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Thursday, December 29, 2011

WALNUT CRUSTED SALMON AND SPINACH WITH BUTTERMILK CHEESE SAUCE

A friend came to help me decorate for Christmas, and while she hung, strung and made my house beautiful, I cooked dinner.
The dishes have been cleared and the decorations put away, but the recipe remains.

WALNUT CRUSTED SALMON AND SPINACH WITH BUTTERMILK CHEESE SAUCE


BUTTERMILK CHEESE SAUCE
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 tabelspoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon pepper
WALNUT CRUSTED SALMON
1 lightly beaten egg
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
4 salmon fillets
1 package fresh baby spinach

BUTTERMILK CHEESE SAUCE
Combine walnuts and buttermilk in a small bowl, refrigerate 8 hours to overnight. Puree walnut-buttermilk mixture, feta cheese, half-and-half and pepper until smooth.
WALNUT CRUSTED SALMON
Heat oven to 400F.
Place egg in shallow bowl. On a plate, mix together the walnuts and bread crumbs. Dip all sides of salmon except skin side in egg, then in walnut mixture. Place on a baking sheet covered with nonstick foil, skin side down. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until desired doneness. Just before salmon is done, rinse spinach and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until wilted, set aside and drain.
To serve, divide spinach among four dinner plates, top with salmon, skin side down. Serve sauce with salmon.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2006

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

BARBECUE SHRIMP and SMOKED GOUDA GRITS

My husband grew up close to New Orleans, right by all that fabulous food, and he gave this recipe very good reviews. It was delicious, and fun to dip the french bread into the rich and tasty sauce.

BARBECUE SHRIMP and SMOKED GOUDA GRITS


BARBECUE SHRIMP
2 lemons, cut into wedges
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
4 pounds of unpeeled, large raw shrimp

Heat oven to 400F.
Stir together first 9 ingredients. Place shrimp in a broiler pan, pour lemon mixture over shrimp.
Bake for 35 minutes, or just until shrimp turn pink, stirring every 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Serve with lemon wedges, french bread and smoked gouda grits.

SMOKED GOUDA GRITS
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
8 ounces of smoked gouda cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons butter

Bring chicken broth, milk, salt, and pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, gradually whisk in grits.
Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese and butter until melted.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, July 2009
www.southernliving.com/

Friday, December 23, 2011

CURRIED SPICED BUTTERNUT AND SWEET BANANA SOUP

A friend was in town for the holidays, and came for lunch. I was so excited to see her, and wanted something quick and easy, so I would have lots of time to visit. I did get busy chatting, and forgot to blend in the cilantro and lime juice, but it was still yummy, as was the polenta rosemary pumpkin seed sourdough bread from Ozark Natural Breads, that I served it with.

CURRIED SPICED BUTTERNUT AND SWEET BANANA SOUP


1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons butter
1 ripe banana, unpeeled
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup coconut milk (I use the light)
1 cup chicken stock
fresh cilantro leaves
lime juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350F.
Sprinkle diced squash with brown sugar, honey and 2 tablespoons butter. Roast until caramelized and soft to the touch - about 20 minutes. Roast the unpeeled banana in the oven at the same time.
Melt the other 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Sweat the onion, celery and carrot for a few minutes until tender. Add the garlic, curry powder, coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon, and cook slowly for a few more minutes.
Remove the banana from its skin, slice, and add it with the butternut to the pan, along with the coconut milk and chicken broth. Simmer until hot. Blend the soup with a blender until smooth. Adjust to consistency desired with more broth, if necessary. Add fresh cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Blend again until smooth.
Pour soup into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2004

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MINI GINGERBREAD CAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Friends have a fabulous wine tasting party every year - usually I take an appetizer, but because I knew we would be arriving late, I decided a dessert would be more appropriate. These were the perfect little bite to end the night.

MINI GINGERBREAD CAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING


CAKES
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup plain yogurt
FROSTING
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

CAKES
Heat oven to 350F. Line mini muffin cups with paper liners.
Whisk flour and next 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl to blend.
Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then molasses and yogurt (batter may look curdled). Add dry ingredients and beat to blend, scraping down sides of bowl.
Drop 1 tablespoon batter into each paper liner. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 12 - 14 minutes. Let cakes stand in pan on rack 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pan, cool.
FROSTING
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and butter in a medium bowl to blend. Spread frosting generously over each cake. Garnish with chopped ginger.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2010
www.bonappetit.com/

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

CARAMEL DIP

This recipe was given to me by my mother, who in turn got it from a lady in her walking group. It was so good, I could have eaten it right out of the bowl.
I used a lemon pudding mix in the place of the vanilla - because that was what I had on hand. But I didn't think it was quite as good as the original recipe - either way I imagine it would take quite a lot of walking to counteract the calories consumed - but it is definitely worth it.

