Sunday, September 11, 2011

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: September 2011 - Peanut Butter Stuffed Hot Fudge Cupcakes

So...I got this recipe off Tasty Kitchen...and I made them for my birthday because I am a chocolate/peanut butter FIEND...

...and they were SO GOOD, that when Septembers Iron Chef was announced, and the secret ingredient was "Peanut Butter"...I knew EXACTLY what I would be making.



Peanut Butter Stuffed Hot Fudge Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes -

1 whole Egg
3/4 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 cup PLUS 1 TBS Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 TBS Sour Cream
1-1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Dark Cocoa Powder
1-1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cups Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce (recipe follows)

For the Buttercream -

1/2 cup Butter, softened
2/3 cup Peanut Butter
3 cups Powdered Sugar (I found I needed LESS than this to get the creamy consistency I was after...you'll have to play with both the amounts of powdered sugar and milk depending on how thick and/or creamy you like your buttercream frosting)
1 TBS milk (have more on hand)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Salt

For the Hot Fudge Sauce -

1 cup Sugar
1 cup Dark Cocoa Powder
1 pinch Salt
2 TBS flour
1 cup Boiling Water or Scalding Milk
1 TBS Butter
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions:

For the Cupcakes -

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk, cream, butter, and vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in sour cream.

3. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture,. Mix until batter is smooth, then swirl in fudge sauce. Line a muffin tin (12-count) with liners and using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to each cup. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

For the Buttercream Frosting -

Cream butter and peanut butter together in a bowl of an electric mixer. Add the powdered sugar with mixer on low speed and gradually add milk and vanilla extract. Add a pinch of salt and mix until frosting is smooth. If too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more sugar.



Put frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a tip. Poke a hole in the cupcake with the pastry tip and fill the cupcake. Then use the remaining frosting to frost the cooled cupcake.

For The Hot Fudge Sauce -

Combine sugar, cocoa, salt, and flour in a bowl or a pot over a double boiler. Bring water or milk to a boil in another saucepan or in the microwave. Gradually add hot liquid to sugar mixture. Stir constantly until mixture thickens.

Once it has reached desired thickness, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Drizzle over cupcakes and store the rest of the sauce in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.



By Shannan Johnson

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: September 2011 - Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

One of the things I love about Angel Anderson's recipes is that they are simple. 
They require just a few ingredients that everyone has, and a few easy steps...and viola!! 
A masterpiece that ALWAYS comes out super tasty!! How does she do it? 
 
I really don't know...but man, oh man...am I glad she does!!
 

 Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
  
Blend:
 
1 yellow cake mix
1cup peanut butter 
1 stick butter (softened)
2 large eggs
Press into 9x13 pan...reserving 1 cup
Filling:
 
stir and cook over low heat:
2 tablespoons butter
1pkg semi sweet chocolate chips ( 2cups)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
 
When chocolate is smooth pour over crust mixture in pan. 
 
Sprinkle reserved crust on top and bake at 325 oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
 
DELISH!!
 
by Angel Anderson 

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: September 2011 - Udon Peanut Butter Noodles


This delightful dish was presented by Sherie McKenna...and I absolutely loved it. It was fresh nd easy...and had a surprising spicy kick, thanks to the chile oil. YUM!!!

Udon Peanut Butter Noodles

Ingredients:

1 (9 ounce) package dried Udon Noodles
1/2 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 TBS minced fresh ginger root
3 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS peanut butter
1-1/2 TBS honey
2 tsp chile oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole rotisserie chicken, skinned and boned, meat pulled into large chunks
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot with lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Drop the udon noodles in a few at a time and return to a boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain; return to the pot.

2. While the udon noodles are cooking, whisk the chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, chile oil, and garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a bol, whisking until the peanut butter has melted. Pour the sauce over the noodles. Add the chicken and red bell pepper; toss until the noodles are evenly coated in the sauce. Sprinkle with green onions, chopped peanuts, and cilantro to serve.

By Sherie McKenna

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: May 2011 - Garlic Sauteed Spinach

Our lovely new friend Bonnie brought a wonderfully simple, delightfully tasteful dish this month...one that REALLY highlighted the theme...

...a simple and flavorful sauteed spinach.

It's perfection lies in it's simplification...another winner adapted from the Barefoot Contessa.


Garlic Sauteed Spinach

  • 1-1/2 pounds baby spinach leaves
  • 2 TBS good olive oil
  • 2 TBS chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter
  • Lemon
  • Sea salt (optional) 

1. Rinse spinach well in cold water to make sure it's very clean. Spin it dry in a salad spinner, leaving just a little water clinging to the leaves.

2. In a very large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic over medium heat for about 1 minute, but not until it's browned. Add all the spinach, the salt, and the pepper to the pot, toss with garlic and oil, cover the pot, and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover the pot, turn the heat on high, and cook spinach another minute, stirring with a wooden spoon until all the spinach is wilted.

3. Using a slotted spoon, lift the spinach to a serving bowl and top with the butter, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of sea or kosher salt.

4. Serve HOT.

Courtesy Bonnie

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: May 2011 - Tomato-and-Spianch-Stuffed Chicken Roulade

Terri was our "hostess with the most-ess" this month...it was her first time and she did fantastic!!

She also made a REALLY delish dish, which I thought was in top runnings for both Taste AND Presentation. It was REALLY beautiful, and REALLY yummy.

I had seconds...(shhhh...don't tell).


Tomato-and-Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Roulade

  • 4 6-ounce chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1 cup whole baby spinach, divided
  • 1 cup shredded lowfat cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 slices
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 TBS olive oil

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped baby spinach
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • Fresh or dried basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. Place chicken on work surface, smooth side down. Top with 1/4 cup spinach, 1/4 cup cheese, and 1 tomato slice. Fold in ends and roll tightly. Place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining chicken.

