Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Thanksgiving

This week for My Kitchen, My World we are celebrating Thanksgiving. Each member is posting their favorite Thanksgiving recipe.

My favorite recipe is Curried Cauliflower. My mom and aunt have been making this since I was a kid. This is the holiday dish in my family. Now, don't get too excited. It isn't fancy, gourmet, or Indian. It has cream of mushroom soup in it. It can't be the holidays without one cream of mushroom soup dish!

Curried Cauliflower

2 big heads of cauliflower
2 can cream of mushroom soup 10.5 ounce can
2/3 cup mayo
2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp curry powder (I always put way more in because I love curry powder)

cook cauliflower for 10 minutes, boiling, drain.
combine rest of ingredients and then pour on top cauliflower
Bake for 30 minutes at 350.

It is very simple, definitely not fancy, but extremely delish!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Daring Bakers - November ~ Caramel Cake with Caramel Butter Frosting

This months Daring Bakers challenge was a Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. Hosted by Delores of Culinary Curiosity co-hosts this month are co-hosts - Alex of blondieandbrownie, Jenny of Foray into Food. And Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go).

Although the cake, icing, and caramels were easy to make I don't think I would make the cake again unless it was for a client. It is way too sweet for my liking. I loved the caramels! I couldn't stop eating so they ended up going to work with Sean and the cake.

I wanted to make a layer cake so I made two batches of frosting.


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -

1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer


Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.


Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.

Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels: Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.

Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.

Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer.
(recipe from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert)

I am thinking of making a few batches of the caramels to give as holiday gifts. They are truly divine.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Iran

This week for My Kitchen, My World we traveled to Iran courtesy of Elra of Elra's Cooking.

We have been eating seafood all week (Agnes LOVES seafood) so I made a Persian bistro shrimp dish. It was heavenly. Sean asked if we could have this every couple of weeks.

I served it over saffron rice. Delish!

Ginger-Apricot Shrimp

12 dried apricot halves
12 pitted dried plums (prunes)
2/3 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mango chutney, large pieces chopped
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate*
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup matchstick-size strips peeled carrot
16 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 green onion, chopped


Place apricots and plums in small heatproof bowl. Add enough boiling water to cover. Let stand 15 minutes to soften. Drain and quarter all fruit.

Meanwhile, mix 2/3 cup broth with soy sauce, mango chutney, tamarind concentrate, and sugar in small bowl. Whisk cumin, curry powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in another small bowl. DO AHEAD: Fruit, broth mixture, and spice blend can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand separately at room temperature.

Heat vegetable oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saut until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and saut 30 seconds. Add apricots, plums, and carrot; saut until onion begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add shrimp and spice blend, stirring to coat. Cook until shrimp are pink on both sides but still uncooked in center, about 2 minutes. Add broth mixture; cover and cook until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 1 minute, adding more broth by tablespoonfuls if sauce is too thick. Transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle with green onion and serve

I've been tagged!

Jody over at Where's My Damn Answer tagged me to list 6 random things about myself. So, here ya go!

1. I hate plain raw tomatoes. I hate them with every ounce of my soul. I hate when people tell me I can pick them off things. Yeah, you can pick them off but there is still residual tomato left. Here comes the weird part, I love salsa, pico de gallo, any kind of tomato based sauce, I will eat them in Nasi Goreng, but I will not eat plain raw. Seriously, just nasty.

2. Cheeseburgers are my most favorite food on the face of the planet. When I travel internationally I have to try the local cheeseburger. I'm not talking about McDonalds or fast food but a real cheeseburger at a real restaurant. The best cheeseburger outside of the U.S is at Poppies in Bali, Indonesia. It almost like a meatloaf patty. Jody and I had a couple of these with many Bintang! The worst cheeseburger outside of the U.S. was in Paris, France at some hamburger joint. It was horrible. You would think the French could cook anything, um, NO! The cucumbers on top were all wilty and I remember thinking "Why, couldn't they just make a pickle?"

3. I prefer to drive other peoples cars. It doesn't matter if they are nicer than my car or not. I get a thrill out it.

4. When I was a baby I didn't start to walk until I was 2 1/2. My parents took me to the doctor because they thought something was wrong with me. The doctor asked if they carried me every where. They said yes. The doctor told them to stop carrying me and I would start to walk. I started walking within 4 days of the appointment.

