Luau 101- Father’s Day Feast

Luau 101 www.theluckywife.life

By Melanie Knight – posted courtesy of The Lancaster News
It’s blistering hot and the natives are getting restless. Instead of dreaming about a tropical getaway, why not enjoy your own mini “stay-cation” at home and treat dad to the ultimate luau?
Grab a Tiki torch, Hawaiian shirt, pina colada and get ready to limbo. With these simple ideas and recipes, you can host your own backyard luau and hula dance into the sunset.
According to the Polynesian Cultural Center, a traditional luau is the Hawaiian way of celebrating a major event, such as a life milestone, graduation or wedding, by enjoying several days of food, music and dance with family and friends. It was originally a way to unite the guests and with each dish having a symbolic meaning, like strength and virtue.
Your luau doesn’t have to be on an island to harbor the same feelings of goodwill.
Just keep the words of Benny Kai, the PCC “Ambassador of Aloha” in mind.
“Whenever you’re at a Hawaiian luau, you are ohana (family),” he said.
Getting ready
To get guests ready for a “latitude adjustment,” transform your backyard into a tropical paradise with these decorating ideas from ww.eHow.com that use supplies from a party supply store.
– To decorate, use anything with flowers, palm trees, fake parrots, fruit and sea shells. Arrange flowers down the center length of the table and accent with pineapples, coconuts and seashells. Perch a plastic parrot in your chandelier or on top of the refrigerator.
– Make simple leis out of colorful crepe streamers twisted together and taped into individual 30-inch loops.
– Drawstring trash bags become adjustable grass skirts by cutting 1-inch wide strips vertically from the bottom to 10 inches below the drawstring (heavy-duty bags work best). Use several of these to top your patio umbrella, or use them as a grass skirt along the edge of the table.
– Dig out those Christmas lights and string them up around your patio.
– Tiki torches work double duty – adding atmosphere to your party and keeping the mosquitoes away if you use citronella oil.
– Serve frozen cocktails and mocktails (non-alcoholic). Pina coladas and pineapple iced tea will instantly chill out your guests.
– Download some traditional Hawaiian music. Mix it up with some Elvis Presley’s “Blue Hawaii” and Don Ho’s “Gold.”
– Greet each guest as they arrive with a hearty “aloha” (hello/goodbye and love), a “honi” (kiss) on the cheek, and a “lei” (garland of flowers). You can pick up some more Hawaiian words and phrases at www.aloha-friendsluau.com. They even have the Lord’s Prayer in Hawaiian.
– Dancing is an integral part of a luau, so get a lively round of limbo going. A bamboo stalk works best for this game, but a broom will do. Two people hold the stick and each person has to bend backward and dance under the stick without touching it. Once everyone goes under, the stick is lowered 2 to 4 inches and the next round starts.
– Give the natives a chance to grab a frozen drink, then round them up again for and see who can hula like a “kama`aina” (true Hawaiian native). Being the host, you should practice before hand by checking out some hula dancing on www.youtube.com.
Now that you’ve got the tropical fever, here’s a sample menu to keep get you started. Aloha!

Luau recipes:
1 Grilled Pineapple Pound Cake a la Mode
Ingredients
1 20-ounce can sliced pineapple
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 slices pound cake
Strawberries or raspberries, for topping
Nuts, for topping
Whipped cream, for topping

Directions
– Drain pineapple, reserving 1/3 cup juice and six pineapple rings (save remaining juice and pineapple for another use).
– Combine juice, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.
– Brush half of the mixture on both sides of pineapple and cake slices.
– On an uncovered grill over medium heat, cook pineapple and cake for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown, brushing occasionally with remaining pineapple juice mixture. Top each slice of cake with a pineapple ring. Top with berries, nuts and whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

– By Paula Deen (www.foodnetwork.com)

