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Thursday, May 31, 2012

SPARKLING RASPBERRY MARGARITA

This was a very light and refreshing cocktail - perfect for a summer afternoon.
If I made this again I would squeeze the juice from the orange and limes, and muddle the juice with the raspberries, agave nectar and tequila, as I could taste a slight bitterness from the skin and pith of the citrus.
Also, I would add a little more tequila - Mum and I both topped our cocktails with an extra shot.

SPARKLING RASPBERRY MARGARITA


1 orange, cut into pieces
2 limes, cut into pieces
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 ounces white tequila
seltzer water

Fill 2 cocktail glasses with ice. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the orange, limes, raspberries and agave nectar with the tequila until the fruit is very pulpy and juicy. This should take about 5 minutes. Strain into the ice and top with seltzer water.
Makes 2 cocktails.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, May 2012
www.arkansasonline.com/news/features/food/

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

PORK AND PLANTAIN ENCHILADAS WITH BLACK BEAN PUREE

I took dinner to dear friends, who had just had the most adorable little baby girl ever!!
I wanted something fun and delicious, something that would hold up on the drive over to their house and would be easy to reheat - also when I take dinner to someone, I like to leave it in disposable containers so they don't have to worry about returning dishes back to me.
Although this recipe has a lot of steps and ingredients, it comes together quite quickly. I thought it was very yummy, and healthy - although I do always like to add extra cheese!!

PORK AND PLANTAIN ENCHILADAS WITH BLACK BEAN PUREE


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried organo
5/8 teaspoon ground red pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (1 pound) pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 1/3 cups chicken broth, divided
3/4 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and coarsely chopped (about 6 large)
2 garlic cloves, chopped and divided
1 serrano chile, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 soft black plantain, peeled and coarsely chopped
12 (6 inch) corn or flour tortillas
6 ounces of monterey jack cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine cumin, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt, add pork and mix well.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan, and swirl to coat. Add pork and cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Reduce heat to medium, and cook pork for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is done.
Combine 1 cup onion, 1 cup broth, tomatillos, 1 garlic clove and serrano in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tomatillos are tender. Cool for 10 minutes. Combine tomatillo mixture, cilantro, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender, process until smooth. Pour into a large measuring cup.
Place skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add the remaining 2/3 cup onion, cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add remaining garlic clove, cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add remaining 1/3 cup broth, and cook for 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add black beans, cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool slightly. Place black bean mixture in blender. Pulse 15 times, scraping occasionally until mixture is a thick puree.
Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan, swirl to coat. Combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon red pepper, brown sugar and plantain in a medium bowl, tossing to coat plantain. Add plantain mixture to pan, saute for 3 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Cool slightly, finely chop. Combine pork and plantain mixture in a medium bowl.
Spread 1/3 cup tomatillo mixture in the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, coated with cooking spray.
Heat tortillas according to package directions. Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons black bean puree down center of each tortilla, top with about 2 tablespoons pork mixture. Sprinkle each tortilla with 1 tablespoon cheese, roll up. Place seam side down in baking dish. Pour remaining tomatillo mixture over filled tortillas, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until cheese melts and filling is thoroughly heated.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2012
www.cookinglight.com/

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CINNAMON CARAMEL SWIRL BARS

With the end of school here, and the lazy days of summer upon us, I decided I wouldn't cook or entertain as much to see if it would give me extra time. Its only been a few days but I do feel like I have a lot more time and energy for other things around the house - closets, desks and garages have been tidied and organized - with piles being erected for charity, the trash and my flea market booth. Without the recipe finding, list making, grocery shopping, preparing, cooking and cleaning up, it seems as if there are definitely more hours in the day.
However, I thrive on entertaining and cooking - and took a break from cleaning today to make these bars for my husband and oldest son to take to boy scouts tonight to share.

CINNAMON CARAMEL SWIRL BARS


1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 package (14 ounces) caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 350F.
Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. Mix sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and pecans until well blended. Stir in flour mixture. Reserve 1 cup of batter. Spread remaining batter in greased, foil lined 13 by 9 inch baking pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until firm.
Microwave caramels and milk in microwavable bowl on high, 2 to 3 minutes or until caramels are melted, stirring after every minute.
Cool about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour over baked layer in pan, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edges. Drop reserved batter by spoonfuls over caramel layer. Cut through batter with knife several times for marble effect.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until center is set.
Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars.
Enjoy!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

PASTA CARBONARA WITH LEEKS AND LEMON

I made this delicious dish for a friend - we cooked and ate and talked and cleaned up while our kids nibbled plain pasta with cheese and butter and played.
I had eaten carbonara before - in New Zealand growing up, on my first trip to Paris and most recently at a local restaurant. However, I hadn't ever realized that cream didn't feature in this luscious, rich, delectable dish, until our waiter was explaining the menu to us!! I was thrilled to come across this recipe, and to see for myself that it is the cheese, eggs and pasta water that make the carbonara so creamy. Paired with a salad and crusty bread it makes a very satisfying and elegant dinner.

PASTA CARBONARA WITH LEEKS AND LEMON


salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 leeks, halved lengthwise, rinsed well and thinly sliced
3/4 pound short pasta
2 large eggs
1/4 parmesan, grated (plus more for serving)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Set a large pot of salted water to boil.
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Add pasta to the pot and cook according to package instructions.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, parmesan, and lemon zest and juice. Whisk 1/4 cup pasta water into egg mixture.
Drain pasta and immediately add to egg mixture, along with bacon, leeks and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle with more cheese and serve immediately.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food
www.marthastewart.com › Food

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND SESAME SPREAD

I made this light, flavorful appetizer for friends over Christmas - but it would be perfect for any time of the year. We love roasted cauliflower in our house - my husband will roast a head and we will snack on the individual florets like they are potato chips.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND SESAME SPREAD


1 head of cauliflower (2 pounds) halved crosswise and thinly sliced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
salt
3 tablespoons tahini paste
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
sesame seeds

Heat the oven to 450F.
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the oil, ginger and coriander and season with salt. Spread the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender and lightly browned in spots. Let cool slightly.
Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor. Add the tahini and lemon juice and pulse to a chunky puree, season with salt. Add the cilantro and pulse just until incorporated. Transfer the spread to a bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve warm with pita bread or pita chips.
Enjoy!

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ENDIVE WITH GOAT CHEESE or BLUE CHEESE AND WALNUTS AND HONEY

A sweet and amazing friend hosted my birthday party at her yoga studio - we had cocktails and nibbles and yoga and pilates and so much fun.
I made this appetizer, dotted with creamy goat cheese and crunchy walnuts, all drizzled with honey for a touch of sweetness. Light, easy and delicious - I made it again for our Valentines night dinner, but used blue cheese in the place of goat cheese, just as fabulously tasty with the walnuts and honey.

ENDIVE WITH GOAT CHEESE or BLUE CHEESE AND WALNUTS AND HONEY

 


2 heads of endive
8 ounces of soft goat cheese or blue cheese
3 tablespoons of walnuts, toasted and chopped
honey

Separate endive leaves. Arrange large, outer leaves on a serving platter. Spoon a teaspoon of goat cheese or blue cheese on each leaf, sprinkle with walnuts, and drizzle with honey.
Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Parade magazine, December, 2009
www.parade.com/