Monday, July 23, 2012

House of J now on Etsy!!

House of J is now on!

I am so excited. I have the most supportive and amazing hubby in the world. I love creating and I love to cook and bake.

This blog is about helping you do things yourself with easy laid back instructions but I get that sometimes you don't have the time,patience or energy so I'll do it!

I am just starting out professionally but it has been a passion of mine for a long long time. I love planning kids parties and I just cannot wait an entire year for Jacob and Julia to have a birthday, so please let me help with yours!

I only have a few things listed at the moment, but the possibilities are endless. Email me @ and we can dream something up together. I can make you a private listing with a prototype of whatever it is you are looking for. 

Help support mom-owned and mom run businesses.

PS. if you are local and have a party related talent lets team up and do an event of some kind- I.E photography or face painting, makeup, whatever.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Puffed-up Pancakes

Who doesn't love pancakes?  

About 1 year ago I vowed to never ever eat pancakes made from a box ever again. I won't tell you why because it will scar you for life. I will tell you that it is so easy to do it yourself. Once you start you will never buy that box again.

After you've made them a few times it'll be second nature.

If you have a mixer, lovely. If not, get ready for upper body aerobics.

In your mixing bowl goes 1.5 cups self rising cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk on low for a few seconds just to combine.

Make a little ditch in the center of your ingredients and put 1 egg, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3/4 cup evaporated milk and 1/4 water. Use the paddle attachment or a whisk to slowly mesh the ingredients together. Once combined, turn your mixer on medium-low speed and mix until smooth.

I just want to point out that you can use 1 cup of milk in place of the evap milk and water, but the evaporated milk is a bit richer and silkier in consistency and adds a nice touch to the texture of the pancake. 

In the microwave goes 2 tablespoons butter. Add in the melted butter to your batter and whisk until combined.

Heat up your pan or griddle and cook until those little bubbles pop, flip, cook another minute.

Serve with syrup and fruit :) Lovely.

Don't forget Mickey Mouse if you have a munchkin :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fancy Julia and the Delectable Cupcakes


delightful; highly pleasing; enjoyable: a delectable witticism.
delicious: a delectable dinner.

We love Fancy Nancy...

We also love cupcakes...

The result: Vanilla cupcakes with banana creme pudding filling, chocolate ganache topping and sprinkles. mm mm mm.

I started with Billy's vanilla cupcake recipe, cut in half, because who needs 30 cupcakes, not us!

I did make a few adjustments of course. 

Even though the recipe was halved, I still used the full portion of vanilla extract. Another adjustment was 1/4 evaporated milk 1/4 almond milk instead of 1/2 cup milk. 

Side Note: Half of 3/4 is 1/4 and 2 tablespoons
The general rule of thumb for cupcakes is to fill the paper liner about 1/2 way. Because we were scooping out some cupcake for the pudding, I recommend filling 3/4 of the way. You want the cupcake top to sort of poof out over the paper. Like a shelf for the topping. Because we are filling the liners higher, I needed a cook time of 22 minutes.

I highly recommend spraying the top of the cupcake pan for easy release. I forgot too, and had to use a super sharp, super thin knife to slide under the tops to pop them out, resulting in a few scratches to my pan. BOO. 
For the banana creme pudding I used 2.5 mushy "nanas" 

1 cup almond milk 
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup sugar 
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Mix together with a blender, emulsion blender, or food processor and simmer on low heat until it bubbles and reaches a pudding like consistency, stirring constantly.

Throw that in the fridge until cooled. PS if you don't like "skin" on your pudding, put plastic wrap over it.

This made enough to fill the cupcakes plus 2 small pudding cups for Julia.

In the mean time, make the ganache.
1/2 cup heavy cream
6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips(roughly half the bag) 
Boil the cream and remove from heat. Toss in chocolate, stir and walk away...

Now would be a good time to make the cupcakes.. or nurse the baby...or...

clean up an ENTIRE container of cornstarch that your toddler "baked" with all over herself.the chair. the floor. her bedroom and her toys.

