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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Alabama Wine Tour - Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24

The what?  That's right - Alabama has a wine trail.  Who knew?!  We didn't know anything about it until a few weeks ago.  Our waiter at Wine Down Wednesday mentioned it to us and we were very intrigued.  I searched the internets and found out that there are 3 wineries close to our house. I wanted to check them all out.  Foodbuzz has a monthly feature called 24, 24, 24 - 24 meals, 24 hours, 24 blogs.  I submitted my wine trail idea and they accepted it!  

We hit the trail early Saturday morning.  We started at Morgan Creek Vineyards in Harpersville, AL.  Morgan Creek is the largest winery in the state.  They produce approximately 15,000 cases of wine per year.  Not bad for what started out as just a hobby!  Morgan Creek offers free tastings of all their wines.  Their most popular wine is  muscadine.  They also produce a nice blueberry wine and, our favorite, a peach wine.  We bought a bottle of their Grape Seed Oil and some Italian seasonings to dip bread in for dinner Saturday night.  It was fantastic!  It was worth the trip just for the grape seed oil - it is a must buy!

Our next stop on the trail was Vizzini Farms Winery in Calera, AL.  Vizzini is the second largest winery in the state and makes 12 different wines.  We chose this as our second stop because they serve lunch.  Tadd had the frittata with caesar salad and I had a cup of tomato basil soup and the carbonara .  After we ate, we tasted the wine!  Vizzini had a great variety of wine.  They had more traditional wines - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc.  Our favorite wine was the Apple Riesling - they make the wine with Washington state apples.  It was great; it had a nice crispness and wasn't overly sweet.

Our final stop on the trail was the Ozan Winery in Calera, AL.  The winery is located next to the Heart of Dixie railroad.  Starting in April, they have a wine train lunch that includes sampling of all their wines, a souvenir glass, boxed lunch and train excursion.  Ozan grows a native grape, the Red Norton grape, on-site at the winery.   Their most popular wine is their Chilton County Peach wine.  We enjoyed three complimentary samples.  We chose to sample the Peach, Norton and the Shelby Blanc.  We bought a bottle of peach wine so we could make their peach wine cake for dessert.  The cake was so easy to make - it is a doctored up cake mix - and it tasted fabulous!!  We each had a piece with some vanilla ice cream.  I can't wait to have another piece today!

Ozan Vineyard & Cellars' Peach Wine Cake
Ozan Winery
(Printable Recipe)

1 box white cake mix
1 small box peach gelatin
4 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 cup Ozan Peach Wine
1 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Combine mix and gelatin. Add eggs, oil and wine. Mix well and set aside. Prepare tube pan and sprinkle half of pecans in bottom. Add batter and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 42 minutes.

Peach Glaze
1-1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup Ozan Peach Wine

Combine sugar, butter and wine and bring to a boil.

Cool cake for 10 minutes. Pour half of glaze on cake. Wait 30 minutes. Pour remaining glaze on cake and sprinkle with pecans.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Crock-Pot Creme Brulee French Toast

This is another Twitter recipe.  Better Homes & Gardens posted a link to this recipe, and I thought it sounded perfect for breakfast.  I don't like to make breakfast.  I don't like to get up early and cook; I like to sleep too much.  This recipe was the perfect breakfast recipe since I didn't  have to wake up early to fix it!  I mixed it up the day before and then just threw it in the crockpot before we went to bed.  I love fix it and forget it recipes!  We thought this was more like a bread pudding than french toast.  We both really enjoyed it, especially the caramel topping!  We will be topping all our french toast with caramel from now on!

Creme Brulee French Toast
(Printable Recipe)

12 ounces challah or sweet bread (such as Portuguese or Hawaiian sweet bread), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 9 cups)
4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, or 3/4 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Caramel ice cream topping, warmed

Place bread cubes in prepared slow cooker. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Pour over bread cubes in cooker. Press bread lightly with back of a large spoon to moisten bread completely. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn off cooker. Let stand for 30 minutes. Slice French toast to serve or spoon it into serving dishes. Top with ice cream topping. Makes 12 servings.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Weeknight Taco Braid

I LOVE Mexican food, but I am making an effort to not eat it out much.  It is so high in calories and sodium, plus I eat a TON of chips and salsa when we go out.  Due to this self-imposed ban, I have been forced to come up with alternatives for Mexican food at home. 

This taco braid was a super easy weeknight meal. I just took the idea of the Pampered Chef's taco ring and turned it into a braid.  I topped it with sour cream and our favorite homemade salsa.  We both devoured it.  I didn't feel too guilty since it had about a third of the calories that I would have eaten if I had gone out. 