CARAMEL DIP


8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup milk
small package of instant vanilla pudding mix

Beat together the cream cheese, and brown sugar until smooth. Add the sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice milk and vanilla pudding mix one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Chill at least one hour. Serve with fruit, plain cookies, and/or marshmallows.
Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

ROASTED CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH HERBED CANDIED WALNUTS

I made this for the first time at Thanksgiving, with my patient and sweet family as the taste testers. I loved the idea of roasting the cranberries, as I think this cooking method brings out the most delicious flavors of any ingredient.

ROASTED CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH HERBED CANDIED WALNUTS



CRANBERRIES
1 pound of fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup red wine mixed with 2 tablespoons water
HERBED CANDIED WALNUTS
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons red wine
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped

CRANBERRIES
Heat oven to 425F.
Mix first 7 ingredients on heavy rimmed baking sheet. Roast until edges begin to bubble, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, maintain oven temperature. Bring wine mixture to boil in small saucepan. Stir into cranberry mixture. Roast until juices bubble and cranberries shrivel, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and chill until cold, about 2 hours.
HERBED CANDIED WALNUTS
Heat oven to 425F.
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Stir sugar and wine in small saucepan over medium heat until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Stir in walnuts and herbs. Transfer mixture to sheet, spreading out and separating nuts. Roast until nuts are brown, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool, break up any clumps of nuts.
Add nuts to cranberry mixture.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, November 2010
www.foodandwine.com/

Thursday, December 15, 2011

BOURBON BROWNIES

This yummy mix of brownie and blondie was delicious and perfect for gifting to friends and neighbors.

BOURBON BROWNIES


2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter.
Combine sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and heat until butter melts. Stir well and combine.
Whisk together eggs, vanilla and bourbon in a small bowl.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add butter mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 4o minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish, 2007
www.relish.com/

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS


I discovered this Gin a while back, and LOVED it!! I don't usually enjoy gin, and could never understand the attraction my husband had to a refreshing gin and tonic on a hot summers day - until Brandons!!
I then came to find out it is made right here in Arkansas, at the first legal distillery in this state - and everything is sourced from Arkansas - the grains, barrels, boxes, labels - everything!!
I am very excited to try their vodka and they also make Arkansas Lightning (unaged whiskey) and Arkansas young bourbon whiskey.
We recently hosted a dinner party and I wanted to start with a fun, seasonal cocktail - this simple, delicious mix was perfect. A festive start to a fabulous evening!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS


1 ounce gin
1 ounce cranberry juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
club soda

Pour gin and juices into glass filled with ice, stir, top with club soda.
Garnish with cranberries.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from About.Com Cocktails
cocktails.about.com/

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

FETA SALMON CAKES

Tasty, quick and light. Great for this time of year. This was our main meal, paired with a spinach salad, but you could also serve these as a first course, or it would be fun to reduce their size and serve them as an appetizer.
Also, you could substitute other cheese for the feta if you wanted.

FETA SALMON CAKES


2 (5 ounce) cans of salmon
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
pinch ground red pepper
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 tube crackers, finely crushed
1 egg
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

In a medium bowl, combine salmon, green onion, parsley, ground red pepper, salt, black pepper and cracker crumbs and mix well.
Add egg and mix well. Divide mixture into 12 equal portions.
Shape 2 portions into a patty around a tablespoon of feta cheese. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Heat enough oil to generously coat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon cakes and cook, about 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, September 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

RASPBERRY BRIE TARTS

I wanted to take an appetizer to a friends birthday party, but my day ended up being much busier than I had anticipated. I didn't have time to make what I had originally planned but I remembered the tarts my sister-in-law had graciously and effortlessly whipped up for us when we last visited her beautiful Texas home.

RASPBERRY BRIE TARTS



10 slices white bread
5 ounces of brie, cut into cubes
raspberry jam

Heat oven to 375F.
Grease a 20 hole mini-muffin pan.
Flatten the slices of bread with a rolling pin, then cut out circles with a cookie cutter. Press the circles into the mini-muffin pan.
Brush with melted butter, bake for 7-8 minutes, until toasted.
Take the pieces of bread out of the muffin pans, place them on a cookie sheet. Fill with pieces of brie and raspberry jam.
Place back in oven for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

SWEET POTATO PUDDING WITH PECAN GINGERSNAP TOPPING and PARSNIP POTATO MASH

I made the sweet potato pudding at Thanksgiving - it was tasty, but unfortunately I was missing a few ingredients, and was disappointed not to have them.
I made the mash for a dinner party we had recently, and loved it. I adore the sweetness of the parsnips, and was delighted that I could do the dish ahead of time and then pop it in the oven right before it was time to eat - stress free entertaining.