235436452364655 minutes later.. the ganache is ready (realistically, about 2.5 hours on the counter or 30 minutes in the fridge.

Once the cupcakes are cooled. Take a paring knife and cut a circle in the cupcake, about an inch in diameter and an inch deep. Fill with cooled pudding.

Place back in the fridge for a few minutes just to set the pudding.. In my house this happened to be bed time so it set in the fridge for story time and kisses.

Use the back of a spoon to spread the ganache over the cupcakes, about a teaspoon per cupcake. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles and top with a cherry. Or any other candy that suites your fancy.

The next day, after an awesome time at the park, and a nap and a change of clothes...SURPRISE!

"momma's cupcake my favorite" 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Schnitzel Ala Holstein and Mustard Mash


Have you ever planned a dinner in your head that you needed recipes for? It's one recipe here, another there. It's a pain. Here is a complete German style dinner all in one place.

Schnitzel is basically breaded veal cutlet. Holstein means it has a fried egg on top. It's one of hubby's favorite dinners.

I can't remember any time before meeting my darling husband that I had German food. Now breaded veal cutlet sure, My favorite Italian entree is called Veal Saltimbocca, which I will cook for you all at some point. Now I will also tell you that my favorite beer of all time is Lindeman's Lambic Belgian Kriek beer. Its cherry flavored and amazing. it comes in a big bottle and has a much higher alcohol content than regular beer. It even has a wine cork. Fancy Schmancy

On to the cooking...

You can buy veal leg and pound it thin or find it already pounded to "cutlet form" These were from Cafassso Fairway. Great meat selection if you don't mind the chaos and wackos.

The veal goes into a bowl with some milk, about 1/4 cup and about a half cup water. Put this in the refrigerator while you get your potatoes together. 3 small russet potatoes in a pan, filled half way with water. By the time you are finished with everything else, the potatoes will be tender.

The veal is coated twice, once with flour then bread crumbs.. 
Flour Mixture:
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp Mustard powder
2 tsp lemon pepper
2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp paprika
And Julia's adorable lil' pinchy fingers

I never measure my breadcrumbs out, I just eyeball it.

Take your veal and dredge in the flour mixture, then back into the milk/water and then into the bread crumbs. I used 3 cutlets for this recipe.

After the veal is coated make little slices in the veal going long ways and then across.. like a basket weave pattern, on both sides of the meat. Don't throw away your flour just yet.

In the pan goes 2 tablespoons butter. On medium-high heat the veal cooks  at about 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness.

While I make the gravy for the mashed potatoes I put the veal on a serving platter and in the oven on the "keep warm" setting, which is 170 degrees.

In the same pan throw in a pat of butter and scrape up all those veal drippings. To that, add onion, I used half of a small Vidalia onion rough chopped.Once the onions are cooked until see-through, toss in a tablespoon of that flour mixture from the veal.

With a fork or potato masher, crumble the tender potatoes. They are cooked through when you can easily put a fork through. Add in 1/2 tablespoon butter and about 3 tablespoons of milk. Mush until desired consistency. 
Hubby likes a chunky style mash with the skin left in but you are welcome to deskin and mush til smooth. Add in 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder, salt and pepper to taste and a dollop of sour cream.  Stick that in the oven also to keep it warm.

Next make your "ala Holstein" fry up two eggs in a pan.

On the dish go the veal, mash and the egg sits right on top of the veal. Serve with a slice of lemon.
You can pour the gravy right over the mash or serve on the side..

Don't forget to squeeze your lemon right over the veal before chowing down!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Martha's Custard + House of J Signature Caramel Topping= MMMMM

If I would have known that this dessert would have come out so yummy on the first try, I would have taken more photos during the process. So i apologize ahead of time for the lack of photography here..

If you are still with me...

I made an awesome vanilla custard last night. I try to make a dessert of some kind on weekends as a nice treat during a movie, or Sunday night HBO, like True Blood. (did you see Sookie and Alcid OMG). I didn't want something super heavy like cake, and I don't like making a whole batch of something unless I know I can pawn some away on visitors. I thought custard would be a summery, chilled treat and the recipe only made 4 servings, which was perfect for the weekend.