Weeknight Taco Braid
(Printable Recipe)

1 lb lean hamburger
1 can Rotel tomatoes (I pulse mine in the food processor)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can reduced-fat crescent rolls
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
sour cream

Brown hamburger meat in skillet until no longer pink.  Drain fat and return to pan.  Add Rotel tomatoes and taco seasoning.  Cook for 5 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.  Allow meat mixture to cool slightly and stir in1 1/2 cups of cheese. 

Roll out crescent rolls vertically on baking stone, do not separate and seal perforations. Spread taco meat down center of crescent rolls. Cut 10 strips on each side of the dough. To braid, lift strips of dough across mixture to meet in center, twisting each strip on turn. Continue alternating strips to form a braid. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes - until lightly browned.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scalloped Corn

I follow @Buns_In_My_Oven on Twitter, and she was talking about making her kids favorite scalloped corn for dinner.  She posted the link, so I went and checked it out.  It looked great!  I added it to my menu ASAP.  This was a fantastic side dish.  It was a combo veggie/bread side for us.  It was SUPER easy to put together - dump, stir, pour and bake.  We both really loved this corny bready goodness.  I could have eaten the whole pan by myself.  This is going into our "favorites" catagory.  This will be making many more appearances at our dinner table.

Scalloped Corn
Buns In My Oven
(Printable Recipe)

2 15 oz. cans corn, drained

1 15 oz. can creamed corn
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup light sour cream
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
salt and pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir together. Pour into an 8×8 or 9×9 dish and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the center is set and a knife instered in the middle comes out nearly clean.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Daytona Chicken

A couple of weeks ago, for the Super Bowl, we had Hooter's Daytona chicken wings.  I loved them!  I was completely shocked, because I usually HATE chicken wings.  The wings were crispy and the sauce was great - sweet heat.  I tried to find a recipe on-line for the Daytona wing sauce, but I had no luck.  We had to figure it out on our own! 

We started with a Honey BBQ Sauce and added Texas Pete until it tasted right.  It ended up being a 3 to 1 ratio of BBQ to Texas Pete.  I don't usually fry food, so we grilled some chicken breasts and it turned out  great.  I might change it up a little next time - Mesquite BBQ sauce, honey and Texas Pete.  We both wanted a little more mesquite flavor.  I guess if you had a nice, fancy grill, you could just use wood chips.  All in all, this was a great healthy makeover of my new guilty pleasure. 

Daytona Grilled Chicken
(Printable Recipe)

3/4 cup Honey BBQ Sauce  (we used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/4 cup Texas Pete hot sauce
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast

Mix together BBQ and hot sauce.  Set aside.  Pound chicken breast to an even thickness.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Grill chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side.  Baste with BBQ sauce until chicken is done.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Starring Rolls Butterfinger Cupcakes

On our recent trip to Disney, we ate the BEST cupcake ever - the Butterfinger Cupcake from Starring Rolls at MGM Studios. It was HUGE and MESSY and OH SO GOOD!  It was an impressive treat - people were staring at it while we were stuffing our faces eating it.  One couple couldn't resist the temptation and went inside and bought one for themselves.  This cupcake was one of our favorite treats on the trip. 

 I studied the cupcake while we were devouring eating it and decided that I could recreate it at home.  It seemed simple enough - chocolate cake, fudge icing, buttercream, magic shell and butterfingers.  I finally got around to making them for Valentine's Day.  They were simple to create,  but a little time consuming and a lot messy.  I was so proud of my recreation.  I thought they looked just like the original - only smaller - and they tasted great!  *I posted a picture of the original Starring Rolls cupcake at the bottom so you can compare mine to the original.*

The Original

Starring Rolls Butterfinger Cupcakes
1 box Devil's Food Cake mix, plus ingredients to make cake
1 can fudge frosting

4 cups chocolate chips
6 Tbsp canola oil

3 (3.7 oz) King Size Butterfingers

Quick Buttercream Frosting
18 Tbsp butter, softened
6 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
6 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Prepare cupcakes according to directions on cake mix package.  Let cupcakes cool completely. 

Using a sharp knife, cut a circle out on top of the cupcake.  Make your cut go about halfway into the cupcake.  Remove the cake chunk and fill the hole will fudge frosting (I used two spoons to scoop the frosting into the hole).  Invert the cupcake chunk on top of the fudge frosting - you want the extra cake to be sticking up.

