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Friday, September 30, 2011

CREAMY TOMATO BASIL SOUP

This was a lovely way to use up late summer tomatoes - my youngest child even gave it a big thumbs up, and said it was the most "dewicious" tomato soup he has ever had. I served it with grilled cheese for the kids, and warm crusty bread for the adults.

CREAMY TOMATO BASIL SOUP



2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tomatoes (peeled if you wish) and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded
4 ounces of cream cheese, cubed
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan, over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion and garlic, cook for a further 10 minutes.
Add tomato sauce, chicken broth and sugar, cover and simmer 15 minutes.
Add oregano, basil and cream cheese, cover and simmer 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.
Remove lid and whisk until cream cheese is fully incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, August, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WHITE CHOCOLATE BANANA AND CRANBERRY MINI-MUFFINS and APRICOT COCONUT BARS

I had planned to make both of these treats for the teachers - but because I was too busy chatting with my husband, I didn't measure the ingredients correctly for the apricot coconut bars - and although I would normally love an extra cup of sugar in my dessert, it threw off the cook time, look and taste. I have printed the recipe as it was originally, without the accidental sugar.

WHITE CHOCOLATE BANANA AND CRANBERRY MINI-MUFFINS



1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 egg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350F.
Grease 2 12-hole mini-muffin pans.
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in sugar, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients.
In another bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in mashed banana, milk and melted butter. Pour wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients and mix briefly to just combine.
Spon mixture into prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from New Zealand Woman's Weekly
www.nzwomansweekly.co.nz/

APRICOT COCONUT BARS



2 1/3 cups flour, divided
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups chopped apricots (the recipe called for fresh, but I used canned)
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350F.
Line a 13-by-9 pan with foil, so that the foil hangs over the edges.
In a large bowl, beat 2 cups of the flour, butter and sugar at medium speed until dough forms. Press into bottom of pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until pale brown.
Meanwhile, in same large bowl, beat eggs until blended. Beat in brown sugar, remaining 1/3 cup flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and lemon juice.
Scrape down sides of bowl. Fold in chopped apricots, walnuts and coconut. Spread over crust.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely. Remove from pan by lifting foil ends, cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MACADAMIA NUT CRUSTED SEA BASS WITH COCONUT LEMONGRASS SAUCE AND MANGO SALSA

I was excited to attempt a recipe with a new ingredient - I had never cooked with lemongrass before. I had seen the plants at the Farmers Market, but was always a little intimidated - when I found lemongrass paste in the produce section of the supermarket, I thought I would give it a go!!
This was a wonderful combination of flavors and textures!! It did take a little time, having to make the sauce and salsa, but it was completely worth it.

MACADAMIA NUT CRUSTED SEA BASS WITH COCONUT LEMONGRASS SAUCE AND MANGO SALSA



1/2 cup coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass, cut up or 2 tablespoons of lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
6 sea bass fillets (or orange roughy, haddock or cod)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mango Salsa for serving

In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk and lemongrass, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cool slightly, strain, discard lemongrass. Return mixture to pan. Whisk butter and hot pepper sauce into warm sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Coat one side of fish fillets with macadamia nuts. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over high heat, add fillets, coated side up. Cook until brown on the bottom. Bake in a 350F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
To serve, puddle the coconut sauce on the plate, place the fish on top, and serve the salsa alongside.

MANGO SALSA

In a small skillet, heat 2 teaspoon of olive oil, add two chopped shallots. Cook over medium heat until shallots are tender. Remove from heat, cool.
In a medium bowl combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon pomegranate juice, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar.
Add sauteed shallot, 1 peeled and diced mango, 1 peeled, seeded and diced avocado, 1 diced tomato and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro.
Mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Carnival Currents Magazine

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ROAST CHICKEN

This recipe was featured in Self magazine, under the heading "learn to dance and eight other things every woman needs to know". Sew a button, tie and necktie, and of course, roast a chicken.
It made for a perfect Sunday night dinner, and my very favorite part, was that my 8 year old son wanted to help with the meal preparations - it was fun showing him some cooking basics - he especially took to the chopping, and was fascinated when I smooshed the butter mixture under the skin. Maybe roasting a chicken is something every woman AND man should know.

