Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Apple PIe

Apple Pie is the BEST pie.

Well...actually...my FAVORITE is Boysenberry Pie. And there was this one time, while visiting my Grandma Ewing in Washington, that I picked BOWLS of wild blackberries and she baked me TWO Blackberry Pies...which will live as one of the best days of my life in my memories FOREVER.

But Apple Pie is pretty much darn near the most perfect pie in existence. And much more easily attained than the two above mentioned variety's of pie...

I love apple pie, and wanted to share my very favorite, best EVER, Apple Pie recipe with you...

Now, you can make your own crust...and sometimes I do...but usually I just use Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. It is easy and comes out great. So, the choice is yours...

Apple Pie

One pkg. Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust or enough pie dough to make a double-crust pie
8-10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (about 1/4-inch or so)
1-2 TBS lemon juice
1 cup sugar
2 TBS all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 TBS butter (chopped into chunks)
1 egg
Additional cinnamon/sugar mix to sprinkle

1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray your pie dish with Pam. Roll out half of pie crust and arrange it in pie pan, pressing gently to curves and walls of dish. Allow generous hang-over from edge of dish.

2. Toss apples into a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and stir until completely coated.

3. Transfer apple mixture to pastry-lined pie dish. Fill to HEAPING...apples should be spilling off. Try and get them all to stay put long enough for you to dot with butter and cover with second crust (which you may have to roll a bit thinner and wider to cover and overhang the apples.) If you can't fit all the apples in, that's okay...but make sure you get all the yummy cinnamon juice that has collected at the bottom of the bowl into your pie. If you have to, remove those excess apples and pour juice over what managed to stay put in pie. Pinch crusts together using thumb and fore and middle fingers to create "lace" at edge of pie. Trim excess, but save for later.

4. Cut vents in top of pie. Now...there are two ways you can glaze the crust...either using a WHOLE egg, or just the white. Depends on the look you're going for and the amount of golden-ness you want. So decide your look (I go back and forth...this year I used a whole egg), beat your egg in a cup, and with a pastry brush, GENEROUSLY glaze your top crust in an egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.

5. If you desire...you can use extra pie crust to make leafy cut-outs to decorate the edge of your pie. OR...you can use those extras to individually wrap some of the apples that just WOULDN'T STAY PUT in your pie for mini tarts. My mom always had mini pie dishes and made jelly tarts with the extra dough for us to munch on while we waited for the Thanksgiving Feast. OR - just throw it away and say: "Hey...I made an apple pie today...and that was enough!".

6. Rip aluminum foil into strips and spray with Pam, and cover pie edges so they don't burn. Bake about 30 minutes, remove foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes or until top is golden (mine got a little dark on top because I got distracted with laundry...but it is still gorgeous).

7. Cool on a wire rack and serve with ice cream. YUM!!!

(It is normal for pie to "fall" a bit as it cools...DO NOT FREAK OUT!!)

courtesy me!!!

Thanksgiving Stuffing

I love Thanksgiving. I'm awfully protective of it, too...like, I get very upset when the retail stores go straight from Halloween to Christmas decorations without even a nod to Thanksgiving (and all in July, too).

There are two things that I love MOST OF ALL for Thanksgiving, and they are Stuffing and Apple Pie.

This year, we went to friends for Thanksgiving dinner, and my friend asked me to bring my favorite thing...so I brought....STUFFING AND APPLE PIE.

Seriously...I was that predictable.

So I thought I'd share these amazing recipes with you...and you can try them out and see if they aren't just the best dad gum Stuffing and Apple Pie recipes out there!!!

I ALWAYS make a double batch of this...because I want to eat for 3 solid square meals for AT LEAST two days after Thanksgiving...so double if you're like me or are expecting a lot of holiday guests...

Thanksgiving Stuffing

1 bag Pepperidge Farm Cubed and Seasoned Stuffing (in a bag with red title)
a good cup and a half of chopped celery
a good cup and a half of chopped onion
Chicken broth (however many cups it says to have on the back of the bag of stuffing...I think 3)
1 STICK of butter (get the good salted sweet cream stuff)
a cup of whole button mushrooms, drained (about two jars worth)
One pound ground sausage (I usually go for the maple flavored)
3 Granny Smith or Liberty apples, peeled, cored, and diced (optional)

1. You're pretty much preparing the stuffing according to package directions, with a few minor adjustments. You're adding MORE celery and onion than called for, for example...so get that all chopped up...