2 Beef Teriyaki
Ingredients
1 pound steak, cut into 1-inch cubes (round, sirloin or rib-eye will work)
1 15-ounce can pineapple chunks with juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil (can substitute olive oil)

Directions
– Combine all ingredients, including liquid from pineapple. Marinate, cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
– Thread beef and pineapple alternately on skewers. Discard leftover marinade. Place on hot grill, turn every 5 minutes so meat cooks evenly. Cook to your preference – rare, medium, well done. Makes 4 servings

– By Rhonda Parkinson (www.about.com)

3 Pineapple Iced Tea
Ingredients
6 tea bags
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups boiling water
Fresh mint
Juice of 3 lemons
5 tablespoons pineapple juice

Directions
– Place tea bags and sugar in a 2-quart pitcher. Add 4 cups of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags.
– Steep fresh mint leaves in tea for at least three minutes. Remove mint leaves. Add lemon and pineapple juices.
– Add cold water to the pitcher. Serve over ice. Garnish with pineapple and fresh mint leaves.

– By John Fischer (www.about.com)

4 Aloha Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients
1 15-ounce canned yams/sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Directions
– Slice sweet potatoes about 1/2-inch thick.
– In a large skillet, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and water and cook on medium heat about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add sweet potatoes to skillet. Cook gently; tossing lightly until sweet potatoes are glazed. Sprinkle with coconut before serving. Makes 4 servings.

– From www.hisurf.com

5 Huli Huli Chicken
Ingredients
4-6 chicken breasts
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons sherry or white wine
1 piece ginger root, crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed
Grilled pineapple slices and maraschino cherries (optional)

Directions
– Combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, ginger root, and garlic. Stir well.
– Place chicken on a hot outdoor grill. Baste the chicken frequently and continue grilling for about 10-15 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Double check by slicing into the thickest part of chicken breast. The inside should be white, not pink. Garnish with grilled pineapple slices and cherries (optional). Makes 4-6 servings.

– By John Fischer (www.about.com)

6 Pina Colada
Ingredients
2.5 ounces light rum
3 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces cream of coconut
3/4 cup crushed ice
Pineapple chunks (for garnish)

Directions
– Place ingredients in blender, reserving pineapple chunks for garnish, and process until smooth, about 10-15 seconds. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with reserved pineapple chunks, if desired. Leave out rum for a non-alcoholic “mocktail.” Makes 1 serving.

– www.Recipezaar.com

Recipe: Crabby Crab Cakes

Crabby Crab Cakes www.theluckywife.lifeNow that summer is here, I start to crave seafood.  This recipe hits the spot.  I’ve enjoyed crab cakes from Boston, Cape Cod, Charleston & New Orleans- these here are hands down my favorite.  My father-in-law gave us The NFL Gameday Cookbook one year for Christmas and it is full of tasty recipes like this.  Enjoy!

Crabby Crab Cakes by Ray Lampe aka Dr. BBQ

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (I love Franks)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 12 oz jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1 cup crushed oyster crackers
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

In a bowl-Whisk together the eggs until frothy.  Stir in the celery green onion, garlic, hot sauce and lemon zest.  Gently fold in the crab meat, oyster crackers and bread crumbs until evenly mixed.

On a plate- mix flour, salt & paprika.  Divide the crab mixture into 6 mounds, form into balls, then roll in the flour mixture.

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet – medium high heat.  Place the crab balls in the hot oil and flatten slightly with a fork.  Fry until golden, about 5 mins per  side.

These crab cakes are HUGE.  It is usually the only thing we have for dinner when I make them.  I used to have slaw on the side, but there was never any room for it once you ate a crab cake.

 

Recipe: Palmetto Cheese Smoked Salmon Appetizers

Palmetto Cheese & Smoked Salmon Appetizer- oh yes it is divine

Palmetto Cheese Appetizer www.theluckywife.life.jpeg

This little snack has completely consumed me since last summer.  Aunt Tina introduced me to Palmetto Cheese (never heard of it?, you are seriously getting cheated out of life) once upon a time at Lake Murray.  We paired it last summer with Pretzel Crisps (original) and smoked salmon last summer at Lake Wateree and I have been in love ever since.

