Monday, March 30, 2009


Cooking "al carbon"--grilling over charcoal--is a great specialty of northern Mexico. One of the best ways to appreciate their cooking technique is in tacos al carbon, for which the meat, after being marinated and grilled, is coarsely diced or thinly sliced and then folded into warmed corn tortillas along with guacamole, salsa, and a grilled green onion-the standard edible garnish for this dish. (I substituted sauteed onions and peppers for the green onion)
My niece was here visiting for a while and she kept talking about this wonderful "taco" that someone made for her back in January. She gave me the name, but didn't have a recipe. So I went searching for it. I found the basic recipe and then she gave me the "spins" that this man put on it. If you are pressed for time, you can substitute pre-made, store bought salsa (Pace is best). But DO NOT try to use a substitute for the marinade. It makes the steak SO juicy and flavorful!

Step 1:


1 - 10 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 - 4 oz can, chopped chiles w/ juice (can also use jalapenos)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1 tsp. Cumin

Place all ingredients in blender and whirl until well combined.

Use With Two Pounds:

Pork tenderloin, or
Chicken breasts, or
Beef tenderloin, or
Flank steak

Pour marinade in large resealable plastic food bag. Mix well.
Add meat, seal the bag and turn over several times to
coat meat thoroughly. Place bag in refrigerator, turning bag occasionally
8 hours or overnight.

Remove meat from marinade.
  1. Preheat a gas grill (medium high) or light a charcoal fire and let it burn down until the coals are evenly white. Adjust the rack to 6-inches above the heat source. Lay the flank steak on the rack and grill it, covered, turning the steak once, for a total of about 12 minutes for medium-rare, or until done to your liking. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Brush the green onions lightly with olive oil and lay them on the grill rack. Cover and cook, turning them once, until they are just lightly browned and becoming tender, a total of 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer them to a platter. (I substituted sauteed onions and peppers for the green onion)
  3. Carve the flank steak across the grain and at a slight angle into 1/2-inch slices. Cut the slices crosswise into 1/2-inch cubes. Serve immediately, accompanied by the grilled onions, tortillas, guacamole and salsa. The best way to enjoy your tacos al carbon is with steak that is grilled med-rare. This batch shown here is about medium to medium well. The longer you cook your steak, the tougher it gets. You can see the importance of letting it rest for a few minutes - the juice has a chance to redistribute and when you slice the meat, it's so juicy.

Step 2: Assembly

Warm flour tortillas
Grilled steak
3/4 loaf Velveeta, cut into chunks
1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
1 large green pepper, sliced thin
1 large yellow pepper, sliced thin
Pico de gallo (homemade is best - but can substitute prepared salsa)
Chopped lettuce
Guacamole (homemade is best - but can substitute store bought)
Sour cream

Heat a cast iron skillet to med high. Drizzle with olive oil. Place onions and peppers into hot skillet and saute until soft and opaque.
Place Velveeta chunks in microwave safe bowl and heat until melted. You can thin it with milk if it seems too thick. It should be a cheese sauce, not watery, but you need to be able to pour it.
Begin with the warm tortilla, place meat down the middle, top with sauteed onions and peppers, drizzle melted Velveeta over that. Top with Pico de gallo and guacamole. Fold it all up like a burrito and turn it seam side down. Drizzle with more Velveeta, sprinkle with chopped lettuce and add a dollop of sour cream.
Prepare your tastebuds for a party!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I made these for dessert, for a banquet, that I catered this past weekend. I wanted to go with a "lighter" dessert, rather than cheesecake, pie or cake. Everyone loved these. The funny thing is, they were SO easy to do. I made homemade hot fudge and homemade caramel sauce to top the Turtle ones with. Then my precious daughter in law, Monica, made homemade fruit compote, as a second choice.
The puffs are made with simple puff pastry. Super quick and fun. And who doesn't like ice cream?!

*Side note* Both the hot fudge and the caramel sauce, make tremendous edible gifts. Why not make a double batch and plan to give some away as a pick-me-up, to someone who needs it? You can bottle the sauces individually in mason jelly jars. Deliver it with a carton of nice, vanilla ice cream and watch their faces light up!