3. Whisk together egg whites and broth. divide flour onto two large plates.

4. Coat rolled chicken with flour, then dip in egg whites, and back into flour. Shake off any excess. Set chicken on baking sheet lined with wax paper.

5. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Brown each roulade, then placed on unlined baking sheet. bake for 20 minutes.

6. While chicken is baking, prepare topping. In a small saucepan, combine tomato, spinach, vinegar, broth, and herbs. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Slice each roulade horizontally into 1-inch slices and place on a plate. Top each portion with warm tomato mixture and serve.

Courtesy Terri Metts

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: May 2011 - Spinach Dip

I love that we had two delicious spinach dips at Iron Chef...one hot (by Angel) and one cold (by Rachel). They were both different...and delicious.

Rachel easily took the Presentation prize...her spread was gorgeous. I just love dips in bread bowls...they look great, and after all the dip is gone...you get to rip apart and eat the bread!!!



Spinach Dip

  • 1 pkg. Knorr Vegetable Soup mix (peas removed)
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 pkg. 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • French bread bowl, hollowed out (save inside and cut into cubes)
  • Veggie sticks and/or pita chips
1. Combine sour cream and mayo. Add vegetable soup mix, without peas, stir to combine. Add spinach and mix well.

2. Store dip in refrigerator until ready to serve.

3. For service, spoon dip into hollowed out bread. Serve with additional bread chunks, assorted veggie sticks, and/or pita chips

courtesy Rachel Quinton

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: May 2011 - Spinach, Artichoke, and Ricotta Lasagna

I was very unhappy with my Iron Chef entries last month...and that was a first for me. I don't think I had ever cooked anything truly bad before. Maybe unique...but not bad. And the sad thing was that it was a REMARKABLE secret ingredient...lemon was soooo good. And everyone's food was delicious, and amazing...and mine...


well...


...mine sucked.

Anyway, I swore that this month I wouldn't make the same mistake and would stick to something that I am experienced at making and KNOW...without a shadow of a doubt...is GOOD. No new recipes...just a tried-and-true family favorite. Maybe something like "Quick Italian Spinach Pie" or "Florentine Soup".


But then I saw this ad in my Sunday coupon insert from Sorrento cheese...it was an add to download their FREE lasagna cookbook, titled For the Love of Lasagna. There was a picture of a BEAUTIFUL slice of Spinach Lasagna...

And I just HAD to have the cookbook (if you are unaware about my cookbook needs, see this post.)...because I HAD to make that lasagna.

So I went on the website, www.greatcheese.com/lasagna ,  and downloaded my free copy. All you needed was the code, which is LOVE1. 

It's an appropriate password...because that's just what I did...fell in LOVE. 

I've never seen such gorgeous and unique lasagna creations!! There is the recipe I made for Iron chef...but oh so many more...recipes with names like: "Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce", "Eggplant Ricotta Lasagna with Arrabiata Sauce", "Portobella and Pancetta with Parmesan Lasagna", and "Chicken, Roasted Fennel, and Cauliflower Lasagna".


And then there are OTHER pastas...like "Gnocchi with Italian Sausage,Mozzarella, and Rappini", or "Linguine with Herbed Ricotta and Eggplant".


And finally...ohhhh finally...there are desserts..."Chocolate Pistachio Cannoli Lasagna" and "Strawberry Grand Marnier® Lasagna".


And the pictures are gorgeous. And it's an e-booklet...so no cluttering your already burgeoning bookshelves!! So I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend you download this cookbook.


And then make THIS lasagna FIRST...it's what I made for our Spinach-themed Iron Chef...


...and it completely redeemed me by winning 1st place in taste!!

 


Spinach, Artichoke, and Ricotta Lasagna
  • 8 oz. Sorrento® mozzarella, shredded
  • 15 oz. container Sorrento® ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups onions, G-inch dice
  • 10 oz. package frozen chopped
  • spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
  • 4 cups béchamel sauce (see pg. 39)
  • 12 sheets no boil lasagna noodles
  • 3 cups artichoke hearts in brine,quartered
  • 3 oz. Parmesan, shredded, about 1 cups

Preheat oven to 400˚ F.

1. Mix ricotta and egg in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Sauté the onions in the oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper.

3. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1-1/2 cups béchamel on bottom of pan and top with 4 sheets lasagna noodles.

4. Layer with 1/2 of the ricotta, 1/2 of the spinach mixture, 1/2 of the artichokes, 1 cup béchamel, 1/2 of the mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan.

5. Continue layering with 4 more noodles, the rest of the ricotta, spinach mixture, artichokes, mozzarella, 1 cup of béchamel, and 1/2 cup more of Parmesan.

6. Finish with the last layer of noodles, 1 cup of béchamel, and ½ cup of Parmesan.

7. Cover with parchment and then aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes until slightly bubbling. Remove foil and parchment and continue to bake until top is browned, about 10 minutes more. Cool 10 minutes before serving to allow lasagna to set up.

Optional: Serve each slice atop a generous spoonful of basic tomato sauce.

Béchamel Sauce

  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 shallots or 1 medium yellow
  • onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • G cup all purpose flour
  • 3H cups whole milk
  • I tsp. nutmeg, grated

1. Melt butter until foaming in medium saucepan on medium.

2. Add shallots or onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent,
about 4 minutes.

3. Stir in flour and cook for about 2 minutes making sure not to brown.

4. Whisk in milk slowly and bring mixture to boil. Stir in nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.

courtesy Sorrento and Shannan Johnson

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: May 2011 - Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Spinach

Ah-hah!!! Here's another of Sherie's famous dishes...but THIS TIME...I actually GOT the recipe!!

I think I shared with you on my main blog about how Sherie's dishes always seem to be AMAZING to me? Our palates must be similar. Well...she knocked it out of the park again for me this month, and walked away with a little prize, to boot!!