I started off with Martha Stewart's Vanilla Custard recipe. Here

But I made a few adjustments..The first adjustment is to boil the water that fills your roasting pan. Heating the water in the oven while it preheats didn't make it hot enough and will elongate cook time.

Another tip is to add another teaspoon of vanilla extract in the egg yolk mixture as well. This is especially important if you are using extract instead of the fresh scraped bean. Vanilla beans are $14.00 for 3 in a little jar at shoprite. I used the extract.

I also recommend cooking the full 30 minutes.

To add my own little twist I wanted to serve with a caramel sauce drizzle. Finding a good caramel sauce recipe was near impossible. I finally found one that looked great and seemed easy enough but it missed on some key elements and in the garbage it went..I've saved you the trouble :)

So I said to myself..."Mrs. J, you make your own dang caramel sauce" and I did.

It has a multitude of uses and as long as its kept air tight you can keep it in your fridge for weeks. 

Here goes... Start with 1 cup each of milk and heavy cream in a sauce pan on the lowest heat. You could use 1 scraped vanilla bean but like I said before, $14.00, man. I used 2 teaspoons extract, right in with the simmering milk and cream. In another sauce pan put in 1 cup granulated sugar on low heat. 

As the sugar dissolves and melts into a nice amber hue, use a metal spoon or spatula to keep it from sticking to the sides and bottom. This requires a constant eye. Continue to scrape and stir until all the sugar has liquefied. By now your milk and cream should be close to a boil, remove sugar and milk from heat and SLOWLY pour the milk mixture into the melted sugar. It will bubble up so go SLOW! Continuously stir the mixture while combining so that the sugar does not harden.

If your mixture hardens a bit, return to stove on lowest heat and stir until it melts again. Once combined, add in 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla and whisk until smoothed. Put in air tight canning jar or a squeeze bottle for convenience. I used the Wilton candy melting squeeze bottle because it's easy to clean. 1 recipe filled entire bottle. 

 Pour over custard, and in your coffee the next morning. 

 Or over a big bowl of frozen yogurt.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Can't be beat Boneless Buffalo Wings

Turns out, I love blogging.

 House of J doesn't have a particular theme set in stone just yet but I'd like to think its an all around guide on food and home. Through my trial and error I am hoping that the reader gets to try new things and even use me as a guide to recreate our own fabulous concoction.

 It only takes the desire and a little patience to cook and bake from scratch. In this post I am recreating a familiar restaurant classic that is totally doable, if not better than going out. Unless of course it's date night and you don't have to worry about a crazy toddler and an infant! Then by all means...GO OUT!

 So without further adieu...


 Hubby and I love boneless wings. As much as we love going to fancy restaurants and getting steak for 2 and wine and this and that. We re no stranger to just kicking back at Chilis. But if you watch any food channel show or any cooking related series you and everyone else out there knows that buffalo sauce is made with Franks Redhot and butter. I guess this upset them because their wings are totally different now. I guess since the cat is out of the bag they felt it necessary to change it up.

But we like it the old way.If you kicked it up restaurant style right in your own kitchen? Then you would have these!
Here is my method and recipe, enough for 2-3 chicken breasts.

 I started off making my "dry rub" 1 cup flour, and 1 teaspoon of Cayenne,Paprika,Onion, Garlic, Black Pepper and Salt. Mix together in a bowl. In another bowl combine half cup milk and a 1/4 cup of heavy cream and just a spritz of water. 

Cut your little chickens into bite size pieces and dip into milk and then dry rub. Once this is completed refrigerate for about 15 minutes. 
Right before taking out the chicken get a heavy bottom pot and fill with 5 cups high heat oil such as sunflower oil or peanut oil- non gmo canola oil exists, but other oils are better if you can find them. Heat on medium high heat until you start hearing the oil fizzing, that's when it's time to fry them up. While its heating dredge your chicken in the flour mixture again, they should still be wet enough where you don't need the milk mixture before hand. 

