Coming This Week on Food Network – October 27th

I’ve just scanned the Food Network program schedule and noticed that they’ve updated their website.  I’m not sure that I like it as well as the old one.  It’s chock full of information for sure, but I think it’s rather hard to navigate to find your favorite chef’s programming for the week.  For me, the old “drop down” menus worked better.  I’d be interested in hearing from those of you that use the site frequently and your reaction to the new format. 

 

However, once I found the programming for the week, I noticed that one of my favorites “Tyler’s Ultimate” is cooking up some great dishes this week!  On Tuesday (28th), he’s preparing an “ultimate” lasagna that combines ground beef and Italian sausage and lots of ricotta and mozzarella cheese.  The fact that he’s also using dried lasagna noodles is a plus, as that’s really a time saver.  Sounds yummy, so I’ll try and catch that episode.  Later in the week (30th), Tyler’s also making tacos with roast beef.  If you haven’t tried tacos made with roast beef, instead of ground beef, you really should.  Their a bit more hearty and just add a different twist to the classic ground beef tacos.  He also includes a fabulous recipe for salsa.

 

Finally, what’s a week without a sweet?  On Saturday, Ina Garten shares a great recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake.  It’s chock full of blueberries and has a crunchy topping.  This recipe is in one of her cookbooks and I’ve tried it.  Very easy to make and a great way to use any leftover blueberries that you have in the frig or freezer.       

Beef and Bean Chili

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Yield: 6-8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1 lb ground beef

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup green pepper, chopped

3- 16 ounce cans of chili beans, undrained, I prefer Bush’s beans

1-6 ounce can of tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup of water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Toppings

Sour cream

Green onions, finely chopped

Grated cheddar cheese

PREPARATION

In a large stockpot, add the ground beef, onions, green peppers and garlic.  On a medium-high heat brown the ground beef.  Drain off an excess fat from the meat.  Add the chili beans, tomato paste, water, chili powder, oregano and smoked paprika.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 1 hour or longer on low heat until onions and green peppers are tender. 

The longer you simmer, the more time the flavors will have to meld and make the chili more flavorful.  This is a mild chili, if you prefer spicier, add more chili powder and smoked paprika, to taste. Serve piping hot with assorted toppings.

 

Broccoli and Corn Calzones

Yield:  6 Calzones

 

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cups chopped broccoli florets

1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears or use frozen that has been cooked and drained)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

4 scallions, finely chopped

¼ cup chopped basil

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

All-purpose flour for dusting

20 ounces whole wheat or white pizza dough, thawed if frozen

2 teaspoons canola oil

PREPARATION

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.  Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.  Combine the broccoli, corn, mozzarella, ricotta, scallions, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into an 8-inch circle.  Place a generous ¾ cup filling on one half of each circle, leaving a ¼ inch border of dough.  Brush the border with water and fold the top half over the filling.  Fold the edges over and crimp with a fork to seal.  Make several small slits in the top to vent steam; brush each calzone with oil.  Transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheets.  Bake the calzones, switching the pans halfway through the baking, until browned on the top, about 15 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving.

 

Time Saver Tip – Look for balls of fresh pizza dough at your supermarket in the bakery section to use for the calzones.

 

 

Adapted:  EatingWell Magazine – July/August 2007

Crabmeat Casserole

Yield:  4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped

6 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and finely chopped

2 teaspoons dried tarragon

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1-½ cups milk

½ cup heavy cream

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 lb cooked crabmeat, picked over for shell and cartilage

2 tablespoons cream sherry

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1 ¼ cup fresh bread crumbs

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a 1 ½ quart soufflé dish or casserole.  Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the green onions and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the sun-dried tomatoes and tarragon; sauté another 2 minutes.  Whisk in 2 teaspoons of the mustard, the milk and cream.  Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.  Beat a little of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, then beat this mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.  Stir in the crabmeat and sherry; season with salt and white pepper.  Cook over low heat until all is heated through, 2-3 minutes more.  Transfer the crabmeat mixture to the prepared dish.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and swirl in the remaining 1 teaspoon mustard.  Toss with the fresh bread crumbs to coat and then sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the casserole.  Bake the casserole until lightly browned and bubbling, approximately 25-30 minutes.  Serve immediately with baguettes or Crostini. 