So much so, that I now buy the club size bag of Pretzel Crisps a month and a tub of Palmetto Cheese a week.  Gluttonous?  Yes  Fattening?  Strangely, no.  I’ve eat this (almost) every day since Jan and I’ve actually LOST 14 pounds.  I’ve also been doing yoga, so maybe its the chemical combination of the two combined.  Either way, I am in love with this appetizer, which I just had for breakfast, and had for dinner last night- see?  I am obsessed.

What’s your favorite appetizer?

Recipe: Gourmet Iced Mochachino Ice Cream Sandwiches!

Add this to your summer kickoff family traditions!

Iced Mochachino-Melanie Knight www.theluckywife.life

Iced Mochachino-Ice Cream Sandwiches by Melanie Knight

Once upon a time, on a hot summer day in Lancaster, my now father-in-law had an “ice cream sandwich” making party at his house- believe me, he can turn any occasion into a party.  We laughed and worked at the speed of light – you have to when working with ice cream in the sultry south.  His easy and fun lesson was a great summer kickoff and a family tradition he passed down to me.  We don’t do it every summer, but we’re doing it today!  He taught me how to make homemade ice cream sandwiches and how simple ingredients can bring a family together and create lifelong memories, and now I’ll share this awesome knowledge with you!

Ingredients:
1 bag Archway® Cookies Dutch Cocoa
1.5 quart Espresso Chip Ice Cream
Aluminum foil for wrapping

Directions:
Spoon about ½ inch of ice cream onto 1 cookie, work quickly to make it a smooth, even layer. Top with the other cookie, then run a butter knife around the edge to smooth it out. Wrap with aluminum foil and store in the freezer. The delicious treats can be made ahead of time so you can surprise your guests with a cool gourmet dessert!

If you are working with kids, line them up along the counter or table and work in an assembly line.

Ice cream sandwiches, like everything else, taste better the next day.  Good luck though, we go through these like paper plates!

Let me know if you make these!  I’d love to see your flavor combos!

Raw Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Who knew vegan could be so tasty!

Raw Cinnamon BunsVegan Raw Cinnamon Rolls www.theluckywife.life

I saw Boho Beautiful’s Juliana Semenova eating raw vegan cinnamon rolls on one of her youtube videos and absolutely had to have one.

This recipe looked delicious and it was!  My only watch out is this:  I did the math and each cinnamon rolls was ~300 calories!  OUCH!  So now, I skip the coconut oil and the tasty topping and it’s almost as good.  Enjoy!

Raw Cinnamon Buns

Source:  www.damyhealth.com/ revised by Melanie Knight

Cinnamon Bun Base Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Dates
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil (I skip this to save calories)
  • 2 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 1/3 Cup Pecans
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Water (I use the water from soaking the filling dates)
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Cup Pre-soaked Dates
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I skip this to save calories)
Icing Ingredients: (I love this, but skip it to save calories)
  • 1/4 Cup Cashew Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar

Directions:

  1. Place all Cinnamon Bun base ingredients into your food processor and blend until dough-like adding more water if needed (1 Tbsp at a time). (I now do this in batches, my first all in batch burnt up my Ninja!)
  2. Place all Filling Ingredients into your food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Place all Icing Ingredients into your food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Pull out 2ft of saran wrap and shape the dough into a large rectangle.
  5. Cover dough with filling leaving 1 inch along the edges uncovered.
  6. Roll dough tightly into a cylinder.
  7. Using a sharp knife cut cylinder into cinnamon buns at desired thickness.
  8. Place on a plate and top with Icing and pecan chunks as desired.
  9. Serve immediately and enjoy!  (I eat a 1/2 bun as a mini after lunch dessert)
  10. Tip – Store these in a sealed-tight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe: Inside-Out Bacon Cheeseburgers

Get ready to rock the grill this weekend!