You're also using a WHOLE STICK of butter. I think the guidelines call for 6 TBS...but you're just going to use the whole 8. So put that on a skillet and melt it, and add the onion and celery, and saute until onion and celery are almost soft. If you're lucky enough that your family will let you use apples, you cook them with the onion and celery, too. My family doesn't like apples in their stuffing, so I don't always get to add them. The beauty of doubling this recipe is that you can make one batch WITH apples, and one WITHOUT.

2. Meanwhile, brown up that pound of sausage.MMMmmmm....smells good.

3. When onion and celery are soft, add mushrooms and heat through.

4. Add sausage and remove from heat, stirring to combine flavors.

5. Heat your chicken broth to boiling, remove from heat and add bag of stuffing AND onion/celery/sausage/mushroom/possibly apple mixture. Stir/Fluff gently until moist.
6. Now...stuff your bird, but save some to stick in the oven, covered at 350, for about 30 minutes. If you want that yummy crispy top to your stuffing, remove the covering for the last 5 to 10 minutes, or after its had it's 30 minutes, put it under the broiler for a couple minutes.

This is so good...you'll never embarrass yourself by making Stove Top again!!
courtesy me!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stuffed and Baked Acorn Squash

This recipe has been adapted from several others and made my own. I claim it. It is one of my favorite things to eat in the fall...I literally cannot get enough...and I want to share it with the masses because I am feeling uncharacteristically generous today...

On a side note: This is NOT my hubbys favorite dish. He calls it "chick food". So that means more for me...and the kids...

On a sider note: This can be a side dish OR an entree...it depends on how you serve it. Tonight it was our entree, served with a spinach salad and a hearty shepherds bread. But I've served it both ways...

Stuffed and Baked Acorn Squash
2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
4 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and diced (I use Granny Smiths)
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and diced
1 pound sausage (preferably Italian sweet or chorizo)
4 TBS dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 TBS butter
1/4 cup apple cider
1 TBS dark rum (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325. Butter a baking pan. Place acorn squash in baking dish CUT SIDE DOWN. Add 1/4 inch hot water to pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, brown and drain sausage. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix apples, pear, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large skillet, melt 4 TBS butter. Add apple mixture and cook until fruit is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in cider and rum. Simmer, stirring often, until the fruit is tender, about 8 minutes. Add sausage and heat through, being careful not to overcook the sausage.
4. Remove squash from oven; pour off water from pan and turn squash cut side up. Fill squash with apple/sausage mixture. Bake until squash is tender, about 15 minutes more.
courtesy me!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Iron Chef Miami: November 2009 - Gingersnap Crumble Pumpkin Parfaits

And the winner is...ME!!! With the Gingersnap Crumble Pumpkin Parfaits!!!

Aren't they pretty? They're yummy, too...and an original way to serve pumpkin...enjoy!!!

Gingersnap Crumble Pumpkin Parfaits
1 qt. vanilla ice cream
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
2 TBS packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whipped cream
Additional pumpkin pie spice
1-1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps
1/4 cup melted butter
1. Prepare Gingersnap Crumble by stirring crushed gingersnaps with 1/4 cup butter until just coated. Set aside.
2. Place ice cream in refrigerator for 30 minutes to soften. Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir ice cream to soften further; fold into pumpkin mixture. Cover and freeze 20 minutes or until mixture holds it's shape when heaped with a spoon.
3. Spoon ice cream into parfait glasses; sprinkle with Gingersnap Crumble. Cover and freeze until firm (4-48 hours).
4. Before serving, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice...
courtesy Shannan Johnson

Iron Chef Miami: November 2009 - Pumpkin Dip

Melodee made this yummy dip for apples...and as an added bonus, she sprinkled the apples with cinnamon and sugar!! It was like having apple and pumpkin pie together!!!

Pumpkin Dip
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 (7-oz) jars marshmallow creme
1 (15-oz) can solid pack pumpkin
1-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1. Mix together, serve with sliced apples and gingersnap cookies.
courtesy Melodee Cooper; adapted from Kathi Boix

Iron Chef Miami: November 2009 - Pumpkin Bars

Ann's' entry into Iron Chef were these luscious pumpkin bars with a decadent cream cheese frosting! Yum!