 

Source:  Sarah Leah Chase – Cold Weather Cooking – 1990

 

 

 

Pasta With Gorgonzola and Spinach

Yield:  4-6 Servings

 

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

8 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled into small pieces

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

8 ounces fresh spinach, stemmed, rinsed well and coarsely chopped

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb spaghetti or penne pasta

3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

PREPARATION

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Gradually add the Gorgonzola and stir until it’s melted and smooth.  Add the cream and cook, on low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat, while you cook pasta, per instructions and drain.  Set aside.  Over low heat, add the spinach and ½ of Parmesan cheese to the sauce mixture and bring to a simmer, stirring until the spinach begins to wilt.  Add the hot pasta and toss with cheese mixture.  Serve immediately and garnish with toasted pine nuts and the remaining Parmesan cheese.  Source:  Sarah Leah Chase – Cold Weather Cooking – 1990

 

 

Oatmeal Shortbread

Yield:  16 cookies

 

INGREDIENTS

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar

1-¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 2/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  In another bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup of oats, salt and cinnamon.  Add to the butter mixture and stir until combined. 

Finely grind the remaining 2/3 cup of oats in a food processor.  Dust your rolling surface with some of the ground oats.  Divide the shortbread dough in half and roll out each into a circle about 8 inches in diameter and 3/8 inch thick.  Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal over the top of the dough and press it into the surface with the rolling pin.  Using a sharp knife, cut each circle into 8 wedges.  Prick each wedge all over with the tines of a fork.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, approximately 18-20 minutes.  Cool on a rack and then store in an airtight container. 

 

Source:  Sarah Leah Chase – Cold Weather Cooking – 1990

 

Potato, Onion and Cheddar Gratin

Yield: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large sweet yellow onion, preferably Vidalia

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 ¼ cups chicken broth

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a shallow 1 ½ quart baking casserole.  Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté until very soft, about 15-20 minutes.  Alternate layers of the potatoes, onion and cheese in the prepared dish.  Season with salt and pepper as you construct the layers.  Pour the broth over the layers and cover the casserole with a lid or aluminum foil.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Uncover and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are tender.  Remove from oven and serve hot.  Any leftovers are always great the next day!

 

Adapted – Sarah Leah Chase – Cold Weather Cooking – 1990

Four Cheese Crostini

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This spread makes a great hot appetizer when spread on Crostini and broiled in the oven for a few minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly. 

 

Yield: 2 ½ cups – enough for 4 dozen Crostini appetizers

 

INGREDIENTS

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

3 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil and cut into thin slivers.

Crostini – homemade or purchased

 

PREPARATION

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the cream cheese and Gorgonzola cheese until thoroughly combined and smooth; then mix in the garlic.  Add the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and blend until smooth.  Add chopped basil and season with pepper. 

To serve, spread a tablespoon of the cheese mixture evenly on the Crostini and then press a sliver of sun-dried tomato on top.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and broil about 3-4 inches from the heat for about 1-2 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Transfer to serving tray and serve immediately.

Toasting Nuts

One thing that I believe is overlooked in many recipes is toasting nuts before you include them in your recipes.  This is especially true in baking.  Lightly toasting nuts, prior to adding  them into your recipe allows for the oils in nuts to be released.  By doing this, it produces a nuttier tasting nut and adds more depth to your recipes.  However, when you toast nuts, you must watch them carefully while in the oven, as they burn very easily!

To toast nuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place them in the oven.  Place in the oven and lightly toast the nuts, until they have taken on a slightly darker color.  Watch them carefully and don’t over-toast them!  It should only take about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let the nuts cool and then use them as directed in your recipe.   

Egg Salad Crostini With Chives

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Easy and delicious appetizer for when the unexpected guests drop in!  Time saver tip:  Purchase a bag or two of already toasted baguettes from your local supermarket to keep on hand.  Great for quick appetizers or for dunking in homemade soups.

Yield:  18-20

INGREDIENTS

6 eggs, hardboiled

½ cup good mayonnaise, I prefer Hellmann’s

¼ cup yellow onion, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

1 baguette, thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil and toasted

¼ cup of chives, chopped

PREPARATION

Hard boil the eggs and peel.  Finely chop and place in a medium mixing bowl.  Add the yellow onion, black pepper and mayonnaise.  Mix well.  You can also add finely chopped celery, if you like.  Refrigerate.  Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle olive oil over the baguettes and toast them in the a 375 degree F oven for about 7-10 minutes, turning at least once to toast evenly on both sides.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Once cooled, using a teaspoon, top each baguette slice with some of the egg salad.  Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.     