ROAST CHICKEN



1 whole chicken
1/2 stick butter, softened
10 cloves garlic, divided use
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut in half
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375F.
Rinse and pat dry the chicken, season with salt and pepper.
Chop 5 garlic cloves.
Mix butter, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Pull away the skin from the meat and smoosh about half of your butter mixture in there, making sure to get into every nook and cranny. Rub remaining butter all over the outside of the bird.
Season the cavity with salt and pepper, toss in remaining 5 whole garlic cloves and lemon.
Place the bird in a roasting pan, drizzle with a little olive oil, bake for about 20 minutes per pound, or until a thermometer reads at least 165F.
Set your chicken on a platter on the countertop and let it rest, covered with foil for 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Self magazine
www.self.com/

Monday, September 26, 2011

FRESH MARGARITAS and WARM LEMON ROSEMARY OLIVES and LEAFY GREEN SALAD WITH PEARS and LATINA LASAGNA and MEXICAN CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE WITH MEXICAN CHOCOLATE SAUCE

Having just returned from Mexico, I wanted to cook dinner for friends, inspired by that part of the world.
A friend had made fresh Margaritas for me a while ago, which were absolutely delicious - I was excited to try making them myself, and found this recipe from Emeril Lagasse. The other recipes were from a story from Southern Living, where a group of ladies come together every year for a special holiday luncheon - how fun!!

FRESH MARGARITAS




3/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup tequila
3/4 cup triple sec
8 lime wedges
1/2 cup coarse salt
1 cup ice

In a medium saucepan, combine the lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, water, sugar, lime zest and lemon zest.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature and strain out the zests.
In a cocktail shaker, combine the cooled citrus syrup with the tequila, triple sec and ice. Shake until frothy and well chilled, at least 1 minute.
Place the coarse salt in a shallow dish or saucer. Wet the rim of each with a lime wedge, and dip the glass into the salt to coat.
Strain into the prepared glasses and garnish.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from  the Emeril Live Show, 2004

WARM LEMON ROSEMARY OLIVES



3 cups mixed olives
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F.
Place the olives, rosemary sprigs, crushed red pepper and lemon zest on a large piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with the olive oil.
Fold foil over olive mixture, and pinch edges to seal.
Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Enjoy!

LEAFY GREEN SALAD WITH PEARS



Stir 1 tablespoon of honey into 1/2 cup bottled olive-oil-and-vinegar dressing.
Place 8 cups torn butter lettuce and 2 pears, sliced, onto a platter. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.
Enjoy!

LATINA LASAGNE



1 1/2 pounds of fresh chorizo sausage, casings removed
1 (24 ounce) jar of tomato and basil pasta sauce
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 (4.5 ounce) cans of chopped green chiles
12 ounces of Mexican crumbling cheese
12 ounces of Mexican dipping cheese (seriously, this was how it was labeled in the supermarket)
1 cup crema Mexicana, table cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
12 no-boil lasagne noodles
1 (16 ounce) package shredded Mexican four-cheese blend

Preheat oven to 375F.
Cook sausage in a frying pan, over medium heat, 8 to 10 minutes, or until meat is no longer pink, breaking sausage into pieces while cooking. Drain, return to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in pasta sauce, cilantro and chiles, cook stirring often, 5 minutes.
Stir together cheeses, crema and eggs until smooth.
Spoon 1 cup of sauce mixture into a lightly greased 13-by-9 pan. Top with 4 lasagne noodles. Top with half of cheese mixture, one third of shredded Mexican cheese blend, and one-third of remaining sauce mixture.
Repeat layers once, beginning with noodles. Top with remaining 4 noodles, sauce mixture and shredded cheese blend.
Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.
Enjoy!

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE WITH MEXICAN CHOCOLATE SAUCE



8 ounce chocolate chips
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
whipped cream and Mexican chocolate sauce for garnish

Preheat oven to 325F.
Microwave chocolate in a bowl, at HIGH for 1 minute, or until chocolate is melted and smooth.
Beat butter at medium speed with a mixer, 2 minutes, or until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition.
Stir in melted chocolate, chocolate syrup and vanilla until smooth.
Combine flour and next 3 ingredients, add to butter mixture altenately with butter milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until just blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes, remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool completely.
Garnish if desired, with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
Enjoy!

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE SAUCE

8 ounces of chocolate chips
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter

Cook first 6 ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking occasionally 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture is smooth and chocolate is melted.
Remove from heat, whisk in butter until melted.
Serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipes adapted from Southern Living, November 2010
www.southernliving.com/

Sunday, September 25, 2011

SOFT ROLLS

As much as I try to cook with yeast, it still scares me and I still don't seem to be able to master it!!
A friend had brought back some amazing butter from France, studded with granules of salt, and I wanted something special to pair it with, so I thought I would attempt home made bread!! Im not sure the rolls were of a quality to serve with the fabulous butter, but my son enjoyed helping me make them, and my family definitely enjoyed eating them.