Pumpkin Bars
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1. Mix eggs, sugar, and oil. Add dry ingredients. Add pumpkin and mix well.
2. Pour into a greased 11x17 cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
1 (8-oz) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1. Mix until smooth and spread on bars after they are cooled
courtesy Ann Merrill

Monday, November 2, 2009

Autumn Pasta Toss

This is my kind of recipe...first of all, it involves pasta, and pretty much anything involving pasta gets a big seal of approval from me. Secondly, it uses lots of fresh veggies, and at their seasonal peak. Another big gold star. It also uses very subtle seasonings, relying on the actual veggies to flavor the dish...making it taste very fresh. It's a really enjoyable dish...

We serve this with freezer garlic bread, and a nice romaine salad with red, orange, and yellow peppers. Go ahead and double if you're feeding more than 4...

Autumn Pasta Toss
1 lb. penne pasta, uncooked
1/2 cup Italian Vinaigrette dressing
1 small onion, chopped
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, cut into medium cups
6 oz. shittake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed, quartered
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese, divided
1. Cook penne pasta as directed on package.
2. Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet with tight-fitting lid on medium-high heat. Add onions and squash; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in mushrooms and Brussels sprouts; cook an additional 5 minutes. Add chicken stock; stir until well blended. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Simmer 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Note: Jason actually made dinner tonight...and he recommends partially steaming squash first to assist in softening. Otherwise, prepare to spend longer than the recommended time at the stove cooking squash.
3. Drain pasta; place in large serving bowl. Add vegetable mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese; toss lightly. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve warm.
courtesy Kraft foods

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Harvest Ratatouille

Yummy, yummy, yummy...warm food in my tummy...

I made ratatouille tonight...but a simpler version than the Thomas Keller recipe I posted earlier. I thought perhaps that some people might be a little...intimidated...by copying a famous chef's recipe (although it is PAINFULLY simple)...so I am making a simpler version with a happy autumn name.

Don't bother doubling...just serve with French bread. It is VERY hearty. Enjoy!!

Harvest Ratatouille

1 medium onion, chopped

2 TBS oil

1 medium unpeeled eggplant, cubed

1 medium zucchini, cubed

1/2 of a medium red pepper, chopped

1/2 of a medium yellow pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced (I always add more)

1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes, drained, cut up

1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomato salad dressing

1/4 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp salt

grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook onion in hot oil in a large skillet on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add eggplant, cook and stir 5 minutes. Add zucchini, peppers, and garlic; cook and stir 5 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, dressing, thyme, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

courtesy Kraft foods

Pumpkin Tea Bread and Apple Cider Punch

Okay, this post has possibly the lamest picture EVER in the history of food blogging.

It's because I am just as busy as a slightly unbalanced bumble bee. See...on Tuesday, I had a Girl Scout Halloween Party at my house, and I spent all day cleaning and running errands. And then at the party...we made caramel apples, and there was caramel EVERYWHERE!! Then we played games like the one where you eat the donut off the string without your hands. And all those crumbs, combined with more crumbs and sugar from various other cupcakes, cookies, and candies all stuck to the caramel...and...well, you get the picture. Walking across my floor was like crossing a sticky mine field.

So I had to get up super early to clean AGAIN, and then bake because I had a recipe group to attend. The theme was "Autumn", and I wanted to make my Pumpkin Tea Bread and Apple Cider Punch, since I'm not using either recipe for November's Iron Chef competition.

Anyway - of COURSE I ran out of time, and had to be all crazy...and that is why, my friends, I know hold the title for taking the crappiest food blogging photo ever...which is really saying something if you look through this blog and see how crappy most of my other pictures are...

You need to forgive the yellow tint to most of the photos...it was around 5:30am, and the fluorescent lights in my kitchen are not attractive lighting.

Pumpkin Tea Bread

this is a recipe from the Fraley Family archives

2/3 cup shortening
2-2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 pound can pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3-1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour bundt pan.