Garlic Mashed Potatoes With Spinach

  • 4 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 boxes chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1. Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Salt water and boil potatoes until tender...about 12-15 minutes.

2. Squeeze the water from the spinach in a clean dish towel.

3. Drain potatoes and set aside.

4. Melt butter in the hot pot, then add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in cream, add the spinach, separating the greens as you do. Season greens with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

5. Add potatoes to the pot and mash to a desired consistency.

courtesy Sherie McKenna

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: May 2011 - Spinach Artichoke Dip

Angel always brings the good stuff...like warm Spinach Artichoke Dip with homemade tortilla chips...

yum, yum, yum, yum...

This rivals the dip at the Lux...I could've eaten more...but didn't want to look like a pig!! (oink, oink!)


Spinach Artichoke Dip

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) container Alfredo pasta sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Place gralicin small baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven 20-30 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat. When cool enough to touch, squeeze softened garlic from skins.

3. In an 8x8-inch baking dish, spread the roasted garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts, Alfredo-style pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and cream cheese.

4. Cover and bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted and bubbly. Serve warm.

courtesy Angel Anderson

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: May 2011 - Spinach Souffle

This was a remarkably light and fluffy souffle submitted by Rose. Total props because it didn't deflate...and quite honestly, mine always do. :(




Spinach Souffle
  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 TBS very finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, fresh is best
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1. Thaw spinach in a colander; squeeze well to get as much moisture as possible out.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 1-qt casserole or souffle dish.

3. Heat butter in a sucepan over medium low heat. When butter has melted, add flour; stir until smooth and bubbling. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. When mixture is thick and bubbling, remove from heat. Stir in the finely chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the nutmeg.

4. In a metal or glass mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks have formed. In a separate bowl, beat yolks until frothy and lemon colored.

5. Stir egg yolks into the sauce mixture; stir in the spinach.

6. Stir about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the spinach mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture.

7. Pour into a prepared siuffle dish; set dish in a large pan then add water to a depth of about 1 inch.

8. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. The top will be lightly browned. serve immediately.

Courtesy Rose Gertner

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Baked Alaska

I was looking for new and exciting Easter recipes ...scrolling through my favorite food blogs and web-sites...and seeing so many beautiful things that my head was spinning...

...everything eas so ornate...delicate...spring-y...artistic...

...and WAY too complicated for the insanely busy Easter weekend I had laid before me. I decided on some simple, but slightly altered, versions of things I would've cooked anyway...and had resigned myself to making a bundt cake or something for dessert when I stumbled upon THIS...

Strawberry Shortcake Baked Alaska

A decadent, delicious, and SIMPLE dessert that would turn heads and seem special without being especially hard to make.

I made just about all of this the day before...getting the ice cream in it's mold, making the cake bottom...so on Easter all I had to do was slice strawberries and whip up meringue.

Talk about easy.



Strawberry Shortcake Baked Alaska

  • 4 cups strawberry ice cream, softened (I used a whole carton of Blue Bell's Strawberry)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1. Spoon ice cream into a foil-lined 1-1/2 qt. bowl ; pack firmly with back of spoon. Freeze for several hours or over night (I went with the overnight option).

2. Heat oven to 425F. Mix flour, 3 TBS sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl. Cut in cream cheese with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk until mixture forms a dough. Pat dough into bottom of 8-inch round cake pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Meanwhile, toss sliced strawberries with 1 TBS sugar.

Note: Now...if you do this the way I did...you'd skip slicing the strawberries and just skip to the next step. When the cake is cool, you wrap it up tightly and save it for assembly...whenever that may be. 

3. Cool cake 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely.

4. Heat oven to 500F. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with mixer on high speed 1 minute or until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating 3 minutes or until stiff peaks form.

5. Place cake on an ovenproof plate; top with strawberries and juice. Un-mold ice cream; place, flat side down, over cake. Frost ice cream with meringue; swirl with back of large spoon. Bake on lowest oven rack 3 minutes or until meringue in golden brown. Serve immediately.

Bliss...

I'm told you can alter this recipe to host a myriad of different ice cream and cake flavors.

Don't think I won't try it... 

courtesy Kraft foods

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew



Before we start, and before you whine about it being ANOTHER soup...it's not a soup...it's a stew.

So there.

And before we even GET to the recipe...I just wanted to share how much I LOVE cooking with my husband. He has Mondays and Tuesdays off, and that often means we get to cook dinner together. He usually does most of the work, being that he's so much more adept in the kitchen. But I always step in to do the stuff he doesn't like to do...like chop onions and prepare garnishes...you know...the prep work.

But cooking together highlights the many differences we have. For example, I obsess over missing an item from a recipe and will run to the store...whereas he will just simply substitute it for something else.

We also speak a different language. Or the same language, for which we assign different words. I don't know...

...but the point is that like all men and women...our communication skills leave a little something to be desired. It's not that we don't talk...it's that we don't LISTEN. And then we THINK that we know what the other person is saying because it's what we would be saying if we were them...not taking into account that we are NOT them and therefore would NOT be saying whatever it was we think they would've said.

Confused, yet?

Here...let me give you an example...

Jason and I were making a new recipe, called Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew. I had to go and pick up kids, so he offered to stay home and get it started. I said: "Grab a couple pounds of sausage from the freezer and thaw it, break the links from their casings and brown it up, and by then I should be home."

When I got home, I smelled something wonderful cooking...something spicy and mouth-watering...but something that was definitely NOT Sweet Italian Sausage. Sure enough, I went into the kitchen, and Jason is faithfully browning 2 pounds of....chorizo.

"Hey," I said, as I picked up the recipe that was placed strategically next to the stove, "That's not Italian Sausage".

"You didn't say Italian sausage...you said sausage, and I saw this and thought it was what you meant."