SOFT ROLLS





1 2/3 cups milk, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 ounce active dry yeast
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 egg, beaten

Mix milk, flour, yeast, salt, sugar, butter and eggs using a dough hook at low speed. Increase speed to medium, and mix for about 15 minutes.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 hour.
Portion dough into 2-ounce balls (about the size of a small lime) and place on a baking sheet.
Let rolls rise 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Brush rolls lightly with beaten egg. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BANANA NUT BREAD

I baked this for 10 minutes longer than the recipe specified, but the middle of my bread was still quite gooey!! The cooked bits were really yummy, and our chickens enjoyed the rest.
If I made this again, I would spread the batter between 2 loaf pans, and cook for 30 - 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle of the bread came out clean.
The loaf pan in the picture is the one my husbands mother used to bake her wonderful breads - I love the memories being revisited and created.

BANANA NUT BREAD

  


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Grease 1 (9-by-5 inch) loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, nuts, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, bananas, oil, pineapple and vanilla.
Stir banana mixture into flour mixture until flour is just moistened. Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and place on a wire rack until completely cool.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, May 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

GRUYERE WALNUT CRISPS and ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP and ARTICHOKE CHEESECAKE and STRAWBERRY LEMON SHORTBREAD BARS



I had so much fun cooking for a friends trunk show. My menu was inspired by razorback red and the cooler fall weather and was a blast to put together!

MENU FOR TRUNK SHOW ( TAILGATE OR APPETIZER PARTY - you get the idea)
cheeseboard with gruyere walnut crisps and garnished with red grapes
roasted red pepper dip
artichoke cheesecake garnished with tomato, olives and basil
chicken meatballs with a sweet peanut dipping sauce
strawberry lemon shortbread bars
honey caramel pecan tarts


GRUYERE WALNUT CRISPS


These were very yummy by themselves or with the cheese - I loved that they could be made in advance, and sliced and cooked when needed.

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
8 ounces finely grated gruyere cheese
4 ounces finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Using electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Beat in cheeses and salt. Add flour and walnuts, beat just until dough comes together, adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 15 inch log. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 4 hours.
Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut logs crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Arrange on prepared sheets, spacing 1/2 inch apart.
Bake crisps until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes (I cooked them for 8 minutes, then turned them over before baking them for another 8 minutes).
Transfer to racks and cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2009
www.bonappetit.com

ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP



1 12-16 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
3 green onions, trimmed and coarsely chopped
juice and rind of a lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine peppers, cream cheese, sour cream, green onions, garlic, lemon juice and rind and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer dip to a serving bowl.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 2009

ARTICHOKE CHEESECAKE



4 tablespoons butter, melted
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 roma tomatoes, diced, for garnish
greek olives, pitted and cut in half, for garnish
fresh basil leaves, sliced, for garnish

Heat oven to 400F.
Brush bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo in pan so that phyllo extends up and over the sides of the pan. Brush with butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo and butter (or in the place of butter, you can use cooking spray - a great tip I picked up at a cooking class). Make 2 slits in the center of phyllo for steam to escape.
Bake 9 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Decrease oven temperature to 325F.
Drain and chop artichokes, set aside. Beat cream cheese, feta, oregano and garlic powder in a large bowl. Add eggs, beating just until blended, Do not over beat.
Add artichoke hearts and green onions. Combine well.
Pour mixture into crust and cover loosely with foil. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until center is soft and sides stay firm when gently shaken.
Cool. Cover and chill 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
When ready to serve, remove from pan, garnish with tomatoes, olives and basil leaves.
Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature, with pita chips.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, December 2002

STRAWBERRY LEMON SHORTBREAD BARS

These bars were absolutely delicious but I had a lot of trouble trying to make a clean cut. Therefore they didn't turn out as pretty as I would have liked.



2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest, divided
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold butter
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup strawberry preserves

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Stir together flour, powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest in a medium bowl, cut in butter until crumbly. Press dough onto bottom of a lightly greased 13-by-9 inch pan.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat just until blended after each addition.
Stir in fresh lemon juice and remaining 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, beating well.
Spread preserves over shortbread. Pour cream cheese mixture over preserves, spreading to edges.
Bake 28 to 32 more minutes or until set. Let cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Cover and chill 4-8 hours. Cut into bars, garnish with whipped cream and strawberries, or chocolate circles if desired.

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

Friday, September 16, 2011

COURGETTE AND BACON FRITTERS WITH SWEET CHILLI SALSA

I wanted a very quick and reasonably light and healthy dinner, and had been looking forward to trying these fritters I found in my New Zealand House and Garden magazine. They were recommended for breakfast, I made them for dinner, and they would be great for a lunch or brunch too! Although at first I wasn't too sure about the salsa, the spiciness of the chilli sauce combined wonderfully with the coolness of the avocados.