2. Mix shortening and sugar until fluffy.

3. Add all liquid ingredients - mix until blended. Sift dry ingredients together and add to pumpkin mixture. Mix well.

4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

5. Remove from oven. Let cool, then flip onto serving platter. Drizzle with powdered sugar icing.
and now I humbly present the WORST food picture EVER...taken as I'm about to drive away and remember that I never took a picture of the finished bread...(drum roll, please...)

recipe courtesy Fraley Family Archives
Apple Cider Punch
6 cups apple cider
2 cups cranberry-raspberry juice OR orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 bottle sparkling white grape juice
1. Combine all juices EXCEPT sparkling white grape juice.
2. SLOWLY add sparkling white grape juice.
3. Serve immediately.
courtesy Fraley Family Archives

Giant Italian-Style Meatballs

My kids LOVE meatballs...all kinds, and all shapes. But they especially love GIANT meatballs. And this recipe is just SO DARN EASY...I cannot resist...
I don't double...but you can make the meatballs much smaller and get more, or use less meat and stuffing and make less. We served these with fettuccine and tomato sauce, store-bought garlic bread, and green beans.
Giant Italian-Style Meatballs
1 pkg. Stove Top stuffing mix for Chicken
2 lbs. ground beef
1-1/4 cup water
2 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 400.
2. Mix all ingredients until well-blended.
3. Shape into 7-8 LARGE meatballs. Put in a single layer in a foil-lined 13x9 in. pan.
4. Bake 30 minutes or until done.
courtesy Kraft foods

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Skillet Stuffed Peppers

Have you noticed how expensive bell peppers are lately? Am I the only one to notice? Did they just suddenly leap in price, or was it a gradual ascent that I didn't notice until it was so high I had to say: "DAMN!! Those there are some expensive peppers!"

I don't know the answer, but I do know that when my local grocery store had peppers on sale for .99 a pound, I had to buy 'em (we'll discuss the fact that .99 a pound is a sale price at a latter date...when my heart stops palpitating at the sight of an empty bank account).

One of my FAVORITE autumn/winter recipes is Skillet Stuffed Peppers. I don't really know why...they are not especially autumn or fall dishes...that's just when I like to cook them.

This recipe is really easy...it uses copious amounts of A-1 sauce, which my children love. I always double the filling, because my kids are less for the peppers and more for the meat/rice mixture. I also only cook 4 peppers, instead of the recommended 6, because my kids can't eat a whole pepper (although they eat TWICE the suggested meat/rice filling)...so I cut the peppers in half and give them extra insides. And you steam buttered carrots right along with the peppers, which are a huge hit for veggie choices at my house...so this is an all-around family friendly recipe.

We served it with those pop-from-a-can Pillsbury biscuts...so very gourmet!!

Skillet Stuffed Peppers

1/2 cup cooked rice
3/4 lb ground beef
1/4 minced fresh onion
3 TBS A-1 sauce (I use more...but it's a personal preference thing)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 12-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
6 large green peppers
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (or you can use the pre-peeled, ready-to-eat baby carrots like I do)
3 TBS butter
1/2 cup water

1. While rice is cooking, in medium skillet brown beef until crumbly (I add extra several dashes of A-1 to cook into the meat...we like it a bit spicy). Add onion. Cook until onion is soft. Remove from heat. Mix in A-1, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, corn, and rice.

2. Cut tops, seeds, and membranes from peppers. Discard. Fill peppers with meat and rice mixture.
3. In a 10-inch skillet (I use my stock pot), place peppers and carrots. Add butter and water. Simmer, covered, 30-40 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
courtesy Best Recipes from the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Can and Jars by Ceil Dyer

Monday, October 12, 2009

Iron Chef Miami: October 2009 - Capellini Caprese

The winning submission into our Iron Chef challenge was Tina Fabiano's Capellini Caprese. My favorite part about this dish was the addition of capers. It REALLY made a difference...

Capellini Caprese

or, as Tina calls it..."Fresh Tomato Sauce"

2 Ibs Roma tomatoes dice
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 cloves of garlic not heads chopped
Basil as many as you like chopped
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp Capers

1. Heat oil in pan, add garlic and stir until lightly brown. Add tomatoes and let it simmer.

2. Add basil, salt, pepper and capers and let it simmer again for 5 minutes.

3. Serve over pasta. I prefer Angel Hair pasta. Top with fresh Parmesan cheese.

You can also serve over chicken, meatballs or fish.