Vegetable cooking spray
1 (17.3 oz.) package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets)
Vanilla Ice Cream
Hot Fudge Sauce - recipe follows
Caramel Sauce

Chopped pecans or walnuts

Thaw the pastry at room temperature for 40 minutes or until it’s easy to handle. Spray 12 (2 1/2-inch) muffin pan cups with cooking spray. Heat the oven to 375°F.

Unfold the pastry sheets, one at a time, on a lightly floured surface. Roll the sheet into a 12 x 9-inch rectangle. Cut into 12 (3-inch) squares. A pizza cutter works really well, to cut the squares. Use a small rolling pin to further press each piece into a 5" square. Prick each one with a fork, several times. Press squares into the prepared muffin pan cups.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a small knife, cut a small slit in the puffed center and gently push down. Remove pastry cups from pan and cool completely.

Fill each pastry cup with a scoop of ice cream, drizzle with hot fudge sauce, and hot caramel sauce. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.


3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
1/2 cup evaporated milk (I used heavy whipping cream)
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir together sugar and cocoa in small saucepan; blend in milk and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils; boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm. Mmm!

This is the Fruit compote sundae that we served, as a second choice. My daughter in law, Monica made the fruit for these. You can find the recipe on her blog. I think the group was about half and half on the choices. This one was like berry pie ala mode!

You can see how large I roll out each individual pastry section. They really overlap in the pan, but they puff right up and bake up nicely in the oven.
Here it is step by step in pics so you can get a better idea how it all works.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I forgot how awful the picture was for this recipe! I just made it for a banquet this weekend too, and should have snapped a new picture of it for the blog. Oh well, next time.
I get asked for this recipe all the time. It's so delicious, moist, sweet. A real keeper! This recipe is already posted here on my blog, in the Hawaiian section, but very few can find it. So I decided to bring it to the front for those that asked about it this weekend. You can also use this same recipe to coat shrimp.


1 cup Angel Flake Coconut
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1" strips
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter or margarine

Dipping Sauce

1 cup apricot preserves

2T Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix coconut, flour, salt, pepper and garlic pwder in medium bowl. Dip chicken strips into egg, then coat with coconut mixture. Place in a shallow baking pan; drizzle with melted butter. Bake 25 minutes or until chicken is browned and cooked through, turning once. Serve with Apricot Dipping Sauce (mixture of apricot preserves and Dijon mustard) or Honey mustard.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


This is my first post on Tablescape Thursday. I've been doing them on my own, all along. Terrie told me the other day, about a group of women who get together and post pics of their tablescapes. So I jumped right in to join them! If this is something that you enjoy doing, you can head over to "Between naps on the porch" site and join in the fun!

My Honey is Irish, so St. Patrick's Day is ALWAYS celebrated in our house. We do everything green (that's probably not all Irish, but it's fun anyway!)

Here is my St Patricks Day table. I did a practice run, so I would know how I want to set it up, next week. I went with gold accents because of the Leprechaun's pot o' gold!

It wouldn't be a special day at PawPaw and MooMoo's house without a special treat for the grandbabies! So the little mesh bags in the forefront are filled w/ goodies just for them!
The "centerpiece" is just a cake stand with metallic green paper shreds. Then a wide mouth vase filled with Kelly green Christmas bulbs. I tied a wire accent around the outside of it, that has clovers entwined on it.

I made the runner for the table. I stopped at Walmart to see if they had any St Pat's material and they only ONE bolt left, and this was it. It's a sheer stiff fabric with glittery appliques on it. Wouldn't have been my first choice, if they would have had others, but it still turned out cute. Was a pain to press though! I had to cover it w/ a tea towel. I just hope nobody spills on it over dinner! haha

The little metallic wire "trees" w/ clover leaves, I picked up at Dollar Tree.

I just tied a ribbon around the napkins. I found this for less than a dollar at Walmart.

I also made little Leprchaun placecards for our guests. On the day of our dinner, I'll write each person's name on the hat.