SWEET POTATO PUDDING WITH PECAN GINGERSNAP TOPPING


TOPPING
3/4 cup coarsely chopped gingersnaps
1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

PUDDING
3 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

TOPPING
Toss first four ingredients in medium bowl. Add butter, using fingertips, rub in until well blended. Cover, chill.
PUDDING
Heat oven to 400F.
Roast potatoes on baking sheet until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop flesh into bowl, mash. Transfer four cups potatoes to large bowl.
Reduce heat to 350F.
Butter a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Add half and half and next five ingredients to potatoes. Using mixer, beat on low speed until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Add yolks one at a time, blending after each additon. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar. Beat until peaks form. Fold whites into potatoes, spoon into dish. Sprinkle with topping.
Bake pudding until puffed and brown, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2010
www.bonappetit.com/

PARSNIP POTATO MASH


6 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons cream cheese
4 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Melt 3 tablespoons butter with oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add onion, saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add parsnips, potatoes and garlic, stir 8 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat. Simmer until vegetables are tender, and broth is almost cooked away, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, add cream cheese, mash until smooth. Stir in two tablespoons rosemary, season with salt and pepper.
Butter an 11 by 7 glass baking dish, transfer mash to prepared dish.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add panko and stir until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Position rack in top third of oven, heat oven to 350F.
Sprinkle panko mixture over mash. Bake until top is brown, about 15 minutes, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons rosemary.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2010
www.bonappetit.com/

Saturday, December 10, 2011

CHICKEN AND CHEESE EMPANADAS

I made these as a quick snack one night before going out, and as an appetizer for a recent dinner party. These are adorable and tasty, and definitely worth trying.

CHICKEN AND CHEESE EMPANADAS



2 cups chicken breasts, shredded or finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 package of ready to use refrigerated pie crusts
1 teaspoon chili powder

Heat oven to 375F.
Combine first four ingredients. Whisk egg and water until well blended.
Unroll pie crusts on lightly floured surface. Cut each crust into 8 (4 inch) circles. Place on parchment-covered baking sheets. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture onto center of each circle, brush edge with egg. Fold dough circles in half. Press tops lightly to remove excess air, seal edges with fork. Brush tops with remaining egg. Sprinkle with chili powder.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Family
www.kraftrecipes.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

BRUSCHETTA WITH BLUE CHEESE AND ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH and ASPARAGUS CROSTINI

Here are a couple of appetizer ideas - I made the bruschetta for a recent dinner party and the crostini when my brother was in town - both so fun and festive and great for a crowd.

BRUSCHETTA WITH BLUE CHEESE AND ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH


1 small butternut squash
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 french baguette, thinly sliced
4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
12 oregano leaves

Heat oven to 350F.
Peel butternut squash, remove seeds and dice flesh into 1 cm chunks. Place on an oven tray. Drizzle with oil and add a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.
Toast bread and brush lightly with oil. Spread with blue cheese, top with butternut squash. Broil until cheese just begins to melt, garnish with oregano and serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from New Zealand House and Garden

ASPARAGUS CROSTINI


1 pound asparagus
1/2 pound smoked salmon
1 wedge of brie
1 baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, or foil. Place slices of baguette on pan, lightly drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, until golden.
Cut trimmed asparagus into 2 inch pieces, blanch in rapidly boiling salted water for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from water and cool.
To assemble, place a piece of brie on top of the crostini, then top with a piece of salmon (I cut mine into rounds) and two pieces of asparagus. Garnish with fresh cracked pepper if desired.
Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

OATMEAL CRANBERRY DROPS

My daughter and I made these cookies a couple of years ago, and she often asks to make them again. Being a quiet Sunday, it was the perfect time to bake up a batch of these delicious treats - perfect for the holiday season, and to share with friends.

OATMEAL CRANBERRY DROPS


1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 cups quick oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat butter and sugars in electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and orange zest. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in oatmeal, one cup at a time, add chocolate chips and cranberries. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

LEMON CHICKEN WITH GREEN BEANS AND MUSHROOMS

This was a fabulous, one pan meal - perfect and delicious for this busy time of year. I loved that it was so simple, but elegant, and the sauce was divine!!
I felt like I had date night without leaving the house.

LEMON CHICKEN WITH GREEN BEANS AND MUSHROOMS


1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

Whisk broth, lemon juice, wine, flour, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, set aside.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add beans and mushrooms to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Return chicken and any juices to pan. Pour broth mixture over top. Cover and simmer until chicken is thoroughly cooked and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/

Friday, December 2, 2011

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

I made these for my husband and son to take to their Boy Scout meeting - it was a good thing this recipe makes a ton, because many of them were devoured before they could make it to the meeting!!