So easy and simple...but what a culinary delight!! Yummy, Yummy, Yum. Congratulations, Tina!!

courtesy Tina Fabiano

Iron Chef Miami: October 2009 - Fresh Herb-Tomato Crostini

This is another amazing entry from our Iron Chef Miami competition for October, submitted by Heidi Tyler. Its a GREAT appetizer (I ate, like 4 of them...so make lots!! And then invite me over!!)
Fresh Herb-Tomato Crostini
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 large tomato, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 TBS chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add tomato, onion, parsley, and mint; gently toss to coat.
2. Top each crostini with about 2 rounded teaspoonfuls of tomato mixture. Sprinkle with feta. Serve.
Note: This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead; just cover and store in the refrigerator.
To make crostini:
Preheat oven to 350. Stir 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves, pressed. Brush 1 side of a sliced French bread baguette (slices should be about 1 inch thick). Bake, garlic side up, 10-12 minutes until lightly toasted.
courtesy Heidi Tyler

Iron Chef Miami: October 2009 - Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

We had some really yummy dishes this month for our first-ever Iron Chef Miami competition. Our featured ingredient was "tomatoes"...and this entry was great because it was fairly simple, you could make it with items found in your pantry, and it is a Weight Watchers recipe!!! It was entered by Melodee Cooper.

Crock pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

1-1/2 pounds chicken, cooked and shredded (or two cans canned chicken)
15 oz. whole tomatoes
10 oz. enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
4 oz. chopped green chilies
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups water
14-1/2 oz. fat-free chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 whole bay leaf
6 whole corn tortillas
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 TBS chopped cilantro

optional: 1 can of whole kernel corn, 1-1/2 cups of cooked white rice

optional additional garnish: shredded pepper-jack cheese, torn fresh cilantro

1. In a Crock pot, combine chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chilies, and garlic. Add water, broth, and seasonings. Add can of corn, if using. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil; cut into 2-1/2 by 1/2-inch strips. Place on baking sheet and bake 5-10 minutes until crisp, turning occasionally.

3. Prepare rice separately and add to soup just before serving...heat through.

4. Ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with tortilla strips, cilantro, and cheese.

courtesy Melodee Cooper

Iron Chef Miami: October 2009

So, a couple weeks ago, three of my girlfriends and myself were lounging around a pool...

...isn't that a GREAT way to start a story?

Don't you wish you were lounging around a pool?

I suppose I shouldn't admit that that was our occupation for the day..."pool loungers".

After all...I work very hard to dispel the "housewife" myth of lazy ladies who hang out in yoga pants all day and play on Facebook and have housekeepers and nanny's that do any actual "housewife" stuff. That's why I prefer terms like "homemaker"...or better yet..."domestic goddess"...

...of course, there isn't another activity that is more "goddess-like" than lounging around a pool with your girlfriends, sipping lemonade and eating fresh-cut fruit...

...but still...

ANYWAY...we were lounging and chatting and LAUGHING (which is my favorite part)...and talking about how we needed more stuff to do (yah right)...and we came up with this GREAT idea to host our own Iron Chef competition...

...we'd invite a few other choice ladies and have a monthly mini cook-off on the second Monday of every month, and choose a secret ingredient to "star" ...something easy and accessible to make great...

So today was our FIRST EVER Iron Chef Miami competition...and the secret ingredient was "tomatoes". We had GREAT entries...and after tasting some delicious entries, we voted, and crowned Tina Fabiano as our Iron Chef for October!! She won with her Capellini Caprese!! It was AWESOME!!

Doesn't everything look delicious?

This is Crock pot Chicken Tortilla Soup by Melodee Cooper. We topped it with tortilla strips, fresh cilantro, and pepper jack cheese. Best of all...it was a Weight Watchers recipe!!

This is Tina Fabiano's WINNING entry, Capellini Caprese. She puts capers in it...which makes it amazing.

Heidi Tyler made Fresh Herb-Tomato Crostini. So good...I ate four...

This is my entry...Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons...which I got from a recipe I found in Family Fun magazine a few months ago. It is WAY delish!!