COURGETTE AND BACON FRITTERS WITH SWEET CHILLI SALSA



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 rashers bacon, diced (I used 3 pieces of canadian bacon, just because thats what I had on hand)
2 cloves of garlic
1 egg
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, thyme, dill - whichever combination you prefer)
2 courgettes (zucchini) coarsely grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons oil PLUS 1 tablespoon butter

SWEET CHILLI SALSA

1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 avocado, diced
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a frying pan and saute onion, bacon and garlic until softened then set aside to cool.
In a large bowl combine egg, herbs, courgettes, salt, pepper and bacon mixture.
Sift flour and baking powder together then sift over mixture. Heat oil and butter until bubbling and fry tablespoons of the mixture for 2 minutes each side until golden.
Serve warm topped with sweet chilli salsa, and salad greens.

SWEET CHILLI SALSA

Combine sweet chilli sauce with the avocado. Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste.
Chill before serving.
Enjoy!

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

Thursday, September 15, 2011

POTATO CHIP COOKIES

A friend, who is pregnant came for a play date with her two sweet boys and I thought it would be fun to make these cookies for her. The kids loved the salty, sweet, crunchy combination too.

POTATO CHIP COOKIES



3/4 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups crushed potato chips
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag of butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Lightly grease baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop dough by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes.
Cool cookies on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, April, 2009

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ICEBERG STACK WITH CREAMY BLUE CHEESE DRESSING and BAKED GARLIC CHEESE GRITS and ALBERTS BRISKET and BLACKBERRY ALMOND SHORTBREAD SQUARES

A group of wonderful women gathered at a friends house to paint. My painting skills being minimal,  I offered to bring dinner and wine.
A friend had given me this recipe for baked grits, I had been waiting for the right opportunity to try.
She said to make it for a crowd, because it is so good, you will want to eat the whole dish yourself!!
The brisket recipe is from a friend we travel to the lake with each year - we love it when he makes this  fork-tender, fall apart dinner!!

ICEBERG STACK WITH CREAMY BLUE CHEESE DRESSING



1 small head iceberg lettuce
3 radishes, grated
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 container alfalfa sprouts
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Cut lettuce into 4 (1 inch thick) slices, reserving ends for another use.
Place 1 slice on each of 4 salad plates. Sprinkle radishes evenly over lettuce. Layer cucumber, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts and bacon evenly over radishes.
Drizzle with creamy blue cheese dressing.

CREAMY BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

1 8-ounce container whipped garlic and herb cheese
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sliced green onion tops
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind (rather than measure exactly, I just used the rind from one lemon)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 4-ounce container of blue cheese

Process first 6 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Stir in crumbled blue cheese. Cover and chill dressing until ready to serve.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living
www.southernliving.com/

BAKED GARLIC CHEESE GRITS



6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups regular grits
16 ounces cheddar, cubed (I used velveeta)
8 ounces sharp cheddar, cubed
1/2 cup milk or cream
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease a 4-quart casserole dish.
Bring the broth, salt, pepper and garlic powder to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the grits and whisk until completely combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grits are thick, about 8-10 minutes (I used quick grits, so cooked them about 5 minutes).
Add the cubed cheddar cheeses, and milk and stir. Gradually stir in the eggs and butter, stirring until all are combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the white cheddar and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until set.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen
www.pauladeen.com/

ALBERTS BRISKET



Albert says this is great for sandwiches or on a bun with a some of the drippings. For a meal you can chop and add carrots, potatoes, celery, bell pepper, green beans, or whatever other vegetables are in the refrigerator.

4 pound brisket
6 cloves of garlic, cut in half
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350F.
Place brisket in a large Reynolds oven bag. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Cut slits in the top of the meat, and insert garlic cloves into the slits.
Pour water around meat. Roast for 4 hours.
Enjoy!

