Sunday, July 26, 2009

Green Chile Burgers

After seeing Bobby Flay's Throwdown on the Food Network this past week, I've been dying to try a green chile burger. These were easy and delicious. Next time I will plan ahead and roast my own chile peppers. We used canned green chiles to save on time because we were hungry!

85/15 Ground Beef
salt, pepper, garlic salt
2 cans chopped green chiles (or fresh roasted Anaheim, poblano, jalapeno, or any other pepper )
colby-monterey jack cheese
hamburger buns
ketchup, mayo, mustard, etc.

1. Mix ground beef with salt and pepper and form into patties.
2. Drain green chiles and place into foil packet. Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt.
3. Place foil packet on top shelf of grill (on indirect heat) and grill beef patties (on direct heat) until desired temperature.
4. Melt cheese on top of burgers.
5. Top with green chiles and desired condiments.

Cake Balls

These are one of the desserts I have become known for and I love making them, but they are very time consuming. I know the name sounds funny. But after you taste one of these little bites of heaven, you will never laugh at the name again. I first heard of these on my nesties' board and found them on Bakerella's blog.

You can use any flavor cake/icing/chocolate combination. I've made a ton of these: chocolate cake with chocolate icing, strawberry cake with cream cheese icing, yellow cake with chocolate icing, funfetti cake with rainbow chip icing, etc. I've dipped them in chocolate, white chocolate, rolled them in nuts, sprinkles, and drizzled them with chocolate. The different flavor combinations are endless. My favorite ones were cherry chip cake with white icing dipped in chocolate.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Restaurant Review: ELMER SUDDS

So after seeing an article in the paper a few weeks ago about a local bar offering gourmet pizzas and locally brewed beer, we decided we needed to check it out. After work on Friday, Randy and I headed to Elmer Sudds ( for our three favorites: beer, pizza, and wings. Elmer Sudds is a small bar located in the Heights section of Wilkes-Barre. It's been there forever and still has the charm it did when I was there years ago for my cousin's joint bachelor/bachelorette party. It's dark, hot, and tiny.

We started with 2 local brews from a local brewing company called Breaker Brewing Company ( I had Goldies Strawberry Blonde, a light wheaty beer. It was easy to drink, but I didn't taste any hint of strawberry. Randy had Anthracite Ale, a dark beer, reminiscent of Guinness with a hint of coffee. It was a smooth, good sipping beer.

We got the Greek gourmet pizza and a dozen butter garlic wings. The pizza was square, sliced into 8 slices. It had a nice and crispy, yet light crust. It was topped with red sauce, kalamata olives (yum), yellow and red bell peppers, mozzarella and feta cheeses, and topped with oregano. (We 86ed the red onions.) It was delicious. I loved the combination of olives and peppers. The feta made it a perfectly salty pizza. I'd rate it an 8, if it had fresh mozzarella, it would have been a 10.

The wings came out right after the pizza. Let me tell you, these were the largest wings I have ever seen at a restaurant. They were huge and covered in loads of minced garlic and sitting in a nice puddle of butter. They came with celery (or carrots) and blue cheese. They were extra crispy, clean, meaty, and garlicky. They were awesomely garlic. Randy thought there was an obscene amount of garlic and scraped some off of his wings. I scooped more onto mine. We were pretty stinky the rest of the night.

The food at Elmer Sudds was really good. You can tell they take pride in it. They offer standard bar fare such as appetizers, sandwiches, pizza, and wings with their own touches. I would go back to try their goat cheese pizza next and maybe their crab cakes. The only thing that was lacking was air conditioning, we were so hot. Poor Randy was sweating. And the atmosphere is nothing great, it's your standard, dark pub. My only complaint is they didn't have any Michelob, but they do have over a hundred other brews.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fourth of July "FIZZBALL" Cake

So every Fourth of July, we head to the Shady Lane cousins' house. They have a huge party every year filled with the four Fs: Food, Fun, Fireworks and Fizzball. Yes, Fizzball. You may ask what is Fizzball? Well, Fizzball is a drinking game created by my cousins' friends. Basically, it's a drunken game of baseball. A can of (awful, skunky, nasty) beer (such as Milwaukee's Best) is shaken and pitched to the batter. The batter uses a bat, paddle, etc. to hit the can of beer. Points are given by a panel of judges and are based on style, flair, bribery, etc. If the batter strikes out, he must drink the nasty can of beer.

Here's a pic of the Suckhead Mooses. My husband, Randy, is at the left, my Uncle Bill is in the center, and my cousin, Bill, is at the right. The did not win this year. They had cool moose hats, though.
This year I was tasked with making the Fizzball Cake. I dedicated it to last year's winners (the Swinging Sams) and the runners up (the Suckhead Mooses, which happens to be my husband's team). Of course I had to get a nasty beer in there somewhere (sorry, Mountain Crest lovers).