 

Game Day – Nachos with Chorizo Sausage

Yield:  8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1 lb chorizo sausage, removed from casing

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 cups pinto beans, drained

¼ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

Homemade Taco chips (see recipe below)

Toppings

1 ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

1 ½ cup Monterey jack cheese

3 green onions, chopped with white and some green

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

PREPARATION

In large skillet, cook the chorizo, garlic and cumin until sausage is browned.  Remove and drain on paper towel.  To fat in pan, add pinto beans, chili powder, salt and 1 ¼ -½ cups water.  Cook over medium-high heat, mashing the beans and cooking until much of the water has been absorbed.  Set aside.

Homemade Taco Chips

10 corn tortillas, cut into quarters

4 cups oil, corn, vegetable or peanut

Heat oil in a large kettle to 360 degrees F.  Slowly add small amount of tortillas to the oil and fry for about 1 minute, until golden brown, turning once.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. 

Assemble

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.  In a oven proof baking dish, place one layer of taco chips on the bottom.  Top with beans, ½ sausage, cheese and onions.  Repeat with another layer of taco chips, beans, sausage, onions and cheese.  Bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the chips are heated.  Serve with the following toppings:

 

Sour Cream – Add 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice and mix well

Tomatoes – Chopped fresh tomatoes

 

 

 

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Balsamic Vinegar

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb pork tenderloin

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

½ cup apple chopped

1 ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar

PREPARATION

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly spray roasting pan with cooking spray.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add the pork tenderloin and sprinkle with pepper.  Cook the tenderloin until it is browned on all sides, about 3 minutes.  Remove from skillet and place in roasting pan.  Roast the pork until it registers 160 degrees F with a meat thermometer, approximately 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and then add the apple, onion and rosemary.  Sauté until the onion is translucent and the apples are soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and balsamic vinegar and bring mixture to a low boil.  Continue boiling until the sauce has reduced, approximately 5 minutes.

To serve, place pork tenderloin on a platter and pour apple-onion mixture over the top of the tenderloin.  Serve immediately.

 

Source:  MayoClinic.com

 

Homemade Applesauce

INGREDIENTS

3-4 lbs apples, recommend Granny Smith or Fuji

4 strips of lemon peel

Juice of 1 lemon

3 inches of cinnamon stick

¼ cup dark brown sugar

Up to ½ cup granulated sugar (dependent natural sweetness of the apples)

1 cup water

½ teaspoon salt

PREPARATION

Peel, core and quarter apples and place them in a large stockpot.  Add lemon peel, juice of lemon, cinnamon, sugars, water and salt.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the apples are cooked.  Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick and lemon peels.  Mash with a potato peeler if you prefer a chunky texture or use an immersion blender for a smoother texture.  Can be served either hot or refrigerate until cold.  Great warm over vanilla ice cream for a quick dessert. 

Mini Meatloaves

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

1 lb ground beef

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

1 glove garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley, rough chop

2 eggs

1 sleeve of saltines, crushed or ½ -3/4 cup bread crumbs

3 tablespoons ketchup or your favorite BBQ sauce

6 – 1 inch cubes of your favorite cheese, I prefer Fontina or Mozzarella

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, onion, garlic, parsley, BBQ sauce and eggs.  Mix well together and then add in the crushed saltines or bread crumbs.  The meatloaf should be somewhat “sticky”, but not too wet.  With your hands, take about ½ – ¾ cup of the meatloaf mixture and form it into a thick mini loaf shape.  Press the cheese cube into the center of the loaf.  Press into a large muffin pan; the meatloaf should come to just about the top of the pan.  Spread some additional BBQ sauce on the top and about halfway through the cooking process, add a bit more grated cheese.  Cook the mini meatloaves for about 30-40 minutes.  Remove from muffin tins and serve. 

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Orecchiette Carbonara with Green Onions

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Yield: 4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

4 bacon slices, fried and crumbled

6 green onions (onion and ½ of green) – finely chopped

1 lb Orecciette pasta or small shells

2 large eggs, room temperature

¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

PREPARATION

Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Remove all but 3 tablespoons fat from the skillet. Add chopped green onions and saute’ them over medium heat until just tender. Set aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water until tender. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of pasta cooking liquid. Whisk eggs and ½ cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk reserved pasta cooking liquid. Set aside. Add back the sauted green onions to the skillet, along with the pasta. Stir to heat. Remove skillet from heat and add the egg mixture and stir until the sauce is creamy and the eggs are no longer raw. Return to heat and stir in ¼ cup heavy whipping cream into the pasta mixture and heat until warm. Stir in crumbled bacon, parsley and more Parmesan cheese, if desired. Garnish pasta with grated Parmesan cheese and green onions.