Prepare the buttercream frosting.  Mix together all the ingredients and beat on medium for 3 minutes, until fluffy.  Transfer frosting into a piping bag and pipe frosting on top of the cupcakes, covering the cake chunk.  Let the frosting set up for 30 minutes.

While the frosting is setting up, crush the Butterfingers in the food processor until completely pulverized.  **I froze the Butterfingers and crushed them frozen.**

Combine chocolate chips and oil in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Heat on HIGH for 1 minute.  Stir and continue to heat at 30 second intervals until completely melted.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before using.  (You might want to do this in two batches so the chocolate doesn't harden while you dip the cupcakes)  Dip the frosted cupcakes into the chocolate - I used a spoon to hold the frosting into place to make sure it didn't fall off the cupcake.  Immediately coat the cupcake with the pulverized Butterfingers - just smash it all over the chocolate.  Repeat until all cupcakes are dipped and covered.  Refrigerate approximately 1 hour to allow the chocolate to set up. 


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

King Cake with Praline Filling

We made a simple King Cake to go along with our jambalaya on Fat Tuesday.  I didn't want to spend all night baking, so I went with an easy crescent roll king cake.  I added a praline filling to make it "fancy".  This was so easy and could easily be transformed into cinnamon rolls for breakfast.   I only used one can of crescent rolls since there are only two of us and we stuffed ourselves ate jamabalay and cheesy biscuits for dinner.  The King Cake added to our little Mardi Gras celebration.  I would definately recommend this recipe and I will be making it again next year!

King Cake with Praline Filling
(Printable Recipe)

1 can crescent rolls
2 Tbps of unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/4 cup of light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

powdered sugar
yellow, green, purple sugar

Unroll crescent rolls and press to seal all perforations.  Mix vanilla in with the melted butter.  Spread butter and vanilla over crescent rolls.  Top butter with pecans, brown sugar and vanilla.  Starting with the long end, roll up jelly roll style and form into a circle.  Pinch edges together.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes (until golden brown).  After the cake has cooled, mix together powdered sugar and milk to make an icing.  Top cake with icing and sprinkle with colored sugar.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Laissez les bons temps rouler!  We didn't make it to Mardi Gras, so we decided to celebrate right here in The Ham with jambalaya and king cake.  We saw Paula Deen make jambalaya on her show this past weekend, so we gave it a try.  It was great, and it wasn't much more work than opening a box of our usual Zattaran's mix.  Paula's original recipe uses smoked sausage and shrimp.  I am not a shrimp girl - I am a chicken girl, so that is what we used (it's good to be the cook).  The jambalaya had a nice flavor and a little kick to it.  It had good heat, but it wasn't overwhelming.  I made our favorite cheesy biscuits to go with the jambalaya.  YUM!  You can't just eat one (or two or three)!

adapted from Paula Deen
(Printable Recipe)

Jambalaya Mix, recipe follows
2 1/2 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 pound fully cooked smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large boneless chicken breast
1 Tbsp oil

In a Dutch oven, heat oil and add chicken.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink.  Add jambalaya mix, water, tomatoes, tomato sauce and smoked sausage. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Jambalaya Mix:
1 cup long-grain rice
3 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine rice, onion, parsley, beef bouillon, thyme, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and bay leaf. Pour into cellophane bag. Store in an air-tight container.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lime and Ponzu Filet

I recently received a bottle of Kikkoman's Lime Ponzu sauce through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program.  We were grilling filets for Valentine's Day, so we decided to use the ponzu on our filets.  I mixed up a simple marinade of ponzu, lime juice and garlic, and let it marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.  We grilled it to a medium/medium rare temperature.  The steak was really good!  It had a nice sweetness from the citrus.  We both really enjoyed it.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it because I do not like Asian flavors; this did not taste Asian to me at all.  I am so glad that I was able to participate in the Tastemaker Program and receive a free bottle of the ponzu.  I would have NEVER bought it on my own and it turns out that I reallly like it!  I am going to try the lime ponzu on some chicken next (shocking, I know). 

Lime and Ponzu Filets
(Printable Recipe)

1 cup Kikkoman Lime Ponzu sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 filets

Mix together ponzu, lime juice and garlic.  Pour over filets.  Let marinate for 2 hours in refrigerator.  Grill to desired temperature.

Since it was Valentine's Day, I had to have something heart shaped.  I made my favorite simple parmesan garlic rolls and shaped them into hearts.  They turned out so cute!  They were really easy to make.  Unroll a refrigerated breadstick, roll the two sides together until they meet, pinch the bottom together to make a heart shape and viola! you have heart shaped rolls!!

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Monday, February 15, 2010

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