Inside-Out Bacon Cheeseburgers www.theluckywife.life

You’re hosting the cookout this year- don’t serve the same boring burgers everyone else does!  Start a culinary revolution by twisting something old into something new.

Inside-Out Bacon Cheeseburgers
Ingredients
8 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 1/3 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and black pepper
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 hamburger buns
Sliced tomatoes and lettuce
Mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles (optional)
Directions
– Preheat grill to high.
– In a medium pan, brown bacon over medium high heat and drain on paper towel lined plate. Crumble when cool to touch. Divide bacon and cheese into 4 equal parts.
– Combine ground beef with Worcestershire and steak seasoning or salt and pepper. Divide meat into 4 equal parts. Take 1/4 of the meat in your hand and make a well in the center of it. Pile in 1/4 of cheese and bacon, then carefully form the burger around the cheese and bacon filling. Make sure the fillings are completely covered with meat. When all four patties are formed, drizzle burgers with oil and place on hot grill.
– Cook for 2 minutes on each side over high heat, reduce heat to medium low and cook burgers for 7 to 8 minutes longer, turning occasionally. Do not press down on burgers as they cook. Transfer burgers to a plate and let them rest 5 minutes before serving.
– Assemble burgers, buns and your choice of condiments. As you bite into the burgers, you will find the cheesy-bacon surprise at the center. Makes 4 servings.
– Recipe by Rachel Ray (http://www.foodnetwork.com/)

 

Recipe: Psychedelic Fruit Tray

 

Psychedelic Fruit Tray www.theluckywife.life

 

This explosion of color will like blow your mind!  Fruit trays are simple and delicious, so take the time to arrange your fruits in an visually pleasing display.  When you get the chance to sign up for a school banquet dessert, this is a ‘gram worthy choice.

Ingredients:

  • Strawberries- washed & sliced
  • Seedless Grapes- washed
  • Kiwi- peeled & sliced
  • Pineapple- pre-sliced

I bought the $7 galvanized tray from Wal-Mart in the vain hopes of getting to enjoy my coffee and breakfast in bed- this has yet to happen.  It was however perfect for my fruit tray.

Recipe: Elderberry & Lemon Royal Wedding Cake

Eat like a royal! Meghan Markle Royal Wedding Cake recipe

Elderberry & Lemon Meghan Harry www.theluckywife.life
I loved watching the elegant ladies & gents who attended the royal wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle.  Alas, my invitation must have gotten lost in the mail (yours too?).  No worries!  You can now celebrate the royal couples nuptials by enjoying your very own slice Elderberry & Lemon Wedding cake.  I just made this and it is beyond delicious.  It so EXTRA.
From Voraciously lead writer Becky Krystal, based on recipes from “The Violet Bakery Cookbook,” by Claire Ptak (Ten Speed Press, 2015)- Revised by Melanie Knight 2018.  Servings: 16- you can half the recipe to make a 1/2 cake

For the Filling

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon; reserve the juice for the frosting)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon St-Germain elderflower liqueur (for cake batter)

    To baste cooked cakes before frosting

  • 1/2 cup St-Germain elderflower liqueur

    For the Filling

  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup store-bought lemon curd

    For the frosting

  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 7 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon St-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

Directions

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub the inside of the pan with butter and dust with flour.  Set aside.

Mix the sugar and lemon zest on low until blended and fragrant.  Add the butter; beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy and almost white. Meanwhile, lightly whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and salt in a liquid measuring cup. Reduce the speed to low; gradually add to the butter-sugar mixture until fully incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, then add half of it to the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined, then add the milk and the elderflower liqueur, if using. Beat on low speed, until combined. Add the remaining flour; beat on low speed until no trace of dry flour remains. Divide equally among the cake pans and smooth the top with an offset or flexible spatula. (If you have a kitchen scale, each portion of batter should weigh about 300 grams, or about 10 1/2 ounces.)