Adapted – Bon Appetit – April 2008

Grand Marnier Souffles

If you really want to impress your guests, these Grand Marnier soufflés are very elegant and delicious!

Yield:  6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

6 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened

Sugar, to dust the soufflé dishes

6 eggs, separated

½ cup sugar

¼ cup fresh orange juice

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Powdered Sugar

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Butter 6 individual soufflé dishes – 4 inches in diameter, using 1 teaspoon for each.  Dust each dish with sugar, shaking out excess.

Combine egg yolks, 7 tablespoons sugar, orange juice, liqueur and orange peel and whisk just until blended.  Beat egg whites with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar until soft peaks form.  Add lemon juice and blend thoroughly.  Fold yolk mixture into whites.  Spoon into soufflé dishes.  Use thumb to make rim around outer edge of the soufflés.  Bake until puffed and browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove soufflés from oven.  Sprinkle tops with powdered sugar, set dishes on napkin-lined plates and serve immediately. 

 

Source:  Le Francais Restaurant – Wheeling, IL

 

Toasted Coconut Custard Cake

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Yield: 12 Servings

INGREDIENTS

Toasted Coconut

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Coconut Simple Syrup

1 ½ cups water

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut

Coconut Custard

¾ cup whole milk

¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk

4 large egg yolks

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Coconut Filling

¾ cup coconut custard

¾ cup very cold heavy cream

Coconut Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter

1/3 confectioner’s sugar

¾ cup coconut custard (recipe above) – chilled

Cake

2 tablespoons softened butter – for pans

2 ¼ cups cake flour, plus more for pans

1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

6 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ¾ cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, slightly chilled

PREPARATION

Toasted Coconut:

Preheat oven to 325 degree F.

Spread the coconut evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly brown, stirring once, 8-10 minutes.  Turn the oven off and let the coconut sit in the oven until very dry and crunchy, approximately 15 minutes.

Simple Syrup:

Bring water and sugar to a boil and then add in the coconut.  Remove from heat and let the mixture sit for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to 4 hours.  Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil and then let simmer for approximately 5 minutes, until the liquid is slightly reduced.  Let cool.

Coconut Custard:

Combine the milks and the vanilla bean in a medium non-reactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in a large bowl.  Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg yolk mixture, then return the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened.  Scrape the mixture into a bowl and whisk in vanilla extract.  Let cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

Coconut Filling:

Combine the custard and heavy whipping cream in a bowl and whip until soft peak forms.  Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Buttercream Frosting:

Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add the coconut custard and salt and beat until combined and smooth.

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour 2 (9 by 2-inch) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Whisk together the milk, egg whites, vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  With mixer running at low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time and continue beating until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.  Add all but ½ cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 ½ minutes.  With mixer on low speed, add remaining ½ cup of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more.  Scrape sides of the bowl and mix for 20 seconds longer.  Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 22-24 minutes.  Cool in pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes.  Run a small knife around the sides of the pan and invert cakes onto the baking rack, removing parchment paper and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Assembly:

Using a long serrated knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers.  Reserve one of the flat bottom layers for the top of the cake.  Place another layer on a cardboard round, cut side up and brush with some of the coconut simple syrup.  Spoon 1/3 of the coconut filling onto the cake and using a small offset metal spatula, spread it into an even layer, leaving a ½ inch border around the cake edge of the cake.  Repeat with 2 more layers.  Brush the cut side of the reserved cake layer with the remaining syrup.  Place the layer cut side down on top of the cake.

Frost the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream frosting.  Pat the coconut onto the sides of the cake and sprinkle the remaining coconut on top of the cake.

 

Bobby Flay – Food Network – Episode #BT0501

 

 

Ultimate Pot Scrubbers

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Coming Soon!

You’ll never want another type of pot scrubber again.  These pot scrubbers are tough enough to scrub your dirtiest pans, but work equally as well on your dishes.  They last forever and can be cleaned by running them through the dishwasher (top rack, please).  I’ll be offering these, along with the wonderful Caldrea dish washing liquid.