Chicken should be fried between 5-7 minutes depending on your preferences, we like crispity here so ours were in for 7 minutes. Only put it a few at a time so they don't stick together and all cook evenly. 
You can make your sauce and leave it while the chicken cooks or you can have 5 pots going at one time and flour in your hair like I usually do. Whatever's easier. 

It starts with something called "clarified butter" 2.5 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan. Melt the butter until it separates and use a spoon to take out all the white frothy bits.. Once clarified you're left with about 1 and 3/4 tablespoons.. To this, add 1/4 cup of Franks Redhot and simmer.

Turn off the heat and add one tablespoon vinegar and one tablespoon Tabasco. I know that sounds redundant but the mesh of the separate flavors really go together well. 

 Put the chickens and the sauce in a big bowl, cover and shake it like a Polaroid picture.. Big tough shakes to get that chicken coated... Serve up with Marie's super blue cheese ( our fave and contains no HFCS!) but if you are feeling extra Martha Stewarty there is an amazing blue cheese recipe here...I like this recipe because it has no mayo in it and who doesn't love putting liquor in dip?

Oh and P.S That glass in the background is filled with Harpoon's UFO. AGAIN. I wanted to give you all a new beer recommendation but it's just too perfect a beer for summer.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Drink gourmet this summer without the $$$

I love coffee.

The #1 money sucker of the summer has got to be iced coffee. It's delicious and refreshing and costs between $2-$8 a cup depending on what you get and where you get it. You can have a cup brewed from home just as great, if not better than what you can buy.

If you want to go all out, cold brewed coffee is especially great because it loses its bitterness, but if you can't wait 12-15 hours for a cup of coffee I totally understand. You can even go as far out as making your own flavored syrups. It can be as easy or as time consuming as you like. I'll give you the choice.

Brew your coffee and pour over 1 half cup of ice.
1 Tsp sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup of milk

Stir and Drink up!
I'm a lightly sweetened strongly brewed coffee gal, if you need it sweeter, adjust the sweetened condensed vs the regular. Such as 1 Tblspoon condensed and 1/8 cup milk.

Cold brewed coffee requires water,coffee filters,coffee grounds, a strainer and patience. If you dont have these, see recipe above.

1 lb ground coffee.
8 quarts of water
mix together in a big canister or bowl and leave on the counter overnight. In the morning, take a fine mesh strainer and line it with coffee filters and pour coffee through the strainer into a pitcher, replacing the filters when the coffee starts to pour more slowly. This is considered "coffee concentrate" and a little goes a long way.

My Perfect Glass:
Hand full of ice in a tall glass
fill with coffee half way
1 heaping teaspoon sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup milk.

Syrups are easy. I will give you two that can be done in no time at all.
1 cup water and 1 cup sugar boiled until sugar is dissolved
turn down heat to medium and simmer 4 minutes.

This is a basic simple syrup, too it you can add vanilla or almond extract or both! 1 tablespoon added in once at a boil and left to simmer along with water/sugar combo.

I have about a gazillion coffee recipes, so look out for more in an upcoming post because now we are moving on to a great-

Raspberry iced tea recipe:

4 quarts boiling water
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon 
1 tsp Raspberry Agave syrup
1pt raspberries
5 lemon tea bags
5 lipton tea bags

After the water is boiled, add in ingredients and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Once cooled, add in ice and refrigerate. I keep the raspberries in the water. It looks pretty in the glass and the longer the raspberries sit the better the tea tastes.. Don't be shocked when they turn white!

I served this for Julia's 2nd birthday and it was so delish we made it about 4 more times just for ourselves that same week. I'd like to say I only serve fresh brewed but I can't. I do buy the powdered mixes out of busy mom necessity but once Julia no longer says MMMM to a 90% watered down apple juice, If I'm too busy to make fresh teas and lemonades for my family we will all be drinking WATER!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Hubby said Teriyaki" Pork Chops

Me: "Hey Hun I have pork chops in the fridge that need to be cooked, are you hungry?"
Hubby: "Sure I could eat, how are you cooking them"
Me:"I don't know, with flour in a pan."
Hubby: 'Borrrrrrring, Howabout Teriyaki"

This is how most of my great recipes start out.