Bake (middle rack) for 15 to 20 minutes (mine took quite a bit longer), until the top of the cakes spring back to the touch. The edges will be lightly browned and starting to pull away from the sides of the pans. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes ( I set mine int he freezer), then run a round-edged knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to release the layers.  Use a pastry brush to apply the elderflower cordial a total of four times, allowing a few minutes in between so the liquid is absorbed.

If you need to reuse the pans to yield a total of three layers, wash and dry the pan(s) and repeat the baking and brushing with cordial.

For the filling: Pour the heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with balloon-whisk attachment (I used regular mixer paddles). Beat on high speed until it can hold a firm peak. (Pull off the whisk attachment or beaters out and see how the cream in the bowl and on the equipment looks. If it flops over, it needs more time; if it holds its shape, you’re set.)  Fold in the lemon curd on low mix speed.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fill the cake.

For the frosting: Combine the butter and 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on low speed and then increase to medium-high. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On medium-low speed, gradually add the milk, beating until combined.

Add 2 more cups of confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed for at least 3 minutes. The mixture should be smooth. Add the lemon zest and juice and St-Germain, if using; beat on low speed until incorporated. Continue adding more confectioners’ sugar until you get the right consistency (this can vary somewhat depending on the temperature of your kitchen and how soft the butter was initially); the frosting needs to be thin enough to spread but thick enough to not run off the cake. It’s perfectly fine to let the frosting chill for a bit in the refrigerator; you may need to briefly beat it again to smooth it back out.

To assemble the cake, place a dab of frosting in the middle of a 9- or 10-inch cardboard cake round (you could also just place the cake directly on a large plate, ideally with little or no rim). Place one cake layer in the center, with the cordial-soaked side face up.

Use a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip or zip-top bag with one corner cut off to squeeze a border of frosting around the top of the cake, just inside the edge. This will serve as a kind of dam to hold in the filling.

Use an offset spatula or spoon to spread half the filling inside the ring of frosting. Place the next cake layer on top, also cordial-brushed side up. Repeat with another ring of frosting and the rest of the filling.

Lay the final cake layer on top. Place a small amount of frosting in a separate bowl for the crumb coat, which is your base layer of frosting that will help seal in the crumbs and give you a smooth surface to which you can apply the rest of the frosting. Use an offset spatula or table knife to apply the thin crumb coat all over the top and sides of the cake. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes, to let the crumb coat set.

Apply the remaining frosting to the cake, and decorate the top with crystallized and/or fresh flowers, if using. Return the cake to the refrigerator to let the frosting firm back up, another 20 or 30 minutes.

Because the filling and frosting are soft, the cake is easier to cut when it’s still a bit chilled; by the time everyone eats the cake, its temperature will be just right. Let the cake sit at room temperature for just a few minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

 

Recipe: Paella de Marisco

Time to travel with your taste buds!

paellaFor me, cooking is a inexpensive way to take a culinary excursion to an exotic land and savor their delectable cuisine in the comfort of my own home and without the hassle and expense of travel. Yeah, I’m a cheap date. If you are game for an adventure, I dare you to try this famous dish from Spain, Paella.

According to Damian Corrigan, Spain travel advisor for http://www.about.com/, “Paella comes from the Latin ‘patella’ The Latin word ‘patella’ means ‘pan’ and it is from this word that the Valencian word ‘paella’, which also means ‘pan’, is derived.” Paella is traditionally a rice dish cooked by laborers in a low flat pan, much like a frying pan, over an open fire. From here, there are several variations and everyone has their favorite version. Every recipe calls for a different list of ingredients- like lobster, clams, chicken, pork, rabbit and even squid and snails. But every paella dish has saffron, the spice that gives it a distinct flavor and its yellow color.