 


Bleu Cheese, Bacon and Toasted Walnut Salad

Yield:  4 Servings

 

INGREDIENTS
8 strips good-quality bacon
2 large egg, hard-boiled, peeled and finely chopped
2 hearts romaine lettuce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup walnut halves, toasted

Blue Cheese Dressing, recipe follows

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Salad:

Lay the bacon strips on a roasting rack and bake in the oven until crisp, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and drain on paper towels.  Crumble bacon and set aside.  Toast walnuts in 375 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  When cooled, rough chop.  Hard boil egg, peel and finely chop – set aside.  Remove the large outer leaves from the romaine hearts and rinse. Chop these leaves into bite-size pieces.  Halve the hearts through the cores to make 4 wedges.

Divide the wedges among 4 plates. Mound some of the chopped romaine on top and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon about 1/4 cup of Blue Cheese Dressing over each salad and top with some of the chopped egg, bacon and toasted walnuts.  Pass the remaining dressing at the table.

Blue Cheese Dressing:

Yield:  2 cups

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 shallot, peeled
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Pulse the mayonnaise, blue cheese, buttermilk, shallot, lemon zest, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and celery seeds in a food processor to make a chunky but pourable sauce. Stir in the parsley and season with plenty of pepper. Use immediately or refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.

 

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

This hot fudge sauce is easy to make and yummy.  Leftovers can be heated in the microwave.  Serve over ice cream or make a brownie sundae.

Yield: 2 cups

INGREDIENTS
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons sweet butter
2/3 cup water
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons corn syrup
1 tablespoon rum

PREPARATION
Melt chocolate and butter slowly in heavy saucepan. Meanwhile, heat water to boiling. When chocolate and butter have melted, add water and stir well.
Add sugar and corn syrup and mix until smooth. Turn heat up and stir until mixture starts to boil. Adjust heat so mixture is just maintained at boiling point. Allow sauce to boil without stirring for 9 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the rum. Serve warm.

Coconut Macaroon Cookies

Yield: 20-22 cookies

INGREDIENTS

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.

Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or two teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.

 

Ina Garten – Barefoot Contessa – Family Style – October 2002

“Eggentric” Facts About the Incredible Edible Egg

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Although we use eggs practically everyday, how much do you really know about these incredible edibles?  There is really nothing so versatile than the egg.  Use them solo to make great omelettes and deviled eggs or team them up with other ingredients to make a variety of cakes, cookies and other delicious dishes.  Here are some amazing facts about eggs:

-On average, Americans eat more than 250 eggs per year.

-Organic eggs come from chickens that have been fed organic feed, have not been given hormones or antibiotics and live free of cages.

-Cage-free eggs are from chickens that living free of cages.

-Free-range eggs are from chickens that have access to outdoor yards.

-Candling is a process of shining light through eggshells to determine the quality of the egg.   Any egg that isn’t clear should not be sold.

- Brown eggs are not healthier than white eggs.  The color of the egg is an indicator of the different breeds of hen.

- Fresh is not always better – depends on what you’re going to do with the egg.  Eggs that are seven days or older are a better bet for hard-boiled eggs.  They’ll peel easier.  Poached eggs are much better when the freshest eggs are used.

-Test the freshness of an egg by placing the egg (shell on) into a bowl of water.  If the egg lies flat on the bottom of the bowl, it’s very fresh.  A bobbing egg is slightly older.  If an egg floats, it may be rotten.

- The older the chicken the larger the eggs they lay, but they lay less frequently; the younger the chicken, the smaller the eggs.

-Crack an egg on a flat surface, like a countertop, for a straighter break.  

Source:  Rebecca Lang - Athens Magazine - November 2007

Cranberry Conserve – Great With Thanksgiving Turkey!

 

Yield: 4-5 cups

 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb fresh cranberries

1 cup water

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 whole orange, seeds removed and chopped (about 1 cup)

1 cup peeled and chopped golden delicious apple

1 cup peeled and chopped pear

1 cup golden raisins

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

PREPARATION

In a medium heavy saucepan combine cranberries and water and cook until the berries burst, about 10 minutes.  Add all other ingredients, except pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, approximately 25 minutes.  Add nuts, stir to combine and allow to cool.  Transfer to a nonreactive bowl or jar and refrigerate.