Asian flavors are the hardest to recreate at home in my honest opinion. So I like to say things like "Asian Inspired". It started out with basic ingredients you'd think of for a Teriyaki marinade, like Teriyaki sauce, HA! But no, it evolved into something outrageous.

Soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, ginger,fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and molasses. I slowly simmered the ingredients in a small saucepan for about 15 minutes to let it naturally thicken. Then I poured about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a pan, salt and peppered the pork chops and threw them in a pan. After letting the pork chops brown a little on one side *about 2 minutes* I started slowly pouring in the sauce, coating the pork chops and leaving a little bit for them to soak in while cooking. Every 2 minutes or so I'd add in a little more. After about 8 minutes I flipped them over and started the process again, Leaving just a little extra for serving on the side.

These were delicious, and the sauce stuck perfectly on the chop with the garlic. The molasses does get the sauce a bit sticky while its cooking, I added a few more drops of canola oil and used a spoon to pick up the crispy, sticky garlic pieces and excess sauce to baste the pork chops towards the end of cook time. SO MOIST!

I served with fresh green beans and brown rice and the extra marinade on the side. We poured it right over the rice!

Here is the break down:
1/4 cup soy
1/4 cup Teriyaki
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 gloves garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon ginger
Canola oil for the pan

2 boneless medium thick pork chops :) ENJOY!

Patriotic Pops

For a long while, I hated the idea of the "cake pop". It seemed gross to me. If you want some cake, have a piece of cake already.

I have since changed my mind. Its a cute idea and concept, and in the right setting makes more sense then a piece of cake with a plate and a fork and the whole thing.. And it's pretty yummy if made with love. 

Would I serve a cake pop in the dead of winter, probably not. But as a fun, summery treat, you betcha!

I really wanted to make them after trying a not so good one the other day. Julia and I went for our first mommy/daughter pedicure and I was afraid she wouldn't have the patience of sitting nicely for an hour so I used the 'if all else fails" method of, a SNACK! I won't say where we got it from but lets say it was a place that served $6 cups of coffee and likes the color green.

Anywho. Julia loved it because, well, its cake, its sweet and its on a stick. I took a taste and I actually said "eww" out loud. It was wet in the middle and way to sweet and tasted very "processed". I said to myself "I can totallllly make a better one" and I did.

I started with a basic vanilla cake recipe that I have in my arsenal of go-to's but because I knew it would be served in the heat, I adjusted the recipe to make it more summer friendly and better for holding a shape. I.E a round ball on a stick.

The preparation of the cake pop is pretty gross. Like a meatball, it requires lots of hand contact, if I was making this for a party, or non- family members I would've worn gloves, but because its just family and I don't have cooties, no gloves this time around. 

After getting them all into perfect little 2 inch circles you have to let them set in the fridge, at least for a few hours and better if overnight. I did try the freezing method as well because that seems to be popular in most blogs and recipes I found and truthfully, it may be faster but the taste is different and the dipping part is harder. 

When I made the cake Julia had gone to bed already so I was afraid to turn on the Kitchenaid. I whisked everything by hand. Here's the pic to prove it!

These little guys are labor intensive but they are very economical, one batch feeds around 40 and it looks super duper cute on a dessert table. But if you aren't prepared for a project, skip it and do something else, or call me and I'll do it for you :)

These were vanilla and cherry flavored. Vanilla cake, cherry icing and vanilla flavored coating. I also made red ones with white crystals but those were eaten up before I remembered to take a picture.

Remember my tips from above, because although simple in theory these little guys can be tricky. I recommend "cookie sticks" over lolly sticks because the width makes the cake pop feel much more sturdy while dipping.

Last but not least. SPRINKLES and remember to have fun this summer!