We had a GREAT time...we tried everyone's dish and graded on presentation, originality, and taste. Then we tallied the points and named an Iron Chef!!
I'm posting all the recipes here on my blog!! So dig in!! Enjoy!! And we'll see you next month when I host our next Iron Chef competition...featuring "pumpkin"...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blueberry Cheese Rolls

So I made this ultra yummy breakfast danish thing on the first day of school for my kids. It was easy, and could be done with a variety of fruits, if you aren't so hot on blueberries (but you should be...blueberries are VERY good for you...)

My kids gobbled them up!! I doubled...but you do what you need to do, okay?

Blueberry Cheese Rolls

1 pkg. (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
4 oz. (1/2 of an 8-oz. brick) cream cheese, softened
2 TBS sugar
1/2 cup blueberries, divided

1. Preheat oven to 375. Unroll dough into four rectangles; firmly press perforations together to seal.

2. Combine cream cheese and sugar, spread onto dough rectangles to within 1/2-inch of the edges.
Top evenly with blueberries. Bring opposite corners of rectangles together; press together to seal. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 11-13 minutes until golden brown.

(You can use 1/2 cup of chopped red or green apples, 1/2 cup of raisins, raspberries, frozen peaches, or any other fruit instead of blueberries.)
courtesy Kraft foods

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Potato Summer Salad

Ahhh...another potato salad recipe...and this one is aptly named for the season in which the salads appearance is the most common.
I used red potatoes...not necessarily "new" reds...but very small red's...because that's what I bought at the store and had to use. And this salad is great served chilled OR warm...so you can be pretty flexible if you forgot to make it in the am and have to whip it together real quick before dinner.
New Potato Summer Salad
3 lb. new potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup bacon bits (this recipe calls for those bacon bits you buy to top salads with...but you all know my love affair with bacon...so I went ahead and fried up a pound and added it in. It'll make the salad...but perhaps not your waistline... better. Just you try it and see...)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 Miracle Whip
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1. Cook potatoes in boiling water 10 to 12 minutes or until fork tender. Drain. Place in large bowl. Add onions, tomatoes, bacon bits, and basil; mix lightly.
2. Mix remaining ingredients. Add to potato mixture; toss to coat. Cover.
3. Refrigerate several hours or until chilled OR...
...toss ingredients with still warm potatoes and serve WARM.
courtesy Kraft foods

Fresh Watermelon Spring Salsa

I haven't made salsa in awhile...and I was all thrilled. I love making specialty salsas...they're just so much fun.

Then, I was seeding jalapenos. And after I was done, my nose itched, so I casually rubbed it.

WOW!!! Now - I know better than that. You're not supposed to work with peppers without gloves...and if you are stupid or lazy enough to skip gloves (like I ALWAYS do), you WASH YOUR HANDS DIRECTLY AFTER CONTACT!!

My mucus membranes are seriously stinging.

Better be damn good salsa.

This salsa is primarily intended for fish entrees...where it makes a delightfully light and juicy topper. Just bake your fish of choice (we used wild-caught perch) with a little lemon and pepper (very light on the pepper), and top with salsa.

Viola!! You have an colorful, visually pleasing dish that is perfect for summer.

I doubled...because I like this salsa later in front of the TV with Pita Chips.

Fresh Watermelon Spring Salsa

1-1/2 ups chopped watermelon
1 cup chopped PEELED cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 TBS chopped cilantro (I LOVE smelling cilantro...)
2 TBS Zesty Italian dressing
2 tsp minced serrano chile (I used jalapenos...cause I'm a big fan of using what you got instead of making special trips to the store...but no matter what chile...USE GLOVES or WASH YOUR HANDS...or suffer the consequences)
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Mix all ingredients until well-blended.

2. Serve spooned over cooked fish.

Please forgive the paper plates...I'm still in the process of moving...

courtesy Kraft foods

Banana Sour Cream Cake

I am very stressed out right now.

And I decided the best thing to do to relieve my stress was to bake.
If you have some over-ripe bananas sitting on your counter (like I did), and are tired of banana bread (like I am), try this recipe.

Right now.

Banana Sour Cream Cake

1 pkg. (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup oil
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 pkg. powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped (i did not use nuts..as I feel that nuts ruin almost every baked goodie I've made. I am not a fan of nuts in baked things...ESPECIALLY brownies!! YUCK!!)