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 package chocolate chunks

Heat oven to 350F.
Beat butter and peanut butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy, gradually add sugars, beating well. Add egg and vanilla, beat well.
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, beat at low speed until well blended. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop cookie dough by scant tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges of cookies are brown.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SMOKY TOMATO SOUP WITH CANDIED BACON

This was a very quick, easy and delicious week night meal.
I had to look up piment d'Espelette and its substitute, as it is not an ingredient I have on hand (Food & Wine magazine explained it as a dried pepper from France). From what I could gather, hot paprika would have done nicely, but I didn't have that in the house either, so ended up substituting regular paprika.

SMOKY TOMATO SOUP WITH CANDIED BACON



8 slices bacon
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon grated orange zest (I didn't measure exactly, but used the zest of 1 orange)
1/2 teaspoon piment d'Espelette
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup rose wine
1 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons sour cream

Heat oven to 400F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, Arrange the bacon on the paper and bake for 8 minutes, until almost crisp. Drain the oil  from the baking sheet. Sprinkle the bacon with the sugar and bake for a further 8 minutes, until glazed. Cool.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Stir in the granulated sugar, smoked paprika, orange zest, piment d'Espelette, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rose and bring to a boil.
Add the tomatoes with their juices, bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
Stir the water, orange juice and sour cream into the saucepan. Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan, re-season with salt and pepper. (I like a chunky soup, so I left out this step).
Ladle into bowls and serve with the bacon.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, July 2009
www.foodandwine.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SPARKLING GINGER ORANGE COCKTAIL and FRUIT SALAD WITH YOGURT and GOUDA GRITS and TOMATO HERB MINI FRITTATAS and PRALINE PULL APART BREAD

Rolfs brother, and dear friends of ours came to town a few weeks ago, and we had a celebratory Sunday brunch in their honor.
It was a wonderful morning, a fun menu to put together, and the weather was pleasant enough that we could eat outside.
By the time I could snap a picture of the praline pull apart bread, this small piece was all that was left - the bread looked a lot more impressive when it was fresh out of the pan, and was obviously very tasty!! The recipe urged to make sure and not miss the important step of whipping the cream, and my kids urged me to make sure and bake the bread again!!

SPARKLING GINGER ORANGE COCKTAIL




Place 1 tablespoon of finely grated ginger in a large pitcher. Stir 2 (750 milliliter) bottles of chilled sparkling wine, 1 (89 ounce) container of orange juice, and 1 (46 ounce) can of chilled pineapple juice into the ginger.
Serve over ice.
Enjoy!

FRUIT SALAD WITH YOGURT


4 cups of fresh pineapple chunks
1 quart of strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
3 cups of seedless green grapes
2 mangoes, peeled and sliced (my mangoes weren't ripe, so I had to leave them out!)
1 container of fresh blueberries
1 container of fresh blackberries
2 cups of greek yogurt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon of honey

Toss together the fruit in a large serving bowl. Spoon yogurt into a separate serving bowl, sprinkle yogurt with sugar and drizzle with honey. Serve fruit with the yogurt mixture.
Enjoy!

GOUDA GRITS


4 cups chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups of quick cooking grits
2 cups shredded gouda cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons hot sauce

Bring first four ingredients to a boil over high heat, whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in gouda and remaining ingredients.
Enjoy!

TOMATO HERB MINI FRITTATAS


12 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 450F.
Whisk first four ingredients together until blended, then whisk in herbs. Stir in tomatoes and one cup of cheese.
Place 8 lightly greased ramekins on a baking sheet. Ladle mixture evenly among ramekins. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
Bake for 16 minutes, or until set and lightly browned.
Enjoy!

Recipes above adapted from Southern Living, April 2011
www.southernliving.com/

PRALINE PULL APART BREAD


1 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon divided
1 (2 pound) package frozen bread roll dough
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Stir together granulated sugar and 3 teaspoons cinnamon. Coat each roll in butter, dredge rolls in sugar mixture. Arrange in a lightly greased 10-inch tube pan, sprinkle with pecans. Cover and chill 8 to 18 hours.
Heat oven to 325F.
Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, stir in brown sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Pour mixture over dough. Place pan on a foil lined baking sheet.
Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, invert onto a serving plate, and drizzle with any remaining glaze in pan.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, December 2009
www.southernliving.com/

Monday, November 28, 2011

ROMAINE WITH PARMESAN VINAIGRETTE and ASPARAGUS RICOTTA TART WITH GRUYERE

I recently invited a friend over for lunch, and wanted to serve something fresh and healthy - this was my menu - maybe a little better suited to spring than winter!
I really enjoyed the vinaigrette, and would definitely make it again, no matter the time of year.