"No...I didn't say Italian sausage, but the recipe is called 'Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew'...see?" I pointed purposefully at the paper.

"Well," he sighed, rather exasperated, "I thought this is what you meant. Want me to stop?"

I checked the menu. I hadn't been planning on using that chorizo for another two weeks...it's at the END of my menu. But it was already 3/4 browned.

"Can you finish cooking it, and then I can freeze it?" I asked.

"Yeah," he answered, "Go get the right stuff and I'll fry that up next."

So...on the bright side...I have my chorizo all cooked for when I make enchiladas in a couple weeks.

All cooked up and ready for...

Upon further discussion and banter, Jason admitted that he had opened the freezer, and the chorizo was the first thing he saw, so he assumed that's what I wanted. The packages of Italian sausage were right below that, but he didn't actually look around.

It reminds me of a book a friend of mine has called Pat the Husband...a satire based around the premise of the children's book Pat the Bunny. Just like the children's book, it has flaps to lift and things to touch...and it supposedly "teaches" adults the differences between women and men. My favorite page is when the husband is looking for big gallon of milk, but it is behind the little jar of ketchup, so he can't "find" it. So you have to pull the tab over so the ketchup slides out of the way and viola! He sees the milk!!

Cooking with Jason also reminds me that I have to be very specific when I speak, and not be so vague. After all...chorizo IS a type of sausage...in fact...it's Jasons FAVORITE type...so OF COURSE he was instantly drawn to it.

And I can't get mad even if I was specific because that doesn't mean my speaking mixed magically with his listening. We are different people...programmed different ways, and have different methods of understanding. It's something I'm sure we'll work on all our lives...and still never get perfect.

But this is why I love cooking with Jason. It gives us a chance to talk, listen, learn...communicate...no matter how imperfectly. And I love that time...

This is a simple stew.The broth is rich and flavorful. Changes I'd make next time include chopping the cabbage into smaller bits...

No need to double (although I did...just for fun, and because I wanted leftovers)...

Yumminess...

Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 pound SWEET Italian sausage, bulk, or removed from casings
  • 1 large yellow onion, half sliced and half minced
  • 2 garlic cloves. minced
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
  • 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock 
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 1 2-pound savoy cabbage, quartered, then sliced into 1/4-inch slices (I would then cut those slices in HALF width wise)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup chopped Italian parsley, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup to a cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1. Heat the olive oil on medium high heat in a large (8-quart), thick bottomed stock pot. Add the sausage, breaking it up into pieces as you put it into the pot in a single layer. When the sausage has nicely browned, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Add the minced onion (save the sliced onion for later) and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Once the onions give up some of their water, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the white wine and the beans and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. If you want, for a thicker base, use a blender to blend some (or all) of the beans and onions. (note: I did this...and honestly, I couldn't tell much of a difference in the soup's consistency. So it's entirely up to you.)

Baby...can you pour me a glass of wine?
 4. Add the water, stock, salt, cabbage, sliced onion half, bay leaves and browned sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking until the cabbage is tender, about 10-20 minutes.

Bubbly...
 5. To serve, sprinkle on chopped parsley and grated cheese.

Serves 8-10 people

courtesy Simply Recipes

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Leek Soup with Dill Oil

My love affair with soup continues!!!

I can't help it...

But I'm changing it up a bit...I discovered a new cooking website that I have fallen in love called 101 Cookbooks. 101 Cookbooks is based off a lady named Heidi who was a self-proclaimed impulsive buyer of cookbooks. She always purchased them with the very best intentions...and she read them...and dog-eared the pages and marked favorite recipes with post-its...and then stuck those cookbooks on her shelf and never actually cooked anything from them.

Heidi's Own Cookbook, based on her own recipes...just recently published!!

One day, she looked up and realized that she had over 100 different cookbooks...and decided right then and there that it was time to stop buying, and start COOKING.

Heidi focuses on cooking with all-natural ingredients. Since our family is becoming more and more healthy, this appeals to me. Having a large family, I cannot afford to always purchase organic or raw foods. I try to do my best, but it's mostly unfeasible for me to go completely raw.

Heidi is also, of course, primarily a vegetarian.

We, on the other hand, are carnivores. However...I do try to make at least one vegetarian (or even vegan!!) meal a week...if not more. But since it is not my primary mode of cooking, I often run out of ideas...and tend to focus on what's easy...which is usually soup.

But I have a good friend named Jenn Charron...and she is a vegetarian. I introduced her to the 101 Cookbooks website, and she loved it. And we have since decided to get together at least once a week and make dinner for our families together from 101 Cookbooks, or other healthy, vegetarian sites.

Jenn and I in my kitchen (it was Halloween...hence the horns on my head. They're not really there...I swear...)

I figure that since she's a veggie-head herself, she will assist and enlighten me on all things vegetarian...helping me branch out fro my stand-by vegetarian staple...soup (but ohhh...how I LOVE soup...)

And she figures that since I am always tying new recipes and making stuff that is foreign to me, I will help her break out of her own cooking ruts.

It's a win-win.

So I made my first recipe from 101 Cookbooks last night. It was, as you can tell by the title, a soup (give me some time!! I'm working on it!!). Its called Leek Soup with Dill Oil.

I have a recipe for Potato-Leek Soup which is very good...but thanks to the addition of a large amount of cream cheese, it is not AS healthy as this broth-based soup. This soup also focuses more on leeks than potatoes. And I have to say, I love the addition of the "toppings"...the Dill Oil makes the soup actually taste green...it's fresh and like eating a piece of spring. The toasted sliced almonds give it a pleasant crunch, and the Gruyere cheese gives it a bit of pluck.

In other words...I fully enjoyed it...and my kids liked it too (they couldn't wait to eat something with a bright green "sauce" drizzled all over it). This is the original recipe, it makes 8-10 servings, so there's really no need to double unless you plan on freezing some for later. The chef, Heidi, suggests serving leftovers over scoops of cooked farro or brown rice.