I used a french vanilla boxed cake since I wasn't entirely sure if this cake would be eaten or smashed. (It was eaten!) I dyed the batter red, white, and blue for the Fourth, and frosted it with my Very Vanilla Buttercream Icing. I've been told it tastes like vanilla ice cream.

Very Vanilla Buttercream Icing (makes enough to frost a sheet cake)
2 pounds of powdered sugar (make sure it's 10X)
2 sticks of salted butter (room temperature)
4-6 tablespoons water (or any other liquid of choice)
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I use Madagascar)

Beat butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla until smooth.
Add powdered sugar and water until you reach desired consistency.
Stir in last teaspoon of vanilla.
Frost away!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

To Die For Blueberry Muffins‏

I have been searching for a blueberry muffin recipe for the past few days. A plain, ole' blueberry muffin recipe, nothing fancy. So I headed over to where I go digging for recipes: to my fellow nesties' board. Someone suggested this recipe from All recipes. I did, however, make a few alterations: I added a 1/2 cup of extra blueberries and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I got 15 small cupcake-sized "muffins." I will make these again. I wrapped these up to bring with us on a bus trip to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival. This is our second trip to the New York festival and this year we are going with two friends. I figured these would be the perfect breakfast before sipping wine.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ladybug Cake

This was a last minute cake. My cousins from Long Island, New York came to visit us for the Fourth of July. It also happened to be my cousin, Judy's birthday, so I whipped her up a surprise cake, cause that's what I do. She loves ladybugs and since I didn't have much time to prepare I searched the Internet for inspiration. I found this cake here.

I made a two-layer round white cake (from a box) and filled it with my homemade vanilla buttercream. I had to use an entire container of "no taste red" Wilton red gel to get the buttercream icing the correct shade of red. For the black icing, I started with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting and added black gel until it was dark enough. For a last minute cake, it didn't come out too bad.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Golf Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for my wonderful husband's birthday. He is one year younger than me and never lets me forget it. Randy loves to golf, so I knew right away I needed to make him golf-themed cupcakes. We went bowling for his birthday with a bunch of friends. We had a good time and the cupcakes were a hit. Not one was left at the end of the night. The cupcakes were french vanilla with a raspberry filling, topped with cream cheese icing tinted green. It was hard work to pipe the icing to look like grass on each cupcake. But it was worth it, since I loved the way these turned out. I did go back and push all the "points" on the "golf balls" down to make them round.

Coconut birthday cupcakes

So now that the word is out that I make cakes, I'm getting bombarded with requests. And, I'm loving it! These cupcakes were for Randy's friend, Matt. His birthday was in June and we went bowling for his birthday, too. I was so excited to make these cupcakes because Matt requested coconut. I love coconut and no one else I know does, so I never get a chance to make anything coconut. The cupcakes were vanilla tie-dyed all different colors. I iced them with coconut buttercream and rolled them in flaked coconut. They were delicious and Matt was very happy. I was told everyone loved them (even my coconut-hating husband).

Coconut Buttercream Icing (makes enough to frost 24-30 cupcakes)
1 pound of powdered sugar (make sure it's 10X)
1 stick of salted butter (room temperature)
2-4 tablespoons milk (or any other liquid of choice)
2 teaspoons coconut extract (I used imitation)

Beat butter and coconut extract until smooth.
Add powdered sugar and milk until you reach desired consistency.
Frost cupcakes.
Dip frosted tops in flaked coconut.

My Godchild's Communion Cake

Two weeks after Sheila's birthday, she received Communion. And like a good godmother, I offered to make her cake. I think this cake looked better than her birthday cake, but the icing still cracked. I'm attributing it to the meringue powder in the Wilton buttercream icing recipe. I've been trying out different icings to combat this problem. I also used a new toy I purchased from Michael's: the Wilton letter press to help me with writing on cakes. I wish the letters were larger, but it looks much better than freehand. The cake was french vanilla with pink vanilla buttercream. I topped the cake with a cross made out of purple roses and maroon drop flowers I learned how to make in the Wilton Course 1 cake decorating class. I was happy with the outcome of this cake and so was my godchild and her parents. They thanked me in front of everyone at the party.

My First Cake

Here is the first decorated cake I made. It was for my godchild Sheila on her eighth birthday. The cake was marble with vanilla buttercream frosting. The ladybugs were made out of chocolate. This cake took me forever to decorate. The icing cracked and I was unhappy with the way it turned out. Sheila, the birthday girl, loved it, and no one seemed to notice all the imperfections.

Toffee-Studded Snickerdoodles with a Chocolate Drizzle

I puffy heart cookies. I never met a cookie I didn't like. Especially snickerdoodles that deliver cinnamon-toffee goodness. I was looking for a snickerdoodle recipe that didn't call for shortening and I came across this recipe on the Milk & Honey blog. They were awesome and addicting, two of a cookie's best qualities.

My first post

After much thought (and coaxing), I finally decided to start a blog to show off my skills and blunders in the kitchen. Hope you enjoy.