“How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?”

That was a quote of Julia Child. She really was a funny funny woman. But since having my very first attempt at trying to make bread today, I am feeling pretty accomplished since it doesn’t taste like kleenex!

To my knowledge, I followed the recipe to a T for making Hawaiian Buns. Obviously, I need more practice runs with this ingredient called YEAST.

This so called "Sponge" seemed quite dry.
This so called “Sponge” seemed quite dry.

The recipe called that ^^ a Sponge. It didn’t seem wet enough. But I left it alone.  Those little yeast beasts are in it. Sitting. Waiting.  hhmmm.

So then all the wet goodness mixed up and with the flour and salt and it all went in the mixer… as an after thought from baking, I might have needed to KNEAD it a little longer.

And now we wait. 2 hours.
                And now we wait. 2 hours.

I let the big ball, sit for almost 2 hours. The recipe called for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It definitely doubled in size. I thought that was all I was suppose to look for. I just don’t think so.

Then I read that it goes in the oven for 20-25 minutes, however it also says to use a thermometer and the bread will be done at 190*.  It didn’t say either/or.

So in goes the bread balls (I want buns for black & blue burgers this weekend). I set the timer, and the thermometer is inserted into one of the balls of dough. 15 minutes in and the thermometer goes off. 190* came fast. I peeked a look at the buns and they sure didn’t look done. Barely browned on top. So I gave them five more minutes.  Burned on the bottom :/ and don’t taste like Hawaiian Rolls AT ALL, but they do taste good. Soft and fluffy in the middle, but not as hard as they look on the outside. (except on the bottom)

Cindi's Version of Hawaiian (Not King) Rolls
      Cindi’s Version of Hawaiian                      (Not King) Rolls

Ok, so they won’t be used for Black and Blue Burgers… but will definitely be a great addition for the creamy potato soup I’m making tomorrow.

Ok, if you have a minute, is kneading longer a possible fix, or maybe just sitting longer than 2 hours to rise? And is that dry Sponge a major problem? The recipe came from the blog of King Arthur Flour, so I was sure it was going to be great.  But I am positive it’s me, not them.

Happy Wednesday!


Cabernet Kielbasa Macaroni & Cheese

I had a special request this morning from our new family member. Macaroni and Cheese, please.  Little One knows there won’t be any boxes of Mac & Cheese around here, so he was ready to help.  Since he asked to be in charge of the noodles, he chose elbow, I was able to cook up some kielbasa to surprise him with some meat in his breakfast.

In a large pot, I browned up a pound of Polska Kielbasa. After it got a bit crusty on the bottom of the pot, I poured in about a half cup of Cabernet Red Wine to de-glaze the bottom. Let it cook down about 10 minutes. I then removed the Kielbasa from the pot, leaving the bits and juices in the pot, whisked in the butter and flour to a paste, and added milk and heavy cream (it takes less time getting thick if you have warmed up, not boiled, the milk/cream beforehand), when it started to

Caberney Kielbasa Cheese Sauce
          Cabernet Kielbasa Cheese Sauce

thicken, turned off heat and added Gruyere, Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheese. Sprinkled in salt,  pepper, ground nutmeg, fresh thyme & garlic powder.

Added Kielbasa to the cheese mixture and mixed thoroughly before adding the pasta. Sprinkled with a dash of salt and a few pinches of smoked paprika.

Baked in a 350* oven just until the top was browned and sauce was bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Cabernet Kielbasa Mac & Cheese
Cabernet Kielbasa Mac & Cheese


Kosher salt
1 lb Polska Kielbasa
1/2 c Cabernet
1 box elbow macaroni
2 c milk
2 c heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 c shredded Gruyere Cheese
1 c  shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
2 c  shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Mexican Lasagna. More is Better.

Had a serious craving for garlic, onions and everything spicy last night. Surprised myself with the final outcome. Everything went so well together.

Ground beef, chopped onions & garlic cloves
Ground beef, chopped onions & garlic cloves

First I In a large pot, brown 4 pounds ground beef, salt & pepper to taste, Drain. Add chopped onion, garlic, add taco seasoning and 2 cups chicken stock;. Let that simmer while  melting butter and flour in a medium size pot, whisk until mixed well and add 2 cups of chicken stock; bring to a boil and when thickened turn down heat to simmer.

Jalepeno Cheese Sauce
                  Jalepeno Cheese Sauce

Stir in 2-3 Tbl cayenne powder, 1 c shredded pepper jack cheese, can of

green chillis, 1 Tbl garlic powder and two hefty pinches of salt. Turn heat off for both pots.

Using a large casserole dish, begin layer one – overlap cut tortillas across bottom, covering as much of dish as possible. Spoon in meat mixture, spoon cheese sauce over meat, sprinkle black beans, tomatoes, jalapenos and about a cup of pepper jack cheese, start over with layer two,

1st Layer... Mexican Lasagna
1st Layer…Mexican Lasagna

and then three. End the top layer with either, or both, of the cheeses.

Cook in 350* oven for 35-45 minutes, until browned on top.

Serve with lettuce, sour cream, and chopped olives.


Ingredients for Meat Mixture & Cheese Sauce:
4 lbs ground beef
1 chopped onion
4 chopped garlic cloves
1 32 oz box Chicken Stock, divided
16 oz shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne powder
1/2 c Taco Seasoning (recipe below)
1 stick butter
1/4 c flour
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies
2-4 tsp cayenne powder, optional

1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, chopped, seeds removed
2 jalepenos, chopped, seeds removed or not
12-15 medium size tortillas, cut in half
Shredded lettuce, Sour Cream, Chopped Olives


2 Tbl chiles  powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbl ground cumin

Mexican Lasagna
Mexican Lasagna


And Then It Was Fall…

Here we are, October. What will you give us this year? I think I’m ready.