ROMAINE WITH PARMESAN VINAIGRETTE


1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 hearts of romaine

Mix first 5 ingredients together, whisk to combine. Add oil, whisk.
Season with salt and pepper.
Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.
Whisk vinaigrette to blend.
Trim ends of romaine, then slice lengthwise. Arrange on plates and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2008
www.bonappetit.com/

ASPARAGUS RICOTTA TART WITH GRUYERE


1 sheet of frozen puff pasty, thawed
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup gruyere, grated, divided
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oven to 400F.
Roll out pastry on a floured surface to a 13 by 10 inch rectangle. Brush the edges with the beaten egg, then fold edges toward the middle, to form a raised border about 1/2 an inch thick. Brush the border with egg, reserve remaining beaten egg. Transfer pastry to a baking sheet. Chill while preparing filling.
Steam asparagus just until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from steamer, cut off top 2 inches of asparagus tops, set aside.
Coarsely puree remaining asparagus stalks in processor. Add remaining beaten egg, ricotta, 3 teaspoons oil, and salt, process until thick puree forms. Transfer to bowl, stir in 1/3 cup gruyere and the parmesan cheese, season with pepper. Spread mixture evenly over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup gruyere. Toss asparagus tips with remaining 1 teaspoon oil, arrange tips over filling.
Bake tart until filling is set, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2008
www.bonappetit.com/

Saturday, November 26, 2011

CHICKEN WITH MAPLE STUFFING and BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHEESE POLENTA and GREEN BEANS AND MUSHROOMS

This was the menu for a Sunday night family dinner - simple enough for casual dining, and fabulous enough to share with guests.

CHICKEN WITH MAPLE STUFFING


1/2 cup finely ground toasted walnuts
1 cup lightly toasted plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons chilled butter

Combine walnuts, breadcrumbs and sage in a medium bowl. Add butter, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, mix well.
Combine chicken broth, white wine, thyme sprigs and remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cook until reduced to one cup, about 15 minutes.
Heat oven to 425F.
Heat olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add chicken, cook until golden brown on bottom, about 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Turn chicken over and mound breadcrumb mixture on top of each breast, pressing lightly to adhere. Transfer pan to oven and bake until topping is browned and chicken is cooked, 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove chicken and keep warm. Add broth mixture to pan, stirring to loosen browned bits. Boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Reduce heat to low, add chilled butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until melted. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve sauce with chicken.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHEESE POLENTA


1 1/2 cups butternut squash, cooked and mashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup water
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup polenta
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup smoked gouda, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oven to 375F.
Spread the pine nuts on a pie plate and toast in the oven for 4 minutes, until golden. Coarsely chop the nuts.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sage and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring until golden, about 10 minutes.
In a saucepan, bring the water and chicken broth to a boil. Whisk in the polenta and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of butter along with mashed squash, pine nuts, onion, gouda and parmesan cheese.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine magazine
www.foodandwine.com/

GREEN BEANS AND MUSHROOMS


2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 pound green beans, blanched
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, toasted

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat, add mushrooms and brown. Add beans and cook to crisp, season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with almonds.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
www.rachaelraymag.com/

Friday, November 25, 2011

CHOCOLATE CHIP CORNBREAD

Part of what drew me to this recipe was the request to Bon Appetit  - the gentleman had vacationed in Mexico and said he would wake in the morning to the "unforgettable scent of chocolate chip corn bread baking in the oven".
It sounded so intriguing, I had to try it!

CHOCOLATE CHIP CORNBREAD


1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs

Heat oven to 375F.
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. Whisk milk, canola oil and eggs in medium bowl. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, stir just to blend. Transfer to prepared pan.
Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Invert cornbread onto rack, serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2008
www.bonappetit.com/

Thursday, November 24, 2011

CRANBERRY SCONES

I hadn't cooked with, or even seen, a fresh cranberry before moving to the States. It took me a while to build up an interest in cooking with this unfamiliar ingredient, but a good recipe is a perfect guide and confidence booster.
These fresh cranberry scones are a fun, tasty breakfast for the holiday season - Happy Thanksgiving!!

CRANBERRY SCONES


2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar PLUS 2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk

Heat oven to 400F.
Stir together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, stir in cranberries.
Whisk together butter, 1/2 cup milk and one egg, add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened and dough forms.
Drop by 1/3 cupfuls (I made baby scones, dropping dough by tablespoons onto cookie sheet, and baking for 10 minutes) onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Whisk together remaining one egg and 1 tablespoon milk. Brush tops of dough with egg mixture and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CIDER CINNAMON BRUSSELS SPROUTS and ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, ONION AND APPLE

We have recently been loving brussels sprouts, usually we roast them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, so I was excited to come across these two yummy recipes for our current favorite vegetable.
I made the cider cinnamon brussels sprouts on a recent RV trip, and the roasted brussels sprouts with onion and apple during out family Thanksgiving gathering.