1. Heat oven to 350. Beat cake mix, eggs, bananas, sour cream, and oil with mixer on low until moistened, scraping bottom often. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 13x9 inch pan. (My 13x9 inch pan was busy holding last nights leftover Seafood Lasagna, and it's back-up was lost at the last ward function, so I used standard 9-inch rounds instead).

2. Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake completely on wire rack.

3. Beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium until blended. Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition.

4. Remove cake from pan. Carefully cut cake crosswise in half using a serrated knife. Place 1 cake half, top-side down, on plate; spread with frosting. Top with remaining cake half, top-side up. Frost top and sides. Press nuts on sides,. Refrigerate leftovers. (I didn't slice cakes since I made two rounds...and again, I totally skipped the nuts...which made the cake better. )

Wanna know a trick for neatly frosting a cake? Freeze layers for about 20 minutes BEFORE frosting. This helps set crumbs on the cut edges of the cake layers so they DON'T end up in the frosting.

courtesy Kraft foods

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baked Seafood Lasagna and Garden Vegetable Salad Stackers

In most of the U.S. of A, summer is winding down. School is starting. Days are cooling off.
But not in the Jungle. In the Jungle...summer is heating up.

I really miss Autumn. It's my favorite time to cook. I have more recipes suited for Fall than any other season (just think apples and squash...lots and lots and lots of apples and squash).

But here it's still WAY TOO HOT to start my Fall Favorites. So - I am hosting another FABULOUS summer recipe that I hope tantalizes taste buds no matter WHERE you live...yummy Baked Seafood Lasagna with a fresh Garden Vegetable Salad Stacker.

I didn't double the lasagna...it feeds 12. But you'll need to make enough Salad Stackers for everyone at your table. Incidentally, both these recipes are GREAT party recipes. The lasagna can be prepared ahead of time, and bake in the oven while you sit and enjoy your company. And they'll think you slaved away for HOURS...which of course you won't. And the Stackers work well as sides OR appetizers...they are VERY visually appealing...and again your culinary genius will be praised. Oh - and please pardon the paper plates...we are in the middle of moving...it just can't be helped.
But when you think about it...this IS a summer recipe...and who wants to do dishes in the summer, anyway?

Won't you feel good about yourself then?

Baked Seafood Lasagna

3 TBS butter
3 TBS flour
3 cups milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I actually used 1 cup...cause I'm a rebel like that)
1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1 cup Cottage Cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
9 lasagna noodles, cooked, drained
1/2 lb. fresh or thawed frozen cleaned medium shrimp, cooked, w/o tails ( I used more...my kids like shrimp)
2 cans (6 oz. each) crab meat, drained, flaked

1. Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in saucepan on medium heat. add flour, stir with whisk until well blended. Gradually add milk, mixing well after each addition. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese; set aside.

2. Combine spinach, cottage cheese, 2/3 cup Mozzarella, and the nutmeg in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Spread 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 inch casserole dish. Cover with 3 lasagna noodles and layers of 1/2 EACH of the shrimp, crab meat, and then spinach mixture. Top with another 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese sauce, and start the layers all over again (noodles, shrimp, crab meat, and spinach mixture). Top with remaining 3 lasagna noodles, remaining Parmesan cheese sauce, and the remaining 1/3 cup Mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil.

4. Bake 25 minutes. Uncover, and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until lasagna is heated through and top is browned (after the 20 minutes uncovered cooking time, I moved the lasagna to the bottom rack in the oven and turned on the broiler for a few minutes...just to get the cheese ca little toasty).

5. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces. Serve.

Garden Vegetable Salad Stacker

2 large tomatoes, each cut into 6 slices
6 oz Mozzarella cheese, cut into 6 slices (I buy the pre-sliced stuff at CostCo)
1/3 cup Italian dressing
1 large red onion, cut into 6 slices
1 seedless cucumber, cut into 12 slices
6 fresh basil leaves (I forgot these...but they add to the presentation)

1. Place 6 tomato slices on platter; top each with 1 cheese slice. Drizzle with 1/2 dressing.

2. Top each stack with 1 onion slice, 2 cucumber slices and a second tomato slice.

3. Drizzle with remaining dressing; top with basil.

both of these recipes are courtesy Kraft foods