5. My dad died 3 weeks before my 4th birthday. Not that him dying is weird it is what happened afterward. When I was 4 years old I was almost kidnapped. My mom had taken my sister to her Girl's Scout meeting and I was staying with a babysitter. A man came to the door and said he was there to pick up the baby for Mrs. Marks. She thought this was really odd and told him no. He pushed his way into the house and tried to grab me. A neighbor heard what was going on and called the police. The suspect said he had read my dad's obituary and figured since he worked for Shell Oil we were rich. He figured he could get a lot of money for ransom. The other weird thing that happened to me after my dad died is that NO ONE can sing Happy Birthday to me. NO ONE! Every since my 4th birthday (yes, my mom still had my birthday. She was trying to keep things as normal as possible) it will bring me to tears. I guess when my family tried to sing at my 4th bday I kept yelling "we have to wait for daddy!!". Jody and Sean have always known this. Jody has stopped people from singing to me more times than I can count (wait, I'm not that old!). Thanks Maggs!

6. I collect perfume from a company called Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. I am addicted to their perfume. It is the most amazing perfume ever! It is pure perfume oil. No alcohol or additives. Every time they have a new update I must buy a few bottles or imps. I have been collecting from them for about 4 1/2 years. My two favorite blends are called Selkie - The chill waters of the Orkney coast, tea-leaved willow, honey-touched Grass-of-Parnassus, sea aster, and Scottish Primrose. I have 4 bottles of it. I am hoarding it because it is longer offered by the company can only be found on auction sites. Anactoria - Golden amber, white honey, red currant, daemonorops, kush, and Arabian musk. It is heavenly! Check out their website. You will spend hours looking at all the descriptions.

This has rules, too:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag a few people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Dale of mole, Elra of Elra's Cooking, Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, Anne-Marie of A Mama's Rant

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our Tradition

Ever since Agnes' first Christmas in 2005 I have taken her to see Santa. I like to take her by myself. Just my daughter and me. I always take her as soon as Santa is at the mall. Neither of us like standing in line and it gives her more time to chat with him.

Since she is in pre-preschool everyday I miss hanging out with her so she took today off to see Santa. She was so excited to talk with him. Last night she was practicing what she would say to him. She didn't want to forget what she wanted him to bring her.

When we got to the mall she was practically running to Santa Land. We were the only ones their so the staff really took their time and let her hang-out for a bit. She sat and chatted with Santa for about 15 minutes. She had to explain every single thing (drum kit, dinosaurs, volcano, gummi bears, care bears, rocketships, big girl bed, piano, princess presents, it was a never ending list!) she wants from him. By the time we left Santa was trying his hardest not to start laughing at loud. All the elves were losing it. She is definitely a girl who knows what she wants! Afterward we went to the Nordstrom cafe for coffee (hot chocolate for Miss Thing) and cookies.

Each year our Santa day gets better. I am already looking forward to Santa day next year!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm on a seafood diet. I see food and eat it. HA!

Agnes wanted to have fish for dinner tonight. She loves fish. I am not talking about breaded fish sticks (well, who doesn't like those) but really fish. She will eat halibut, salmon, tilapia, cod, basa, and all sorts of other seafood. The other night she ate a plate of squid and razor clams. She is such a cool kid!!

Our Safeway here is having a sale on fresh tilapia for 3.99 a pound. Yeah, it doesn't get any cheaper than that. In Denver we were lucky to get it for 10.00 or so. The seafood here is so CHEAP! So, Agnes and I decided to make:

Tilapia with Balsamic Butter Sauce, Thyme Mashed Potatoes, and Sugar Snap Peas

Thyme mashed potatoes
3 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered
4 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons (or more) warm whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

Balsamic butter sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups sugar snap peas, strings removed

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 4- to 5-ounce tilapia fillets

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For thyme mashed potatoes:
Boil potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; return to pot. Add butter, 6 tablespoons cream, and thyme; mash. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring often and adding more cream by tablespoonfuls if dry.

For balsamic butter sauce:
Simmer vinegar and garlic in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to thick syrup, about 5 minutes. Set aside.Cook snap peas in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain. Return to same pan; set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 large skillets over high heat. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Sauté fish until golden, about 2 minutes per side.
Rewarm balsamic syrup over medium-low heat. Whisk in 3/4 cup butter 1 piece at a time.
Divide potatoes, tilapia, and peas among plates; drizzle with sauce.