BLACKBERRY ALMOND SHORTBREAD SQUARES



10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cups whole almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups blackberries

Heat oven to 350F.
Arrange nuts on a baking sheet, and bake until golden, 15 minutes. Cool, then grind in a food processor.
Butter a 9-by-13 baking pan.
Whisk the flour, ground nuts, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl, set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and 3/4 cup of the confectioners sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in almond extract.
Add flour mixture in 2 batches, mix until a crumbly dough forms.
Reserve 3/4 cup of the dough mixture, press the rest into the bottom of the pan.
Scatter berries over dough. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar and crumble reserved dough on top.
Bake until golden, about 30 minutes.
Let cool, cut into squares and dust with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Store in the refrigerator.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, August 2010

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MIXED GREENS, GRAPES AND GRILLED FIGS WITH HONEY DRESSING and PORK AND PEPPER KEBABS

To ensure no fig went to waste, I searched my recipes for another way to use them. I came across this wonderful sounding recipe which combined different fruit, with goat cheese and pistachios!! Yummy!! I then wanted something quick and easy to accompany the salad, and thought the kebabs went well - not to mention my kids are of an age where food off a stick is fun, fun, fun!!
We finished off our family dinner with a walk to our local frozen yogurt place.

MIXED GREENS, GRAPES AND GRILLED FIGS WITH HONEY DRESSING



For the salad dressing:
6 tablespoons white grape juice
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:
mixed greens
12 green grapes, sliced in half
12 red grapes, sliced in half
12 fresh figs, sliced in half and grilled (I sprinkled them with a little olive oil, and grilled them in the oven, for about 4 minutes each side, or until soft)
4 ounces goat cheese
toasted pistachios

To make the dressing:
Whisk grape juice, honey, olive oil and mustard together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the salad:
Divide greens between 4 plates. Top with grapes and figs. Sprinkle goat cheese over each salad, then sprinkle with pistachios, and dressing.
Serve immediately, with more salad dressing on the side.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, August 2009

PORK AND PEPPER KEBABS



10 wooden or metal skewers
1 pre-seasoned pork loin (I chose peppered rosemary)
2 bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
olive oil

Soak wooden skewers in water, 30 minutes, to prevent burning.
Thread pork and peppers alternately onto skewers.
Sprinkle kebabs evenly with pepper, drizzle with olive oil.
Bake kebabs in 350F oven, 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or until done.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, August 2007
www.southernliving.com/

Monday, September 12, 2011

BAKED FIGS WITH BLUE CHEESE AND BACON

A friend recently described how she cooked figs from her fathers garden, with bacon and brown sugar,  and finished with a balsamic glaze - it sounded so divine!!
I am a newcomer to the fresh fig phenomenon, trying them for the first time about a year ago - so when I found fresh figs at ONF I was very excited to try the recipe for myself. I liked the sound of the blue cheese, so added that in, but you could use goat cheese, or no cheese at all.

BAKED FIGS WITH BLUE CHEESE AND BACON



8 fresh figs
4 slices of bacon
8 pieces of blue cheese
4 teaspoons brown sugar
balsamic glaze for drizzling
toothpicks

Slice figs vertically through bottom three quarters. Stuff with blue cheese, wrap with half a slice of bacon, and secure with a toothpick.
Sprinkle each fig with about 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar. Grill in oven for 6-8 minutes, or until bacon is cooked through, turning once.
Place on serving platter, drizzle with balsamic glaze (can be found at Harps or Richards Meat Market)
Enjoy!

BROCCOLINI WITH CRISPY LEMON CRUMBS

This was perfect for a quiet dinner at home, and perfectly complimented the snapper and potato pancake my husband whipped up.

BROCCOLINI WITH CRISPY LEMON CRUMBS



2 slices of white or wheat bread, torn
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
salt
2 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
lemon wedges, for serving

In a food processor, pulse the bread until large crumbs form. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the bread crumbs and cook them over moderate heat, stirring constantly until golden.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the crushed red pepper and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccolini and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain well, shaking off excess water.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, stirring until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the broccolini, season lightly with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccolini is lightly browned in spots, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the broccolini to a serving platter and sprinkle the lemony bread crumbs on top. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, January 2010
http://www.foodandwine.com/

CHILLED PERSIAN ROSE PETAL SOUP, HONEY LAVENDER SALMON, FRESH CORN AND POTATO SALAD, CHOCOLATE PANNA COTTA WITH PANSIES

Kathy and John met at our house, and also became engaged here. They recently celebrated their four year anniversary, and Rolf and I were very excited to have this special couple over for dinner.
Two factors inspired the menu - Kathy is a master gardener, and a friend had just given me a recipe for a chilled Persian yogurt soup, that included rose petals - therefore, a flower theme it was!


We started with a prosecco and wild hibiscus cocktail. Pop a flower in the bottom of a champagne flute, add a couple of teaspoons of the syrup, and top with your favorite sparkling wine!!
I found the flowers at Williams Sonoma - fun and fabulous!!

CHILLED PERSIAN ROSE PETAL SOUP



This was described as "a healthy, make-ahead, staff-favorite". Goodness, you cant go wrong with that!! My initial taste of the soup brought forth the sweetness of the golden raisins, and the earthiness of the nuts, followed with the burst of fresh herbs - delicious!!