CIDER CINNAMON BRUSSELS SPROUTS


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups brussels sprouts, halved
1 large apple, diced
1 large pear, diced
1 cup apple cider
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large pan over medium heat, heat oil. Cook brussels sprouts cut side down, flipping once, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add apple and pear, cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add cider and cinnamon, simmer, stirring until all the liquid cooks away.

Recipe adapted from Self, November 2011
www.self.com/

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, ONION AND APPLE


1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine the brussels sprouts, onion, apple, oil, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste in a large roasting pan, toss to coat evenly. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 25 minutes, then uncover and stir.
Increase the temperature to 375F. Return pan to the oven (uncovered) and roast for 15 minutes, or until the sprouts are lightly browned on top.
Bring the apple cider to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the butter and brown sugar, mixing until thy have dissolved.
Boil 10 to 15 minutes, or until it has reduced to the consistency of thin maple syrup.
Transfer the roasted brussels sprouts mixture to a serving bowl, add the cider syrup and toss to incorprate. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, November 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CRANBERRY CRUMBLE

This is a delicious fall treat - I love that there is a cake layer between the fruit and streusel - making it just a little bit different from an ordinary crumble.

CRANBERRY CRUMBLE


FILLING
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
1 (12 ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 firm, ripe pear, cored and sliced
1 apple, cored and sliced
1/4 cup sugar

CAKE
cooking spray
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

STREUSEL
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons oats
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Heat oven to 350F.
Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
To prepare filling, combine dried apricots and water in a small bowl, let stand 30 minutes.
Combine remaining filling ingredients in a large bowl. Add apricots and soaking liquid, mix well. Spoon into prepared pan.
To prepare cake, combine flour, sugar, butter and salt in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup for streusel topping.
Add egg to flour mixture in food processor. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk, stir well, and add to flour mixture. Add vanilla. Pulse to make a cake batter. Pour over cranberry mixture in pan.
To prepare streusel, add streusel ingredients to resered flour mixture. Toss well. Sprinkle over cake batter and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/recipes/

Monday, November 21, 2011

SWEET ONION, GRUYERE AND BACON QUICHE and BLUE CHEESE QUICHE

These two recipes are great if you are looking for a light, quick lunch or dinner, or have overnight guests, and need a delicious breakfast.

SWEET ONION, GRUYERE AND BACON QUICHE


6 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 large eggs
3/4 cup cream
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 pie crust

Place oven rack in lower third of oven. Heat oven to 425F.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add bacon and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add cream, cornstarch, pepper, salt and nutmeg, then whisk to combine.
Mix cheese into cooled onion-bacon mixture, then spoon the mixture into the pie shell in an even layer. Pour the egg mixture evenly on top.
Bake the quiche for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and set in the center. Transfer to a rack to cool before slicing.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, January 2008


BLUE CHEESE QUICHE


3 ounces blue cheese
6 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons softened butter
3 tablespoons whipping cream
2 eggs
salt and white pepper
cayenne pepper to taste
1 teaspoon minced green onion tops
9 inch frozen pie crust

Heat oven to 400F.
Thaw pie crust for 15 minutes, pre-bake it for 8 minutes. Take it out, poke holes in the bottom with a fork. Put it back in for 2 minutes. Take it out. Lower the oven to 375F.
Blend the cheese, butter and cream with a fork, then beat in the eggs. Season to taste and stir in the green onion tops.
Pour into a pastry shell and set in upper third of oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until quiche has puffed and top has browned.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from People, August 2009
www.people.com/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND MAPLE MUFFINS

My plan was to take muffins to the neighbors to wish them a happy Thanksgiving - however, the kids absolutely loved these, and ate them for breakfast and dessert - so there weren't enough to go around. Next time I will have to double the batch and start my deliveries a little more promptly!

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND MAPLE MUFFINS


2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash, mashed
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients whisking until smooth. Whisk wet mixture into flour mixture.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake 20 minutes or until a wood pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool a few minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, November 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

SIDE CAR and GREEN OLIVE AND WALNUT CROSTINI and SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH RUM CREAM and FLOUNDER WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS and ROSEMARY PEAR CRISP

We had a fabulous couple for dinner, and wanted to make it fresh and fun. We had drinks and appetizers in our "library" and dinner and dessert in the wine cellar. The Rosemary Pear Crisp is one of my all time favorite desserts!! I first made it over Christmas, 2008, and have made it every year since!!
My husband cooked the main dish, and I thought the pea ragout was absolutely delicious - in fact, we shared the left overs for breakfast.