I put the mashers on the plate, a piece of tilapia on top, drizzled the sauce on top and served the sugar snap peas on the side .

OMG! It was so good. The sauce is freaking awesome! I wanted to lick my plate clean. Agnes cleaned her plate. She kept moaning "mmmmm, fish good, mmmm".

The masher took the most time. If you grabbed some premade mashers from your deli or even the ones in the refrigerator cases at your grocery store this meal would take 10 minutes from start to finish. I sprinkled our sugar snap peas with some sea salt and tossed them in a Ziploc zip & steam bags (I can't live without these things) for about 3 minutes and they were perfect.

You must try this dinner!

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Puerto Rico

This week we travel to Puerto Rico for My Kitchen, My World. Agnes decided we were having fish for dinner. So we made Grilled Fish with Sofrito Sauce and Plátanos Asados.It was extremely easy and quick to put together. This will definitely go into our dinner rotation.

Grilled Fish with Sofrito Sauce and Plátanos Asados

Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
1 underripe plantain
1/8 teaspoon salt, divided
2 (6-ounce) grouper fillets (about 1/2 inch thick) (I couldn't find grouper anywhere here in Portland so I used halibut instead)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
½ cup Sofrito Sauce
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
Chopped cilantro (optional)
1 green plantain

Sofrito Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced onion
½ cup seeded & diced green bell pepper
7 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Blend everything in a blender or food processors.

Cut plantain in half lengthwise; cut each half crosswise into 2 pieces. Spray plantain pieces with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until golden and slightly soft. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Drizzle fish with lime juice; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and minced cilantro. Grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Top fish and plantains with sofrito sauce and sour cream, and serve with plantain pieces. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

**I had to borrow a picture from I took pictures of dinner tonight but when I went to download them I realized I hadn't put the memory card back in the camera. Whoops! It was still sitting in memory card reader from when I downloaded pictures of my Dachshund cupcakes. LOL

Pink, Girlie Cupcakes

Here are some pink, girlie cupcakes. The customers only request was there be pink and purple Dachshunds. They are Devil's Food cake with cream cheese icing. The decorations are made from fondant that has been brushed with luster dust. The cuppies have been sprinkled with loads of purple (you can see purple specs) and white glitter but you can hardly see it in the pics. They are so sparkly!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Kitchen, My World - Ireland

I was so excited to be chosen to pick our country this week for My Kitchen, My World. With the weather getting cold and rainy here in the Pacific Northwest I wanted comfort food so I chose Ireland.

Sean and I traveled through Ireland a few years ago. It was a fantastic holiday! We met new friends, ran into some old friends, saw some amazing history, had some horrible food (does everything have to be fried lol), and had one of the best meals of my life.

We were fortunate to stay at Ballynahinch Castle for one night. We had a beautiful suite that faced the river. I never wanted to leave. I felt like a princess. The night we had dinner in the restaurants is one of my favorite travel memories. The food was spectacular. The service perfect. I had always wanted to drink champagne in a castle so Sean made sure there was a bottle for us. Yeah, he is a good guy.

Not far from the castle is Kylemore Abbey This beautiful castle has been the home to an order of Benedictine nuns since the 1920's.

In honor of Sister Ita who was in her 90's when she died I have made her sultana scone recipe. Can you say yum? Agnes has eating almost 4 of them! Smear them with some double cream, black currant jam, and a cuppa. It is the perfect way to start the day.

4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup sultanas
1/2 oz mixed candied citrus peel (optional)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk

Sieve the flour, baking soda, and the salt into a bowl, and rub in the butter. Add the sugar, fruit, and peel, if using. Mix well. Beat the eggs and mix with the milk, reserving a little to brush over the scones. Make a well in the centre of the flour, add the eggs and milk and mix to a soft dough. Turn out on to a floured board and roll out to about 1 inch thick. Cut into rounds, using a 2 1/2 inch fluted cutter. Brush over with some beaten egg. Put on to a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated hot oven (400°F) for 15-20 minutes. Turn out on to a wire tray to cool.

Here are a few words about Sister Ita from the Kylemore Abbey cookbook~ From the days of the Abbey Guest House of the 1950's to the tour buses of the 1990's and right up to her retirement a few years ago at the age of 90, Sister Ita's scones were legendary in Connemara. She is sadly missed by visitors, drivers, and guides who fondly recall her friendship and warm hospitality.