I only changed up the style a bit...I've included my notes, so feel free to use the original or my adaptations.



Leek Soup with Dill Oil

  • 1 small bunch of fresh dill, about 5 ounces
  • 9 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 pounds leeks
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 2 large, thin-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced (I used Yukon Golds)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6-1/2 cups + good-tasting vegetable broth, preferably HOT
  • Toasted almond slices, for topping
  • Grated Gruyere cheese, for topping
1. Use a blender or food processor to puree the dill and olive oil into a creamy green emulsion. Set aside.

Yummy grass green...
2. Cut the dark, tough green leaves from the leeks, trim off the roots, and wash/rinse well. You can slice the leeks lengthwise to get in between the layers, or make a few rough chops and give them a quick soak...whatever method you prefer. You can also chop by hand (which is what I did).

It's A LOT of leeks...
3. In a large soup pot, heat the butter and 5 TBS of the dill oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and is bubbling, stir in the leeks and a couple big pinches of sea salt. Stir well, then cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks soften up and collapse, about 6-8 minutes.

4. Now, stir in potato slices and garlic slices and cook, uncovered, stirring regularly, until the potatoes are very, very soft. If the leeks at the bottom of the pot are getting too much color, dial back the heat a bit and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring.

Yukon Golds...
At this point you can mash everything with a potato masher or large fork. If you prefer a smoother soup, use a hand blender, but this soup is great a little on the chunky side. Stir in the hot broth, adjusting the amount based on whether you like a thick, or thin, soup.

(Now...here is where I deviated. I mashed with a potato masher, as suggested, and added the broth...but I didn't feel it was creamy enough...so I ladled out a third of the soup into my blender, and blended it until it was thick and smoother, although still with a little texture. I poured it out into a waiting bowl, and did the same thing with ANOTHER third of the soup. Then I poured the creamy, almost-but-not-quite-mashed-potato-consistency soup back into the third that was in the pot and still primarily broth-y and stirred well. The broth thinned the thickness of what I had blended perfectly...making a fabulously creamy, but still mildly chunky, soup. This is the same method I use for my Potato-Cheddar Soup...and it worked great.)

5. Bring back to a simmer, serve topped with almonds, grated cheese, and a generous drizzle of the remaining dill oil.

Soup with dill oil, before other toppings...
courtesy 101 Cookbooks

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

I'm a little late getting this up...being that I was uploading all the Iron Chef recipes. For that I apologize...because it is just a shame that this shouldn't have been immediately shared.

I also think I need to stop sharing Pioneer Woman recipes...because I am never, ever, EVER going to find one that isn't amazing, delicious, scrumptious, and just down right PERFECT...and frankly, you can go to her website and find all the wonderful recipes yourself, and all with MUCH prettier pictures.

But before I do that, I want to share this little gem...called Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork.

I love recipes that use soda...because we hardly ever have soda in the house...and it makes it a lovely treat for my poor, soda-deprived children.. A couple Easters ago, I used soda to not only glaze my ham, but make a wonderful cake that is from my own childhood.

This is an all-day recipe...requiring hours to slowly roast in the oven. Roasting food for hours is my FAVORITE way to cook (which you already know if you know anything about me)...the effort is incredibly worth it.

No need to double...you'll feed firsts, seconds, and thirds, and have leftovers, too...



Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

  • 1 whole large onion
  • 1 whole Pork Shoulder - 5 to 7 pounds
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 can (11 Ounces) Chipolte Peppers in Adobo Sauce (my store only had 7-ounce cans, so I used two)
  • 2 cans Dr. Pepper
  • 2 TBS Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large dutch oven.

Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.



Pour the can of chipolte peppers over the pork (include the sauce).









Pour in both cans of Dr. Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir it in.




Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in oven. Cook for AT LEAST 6 hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after 6 hours, it should be absolutely falling apart (Use two forks to test it). If it's not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.



Remove meat from pot and place on cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred the meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve.

note: You can also refrigerate meat and liquid separately, and remove hardened fat once it's cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stove top and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.

Serve on warm flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, and whatever else floats your boat.

Sorry I don't have any pictures of the tacos we made...frankly...we couldn't stop eating long enough to take any!!

courtesy Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

Bonnie is a newer member of our Iron Chef team...a friend of Tinas from Atlanta...she brings fresh variety to our little group. We love having her...

...especially if she keeps bringing stuff like THIS.

An adapted Barefoot Contessa recipe...so good...it was a wonderfully fresh dish to balance out all that sugar at Iron Chef.



Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBS good olive oil
  • 1 TBS miced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 lemons (2 juiced and zested)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 pound baby arugula (or two bunches of regular arugula, stems removed and leaves cut into thirds)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds, then add the cream, the zest and juice of two of the lemons, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add 1 TBS salt and the pasta, and cook al dente according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occassionally. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until the pasta has absorbed most of the sauce. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, and add the arugula, Parmesan, and tomatoes. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it into 1/4-inch thick slices crosswise, and add a few slices to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

Courtesy Bonnie, adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake

Don't let this cake fool you...it looks simple...unassuming...even plain.

But then you TASTE it.

Afterall...with all the absolutely DIVINE things at a Lemon-themed Iron Chef...this cake won.

And it deserved to.

So don't judge a book by it's cover...or in this case, a sheet cake by it's rectangular shape. Just make it...and you'll see...


Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake
 
Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, room temp
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 12 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, room temp

Cake Directions:

1. Preheat oven 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 13x9 inch pan.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in medium bowl.
3. Combine buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla in large measuring cup.
4. In large bowl beat lemon zest with sugar until moist and fragrant (1 min.). Set aside ¼ cup of sugar mixture for later. Add butter to remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy (2 min.).
5. Beat in eggs and yolk until combined. Then mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, then half of buttermilk mixture. Repeat with half of remaining flour and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Add remaining flour and mix until smooth.
6. Pour batter into pan, and bake until golden brown, 25-35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Then transfer to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.