Eggs Benedict with Easy Hollandaise Sauce

Yield:  4 Servings

INGREDIENTS

4 English muffins, halved and toasted

16 slices of Canadian bacon, heated and lightly browned

8 eggs poached

Hollandaise Sauce

5 egg yolks*

1 lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons water

Salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 lb hot melted butter

PREPARATION

Hollandaise Sauce:  Combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, water, salt and cayenne pepper into the blender.  Blend until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  With blender going, slowly drizzle the butter into the egg yolk mixture in a slow, thin stream.  Blend well and adjust for salt and lemon.  Keep the sauce warm while you prepare the eggs in a bowl of warm water.

 

Poached Eggs:  In a skillet, bring water to a slight shimmer, add 1 tablespoon vinegar and stir.  Break eggs into a cup and gently slide them into the simmering water.  Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes until the egg is set.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon.

 

Assembly:  Top each muffin half with 2 slices of Canadian bacon and 1 poached egg.  Spoon the hollandaise sauce on each of the poached eggs.

 

 

*RAW EGG WARNING

Raw egg is not recommended for infants, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.  To avoid the risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness, you can use pasteurized egg yolk instead.

 

 

Pulled Rotissiere Chicken with Penne, Roasted Peppers, Basil and Garlic

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Yield: 4 Servings

 

INGREDIENTS

 

¼ stick of unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped into chiffonade

9 ounces package mini penne pasta

1 cup heavy whipping cream or half and half

3 cups pulled cooked chicken meat

1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly grated pepper, to taste

 

PREPARATION

 

Cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain pasta and set aside. 

While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet and then add the chopped garlic.  Saute over medium heat until the garlic is soft.  Add the pulled chicken, whipping cream, basil and roasted red peppers, heat until hot, approximately 3-5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cooked pasta and Parmesan cheese to the chicken mixture and toss.  Pile pasta onto large serving platter and garnish with additional chopped fresh basil.  Serve with additional Parmesan cheese. 

 

 

Dulce De Leche Ice Cream Pie with Mocha Fudge Sauce

Yield:  8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

Crust

1/3 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons sugar

2/3 cup vanilla wafer cookie crumbs (approximately 32 cookies)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter, melted

Sauce

2 tablespoons boiling water

1 tablespoon instant expresso powder or instant coffee powder

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup whipping cream

¼ cup light corn syrup

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablspoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter

1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Ice Cream

2 pints caramel ice cream (such as dulce de leche)

Topping

½ cup chilled whipping cream

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

PREPARATION

Crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Blend pecans and sugar in food processor until the pecans are finely ground.  Add cookie crumbs and cinnamon and continue to process until combined.  Add butter and blend until moist clumps form.  Press the crust into a bottom and up sides of a 9-inch glass pie pan.  Bake until the crust is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

Mocha Chocolate Sauce

Combine 2 tablespoons boiling water and coffee powder in a small bowl until it is dissolved.  Whisk sugar and cocoa in heavy medium saucepan.  Whisk in 1 cup cream, corn syrup and coffee mixture.  Add chocolate and butter.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.  Cool 30 minutes and then stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Assembly

Soften 1 pint ice cream at room temperature – approximately 15 minutes.  When softened, spread evenly over bottom of the crust.  Drizzle 3 tablespoons sauce over ice cream.  Freeze until sauce sets, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile soften remaining 1 pint of ice cream at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes.  Spread second pint of ice cream over the top of the sauce.  Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of sauce.  Freeze pie until frozen, at least 4 hours.  (Sauce and pie can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate sauce.  Keep pie frozen).

 

Re-warm mocha fudge sauce over low heat, stirring often.

 

Whip ½ cup chilled heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl until peaks form.  Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with star tip.  Pipe rosettes of cream around the top edge of the pie.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Cut pie into wedges and serve with sauce. 

 

Bon Appetit – 2002

 

 

 

Review – Caldrea Liquid Dish Soap

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If you really want an over the top dishwashing experience, try Caldrea liquid dish soap.  I recently visited their website and ordered the Basil Blue Sage and Ginger Pomelo dish soaps to give them a test run.  The fragrances sounded lovely and I thought that if you had to be washing dishes from time to time, it would be nice to have a wonderful fragrance wafting up from the sink, rather than the ordinary over perfumed scent of the usual household dish soaps.  However, I was skeptical about how well they would clean and hold up to a sink full of dishes.

 

The Basil Blue Sage is made from the essential oils of basil, rosemary and sage herbs.  The fragrance is light, not overpowering, but the scent of basil and rosemary definitely are present.  Ginger Pomelo is a combination of ginger, grapefruit and pomelo.  Pomelo is a grapefruit-like citrus, that originates from Polynesia and the West Indies.  