¡No lo imagine, disfrútelo! (Don’t imagine it, enjoy it!)
The paella we are going to explore is Paella de Marisco, or seafood paella. The shrimp are cooked in this dish with the shell on, this seals in the flavor. Your guests will peel their shrimp as they get to them when they are enjoying your masterpiece, so have a few empty bowls on the table for the shrimp and mussel shells. If you really want to set the mood, eat our doors with a couple of tiki torches, a red table cloth and have Spanish guitars playing flamenco music in the background. Just get an mp3- don’t actually hire a band.

Paella de Marisco (Inspired by Emeril Lagasse’s Paella)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people
Taste: Incredible

Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into small pieces salt & black pepper ½ lb. country ham chunks
1 medium/large chopped yellow onion1 chopped green bell pepper3/4 cup chopped celery (2-3 stalks)4-6 tablespoons minced garlic (your choice)3 cups uncooked white rice 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled tomatoes or 1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon hot sauce 9 bay leaves 3 tablespoons Creole seasoning 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (very expensive seasoning, but worth it)6 cups chicken stock (OK to make with chicken bullion)1 lb raw shrimp in their shells
36 mussels (Wal-Mart frozen seafood section- they are already scrubbed and debearded)

Directions:
1-Cut up the chicken and chop onion, bell pepper, celery, tomato and garlic. These items get added 1 after another, so save time by having them all ready before you start.

2-Heat olive oil over high heat in a large deep saucepan. Olive oil smokes at high temperature, so make sure the chicken is ready when the oil gets hot. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt & pepper, then add to hot oil carefully (cook 8-10 minutes). Cook chicken until brown on all sides, then add ham chunks (cook 3-4 minutes).

3-Add onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic and rice (cook 2-4 minutes).

4-Add tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, bay leaves, Creole seasoning and saffron. Cook 2 minutes.

5-Add chicken stock and stir. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 12 minutes.

6-Add shrimp and mussels on top of rice mixture. If rice mixture starts to look dry, it is OK to add another ½ cup water and stir. Cover and cook 4-6 minutes. Shrimp shells will turn pink when cooked and the shrimp meat will be white. The mussel shells will open when cooked. Throw away any mussels that do not open.

Scoop your paella into a big bowl and arrange the mussels on top in a circular pattern. Hey, it’s your paella, make any shape you want. I don’t actually eat mussels, but in my house, it’s not paella without them. Place the bowl in the center of the table and let your guest help themselves- ¡Olé!

Captain Crunch French Toast

Captain Crunch French Toast www.luckywife.lifeIt’s the only day you get to sleep in, so skip that early breakfast and enjoy a champagne brunch.

Crunch-atize Me Cap’n!
It’s the new rebel yell of anyone who caught the Comfort Food episode of Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. This episode featured a decadent double stack of French toast that had been dipped in Cap’n Crunch before it was grilled in butter, then topped with an avalanche of whipped cream and berries. Anyone who can capture the crunchy sweetness of a cartoon Saturday morning and serve it up on a plate is pure genius. They gave out ingredients on the show, but not quantities. Here’s my version of the Baltimore’s Blue Moon Café Cap’n Crunch French Toast.

Cap’n Crunch French Toast Melanie Knight- inspired by Blue Moon Café
4 cups Cap’n Crunch original cereal (no Crunch Berries)
10 slices Texas bread (thick sliced bread)
4 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
10 tablespoons butter
Whipped cream for topping
1 pint strawberries
½ pound seedless grapes

Place the cereal in a casserole dish and crunch it into crumbs with the bottom of a glass.
Mix the eggs, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon together and place in a shallow dish. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Take 1 slice of brad, dip both sides in the egg mixture, then coast with the Cap’n Crunch crumbs. Cook each side 2-3 minutes until light brown. Repeat for the other 9 slices of bread.

Stack 2 French toasts on the center of the plate. Top with a generous helping of whipped cream and strawberries and grapes.
Makes 5 servings.