. With an amazingly calm expression, he commented that we didn't have any of that left over. I explained that I wasn't talking about the few enchiladas that remained after our dinner party on Friday night, but about the very large container of sauce I placed all the way in the back of the fridge separated from everything else. Once again, Forrest mentioned that we didn't have that any longer. Certain that he was still confused, I (not so calmly) asked what had happened to it. He told me that he ate it. For some reason I couldn't believe what he was telling me. When did he heat up the sauce, cook pasta and have 6 people over to help him consume the 3 cups of creamy deliciousness laced with cheese and a full $16/lb of crawfish? This is when he revealed the true shocker. He ate it throughout the week - for a snack! with potato chips! I was livid. I couldn't believe it! I ranted and raved about how he turned a roughly $30 dish into a snack, we now had nothing for dinner, and I was looking forward to eating it again and wouldn't have the chance. Instead of apologizing, offering to go out and get us dinner to make up for it, or claiming ignorance, he looked at me and remarked, "It was so good too!"

Crawfish Enchiladas
Adapted from
Paul Prudhomme


1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup canned green chiles, chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
2 3/4 teaspoons of salt
2 3/4 teaspoons of white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground red pepper (cayenne)
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup dairy sour cream
8 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese or other white (preferably non-processed) cheese (2 pounds)
2 pounds peeled crawfish tails
2/3 cup very finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup cooking oil
20 (6-inch) corn tortillas


In a large skillet melt ½ stick of the butter. Add the onions, green chiles, bell peppers, 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 3/4 teaspoon of white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of oregano and the minced garlic. Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the cream and bring mixture to a rapid boil;

then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sour cream;

with a metal whisk, beat continuously until the sour cream is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups of the cheese

and stir until melted. Set the sauce aside.

In a 4-quart saucepan melt the remaining ½ stick butter. Add the crawfish, green onions and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of white pepper, 1 teaspoon of red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of oregano.

Sauté over medium heat for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cheese sauce to the crawfish mixture

and stir well. Simmer until the flavors are well blended, about 6 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

In a small skillet heat the oil to 325º. Holding the tortilla with metal tongs, dip each into the hot oil just long enough to soften, about 1 second on each side; drain on paper towels.

Spoon about ⅓ cup sauce on each tortilla

and roll up tortilla; place seam side down in a baking dish.
Cover the tortilla from end to end with a generous amount of additional sauce. Then sprinkle it with the remaining cheese.

For the prettiest presentation, place the enchiladas under a broiler near the flame until the cheese melts and begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Or, bake the enchiladas in a 350º oven until cheese melts, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spread for your Spread

With the Holiday season approaching us, I couldn't think of a better recipe to add to your upcoming menus. This is a simple dish that can be prepared in advance and baked off a few minutes before your gathering starts. This appetizer is extremely delicious, hearty, comforting and rich - everything a holiday menu item should be in my opinion. Dips and spreads are so popular at parties during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years and I love to have a variety of options that are a little different than your expected ones.


Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Bacon Spread
Adapted from Cooking Light
November 2011

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 Tbs Butter
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded and divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, divided
  • 1/3 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan lightly with cooking spray. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

  • Reserve 2 tablespoons cheese. Combine remaining cheese, caramelized onion, 1 tablespoon chives, and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.

  • Transfer the mixture to a 1-quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with reserved 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon chives.
  • Serve with toasted baguette slices.