 

I tested both dish soaps with a sink full of dirty dishes and was pleasantly surprised.  They stand up very well to your typical liquid dish soaps.  Both of them created an ample amount of suds, had good lasting power, and cleaned the dishes very well.  The only difference that I was able to discern is that you have the lovely fragrances of the soap drifting up from the sink as you wash the dishes and they leave a lingering herbal scent on your hands, long after you’ve finished washing the dishes.

 

Obviously, there is a price that you pay for dish washing luxury.  Each 16 ounce bottle of liquid dish soap is approximately $9.00  Although, this is significantly higher than the brands you routinely purchase at the grocery store, every once in awhile, I say if we’re standing over a hot sink of dirty dishes, we deserve it!  If you agree, Caldrea has a wide variety of high end products that can be ordered online or are available in a limited number of retail shops throughout the country.    

 

Over the Top Mac and Cheese

Yield:  8 Servings

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese

1 ½ cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 ½ cups diced rindless Brie (cut from 1 lb wedge)

5 tablespoons butter, divided

¼ cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

¾ teaspoon nutmeg

4 cups whole milk

1 ¾ cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 lb penne pasta

PREPARATION

Mix all cheese together.  Set aside 1 cup for topping; cover and chill.  Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and stir until mixture turns golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Add thyme and nutmeg.  Gradually whisk in milk.  Simmer until thickened and smooth, stirring often, about 4 minutes.  Add cheeses from bowl.  Stir until melted and smooth

 

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add breadcrumbs and toss.  Stir until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until tender but firm to bite.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl.  Pour cheese mixture over and toss.  Divide among eight 1 ¼ cup custard cups.  Sprinkle with the reserved cheese.  Place cups on a rimmed baking sheet and cover with foil.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Uncover and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and continue baking for approximately another 20 minutes, until golden brown.

 

Source:  Kate and Matt Jennings – Bon Appetit – September 2007

 

Cucumber-Tomato Salad

Yield: 4 Servings

 

INGREDIENTS

1 seedless cucumber, sliced

½ small onion, thinly sliced

2 cups small tomatoes, cut into quarters

¼ cup oil and vinegar dressing, I prefer Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar Salad Dressing

½ teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Salt and freshly grated pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Stir together cucumber, onion and tomatoes.  Add olive and vinegar dressing, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Toss to coat and salt and pepper to taste.

 

Raspberry Banana Yogurt Freezer Pops

Raspberry-Banana Yogurt Freezer Pops

Yield:  10 Pops

INGREDIENTS

1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1 banana

3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, blueberries or strawberries (halved)

½ cup honey

PREPARATION

In a blender process 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt and 1 banana for 30 seconds or until smooth.  Bring 3 cups of fresh fruit and honey to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer 5 minutes.  Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, using the back of the spoon to squeeze out juice and pulp.  Discard skins and seeds.  Cover and chill fruit mixture 30 minutes.  Pour yogurt mixture evenly into 10 – 2 ounce pop molds.  Top with fruit mixture and swirl, if desired.  Top with lid of pop mold and insert craft sticks, leaving 1-1/2 to 2 inches sticking out of pop.  Freeze 6 hours or until sticks are solidly anchored and pops are completely frozen. 

 

Source: Southern Living Magazine – June 2008

 

Comforting Travels Again ……. Stone Ridge Tavern

ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

 

Snuggled in the Smoky Mountains is the beautiful city of Asheville, North Carolina.  Probably most famous for the Biltmore Estate, the city of Asheville offers an eclectic mix of fine arts, crafts and the home base to a myriad of outdoor activities like kayaking, rafting, golf, hiking and boating.  If you haven’t included Asheville on your list of future travel destinations, you really should, as it offers lots of entertainment options for the entire family, all year round.

 

There are a number of dining spots in Asheville and on a recent trip I discovered the Stone Ridge Tavern on Brevard Road, off Interstate #26 – Exit 33.  Stone Ridge Tavern is a family owned restaurant, with a nice, comfortable atmosphere.  The main dining room is anchored by a huge stone fireplace that I imagine is very inviting during the winter months.  The menu is varied, with a focus on entrée salads, seafood, pasta, steaks, burgers and chops, all at very reasonable prices. 