GlazeIngredients:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp buttermilk

Whisk all ingredients until smooth. Gently spread glaze over warm cake and sprinkle evenly with the reserved sugar mixture from above. Let cake cool 2 hours. Serve.

courtesy Heather Wangeman

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Lemon Bars

This was a PERFECT Lemon Bar...in every way...exactly what a lemon bar should be. The crust was thin, firm, and delightful. The lemon was sweet, but just enough tart to not overpower. This is what every Lemon Bar should aspire to be...



Lemon Bars

Ingredients:


  • 1 cup butter at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar 
  • 2 cup sifted flour 
  • 4 eggs powdered sur for topping 
  • 2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 4 tablespoon flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 tablespoon lemon juice 
 Directions:


1. Cream butter and powdered sugar, blend in flour, mix well. Press evenly into an 11 x 17 inch jelly roll pan, bake in a preheated 350 oven for 15 minutes.
2. Beat eggs slightly, add remaining ingredients and beat until well mixed. Spread evenly over crust. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until set. Do not brown. Filling may puff during baking, but flattens when cooled.
3. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar while still warm. Cut in squares. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

courtesy Teri Metts

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Lemon Posset

I absolutely LOVED this entry...it was so delicious and creamy and so absolutely perfect... the kind of little dessert that actually makes you sigh with contentment and drift away into some kind of bliss...

Rachel said these would be perfect served in darling little shot glasses, and I think she is 100% correct.

But, since she's LDS, and shot glasses are in short supply in her house, she served it in paper cups...but I am totally going out and buying shot glasses (my LDS status be darned)...just so I can make these pretty little pieces of heaven at home, and have them look as perfect as they taste...



Lemon Posset

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. heavy cream 
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar 
  • 3 lemons, juiced 
  • fresh berries of choice for garnish 

Directions:

In a saucepan stir together cream and sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice. Pour into serving glasses and refrigerate until set, about 5 hours. Top with fresh berries to serve.

courtesy Rachel Quinton

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Lemon-Orzo Salad with Veggies and Chicken

This is another recipe that I have no pictures for...because at the last minute, Jeneice's poor baby got sick and she couldn't come. I'm including it anyway...just so I can make it someday.

And Hey!! Bonus!! It's a Weight Watchers recipe...so no guilt!!

Lemon-Orzo Salad with Veggies and Chicken 

Ingredients:
   
  • 3/4 C uncooked orzo pasta 
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon rind 
  • 3 Tbs fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic 
  • 1/4 tsp honey 
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper 
  • 1 C cooked shredded or diced boneless, skinless chicken 
  • 1/2 C diced cucumber 
  • 1/2 C diced red bell pepper 
  • 1/3 C sliced green onions 
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried dill 
  • 1/2 C crumbled feta cheese 

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta feels cool to the touch. Drain and place in a large salad bowl. While orzo cooks, combine lemon rind, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, garlic, honey, and black pepper. Whisk to combine. Add chicken, cucumber, bell pepper, green onions, and dill to pasta. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Divide onto 4 plates and sprinkle with feta.

Nutrition Facts per Serving (1 1/4 C)
Calories: 275 Fat: 9.7g Protein 18.2 g Weight Watchers Points: 6

courtesy Jeneice Fernandez

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Lemon Pepper Shrimp



Tina made these absolutely delicious Lemon-Pepper Shrimp...and everyone LOVED them. But Tina is one of those people that knows her frecipes by heart, and has such an immensely busy life, that she can hardly be bothered to write them down.

And she's like me...we don't really care about winning...only hanging out and enjoying good food with friends...so she makes awesome stuff, but not to really compete.

Anyway...this is NOT Tina's recipe, because she never gave one. This is Heidi's Lemon Pepper Shrimp recipe...which she says is significantly less pepper-y than Tina's.

But it is the closest we've got...so here is Tina's PICTURE...and Heidi's recipe.



Lemon-Pepper Shrimp

Ingredients:


  • 1 lb xl shrimp (16-20 count), peeled
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lg cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red-pepper flakes
  • ¼ c. + 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp white wine(or a substitute white grape juice)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 Tbsp drained capers, chopped (optional)
  • Lemon wedges (optional)
Directions:

1. Put first 6 ingredients in bowl. Add ¼ cup lemon juice and 1 Tbsp parsley. Marinate 15-30 minutes.
2. Heat grill to medium. Bring wine, butter, 2 tsp lemon juice, and capers to a boil and remove from heat. Put shrimp on grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until bright pink, about 2 min.
per side
3. Transfer to bowl and stir in warm butter mixture. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp parsley. Garnish with lemon.

courtesy Heidi Tyler

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Candied Citrus Peel

I actually don't have pictures of this, because Ann arrived fairly late, and almost everyone had gone. I DID, however, grab a couple and eat them on the way out, and they were so good, that I decided to include the recipe anyway, even without pictures...so I can make it again at my leisure!!

Candied Citrus Peel


Orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel can be candied to make a deliciously fresh, zesty treat. This recipe specifies four oranges, but you can substitute two grapefruit or eight small lemons or limes. The general rule I go by is to use 8.5 ounces of water and 4.5 ounces of sugar per orange, and I count a small lemon as half of an orange, while an orange is half of a grapefruit.