1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dried rose petals (ONF has them)
2 cups plain greek yogurt
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup finely chopped mint
1/4 cup finely chopped dill
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop.
In a small bowl, cover the rose petals with cold water and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain the petals, squeeze dry and finely chop.
In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the cold water. Stir in the raisins, cucumber, mint, dill, chives, walnuts and rose petals and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour. Serve the soup in shallow bowls, with crusty bread if desired.

HONEY LAVENDER SALMON



1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
dash salt
freshly ground black pepper

Combine olive oil, herbs, seasonings and honey in a dish, or food storage bag large enough to hold the salmon. Place salmon filets in the mixture, turning to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.
Heat oven to 375F.
Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet, sear the salmon, skin side down, for about 4 minutes. Move the skillet to the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 12 minutes, or until salmon flakes with a fork (or have your husband pop it on the grill).
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from About.com Southern Food
www.About.com

FRESH CORN AND POTATO SALAD

1 pound baby potatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup slice green onions

Bring potatoes and salted cold water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cover and boil for 10 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and let cool 15 minutes.
Whisk together cilantro and next 4 ingredients, in a large bowl.
Add warm potatoes, corn, red bell pepper, avocado and green onions, toss to coat.
Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living, April 2011

CHOCOLATE PANNA COTTA WITH FRESH PANSY BLOSSOMS


This smooth, silky, chocolately, and very easy to make dessert is similar to a creme brulee, but it doesn't require baking, or a blowtorch!! It is typically made with vanilla, and topped with fruit or a chocolate sauce, but I wanted to stay within the flower theme!! ONF was out of the edible flowers they usually carry, so I made a quick trip to the garden store for my pansies.

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
fresh pansy blossoms for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cups of the cream and the vanilla bean to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining 1/2 cup of cream and set aside for 5 minutes.
In another bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and sugar.
Discard the vanilla bean from the cream. Return the cream to a boil and whisk until the cocoa has completely dissolved and the cream returns to a boil, about two minutes.
Remove from heat. Whisk in the gelatin mixture until thoroughly combined.
Strain (I skipped this step, and it turned out fine) the hot cream mixture into a large glass measuring cup with a pouring spout.
Divide evenly between 4 small ramekins, custard cups or tea cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Garnish with fresh, edible flowers or berries.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Wall Street Journal, October 2006

Sunday, September 11, 2011

SHRIMP AND ASPARAGUS RISOTTO

The first time I truly enjoyed a risotto, was at my friend Ashley's house - I fell in love with the rich creaminess of the dish. I don't have her recipe, but here is one I found, and my husband proclaimed to be "spectacular".

SHRIMP AND ASPARAGUS RISOTTO



4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, stemmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
18 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Simmer chicken broth on low heat until needed.
Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook for 5 minutes, then add white wine.
Add 1/2 cup of broth and stir until completely absorbed. Repeat until 2 cups of broth have been added. Stir the risotto frequently to prevent sticking.
Add asparagus and shrimp to the remaining broth and cook for about 2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink. Remove asparagus and shrimp from the broth and add them to the risotto mixture.
Add 1/2 a cup of broth at a time until desired creaminess is reached (there may be broth left over)
Once the broth is absorbed, add butter, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with parsley.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The Morning News, April 2007

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TOFFEE CHIP BARS

I thought I had the task, every Tuesday, of making a snack for my husband and oldest son to take to their Boy Scout meeting. I quickly whipped up these toffee chip bars, only to find I had imagined it to be a weekly assignment! Apparently the chocolate brownies with green icing were far more desirable than my home made treat - which I wouldn't have minded so much if it wasn't left to me to finish off the remains of the bars!

TOFFEE CHIP BARS



2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup, firmly packed, light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups crushed chocolate coated toffee bars
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, one half at a time. Stir in crushed toffee bars and spread in baking pan. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Cool and cut into bars.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the foodnetwork.com

Friday, September 9, 2011

PAN FRIED SCALLOPS AND NECTARINES WITH CORN AND TOMATO SALAD

We had a wonderful dinner party planned for tonight, but with one child feverish and sick, we had to postpone our well laid plans. It ended up being a beautiful family evening, a relaxed ending to a long day - this delicious salad was perfect with a glass of chardonnay and my husband by my side.