 

I visited several times during my stay and was not disappointed.  The food was delicious and the portions ample.  Service was also friendly and attentive.  During my first visit, I tried their Calabash Chicken Tenders with honey mustard dipping sauce.  The tenders were huge, perfectly fried and moist.  The homemade dipping sauce was excellent.  The sides included a baked potato which could have been my meal; chock full of bacon, cheddar cheese, sour cream and chives.  In addition, each entrée comes with a choice of salad and a basket of the most scrumptious hot rolls and cinnamon butter. 

 

The second visit, I decided to carryout to my hotel room and stay with something simple.  I ordered their Chicken Caesar Salad.  It consisted of crunchy romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, parmesan cheese, homemade croutons and house Caesar dressing.  Again, it was tasty and delicious and accompanied by those hot rolls and cinnamon butter.    

 

During my visits, I didn’t succumb to the dessert menu, however, it looked interesting with homemade Baklava, Tiramisu, as well as an assortment of cheesecakes and pies.  Overall, I would recommend that if you are in Asheville visiting or passing through on Interstate 26, you try the Stone Ridge Tavern.  I think you’ll find that you will get a delicious meal at a reasonable price, with excellent service. 

 

$$ – Entrees between $10-$20   

Salmon Burgers

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I saw Rachael Ray make these on 30 Minute Meals recently and I decided to give them a try at home.  I made a few adjustments for personal taste, omitting the poppy seeds, but adding some bread crumbs to tighten up the burgers during the grilling process.  End result, they were delicious!  

Yield: 4 Salmon Burgers

INGREDIENTS

Salmon Burgers

4 – 6 ounce salmon fillets, cut in cubes

1 tablespoon grilling seasoning

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

½ cup bread crumbs

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons dill, finely chopped

Olive oil

Cream Cheese and Scallion Sauce

3 scallions – green and white parts – finely chopped

½ cup sour cream

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Garnish

Tomatoes – sliced

Red Onion – sliced into rings

Lettuce leaves

Bread

4 Kaiser rolls, toasted

PREPARATION

Sauce:  Combine sour cream and cream cheese together in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir until smooth and creamy.  Add the chopped scallions and lemon juice.  Mix well and cover.  Refrigerate.

Salmon Burgers:  Place salmon chunks in a food processor and using the metal blade, pulse off and on until the salmon is the consistency of rough cut ground beef.  Remove from processor and mix in the grilling seasoning, sesame seeds, bread crumbs, dill and salt and pepper.  Form into 4 burgers and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and then add the salmon burgers.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side to ensure that the salmon is cooked through.  If you prefer pink in the middle, cook approximately 3-4 minutes per side.

Assembly:  Plate the salmon burger on a toasted roll and top with lettuce, tomato, red onion and a dollop of the cream cheese and scallion sauce. 

Pastry Cream

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Yield: 4 cups

 

INGREDIENTS

3 cups half and half

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

2 egg yolks

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

 

PREPARATION

Bring half and half to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan.  Whisk sugar, eggs, egg yolks and flour using an electric mixer with whisk attachment.  Gradually whisk in hot half and half.  Tip:  Be patient and make sure that you gradually whisk the hot mixture into the egg mixture otherwise, the heat will cause the eggs to scramble! 

Transfer to saucepan.  Whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.  Boil 1 minute.  Pour into medium bowl.  Stir in vanilla.  Press plastic onto the surface of the pastry cream.  Chill until cold, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead and keep chilled).

Pastry cream is extremely versatile and can be used in cream pies, filling for cream puffs or as a simple pudding.

Creamy Orzo with Chicken and Fresh Basil

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Yield: 6 Servings

INGREDIENTS

2 boneless chicken breasts, diced into 2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium sweet onion, finely chopped

2 gloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup low-sodium chicken stock

4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped; extra for garnish

¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese; more for garnish

¼ cup heavy cream

½ lb orzo pasta

Salt and freshly grated pepper to taste

PREPARATION

Prepare orzo as directed.  Drain and set aside.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil and add chopped onions.  Cook until the onions are tender and translucent.  Add the diced chicken and chopped garlic.  Over medium heat, cook until the chicken is tender and garlic softened, but make sure that the garlic does not burn, this is about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Slowly add the heavy cream and fresh basil, bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and add the cooked orzo and parmesan cheese.  Stir well, adding more grated cheese or cream to obtain the desired consistency.  Garnish with extra basil and parmesan cheese.