SIDECAR


1 part blended scotch whiskey
2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 part cointreau

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini cocktail glass. Garnish with an olive twist.
Enjoy!

GREEN OLIVE AND WALNUT CROSTINI


1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick and toasted
3/4 cup goat cheese

Heat oven to 350F.
Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Let cool then finely chop.
In a medium bowl, mix the walnuts, olives, olive oil , anchovies and garlic.
Spread each slice of toasted baguette with 2 teaspoons of the goat cheese and top with 1 tablespoon of the olive mixture.
Arrange the crostini on a platter and serve.
Enjoy!

SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH RUM CREAM


3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
4 cups chicken stock
5 to 6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
pinch ground red pepper
1 cup cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and white pepper to taste
rum cream (recipe follows)

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and curry powder, cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a separate saucepan, heat stock to a simmer. Add sweet potatoes to onion, then add heated stock, maple syrup, thyme and ground red pepper. Cook until sweet potatoes are soft, about 25 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs from soup, puree soup in small batches, or using an immersion blender in the pot.
Return soup to heat, add cream, nutmeg and salt and white pepper.
To Serve: Transfer soup to individual bowls and serve with a dollop of rum cream.
RUM CREAM
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons dark rum
pinch sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add lemon juice and zest, rum and sugar. Continue whipping until cream is almost stiff. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Enjoy!

FLOUNDER WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS


4 flounder fillets
salt
red chili flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped PLUS 1 whole clove, smashed
2 sprigs thyme
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 dried bay leaves

Pat fish dry. Liberally season both sides with salt and a generous pinch of chili flakes.
Set a medium pot over medium-high heat. Swirl in 1 tablespoon oil. Add bacon and cook 4 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add onions and chopped garlic and stir until well coated. Add thyme and cook 3 minutes, or until onions are soft.
Add stock, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Add peas and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until liquid reduces and thickens. Season to taste with salt.
While beans cook, set a large heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, swirl in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil. Lay fish in pan, cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until crisped. Flip fillets and cook 2 more minutes or until cooked through. Transfer fish to a warm plate.
Wipe pan clean and set over high heat. Once hot, swirl in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil. Add mushrooms, smashed garlic clove and bay leaves, and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until mushrooms are browned and cooked through.
To plate, spoon 1/2 cup pea ragout onto 4 dishes. Top each with a fillet, spoon mushrooms over fish.
Enjoy!

ROSEMARY PEAR CRISP


6 ripe pears
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, divided use
1 cup flour PLUS 2 tablespoons, divided use
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger
1 vanilla bean, split
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

Heat oven to 375F.
Quarter, core and peel the pears. Sprinkle pears with lemon juice as you go to prevent browning. Cut each quarter crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. You should have about 6 cups.
Once you have sliced all the pears, add 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of the flour and the crystallized ginger to the pears, tossing to coat. With the tip of a knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean onto the pears and toss to coat evenly. Set them aside while you prepare the topping.
Combine the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 cup flour, baking powder, ground ginger, salt and rosemary. Add butter and work into the dry ingredients until it is crumbly.
Spoon the pear mixture into 6 individual sized ramekins. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the top of the fruit. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let stand until warm before serving.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CURRIED SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER and KUMARA LENTIL AND CUMIN SOUP

It definitely feels like soup weather here in Northwest Arkansas - and I've recently made a couple of quick and flavorful soups, that are perfect for the fall weather.
One of the things I missed the most after moving to America, was the New Zealand native sweet potato, or kumara - I even went so far as to beg the customs agent to allow me to bring one in - but no such luck!! To my great joy, I have discovered Japanese sweet potatoes at Ozark Natural Foods, which are one and the same as my beloved kumara!!

CURRIED SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER



1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups fresh corn kernels (I used canned)
14 ounces of chicken broth
1 can of lite coconut milk
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound of peeled, large raw shrimp
Toppings: toasted coconut, thinly sliced green onions, coarsely chopped roasted peanuts.