PAN FRIED SCALLOPS AND NECTARINES WITH CORN AND TOMATO SALAD



DRESSING:
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt

SALAD:
24 large sea scallops
2 firm but ripe nectarines, each cut into 8 wedges
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 ears of corn
24 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
sea salt

DRESSING:
Whisk lime juice, lime peel, and chili powder in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil.
Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

SALAD:
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil, in a pan over medium-high heat. Season scallops and nectarines with salt and pepper, cook until brown and cooked through.
Arrange scallops on 4 plates. Place corn and tomatoes in a medium bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of dressing, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon corn-tomato mixture on top of scallops, arrange nectarine wedges decoratively on plates.
Drizzle remaining dressing over salad, then sprinkle with sliced basil and sea salt.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2008
www.bonappetit.com

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

BASIL LIME DAIQUIRI

Our family took an RV trip over Memorial Day Weekend - I mixed up these yummy cocktails for my husband and I, serving them from the bumper of the RV.

BASIL LIME DAIQUIRI



Simmer 1/2 cup water with 1 1/2 cups basil leaves until liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 tablespoons. Let sit a minute or two, strain, then stir in 2 teaspoons light brown sugar and 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice. In a shaker, 1/2 filled with ice, combine the basil-lime syrup with 2 ounces of light rum and 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice, shake.
Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with basil.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, December 2010
www.foodandwine.com

GREEN GODDESS DIPPING SAUCE WITH SHRIMP, BRIE AND FIG TARTS, CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY COOKIES, BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE BLONDIES WITH FRESH BLUEBERRY JAM

APPETIZER PARTY

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to co-host a book reading party for Lela Davidson, local wife, mother, speaker, facebook junkie, and author of Blacklisted From The PTA. She is truly fabulous, and had us all in stitches with excerpts from her book
leladavidson.com/press/blacklisted-from-the-pta/
The brie and fig tarts were very popular, but as with life, all was not perfect - the desserts were somewhat messy, and not as pretty as I would have liked, but absolutely scrumptious all the same!!
It was a wonderful evening - I hope you enjoy trying these recipes, and hosting friends, as much as I did.

GREEN GODDESS DIPPING SAUCE WITH SHRIMP


I combined two recipes to come up with this fresh, delicious dipping sauce. I like it with shrimp, but it's also good with vegetables - raw or lightly steamed, or on a salad - as it was originally intended. As the story goes, it originated in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1923, and before ranch dressing came along, it was one of the most popular salad dressings on the West Coast of the United States.



3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
2 anchovy fillets
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 green onion, coarsely chopped
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped (I couldn't find fresh, so substituted 2 tablespoons of dried)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
(I had a little dill, so popped that in too)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and peper to taste
30  large shrimp, cooked, peeled with tails left intact

Combine lemon juice, lemon zest, anchovies, shallot, vinegar, garlic and green onion in a food processor. Blend until shallot and garlic are finely chopped. Add avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream and herbs, blend until almost smooth.
With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube in thin stream (or dump it all in at once and blend, like I did)
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer dipping sauce to a small bowl, place bowl on a large platter and surround with shrimp and vegetables if desired.
May be made 1 day ahead.
Enjoy!

BRIE AND FIG TARTS




1/2 - 1 brie round, rind removed
1 package mini-phyllo pastry shells (I find mine at Handmade or Marvins IGA)
4 tablespoons fig preserves
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375F
Cut brie into 15 pieces. Place one piece into each phyllo shell, and top each with a 1/2 teaspoon fig preserves. Place on a baking sheet and bake 6 minutes.
Sprinkle with crystallized ginger and pepper to taste.
Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY COOKIES



1 10 ounce jar of maraschino cherries
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350F
Drain cherries, reserving juice. Cut cherries in half.
Beat butter and sugar together for 30 seconds, then add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined.
Add egg and vanilla, then flour and cocoa until combined.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball, place a cherry half, cut side up, into the indentation.
In a separate saucepan, combine chocolate chips and condensed milk. Cook and stir until chocolate melts. Add 4 teaspoons of reserved cherry juice. Spoon 1 teaspoon of frosting over each cherry half.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges are firm - and don't worry if the frosting slides off during baking - they are still delicious!!
DoodleNote: I love the scoops from the Pampered Chef when making cookies, or anything else that requires a uniform measure - invaluable!
www.pamperedchef.com


Recipe adapted from NWA Media Holiday Cookbook, 2010




BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE BLONDIES WITH FRESH BLUEBERRY JAM






When I make these again, I will substitute store-bought jam for the fresh made - it will be less messy, and just as delicious!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 batch fresh blueberry jam (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 350F.
Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with baking spray or with butter and flour.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon and sugar. Beat in cream cheese and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
Beat in egg yolk, mixing until combined, set aside.
In a saucepan, over low heat, melt butter and white chocolate chips together, stirring constantly until smooth.
Stir melted mixture into cream cheese mixture and mix well.
Transfer to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. 
Spread blueberry jam over batter.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is set.