As with all of you, I imagine, the past few months have been non-stop craziness. Some good, some bad, some I could have lived without and some I miss terribly. But for the most part, I found myself in my garden or in the kitchen before, during and after said craziness. Thankfully, both did wonders on my psyche. I don’t know what took me so long to get where I am this day. This actual moment. But I cannot tell you what that garden, and kitchen, has done for me.

And speaking of the infamous garden! She is huge-mongous! The okra is STILL putting out the most delish fruit. And all the broccoli, spinach, lettuce, arugula, collards, green beans, cannelloni beans , potatoes, squash, carrots, tomatoes, etc just seem so damn happy. 🙂  Unlike the spring/summer garden, there haven’t been any bug problems to speak of, and no squirrel issues (yet), everything is just so pretty & tasty! Although, I can’t keep my mind from wondering about the Spring garden. There is just so much I want to grow. I think I need a bigger Fall Garden October 6, 2015garden. I’m thinking actually plowing up some of the yard for the corn, okra and tomatoes this coming year. I don’t know how I’ll get around all the critters visiting, I’m still working on that. :/

I have been in a quandary trying to figure out when and how some of the produce is suppose to be planted and harvested. Especially my fruit trees and bushes. It seems the good ol’ internet is a little confused as well. Being in North Florida, finding out what zone we are in depends on who you talk to…. and it also depends on the fruit, vegetable, & flower you are trying to get information about. So I have ruined a few things along the way. Oh well, you win some you lose some, I guess. I’m just really bummed that I won’t get any Meyers Lemons this year because I listened to the wrong people… and I let too many birds get a hold of the green fruit early on. So… I wait another year. I’ll be better prepared November, 2016.

I am excited about the list of experiments in the kitchen as well, the past couple of months. I won’t bore you with all the foods, but having to cook for so many on a weekly basis is actually fun, even though it is very exhausting. Depending on the dates, I cook for four to eighteen different people in a month, so they will have meals through out the week where ever it is they live. Florida is a big State! Thankfully, I don’t have to deliver. ha!  I am trying to convert from electric to gas for cooking. I have never used gas before, but I am so excited for the change. It has to be better than what I have used my whole life. I am so over uneven cooking :/   Plus there’s a new stove in the deal! (obviously lol)

I had fun playing with  food the last couple months… I hope you did too!

Happy eating!

Just some favorites

Fatboy Croutons

Fatboy Croutons

Do you make your own croutons? I hadn’t until I saw them made on a cooking show a few years ago… they could not be easier and dang they are good. And of course, when you make your own breadcrumbs you can switch it up by adding fresh herbs &/or cheese.  This batch was made with a big loaf of bread from the Farmer’s Market, I bought last weekend.

I cubed up the loaf into bigger than normal bite-sized pieces; spread the pieces out on a cookie sheet, and slowly drizzled my favorite flavored olive oil over all the pieces. (This oil was infused with Fresh Rosemary).  I then sprinkled fresh Thyme, cracked pepper and a big pinch of salt across the bread. Then, mixed it up to make sure everything was evenly distributed and placed in the 375* preheated oven.

Five to seven minutes later…. Yumiliciousness that made me forget about the salad I was suppose to make to go with them. lol

Love these as a snack anytime of day!


Grammy’s Mushroom Pie

I haven’t had this pie in many years, but the cravings have been hard and heavy, lately, for this savory mushroom and Swiss cheese goodness.  Mushrooms

My Grandmother made it for the Men’s Church Group every week, my Mother tells me. I think it is just too good to keep in the ‘Special Recipes’ cookbook. But Please… Don’t take my word for it. If you love mushrooms and swiss cheese as much as I do… take it and run with it! You won’t be disappointed.

Grammy’s Mushroom Pie     Mushroom & Swiss Pie

Prepare the crust. Do Not Bake, Use a 9″ Pie Dish.

Pre-heat oven to 375*

3 Tbl butter
1 Cup thinly sliced onions
2 lbs sliced mushrooms (any types you choose)
1 tsp salt and a dash of pepper
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 lbs shredded Swiss cheese ( or 8 oz Swiss & 8 oz Monterrey Jack)

* Optional – I added a couple sprinkles of Hungarian Sweet Paprika – in honor of my Poppop who was Hungarian AND sweet   :o)

Melt Butter in Skillet over Medium Heat, then add onions. Saute until onions are clear; Add mushrooms, salt, pepper, Worcestershire Sauce, & lemon juice, and saute’ for another 10 minutes, until mushrooms have cooked through.
Drain Off Juices, and combine mushrooms and shredded cheese. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Set top of pie crust and brush with a light egg wash.
Bake 30-40 Minutes in a 375* oven.
Mushroom Pie

Cinfully Blue… Berry Crumble

Yep, this is my newest Craving. I have made it over 6 times in the last two weeks for friends and clients, and have about 6 more to make before the end of the month. I should have taken more photos, but this is the one everyone uses to say “I want THIS one!” lol   I need more Skillets….

I haven’t made it with canned or frozen blueberries and raspberries yet. So I don’t know the amounts to use for those.

Cinfully Blue - Berry Crumble 7 12 15


For the blueberry filling:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • about 3 pounds blueberries
  • about 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 3-4 teaspoon butter

For the crumble topping:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 oats
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 8 pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

To make the blueberry filling: On medium heat, in a medium-sized sauce pan, stir together sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until melted. Add blueberries & raspberries and gently toss to coat. Mix together cornstarch slurry and lemon juice and stir into berries to incorporate. Butter the cast iron skillet and add berry mixture.

To make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients, add in butter pieces and combine with hands until crumbly.

Top blueberries with crumb topping. Place in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake until golden and bubbling, another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving…. With Vanilla Ice Cream, of course.