I found these cute little plastic tumblers at Walmart - 4 for $1. I bought enough for each person to take one home, as a reminder of their visit with us that day. We plan to celebrate on the 15th (Sunday). We'll have a busy weekend. I am catering a banquet on Saturday for our church family, and several college students (friends of our daughters) will be coming in for the banquet, and staying the weekend with us. I thought it would be fun to have this dinner with them on Sunday. They probably don't get to do this kind of thing much. So we'll spoil them and love on them a little, while they are guests here.

THANKS for visiting! Erin Go Bragh!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


First of all, let me tell you, this is like no banana pudding dessert you have ever had! This one is, how does my Honey say it, "make your socks roll up and down on your legs good!" haha
I've been making this for years. It was one of my precious Father-in-law's favorites. The only thing about it is, the Chessmen cookies can sometimes be a challenge to find in your store, if you live in a smaller town. But don't substitute - it is worth the hunt for them! You can usually find them at the larger chain grocery stores, like Walmart or Meijer.


2 bags of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 bananas, sliced
3 1/2 cups low fat milk
2 small boxes, Instant, Sugar free, French Vanilla pudding mix
1 (8 oz) 1/3 less fat, cream cheese
1 (14 oz) can, fat free, sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 oz) Light Cool Whip, thawed

Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with 1 bag of the chessmen cookies (single layer). Top with the sliced bananas (you don't have to lay the bananas neatly, just pile them evenly over the cookies). Blend milk with pudding mix and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the condensed milk and beat with mixer until smooth. Fold in Cool whip. Add pudding to this mixture and fold with rubber spatula until well combined. Pour mixture over the top of the bananas. Cover with remaining bag of Chessmen cookies (single layer). Refrigerate for at least an hour or two, to allow time for the pudding & cream cheese to set up and get thick. Serves anywhere from 12 - 20, depending on the size of your servings. It's a thick dessert, so I cut mine where the cookies separate and get 20 - 24 servings out of a pan.
*NOTE* Don't make this too far in advance, as the cookies will get soggy if left in the fridge too long. It's much better when the cookies still have a bit of a crunch to them.


I'm SO ready for Spring!! I just had to do a green table today, to remind me that the "official" start of Spring is only 20 days away! Yippee! But MI is known for it's snow and ice storms in late March and even April! Still, I had to hold myself back from digging out my Gerber daisy napkin rings! I thought purple and yellow flowers were rushing it just a tad. This is a simple tablescape, but hey, I'm a simple kind of woman! I think it looks clean and neat and I like things matching or at least blending. I'm not into all the mismatched shapes and designs (just yet anyway!)

If you have the extra cupboard space, and you ever find a "funky" colored set of goblets for sale somewhere (like Goodwill or a garage sale) you should totally get them! If you like doing tablescapes at all, you will love having colored goblets to pop out on the table, just for something different. I have a deep purple set and this green set and we use them quite often.
In a couple of weeks, we'll have fun doing a St Patrick's day table. I'll probably use this same linen set, but we'll jazz it up quite a bit with clovers and "green" food!


I almost forgot to add our Valentine tablescape! Nothing extremely fancy. I used my pillar candles, along with some strands of red beads and red ribbon, red flower petals and some red cut out hearts. The little red votive holders have the letters K-I-S-S on them and I picked them up on the clearance rack last year after Valentine's day! This red tablecloth & napkin set holds a lot of sentimental value to me. The first year we were at our old church - 1987 (as youth pastor) the church bought us a brand new dining room set. That same year, we did Secret Sisters at our church. My secret sister that year was VERY good to me. Right after the church gave us the dining room set, she gave me the table linens for Christmas! I've used it every year on Christmas morning since then. It still looks like new, as I take very good care of it. I can't use it without thinking fondly of Bea. She's in Heaven now, but every time I use this set I think of her, and her kindness to me and my family, while we were there.

We had dinner guests that day - Bob & Sue McWilliams. Very sweet people. Getting very involved in the church and it's exciting to see their growth in the Lord!