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 6 hours

Ingredients:

* 4 oranges
* 4.25 cups water
* 2.5 cups sugar, plus more for coating

Preparation:

1. Use a knife or a citrus peeler to score the peels of four oranges into quarters. Peel the oranges carefully, trying to keep the peels intact as much as possible. Set the peeled oranges aside and reserve for another use.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut away the bitter white pith from the underside of the peels. The remaining peel should be approximately 1/8” thick. Do not worry if small amounts of white pith remain.
3. Slice the peels into long, thin strips approximately ½” thick.
4. Combine 4.25 cups of water and 2.5 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and heat, uncovered, until the sugar boils for 5 minutes.
5. Add the strips of peel and turn the heat down to low, until the mixture is just at a simmer. Cook, uncovered and simmering, until the syrup reduces to a quarter of its original volume (the syrup will barely cover the tops of the peels). Do not stir during this process, as that might cause the formation of large sugar crystals. The simmering will take approximately 2 hours.
6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool, drain the peels in a colander. At this point, turn your oven to 200 degrees.
7. Place about one cup of sugar in a small bowl. Dredge the peels in the sugar until they are coated, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add more sugar if necessary.
8. Place the sugar-coated peels in the warm oven and allow them to dry out. This should take approximately one hour, but check them every 20 minutes to ensure that they are not burning or cooking in any way. Alternately, they can be left to sit overnight on a drying rack instead of placed in the oven.
 9. Once peels are completely dry, scrape off any excess sugar clumps. Store them in a dry location and they should keep for weeks. Candied peels can be dipped in melted chocolate and enjoyed plain, or used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes.

Courtesy Ann Merrill

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines - April 2011 - Lemon Chicken Piccata

This is such a bittersweet Iron Chef...because this is the last time Heidi will be our hostess. Her family is moving to North Carolina...and I am so sad to lose one of my first friends from here in South Florida.

Heidi made an amazing dish...easily the best Chicken Piccata I've had outside of Jason's restaurant. I cannot wait to re-create this...



Lemon Chicken Piccata 

Prep Time: 20 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min
Ready In: 50 Min
Yield 4 servings

Ingredients:


* 3 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1/2-inch medallions
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, or as needed
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
* 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
* 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons minced Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place a serving platter into the oven to warm.
2. Season the chicken breast pieces with salt and pepper and dredge them in flour. Shake off excess flour. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet; pan-fry the chicken pieces until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches and do not crowd skillet, adding oil as needed . Place the chicken pieces onto the warmed platter in the oven. When finished with all the chicken, drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a thin coating on the surface of the pan.
3. Cook and stir the minced garlic in the skillet until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Pour in the chicken broth. Scrape and dissolve any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the lemon slices and bring the mixture to a boil. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces to about 2/3 cup, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers; simmer until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes more. Drop the butter into the skillet and swirl it into the sauce by tilting the skillet until the butter is melted and incorporated. Add the parsley; remove from heat and set aside.
4. Arrange the chicken medallions on serving plates and spoon sauce over each portion to serve.

courtesy Heidi Tyler, adapted from AllRecipes.com

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Lemon Pineapple Extravaganza Cake


What Jason wanted to do was take MY Lemonade Extravaganza Cake, and make it even better...which I thought was a fairly daunting task, since, in my opinion, there is NOTHING better than my Lemonade Extravaganza Cake.

But leave it to Jason to absolutely and solidly prove me wrong.

This cake has a lot of steps...or rather...parts. Luckily, all the parts can be done way in advance. He took two days to completely assemble this cake, making the actual cake, candied lemon slices,  lemon curd, and caramelized pineapples on Day One. Then he chilled everything overnight, and the next day made from-scratch whip cream to fold into the lemon curd, and then assembling the cake right before we left for Iron Chef.

So...you need time...but other than that...nothing is HARD.

Lemon Pineapple Extravaganza Cake

Part One: 

Candied Lemon Slices 

Ingredients:

* 1 large lemon
* 1 cup sugar

Directions:

1. Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, cut lemon into 12 paper-thin slices; discard seeds and ends of rind.
2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, and add lemon slices; stir until softened, about 1 minute. Drain, and immediately plunge slices into ice-water bath. Drain.
3. Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium skillet, swirling to dissolve sugar. When liquid is clear and bubbling, reduce heat to medium-low. Add lemon slices, arranging them in one layer with tongs. Simmer (do not let boil) until rinds are translucent, about 1 hour.
4. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Let stand until ready to serve.

I was out of parchment paper...so we used foil sprayed with Pam...


Part Two:


Lemon Curd 

Ingredients:

*3 large eggs
*1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
*1 tablespoon (4 grams) finely shredded lemon zest
*3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
*4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
*Heavy Whipping Cream
*Confectioners Sugar
* 1 tsp vanilla

Notes: Room temperature lemons provide more juice. After squeezing, strain the juice to remove any pulp. Zest is the yellow, sweet-flavored outer rind of the lemon. A zester or fine grater can be used to remove the rind. Cold lemons are much easier to grate. Grate lemons just before using as the zest will lose moisture if it sits too long.

Directions:

1. In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted.
3. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
4. Cover immediately with plastic wrap, and make sure the wrap sits directly on top of the curd (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for up to a week. Makes 1 1/2 cups (360 ml).

Note: If you want a lighter lemon curd whip 1/2 cup (120 ml) whipped cream (made from the heavy whipping cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla...mixed together at high speed in a mixer until stiff peaks form) and fold into the lemon curd (which is what he did the next day). 


Part Three:

Roasted Pineapple Slices

Ingredients:

*1 can sliced pineapple
*6 TBS butter, melted
*1 cup dark brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 250
2. Place Pineapple Slices in a well-greased baking dish.
3. Mix brown sugar in melted butter. Pour over pineapple slices.
4. Bake until carmelized, about 30-45 minutes.
5. Cool and chill until ready to use.

Your pineapple Slices should look like this...