FRESH BLUEBERRY JAM


1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or sugar to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or to taste


Mash berries, using the back of a spoon, until coarsely mashed. Add sugar and lemon juice and mix well, taste and adjust sugar and lemon juice as necessary. 
Enjoy!


Recipes adapted from Arkansas Democrat Gazette, June 30, 2010

Saturday, September 3, 2011

CIOPPINO

I was on my way to the supermarket, when I realized I hadn't planned ahead - I didn't have a recipe organized for the next day! I decided I would peruse the magazine section to see if there was anything that caught my eye, and was very excited to come across a cioppino recipe! I had tried this delectable seafood stew at a local restaurant, and the only other recipe I had seen for it, appeared complicated and time consuming. Therefore, I was delighted when I saw this one - I changed it up a bit, but kept the same basic bones, that made for a simple week day meal. In fact, it was so quick and easy that I was even able to clean the house (well, the kitchen and dining room at least) set out fresh flowers, and invite a friend and her children to join us.

CIOPPINO



1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic gloves, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jar (24 oz) tomato basil pasta sauce
1 bottle (8 oz) clam juice
1 cup dry white wine, or chicken broth
1/4 cup water
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 lb fresh mussels, scrubbed, beards removed
1 lb uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb bay scallops
1 package (6 oz) baby spinach
Parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
Sourdough bread, toasted, for serving

In a large saucepan, or dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in olive oil, until tender.
Add the pasta sauce, clam juice, wine, water and seasonings.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add mussels, bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in shrimp, scallops and spinach, cook 5-7 minutes longer, or until mussels open, shrimp turn pink and scallops are opaque.
Discard any unopened mussels.
Serve in bowls, with toasted bread, and parsley for garnish.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home, September, 2011
www.tasteofhome.com


CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH AND PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

This is a recipe I found in Oprah magazine years ago, from the Art Cafe & Bakery. Oprah was quoted as saying "This is unbelievable - the best sandwich I've ever tasted".
I love that it isn't a typical, mayonnaise based chicken salad - and is perfect for lunch, or a quick weeknight dinner. I didn't thoroughly check my ingredients, and ended up having to substitute creole mustard in place of the spicy mustard - it worked beautifully!
While the chicken was cooking, I mixed up the dressing, and the cookies. One of my favorite "gadgets" in the kitchen, is a scoop from The Pampered Chef - www.thepamperedchef.com - absolutely the best thing when making cookies!!

CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD SANDWICH



20 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1/2 of a lemon
3 pounds of chicken tenders
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup of honey
1 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
butter to spread on bread slices
loaf of your favorite artisan bread, sliced
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
arugula
grapes for garnish

In a large saucepan over high heat add peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves, lemon and 14 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, or until cooked through, drain. Once cool, quarter each tender crosswise.
In a large bowl, combine mustard, honey, curry powder, lemon pepper and salt, stir in chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, up to 1 day.
Butter both sides of bread slices. In a heated nonstick pan, cook bread 3-5 minutes, or until browned, turning once.
Combine carrots and almonds with chicken mixture. Divide between 6 bread slices. Top with tomatoes, arugula, and remaining bread slices.
Serve with grapes.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Oprah Magazine, November, 2004
www.oprah.com/omagazine.html

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES



1 cup of smooth peanut butter
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons minced peanuts (I ground mine in the food processor)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F
In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter with the sugar, baking soda and egg until blended. Stir in the peanuts and chocolate chips.
Scoop and roll tablespoons of the dough into balls and place onto baking sheets. Using a fork, make a crosshatch pattern on each cookie (mine didn't last through the baking process - but I did try).
Bake the cookies for 10 - 15 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned.
Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, September, 2008
www.FOODANDWINE.COM

Thursday, September 1, 2011

CHOCOLATE CHIP BUNDT CAKE

A friend just moved into a new home, and had invited us for dinner. I offered to bring dessert, and thought of this special, easy-to-make and delicious cake.

CHOCOLATE CHIP BUNDT CAKE



2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 12 ounce package semisweet chocolate mini-morsels
garnishes: whipped cream, cherries

Preheat oven to 350F
Stir together first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork. Sprinkle in a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with a stand mixer 3-5 minutes or until fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.
Beat in chocolate mini-morsels (mixture will be thick).
Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350F for 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes, remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely (about 1 hour)
Garnish with whipped cream and cherries if desired.
Enjoy!