Saute onion in hot oil over medium heat, 5 minutes or until tender, add garlic, and saute 1 minute. Add potatoes and next 7 ingredients, bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Stir in shrimp, cook 4 to 5 minutes, or just until shrimp turn pink. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with desired toppings.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, April 2011
www.southernliving.com/

KUMARA LENTIL AND CUMIN SOUP


6 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin
12 sage leaves, torn in half
1 medium leek, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large kumara, peeled and diced
1/4 cup split red lentils
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
handful of chopped parsley

Melt butter in a saucepan over a high heat until nut brown and foamy. Add onion and cumin. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add sage, leek, garlic and kumara and mix well. Add lentils and stock and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes or until lentils and kumara are tender.
Adjust soup for seasoning and stir in parsley.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from New Zealand House and Garden
www.nzhouseandgarden.co.nz

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

THE FAT ELVIS

I LOVE the name, and the idea of this fabulous banana biscuit, filled with bacon, peanut butter and fresh sliced banana. The kids didn't care too much for the combination, but I most definitely enjoyed every delicious bite of mine. 

THE FAT ELVIS



5 to 6 ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup cold butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
peanut butter spread
10 cooked bacon slices, halved

Heat oven to 450F.
Cut 4 bananas into 2 inch pieces, halve each piece lengthwise. Mash remaining bananas to equal 1/2 cup.
Sift together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, add mashed bananas and peanuts.
Cut butter into small cubes, place in flour mixture, cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until crumbly. Add buttermilk, stirring just until mixture is slightly moistened.
Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface, shape into a ball. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick circle.
Cut with a floured, 3-inch round cutter, and place biscuits 1 inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden.
Split warm biscuits, spread bottom halves of biscuits with peanut butter spread. Top each with 2 bacon pieces and 2 banana slices. Cover with biscuit tops.

PEANUT BUTTER SPREAD

Stir together 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a microwave safe bowl.
Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds, or until softened. Stir until smooth.

Recipe adapted from Kimberly Pack, as printed in Southern Living, May 2011
www.southernliving.com/

Monday, November 14, 2011

TURKEY FETA MEATBALLS IN VEGETABLE TOMATO SAUCE

TURKEY FETA MEATBALLS IN VEGETABLE TOMATO SAUCE

I had a friend and her kids for dinner, and served these meatballs.
Mine were a little dry - probably as a result of too much chatting, which caused dinner to be delayed - but the sauce was delicious, and there was enough left over to have "vegetable stew" for lunch the next day.



VEGETABLE TOMATO SAUCE
1/4 cup olive oil
2 white onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 zucchini, grated
2 carrots, grated
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes

MEATBALLS
1 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or basil

To prepare sauce, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, saute 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and next 5 ingredients. Cook 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer until butternut squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 350F.
To prepare the meatballs, mix all ingrdients in a bowl, add some water if mixture is dry. Shape into 12 balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake about 25 minutes, until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Serve with sauce over spaghetti, if desired.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Relish
www.relish.com/

Friday, November 11, 2011

SMOKED SALMON AND ARTICHOKE DIP and ASPARAGUS TURNOVERS and ALMOND TOFFEE MOCHA SQUARES

A friend graciously invited us for dinner, and I was excited to make appetizers and a dessert - and to visit with her parents who were in town. We had a very fun, fabulous and delicious evening.

SMOKED SALMON AND ARTICHOKE DIP


6 ounces smoked salmon
1 4 ounce can mild green chilies
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (extra for sprinkling on top)
1 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350F.
Chop smoked salmon. Drain chilies, and drain and chop artichokes. Mix all together, fold in mayonnaise, cheese and cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve hot and bubbly with crackers, tortilla chips or slices of crusty bread or crostini.
Enjoy!

ASPARAGUS TURNOVERS


1 pound puff pastry
1/2 cup cream cheese
zest and juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated, divided use
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 thin slices of cooked smoked ham (I used bacon, but have used ham in the past, and I think it makes a prettier turnover)
1 1/4 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oven to 400F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to 1/8 of an inch.
In a bowl, combine cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, chives and 3 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide mixture among pastry squares and spread to 1/2 inch of edges. Top cream cheese mixture with a slice of ham and several spears of asparagus, leaving asparagus spears exposed.
Brush edges with water and fold pastry over each side to form a pouch, pressing edges gently to seal.
Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Arrange pouches on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April 2009

ALMOND TOFFEE MOCHA SQUARES


1 box brownie mix
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped toffee candy bars
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease a 13 by 9 inch pan. In a large bowl, beat brownie mix, 1 teaspoon instant coffee, butter, water and eggs with electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Gently stir in 1/2 cup chopped candy bars and 1/2 cup almonds. Spread batter in greased pan.
Bake for 24 to 28 minutes or until edges are firm. Do not over bake.
Cool completely in pan on wire rack - about 1 hour.

TOPPING

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped toffee candy bar
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon instant coffee with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Increase speed to high, beat in cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled brownies, sprinkle 1 cup chopped candy bars and 1/2 cup almonds over top.
Refrigerate at least and hour before serving.
Cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, October 2004