Part Four: 
 
Lemonade Extravaganza Cake


Ingredients for Cake:


* 1 pkg. lemon cake mix
* 1 small (4 serving) Jell-O Lemon Flavor
* 1-1/4 cup water
* 3/4 cup oil
* 4 eggs

Ingredients for Topping:

* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 1/3 cup lemon juice
 

Directions:

1. Mix all cake ingredients and pour into two 8x8 round cake pans greased with cooking spray.
2. Bake at 350°F for about 30-45 minutes or until done.
3. Remove from oven and pierce holes all over with a fork.
4. Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice and pour over the top. Spread evenly.
5. Chill until cold (a couple hours).
6. Chill remaining cake until eaten.

Notes: This cake can be served at any temperature, but chilled, it gives it an extra cool and refreshing "lemonade" feeling. Its our favorite way to eat it on those hot summer nights.



Part Five:

Assembly
 
1. Remove one cake from pan and place on plate.
2. Top with lemon curd/whipped cream mixture
3. Top with carmelized pineapples
4. Top with 2nd cake layer
5. Top with another layer of curd/whipped cream
6. Top with candied lemon slices and additional pineapple, if desired.
7. Chill until ready to eat.

courtesy Jason Johnson

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Lemon Snowdrop Cookies

I actually made two things for Iron Chef...one was a total flop.

I mean...it was so bad I won't include pictures, recipes, and I will never, ever, EVER make it again.

I will, however, create my own, and infinitely BETTER, recipe for it to try another time.

The other thing I made were these cookies...and they were okay. Half my kids loved them, the other half didn't.

They remind me of Mexican Wedding cookies...but with lemon. And they are awfully pretty to look at...



Lemon Snow Drop Cookies
 

Ingredients


* 1 cup butter
* 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
* 1 teaspoon lemon extract
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup water
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 teaspoons lemon zest
* 3 tablespoons lemon juice
* 3 drops yellow food coloring


Directions 


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degree C).
2. Cream 1 cup butter or margarine and 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar. Add 2 cups flour, lemon extract, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; mix well.
3. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.
(now...I should tell you that mine baked up in perfect balls...making them hard to make into sandwich cookies...so I smushed them slightly with a spatula when they came out of the oven, so they would be flatter).
4. Put together with filling. Roll in confectioners' sugar.

 To Make Filling: Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, and dash of salt. Add 1/2 cup water, 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind, 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, and 3 drops of yellow food coloring. Bring to rolling boil, stirring constantly; boil and stir 1 minutes. Cool. Frost flat side of one cookie and put together with another cookie, sandwich-like. Roll in confectioners' sugar.

courtesy Shannan Johnson

Iron Chef Pembroke Pines: April 2011 - Angel's Lemon Cheese Squares

This was the creamiest, yummiest, lemon bar ever. It was like little danish squares. It was beautiful, and I cannot WAIT to make these myself...



Angel's Lemon Cheese Squares
 
  • 1 yellow or lemon cake mix
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 1 egg 

1. Mix 1-2 min til crumbly, reserve 1 cup for topping,
2. Press the rest into a 9x13 pan and bake til golden 14min at 350
 3. In same bowl (so no need to rinse) mix :

  • 1 8oz block cream cheese
  • 1/3c sugar
  • 2tbsp fresh lemon juice
4. When well combined, spread over baked crust.
5. Scatter reserved topping and bake an additional 14 min until golden brown and filling sets
6. Let cool 30min... then cut into bars.

courtesy Angel Anderson

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Salsa Stoup and Quesadillas with Avocado Smash

I was folding clothes the other day, and simultaneously flipping through channels, and I stumbled on an old episode of 30-Minute Meals with Rachel Ray and the Food Network. She was making her version of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese...

She called it Salsa Stoup and Quesadillas with Avocado Smash.

Well, I am still on my soup kick, so I thought I'd give it a try. Not only that...but my kids LOVE salsa and quesadillas, so I figured this recipe would be a no-brainer in the "child eat-ability" category.

And, it's vegetarian...so a great way to get those veggies in my kids diet.

Rachel Ray calls this "Stoup"...because it's thicker than a soup, but not quit a stew. She's always making up funny stuff like that.

OH!! And by the way...I did not double the actual stoup recipe, but I DID double the amount of quesadillas I made. Just in case you were wondering. So this recipe is the original...if you're cooking for a crowd, then you might want to double the quesadillas as well...but leave the stoup...this makes PLENTY...

Salsa Stoup and Quesadillas

  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus some for brushing on tortillas 
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped with greens
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or stock
  • 3 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 6 flour tortillas, 6-8inches
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 4 ounce brick Pepper Jack OR Chipolte cheese, shredded, about 1 cup
  • Sour cream, to pass at the table
1. Preheat oven to 300.

2. Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 TBS olive oil, jalapenos, bell pepper, onions, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and the saute veggies 5 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and stock, and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir in cilantro.

Yummy...
3. Paint 1 side of tortillas with extra virgin olive oil and place them next to each other, oiled side down, on a large cookie sheet. Mix cheddar with scallions and divide the cheese between the tortillas evenly.

This is totally a kid-friendly-in-the-kitchen recipe...

 Top with another tortilla and top each of those with equal amounts of Pepper Jack cheese. Set the last tortillas on top and brush tops with extra virgin olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes in the oven to melt cheese and crisp tortillas. Cool quesadillas 5 minutes to set and then cut each quesadilla into 6 pieces.

Pre-baked quesadillas...

Avocado Smash

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 TBS chopped cilantro leaves
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 plum tomato, finely chopped
1. Remove avocado flesh to a bowl. Add cilantro and scallions. Pop the lime in the microwave for a few seconds, and squeeze the juice into the mix. Add sour cream, and season with salt and pepper. With a fork or spoon, smash up the mixture, leaving chunks for a good consistency.

2. Chop and seed the plum tomato and fold into the avocado mixture.

Cool and refreshing...

Serve bowls of stoup with 3 wedges of quesadilla along side each bowlful. Pass the Avocado Smash and the plain sour cream for topping stoup or quesadillas.

courtesy Rachel Ray's 30-Minute Meals