For dinner last night I made a family favorite Shepherd's Pie. This recipe comes from my favorite pub back The Wynkoop. The Wynkoop holds a very special place in my heart. I met Sean the for the first time 17 years ago at the Wynkoop! I loved working at the pub. I am still friends with people I worked with so long ago and since moving to Vancouver I crave the food. I had a friend get in touch with the original chef to get the recipe for me. The first bite brought back so many memories. Now, if I could only get a pint of Railyard!

Wynkoop Brewing Company's Shepherd's Pie

For the pie crust:
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (or lard)
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice cold water

For the vegetables:
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups celery, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 teaspoon paprika (sweet is best)

For the lamb and sauce:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 pounds lamb stew meat (use good-quality lamb for best flavor)
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 quarts beef stock or bouillon
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
4 bay leaves

For shepherd's pie:
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 to 6 cups mashed potatoes (recipe of your choice)

To make pie crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cut the shortening into the sifted flour with a pastry cutter or by using two butter knives. Add the salt and cold water and mix with your hands until mixture comes together. If too dry, add a bit more cold water. Do not over mix. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1/2 hour or until you are ready to use it.

For the vegetables: In a large heavy skillet or saut?© pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add vegetables and spices and cook until vegetables just turn tender, about 10 minutes. They should still have some "bite" to them. Place in bowl and set aside.

Prepare mashed potatoes, using your own recipe; set aside.

For the lamb and sauce: Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepan until hot.

Season meat with salt and pepper, and then carefully add lamb to oil in pan and brown meat on all sides. Do not crowd meat in pan. Cook in batches if necessary.

When meat is browned, return all meat to pan, reduce heat to medium and add shallots and garlic.

Sprinkle flour slowly over meat while stirring continually to avoid lumps. Once flour is incorporated, cook for 5 minutes, stirring continually and scraping the bottom of the pan to avoid burning.

Slowly add red wine, then stock, stirring and scraping pan sides and bottom. Add tomato paste, rosemary and bay leaves and turn up the heat to bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour or until meat is tender.

Strain meat from sauce and set meat aside to cool. Remove bay leaves. Pour the sauce in a medium saucepan and cover; set aside on a low burner to keep warm. Stir occasionally to keep skin from forming.

To assemble the pie: Spray a 9-by-13-by-2 glass or metal casserole dish with nonstick spray. Spread pastry dough over bottom of dish and up the sides, pressing to make the dough thin and even. Cut off any excess dough at top of dish.

Spread 2 cups of the mashed potatoes evenly across the pie crust. Place half of the lamb meat on top of the potatoes.

Top the lamb meat with all of the vegetable mixture and then add the remaining lamb meat.

Cover the dish with enough mashed potatoes to fill the casserole.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until casserole has an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

When cooked, remove pie from oven and top with Parmesan cheese and return to oven until cheese is lightly browned.

To serve: Ladle hot lamb sauce into a wide serving bowl and place a serving of pie on top, or place pie on a plate and spoon sauce on top.

Garnish with some chopped green onions, if desired.

This recipe makes a huge amount of food. We will be having Shepherd's Pie for a few nights!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”~ Jim Davis

Last week so cake crazy! I made a birthday cake for Sean, birthday cupcakes for him to take to work, a birthday cake for my adorable niece Elly, and a batch of vegan cupcakes for Sean's birthday party. I have never made so much chocolate cake in my entire life. The batter was flying! LOL

Sean's birthday is on Halloween so we had a small cocktail party after trick or treating. It was a blast. We have made some great friends here.

Sean's birthday cake. Agnes designed the cake. She wanted her daddy to have a spooky cake!

Sugar skull cupcakes for Sean's work & his birthday cake. Agnes designed the cake. She wanted her daddy to have a spooky cake!


We also made sugar skulls for our Dia de los Muertos ofrenda. I made a sugar Virgin de Guadalupe. She turned out so beautiful. It was so much fun making these with Agnes. It was her first year to decorate some all by herself. The one thing that sucks about making these is every year I have to make at least one more. This year we had to make one for Sean's dad Jim. I think it was really good for Sean to make it.

Agnes decorating her sugar skull.

Virgin de Guadalupe. She turned out so cool.

Our oferenda

Here is the cake I made for Elly. I was so happy with how it turned out. Elly loved it!